Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Left's hatred of Jews chills me to the bone

From The Telegraph UK:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/28/the-lefts-hatred-of-jews-chills-me-to-the-bone/
 
Stephen Pollard 28 April 2016

As a young boy, I used to think my grandma very strange. In her bedroom she kept a suitcase, packed and ready for use at a moment’s notice. “Just in case,” she’d tell me when I asked where it was that she was always waiting to go to. “You never know when they’ll turn on the Jews.”

Her house in Northwood was epitome of suburban comfort, and I couldn’t understand what on earth she meant. Until, that is, I learned some history – including the history of the Jews. Which is, in short, that pretty much everywhere, they have turned on the Jews.

From my teens through my twenties and thirties, the fact that I am Jewish meant little to me beyond the Jonathan Miller sense of being Jew-ish. I adored beigels, matzoh balls, Seinfeld and Woody Allen more than your average gentile would think they deserved. And that was about it. If you’d asked me, I’d have told you that after the Holocaust, real, serious anti-Semitism – the sort where Jews were killed for being Jews, rather than the odd nasty comment – was a thing of the past, in civilised Europe, at least.

Then something happened. 9/11, to be specific. I realised something was up that I didn’t really understand. So I read and read and read. And then read some more – especially the words of the terrorists and their fellow Islamists. They were explicit and open. Jews were the enemy. All their "issues" with the West pivoted, in the end, on their Jew hate. So I immersed myself even more in the issues around terrorism and Islamism. Because, you see, it mattered.

It matters, of course, to all of us, because – as we have seen both on 9/11 and ever since, Islamist terrorism is not specific in its targeting. But it matters to me more, I would say, than anything else I can think of. Because although these maniacs will happily kill anyone, they say, and their subsequent murders show, that – quite specifically – they want to kill me. A Jew. So on level I am not in the least bit shocked, or even surprised, by the reemergence of Jew hatred as a thing in recent years. By what arrogance would we think that our generation, alone in history, would be free of the oldest hatred?

But on another, more visceral level, it chills me to the bone. And it’s not the terrorists. They threaten me, of course, as they threaten us all. Yet to me, the real chill comes from their fellow travelers – the useful idiots of the terrorists and Jew-murderers who say they do not have a racist bone in their body, but when it comes to Jews, a blind spot emerges. The likes, to be blunt, of the now suspended Ken Livingstone, who claims never to have come across a single example of Anti-semitism in the Labour Party. He clearly has never looked in the mirror. Much has been written – especially by the brilliant Nick Cohen – on the "Red/Green Alliance"; the phenomenon by which a swathe of the Left has linked up with radical Islam, leading to the bizarre spectacle of Leftist feminists supporting Islamists who would cut off the hands of women who read books.

With "anti-Western-imperialism" as part of the glue binding the alliance, everything else falls into place. So Hamas and Hezbollah might have as their defining goal the elimination of an entire people from the face of the earth, but that unfortunate consequence for Jews is by the by, because Hamas and Hezbollah are freedom fighters.

Continue reading at:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/28/the-lefts-hatred-of-jews-chills-me-to-the-bone/

When Slogans Replace Arguments

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:  http://chronicle.com/article/Slogans-Have-Replaced/236099
 

April 17, 2016 


Many critics of the students protesting racism so vociferously on college campuses these days say they are just "whiners" who need to accept that life isn’t perfect and get back to their books. Political correctness has run so rampant, these critics say, that it threatens freedom of speech. Both claims are reductive analyses of something more complex.

But the fact is that one need not suffer from residual bigotry, or even mere incomprehension, to find something amiss in the furious building takeovers, indignant slates of radical demands, and claims that life on today’s college campuses is an endless experience of racism. Protest is crucial in an enlightened and complex society, but something has indeed gone wrong — and college leaders and the faculty share as much of the blame as the students.

The "whiny" analysis is hasty — the now-famous lists of students’ demands always include some legitimate concerns. For example, if I were an undergraduate at Princeton today, Woodrow Wilson’s name on university buildings would rankle me. I am given neither to street-style protest nor to the idea that public buildings must be purged of the names of all figures whose social views we now find unpleasant. But Wilson, for all of his accomplishments, was especially bigoted even for his era and Southern origins.

