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newsmongering 05/14

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> A thousand thanks and my firstborn child to Scott, for linking me to The New Gay. I’m digging it. No, seriously, there’s some cool stuff here, from the writeup of Tony Kushner at the Public Theater to this editorial on why gay men need to be feminists. Adding it to the blogroll!

> Wondering why the Obama administration response to Libya’s rebellion is so different from its response to the Syrian uprising? In short: Libya was isolated. Syria is a regional player, with close ties to Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and with a long history of antagonism with Israel. A move against Syria would have substantial international shockwaves in a way that NATO’s activities in Libya did not. Foreign Policy discusses that and more here.

> “Iran has postponed blinding a man with acid following an international outcry over the retributive punishment imposed after he was found guilty of doing the same to a woman who refused to marry him.” The man was to be unconscious in a medical facility while his former victim dripped acid into his eyes – quite literally taking an eye for an eye. This is the first time I can remember the Iran has postponed any sort of punitive treatment due to international outcry. That’s certainly interesting.

> Yemeni poet Walid al-Ramishi was kidnapped by a gang and had his tongue cut out after he wrote a verse praising the embattled president Saleh. The editorial I’ve linked to isn’t great, but its suggestion that the attack might have been ordered by the government is intriguing.

> Turkey threatened to drop out of the UN panel investigating Israel’s attack on the Turkish flotilla attempting to break the Gaza blockade on Friday, claiming that the language in the draft report favored Israel by not mentioning that Israel violated international law when its naval commanders boarded the Turkish ship. Talks are allegedly in progress. Interestingly, it sounds as if another flotilla may be in the works, if only hypothetically:

The deputy minister of development of the Negev and Gallilee in Israel said the meeting participants are taking the side of any kind of peaceful movement at a meeting aimed to bring an ethereal method to solve the tension between Israel and Turkey.

Ayoob Kara, in response to a question on the circumstances Turkey may face including if another flotilla arrives at Gaza, said they support all Turkish aid to the region, medicine or food or together, but they should be defined as humanitarian aid. “We want to work with the Turkish government; we support human rights and there is nothing wrong with that. But we do not want any provocative action that does not bring peace to the region,” he said.

China has announced that artist and architect Ai Weiwei, who was disappeared over a month ago in a crackdown, “will be punished.” Ai was once favored by the Chinese government, even designing the Olympic “Birds Nest” stadium, but following the earthquack in Sichuan in 2008, Ai campaigned against a government that allowed poorly-constructed schools to collapse and kill thousands of school children. His most recent exhibition opened in New York this week.

> The International Monetary Fund’s managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was arrested today in New York under suspicion of involvement in the sexual assault of a maid in a Midtown Manhattan hotel today. Mr. Strauss-Kahn was widely expected to be the Socialist candidate for the French presidency in the next election, polling well ahead of incumbent president Sarkozy. France being France, he might still have a chance.

> Michelle Bachelet, former Chilean president and now head of UN Women, stated in an interview that “Gender equality is not a luxury, it is an imperative, a need to have sustainable development.” Cool beans.

> Former pop star Michel Martelly was sworn in as Haiti’s president today.

> Newt Gingrich has decided that Obama is the “food stamp president”:

“We’re at the crossroads,” Gingrich said, repeatedly sniffling from allergies. “Down one road is a European centralized bureaucratic socialist welfare system in which politicians and bureaucrats define the future. Down the other road is a proud, solid, reaffirmation of American exceptionalism.”

I was really kind of hoping that American exceptionalism was one of those little bits of nostalgia we could discard, like hot pants or lead-lined toothpaste tubes. I cannot think of ideologies that have been more harmful to American policy, domestic and foreign, than the myth of American exceptionalism.

> You know it’s a bad news cycle when John McCain is telling off the Senate for lack of moral fiber.

> Kansas has passed a another restrictive anti-abortion bill:

Kansas legislators approved a ban Friday on insurance companies offering abortion coverage as part of their general health plans except when a woman’s life is at risk… If the bill becomes law as expected, starting in July, individuals and employers who want abortion coverage would have to buy supplemental policies that cover only abortion. Supporters of the bill argue that it will protect employers who oppose abortion rights from having to pay for policies that cover the procedures.

> An entertaining round-up of the GOP’s foreign policy soundbytes is here. My favorite is Indian governor Mitch Daniels’ response to reporters when asked if he was prepared to debate President Obama on foreign policy: “Probably not.” The whole Michelle Bachman page is pretty entertaining, too: “And half of Iraq, the western, northern portion of Iraq, is going to be called the Iraq State of Islam, something like that. And I’m sorry, I don’t have the official name, but it’s meant to be the training ground for the terrorists.” The article also notes that “Trump’s rhetoric on China has been particularly aggressive, urging Americans to stop buying ‘crap’ produced in that country, presumably not including his own line of clothing.” (On a more serious note, pay attention while reading to treatment of Israel.)

> Fascinating article comparing American Christian and European Christian responses to the bin Laden assassination here. Two primary points:

European Christians’ criticisms of the raid in Abbottabad stem as much from their contempt for American triumphalism as from any theological quarrel.


In a case like bin Laden’s, this means that God requires death. Many American evangelicals would say that this is not about revenge, at least not the puny human kind. This is about turning the soul of a mass murderer over to the only authority truly capable of judging his case and meting out punishment. Their theology has led them to a kind of idealism, a preference for the clarity of divine commandment over the messy ambiguities of, say, the International Criminal Court. To evangelicals who interpret their Bible this way, the Navy SEALs’ killing of bin Laden was not an exercise in American exceptionalism, but the very opposite: compliance with the law of God, the most universal authority there is.

> A high school in Wasilla, Alaska is not allowing a student choir to perform “Bohemian Rhapsody” at its graduation ceremony because the tune’s writer (Freddie Mercury) was – gasp – gay. As the Reddit commenters point out, bless them, the school should next ban computer science, Tchaikovsky, and the entire Hellenic period.

> A group of a few hundred gathered outside the Australian parliament today in support of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia was confronted by a members of the Adelaide Street Church; police were called in. This incident would be relatively unremarkable except that one of the rally organizers commented that some of the church members had “…signs saying ‘God hates sinners’ … no sign should say ‘God hates’.” Right in one.

> Autostraddle has a discussion of the Glee “Prom” episode here, and rm discusses gender narratives in relation thereto over here. Also, I went to prom with a girl (hi, Lee!). It’s really weird when Real Life and Glee coincide. Anyway, Autostraddle has great lines.

There’s a subplot in which the school cheerleading coach and all-around rabble rouser locks a disabled kid in her office and threatens to harm him with giant iron dental instruments from the 1770′s, which is really altogether just so ridiculous that I need not waste your time with it, right?

Written by whackanarwhal

May 14, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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