Human Rights

A Moment from the World Today

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe during a meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma, at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria, South Africa, 3 October 2017.  (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe/File)

The headline from Associated Press is itself something of a wonder to behold: “WHO chief now ‘rethinking’ Mugabe ‘goodwill ambassador’ post”. The detail, then, is about what we might expect.

After widespread shock and condemnation, the head of the World Health Organization said Saturday he is “rethinking” his appointment of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador.”

In a new tweet, WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus said that “I’m listening. I hear your concerns. Rethinking the approach in light of WHO values. I will issue a statement as soon as possible.”

As condemnation poured in from around the world, well, yes, it would seem the decision needed rethinking. Still, we should remember that there is in fact something of an international custom of reaching out to pariah states by giving them seemingly absurd chairs on important panels and committees in the international discourse. Perhaps the time for this, as with many other nod and wink accommodations of bad behavior, has come to an end. If so, call it progress.

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Image note: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe during a meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma, at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria, South Africa, 3 October 2017. (Themba Hadebe/AP Photo)

Associated Press. “WHO chief now ‘rethinking’ Mugabe ‘goodwill ambassador’ post”. 21 October 2017.

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Cheap Sarcasm (w/Apologies to The Hill)

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., 28 June 2017. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo/File)

Would someone please correct me, as I’m wrong?

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied Friday that former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush were referring to President Trump when they warned in separate speeches Thursday about politicians sowing anger and division in the country.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP Photo)“Our understanding is that those comments were not directed towards the president and, in fact, when these two individuals, both past presidents, have criticized the president, they’ve done so by name and very rarely do it without being pretty direct, as both of them tend to be,” Sanders said. “So we will take them at their word that these actions and comments were not directed at the president.”

(Easley)

The thing is, I’m loath to pick on The Hill, this time around, but perhaps someone accidentally edited out the part where White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders actually quoted or cited former Presidents Bush and Obama when claiming to “take them at their word”.

That is to say, she didn’t just make it up, right?

(more…)

Even More (Rape Culture)

[#rapeculture]

Fight: Mikasa awakens ― Detail of frame from Attack on Titan episode 6, 'The World the Girl Saw: The Struggle for Trost, Part 2'.

The lede from Reuters:

Amazon Studios chief Roy Price was put on an immediate leave of absence Thursday, the company said, following allegations that he harassed a producer and ignored an actress’s claim of a sexual assault by producer Harvey Weinstein.

Prognostication being more or less the art of capricious but not quite arbitrary projection, a certain obvious question arises: How many entertainment execs are about to fall? One of the interesting questions becomes whether Tinseltown is about to explode into a million billion tiny, glittering pieces; Hollywood, after all, is a town that has long needed more than just an enema.

There is an alternative at least as obvious as the question itself, that maybe one or two more high-profile entertainment executives might fall from grace, and then society will decide that we have discovered and weeded out the few bad seeds, and get on with show business as usual.

And, hey, maybe the next round can be in the music industry, so we can finally free Kesha, but society probably needs a couple years off, first. You know, only a few at a time. I mean, there are only a few bad seeds, y’know, at any one time.

(cough)

Just compared to shattering Hollywood, which itself seems unlikely, what, really, is the chance this is the beginning of a chain reaction lashing severely through the halls of American financial and commercial power tearing away significant chunks of institutionalized rape culture?

(sigh)

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Image note: Detail of frame from Attack on Titan episode 6, “The World the Girl Saw”.

Reuters Staff. “Amazon Studios chief Roy Price suspended following harassment allegation”. Reuters. 12 October 2017.

Obvious (Rape Culture)

[#rapeculture]

"All of a sudden, I could do anything." ― Mikasa Ackerman

To the one, it’s not Harvey effing Weinstein. To the other, that fact is only distally or, perhaps, if proximal, tangentially related to anything. The important point about systemic or habitual abuse is that it requires system and habit.

A former teacher at a Catholic school in Queens who said she had reported the sexual abuse of seven female students by a priest in 1991 now claims that the Diocese of Brooklyn covered it up for more than a decade, allowing more girls to be abused.

Ms. Porcaro, 63, said that at the end of 1990, seven fifth-graders told her that Father Prochaski was sexually abusing them. Most were Polish immigrants whose families had been brought to America with the help of the priest, to whom they felt beholden.

She said she reported the abuse to the principal, a nun from the Sisters of the Holy Family order. She said the nun laughed and said, “Oh, everybody knows about Father Adam,” she recalled. “And I had tears in my eyes.”

The New York Times article from Sharon Otterman closes with the note that a fund for Brooklyn Diocese survivors has seen sixty settlements accepted, of seventy-six offers from two hundred-eleven claims.

Let us be clear:

… it was not until 2002 that the Brooklyn Diocese notified law enforcement about the allegations. That was the year American bishops passed the Dallas Charter, requiring that dioceses report all allegations of sexual abuse of minors to public authorities. By then, none of the allegations against Mr. Prochaski were within the statute of limitations for prosecution, the spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney said.

This is, by definition, rape culture.

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Image note: Composite — Details of frames from Attack on Titan, episode 6, “The World the Girl Saw”.

Otterman, Sharon. “23 Women Accuse Former Queens Priest of Abusing Them as Children”. The New York Times. 12 October 2017.

Required Reading (Justice and Dissent)

[#kneelbeforeJustice]Colin Kaepernick (r.) and Eric Reed kneel during the national anthem before a 2016 NFL game. (Photo: Associated Press)

“Donald Trump took time out from comparing missiles with Kim Jong Un and ignoring Puerto Rico to declare that the athlete who takes a knee is a ‘son of a b***h’ who should be fired for disrespecting America. He was harder on the athletes than on the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville.”

Leonard Pitts, Jr.

This is not one of those things where I get to say something like, “What he said!” or, “Plus one!” More directly, we can rest assured my part has something to do with paying the fuck attention.

Dear black people:

I guess we’ve messed up again. Seems like we’re never going to learn how to properly protest, no matter how hard conservatives try to teach us.

(more…)

A Note on Impetus

#SomethingTerrific | #WhatTheyVotedFor

A portion of the U.S. Capitol dome. (Detail of photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images, 2013)

There is always this:

Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican freshman from Louisiana, said yesterday that he likes the idea of turning health care over to the states—the core rationale behind the pending Graham-Cassidy proposal—but he’s not entirely comfortable with the direction some blue states might take.

“If you give California and New York a big chunk of money, they’re gonna set up a single-payer system,” the GOP senator said. “And I wanna prevent that.”

It’s curious. Republicans only seem to like turning over authority to states and local governments when they’re confident states and local governments will govern in a conservative way.

(Benen)

Perhaps a bit more directly:

Perhaps the oddest thing about the last-ditch Republican plan to repeal Obamacare is that it is being sold not as a repeal of Obamacare—which is popular—but instead as a rebuke to a law that does not yet exist. “If you want a single-payer health-care system, this is your worst nightmare,” Lindsey Graham has boasted of his plan. “Hell no to Berniecare.” Graham’s weird promise that his plan “ends single-payer health care” has somehow taken hold, to the point where Republicans appear to believe it would foreclose even public debate on left-wing alternatives. The bill “stops us from having conversation in the future about Medicare for all,” claims Senator Tim Scott.

(Chait)

(more…)

Inward Focus (Split Canyon Distraction Mix)

[#resist]

Protesters demonstrate on 16 September 2017 in Tunis against parliament passing an amnesty law for officials accused of corruption under toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. (Photo: Agence France-Presse)

There is nearly a joke waiting here—

Hundreds of Tunisians protested on Saturday in the streets of the capital against a widely contested new law that grants officials from the former regime involved in corruption amnesty from prosecution.

Tunisia’s parliament on Wednesday approved a law protecting officials accused of graft during the rule of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, triggering angry protests by the opposition and activists.

Waving flags and banners saying “No to forgiveness”, “Resisting against mafia rule”, around 1,500 people marched through the capital’s central Avenue Habib Bourguiba in the company of opposition leaders.

After months of protests, the law was amended from an original draft which would have also granted amnesty to corrupt businessmen. Now they will be liable to prosecution for crimes committed during Ben Ali’s 24-year rule.

(Reuters)

—because it should not be quite so easy for Americans to empathize so proximally.    (more…)

Full Color Horror: Abdul Masood Begum (d. 14 September 2017)

[#Rohingya]

A Rohingya Muslim woman Hanida Begum, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, kisses her infant son Abdul Masood who died when the boat they were traveling in capsized just before reaching the shore of the Bay of Bengal, in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. Nearly three weeks into a mass exodus of Rohingya fleeing violence in Myanmar, thousands were still flooding across the border Thursday in search of help and safety in teeming refugee settlements in Bangladesh. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

This is what you are looking at:

The wooden boat packed with Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar was a few meters (yards) away from shore in Bangladesh on Thursday when it capsized.

AP photographer Dar Yasin says what happened next will haunt him: a young mother’s horrified discovery that her infant son, Abdul Masood, had drowned in the waist-high waters.

Hanida Begum’s wails filled the air as she mourned her dead boy.

