The fall of Harvey Weinstein should be a moment to challenge extreme masculinity

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/12/challenge-extreme-masculinity-harvey-weinstein-degrading-women

Too many men seem aroused by their ability to inflict pain and humiliation on women. But now their victims are being listened to


Thursday 12 October 2017

This past week was not a good week for women. In the United States, it was reported that a man who allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl was granted joint custody of the resultant eight-year-old boy being raised by his young mother.

Earlier in the week, the severed head and legs of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, who disappeared after entering inventor Peter Madsen’s submarine, were discovered near Copenhagen. A hard drive belonging to Madsen, Danish police said, was loaded with videos showing women being decapitated alive.

A Swedish model received rape threats for posing in an Adidas advertisement with unshaven legs. The University of Southern California’s dean of medicine was dumped after reports resurfaced that he had sexually harrassed a young medical researcher in 2003. A number of men at liberal publications were revealed to have contacted Milo Yiannopoulos, urging him to attack women – “Please mock this fat feminist,” wrote a senior male staff writer at Vice’s women’s channel, since fired. And, of course, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was described by the New York Times as a serial sexual harasser; his alleged offences, according to a TV journalist, including trapping her in a hallway, where he masturbated until he ejaculated into a potted plant.

This week, the New Yorker ran a follow-up story by Ronan Farrow (the biological son of Woody Allen, who has repudiated his father for his treatment of his sisters), expanding the charges women have made against Weinstein to include sexual assault. He quotes one young woman who said “he forced me to perform oral sex on him” after she showed up for a meeting. She added, “I have nightmares about him to this day.” Weinstein denies any non-consensual sex.

Saturday 7 October was the first anniversary of the release of the tape in which the United States president boasted about sexually assaulting women; 11 women then came forward to accuse Donald Trump. And last week began with the biggest mass shooting in modern US history, carried out by a man reported to have routinely verbally abused his girlfriend: domestic violence is common in the past of mass shooters.

Underlying all these attacks is a lack of empathy, a will to dominate, and an entitlement to control, harm and even take the lives of others. Though there is a good argument that mental illness is not a sufficient explanation – and most mentally ill people are nonviolent – mass shooters and rapists seem to have a lack of empathy so extreme it constitutes a psychological disorder. At this point in history, it seems to be not just a defect from birth, but a characteristic many men are instilled with by the culture around them. It seems to be the precondition for causing horrific suffering and taking pleasure in it as a sign of one’s own power and superiority, in regarding others as worthless, as yours to harm or eliminate.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/12/challenge-extreme-masculinity-harvey-weinstein-degrading-women

Jeff Sessions wants to crack down on legal weed — will Congress let him?

From Salon:  https://www.salon.com/2017/12/08/jeff-sessions-wants-to-crack-down-on-legal-weed-will-congress-let-him/

Limits on federal pot prosecution just got a brief extension, but medical marijuana may still be at risk

Amanda Marcotte
12.08.2017

UPDATE: Congress gave the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment a temporary reprieve after this piece was originally published, extending protections until Dec. 22. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., responded by saying, “[T]wo weeks is not enough certainty,” and adding, “Congress must act to put an end to the cycle of uncertainty and permanently protect state medical marijuana programs — and adult use — from federal interference.”

In all the budget and tax negotiations frantically being hammered out on Capitol Hill, one small amendment that might get lost in the shuffle could have huge ramifications. The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment was originally set to expire on Friday (see update above), which would open the door for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to do what he’s been hinting he wants to: Launch a federal war on states that have partly or completely legalized marijuana use.

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, originally passed as the the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment in 2014, bars the Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute people buying or selling medical marijuana in states that have legalized it. It’s a popular bipartisan amendment that protects 46 states, but there have been concerns about whether it will be renewed after Sessions exerted pressure in May on Congress to let the amendment die.

Sessions argued that the DOJ’s hands need to be untied when it comes to prosecuting marijuana dispensaries, “particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.” There is, of course, no evidence that marijuana use is contributing to the opioid crisis and, in fact, there’s a significant link between legalized medical marijuana and a decrease in opioid overdoses.