More to the point, the claim that a college campus should be a locus of absolutely unfettered free speech is a pose. There are certain opinions and topics which an enlightened society can today justifiably exclude from discussion. No university any of us would want to be associated with would entertain "free speech" in favor of genocide, slavery, or withdrawing women’s right to vote, even in the vein of airing them in order to review the arguments against them, as John Stuart Mill advised be done with repugnant ideas. There comes a point where all will agree that we have made at least some progress in social history and, in the interests of time and energy, need not revisit issues that have been decided. The question, however, is which issues, and this is where our current student protesters err in their confidence.

The tenor of their protests is founded on an assumption — tacit but, like most tacit assumptions, decisive — that they are battling something as unequivocally, conclusively intolerable as genocide, slavery, or the withdrawal of women’s suffrage: namely, "racism." And of course, none of us are in favor of racism, which allows their rhetoric a certain potency. One resists opposing a battle declared on such terms. However, these students have been allowed to suppose that racism is a much simpler concept than it is. The reason they come off as "whiners" is because their demands address problems more specific than "racism," ones that are very much up for intelligent, civil debate.

For example, what is a microaggression? What is the proper response to experiencing one, or being accused of having committed one? These are rich issues. In New York City it has been classified as a microaggression for affluent, white high school students to discuss their expensive vacations around black students. But then, on most campuses, it is also considered a microaggression to assume that most black people are poor. What is the etiquette here? Respectable minds will differ. Black campus protesters have claimed that it is a microaggression when a black student is expected to testify to the black experience in a class discussion. However, this runs up against one of the main planks of race-conscious admissions policies: that having black students on campus is valuable for exposing others to black experiences and concerns. There is no easy answer here, which is why, again, a discussion is appropriate. To dismiss as "racist" any questions about such issues is simplistic.

Continue reading at:  http://chronicle.com/article/Slogans-Have-Replaced/236099

Thriving at Age 70 and Beyond

From The New York Times: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/04/25/thriving-at-age-70-and-beyond/
 
By Jane E. Brody April 25, 2016

A recently published book, “70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade,” inspired me to take a closer look at how I’m doing as I approach 75 and how I might make the most of the years to come. It would be a good idea for women in my age cohort to do likewise. With a quarter of American women age 65 expected to live into their 90s, there could be quite a few years to think about.

It’s not the first time I’ve considered the implications of longevity. When one of my grandsons at age 8 asked, “Grandma, will you still be alive when I get married?” I replied, “I certainly hope so. I want to dance at your wedding.” But I followed up with a suggestion that he marry young!

Still, his innocent query reminded me to continue to pursue a healthy lifestyle of wholesome food, daily exercise and supportive social connections. While there are no guarantees, like many other women now in their 70s, I’ve already outlived both my parents, my mother having died at 49 and my father at 71.

If I have one fear as the years climb, it’s that I won’t be able to fit in all I want to see and do before my time is up, so I always plan activities while I can still do them.

I book cycling and hiking trips to parts of the world I want to visit and schedule visits to distant friends and family to be sure I make them happen. In a most pragmatic moment, I crocheted a gender-neutral blanket for my first great-grandchild, but attached a loving note in case I’m no longer around to give it in person.

Of course, advancing age has taken — and will continue to take — its incremental toll. I often wake up wobbly, my back hates rainy days, and I no longer walk, cycle or swim as fast as I used to. I wear sensible shoes and hold the handrail going up and down stairs.

I know too that, in contrast to the Energizer Bunny life I once led, I now have to husband my resources more carefully. While I’m happy to prepare a dish or two for someone else’s gathering, my energy for and interest in hosting dinner parties have greatly diminished. And though I love to go to the theater, concerts, movies and parties, I also relish spending quiet nights at home with my Havanese, Max, for company.

Continue reading at:  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/04/25/thriving-at-age-70-and-beyond/

Liberal Redneck - American Family Association Boycotts Target

I've never much felt a need to go through life avoiding offending people.  I remember people being offended with my being a hippie, a dyke and a whole bunch of other things.

This is why I'm so anti-political correctness.  I have a hard time seeing much difference between left wing and right wing Social Justice Warriors.  They all want to infringe on other peoples rights.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bill Maher Rant against left-wing PC police


A generation of artists were wiped out by Aids and we barely talk about it

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/society/commentisfree/2016/apr/20/a-generation-of-artists-were-wiped-out-by-aids-and-we-barely-talk-about-it-robert-mapplethorpe

A new film about the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe is a shocking and brilliant reminder of the devastation HIV and Aids wreaked – and still does

Wednesday 20 April 2016

There are many shocking images in the brilliant new documentary Robert Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, made by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. You probably know many of them already. Some are just seared into our culture and no longer disturb anyone. The cover of Horses with Patti Smith was as much of a statement as her music. His celebrity pics of Eurotrash and rich collectors, or actual celebs such as Debbie Harry and Bianca whispering in Mick Jagger’s ear remain fascinating. Their beauty blasted by his light into timelessness; his naked flowers, the sex organs of plants in all their glory. As he said himself, he could perfect a bowl of carnations just as well as “a fist up someone’s ass”. Then there was the documentation of his S&M activities and his fetishisation of the black body – so many of these images remain, to use the word du jour, “problematic”. Good. His life was an artwork. He would pick up guys, do drugs, have sex and then get down to work. He would photograph them.

When you see these pictures, you wonder why – with sexual imagery everywhere all the time – these pictures linger, hanging somewhere in a dark part of the collective memory. You keep looking because he kept seeing.

In this film, we have Mapplethorpe in his own words, not the rose-tinted memories that Smith gave us in Just Kids. He is openly a man of sociopathic ambition who wants sex, fame and money, and would use anyone to get them. That countercultural drive echoed what was going on in the 1980s so much that it would become indistinguishable from mainstream culture. When people talk about the end of the New York scene, that’s what they mean.

Just as he got what he wanted, he got sick. This “ruined Cupid”, this beautiful man, we see skeletal with Aids giving his final party.

“Whether it’s an orgy or a cocktail party I know how to do it.” He certainly did. It’s hard to see this vain man visibly dying. But he made his death part of his art. His 1988 self-portrait with a skull cane remains a masterpiece. I feel sorry for those who say photography is not an art. Bowie used his death in his final work too. No hiding away.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/society/commentisfree/2016/apr/20/a-generation-of-artists-were-wiped-out-by-aids-and-we-barely-talk-about-it-robert-mapplethorpe

Why Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Criticism of Islam Angers Western Liberals

From The Observer:  http://observer.com/2016/04/why-ayaan-hirsi-alis-criticism-of-islam-angers-western-liberals/

She courageously battles the Left's comfortable narrative of the Muslim world

By
04/22/16

Ayaan Hirsi Ali can recount in virtual slow motion the events of November 2, 2004—the day Theo Van Gogh, her collaborator on a film about abuse of women in certain Muslim societies, was assassinated. The Somali-born women’s rights advocate and writer, then a member of the Dutch Parliament, had herself received innumerable death threats for writing the film, entitled Submission. The Dutch Minister of Interior informed her of what had occurred: Mr. Van Gogh was shot eight times and left on an Amsterdam street with his throat slit and a large knife stuck in his chest. The killer used a second knife to attach a note to Mr. Van Gogh’s chest, warning of violence to Western nations and to Jews, and pronouncing a death sentence against Ms. Hirsi Ali.

The death sentence began this way: “In the name of Allah most gracious, most merciful,” and went on to proclaim that “all enemies of Islam will be destroyed.”

With an estimated 140 million girls and women throughout the world subjected to genital mutilation, with thousands murdered each year in so-called “honor killings” and untold millions forced to marry against their will, one would suppose that Ms. Hirsi Ali—the world’s preeminent critic of these practices and advocate on behalf of their victims—would be universally hailed by those who style themselves as progressives. Since Ms. Hirsi Ali’s advocacy for women has meant that she has lived under death threats for over a decade, one would be the more justified in imagining that she would be regarded as a hero by progressives everywhere. But despite a body of work as a parliamentarian, a writer and as head of a foundation that is devoted to the protection of women and has earned her recognition by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 most important people on the planet, Ms. Hirsi Ali finds herself the object of vitriol by some on the left, who cannot bear her for this reason: She is critical of Islam and what she sees in the Muslim world as not only an indulgence in violence but a practice of justifying it. Ms. Hirsi Ali says unapologetically that in Islam there exists a “culture of misogyny [that] needs to be addressed quickly and frankly, and we must not censor ourselves.”

 But as Ms. Hirsi Ali works to combat those challenges, she finds herself battling the stubborn, unrelenting forces that would have her censored. The efforts to tar her with the tried-and-true epithet of “Islamophobic” come both from powerful Muslim enterprises that would like to squash her like a bug and some on the left, for whom a narrative of the Muslim world as victims and the West as victimizers is precious and comfortable. They regard Ms. Hirsi Ali as trouble. She is, after all, a Muslim-born woman who personally experienced the very abuse that she criticizes. The 46-year-old is also a superb writer, a winning speaker, inarguably courageous and telegenic to boot. She is an atheist as well. For those who wish to suppress criticism of the plight of women under Islam, she is, in short, a disaster.

Ms. Hirsi Ali warns against use of the words “extreme” and “radical” to describe as peripheral an ideology which, she argues, is in fact quite prevalent in Muslim communities around the globe, and which leads easily to violence—whether in the form of female genital mutilation or honor killings or wife-beating or suicide bombings. She views the reliance on those words as self-delusion, a soothing, self-administered palliative whose effect is to mask evidence that violence is the largely natural extension of fundamentalist values sternly dictated and widely embraced in Muslim communities—values that encourage harsh treatment of women and strict, even brutal, punishment of non-believers. Her warnings, and those of others who risk their reputations and lives to criticize Islamic institutions, are distinctly unwelcome in many Western quarters, where they are regarded as grievously politically incorrect, and where the “few-bad-apples” narrative of Islamic extremism is vastly preferred.

Continue reading at:  http://observer.com/2016/04/why-ayaan-hirsi-alis-criticism-of-islam-angers-western-liberals/

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How did we end up here?

From Charlie Hedbo:  https://charliehebdo.fr/en/edito/how-did-we-end-up-here/

Par Charlie Hebdo
30/03/2016 


For a week now, experts of all kinds have been trying to understand the reasons for the attacks in Brussels. An incompetent police force? Unbridled multiculturalism? Youth unemployment? 

Uninhibited Islamism? The causes are numerous beyond counting and everyone will naturally choose the one that suits best their own convictions. Law and Order fans will denounce the haplessness of the police. Xenophobes will blame immigration. Sociologists will rehash the evils of colonialism. Urban-planners will point to the evils of ghettoisation. Take your pick.

In reality, the attacks are merely the visible part of a very large iceberg indeed. They are the last phase of a process of cowing and silencing long in motion and on the widest possible scale. Our noses are endlessly rubbed in the rubble of Brussels airport and in the flickering candles amongst the bouquets of flowers on the pavements. All the while, no one notices what's going on in Saint-German-en-Laye. 

Last week, Sciences-Po* welcomed Tariq Ramadan. He's a teacher, so it's not inappropriate. He came to speak of his specialist subject, Islam, which is also his religion. Rather like lecture by a Professor of Pies who is also a pie-maker. Thus judge and contestant both.

No matter, Tariq Ramadan has done nothing wrong. He will never do anything wrong. He lectures about Islam, he writes about Islam, he broadcasts about Islam. He puts himself forward as a man of dialogue, someone open to a debate. A debate about secularism which, according to him, needs to adapt itself to the new place taken by religion in Western democracy. A secularism and a democracy which must also accept those traditions imported by minority communities. Nothing bad in that. Tariq Ramadan is never going to grab a Kalashnikov with which to shoot journalists at an editorial meeting. Nor will he ever cook up a bomb to be used in an airport concourse. Others will be doing all that kind of stuff. It will not be his role. His task, under cover of debate, is to dissuade people from criticising his religion in any way. The political science students who listened to him last week will, once they have become journalists or local officials, not even dare to write nor say anything negative about Islam. The little dent in their secularism made that day will bear fruit in a fear of criticising lest they appear Islamophobic. That is Tariq Ramadan's task.

Take this veiled woman. She is an admirable woman. She is courageous and dignified, devoted to her family and her children. Why bother her? She harms no one. Even those women who wear the total, all-encompassing veil do not generally use their clothing to hide bombs (as certain people were claiming when the law to ban the burqa was being discussed). They too will do nothing wrong. So why go on whining about the wearing of the veil and pointing the finger of blame at these women? We should shut up, look elsewhere and move past all the street-insults and rumpus. The role of these women, even if they are unaware of it, does not go beyond this.

The visible part of a very big iceberg.

Take the local baker, who has just bought the nearby bakery and replaced the old, recently-retired guy, he makes good croissants. He's likeable and always has a ready smile for all his customers. He's completely integrated into the neighbourhood already. Neither his long beard nor the little prayer-bruise on his forehead (indicative of his great piety) bother his clientele. They are too busy lapping up his lunchtime sandwiches. Those he sells are fabulous, though from now on there's no more ham nor bacon. Which is no big deal because there are plenty of other options on offer - tuna, chicken and all the trimmings. So, it would be silly to grumble or kick up a fuss in that much-loved boulangerie. 

We'll get used to it easily enough. As Tariq Ramadan helpfully instructs us, we'll adapt. And thus the baker's role is done.

Take this young delinquent. H has never looked at the Quran in his life, he knows little of the history of religion, of colonialism, nor a great deal about the proud country of his Maghreb forefathers. This lad and a couple of his buddies order a taxi. They are not erudite like Tariq Ramadan, they don't pray as often as the local baker and are not as observant as the redoubtable veiled mothers on the street. The taxi heads for Brussels airport. And still, in this precise moment, no one has done anything wrong. Not Tariq Ramadan, nor the ladies in burqas, not the baker and not even these idle young scamps.

And yet, none of what is about to happen in the airport or metro of Brussels can really happen without everyone's contribution. Because the incidence of all of it is informed by some version of the same dread or fear. The fear of contradiction or objection. The aversion to causing controversy. The dread of being treated as an Islamophobe or being called racist. Really, a kind of terror. And that thing which is just about to happen when the taxi-ride ends is but a last step in a journey of rising anxiety. It's not easy to get some proper terrorism going without a preceding atmosphere of mute and general apprehension.

These young terrorists have no need to amass the talents of others, to be erudite, dignified or hard-working. Their role is simply to provide the end of a philosophical line already begun. A line which tells us "Hold your tongues, living or dead. Give up discussing, debating, contradicting or contesting".

This is not to victimise Islam particularly. For it has no opponent. It is not Christianity, Hinduism nor Judaism that is balked by the imposition of this silence. It is the opponent (and protector) of them all. It is the very notion of the secular. It is secularism which is being forced into retreat.

Above all, in a sense, this stops us asking perhaps the world's oldest and most important question - "How the hell did I end up here?". "How the hell did I end up having to wander the streets all day with a big veil on my head?" "How the hell did I end up having to say prayers five times a day?" " How the hell did I end up in the back of a taxi with three rucksacks packed with explosives?" 

Perhaps, very sadly, the only people who are still asking themselves that most important of questions are the unlucky victims. "How the hell did I end up here, six yards away from that big bomb?"
The first task of the guilty is to blame the innocent. It's an almost perfect inversion of culpability. From the bakery that forbids you to eat what you like, to the woman who forbids you to admit that you are troubled by her veil, we are submerged in guilt for permitting ourselves such thoughts. And that is where and when fear has started its sapping, undermining work. And the way is marked for all that will follow.

* Sciences Po is an elite French public research and higher education institution.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Global warming may be far worse than thought, cloud analysis suggests

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/07/clouds-climate-change-analysis-liquid-ice-global-warming

Researchers find clouds contain more liquid – as opposed to ice – than was previously believed, threatening greater increase in temperatures

Thursday 7 April 2016

Climate change projections have vastly underestimated the role that clouds play, meaning future warming could be far worse than is currently projected, according to new research.

Researchers said that a doubling of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere compared with pre-industrial times could result in a global temperature increase of up to 5.3C – far warmer than the 4.6C older models predict.

The analysis of satellite data, led by Yale University, found that clouds have much more liquid in them, rather than ice, than has been assumed until now. Clouds with ice crystals reflect more solar light than those with liquid in them, stopping it reaching and heating the Earth’s surface.

The underestimation of the current level of liquid droplets in clouds means that models showing future warming are misguided, says the paper, published in Science. It also found that fewer clouds will change to a heat-reflecting state in the future – due to CO2 increases – than previously thought, meaning that warming estimates will have to be raised.

Such higher levels of warming would make it much more difficult for countries to keep the global temperature rise to below 2C, as they agreed to do at the landmark Paris climate summit last year, to avoid dangerous extreme weather and negative effects on food security. The world has already warmed by 1C since the advent of heavy industry, driven by CO2 concentrations soaring by more than 40%.

A lack of data and continuing uncertainty over the role of clouds is to blame for the confusion about warming estimates, said Ivy Tan, a graduate student at Yale who worked on the research with academics from Yale and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/07/clouds-climate-change-analysis-liquid-ice-global-warming

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

France passes law making it illegal to pay for sex

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/06/france-passes-law-illegal-to-pay-for-sex-criminalise-customers
 
in Paris Wednesday 6 April 2016

France is to make it illegal to pay for sex after MPs finally approved new legislation on prostitution following more than two years of rows and opposition by senators.

Under the new law, anyone caught purchasing an act from a sex worker will be fined and required to attend classes on the harms of prostitution.

There would be a €1,500 (£1,200) fine for a first offence, rising to €3,750 for a second, which would also be put on the person’s criminal record. The offender would be forced to attend classes highlighting the harms of prostitution.

The law was passed by 64 votes to 12 with many MPs absent.

The French parliament started debating the bill in 2013, but the final vote was delayed after several hearings owing to sharp divisions between the lower parliamentary chamber and the senate.

The move makes France one of only a handful of European countries to follow the Nordic model of criminalising consumers rather than sex workers. These include Norway and Iceland. Last year, Northern Ireland introduced legislation to make it the only part of the UK where people can be convicted of paying for sex.

The Socialist MP Maud Olivier, who championed the bill in France, said the aim was to “reduce [prostitution], protect prostitutes who want to leave it and to change mentalities”.

Complete article at:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/06/france-passes-law-illegal-to-pay-for-sex-criminalise-customers

Does climate change make it immoral to have kids?

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/02/does-climate-change-make-it-immoral-to-have-kids

Bringing children into a disintegrating environment used to be a theoretical fear. Now it’s a very real one

Saturday 2 April 2016

The decision whether or not to have a child is one of the bigger ones a person will make in life – often the biggest.

I needed some strong convincing from my wife when it came time for us to make it. Most of my reluctance was self-interested: I liked my life well enough, and I didn’t want to change it. My wife talked about feeling a biological imperative, which I had no answer for. Who was I to stand in the way of something like that? I signed on.

But there is a whole other potential person to consider, too – the new life that you are bringing into the world without asking first.

It’s not really fair. For while the world is a wonderful place, one we humans have made nicer for ourselves with wonderful inventions like books and record players, penicillin and pizza, it’s also a really awful place, one we’ve ravaged with deforestation and smog, nuclear weapons and mountains of pizza delivery boxes and other garbage.

The awfulness seems to be getting worse, especially now that climate change has sped up – sea level rise that was supposed to take centuries has recently been projected as taking just decades. This complicates the already difficult decision of whether to have a kid.

We’re living through what scientists call the “Sixth Extinction”, an era of precipitous decline in the number of species able to live on the planet. The last mass extinction, the fifth, happened 66 million years ago, when a giant asteroid crashed into Earth and 76% of all the species on the planet perished.
This time, we’re doing it to ourselves.

“Climate scientists agree that humanity is about to cause a sea level rise of 20 or 30ft, but they have tended to assume that such a large increase would take centuries, at least,” the New York Times’s Justin Gillis reported. But a recent study led by retired Nasa climate scientist James E Hansen, published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, indicates that the negative effects are happening a lot faster than we’d thought, perhaps feet of rise within the next 50 years.

“That would mean loss of all coastal cities, most of the world’s large cities and all their history,” Hansen told Gillis, adding, “We’re in danger of handing young people a situation that’s out of their control.”

