news you should know about

newsmongering 04/10

with one comment

> I realized when typing the date at the top of this post that this semester ends in less than a month. Then I went and breathed into a paperbag for a little bit.

> A gunman in Amsterdam went on a shooting spree yesterday, shooting and killing at least six people before killing himself. At least sixteen people were injured.

> I was wrong. Syria is not settling down. Seriously, kids – tanks.

> Protests again in Egypt: “[Egyptian] Army ready to use force to clear Tahrir Square.” Which: that’s going to go over like a pregnant pole vaulter. Protesters are demanding a trial for Mubarak and accusing the military of colluding with elements of the Mubarak administration – effectively maintaining the same structure and policies of that government. For what it’s worth, the Muslim Brotherhood has issued statements in solidarity with the military. According to this article, by the way, Mubarak and his family are forbidden to leave Egypt, have never left Egypt, and are in internal exile at a resort on the Red Sea – although he has apparently recorded a speech denying any abuse of power on his part and threatening legal action against those who would say otherwise. I’m sure it will be very well received by the Egyptian public.

Additionally, an anti-Israeli rally outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo turned violent yesterday. I would be very curious to see if anyone knows what sparked that particular gathering.

> In Cote d’Ivoire, pro-Gbagbo forces attacked an Ouattara base in Abidjan. The attack was apparently repelled by UN peacekeeping forces. (Unrelatedly, has the concept of peacekeeping forces ever seemed like an odd turn of phrase for anyone else? No? …Right, just me, then)

> At least 200 protesters were wounded in Yemen yesterday in protests across the country (more here).

> The US issues its annual report on human rights issues in China, China makes pointed comments about pots and kettles, etc.

> Having initially refused to apologize for the friendly-fire strike on Libyan rebels, NATO has now issued “regret,” (or, “We’re not saying it’s our fault, but…”). It’s about time – and who thought it was smart to refuse to do so in the first place? Seriously, who’s driving this thing?

> This article from the New York Times (“Day Laborers Braved Radiation for Temp Job“) is interesting but…problematic. The NYT somewhat fails to define their terms, and almost-contradicts itself statistically once or twice, but the more interesting part, imo, is the way the workers described are part of Japan’s changing workforce. From what I understand, the Japanese workforce was traditionally permanent laborers who worked for the company their entire lives; following the recession in the 1990’s, it’s added part-time labor to the market – but doesn’t count part-time laborers into its national statistics. In general, they’re a bit invisible – underpaid and uncounted (we in the US ought to be very familiar with this system, as we do it all the time). Anyway, I’d read the article bearing in mind that it’s about two different issues: 1) Radiation is bad, and 2) Oooh, Japanese labor system.

> Sixty-one people, 19 of whom were women, were arrested for an illegal protest regarding France’s burqa ban. I’m…divided on this one (not the arrests, but the ban itself). In general, I tend to believe that telling women they have to wear the veil is pretty much the same as telling women they can’t; but within the French system, irritating as this is, it makes some legal sense. The French system is profoundly secular in a way that Americans, I suspect, really don’t get at first brush; France forbids wearing any religious iconography, including crosses and kippahs, so adding veils to that list is consistent. What I don’t know is the extent to which bans on, say, cross necklaces are enforced.

From a feminist perspective – in general – I really dislike the ban. Women are not going to now simply cast off their veils and go on about their daily lives as new women; rather, they aren’t going to be going out, which means a whole segment of the population that will not be educated, will not be employed, and will not be buying. This ban, unless I’m much mistaken, is going to exclude a segment of women entirely from public political, economic, and educational life; it denies them the opportunity to choose to assimilate into French society and will likely drive a significant number into further conservatism. I’m not sure what Sarkozy is trying to do with this.

Actually, that’s a lie. He’s trying to get reelected.

