From the world pool: March 25, 2017

Socio-political commentary

US politics

A Lie by Any Other Name 

Donald Trump is a proven liar. He lies often and effortlessly. He lies about the profound and the trivial. He lies to avoid guilt and invite glory. He lies when his pride is injured and when his pomposity is challenged.

When a President Can’t Be Taken at His Word

For Donald Trump, shamelessness is not just a strength, it’s a strategy, as Michael Scherer explores in his cover story. Whether it’s the size of his inaugural crowds or voter fraud or NATO funding or the claim that he was wiretapped, Trump says a great many things that are demonstrably false. But indicting Trump as a serial liar risks missing a more disturbing question: What does he actually believe? Does it count as lying if he believes what he says? 

…During the 2016 campaign, 70% of the Trump statements reviewed by PolitiFact were false, 4% were entirely true, 11% mostly true. Voters were not deceived: nearly two-thirds said that Trump was not trustworthy, including nearly a third of the people who voted for him anyway. Dishonesty in a candidate, far from being disqualifying, became a badge of “disruption.”

FBI’s Russian-influence probe includes a look at Breitbart, InfoWars news sites

AP Exclusive: Before Trump job, Manafort worked to aid Putin

Premiums and Tax Credits Under the Affordable Care Act vs. the American Health Care Act: Interactive Maps

‘Handmaid’s Tale’ adaptation draws ire of Trump supporters

“Wow. Trump supporters are so ignorant, they don’t realize this was based on a novel written in 1985. And the show has been in production for several years, long before the election.” The commenter added: “You see The Handmaid’s Tale and assume it’s anti-Trump .. what does that say about Trump??”

Dear Mom—about your 50 year nursing career & Medicaid

Do these men even know where babies come from?

But, whichever way you slice it, here is a stark and dispiriting statistic: 52 per cent of men say they have not personally benefitted from a woman in their life having access to affordable birth control. 

… The study is released as Republicans prepare to repeal and replace Obamacare, looking into ways that they can remove services such as maternity care and mammograms from the new healthcare bill they aim to introduce. Yesterday, on Twitter, a picture of an all-male, all-white group (Kellyanne Conway was apparently there, but out of shot) went viral, with many pointing out the terrifying irony that these were the people deciding on whether to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides preventive care services and screenings to one in five American women.

It’s horrifying to know that, statistically speaking, at least half of these men are so solipsistic that they cannot conceive of how access to contraception can impact on them – but it doesn’t feel shocking. After all, most women will tell you that the burden of contraception – and, indeed, childrearing – falls to them. 

Canadian politics

Campbell Misled Public on NDP Finances: In 2001 the incoming premier called NDP finances “worse than we anticipated.” His briefing binders, gained by The Tyee through an FOI, told him the opposite.

Missing and murdered Indigenous women inquiry has just 90 victims’ names in its database

Former TRC chair hopes missing, murdered Indigenous women inquiry hears testimony soon

Three reasons why the Liberals broke their promise on the Navigable Waters Protection Act

Shipping raw logs out of B.C. is bleeding our forest industry and communities dry

According to research recently published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and supported by two forest industry unions and three environmental organizations, last year’s exports of raw logs alone could have generated a very conservatively estimated 3,600 additional jobs in our forest industry.

If just a fraction of the roughly 6.3 million cubic metres of logs that were exported to out-of-country buyers in 2016 been processed in domestic sawmills instead, there would have been more than enough wood fibre available at fair market prices on the domestic market to furnish Catalyst and other fibre-starved pulp and paper in B.C. with their needs.

Make ferry fares an election issue

There are serious economic consequences to the government’s decision to treat B.C. Ferries differently from every other form of public transportation in the province. A Vancouver family of four thinking of a weekend getaway can drive to Whistler, on the new Sea to Sky Highway, without any extra charge. They can head to Kelowna on the Coquihalla without tolls. Or they can pay an extra $260 for the ferry round trip to visit Victoria or Tofino (reservation fee included). This government has decided travel in much of the province is a shared responsibility that we all pay for. But not when it comes to B.C. Ferries.


The urgency of intersectionality

Now more than ever, it’s important to look boldly at the reality of race and gender bias — and understand how the two can combine to create even more harm. Kimberlé Crenshaw uses the term “intersectionality” to describe this phenomenon; as she says, if you’re standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you’re likely to get hit by both. In this moving talk, she calls on us to bear witness to this reality and speak up for victims of prejudice.

What is Systemic Racism? | Race Forward  Anything Jay Smooth is involved with is worth watching.

How to Discuss Race With Black People: FAQ Part 1 — Beginner


A: You can have racist thoughts or ideas or even actions without being “A Racist”. Really the difference between a Racist and someone who did/said/believed something racist is that the former, when confronted with their racist act, stands by it, while the latter seeks to re-evaluate the offending deed. Liking black people does not keep one from Racist ideas or acts. Much is unintentional or sub-conscious.

TL;DR — Your black friends are not a racism vaccine.

Open letter to well-intentioned white people

This is only the beginning. There is so much more to learn and you have some white people in your lives to talk to and educate. I’ve tried talking to them and they don’t listen to me, so now it’s your turn. 

How Diversity Branding Hurts Diversity

…This shows that the presence of diversity programs can hurt women and people of color by creating what the study’s authors call an illusion of fairness. Because of the“diversity branding”, people are less likely to believe that discrimination exists at that company, regardless of what the data shows. 


An uncomfortable privilege walk [One thing I find telling about this is the lack of men attending this event—they have the privilege to ignore it.]

I can tell you it’s a powerful moment when the question “Take a step back if you have ever been sexually harassed” and every single person moved except me. It still gives me chills writing this down and thinking about that question. All 34 women took a step back, and I stood still.

Roxane gay, aimee bender, and more on assault and harassment in the literary world

It’s not that bad, they say. It happened a long time ago, they say. He was drunk, they say. One of these men is the publisher of a well-regarded imprint. Another is a poet. Another is a magazine editor. Another is a small press writer. And another. And another. It’s time to start naming these men. I’d name names, but these aren’t my stories. It’s not my place. That’s what I tell myself while also knowing that when we keep these men’s secrets, we allow their predatory behavior to thrive. They won’t stop until they are held accountable.

Unfounded: The Globe investigates how police handle sexual-assault cases in Canada. [TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT] This is an ongoing series and the list is therefore not complete.

In a 20-month-long investigation into how police handle sexual assault allegations, The Globe and Mail gathered data from more than 870 police forces. The findings expose deep flaws at every step of the process.

… When Canadian police officers complete an investigation, they give it a closure code to show the outcome. One of those codes is “unfounded.” “Unfounded” indicates the investigating officer does not believe a crime was attempted or occurred. Once an allegation is categorized that way, it effectively disappears from public record. Considered baseless, the case isn’t reported to Statistics Canada, which has implications for police and victim-services funding.

  • Why police dismiss 1 in 5 sexual assault claims as baseless  Suddenly, there was a flash. Ava looked over and saw four or five men pointing cellphone cameras in her direction. She became frantic. The man on top of her ran away. He left his wallet behind, police later told Ava. She was left naked and curled on the ground, her back and hair covered in dirt. Two women who heard her sobbing found Ava shortly after. It was Oct. 16, 2010, more than five years before an eerily similar attack at Stanford University would make international headlines. Ava’s story, however, never made the news. Her case did not go to court. Her assailant was never arrested, never charged. In fact, the London Police Service detective concluded that what happened to Ava that night was not a crime.
  • Will police believe you? Compare unfounded sex assault rates across Canada  Our investigation has shown that sexual-assault cases are nearly twice as likely as physical assault to be designated unfounded. (The Globe found that only 11 per cent of physical assaults were coded as unfounded.) The number is also significantly higher than the false-reporting rate, which studies have shown to be somewhere between 2 and 8 per cent. And while, on average, 1 in 5 sexual-assault allegations is deemed unfounded, The Globe found that the statistics varied wildly from town to town, city to city and province to province. Even separate police services located in the same geographic area recorded starkly different unfounded rates. In total, police in 115 communities dismissed at least one-third of sex-assault complaints as unfounded. Experts say these high figures and large variations are evidence of a broken system.
  • How do you fix a broken system?  The Philadelphia Model, as it’s become known, has been running for 17 years. Once a year, a group of advocates and representatives from the Women’s Law Project, a legal centre in the city devoted to women’s and girls’ rights, are invited to go through the police service’s sexual assault files alongside high-ranking officers in search of deficiencies and biases. In the time it’s been implemented, the rape unfounded rate in the city has plummeted to just 4 per cent, contrasted with the American national average of about 7 per cent. By comparison, The Globe and Mail’s investigation revealed that, on average, Canadian police services are dismissing 19 per cent of all sexual assault allegations as unfounded – just above what the Philadelphia police service’s rate was in the late 1990s. Reactions from across the country have been swift. So far, at least 29 police services have announced reviews, including the two largest forces in the country, the RCMP and OPP. But it’s not yet established how exactly police intend to proceed with their reviews.
  • Inside North Bay’s struggle to change how they handle sexual assault cases  In this small Northern Ontario city, the chief of police knows the service has a problem with sexual-assault cases. And he wants to do something about it. …Chief Shawn Devine wants to implement an oversight model similar to the one in place in Philadelphia, where once a year, outside advocacy groups are invited to sit down with high-ranking officers and go through sexual-assault case files. …The service applied for a $126,000 provincial grant, which the Ontario government established to help police forces address sexual violence.  …“Being a small police service with limited resources, the North Bay Police Service is unable to employ a full-time analyst,” the grant application read. “Without [the grant], it will not be possible for the service to collect the necessary data and information upon which to base decisions.” In late December, the province declined the application, in part, because of a lack of local statistics to illustrate need in the community.
  • The challenge of handling sex assault in Canada’s north With rates of 30 per cent and 28 per cent, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut had the second- and third-highest unfounded numbers, behind New Brunswick. In Yukon, police were dropping 25 per cent of cases as unfounded, meaning at least a quarter of sexual-assault complaints are not counted as legitimate in Canada’s territories. The numbers were even higher in the three capital cities: Yellowknife (36 per cent), Iqaluit (37 per cent) and Whitehorse (29 per cent.)
  • How alcohol complicates sex-assault cases “We tend to want a level of intoxication that’s so high that we’ve now crossed into a threshold where the complainant has only minimal memory of what took place, or her memory of what took place is deemed unreliable because of her degree of intoxication,” Ms. Benedet said. “So if you can remember what happened, you must not have been drunk enough, and if you can’t remember what happened, well, maybe you were drunk enough [to be incapacitated], but we don’t really know, because you can’t remember.”
  • What it’s like to report a sexual assault

