Sunday Reads: Time to take Earl on a picnic…again.

You all remember this song and video from the Dixie Chicks? I have the video posted down below, with the lyrics.

I bring old Earl up again because the latest school shooting is another example of this Earl problem that we see every fucking day:

It is that Toxic Masculinity problem I want to address.

Have y’all taken note of this key point…that doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of press:

There is always a girl, innit?

Fucking hell.

Mother of victim says alleged Texas school shooter asked her daughter on date – CNN

Sadie Baze says she keeps expecting her daughter to walk into the house, but Shana Fisher was killed Friday, one of 10 people gunned down at her high school.

“She’s never going to walk through the front door again,” Baze said.
Baze told CNN that the alleged shooter, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, had been making advances toward Shana, who just turned 16, for the past four months, asking her to date him.
A week ago, during class, Shana stood up and told Pagourtzis she wouldn’t go out with him, the mother said.
Baze said Pagourtzis previously dated Fisher’s best friend and she had told told her daughter “you don’t date your friend’s exes.”
See, you don’t date your friend’s exes and you wind up getting killed by them…it is devastating. Why is there always some type of domineering asshole male shit behind these violent murders.
The family of 17-year-old Pagourtzis, accused of killing 10 people and wounding 13 others at the Texas high school Friday, issued a statement expressing condolences to the victims.
The family members said they are “as shocked and confused as anyone by these events that occurred.”
Pagourtzis is a “smart, quiet, sweet boy,” they said.
The statement, issued through a law firm, says the family is cooperating with investigators and will make no other public comments until the fact-finding stage is completed.
“While we remain mostly in the dark about the specifics of yesterday’s tragedy, what we have learned from media reports seems incompatible with the boy we love,” they said.
Pagourtzis is being held without bail and is accused of capital murder of multiple people and aggravated assault on a public servant. He has not entered a plea.
Robert Barfield, the attorney for Pagourtzis, said his client is “not doing well” and is “confused.”
The suspect won’t face the death penalty if he is convicted. Under Texas law, offenders who are under age 18 and charged with a capital offense face a maximum punishment of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years, according to Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center.
Your know what would be my kind of punishment? Pagourtzis getting his balls sliced off with a razor and have them handed to him in a Dixie Cup…let the fucker bleed for a long while.

He is not doing well? Tough shit. Confused? No…he knew what he was doing.

Yesterday, officials identified those killed as teachers Glenda Perkins and Cynthia Tisdale, and students Jared Black, Shana Fisher, Christian Riley Garcia, Aaron Kyle McLeod, Angelique Ramirez, Sabika Sheikh, Christopher Jake Stone and Kimberly Vaughan. Here is some information on the people who were killed:

Victims of Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas identified today – CBS News

Sabika Sheikh 

sabika-sheikh-santa-fe-high-school-shooting-2018-05-18.jpg
 PAKISTAN ASSOCIATION OF GREATER HOUSTON/FACEBOOK

The Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C., confirmed that exchange student Sabika Sheikh was killed in the shooting. Sabika was an exchange student with YES, which is funded by the U.S. State Department. It provides scholarships for secondary school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend one academic year in the U.S.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent his “deepest condolences” to her friends and family in a statement Saturday.

“Sabika’s death and that of the other victims is heartbreaking and will be mourned deeply both here in the United States, and in Pakistan,” Pompeo said.

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Shana Fisher’s aunt posted on Twitter that Shana was in the art room at the time of the shooting. She announced her death on Twitter.

Please go to the article to read about the rest of the victims, and remember…the killer said he did not shoot anyone he “liked”…Texas school shooting: 10 killed in Santa Fe High School massacre – The Washington Post

The affidavit states that the 17-year-old told police that “he did not shoot students he did like so he could have his story told.”

Yup, he knew exactly what he was doing. And if an ex-girlfriend was on the victim list, or some girl who did not treat him with the kind of attention he felt was “owed” to him…it would only be appropriate to add Pagourtzis name to the list of mass murderers who killed because they felt their women victims were entitled to them.

So it appears, this ex-girfriend and the girl who was being harassed by Pagourtzis may be the same person?

Texas school shooter taunted victims during rampage: witnesses

By reading this NY Post article, it doesn’t seem to me that this “kid” had any confusion during the murdering part of his shooting spree…

“My friend Trent was in the classroom and said after [Pagourtzis] would shoot a student he would sing, ‘Another one bites the dust!’” Sante Fe High School sophomore Kole Dixon, 16, told The Post of a classmate, whose last name he asked not be printed.

