From the world pool: March 31, 2017

Socio-political commentary

US politics

A Last Chance for Resistance

Few ever see the tyranny coming. Those who do and speak out are treated by the authorities, and often the wider society, as alarmists or traitors.

Here’s what we know so far about Team Trump’s ties to Russian interests

Welcome to the Authoritarian Kleptocracy, part VII

UPDATED: RussiaGate blows WIDE OPEN in Abramson report

Why Trump’s ties to Russia would be way worse than Watergate

Here’s where it currently stands:

The President is under investigation for colluding with a foreign power. He is being investigated by an oversight committee, the head of which, Republican representative Devin Nunes, has functioned less as a watchdog than a lapdog, providing information about the investigation of Trump to Trump in a breach of protocol. And this was not Nunes’ only misdeed: he was also  present at a January meeting between Turkish officials and Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who in February resigned in disgrace after being revealed to be working secretly for the Turkish and Russian governments for millions of dollars.

In short, the US has employed a president suspected of treason, an oversight committee head who refuses to do oversight, and a national security advisor who undermined US national security.

Trump administration sought to block Sally Yates from testifying to Congress on Russia

GOP cover-up: Sally Yates determined to testify despite WH attempts to silence her

Well, things are getting lively for Mike Flynn.

We Need to Talk About Ivanka Trump’s White House Office

A few observations from rural Appalachian health care

At the main hospital, first thing I do is refuse meds. I tell them I got enough at the last place. The RN looks at me, says: uninsured? Turns out this is so common around here they’ve actually developed variant standards of care: one discusses price, one doesn’t.

 …about how socialism in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.

Canadian politics

Campbell Misled Public on NDP Finances  Why is this not getting more attention?

Far from inheriting a fiscal disaster from the NDP, Campbell and his party were given a provincial treasury brimming with cash. But the voting public was led to think very much otherwise.

B.C. auditor general says government budget ads are too political

Senator Lynn Beyak says she has ‘suffered’ with residential school survivors  How many stupidity shovels does this woman have?

Soldiers of Odin arrested at anti-racism rally in Vancouver  Just in case you think it can’t happen in Canada.

How BC Taxpayers Ended Up Paying for the $3.5-Billion Massey Bridge

But if today’s B.C. government has its way, work will start late this year on a massive $3.5-billion bridge, financed through a Public-Private Partnership (P3), to be completed by 2022.

Which means a stiff toll to pay off private creditors in the years ahead. Which will also mean that the perfectly safe, perfectly good tunnel will be removed.

Which could then allow that section of the riverbed to be dredged three to six metres deeper. Which will jeopardize migrating Fraser River salmon. But which will also provide sufficient draft for 300-metre ships to load coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) at expanded riverside facilities in Delta, Surrey and Richmond. Which will encroach on adjacent Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) farmland.

And which — given the incredibly explosive potential of LNG — will put tens of thousands of riverside residents at risk of becoming “human kebobs,” says Eoin Finn, a well-known LNG opponent who has been researching the industry for three years.


UW professor: The information war is real, and we’re losing it

“After every mass shooting, dozens of them, there would be these strange clusters of activity,” Starbird says. “It was so fringe we kind of laughed at it. “That was a terrible mistake. We should have been studying it.”

What Kind of Free Is Speech Online?

The implication is that we can either design online platforms that control behavior (by doing things like prohibiting anonymity, developing reputation systems, or using artificial intelligence to moderate contributions) or we can have freedom. This is where some of internet culture seems to intersect with libertarianism: any attempt to shape the overall tenor of a group conversation is a restriction on individuals’ right of free expression. Or to put it differently, the power to shape the tone of a social interaction is liable to be misused by the powerful. …Part of the issue is that the platforms that have the greatest reach (Facebook, Google, Twitter) are all operating within an economic framework that rewards us for clicking and sharing. 

Rethinking our default profile photo

We’ve noticed patterns of behavior with accounts that are created only to harass others – often they don’t take the time to personalize their accounts. This has created an association between the default egg profile photo and negative behavior, which isn’t fair to people who are still new to Twitter and haven’t yet personalized their profile photo.

…Do they actually think changing the default image will change this behaviour?


The Normal Person’s Guide to Internet Security


After 12 rejections, apple accepts app that tracks U.S. drone strikes

Update: 2:32pm  Apple has removed Metadata from the App Store.


Trump’s big new executive order to tear up Obama’s climate policies, explained

How First Nations got ahead of the curve on clean energy

Feminist issues

Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women? Tech companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to improve conditions for female employees. Here’s why not much has changed—and what might actually work.

The hostility of the culture is such an open secret that tweets and essays complaining of sexism tend to begin with a disclaimer acknowledging how shopworn the subject feels. “My least favorite topic in the world is ‘Women in Tech,’ so I am going to make this short,” wrote one blogger, noting that after she started speaking at conferences and contributing to open-source projects, she began to get threatening and abusive emails, including from men who said they “jerked off to my conference talk video.” Another woman tweeted that, while waiting to make a presentation at Pubcon, a prestigious conference, she was told by a male attendee, “Don’t be nervous. You’re hot! No one expects you to do well.”

