The “most moral army in world” shits all over Gaza. Literally.

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Israeli troops may have (momentarily) withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, but they haven’t really left it. Traces of them still cling to everything they’ve occupied, and not in a good way:

When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an overpowering stench.

He picked through the wreckage of his possessions thrown from upstairs windows to find that the departing troops had left a number of messages. One came from piles of faeces on his tiled floors and in wastepaper baskets, and a plastic bottle filled with urine.

If that was not clear enough, the words “Fuck Hamas” had been carved into a concrete wall in the staircase. “Burn Gaza down” and “Good Arab = dead Arab” were engraved on a coffee table. The star of David was drawn in blue in a bedroom.

[...]

A handful of plastic chairs had their seats ripped open, through which the occupying soldiers defecated, he said. Gaping holes had been blown in four ground-floor external walls, and there was damage from shelling to the top floor. There, in the living room, diagrams had been drawn on the walls, showing buildings and palm trees in the village, with figures that Owedat thought represented their distance from the border.

“I have no money to fix this,” he said, claiming that his life savings of $10,000 (£6,000) were missing from his apartment. But at least it could be repaired, he acknowledged, gesturing through the broken glass at a wasteland stretching towards the Israel-Gaza border 3km away. “Every house between here and there has been destroyed.”

Charming. Didn’t any of their mothers toilet-train these little terrorists? Couldn’t they at least find a bathroom to do their business in? Did they wash their hands afterwards, or just wipe them down on the curtains? And where were their superior officers when these bandits robbed Ahmed of his life savings? Sucking hummus made by settlers in the Occupied Territories off their thumbs, no doubt.

Yeah, these guys have all the maturity of a diaper-dragging two-year-old. It’s a wonder they can hold a rifle straight. Doesn’t give me much confidence in their ability to wage “surgical” strikes if they can’t even clean up after themselves. Or be trusted to leave a cash stash where they found it. Land is not the only thing these guys are in the business of stealing, it seems.

And how does this “most moral army in the world” treat the children of Gaza? Like this:

Half an hour’s drive north, a similar picture was found at Beit Hanoun girls’ school, taken over by the IDF following the ground operation. Broken glass and rubble littered the floors and stairs. Tables and desks were covered in the abandoned detritus of an occupying army: hardened bread rolls, empty tins of hummus, desiccated olives, cans of energy drinks, bullet casings. Flies buzzed around the rotting food.

Here too, said the school’s caretaker, Fayez, who didn’t want to give his full name, soldiers had defecated in bins and cardboard boxes, and urinated in water bottles. “You will be fucked here” and “Don’t forget it’s time for you to die” were chalked in English on blackboards.

The Guardian notes that the new school year is slated to begin in a little over two weeks. Not much time to repair the damage and clean up the mess, in other words. Assuming that Israel doesn’t start bombing all over again, and smash that school to rubble this time, those girls will be seeing that those “moral” Israeli soldiers are all slobbering for the chance to rape and kill them. And they’ll also be smelling the lingering stench of their ordure.

The Guardian also notes that “The Israel Defence Forces did not respond to a request for comment.” Could it because they haven’t yet made up a hasbaratic “explanation” for why their brave, brave boys felt compelled to shit all over innocent people’s homes and schools?

Golly, talk about leading by example. Yep, that squeaky-clean “only democracy in the Middle East” is sure adept at persuading those barbarous Arabs of its nobility and virtue!

Manuel Zelaya speaks out: “The president of Honduras is John Kerry”

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This man is the last true democratically elected president Honduras has had. Five years ago, he was deposed in a violent military putsch, backed to the hilt by Washington. Manuel Zelaya was sent into exile, very much against his will, and even more so against the will of the Honduran people. Ever since then, there’s been a campaign to silence all critics of the US-imposed puppet régimes (there have been three so far) in the wake of the coup. Sham elections have not been enough to buy off the populace, and criticism has been growing. This year, things came to a head when child refugees from Central America, thousands of them, began arriving at the border with Mexico, unaccompanied by adults, but often in possession of their birth certificates and other documents identifying them and their countries of origin. Honduras is heavily represented among those lands, and if you wonder why, let the last real president of the land explain it all to you:

A short time after the fifth anniversary of the coup d’état that brought down his government, former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya spoke with Miradas al Sur about the current situation in Honduras and Latin America.


Manuel Zelaya only began to be affectionately called “Mel” by large parts of the population of Honduras in the second half of his mandate as president there. Until then, and for a good part of the peoples of Latin America, he had only been the progressive face of the Honduran Liberal Party, one of the traditional axes of power in the Central American country. But as of 2008, his way of wielding power began to turn toward the creation of a state closer to the humble folk, and more disposed toward solidarity with the popular sectors not only of his own land, but of all the Caribbean. Zelaya put conservative noses out of joint, and even those of his own comrades, upon confirming the leftward turn of his government, with a 60% minimum wage increase and an explicit turn toward 20th-century socialism. That same year, and hand in hand with Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela, Honduras formally entered into Petrocaribe and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA). “Petrocaribe is a commercial alliance. ALBA is an alliance of Latin American integration. I entered into both. Those countries who want to establish another system for a world which is still possible, must join ALBA. Not just Petrocaribe. That is more for business dealings,” Zelaya explained.

But while a good part of Latin America and the Caribbean was drawing closer to “Mel”, there were some in Honduras and the United States who grieved for politicians like Zelaya, and even more for those who preceded him. So it was that on June 28, 2009, the armed forces, backed by the supreme court of the nation, carried out a coup d’état which did away with the progressive profile of Honduras. “The result of the coup was that the security apparatus or the economic apparatus or the economic system began to be 99% directed by policies designed in Washington,” said the former president. “And, lamentably, they are policies of the most reactionary right-wing elements in the United States, very sectarian groups of the far right. After the coup, narcotrafficking and crime increased. The exploitation of the transnational mining firms is deepening, the privatization of all public services such as roadways, ports, telecommunications. They’ve even privatized things that belong to civil society and the state, such as collecting customs duties. And one of the most classic forms that the North American right has for controlling our countries is militarism. Now, here, soldiers have been substituted for the police. They’re substituting for the powers of the state in all matters and have given them extraordinary powers, as if we were living in a de facto dictatorial state. The separation of powers disappeared. There’s just one power of state, which the president wields over the military. If we review all the indicators of the land, we will find that everything has deteriorated from the coup to the present. The internal and external debt has quintupled. In five years, they’ve managed to indebt the country like it was in the 1960s, and it’s the largest debt in our history. The murder rate has converted us into the most violent country on the planet. We were a small and peaceful country. We are the poorest society in Latin America. We have always been at some level of poverty, but never like it is now. The president of Honduras is not Juan Orlando Hernández; he was imposed by way of a fraud. The presidnet of Honduras is named John Kerry, and his policies are those of the United States.”

Following his removal from office, and after several months in exile, Zelaya joined the National Front of Popular Resistance, which became the party of Freedom and Refoundation (LIBRE), over which he presides today. In November of 2013, LIBRE participated in the presidential elections with Xiomara Castro, Zelaya’s wife, as candidate, reaching second place and breaking up the historic bipartisanism of the National Party and the Liberals.

A few weeks ago, Zelaya himself denounced that he had been repressed, along with all his party, at the doors of the National Congress.

“That incident is just one more proof of the militarization of the land, and its absorption in neoliberal politics,” Zelaya pointed out. And with respect to this point, he emphasized that “we have to get back to calling it neoliberalism. Because neoliberalism in itself was the monetary and fiscal control of a society, but now it has advanced in military politics, in looting and exploitation, in diseases, epidemics, pestilence, death. Now it’s a neoliberalism of disaster which is being applied here. We were expelled from the congress at bayonet-point, and with tear gas, because one of the characteristics of the governments of force is that they don’t accept the opposition. For them, the opposition has to disappear, and for that reason, they have to limit our access to the media. There is an exaggerated media blockade today in Honduras. We have no option to defend ourselves practically in any media outlet. Everything is against us. But we ourselves have grown stronger. We are much stronger than before, especially because the popular consciousness has grown in recognizing what affects us. We understand that the United States won’t go away; what we need is to have honest, respectful relations with them. Which is what we don’t have right now, because those currently governing [in Honduras] are those who duck their heads and bow down to serve Washington’s orders.”