“He also kept playing a kamikaze song over and over as loud as he could,” on his cellphone, Dixon said of the shooter.

Pagourtzis had the same kamikaze military anthem on his now-deleted YouTube page, Dixon said.

Pagourtzis had earlier bragged of wearing a “Rising Sun” insignia on his black trench coat, explaining it signified “Kamikaze Tactics,” according to a photo and text posted on his also-deleted Facebook page.

New details of the 17-year-old’s sick sense of humor went well beyond the previously reported “Born to Kill” T-shirt he wore, and his taunt of “Surprise!” as he blasted through the walls of an art class supply closet.

“They hear the gunman in the classroom next door yelling Woo Hoo! and firing more shots,” mom Deedra Van Ness said in a Facebook post Friday night, recounting details from her by her daughter Isabelle, who survived unscathed but was covered in blood.

“Surprise, motherf–ker!” the shooter hollered as he fired into the closet wall, instantly killing two of the half-dozen students who had barricaded themselves inside with Isabelle, Van Ness said her daughter told her.

“Are you dead?” he later asked from the other side of the closet.

“Do you think it’s for you?” he also joked, as cell phones left behind in the classroom rang unanswered.

I mean, what else should we expect right?

The main stream media gives these assholes a pass, continuously, just take a look at this article from the NYTs:

This is as “tough” as the thing gets:

Recently, a young man named Alek Minassian drove through Toronto trying to kill people with his van. Ten were killed, and he has been charged with first-degree murder for their deaths, and with attempted murder for 16 people who were injured. Mr. Minassian declared himself to be part of a misogynist group whose members call themselves incels. The term is short for “involuntary celibates,” though the group has evolved into a male supremacist movement made up of people — some celibate, some not — who believe that women should be treated as sexual objects with few rights. Some believe in forced “sexual redistribution,” in which a governing body would intervene in women’s lives to force them into sexual relationships.

Violent attacks are what happens when men do not have partners, Mr. Peterson says, and society needs to work to make sure those men are married.

“He was angry at God because women were rejecting him,” Mr. Peterson says of the Toronto killer. “The cure for that is enforced monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.”

Mr. Peterson does not pause when he says this. Enforced monogamy is, to him, simply a rational solution. Otherwise women will all only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end.

“Half the men fail,” he says, meaning that they don’t procreate. “And no one cares about the men who fail.”

I laugh, because it is absurd.

“You’re laughing about them,” he says, giving me a disappointed look. “That’s because you’re female.”

But aside from interventions that would redistribute sex, Mr. Peterson is staunchly against what he calls “equality of outcomes,” or efforts to equalize society. He usually calls them pathological or evil.

He agrees that this is inconsistent. But preventing hordes of single men from violence, he believes, is necessary for the stability of society. Enforced monogamy helps neutralize that.

In situations where there is too much mate choice, “a small percentage of the guys have hyper-access to women, and so they don’t form relationships with women,” he said. “And the women hate that.”

Emphasis is mine, of course, but read the whole article and tell me if it isn’t soft on this fucker.

(Take a look at the “Times Picks” comments…they are somewhat forgiving, and not from the feminist POV at all.)

(But that is the New York Times….)

Fuck you New York Times:

Back to the Peterson thing real quick…

Fucking Toxic Predatory Men… and their “enforced monogamy.”

I saw this tweet from Mona Eltahawy after I wrote my post above. I am glad I am not the only one who saw the connection.

Those with toxic masculinity …are they stupid dicks or what?

So take a look at that thread…it sounds familiar. I am sure that Dak or Boston Boomer may have brought it up back when the shooting/killing/slaughter occurred. If that is the case it is nothing new…but for those of us who have memories that last as long as a dog’s farts, or say a horse’s fart… it is a reminder. That these domineering men are also crazy assholes.

Let us feed them some black-eyed peas….yeah.