…Women leave tech at more than twice the rate men do. It’s not hard to see why.

cw: Weightloss, fatphobia, sexual assault

For five years, I got to be treated like a human being.

And it pissed me the fuck off.

Because I had done nothing – nothing but starve myself, obsessively count every fucking calorie that entered my mouth, step on a scale 3 times a day worrying about every incremental change, run every day until my knees ached, obsessively take pictures of my body to compare with the previous months pictures to see if I could find a visible change, measure all of my body parts to feel good or bad about a lost or gained centimeter, forgo dinner so I could have a cookie for the first time in months, spend thousands of dollars on every book and every magazine that would help keep my motivation up for eating shit I didn’t want every single day. And all of this work that took over my entire life gave me nothing but a smaller body.

I didn’t become a better person, I didn’t become a more interesting person (if anything, I became far less interesting), I didn’t become more creative or kind. I became me, only smaller, and absolutely obsessed with what I put in my mouth.

And that was what was needed to be treated like someone who deserved to exist in public. 

Inside the Dangerous Convergence of Men’s-Rights Activists and the Extreme Alt-Right

While MGTOWs and alt-rightists regularly spar with one another online, the two movements now appear to be converging, with alt-rightists increasingly spouting anti-feminist, anti-women talking points familiar to anyone who has paid attention to the men’s-rights movement; meanwhile, more and more MGTOWs are becoming less shy about expressing their racism, with many openly identifying with the alt-right.

The two movements are drawn together by a shared obsession with, and paranoia about, the sexuality of women.

It’s time to drop the vagina as a protest symbol

But that a gesture of solidarity was necessary to unite a fractured movement doesn’t mean it’s the appropriate way forward. The obvious problem with vagina-motif protest is that it leaves out some women — namely, trans women. Not all women have vaginas, and not all vagina-havers identify as women. A rhetorical strategy whose goal is universality falls short if it excludes some of the most marginalized women.

And an anatomical focus also erases women’s experiences. Women are a caste within society, not the owners of a particular body part. The vast majority of women do indeed have vaginas, but they aren’t preoccupied by that fact day to day. Vagina possession doesn’t explain why Mary voices an idea in a meeting but the boss listens only when Jim repeats it. When Kate does the dishes again, it isn’t because Bob’s genitalia prevented him from loading the dishwasher. Yes, reproduction and child-care-related issues, not to mention sexual assault and domestic abuse, disproportionately affect women, and often involve women’s genitals. But even the women’s issues with some relationship to female anatomy aren’t really about vaginas.

LGBTQIA issues

GLAAD media reference guide

Why North Carolina Law Is Still Anti-LGBT and Unconstitutional

Thursday, in a rush to meet a deadline from the NCAA, which had announced it would keep championship events out of the state for six years unless HB2 was repealed, the legislature passed HB 142, which eliminates the bathroom ban, but still prohibits municipalities from enacting anti-discrimination measures for three years. 

Transgender Day of Visibility

That would be today.


This 14-Year-Old Transgender Girl’s Video Is Going Viral for the Best Reason

What The Left Can Do To Help Keep Trans Kids Safe In Trump’s America

Some may call me an idealist, but the past few days have demonstrated to me that the Left really does want to help trans people. And now you know how. Please don’t let us down.

8 Ways To Participate In Transgender Day Of Visibility  And every day.

This Whole “Are Trans Women Real Women?” Thing is Gross

And, all those pro-trans feminists saying trans women actually are “real” aren’t helping either. It’s like asking “does it make you sad when you beat your wife?” — either “yes” or a “no” answer to that question is implicitly buys into unstated assumptions about the situation. Insisting that trans women are “real” further reinforces the idea that there is a real, that “real” is a significant, innate thing, and it’s something we need to be concentrating on when it comes to trans issues.

It isn’t.

What we really need to look at is people’s unconscious response to gender. When one person designates another person a “real” woman, I think what they are usually saying is “I unconsciously respond to this person as a woman.” People narcissistically believe that their own perception of reality defines reality for everyone. 

As A Trans Woman, I’ve Seen Nerd Culture’s Misogyny From Both Sides

We had plenty of girls in our circles when we were younger — there were girls playing with us whenever we sat down for a game. And yet, the fact that I would be transitioning had thrown an urgent and devastating curve-ball into the systems of some of my oldest friends. For the first time, I realized that at a basic level, they thought that nerd culture was “boy stuff.” Before my transition I hadn’t thought much about how that attitude might have affected the girls’ experience. But now that I was moving from being one of the boys to “just like one of the boys,” I realized how different those experiences really are.

Deadnaming A Trans Person Is Violence — So Why Does The Media Do It Anyway?