In effect, as well as having an enormous weight in Honduran internal politics, the United STates are now the centre of a very deep international debate which affects Central American societies. In the last months, the phenomenon of child migration toward the northern country has taken on a worrisome importance, to the point where the affected countries are trying to begin joint actions to deal with it. In June alone, it is estimated that 2,000 Salvadoran, Honduran and Mexican children crossed the border into the United States every week.

“The problem is that the great powers were born of migration, but don’t want to recognize the migrants of the 20th and 21st centuries,” said Zelaya. “They are products of migration, but they close themselves off in an anti-historical nationalism because emigrating is a right, not a crime. We all have that right because we were born in a world which is shared among all, in one human race. Those who managed to get to those nations are telling them to take their children. And now they’re hunting those children without pity. Now the powers are on display before the world. Because first they deny their parents the right to be legalized, and now they’re persecuting the children. Just as at the time when Jesus was born, they’re ordering them to kill all the children who were born then so that no messiah can emerge. Worse than the persecutions of the holocaust. They’re persecuting children, torturing them, denying them the right to reunite with their families. This is not a humanitarian crisis, it’s a humanitarian crime of the neoliberal model against the poor of Latin America and Africa.”

Translation mine.

I have to admit that Mel Zelaya didn’t really appear on my radar until he joined the ALBA, which is the late Chavecito’s baby and which has been going from strength to strength even now, after his death. At first Mel seemed like just another too-conservative-for-my-liking leader, but when he began to demonstrate that his heart was in the right place and his feet were headed in a good direction, I was sold. Not only was Mel the last real president of Honduras, he was also unequivocally the best. Under him, the socioeconomic profile of that poor little country was beginning to rise. Poor people were getting access to social services that had been denied them before: doctors, schools, hospitals. Literacy was going up; poverty rates were beginning to fall. And all that, which should have been terrific news, was greeted by Washington in the kind of doomsday-prophet tones you’d expect in the advent of a Category 5 hurricane about to make landfall along the eastern seaboard.

Which, of course, the ALBA was. A hurricane of promise, hope and rapid improvement. A hurricane of mutual aid and regional autonomy. Countries that used to rely abjectly on foreign “aid” from the US and elsewhere began to stand up on their own feet, and walk unassisted. That was bad news for those who used to turn obscene profits from the poverty and dependency of those little Latin American lands. They were used to taking advantage of those poor, ill-educated, highly dependent folks — as cheap labor, cannon fodder for proxy wars, and houseboys to the empire. The fact that those same people were now becoming aware that they could be so much more than that did not sit well with Washington. Hence, the coup.

It gives me no satisfaction to see blowback arriving in the form it has taken. Child refugees are the most helpless and vulnerable of them all. Along the way, who knows how many have been robbed, raped, beaten and killed? The ones we hear about arriving in Texas and Arizona are the lucky ones, the ones that made it through in one piece.

Honduras is embroiled in a civil war, although the US media won’t report that. And the death squads that we thought had died out with the evil 1980s? They’re back with a vengeance. That’s why so many desperate Central American parents are sending their kids to the country which, in a massive and humorless irony, is the author of their misfortunes.

When will it all end? When democracy is restored in Honduras, of course. But for that to happen, first the sham “democracy” installed by Washington must be trashed and kicked to the curb. The last real president of the land has not finished his mandate, and the three impostors who were tapped to “replace” him know this full well.

So do the people of Honduras, and they are absolutely furious that their will has been trampled under the boots of a fascism that everyone except the “freedom-loving”, “democratic” country behind it is willing to call by its right name. Little wonder that they are willing to give up even their own children to place the problem back at the door of its source!