> Foreign Policy analyzes the prose of various modern-day dictators and discovers that they uniformly cannot write sex scenes well. Or anything else, actually. Seriously, Saddam Hussein was pretty bad at erotica (and apparently had bestiality on the mind? An American translator of the novel believes the bear symbolizes Russia, which is useful but doesn’t make the following passage any less weird):

Even an animal respects a man’s desire, if it wants to copulate with him. Doesn’t a female bear try to please a herdsman when she drags him into the mountains as it happens in the North of Iraq? She drags him into her den, so that he, obeying her desire, would copulate with her? Doesn’t she bring him nuts, gathering them from the trees or picking them from the bushes? Doesn’t she climb into the houses of farmers in order to steal some cheese, nuts and even raisins, so that she can feed the man and awake in him the desire to have her?

Thanks to Sacha Boren Cohen, look for the movie – which describes “the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed” – in in theatres in May 2012.

(Fun fact: “Before Joseph Stalin was known for murdering millions of his own people, the Soviet dictator was a locally famous Georgian poet who wrote flowery odes to nature and working-class heroes.” You can watch a parrot recite some of it here.)

> Via Michael: “Why fiscal conservatives care about Planned Parenthood: The shutdown was never just about budget cuts: the Republican base bears a grudge about who ‘deserves’ government spending” This is particularly fascinating in light of recent class discussions on the stigmatization of ‘handouts’ – Social Security vs. welfare, medicare vs. WIC, and the fact that the GI Bill was affirmative action, thank you very much. It’s not so much that we-as-a-society care about the government giving people money; we care far more about the government giving money to those people over there. (Please note that ‘we’ in this instance refers to society as a whole – I’m not calling out specific individuals.)

> A (male) police officer in the UK anonymously describes the aftermath of his rape; it’s a fascinating (if obviously disturbing and tragic) perspective of seeing and understanding both procedure and his own responses.

> It’s like The West Wing, but with less snappy dialogue and denouement within 43 minutes (not counting title cards): “Behind the scenes of the White House budget battle.” I really, really hope that someone lost his glasses and shouted for Mrs. Landingham at least once. (Note to Kate: remember how you were watching The West Wing and we were discussing how Bartlet called the Republican bluff when they were threatening a shutdown? Life imitates art! …Kinda!)

> Duuuuude. Follow this guy’s blog. NOW. His bio, via Foreign Policy:

Ryan Calder is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. An Arabic speaker and former Dubai-based McKinsey & Co. analyst currently studying Islamic banking, Calder left California in late January to view the Arab revolutions firsthand, visiting Egypt and Bahrain during their respective upheavals before traveling on to Libya in March. He arrived in Libya four days before the international intervention began and is currently in the rebel-held city of Benghazi, where he has been interviewing the revolution’s participants and witnesses and writing a blog.

> The New York Times invites YOU to balance the budget via interactive thingamabob (Ben, shut up). Note: it’s hard.

> The Loaded Ethics of DNA Hacking. As with most things…there’s a lot of potential for accidental transformation.

> Some of you will have occasionally heard bits of my “everything is theater” philosophy; Lee sent me this article on the (positive) intersection of theater and church.

> Flavorwire has a photographic tour of desk jobs around the world.

> Smithsonian Magazine on the historical gendering of children’s clothing, particularly the coloring of said clothing:

For example, a Ladies’ Home Journal article in June 1918 said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” Other sources said blue was flattering for blonds, pink for brunettes; or blue was for blue-eyed babies, pink for brown-eyed babies, according to Paoletti.

It would appear – quelle surprise – that a massive player in the changeover to “my son might be a fag pansy if he wears pink diapers” was merchandising:

Prenatal testing was a big reason for the change. Expectant parents learned the sex of their unborn baby and then went shopping for “girl” or “boy” merchandise. (“The more you individualize clothing, the more you can sell,” Paoletti says.) The pink fad spread from sleepers and crib sheets to big-ticket items such as strollers, car seats and riding toys. Affluent parents could conceivably decorate for baby No. 1, a girl, and start all over when the next child was a boy.

This comment over on Reddit is, by the way, delightful. Actually, all the comments are pretty great. Also, this is FDR as a child:

Man, remember when that little boy wanted to be Daphne for Halloween and a bunch of parents were Deeply Concerned?


Written by whackanarwhal

April 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I made the blogroll! Hooray!
    Also, talking at some point? We should do it.



    April 10, 2011 at 3:33 pm

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