Sexuality and Gender

What Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Got Right—And Really Wrong—About Trans Women And Male Privilege

Do you see my past as an excuse to exclude me, to separate me from women and feminism? Or do you see my experience as a unique addition to a collective of perspectives, contributing to a rich and diverse culture of women? Can’t my difference be a powerful tool to identify blind spots and fortify theory and praxis, as lesbians can for straight women, women of color can for white women, disabled can for able-bodied, sex workers can for those working on trafficking, etc.?

This anti-transgender campaign picked the wrong sexual assault victim to exploit

Last week I successfully defended myself against a violent sexual assault in a public restroom at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle, yelling “not today, mutherf*cker!” But I’m more upset now than I have been all week after seeing that a political group is using my face, my name and my story to fundraise for I-1552, a ballot initiative that deliberately targets and harms transgender people — including friends whom I respect.

To the people behind I-1552, I say “not today, mutherf*ckers.” I refuse to allow anyone to use me and my horrific sexual assault to cause harm and discrimination to others.

AP Stylebook Updates: Singular ‘They’ Now Acceptable

Economics and the working class

Inside Alabama’s Auto Jobs Boom: Cheap Wages, Little Training, Crushed Limbs

Alabama has been trying on the nickname “New Detroit.” Its burgeoning auto parts industry employs 26,000 workers, who last year earned $1.3 billion in wages. Georgia and Mississippi have similar, though smaller, auto parts sectors. This factory growth, after the long, painful demise of the region’s textile industry, would seem to be just the kind of manufacturing renaissance President Donald Trump and his supporters are looking for.

Except that it also epitomizes the global economy’s race to the bottom. Parts suppliers in the American South compete for low-margin orders against suppliers in Mexico and Asia. They promise delivery schedules they can’t possibly meet and face ruinous penalties if they fall short. Employees work ungodly hours, six or seven days a week, for months on end. Pay is low, turnover is high, training is scant, and safety is an afterthought, usually after someone is badly hurt. Many of the same woes that typify work conditions at contract manufacturers across Asia now bedevil parts plants in the South.

Disability issues

Disabled Americans: Stop Murdering Us

Going through the archives, I read 101 different articles about 66 murders in 2015. In that year, not a single reporter reached out to a disabled person for comment about the murder of disabled people. Dozens, on the other hand, blithely perpetuated ableist narratives equating disability with suffering and murder with acts of mercy.


Senate votes to let ISPs sell your Web browsing history to advertisers

The Senate action “would allow Comcast, Verizon, Charter, AT&T, and other broadband providers to take control away from consumers and relentlessly collect and sell their sensitive information without the consent of that family,” Markey said. That sensitive information includes health and financial information, and information about children, he said. ISPs want to “draw a map” of where families shop and go to school, and sell it to data brokers “or anyone else who wants to make a profit off you,” Markey said.

“Your home broadband provider can know when you wake up each day—either by knowing the time each morning that you log on to the Internet to check the weather/news of the morning, or through a connected device in your home,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said during Senate floor debate yesterday. “And that provider may know immediately if you are not feeling well—assuming you decide to peruse the Internet like most of us to get a quick check on your symptoms. In fact, your broadband provider may know more about your health—and your reaction to illness—than you are willing to share with your doctor.”

How ISPs can sell your Web history—and how to stop them

‘Missing Richard Simmons’ And The Nature Of Being Known

Friendship isn’t therapy. Holy moly, people, if you never believe anything else you read on the Internet, believe that friendship isn’t therapy and therapy isn’t friendship.

Environmental Issues

UN experts denounce ‘myth’ pesticides are necessary to feed the world

“It is a myth,” said Hilal Elver, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food. “Using more pesticides is nothing to do with getting rid of hunger. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), we are able to feed 9 billion people today. Production is definitely increasing, but the problem is poverty, inequality and distribution.”

Elver said many of the pesticides are used on commodity crops, such as palm oil and soy, not the food needed by the world’s hungry people: “The corporations are not dealing with world hunger, they are dealing with more agricultural activity on large scales.”

Thirsting for a Future: Water and Children in a Changing Climate

The impacts of climate change are being felt around the world. For many children, a change in climate is felt through a change in water. In times of drought or flood, in areas where sea level has risen or ice and snow have unseasonably melted, children are at risk – as the quality and the quantity of the water they rely on is under threat. In the coming years, the demand for water will increase as populations grow and move, industries develop, and consumption increases. This can lead to water stress, as increasing demand and use of water strains available supplies. The world is on the brink of a deadly crisis, as the combination of water stress and climate change creates a dangerous outlook for children.

Why are Green Groups So White?

Yet when I asked Sánchez-Tello, who left the organization in 2015, how much The Wilderness Society’s own demographics changed since he worked first worked there in 2010, he takes a long breath and an even longer pause. The answer is that he’s not sure whether the organization has more people of color now than it did when he started there seven years ago. It might even have less.

Sánchez-Tello says the allies he had within the organization all regret what happened – that the explicit understanding around the need for equity never materialized into a change in the organization’s makeup. When colleagues would ask Sánchez-Tello how the organization could arrive at racial equity, he says he would always answer, “You choose to get there.”


Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware

A license agreement John Deere required farmers to sign in October forbids nearly all repair and modification to farming equipment, and prevents farmers from suing for “crop loss, lost profits, loss of goodwill, loss of use of equipment … arising from the performance or non-performance of any aspect of the software.” The agreement applies to anyone who turns the key or otherwise uses a John Deere tractor with embedded software. It means that only John Deere dealerships and “authorized” repair shops can work on newer tractors.

Kenney and Kluthe have been pushing for right-to-repair legislation in Nebraska that would invalidate John Deere’s license agreement (seven other states are considering similar bills). In the meantime, farmers have started hacking their machines because even simple repairs are made impossible by the embedded software within the tractor. John Deere is one of the staunchest opponents of this legislation.

Seeing My Body With Fresh Eyes

For our first date, Kelly took me four-wheeling in a huge mud-filled obstacle course. Hours later, we were covered in mud and giggling. Then he kissed me. I hadn’t known how I felt about him, until his lips were on mine — but then, I knew. He felt familiar and safe. But he also weighed less than I did, and that was nerve-wracking.


Art + Design + Writing

Forget Coding: Writing is Design’s “Unicorn Skill”

Learning how to write isn’t just an important skill for the future: It’s applicable right now. Trends in digital design emphasize clean lines and few words–giving language itself more weight. “Art direction and copywriting are as fundamental to the user experience as the UI,” as Paul Woods, COO of the digital design firm Edenspiekermann, wrote here on Co.Design. “Sure, you can have a beautiful UI/frame, but once you have that (we all know a great UI is an invisible UI), all the viewer cares about is what’s inside: the artwork, the story.”

Dystopian dreams: how feminist science fiction predicted the future 


50 Years Ago, Sugar Industry Quietly Paid Scientists To Point Blame At Fat

In the article, published Monday, authors Glantz, Cristin Kearns and Laura Schmidt aren’t trying make the case for a link between sugar and coronary heart disease. Their interest is in the process. They say the documents reveal the sugar industry attempting to influence scientific inquiry and debate.

23 Black Female Scientists Who Changed The Damn World

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a new kind of cloud

Looks interesting

The History of White People, by Nell Irvin Painter

Nell Irvin Painter’s title, “The History of White People,” is a provocation in several ways: it’s monumental in sweep, and its absurd grandiosity should call to mind the fact that writing a “History of Black People” might seem perfectly reasonable to white people. But the title is literally accurate, because the book traces characterizations of the lighter-skinned people we call white today, starting with the ancient Scythians. For those who have not yet registered how much these characterizations have changed, let me assure you that sensory observation was not the basis of racial nomenclature.

Just for fun

Giant Chicken Brahma  [It’s like the top half doesn’t know what the bottom half is doing.]

“Oh man, I can’t deal with birds ‘cause they’re dinosaurs and sometimes it’s like they get this glint in their eyes and they remember.”


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