Women are not objects to be used and abused

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Women are not objects
Women are not objects

Women are not objects. Yet news from around the world underlines how many men act as if they were, while key figures, like Trump, set a disastrous example.

Today it was announced that a ten year-old Indian girl, victim of repeated rape by her step father, has given birth after having been refused the right to abortion by the Indian Supreme Court. Meanwhile in England in a number of towns girls and women have been and still are being groomed then abused by gangs of men.

A year ago, it was revealed that Trump was proud to boast he could grope the genitals of any woman he pleased, Subsequently, once he was elected president, he laid bare his misogyny by verbally attacking women for their looks and their body fluids. At the same time, the Trump administration has cut budgets for family planning and sought to curtail possibilities for abortion not just in the US but in developing countries around the world.

What right have a band of white men to curtail or violate women’s rights? How dare they believe they are superior to women, just like they believe whites are superior to people of colour or other ethnic groups. Racism and misogyny are ugly traits that  go hand in hand and have no place in a civilised world. Women are not objects.

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Indian rape victim

BBC News | Indian rape victim, 10, gives birth by Caesarean section

Hard Kumar, The New York Times | Indian Girl, 10, Was Raped Repeatedly. Now She May Have to Give Birth

Grooming young girls in the UK

Frances Perraudin, The Guardian | Eighteen people found guilty over Newcastle sex grooming network

Frances Perraudin, The Guardian | Offenders in Rochdale child sexual abuse scandal ‘remain at large’

Trump groping women

David A. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post | Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005

Arwa Mahdawi, The Guardian | Trump loves attacking women’s looks. And America rewards him for it

Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times | The Playboy President and Women’s Health

Trump administration undermining women’s reproductive rights

Trump and the white men
Trump and his band of white men prevent millions of women around the world from deciding what they can and can’t do with their own bodies. Photo: Ron Sachs/EPA

Sarah Boseley, The Guardian | How Trump signed a global death warrant for women

The Guardian | US refuses to back UN on abortion access in human rights resolution

Jessica Valenti, The Guardian | Abortion rights are already under siege – and it’s only going to get worse

Molly Redden, The Guardian | White House drafts rule to roll back ‘contraception mandate’ for health coverage

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Enough is enough, but beware damage by his minions

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Enough of the clown
A clown to distract

Enough of the clown. That attention is so focussed on him is not surprising. He knows how to hold media attention with his outrageous and shocking behaviour. People are understandably up in arms against his words and acts. Not only is he a staunch neo-liberalist out to rape the world and most of its people for the betterment of a select few, but recent events have reminded everyone that he is and always has been a racist.

Yet we should not forget that, while he prances about and blusters in favour of white supremacists and threatens nuclear war against Korea and military intervention in Venezuela, his minions in the administration advance an agenda that is equally shocking and devastating. Budget cuts hitting the poor and disenfranchised. Voter suppression. Removal of women’s rights. Massive favours to industry. Tax cuts for the ultra-rich. Disastrous refusal of global warming and policies that will push the world over the edge. (…)

Trump must go! But removing Trump would not be enough. The system embodied by neoliberalism that undoes the state and the public sphere and rapes the world and its peoples in the name of a quick buck for the ultra-rich, must go with him.

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Original photo sources: Kevin Lamarque, Reuters and Mandel Ngan, AFP, Getty Images

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What follows is a small sample of the damage being done by Trump and the Trump administration.

Alex Emmons, The Intercept | Jeff Sessions wants to make “legalised theft” great again

Democracy Now | Rights Advocates: Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity Set Up as a Pretext for Voter Suppression

Democracy Now | Vice President Pence’s Office Plans to Control Voter Roll Data

Andrew Restuccia, Matthew Nussbaum, Sarah Ferris, Politico | Trump releases budget hitting his own voters hardest

Pro Choice America | Donald Trump on Reproductive Freedom

Democracy Now | “Care in Chaos”: New Documentary Uncovers Rising Tide of Attacks on Abortion Clinics Under Trump

The Guardian Editorial | The Guardian view on Trump and climate change: galvanising the globe

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Race-hatred fanned by fawning authorities

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Race-hatred
Fan race-hatred

Race-hatred is being fanned across the U.S. but also in many other countries. Both right-wing politicians and certain media fuel discontent, repeatedly and incorrectly heaping blame on those who are different. The campaign for Brexit was a flagrant example of a nationalist, isolationist discourse with heavy racist undertones.