Oh, for the love of muff…

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Portrait of Ms. Ruby May, Standing, by Leena McCall. Medium: Oil on canvas.

Can you see what’s wrong with this picture? I can’t.

I hear that it was deemed “pornographic and disgusting”, which I’m sure would come as a laugh to anyone who’s actually seen disgusting pornography (and I have). I have to wonder at the delicate sensibilities of the fuddy-duddies who thought this was too much, while allowing another portrait — fully nude, but more conventionally posed — to pass. (And by “conventionally posed”, I mean with the woman model as passive object of the male gaze.)

Perhaps the problem with this is that Ms. Ruby May has what appear to be henna tattoos, draped like tendrils over her shoulders and collarbones. Perhaps it’s the fact that she’s half-dressed in turn-of-the-last-century drag. Heavens to Betsy, a woman in a vest and knickers! (And no, British readers, that’s not an undershirt and panties, that’s vest as in gentleman’s waistcoat, and knickers as in bockers.) Perhaps it’s the fact that she’s wearing a watch-chain, another masculine touch underscoring the drag sensibility of the whole. Or maybe it’s that pipe (an obvious prop, since there’s no perfumed smoke curling daintily from its bowl.)

No, no, that can’t be it. What is it, then?

Oh my gawd, her pants are undone. And what is that I see peeking out? Why, the lady has pubes! Oh noes!

As everybody knows by now, female pubes are a terrible scourge and a menace to society. They must be scraped away, torn out at the roots, and the roots killed with fire, lest they ever sprout again. As everybody knows, lady-pubes allowed to run rampant will molest little boys. And kill babies!

The only thing worse than the scourge of lady-pubes is the terrible curse of the Elderly Vagina. And if we allow women to proudly possess pubes, even if we don’t all go around showing them off as Ms. Ruby does here — why, what’s next? Will we also be proud of our nether hairs when they turn silver — or, in the case of us natural redheads, purest snowy white?

Oh, the horror. Female self-esteem! The HORROR.

No, no, we can’t have a woman proudly showing her pubes. Not even if she’s painted by Gustav Klimt himself.

Oh wait, that’s allowed. Klimt was a man! It’s quite all right for men to paint women in a sexual context. Those who did so a century ago to public outrage and opprobrium are now revered as Great Artists. But for another woman to do so, as Leena McCall has done? Dangerous! Why, just look at that thing. The woman isn’t passively subjecting herself (and her unshorn crotch) to the male gaze, but actively looking back out at us! And worse yet, she’s doing so with a challenging glint in her eye. A glint that is equal parts “hey, sailor” and “fuck you”. Or, if you want to get all stuffy about it, a look that says both come-hither and go-thither.

No, we can’t have a woman undressing us with her eyes, and perhaps contemptuously withering us with that same sexy gaze. It’s too much like she’s looking right through us, and finding us lacking. Lacking in courage for not being able to handle the sight of a set of female genitalia not artificially made to resemble those of a harmless, helpless newborn baby girl. Lacking in the wit to understand what we are seeing. Lacking in the visionary guts to realize that women can, and MUST, have sexual agency, the right to say yea or nay, I-want-you or I-want-you-not, as we will. Lacking, in short, the understanding that a woman is more than a body, and that she is not just some consumable object, but a person in her own right, and as much so as any man. She has will. She has desires. And why should she not have the explicit right to express all that?

Why doesn’t she, already?