Mary Anne and Wanda were the best of friends
All through their high school days
Both members of the 4H club, both active in the FFA
After graduation
Mary Anne went out lookin’ for a bright new world
Wanda looked all around this town and all she found was Earl
Well, it wasn’t two weeks after she got married that
Wanda started gettin’ abused
She’d put on dark glasses or long sleeved blouses
Or make-up to cover a bruise
Well she finally got the nerve to file for divorce
And she let the law take it from there
But Earl walked right through that restraining order
And put her in intensive care
Right away Mary Anne flew in from Atlanta
On a red eye midnight flight
She held Wanda’s hand as they worked out a plan
And it didn’t take ’em long to decide
That Earl had to die, goodbye Earl
Those black-eyed peas, they tasted alright to me, Earl
You’re feelin’ weak? Why don’t you lay down and sleep, Earl
Ain’t it dark wrapped up in that tarp, Earl
The cops came by to bring Earl in
They searched the house high and low
Then they tipped their hats and said, thank you ladies
If you hear from him let us know
Well, the weeks went by and spring turned to summer
And summer faded into fall
And it turns out he was a missing person who nobody missed at all
So the girls bought some land and a roadside stand
Out on highway 109
They sell Tennessee ham and strawberry jam
And they don’t lose any sleep at night, ’cause
Earl had to die, goodbye Earl
We need a break, let’s go out to the lake, Earl
We’ll pack a lunch, and stuff you in the trunk, Earl
Is that alright? Good! Let’s go for a ride, Earl, hey!
Ooh hey hey hey, ummm hey hey hey, hey hey hey

Songwriters: Dennis Linde
Goodbye Earl lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

So let us get on with the picnic shall we?

Here is the wedding sermon from yesterday, if you have not heard or seen it….

Subversive? Uh…I don’t know. It all seemed like a big fuck you from Harry to the Royals, if you asked me. I still feel the sermon was important, which is why I posted it here. There was a lot of talk about how culturally inclusive the Royal Wedding was, which I think this next tweet touches on perfectly.

And remember:

But back to the Royal Wedding, a few funny tweets:

Just a few more things before we go…

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"When you’re trying to end a human rights abuse, it’s illogical to carve out an exception for the people most likely to be affected" – Our #FraidyReiss tells @nytimes why bills to #endchildmarriage must set the marriage age at 18, not 16 or 17. Link to story in bio.

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But not every girl knows this – that’s why empowering and educating girls is so crucial to ending child marriage! Tag a friend who agrees that #GirlsRightsAreHumanRights. #EndChildMarriage . . #empoweringgirls #empoweringwomen #metoo #metoomovement #womensmarch #genderequality #childrensrights #girlsrights #bethechange #makeadifference #girlcrew #girls #educateagirl #femaleempowerment #becauseiamagirl #plancanada #itsagirl #childmarriage #feminist #feminism #womenandgirls #unwomen

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Empower Girls : Empower the World #vikalpsansthan #equality #endvaw #endchildmarriage #youth4equality #genderjustice #TogetherWeCanEndvaw

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I love that phrase…Empower Girls…Empower Women…Empower Daughters.

My friend Rachana Sunar over in Nepal has been working on building a Kindergarten for disadvantaged children and a center for mothers. With some funds from a Norway free church women’s group. They have a new building with five rooms…she sent me these pictures that I want to share with you:

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This is what she says to me in her email:

Dearest JJ

Our vision is to empower young mothers who have married as a child brides.  Our aim is to teach them life skills and vocational education, parenting skills and give them income opportunity.
So we have got 15 mothers for this year.
We meet them every Saturday to discuss in women righs.
They are so excited to learn.
Hope one day we can have you here taking some classes.
Rachana says the children have been selected with prior home visits, so they are “needy children.”
It is wonderful to see this program building from the ground up. I am working to send some donations her way…one day I would love to take a trip out there and visit. We communicate about once a week and it is extraordinary to have a connection with a woman who is strong and such a positive influence within her community.
That is all for me today, this is an open thread.
BTW, I know we have some non-toxic males who read this blog…and I gotta say…no black-eyed peas for you!

Monday Reads: We are still Tribal and Fascinated by Fire

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I seem hard wired to avoid the caves and to wander the plains and mountains.  For this, I believe I have my mother to thank.  I imagine lurking some where in my family are Irish ‘traveller’ genes but who knows. I do not understand people who find one location and surround themselves with sameness. The lily white Midwestern suburbans filled with snotty WASPS were a prison to me.  My mother’s insistence we travel frequently was the only thing that saved me, we used to stay at Marriott hotels all the time. It showed me there was more to people and life than a backyard prison.