She had given birth to twin boys just 40 days ago. Now one was gone.

“She kept on kissing him. She held him and kept kissing his body,” Yasin said.

(Associated Press, “Photo”)

And this is why we see it:

Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims have been called the world’s most persecuted minority, a people without a country.

In the last two weeks, in numbers estimated to be nearing 300,000, Rohingya have been fleeing for their lives into already-crowded refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh.

It is the third such mass exodus in four decades.

An estimated 1 million to 1.2 million people in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine self-identify as Rohingya. The government of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, refuses to recognize them as one of the country’s 135 lawful ethnic minorities, instead calling them Bengalis, with the implication that their native land is in Bangladesh and they are illegally settled in Myanmar. They are similarly unwelcome in Bangladesh. What has made the situation particularly dire for the Rohingya was the passage in 1982 of a citizenship law that had the practical effect of making most of them stateless and depriving them of most of their civil rights along with economic opportunities. They are legally restricted in their right to travel, to marry and in the number of children they can have. In practical terms, access to decent education and health care, as well as employment, is also limited.

(Associated Press, “Explains”)

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Image note: A Rohingya Muslim woman, Hanida Begum, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, kisses her infant son Abdul Masood who died when the boat they were traveling in capsized just before reaching the shore of the Bay of Bengal, in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, Thursday, 14 September 2017. Nearly three weeks into a mass exodus of Rohingya fleeing violence in Myanmar, thousands were still flooding across the border Thursday in search of help and safety in teeming refugee settlements in Bangladesh. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

Associated Press. “AP Explains: What’s behind Rohingya exodus from Myanmar”. 10 September 2017.

—————. “AP Photos: A young Rohingya mother’s horrified discovery”. 15 September 2017.

Not Exactly Clairvoyance (Monday Mission Mix)

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Composite: President Donald Trump photo by Reuters, 2017; Puti-Toots protest image.

This is a superstition:

U.S.-backed militias in Syria said they came under attack on Saturday from Russian jets and Syrian government forces in Deir al-Zor province, a flashpoint in an increasingly complex battlefield.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting with the U.S.-led coalition, said six of its fighters were wounded in the strike.

The Pentagon said Russia bombed a position east of the Euphrates river where it knew SDF fighters and coalition advisers were stationed. The jets did not injure coalition forces, it said.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow or Damascus.

(Francis)

Sarah Huckabee Sanders. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP Photo)Okay, so, the way it works is that in recent times the press really has called out the White House over weekend events, and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders might well be an entertaining spectacle trying to dodge questions about whether or not President Trump is capable of criticizing the Russian government or strongman Vladimir Putin. And the superstition is that, having mentioned it, this will turn out to be an occasion when the Press Corps will take a pass.

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Image notes: Top ― Composite: President Donald Trump photo by Reuters, 2017; Puti-Toots protest image. Right ― Sarah Huckabee Sanders. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

Francis, Ellen. “Jets strike U.S.-backed forces in eastern Syria”. Reuters. 16 September 2017.

The Aftermath (These Days Later)

#epichatred | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Detail of cartoon by Mr. Fish, 30 November 2014, via Clowncrack.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

A year and a half after a city panel recommended that four Confederate-linked monuments be removed or altered, Mayor Catherine Pugh decided Tuesday to take them all down — and then watched as crews worked into early Wednesday to tear them from their pedestals.

“We moved quickly and quietly,” Pugh said. “There was enough grandstanding, enough speeches being made. Get it done.”

Pugh said crews removed the monuments unannounced and under cover of darkness between 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and 5:30 a.m. Wednesday in the hope of avoiding the potential for a violent conflict similar to the one Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.

It seems to be going around. On Sunday, Vox spread the word:

White nationalists descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday and Saturday to protest the city’s decision to take down Confederate monuments. But not only have the protests done nothing to change Charlottesville’s mind on this issue, it’s apparently prompted at least one other city to speed up action to remove its Confederate statues as well.

Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington, Kentucky, made the announcement on Twitter on Saturday ....

Meanwhile, the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, is seeing fit to challenge his state’s law to protect Confederate monuments. Furthermore, an abysmal white supremacist website that last year named suspected Jews and urged people to “take action” has fled to hidden quarters of the web after major hosting services rejected them, and the notorious neo-Nazi celebrity whose Nazi salutes and praise for Hitler raised controversy that led the newspaper to so openly target Jews is among many alt-right heroes cut off by PayPal after their problematic relationship with the company’s Acceptable Use Policy became unavoidably apparent. And just to make the point, a lede tells us, “At least four people have lost their jobs and several more are under scrutiny following the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville”.

(more…)