Well, here’s why: We live in gormless times. We have never seen the virgin/whore dichotomy quite so polarized as it is today. Even the Victorian era has nothing on the present. On the one hand, we have every kind of porn, depicting every depraved thing people can do unto one another, with literally no holds barred (including the death-grip on the throat, usually of a woman). On the other, we have something ickier, creepier, more spiritually deadening, and more depraved still: purity balls, where fathers take on the role of surrogate husband to virginal girls, and pledge to “cover” them until they can pass them off, presumably while still virginal, to a suitable real husband. We have Rush Limbaugh slut-shaming Sandra Fluke because that shameless hussy dared to put in a good word for birth-control pills, between fistfuls of OxyContin and Viagra — and nary a word about himself jetting off to sex tours in the Dominican Republic, where child prostitutes are dirt cheap and nauseously easy to find. These guys are all running around with total impunity, ordering women to do as they say, not as they do. And, under protest, we let them. Be it in porn or in purity culture, women are both infantilized and objectified, passed around like bongs at a party, and above all, NEVER allowed to be sexual on their own terms. It is always at the whim of a man, whether a creepy photographer like Terry Richardson (and a creepy businessman like Dov Charney), or a porn director…or the “priesthood holder” of the house, dear ol’ dad himself.

That may be why Ms. Ruby is dressed in old-fashioned men’s clothing, but only halfway. And why the sight of her standing there with undone trousers and no perceptible shame is so “pornographic” and horrifying in this supposedly so much more open day and age — when all of us, if we are honest, will readily admit that we’ve seen a whole lot worse.

Compare and Contrast: Peña Nieto vs. Maduro

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Left: “He stole the Mexican elections, privatized the state oil companies, and the people repudiate him. TV and the US call him the president who saved Mexico.”

Right: “The Venezuelan people elected him democratically and he didn’t privatize the oil. TV and the US call him a dictator.”

Dear PETA: Fuck you.

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Dear PETA:

Thanks for another thoughtful reminder of why I can’t fucking stand you. Once again, you’ve wanked a major one all over women’s bodies.

Never mind that body weight is not a marker of obesity. Or that fat vegans most certainly do exist, and that refusing to consume animal products is no guarantee of weight loss. No, you just had to go clouding the serious health issue of Plan B’s too-low hormone dosage with a fraudulent “go vegan and get skinny!” message. In doing so, you joined all the other despicable fat-shamers who never miss an opportunity to push their agendas in inescapably sexist ways.

Of course, I expected nothing better from you. You have a well-established pattern of exploiting women at every turn. You can’t bear to see a glass of milk being poured or an egg being cracked into a pan, but you have no compunctions about caging women, carving them up like slabs of beef, wrapping them in plastic like supermarket chickens, or throwing them onto grills. And that’s when you’re not busy sexually abusing them to showcase what veganism will allegedly do for their male partners.

So I suppose I should not have been surprised that you would pounce on what is actually a story about corporate irresponsibility, and twist it to your own sadistic ends. It’s pretty obvious what your game is: “saving” the animals by throwing humans, and specifically FEMALE humans, under the bus.

And that’s when you’re not busy killing kitties and dogs to save money to put toward your outrageous ad campaigns instead. What the fuck is “ethical” about THAT?

So I guess you’ll just have to pardon me if all you’ll ever get from me is the back of both my middle fingers. Trust me, you’ve EARNED it.

Fuck you very much, PETA.

Rob Ford’s crack pipe speaks

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Note: The following is a message I received from an anonymous source. I have been asked to share it my readers as a public service, in the hopes that it will serve as a warning to anyone thinking of sampling the CIA’s pretext for keeping Latin America in misery, the DEA in Latin America, the black community in the ghetto, and Gary Webb in his grave. Or something like that.

Hello. You don’t know me, so please allow me to introduce myself. I am Rob Ford’s crack pipe.

I am that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. I’m the one who knows Rob Ford better than anyone, even his own wife. I’m the one who perks him up so that he can bumble, bluster, and bounce erratically all over the place, bewildering everyone with his undignified behavior and his unpredictable rages. I’m the one he strenuously denied having had relations with, from the moment Gawker first published a picture of him with a couple of young black guys who have since met some highly suspicious fates.

That picture was embarrassing, but the video that goes with it is even more so. Until recently, he denied that it existed. And with it, he denied me.

Well, no more. I have come forward to demand my rightful due. And that is that he come clean and admit that we have had a lengthy relationship, he and I. He didn’t today, as you’ve probably suspected. He claims I was just another drunken one-night stand. Something he did in a stupor.