This weekend, alt-right groups including the KKK marched armed and unmasked through the university campus in Charlottesville sporting flags with swasticas. A nazi sympathiser, James Alex Fields Jr., ploughed his car into a group of people protesting the neo-nazi rally. Heather D. Heyer, a paralegal who “was a passionate advocate for the disenfranchised”, was killed and nineteen others injured. Fields is being charged with murder. The tepid response of the authorities and local police has been severely criticised. A.G. Sessions has promised a federal enquiry into the events, but, given his long track record of support for racist policies, it seems unlikely to throw any useful light on the situation.

The world is awash with indignation at Trump’s refusal to condemn the acts of white supremacists. Only two days after the event and under great public pressure did the President read a prepared speech condemning the right-wing organisations that caused the trouble. As Ta-Nehisi Coates explains in his interview on Democracy Now (see below), we should not be surprised at Trump’s position given his life-long adherence to racist positions.

It is not only right-wing politicians that advocate such racist attitudes but also those centrists whose timid response acts as tacit encouragement. The First Amendment in the States, which is used as a shield to condone hateful and damaging discourse, runs foul of another basic tenet of American life: all peoples are equal.

The underlying question here is: how come these people who advocate the exclusion of certain groups of the population supposedly because they are inferior, can march unmasked through the streets of a so-called civilised nation and kill those people who are opposed to them?

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Photo source: Vox, Samuel Corum, Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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Democracy Now | Ta-Nehisi Coates: With a Racist in the White House, the Bloodshed in Charlottesville was Predictable

Brennan Gilmore, Politico | What I Saw in Charlottesville Could Be Just the Beginning

Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept | Donald Trump Has Been a Racist All His Life – And He Isn’t Going to Change After Charlottesville

Owen Jones, The Guardian | Who has fanned the flames of fascism? Our politicians and newspapers

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Private military enforce corporate agenda

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private military
Private military enforce corporate agenda

There is increasing recourse to private military not only to backup or even replace the army in conflict zones, but also to enforce the agenda of industrial conglomerates  as in the eviction of peaceful demonstrators at Standing Rock who were attempting to halt the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The proposed pipeline was against the will of indigenous peoples and disastrous for local water supplies and, more globally, against efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses, These concerns were of little interest to the petroleum companies whose only idea was to make a quick buck at the expense of the Earth and the indigenous peoples. Hired security staff were on hand to enforce the will of the companies and the neoliberal administration..

Such lucrative security businesses are thriving as the shift to private mercenaries accelerates and people like Trump increase state budgets to pay for increased militarisation. Trump is advised by mercenaries like the head of the now-defunct Blackwater company. Such private military forces are key players in ramming through the neoliberal agenda against the will of the people and beyond the reach of any democratic oversight.

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Photo source: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

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Jose L. Gomez del Prado, Global Research | The Privatization of War: Mercenaries, Private Military and Security Companies

Ian Traynor, The Guardian | The privatisation of war

Kenneth P. Vogel, Brianna Gurciullo, Politico | Inside Trump’s ‘privatized mercenary force’

Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept | Notorious mercenary Erik Prince is advising Trump from the shadows

Democracy Now | Private Warriors: New PBS Doc Questions Role of Military Contractors in Iraq

Democracy Now | Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Urges Trump to Privatize Afghan War & Install Viceroy to Run Nation

Democracy Now | Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army

Democracy Now | CIA Hired Private Military Firm Blackwater for Secret Assassination Program

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism | Privatised War – A spotlight on the use of military contracting worldwide

Swiss Armed Forces for the OSCE | 20 Years of OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security

 

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Word-ban: How to combat climate change

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Word-ban
Word-ban: the answer to climate change

Word-ban! How to end climate change? Easy. Ban the use of the word!

In his visionary novel, 1984, George Orwell wrote: In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.

Out of sheer greed and/or ideological shortsightedness, Trump and his neoliberal buddies are using the same tactic to do away with climate change: ban the use of the expression and those words related to it. Other proscribed words include ‘global warming’  and ‘reduce greenhouse gases’. Imagine what that might mean if the administration got its greedy fingers on Google or Bing and imposed a similar word-ban, making the finding of such words on the Internet all the more difficult if not impossible.

Fortunately for us, the Trump administration does not yet control our vocabulary, so we are free to use the proscribed words and have every interest to do so, to avoid them disappearing, to avoid the world careening over the climate precipice just so a few people can be even richer.

In a similar vein, the scientific findings that underlie climate change research are being doctored, deleted or disparaged. As an antidote to enforced oblivion, scientists world-wide have been saving copies of key documents.

Only a concerted public voice about climate change and the actions necessary to halt global warming can overcome the actions of greedy deniers.

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Photo source: The Washington Post, Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Bill McKibben, The Guardian | The Trump administration’s solution to climate change: ban the term

Oliver Milman, The Guardian | US federal department is censoring use of term ‘climate change’, emails reveal

Terrence McCoy, The Washington Post | Threatened by climate change, Florida reportedly bans term ‘climate change’

Lisa Song, Zahra Hirji, Inside Climate News | The Scramble to Protect Climate Data Under Trump

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Elect an illiterate president

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An illiterate president
Elect an illiterate president

An illiterate president – the ultimate recipe for disaster

Illiterate? The word rings like an accusation. In itself, it is not.  It is the combination of the two words ‘illiterate’ and ‘president’ that is accusatory. The dictionary says of being illiterate: ignorant in a particular subject or activity: uncultured or poorly educated; badly written or expressed.

 Understanding requires knowing the necessary words and being able to develop the concepts that underlie that understanding. Without the words, understanding the world is just not possible. Having an extremely limited vocabulary implies that the person is incapable of grasping even the simplest concepts let alone the complex interplay and interconnectedness that characterise the modern world. Having few words to call on also puts the person at an immense disadvantage when faced with others, in particular those who are manipulative or who have a forcefully advocated agenda.

Laughing at people who are illiterate is cruel and unfair. They can’t help it. But when that person has been elected at the head of one of the most powerful countries in the world, he, and by ricochet his country, are risible. Worse, coupled with an intense desire to be seen as powerful and impressive fuelled by deep feelings of inferiority, all possibility of awareness of one’s shortcomings get shoved aside. The world can only be seen in simplistic terms and any ‘solution’ can only come from an extremely poor vocabulary of actions that are rarely appropriate.

Combine that limited understanding of the world, a drastically over-inflated ego and an entourage out to manipulate for their own profit or ideology and the fact that the president has the ability to launch a nuclear strike and the generals are sworn to obey him, you have the ultimate recipe for disaster.

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Richard Wolffe, The Guardian | God save us from Donald Trump’s fire and fury

Sam Leith, The Guardian | Trump’s rhetoric: a triumph of inarticulacy

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Make war for the few to get richer

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Make war to get richer

On the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, in threatening North Korea Trump uses the same bellicose language as President Truman’s warning to Japan before bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Except the circumstances and the motivations are very different.

War will make a small group of very rich people even richer. Are we going to stand by and let them cynically wipe out millions of lives to fill their coffers? Speak out! Its now or never.

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Photo source: Shigeo Hayashi / Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum via Reuters

Democracy Now | Forget Russia. Is Provoking a Nuclear War with North Korea Grounds for Impeachment?

Julian Borger, Justin McCurry, The Guardian | Donald Trump vows to answer North Korea nuclear threats with ‘fire and fury’

Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept | The Madman With Nuclear Weapons is Donald Trump, Not Kim Jong-un

Bryan Bender & Jacqueline Klimas, Politico | Trump’s ‘fire and fury’ threat to North Korea sparks new fears of war

Kenza Bryan, The Independent | Hiroshima: Japan calls for a ‘world free of nuclear weapons’ on 72nd anniversary of atomic bombing

Erin Spens, Boat Magazine | Facing Life After Death: A Conversation with Toshiko Tanaka, Survivor of the Hiroshima Atomic Bombing

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Donald Trump, disaster incarnate

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Trump – disaster incarnate

Trump’s reckless and incompetent approach to governance is nothing short of a disaster creating machine. Naomi Klein in No is Not Enough. Defeating the New Shock Politics.

While there are so many recipes for disaster trumped up or exploited by the gang of neoliberals currently making a power grab around the world, one of the central factors of disaster is Trump himself.

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Photo source: Dailybeast, Jim Young, Reuters

Naomi Klein, The Intercept | The worst of Donald Trump’s toxic agenda is lying in wait – a major U.S. crisis will unleash it An in-depth look at the shocks treating or world. Well worth reading.

Naomi Klein, No is Not Enough. Defeating the New Shock Politics, Penguin, 2017.

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Guardian interview with Felicity Lawrence

Felicity Lawrence

The Guardian has published an interview with Felicity Lawrence, recent recipient of the Orwell Prize for investigative journalism. Here is how the introduction to the interview begins:

Felicity Lawrence has reported on some of the most challenging issues facing the modern world, from corporate power – especially in the food system – to migration, the re-emergence of slavery, climate change, and global tax avoidance.

She was recently awarded the coveted Orwell prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils, for her latest piece on migrant gangwork in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, and its human and political consequences. (…)

Read the full interview in The Guardian.