Later, as a young mother, I unfortunately discovered way too late–because of promises of other things–that I basically married a potted plant who wanted nothing more than to drag to and from work day in and day out. The sofa was the center of life. I got some pleasure in taking my summers off and taking baby Doctor Daughter on the road.  That worked until my parents moved back to the prison and I was surrounded by boring sameness day in and day out.  It felt like being entombed in a cavern surrounded by slugs, potted plants, and narrowness in a world ruled without color or the discovery of abstract art and erotica.  This came home as an astounding lesson with my inoperable cancer diagnosis at 34 and a six month old baby.  I was not going to let my children suffer the same fate. They needed more back yard to play about and I would give them that for as long as I could live.

The word that best describes the circumstances of my youth is people attached to “homophilly”.  It literally means the “love of the same.” It is the tendency of people with similar characteristics to congregate.  That pretty much describes the WASP enclave that ensconced me.  Same boring stuff day in and day out. My mother drove us to Pow Wows. She stuck us in station wagons and campers to search the far corners of the American West.  We eventually landed in Europe. These were all places where I would dream I would have the courage to run away into so I would never EVER have to go back.  My cousin who moved to NYC to do Broadway was my siren. She led me to believe that one day I would escape. History taught the progress of human kind was to leave caves and tribes to build cities.  American History taught the American spirit is to get out there to discover and explore and build something new.  None of this included the iconography of firmly planted sofas.

But, firmly planted sofas in limited areas show us that our tribal roots are still lurking. These lead to dark times, genocides, war, and oppression.  I was looking at the various news items I’ve collected for today trying to find some theme.  You’re probably wondering at this point too.  I think therefore, I babble. Unfortunately, it all seems to be an expression of our primal fear of other and the desire of so many to huddle into a tribe based on iron age mythologies, the social constructs of race, sexuality and gender roles, and the dark side of homophilly. If we only love the same, do we also have to adapt the hate of the different?

I have two items of interest on the construct of separating humanity by race.  First, is this new classification system for Black people living in the USA.  How do you elect to be “just black”? From NPR: “2020 Census Will Ask Black People About Their Exact Origins”.  Why is this necessary? Furthermore, a lot of us either came or were drug over way back and don’t know, a lot of us are a blend of all kinds of things, and why should  the government be focused on which part of what continent spawned our ancestors?

For the 2020 census, the U.S. Census Bureau is changing how it will ask black people to designate their race. Under the check box for “Black or African American,” the bureau is adding a new space on the census questionnaire for participants to write in their non-Hispanic origins, according to a recent memo from the head of the 2020 census. “African American,” “Jamaican” and “Nigerian” are listed as examples of origins on a questionnaire the bureau is testing for 2020.

The change means many black people in the U.S. may have to take a closer look at their family trees to answer what can be a thorny question: Where are you really from? While many black immigrants can cite ties to a specific country, that question is difficult, if not impossible, for many U.S.-born African-Americans to answer.

The bureau has not responded to NPR’s questions about why it is making this change to both the “Black” category and the “White” category,” which will also include a new write-in area for origins.

But researchers at the bureau have said they have been trying to respond to requests for “more detailed, disaggregated data for our diverse American experiences as German, Mexican, Korean, Jamaican, and myriad other identities.” (The bureau was considering an overhaul to all racial categories that would have added check boxes for the largest ethnic groups and a write-in area for smaller groups. But it would require the Trump administration’s approval of an Obama-era proposal to change the federal standards on race and ethnicity data, which census experts say the White House’s Office of Management and Budget is not likely to move forward.)

My WASPY family has our family tree detailed out to when the first of whatever line came from where ever but only because my mother got obsessed with researching it decades ago as a hobby.  And, this details one important distinction.  Every one of my ancestors arrived here of their own volition. None of them were kidnapped and enslaved.  None of them were here already where they were frequently murdered and driven from their lands.  How does this information do anything positive?

Sebastian Junger wrote a book called “Tribe” that was published in 2016.  He argued that on some level having wars and enemies is something humans enjoy because it gives us a sense of belonging.  I can’t imagine needing that enough to be violent and oppressive to others.  But, I see it in Trump’s White Nationalist cult and realize it has a draw.

During John Ford’s celebrated western film The Searchers, John Wayne’s character spends years hunting for his niece Debbie, kidnapped as a child by Comanche Indians.

When he finally finds her, she initially wants to stay with her Comanche husband rather than return home.

Although shocking in the film, it’s historically accurate. White people captured by American Indians (author Sebastian Junger’s preferred name for Native Americans) commonly chose to stay with their captors – and the book cites a case of a captive woman who hid from her would-be rescuers.

Even more astonishingly, from the earliest days of Europeans in America, settlers of both sexes ran away to join Indian tribes. This wasn’t just a few people, it was hundreds and hundreds. The practice was so rife that in the early 1600s settler leaders made it an offence with harsh punishments, but over the following centuries people still ran off in huge numbers.

And it hardly ever happened the other way. Indians didn’t want to join white society.

The attraction, argues Junger, was the sense of community, the importance of the tribe, evident in other primates and in primitive human societies. The superficial attractions of American Indian life were obvious: sexual mores were more relaxed, clothing was more comfortable, religion less harsh.

But mostly it was the structure of Indian society that appealed. It was less hierarchical, essentially classless and egalitarian. As the people were nomadic, personal property hardly mattered, since it was limited to what you or your horses could carry.

What changed this natural way of living for humans was first agriculture, then industry. Accumulation of personal property led to people doing what they thought best for themselves, rather than for the common good. But, suggests Junger, we’re not happy like this. We’re wired to the lifestyle of the tribe.

So tribal connectedness really doesn’t need the social construct of race, and yet it frequently and murderously oppressively does. From CBS: “Why 60 Minutes aired photos of lynchings in report by Oprah. The reason behind the broadcast’s decision to show graphic photographs of lynchings in this week’s report by contributor Oprah Winfrey”.

This week on 60 Minutes, Oprah Winfrey gets an early look at the memorial, which will open to the public on April 26. The memorial contains 805 steel markers, one for each county where lynchings occurred for more than 70 years following the Civil War. The markers are suspended in air to evoke the horror of being hanged.

To tell that story on 60 Minutes, Winfrey and a team of producers felt it was important to show historical photos of lynchings, images that are likely to disturb many viewers. In an interview with 60 Minutes Overtime, Denise Schrier Cetta, the producer of the story, and Jeff Fager, the executive producer of the broadcast, explain their decision to air such upsetting photographs.

“I don’t think the story exists without those photos,” Fager says. News executives have a tendency to self-censor too much, he says, out of concern that viewers will be turned off. For him, the decision to show the photos was about reporting important facts about a little-known but important chapter of history.

“That’s reality; that’s what happened,” he tells 60 Minutes Overtime’s Ann Silvio in the video above. “Our story is about a part of history, really almost 80 years of American history, that isn’t in the history books. We don’t see these pictures. We don’t talk about it.”

One photograph that surprises Fager the most is an image of a crowd that showed up in Waco, Texas to watch the lynching of a man named Jesse Washington. The hanging tree stands in the center of the photograph, Washington’s tortured body lies beneath it, and hundreds of well-dressed white people look on.

“I really thought most lynchings were in the cover of night and Klan outfits, and not that it was a part of life to that degree—that the town would turn out to watch it happen in broad daylight,” says Fager, who feels that many viewers will learn a lot from the story.

The Guardian previews a book written on the idea of how tribe of masculine warps young boys. The author of The Shepard’s Hut is an Australian Surfer.  “About the boys: Tim Winton on how toxic masculinity is shackling men to misogyny. In an excerpt from a speech about his new book The Shepherd’s Hut, the author says it is men who need to step up and liberate boys from the race, the game, the fight.”

There are a lot more girls in the water these days, and hallellujah for that; I can’t tell you how heartening this is. But I want to focus on the boys for a moment. For what a mystery a boy is. Even to a grown man. Perhaps especially to a grown man. And how easy it is to forget what beautiful creatures they are. There’s so much about them and in them that’s lovely. Graceful. Dreamy. Vulnerable. Qualities we either don’t notice, or simply blind ourselves to. You see, there’s great native tenderness in children. In boys, as much as in girls. But so often I see boys having the tenderness shamed out of them.

Boys and young men are so routinely expected to betray their better natures, to smother their consciences, to renounce the best of themselves and submit to something low and mean. As if there’s only one way of being a bloke, one valid interpretation of the part, the role, if you like. There’s a constant pressure to enlist, to pull on the uniform of misogyny and join the Shithead Army that enforces and polices sexism. And it grieves me to say it’s not just men pressing those kids into service.