For transgender people, our relationships to our names are complicated, to say the least. What we’re called has power, and hearing a blatantly masculine or feminine name applied to you when you’re trying to realign your gender in a different direction can be a source of profound, dysphoria-inducing anxiety. Hearing or seeing one’s old name can induce a visceral sense of terror that no matter how much progress one makes in their transition, the person they used to be (or pretended to be) is still there.

Hence the term “deadname”: a name that shall not be spoken, for it invokes a restless spirit. Many trans people will go to great lengths to prevent people from finding out their deadnames, destroying irreplaceable photos and documents in an effort to ensure that who they really are is the only identity most will remember. We may not be able to make our families forget what they used to call us, but we can change how we’re known to the rest of the world.

Except when we can’t.

Crowded Margins: On Trans* Solidarity and Allyship

I know that it’s crowded at the margins, that there are many of us seeking recognition and healing, but what I want to be understood is that there are people within the margins who are still silenced and erased. 

Trans Assistance Project

Your donation will be used to directly assist ALL trans folks in acquiring legal/ID documents, medicine, and access to healthcare. As an organization, we are committed to dismantling oppressive systems that exist within the non-profit industrial complex, such as respectability politics and gate-keeping. With this in mind, we aim to prioritize undocumented and incarcerated trans folks, as their survival is extremely conditional on the rapidly shifting political climate. As your donations build, so will the scope and strength of our organization. This will allow us to expand into other areas- such as education, legal support, life expenses, etc.

Please spread the word about the work we are doing. Tell your friends and family, talk to your boss about donation matching, organize ID clinics in your town, drop banners, hang posters, get wild because our lives literally depend on y’alls continued action!


Rikers Island Could Be Closed And Replaced With Smaller Jails Around New York City


Jobs of the future may not have stable hours, holiday pay, sick pay, or pensions, DWP secretary says

Mr Green said in a speech at the Reform think-tank on Wednesday morning: “Just a few years ago the idea of a proper job meant a job that brings in a fixed monthly salary, with fixed hours, paid holidays, sick pay, a pension scheme and other contractual benefits. “But the gig economy has changed all that. We’ve seen the rise of the everyday entrepreneur. People now own their time and control who receives their services and when. They can pick and mix their employers, their hours, their offices, their holiday patterns. This is one of the most significant developments in the labour market. The potential is huge and the change is exciting.”

Racism and Civil Rights

Racism would define someone black against their will but never someone white. Ergo, having the choice makes you not black

The Civil Rights Movement Had One Powerful Tool That We Don’t Have

Today, with the three branches of government controlled by men intolerant of dissent and hounded by their own dark vision of pluralism, few human rights advocates of any stripe can reasonably expect a hearing in Washington.  Our long-running, ongoing, unfinished American civil rights struggle that so often focused on pressing the federal government toward justice, is suddenly in uncharted territory.  The legacy of Reverend Martin Luther King has slammed up against the legacy of Alabama Governor George Wallace, whose snarling campaign for president in 1968 has come home to roost in the presidency of Donald Trump.  Where civil rights leaders, warriors, and foot soldiers found support in high places they will now find a void.


‘How dare you say these hateful things?’ Woman takes on Islamophobia at school board meeting   I am embarrassed that such people call themselves Canadians, and very proud that someone stood up to them.

Kendzior: In Defense of Complaining

 “Telling people not to complain in an act of power, a way of asserting that one’s position is more important than another one’s pain,” Kendzior writes. Such acts of dismissal and erasure are hardly unique to the USA, she argues: “Dictatorships around the world are famous for self-reported statistics of sky-high happiness.”

…Yet, despite everything, people resist. They refuse to stay silent. They speak out, and they refused to be shamed or intimidated into silence. As Kendzior points out, for marginalized groups, “complaining is the first step in removing the shame from a lifetime of being told one’s problems are unimportant, non-existent, or even a cause for gratitude.” Complaining, she tells us, “alerts the world that the problem is a problem.”

Art + Design + Writing

Design Graduate Builds A Gun That Transforms Your Tears Into Bullets

French Bookstore Seamlessly Blends People’s Faces with Book Covers

Posters to reveal entire text of book about fighting tyranny

All The Iron Filings Line Up Nice and Neat

All those iron filings line up naturally in coruscating rays. Remember: naturally does not mean precisely the same thing as freely. Force is at work even if you can’t see it. We’ve all got a little iron in our soul.

Geeking Out


From hikers to hunters, birders to beach-combers, the world is filled with naturalists, and many of us record what we find. What if all those observations could be shared online? You might discover someone who finds beautiful wildflowers at your favorite birding spot, or learn about the birds you see on the way to work. If enough people recorded their observations, it would be like a living record of life on Earth that scientists and land managers could use to monitor changes in biodiversity, and that anyone could use to learn more about nature.


Shelf Life of Food

Quote of the week

Women are a caste within society, not the owners of a particular body part.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy

Just for fun

Googly-eyed Stubby Squid  It’s the scientists that are all googly-eyed, honestly.

Sideways scene

What are your cat’s political views?

Oh no

Comments are closed.

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: