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Monday Open Thread

by Helen Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 10:12:35 AM EST

Winter Solstice - See the light


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keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 10:13:29 AM EST
Guardian - Laurie Penny - This isn't 'feminism'. It's Islamophobia

As a person who writes about women's issues, I am constantly being told that Islam is the greatest threat to gender equality in this or any other country - mostly by white men, who always know best. This has been an extraordinary year for feminism, but from the Rochdale grooming case to interminable debates over whether traditional Islamic dress is "empowering" or otherwise, the rhetoric and language of feminism has been co-opted by Islamophobes, who could not care less about women of any creed or colour.

The recent blanket coverage of the "gender segregation on campus" story was a textbook case. This month Student Rights, a pressure group not run by students, released a report vastly exaggerating a suggestion by Universities UK that male and female students might be asked to sit separately in some lectures led by Islamic guest speakers. Many Asian women's groups and individual Muslim feminists joined the subsequent protests, sometimes taking personal risks to do so. Unfortunately, rightwing commentators and tabloids seized upon the issue to imply that Islamic extremists are taking over the British academy.

Never mind that it wasn't strictly true, the non-controversy spread to every level of government. Labour MP Chuka Umunna declared: "A future Labour government would not allow or tolerate segregation in our universities." Even the prime minister stepped into the debate, saying the proposed guidelines, which have since been withdrawn, were "not the right approach". The elite all-male Oxford club of which both he and the chancellor were members was presumably the perfect approach.

As usual Laurie is spot on the money, exposing where the real issue lurks

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 10:19:36 AM EST
bonus quote;-

"Horror stories about Muslim misogyny have long been used by western patriarchs to justify imperialism abroad and sexism at home. The Guardian's Katharine Viner reminds us about Lord Cromer, the British consul general in Egypt from 1883. Cromer believed the Egyptians were morally and culturally inferior in their treatment of women and that they should be "persuaded or forced" to become "civilised" by disposing of the veil.

"And what did this forward-thinking, feminist-sounding veil-burner do when he got home to Britain?" asks Viner. "He founded and presided over the Men's League for Opposing Women's Suffrage, which tried, by any means possible, to stop women getting the vote. Colonial patriarchs like Cromer ... wanted merely to replace eastern misogyny with western misogyny." "

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 10:20:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian - Ha-Joon Chang - There's a new jobs crisis - we need to focus on the quality of life at work

With economic growth now picking up and unemployment inching its way downwards, things are beginning to look up for Britain's economy. Except that it does not seem that way to most people.

David Cameron may be in denial, but most people in Britain are experiencing a "cost of living crisis", as Labour puts it. Growth in nominal wages has failed to keep up with the rise in prices. With real wages predicted by the Office for Budget Responsibility not to recover to the pre-crisis level until 2018, we are literally in for a "lost decade" for wage earners in Britain.

Worse, the crisis for British wage-earners is much more than the cost of living. It is a work crisis too. Take unemployment. For most people this results in a loss of dignity, from the feeling of no longer being a useful member of society. When combined with economic hardship, this loss makes the jobless more likely to suffer depression and even to take their own lives, as starkly shown by Sanjay Basu and David Stuckler in The Body Economic. There is even some evidence, published in the British Medical Journal, that out of work people become more prone to heart diseases. Unemployment literally costs human lives.

A good essay, but I think quality of life and confidence in your future is reserved for the 1% these days

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 10:22:59 AM EST
An interesting first-person account of the state of decomposition of the Ukranian polity, and the recent demonstrations

EuroMaidan: a Facebook revolution in the streets of Kiev - Boing Boing

Do you know what a 1.6 million people on the street around you feels like?

Some say we didn't gather that number of people on Maidan, but other sources say that 1.6M people were moving towards Maidan. Well, Moscow kept screaming that it was just "a few thousand protesters"... Moscow propaganda is not even funny anymore. Ask your Russian-speaking friends to translate some of Kiselev's recent shows from Russian TV, it is all on YouTube. We are all just a few thousand gay people copulating with space invaders and American imperialists and european neo-Fascists... Ugh. I want to go wash my hands even remembering those "news breaks".

Streets leading to Maidan were filled with people for kilometres away. Filled like in jammed. Moving rivers of people. Middle aged, mostly. Happy, because being with so many people who came out for the same reason you did makes you happy. But the occasion was was sombre. We went to see what our oppo leaders will say.