These boys in the surf. The things they say to me! The stuff I hear them saying to their mates! Some of it makes you want to hug them. Some of it makes you want to cry. Some of it makes you ashamed to be a male. Especially the stuff they feel entitled or obliged to say about girls and women.

What I’ve come to notice is that all these kids are rehearsing and projecting. Trying it on. Rehearsing their masculinity. Projecting their experimental versions of it. And wordlessly looking for cues the whole time. Not just from each other, but from older people around them, especially the men. Which can be heartbreaking to witness, to tell you the truth. Because the feedback they get is so damn unhelpful. If it’s well-meant it’s often feeble and half-hearted. Because good men don’t always stick their necks out and make an effort.

So what really got me thinking about all of this and finding thread was this late news and the news of IDF snipers targeting children (male) and journalists in an attack on Gaza during protests near the wall.  This is from The BBC about some of the oldest tribes defined by religion still left: “Syria conflict: Israel blamed for attack on airfield”.  People of the Jewish faith have been targets of tribal hostilities for so many thousands of years it’s hard to believe. And yet, they are still capable of these things.  At first, we thought the US was attacking Syria based on the chemical attacks.  Instead, it was a rogue(?) Israel.

Monday’s attack hit the Tiyas airbase, known as T4, near the city of Homs. Observers say 14 people were killed.

Israel, which has previously hit Syrian targets, has not commented. Syria initially blamed the US for the strike.

The incident comes amid international alarm over an alleged chemical attack on a Syrian rebel-held town. The US and France had threatened to respond.

Reportedly, there were Russians and Iranians there. From The Israeli Times a few months back: IDF accuses Iran of setting up air base outside Syrian city of Palmyra.

The Israeli military on Saturday accused Iran of controlling an airbase outside the Syrian city of Palmyra, from which the army said the Iranian drone that was shot down over northern Israel earlier in the day was launched.

“Iran and the [Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ special unit] Quds Force for some time have been operating the T-4 Air Base in Syria next to Palmyra, with support from the Syrian military and with permission from the Syrian regime,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement on Saturday night.

So, it likely was an attack based on a response to that. It’s just hard to know these days.

This comes on the back of two items posted to Facebook feeds from two separate Jewish Friends.  It’s quite odd, but within in my WASPY cocoon it was quite acceptable for me to have many Jewish friends as long as I didn’t try to have a Jewish boyfriends. My mother actually got a call from an angry grandmother matriarch telling her that I needed to leave them to Jewish girls once in high school.  In my neck of WASPishness dating Catholics was much more suspect.  Especially, if they came from Eastern European or Southern European roots.  I wasn’t even allowed to pierce my ears because I’d look like some immigrant baby. See, the rules of tribalism can be very fickle as well as stupid.

From WAPO: “He was wearing a vest marked ‘PRESS.’ He was shot dead covering a protest in Gaza.”

Yaser Murtaja had often filmed from the sky, but he never lived to fulfill his dream of flying on an airplane through the clouds.

The young journalist shot drone images and video for Ain Media, a small Gaza-based news agency he started five years ago. Just two weeks ago, he posted an aerial photo of Gaza City’s port on Facebook. “I wish that the day would come to take this shot when I’m in the air and not on the ground,” he wrote. “My name is Yaser Murtaja. I’m 30 years old. I live in Gaza City. I’ve never traveled!”

It was one of his last posts.

Murtaja, who was married and had a 2-year-old son, died Saturday after being shot the day before while covering protests at the edge of the Gaza Strip.

His work had appeared on networks such as Al Jazeera, and in 2016 he worked as a cameraman for Ai Weiwei’s documentary, “Human Flow,” which covered the global refu­gee crisis, including Palestinians in Gaza. The Chinese visual artist posted photos of Murtaja on his Instagram account on Saturday.

And there as this: “Israeli Citizens Watch As Their Military Attacks Unarmed Palestinians”.

As violence continues to rage along the Israel-Gaza border, an Israeli reporter shared a photo that could only be described as inhumane.

“Best show in town. Residents of Nahal Oz in the stands,” read the caption for the image that showed a group of young Israeli spectators sitting on an observation tower near the Israel-Gaza border line, watching and waving as unarmed Palestinians got brutally murdered and wounded at the hands of Israeli troops.

The images were later shared by Reuters as well.

From Haaretz: “The Cold Calculation Behind the Israeli Army’s Sniper Fire on the Gaza Border. The politicians instructed the military to prevent a breach of the fence, but it’s doubtful that they held detailed discussions about the means to achieve this.”

Testimonies of correspondents on the Israeli side about the rate of firing and Palestinian reports of 800 people wounded attest to quite permissive orders given to the snipers. Even when the area is divided into sectors, commanded by senior officers, an area commander has no close control over the sharpshooters’ every shot. This situation leaves a lot to the discretion of relatively young soldiers, even though they were reinforced by more veteran police and Border Police snipers. The number of casualties was in accordance with these circumstances.

The number of fatalities yet again underscores Israel’s long-standing failure – commented on by the State Comptroller in 2003 and 2017 – to develop nonlethal measures which would be effective in dispersing demonstrations and marches from a relatively large distance.

There seems to be a huge human cost to feeling that sense of belonging you get from a Tribe. And don’t even get my started about the many other gangs and such I’ve written about in the past.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Steubenville Rape Trial Descends into the Slut-Slamming Hell Realm: Lessons in Toxic Masculinity

rapistsI’m really trying to enjoy the perfect New Orleans weather and the Saint Patrick’s Day festivities.  However, it’s hard to avoid the twitter streams on two really horrible reminders of the darker side of American Life.  CPAC continues to reach new bottoms every year.  That, however, is not the worst thing to watch at the moment.

The Steubenville Rape Trial is currently streaming live and the Defense Closing argument is a good example of everything that is wrong with how men view rape.  The defense attorney just basically said the victim threw herself at  “that child” and gee, she drank a lot of vodka so probably said “yes” and forgot about it.  ABC News just stated that the rape victim “made plan to meet” attacker and characterized it as “incriminating.”  The defense strategy is that “date rape” doesn’t exist. So, basically all of our young women that go on dates have just automatically placed themselves in the position of saying yes to whatever their date wants.  Looks like we may have to bring back chaperones if this guy’s arguments succeed.

The defense stayed quiet with its date-rape-doesn’t-exist strategy, even as many of those following the case so closely finally saw the two accused high-school football players for the first time.

“There will be challenges for everybody in this case,” Special Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter told Judge Tom Lipps during a packed session at Jefferson County juvenile court, with a silent protest from Occupy Steubenville carrying on outside. “Holding these two responsible for what they did — that will be the easiest you will make.” Hemmeter’s opening salvo was unflinching — she named the victim as a courtroom video feed sent  it around the Internet, she repeated the word “degradation,” and she spared no details about how suspects Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond “repeatedly violated” the victim (who will likely not be named by the media, as is custom with alleged victims of sexual assault).

As we reported in our in-depth trial preview earlier on Wednesday, Hemmeter and her fellow prosecutor have been silent in the press and about the investigation, even as hackers tried to piece together clues. But within the first 30 minutes of the trial picking up in earnest after an hour-long recess, Hemmeter introduced evidence beyond what a rapt nation has seen on Instagram (above) and YouTube: she submitted as evidence and projected onto the courtroom wall two naked pictures of the victim, one allegedly taken and sent from the phone of Mays, the suspect facing multiple charges. “The person ushering her [to the bathroom] was Trent Mays,” said Hemmeter, insisting that the Steubenville High quarterback was present when the alleged victim realized she was inebriated beyond control. There is also a blanket with the alleged victim’s DNA.

Hemmeter also reiterated the controversial pre-trial testimony from three Steubenville High athletes who said that the alleged victim was not conscious while being attacked. Hemmeter said, rather graphically:

You heard the testimony that in the car, Trent Mays unzipped her shorts and slipped his finger into her vagina … They [witnesses] will tell you that Trent Mays tried to put his penis in her mouth and you’ll hear that Ma’lik Richmond was down by her feet and inserted two fingers into her vagina while she lay motionless.

So it’s now finally clear that the prosecution will rely on the pre-trial testimony and on social-media evidence we haven’t yet scene, all in an effort to discount the increasingly strong — if increasingly vile — strategy from the defense for Mays and Richmond. The defense was granted a last-minute appeal on Tuesday night to subpoena three of the alleged victim’s friends who apparently made incriminating statements to police that she had made plans to meet up with Mays and that she “was completely fine” the morning after. That would seem to give the defense its own trio of star witnesses from West Virginia, testifying against their “best friend,” to counter the prosecution’s three star athletes, who appear to be doing the same.