The amendment survived, despite Sessions’ pressure, through a couple rounds of budget debate in Congress this year, but as Ames Grawert of the Brennan Center for Justice told Salon, “Every time, there’s sort of a dance around whether it will actually get cut this time or not.” It’s reasonable to be at least “a little concerned,” Grawert said, that Sessions’ pressure will eventually convince congressional Republicans to dump the amendment.

This will-they-or-won’t-they game is why Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, and a bipartisan group of 24 other lawmakers have introduced the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017, which would prevent the federal government from prosecuting any marijuana users, growers or distributors who are in compliance with state laws.

“You have booming economies in several states, some of whom allow the recreational use of marijuana but many also just for medical purposes, and no real data linking that to a public safety problem,” Grawert said, noting that the Brennan Center objects to using federal resources to prosecute people or break up thriving economies without any data to show that doing so would improve public safety.

In March, Sessions argued that marijuana use is “only slightly less awful” than heroin addiction, making it clear that his priority was to aggressively prosecute marijuana users and distributors. He’s been stymied by both the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment and a memo issued by then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole that discouraged the Justice Department from prosecuting people who were following state-level marijuana laws. The obvious concern here, however, is that Sessions would seize upon the first political opening available to reinvigorate the federal war on pot.

Continue reading at:  https://www.salon.com/2017/12/08/jeff-sessions-wants-to-crack-down-on-legal-weed-will-congress-let-him/

Capitalism Is Not the Only Choice

From Yes Magazine:  http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/solidarity/capitalism-is-not-the-only-choice-20171114

We have opportunities every day to build economies that lift each other up and spread joy.


Nov 14, 2017

Since the breakup of the Soviet bloc and China’s turn toward free markets, many economists have pronounced an “end of history,” where capitalism reigns supreme as the ultimate form of economy. Perhaps “there is no alternative” to a globalized neoliberal economy, as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher often said. Indeed, free markets in which individuals compete to get what they can while they can are glorified in popular culture through reality shows such as Shark Tank.

But many of us in the 99 percent are not feeling so happy or secure about this economy’s results. Many are working harder and longer just to maintain housing and keep food on the table. Even the college-educated are mired in student debt, keeping the American Dream beyond their grasp. And then there are those who have never been served well by this economy. African Americans were liberated from enslavement only to be largely shut out of “free” market opportunities. Immigrants continue to work in the shadows. Women still earn only about three-quarters of what men make for the same work.

So, are we trapped in capitalism? While many of us may want a new economy where people and planet are prioritized over profit, we remain skeptical that another world is really possible. We make some progress locally but then feel powerless to affect national and global forces. Too often “the economy” is equated with markets where corporations compete to make profits for the wealthiest 1 percent and the rest work for a wage or salary (or don’t make money at all). Work itself is seen as legitimate only if it legally generates income. Value is measured only in money terms, based on what people are willing to pay in the market. The capitalist mindset also separates economy from society and nature, as if it exists apart from people, communities, government, and our planet. Economy is its own machine, fueled by profit and competition.

When everything that we label “economic” is assumed to be capitalist—transactional and market-driven—then it is no wonder that we run short on imagination.

Redefining economy beyond capitalism

To escape this “capitalocentrism,” we need to broaden the definition of economy beyond capitalism. What if, instead, economy is all the ways that we meet our material needs and care for each other? And what if it’s not a singular thing? Then we would see that beneath the official capitalist economy are all sorts of thriving non-capitalist economies, where there may not be a profit motive or market exchange. They include tasks that we do every day. We care for our children and elderly; we cook and clean for ourselves and each other; we grow food; we provide emotional support to friends. These are all ways of meeting our material needs and caring for each other.

Continue reading at:  http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/solidarity/capitalism-is-not-the-only-choice-20171114

Happy Hanukkah

Exploring the radical roots of Roy Moore’s theocratic Christianity

From Salon:  https://www.salon.com/2017/12/01/exploring-the-radical-roots-of-roy-moores-theocratic-christianity/

Former judge is aligned with Christian Reconstruction, a radical ideology that wants to end secular government

Amanda Marcotte
Dec. 1, 2017

Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate and alleged high school girl enthusiast, was part of a fundamentalist curriculum on law and government that taught that women shouldn’t run for office — and hinted it would be best if they weren’t allowed to vote. On Wednesday, ThinkProgress published a piece examining “Law and Government: An Introductory Study Course,” which promised that in “addition to learning concepts of civil government and public policy, students will be strengthened in their understanding of biblical principles which govern us and which point us to the Lawgiver who governs us all — Jesus Christ.”

Moore was one of the lecturers and a co-author of the curriculum, which appears to be part of the Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy, which is not a school in any formal sense, but rather a program of four-day seminars teaching a fundamentalist Christian interpretation of the law to male-only audiences.

The ThinkProgress coverage, which is worth reading in full, focuses largely on what this course teaches about women’s rights, which is basically that feminism is “a false ideology” and a “heresy.” But as Julie Ingersoll, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, explained to Salon, the implications of this curriculum go far beyond Moore’s opinion of women’s rights. This discovery is more evidence of Moore’s links to Christian Reconstruction, a far-right, borderline theocratic ideology that has radical views on women’s rights, religious freedom and the role of government.

Christian Reconstruction is an obscure far-right ideology developed by a man named Rousas John Rushdoony. In her book, “Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction,” Ingersoll writes that Rushdoony “started a movement — Reconstruction, which sought to remake the whole of society to conform to his reading of the Bible — that didn’t attract much support, but the movement’s ideas became a driving force in American politics.”

Moore doesn’t identify openly as a Christian Reconstructionist, but then again, hardly anyone does. Rushdoony was, among other things, a Holocaust denier, a slavery apologist and a virulent racist who opposed racial integration and called for the death penalty for gay people. Openly calling oneself a follower of his is unwise even in the Deep South, and Christian fundamentalists understand this. But Rushdoony’s ideas, Ingersoll told Salon, are pervasive in the Christian right.

The Reconstruction movement, Ingersoll explained, teaches that the role of civil government is to ”

The libertarian bent of so much evangelical thought, then, owes a lot to the pervasiveness of Reconstruction, even as the word itself has fallen out of fashion. But the curriculum that ThinkProgress dug up, Ingersoll noted, is “run by the Vision Forum, which is about as close to pure Rushdoony-style Christian Reconstructionism as you get.”  The Witherspoon program, she added, even included Rushdoony’s best-known book, “The Biblical Philosophy of History,” in its reading list.

Vision Forum collapsed in 2013 after its head, Doug Phillips, was publicly accused of sexual and emotional abuse by a woman named Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, who said Phillips used his religious authority over her to move her into his house, bully her into sexual encounters and tell her that he that he expected her to be his new wife when his current one died. (His wife, Beall Phillips, is 50 years old and appears, from her blogging activity, to be in good health.)

The view that women shouldn’t run for office and possibly should not even have the right to vote, Ingersoll explained, is part of the concept of “Biblical patriarchy” that Phillips taught, which flows from Reconstructionist views about the proper roles of family, church and civil government.

Continue reading at: https://www.salon.com/2017/12/01/exploring-the-radical-roots-of-roy-moores-theocratic-christianity/

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What Is ‘White Sharia’? Alt-Right Blogger Doesn’t Want Women To Vote, Drive Or Work

No to any brand of Sharia.

From Newsweek:  http://www.newsweek.com/what-white-sharia-and-what-does-it-have-do-americas-sexual-harassment-problem-725163

By
11/28/17

White supremacists want to take over everything — even the thing they hate the most: Islam’s Sharia Law.

White Sharia—as coined by a former Marine blogger—is still anti-Muslim, but seizes on orthodox Islam’s ideal of obedient women and turns it into its own movement, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

White Sharia started as an online meme by Sacco Vandal, the ex-soldier and white supremacist, who wrote on his blog that feminists and a falling American patriarchy are resulting in men losing their “barbarity.”

“Whites did not conquer the entire Earth by being nice or civilized; Whites conquered the world by sailing into foreign lands and taking those lands by force,” Vandal wrote.

And he says White Sharia can help white men become men again, and that the U.S. needs to regain its “extreme patriarchy.”

But what started as an online trolling mechanism to bring attention to the idea that feminists are hurting the alt-right movement turned into something much more aggressive.

“They don’t like Muslims, but they don’t have a problem with what are regressive treatment of women,” Heidi Beirich, the director of Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, told Newsweek. “They have come to the position that Sharia law is turning women into baby factories and turning them back into the home, and they’re fine with that.”

This phrase begun gaining popularity only in the past few months. Many believe its rise to popularity is due to the #MeToo movement, in which dozens of women have come out against powerful men with sexual misconduct allegations.

“The reason you’re seeing [white Sharia] a lot more recently is this social movement against sexual harassment,” Beirich said. “These are people who don’t believe the concept of sexual harassment exists.”

Vandal seems to agree with Beirich. He wrote on his blog that men should be able to “rape, pillage, and plunder” once again.

“The Muslim world is the only civilization left on Earth today where an extreme and rigidly codified patriarchy still exists,” he wrote. “Sharia law, though practiced today by some of the world’s most despicable races, is the only living example of anything that even remotely approximates the patriarchal society that Western man once had himself.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.newsweek.com/what-white-sharia-and-what-does-it-have-do-americas-sexual-harassment-problem-725163

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Black People Are Being Openly Bought and Sold in Libyan Slave Markets

From Alternet:  https://www.alternet.org/world/black-people-are-being-openly-bought-and-sold-libyan-slave-markets

This is happening today.

By Kali Holloway
November 22, 2017

Black Africans are being sold like inanimate objects in slave auctions across Libya. Like so many modern horrors, there is video evidence of this atrocity.

Cellphone footage from August, captured in an unidentified Libyan town, documents an outdoor slave market during a sale in progress. In the video, below, an auctioneer describes two Nigerians as “big strong boys for farm work,” before he begins calling out increasingly larger bids to an audience off-camera. The price that is settled on for both men comes to 1,200 Libyan dinars, or roughly $800 American. Two young men—two human beings—have just been sold at a price of $400 apiece.

For refugees fleeing violence, poverty and oppression in parts of Africa to its east, south and west, Libya has become a temporary landing point; a gateway that ultimately leads to the shores of southern Europe. But Libya has been torn apart by tribal warring and violence since 2011, when U.S.-led forces overthrew Muammar Gaddafi while making little effort to stabilize the region. This leadership vacuum has left Libya in a state of chaos in which “modern forms of slavery prosper,” according to human rights organization Walk Free.

Libya currently ranks among the top six countries on the Global Slavery Index, a result of its rampant “conflict, corruption, displacement, discrimination and inequality.” Longstanding North African racism toward black Africans is a contributing factor to the mistreatment of migrants. Shokri Agmar, a Libyan lawyer and journalist, told the New Internationalist in 2016 that sub-Saharan refugees are disadvantaged at every turn.

“They’re in a state of complete and utter helplessness,” Agmar explained. “Us Libyans rely on our own militias to protect ourselves, but migrants lack a militia of their own so they are defenseless against the constant threats. Whatever happens to them, no one will lift a finger, and they cannot keep a low profile because of the color of their skin.”

Add to these conditions rising racism, xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments in countries like Italy, where hundreds of thousands of African migrants seek refuge. Early this year, Italy, with EU backing, agreed to pay the Libyan coast guard to stop migrant-filled vessels from reaching Europe. Once seized, those boats are redirected back to Libya, where their occupants are placed in detention centers and camps often run by corrupt entities. The migrants are often subject to physical attacks and sexual abuse, while others are sold as human chattel. Those abuses are so common that earlier this year, UNICEF designated the Libyan path to Europe “among the world’s deadliest and most dangerous migrant routes for children and women.”

CNN, which posted the slave auction video in October, verified the footage and launched its own investigation that turned up yet more evidence of how common this scene is in towns across Libya. At a nondescript private home outside the capital city of Tripoli, a team from the network secretly filmed a similar market where CNN reporters watched “a dozen people go ‘under the hammer’ in the space of six or seven minutes.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.alternet.org/world/black-people-are-being-openly-bought-and-sold-libyan-slave-markets

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