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 10:55:28 AM EST
XKCD: Incident


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 11:05:49 AM EST
Guardian - John harris - It's not racist to be anxious over large-scale immigration


[lede]In between the rightwing hysteria over the 1 January changes and liberal pleas for tolerance, is a public preoccupied with rent, not race[/lede]

And on the same theme, Nick Clegg asked: "What would happen if tonight every European living in the UK boarded a ship or plane and went home? Are we really that keen to see the back of German lawyers, Dutch accountants, or Finnish engineers?" Full marks for his usual high-mindedness, but the contributions made by such professionals are only a fraction of the issue: the truth is that the British economy would be in a much more parlous state if it lost the low-paid Poles cleaning hotels, the Czechs serving cappuccinos, and the Latvians and Lithuanians working as security guards.
[....]
Yet {whatever the parties say} something is unavoidably up. According to YouGov, in 2005 Britons supported "the right of people in EU countries to live and work wherever they want" by a ratio of two to one. Today, we oppose free movement by 49% to 38%. One recent poll by ComRes - admittedly commissioned by an anti-EU outfit called Get Britain Out - found that 79% of people opposed the lifting of the restrictions on new arrivals from Bulgaria and Romania. All this cannot solely be traced to the screams of rightwing papers and the rise of Ukip's Nigel Farage, let alone some metro-left fantasy that outside the M25 simple bigotry runs rampant.

The point is, millions of people will always be uneasy about large-scale change. Not because they are racist, or any more prejudiced than anyone else - but because human beings like a measure of certainty and stability. Further, it barely needs pointing out that immigration tends to impact places where certainty and stability are thin on the ground. If you pinball between part-time work and jobseeker's allowance and feel about two pay cheques away from destitution, the idea that your meagre chunk of the rock may be about to shrink yet further will not go down well. Statistics, unfortunately, have precious little to do with this: there may be an argument that, viewed from a macro level, immigration does not drag down wages, but it seems to have an appreciable effect towards the bottom of the labour market - and besides, if you live in a constant state of anxiety, even the suggestion that it might will be enough.

I have said similar things before, it's not about race, it's about affordable homes. Not what our leaders think is affordable, but what is actually affordable for those at the bottom. this is about the provision of social housing.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 11:39:14 AM EST
It's not racist, it's atavistic.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 11:42:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that's unkind, the last paragraph I quoted encapsulates the problem - neoliberalism removes stability from peoples' lives and the further down the chain they are, the greater the instability. This is yet another, visible and easily explainable extra blow.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 11:46:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
neoliberalism removes stability from peoples' lives and the further down the chain they are, the greater the instability
And that's what underlies the rise of Fascism, as argued by Erich Fromm in Escape from Freedom.

We're reliving the 1930s in more ways than one.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 11:48:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I know other countries are further down the line, but I genuinely worry for the UK. As people point out, no place was more liberal than Berlin in the 30s.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 11:59:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fromm wrote another along those lines from Mexico - The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. If one has read Wilhelm Reich's Mass Psychology of Fascism it is obvious that Fromm was simply rewriting this work so that it would not go down with the rest of Reich's legacy when he went off the rails and into the 'universal orgone ether' in the USA in the late '40s. Earlier Reich has been the leftmost of all of the significant psychoanalysts of the interwar period. I suspect that Reich became unhinged in part by seeing the beginnings of the same sort of fascism in the USA in the Communist witch-hunts by the House Un-American Activities Committee and Joseph McCarthy's activities in the Senate - The Army-McCarthy Hearings.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 03:48:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Me, unkind? Sorry to disappoint.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 11:48:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is, millions of people will always be uneasy about large-scale change. Not because they are racist, or any more prejudiced than anyone else - but because human beings like a measure of certainty and stability.

And there will always be some fuckhead willing to exploit their fears.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 12:32:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it's just some eejit like Farage then it may not be so bad. But there are darker people lurking around out that way.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 12:54:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are three decades of reactionary politicians and Murdoch-type media, not just Farage.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 04:08:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
5 worst TV programmes of 2013

And the winner is.....

Months have passed since I Love My Country stopped being on television, but it doesn't feel that way. The thing has seeped into my bones. It exclusively forms the basis of all my anxiety dreams now. I'm trapped in a Technicolor poundland full of teapots and warped Keep Calm and Carry On paraphernalia. Gaby Logan is dancing madly in front of me, as if she's trying to shake off a spider's web, while Jamelia jerks and spasms around, screaming an atonal oompah version of Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen as she punches herself in the head. "Stop dancing," I scream at her. "I can't!" she screams back through a rictus grin. She's crying now. Meanwhile, Frank Skinner holds a Yorkshire pudding aloft as a sacrificial offering to the godhead Nigel Farrage, and everyone in the studio audience clutches their belly and rolls around in a mechanically mirthless approximation of laughter. It never ends. It never ends.

I never saw the programme, but that review creates it in my mind

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 11:57:59 AM EST
Eeeek!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 04:10:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another call for London meetup with marco (ex Brunoken) on 27th.

One I've been in and can recommend is the Kings Head, 10 Stafford St, London W1S 4RX, just round the corner from Green Park tube. That said, it was couple of years ago but chain pubs rarely vary too much. It's the wrong end of Piccadilly for the madding crowds and then off the beaten track.

Anyone ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 12:50:04 PM EST
I wish.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 04:10:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Beppe Grillo's Blog

In Europe, Italy is playing the part of the "young lady" who was threatened by Totò and thus removed one item of clothing after another, while all the time pretending to refuse. "Now take off your blouse", "'my blouse - no no no no", until in the end she had stripped to her underwear.
The future of the European Banking Union is being decided right now between Brussels and Frankfurt. Another piece of national sovereignty has abandoned us without the consent of the Italian people. By now, in what way do Italian people count?
The Euro has taken away our monetary sovereignty. The Banking Union will take away our banking sovereignty, the primary function of the bank, to provide protection for savings. And that's a sacred right engraved in article 47 of our Constitution: "The Republic encourages and safeguards savings in all forms; it disciplines, coordinates and controls the exercise of credit." ... But at this point, what's the value of the Constitution?
Our economy is being throttled by the tiny amounts of liquidity coming through from a banking system that in turn is being throttled by 140 billion euro of doubtful debts and by an ECB that is ever more threatening with the 2014 "stress tests" on bank balances and for the first time ever, they're going to include the risk of State Bonds. In order to get through this test, the Italian banks will have to claw back billions of euro of new liquidity in the market.
At the start, the Banking Union had two positive objectives. It has done the opposite. The Union was to recapitalise the banks in difficulty to save them from collapse and to break the perverse connection between the banks and the State since the Public Debt was being shown on the balance sheets of the banks and the risk was being shared at an EU level. And, as it happens, the Italian banks are overflowing with more than 400 billion of our shares.
After two years of debating, the winner is still Germany. In fact, Mrs Merkel just wants to place time and obstacles between the collapse of a bank in Europe and the risk that the Germans have to pay the price. The list of German victories agreed to in last week's Summit in Brussels is very long.
There'll be a common European fund for the recapitalization of banks in crisis that will be created with contributions from the banks themselves. However... That contribution will only start in 2016 and it will end in 2026. By the end of this period, the piggy bank that the bank will have put together to provide protection for themselves will be just 55 billion euro. That's less than 1% of the total on the balance sheets of the banks that are involved.

...

We will be worse off than before and we'll be obliged to resolve the problems at home, using our own savings. So why should we deprive ourselves of the right to regulate and provide facilitation for the national banking system without receiving anything in exchange?
The moral of all this is that with 400 billion euro of BTPs {Treasury Bonds} being held by our banks, if the "spread" were to take off again, and there are all the pre-conditions for that to happen, this Banking Union will do nothing to stop the crisis hitting our banks with potential losses and banking collapses that we will have to sort out from taxes paid and from the savings of the nation. Long live Europe, that Europe that doesn't exist.



'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 01:15:38 PM EST
egal was, ich stehe auf Sam Cooke.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 02:01:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Funny, I listened to that by Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding's cover, only yesterday.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 04:12:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And so the coalition's latest act-in-haste-regret-at-leisure poorly considered disaster, that of "filtering" the internet, has arrived and the results are in.

New Statesman - Martin Robbins - Cameron's internet filter goes far beyond porn - and that was always the plan

There is no porn filter, and blocking Childline is not an accident

The idea of an internet porn filter has always been a political fiction, a conveniently inaccurate sound bite used to conjure images of hardcore fisting and anal rape in the feverishly overactive imaginations of middle Britain. What activists actually called for - and ISPs were forced to provide - is an 'objectionable content' filter, and there is a vast, damp and aching chasm between the two.

The language of the mythical 'porn filter' is so insidious, so pervasive, that even those of us opposed to it have been sucked into its slippery embrace. And so even when it turns out that O2 are blocking the Childline and Refuge websites, or that BT are blocking gay and lesbian content, we tend to regard them as collateral damage - accidental victims of a well-meaning (if misguided) attempt to protect out children from the evils of cock.

But this was never the case. As Wired reported back in July, Cameron's ambitions extended far beyond porn. Working through secretive negotiations with ISPs, the coalition has put in place a set of filters and restrictions as ambitious as anything this side of China, dividing the internet into 'acceptable' and 'unacceptable' categories, and cutting people off from huge swathes of it at the stroke of a key.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 02:32:10 PM EST
Pink News - O2 filter blocks children from Stonewall, BBC News, Conservative and Downing Street websites

Just days after PinkNews revealed that TalkTalk's internet filter was categorising the Liberal Democrat's official LGBT website as pornographic, it has emerged that O2 has labeled Stonewall, BBC News, the Conservative Party and the Number 10 Downing Street website as unsuitable or uninteresting to under 12s.

The `Under 12s' parental control filtering system has been in place on O2 for a number of years, pre-dating David Cameron's recent campaign on internet filters for adult content. Parents opt-in for their child's mobile internet browsing to be restricted to a selection of pre-authorised websites.

However, most parents will be surprised to find that the websites that are blocked by default include parts of the website of the BBC News, the Houses of Parliament, gay rights charity Stonewall, every political party including the Conservatives, as well as the Downing Street website. Indeed, all Government websites are blocked along with the websites of the Metropolitan Police, and other police services. PinkNews along with all other mainstream news websites is also blocked from phones using the service.

O2 told PinkNews that Stonewall, BBC News and even Parliament's website do not comply with the following categories of content, deemed suitable and interesting for children:-



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 02:33:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Daily Kos: Siberians marvel that there is no snow
The only tiny area of Russia that is snowless as of December 16th is Sochi.  Which I find humorous.

heh

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 07:44:54 PM EST
Why should a place that has, according to Wikipedia, "a humid subtropical climate", have snow?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Dec 24th, 2013 at 12:18:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Humid sub-tropical at sea level, snow at +2,300m?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Dec 24th, 2013 at 09:57:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i think fake snow was always going to have been a given, what can you say?

easier to fake than topography, potemkin snowscapes!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Dec 24th, 2013 at 12:28:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Edward Snowden: `I already won' | World news | theguardian.com

Whistleblower Edward Snowden has declared "mission accomplished", seven months after revelations were first published from his mass leak of National Security Agency documents.

The documents, which were leaked to the Guardian and also the Washington Post and Der Spiegel, revealed how technological developments were used by the US surveillance agency to spy on its own citizens and others abroad, and also to spy on allies, such as the US on Germany and Australia on Indonesia.

In 14 hours of interviews with the Washington Post journalist Barton Gellman Snowden said,

"For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission's already accomplished."

He continued: "I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.

"All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 24th, 2013 at 02:39:52 AM EST
After a dark and stormy night the winds have finally gone away and a cursory glace suggests that no trees have been blown down in the garden overnight.

That said, for only the second time in the last 25 years, the bottom third of the garden is under water. So we could really do with the next two days being fairly dry, which is possible.

However, we're threatened with a prolonged period of rain on Friday which, on already wet ground, may be problematic

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Dec 24th, 2013 at 03:25:31 AM EST
As a grace note about 1cm of snow fell around sunset on Monday and Tuesday morning we awoke to a white landscape.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Dec 24th, 2013 at 10:00:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Der Postillon
Nun ist endlich klar, warum Edward Snowden bislang noch kein Asylangebot seitens der Bundesregierung vorliegt. Offenbar ist der von den USA gejagte Whistleblower einfach nicht kriminell und reich genug, um Anspruch auf den Schutz der Bundesrepublik zu haben. Ganz anders Michail Chodorkowski: Der 50-jährige Oligarch, der durch Bestechung und illegale Geschäfte bis hin zum Auftragsmord zwischenzeitlich reichster Mann Russlands war, wurde von FDP-Urgestein Hans-Dietrich Genscher persönlich nach Deutschland geholt.
Also in Der Postillon, Jesus asks why everybody else gets presents for Christmas, when it's his birthday.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Dec 24th, 2013 at 06:19:03 AM EST
Google translate kinda gets close tho the issue

Now it is finally clear why Edward Snowden yet there is no offer of asylum by the federal government. Apparently, the Hunted by the U.S. whistleblower is simply not criminal, and rich enough to be entitled to the protection of the Federal Republic. Quite different Mikhail Khodorkovsky: The 50-year-old oligarch, the richest man in the meantime Russia was through bribery and illegal transactions through to contract killing, was brought from FDP veteran Hans-Dietrich Genscher personally to Germany.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Dec 24th, 2013 at 10:00:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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