Imagine that: New York, Tokyo, Mumbai, Shanghai, Bangkok, Amsterdam, Miami would go first. Think about the implications. Global economic collapse, famine, border disputes, wars. Jesus, just the inland traffic.

Thinking about the horrific future scientists predict hurts a very specific part of me, a part of me that I only first learned was there when I met my newborn son, 11 years ago, as he lay on the tray of the scale where the doctors had just weighed him and counted his fingers and toes.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/02/does-climate-change-make-it-immoral-to-have-kids

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Has It Become Racist to Condemn FGM?

From The Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sarah-peace/fgm-has-it-become-racist-to-condemn-it_b_9577946.html
 

31/03/2016

 
Veiling and female circumcision are long-standing practices that predate all the Abrahamic religions but remain dominant throughout society today.

The former is a broad tradition practiced by women and girls across the world, that varies from the sartorial cloth over the hair as an extension of the dress or sari, to the more steadfast hijab, which neatly tucks away all hair, covering the ears and neck but revealing the face. Then there are variations that proceed towards the complete coverage of the body including fingers and ankles, where even the wearer's eyes are hidden, confining their vision to a view mediated by a mesh screen.

The latter is a ritual with a specific intention to control female sexuality varying from removal of the clitoris to the entire genitalia, sewing the vaginal opening shut, leaving a hole just big enough for urine and menstrual blood to drip out. This ensures that a woman can be identified as a virgin before marriage and her husband is the one to execute the gallant act of deflowering. This is precisely why female circumcision for non-medical reasons is more aptly described as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Effects of FGM include infections, painful intercourse, infertility, difficulty in childbirth and other long-term consequences, which are still being discovered.

Regardless of how imposing the most extreme form of the veil can be, it is impermanent, unlike FGM which stings more destructively, so is it right to conjoin the two in the postmodern context of rethinking women's agency? I was to find out that my brazen anti-FGM stance is 'regurgitating the hideous colonial project that imposed itself on the rest of the world on a civilizing mission to rescue the women of the third world from its savage men'. The rationale I am told, is that even as a Nigerian born woman, I cannot speak for other less privileged Nigerian women, how much less, a white woman on behalf of ethnic minorities.

It was at Goldsmiths University that I came to witness this betrayal first hand, which ascribes brutality onto people from other places as part of culture but fashions itself so self-righteously. Like John the Baptist at the feet of Jesus crying; 'Who am I to say that female circumcision is barbaric, lest I judge thee through my western colonial gaze?'

In the seminar that alerted me to the pervasiveness of this sinister trend, my lecturer failed to make a distinction between veiling and FGM, simply conflating the two as cultural modes of being that are parallel to western secular thought. The argument for veiling can certainly be made: Muslim women choosing modesty, piety and privatisation of their own bodies in order to maintain power - in what they deem a patriarchal world in which women's bodies are objectified, sexualised and commodified.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sarah-peace/fgm-has-it-become-racist-to-condemn-it_b_9577946.html

Ayaan Hirsi Ali with Bill Maher Antitheist atheist


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

North Carolina Law May Risk Federal Aid

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/02/us/politics/north-carolina-anti-discrimination-law-obama-federal-funds.html
 
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is considering whether North Carolina’s new law on gay and transgender rights makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways and housing, officials said Friday.

Cutting off any federal money — or even simply threatening to do so — would put major new pressure on North Carolina to repeal the law, which eliminated local protections for gay and transgender people and restricted which bathrooms transgender people can use. A loss of federal money could send the state into a budget crisis and jeopardize services that are central to daily life.
Although experts said such a drastic step was unlikely, at least immediately, the administration’s review puts North Carolina on notice that the new law could have financial consequences. Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina had assured residents that the law would not jeopardize federal money for education.

But the law also represents a test for the Obama administration, which has declared that the fight for gay and transgender rights is a continuation of the civil rights era. The North Carolina dispute forces the administration to decide how aggressively to fight on that principle.

The North Carolina law created a mandatory statewide anti-discrimination policy, but it did not include specific protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The law prohibits transgender people from using public bathrooms that do not match the sexes on their birth certificates.

Continue reading:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/02/us/politics/north-carolina-anti-discrimination-law-obama-federal-funds.html