Rape will never be treated the way it should be until men in this country learn about and rebuke “Toxic Masculinity”.

Toxic masculinity has its fingerprints all over the Steubenville case. The violence done to the victim was born out of the boys’ belief that a) sexually dominating a helpless girl’s body made them powerful and cool, and b) there would be no consequences for them because of their status as star athletes (If you want to see stomach-churning first-hand evidence of this, check out this video of one of their friends gleefully talking about how “raped” and “dead” the victim was). The defense is basing their entire case on it, arguing that this near- (and sometimes totally) unconscious girl’s body was the boys’ to use because “she didn’t affirmatively say no.” The football community’s response—by which I mean not just the coaches, school, and players, but the entire community of fans—is steeped in the assumptions of toxic masculinity, treating the athletes and the game as more important than some silly girl’s right to both bodily autonomy and justice. Steubenville residents have been quick to rally around the team, suggesting that the victim “put herself in a position to be violated” and refusing to talk to police investigating the assault. The two players who cooperated with police were suspended from the football team, while the players accused of the rape have been allowed to play. The coach even went so far as to threaten a New York Times reporter asking questions about the case. (No surprise there: When it comes to male-dominated sports, toxic masculinity is the rule, not the exception.)

But sports is hardly the only breeding ground for toxic masculinity. Witness the recent, vicious bullying of Zerlina Maxwell by fans of Fox News. Last week, Maxwell was on Hannity and dared to opine that the best rape prevention isn’t about what women can do to protect themselves, but instead focuses on raising men who don’t rape. She also personally identified herself as a survivor of rape. What followed was a nearly inconceivable onslaught of misogynist and racist attacks, including repeated threats of rape and death. All because a black woman insisted that the work of stopping rape—“women’s work” if there ever was such a thing—requires men’s labor. Under the influence of toxic masculinity, the logical response to a man being forced or even encouraged to do something coded “female” is always violence.

The defense lawyer is ringing all the bells and whistles he can to declare “Jane Doe” a slut; including using the 16 year old’s name.

An expert testifying for the defense today said a teen girl reportedly raped by two Steubenville football players could have had an alcohol-induced blackout after drinking last August, but still could have made the decision to leave a party with the athletes.

However, a prosecutor said the expert had not been shown all the evidence, pointing out that the person had not seen three photos in which the girl appears to be passed out.

Kim Fromme, a professor of clinical psychology at University of Texas, who conducts research on the effects of alcohol, said her analysis shows the girl might have no memory of the night, but based on her evidence the girl was still moving, walking and talking, and could have consented to leave a party with the two defendants.

“It seems pretty clear she made a voluntary decision to leave with (the 17-year-old defendant),” Fromme said.

Much of her testimony focused on the difference between a blackout and being passed out. Fromme said the brain essentially shuts down if a person is passed out. However, a person experiencing a blackout from drinking can still function, but will have little or no memory of what they did. She said people have performed surgery or flown a plane while experiencing a blackout.

She said if the girl was doing things such as voluntarily walking unassisted down stairs, she was capable of engaging in voluntary decisions.

On cross-examination, prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter showed Fromme a picture of the teen girl apparently passed out and being carried by the defendants. Fromme said she had not seen the picture. Fromme also had not seen pictures of the girl laying naked on a couch and on the floor of a basement.

Hemmeter said testimony from other witnesses that Fromme had not heard indicate the girl might have drank more than Fromme’s evidence indicated. Fromme estimated the girl’s blood-alcohol level at between .18 to .25, based on witnesses who saw the girl drinking. (Motorists in Ohio are considered under the influence of alcohol if they have an 0.08 blood-alchohol level.)

“So if she was sexually assaulted during that blackout, she wouldn’t remember, right?” Hemmeter asked.

“Yes … nor would she remember if she consented,” Fromme said.

Fromme appeared as a witness for lawyer Walter Madison, who represents the 16-year-old defendant.

It’s hard to watch the live stream and the live tweets for #Steubenville aren’t very heartening despite the number of outraged feminists providing commentary including @Karoli and @feministing.

It’s a damned shame that things are going down like this.  I have no idea–at this point–if the young victim will see justice but I do believe that this will discourage reporting.