He would say that, wouldn’t he? But he’s lying.

Nobody just smokes crack just because they’ve had too much to drink; if that were the case, the LCBO would have closed every liquor store in Toronto, so as not to let kids get their hands on that infamous gateway drug. No, he didn’t pick me up just because he’d staggered out of a bar and into a bad neighborhood. We go back way further than that. And if you’re going to talk about gateway drugs, you might want to look further into the entire Ford family’s past, as the Globe and Mail recently did.

The Brothers Ford are drug dealers, and their illicit business in Etobicoke is decades old. When they first started, it was marijuana and hashish. Pot and hash are no longer so fashionable (or so frowned on), but crack is. And it has the added benefit, from a drug dealer’s standpoint, of being highly addictive, as pot and hash are not. The come-down is harsh and desolating. Those who’ve tried crack can’t just take it or leave it; they are forever chasing their next rock. Nobody just does crack once in a while, on a lark, or in a drunken stupor. I don’t do hook-ups, honey. I’m a long-term relationship kind of gal.

That’s why my relationship with him has been so intimate, and why it’s so embarrassing. Like the toilet in the Russell Edson poem, I belong to an unfortunate association, one that he’d rather not publicly embrace. And like a toilet, he fills me with shit — literal shit that’s been carried in somebody’s ass. Fills me up, smokes me, then pretends it didn’t happen, but always comes back for more. Yeah, he’s a sick fucker.

And that’s why it mystifies me to hear all these Ford Nation types going on like he’s a good man who’s just had an unfortunate accident, or something like that. No. No, he isn’t. He’s a mayor who’s been running the city like someone on crack, which of course he is. His character is corrupted. His whole behavioral pattern is typical of a crackhead in denial. Cancelling already allocated monies and green spaces for his own pet projects, even though everything’s already been voted, budgeted, and settled. Sexist, racist, homophobic slurs and snubs in a city renowned for its tolerance and multiculturalism. Petty, petulant rages and abuses of power. Does that sound like a “good man” to you?

If it does, I have to ask what you’ve been smoking.

Oh look, another ignorant white woman has an opinion!

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So I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning, when up pops this. Yet another ignorant white woman who is strangely offended by Muslim women just being themselves and minding their own damn business. Let’s take her argument point by point so we can see how ridiculous it is, shall we?

The niqab is a ridiculous garment, adopted by a small (but growing) number of women and rejected by many mainstream Muslims. When I see someone wearing it, I’m torn between laughing at the absurdity and irritation with the ideology it represents. In secular countries, the notion that women have to cover their faces whenever they leave the house is rightly seen as weird, and runs counter to the principle of gender equality. Many brave women in the Middle East and Asia have died for the much more important right not to cover their faces, and I have little patience with women in this country who make a mockery of that struggle by trying to pretend they’re the ones suffering oppression.

If it’s so ridiculous and so little worn, Joan, why do you care? And you obviously do, since you feel compelled to point and laugh and be “irritated with the ideology it represents”. WHAT ideology might that be, hmmm?

And what is “right” about seeing a veiled woman as weird? I see someone’s cultural biases doing the talking for her here. Now that’s an offensive ideology.

As for the “gender equality” canard: I should also note that in some North African Muslim countries, the men cover their faces and the women don’t; ever hear of the Tuareg, Joan? And anyway, most Muslim women who veil do not cover their faces; you said so yourself. So why single out the few who do?

And if you want to talk brave, I think you might want to meet Qahera, who doesn’t need your silly directives to unveil, and who rightly takes offence at ignorant westerners trying to “rescue” her from an imagined “ideology”.

Or just refer to my post about Riham Said from yesterday. She doesn’t need your ideology either.

I’m not in favour of the French approach, which is an outright ban on the niqab and the burqa; I’m not keen on banning things and it risks creating martyrs. It makes more sense to treat the face-veil as a political statement and insist on our right to make one in return.

And yet, you feel compelled to rag on how “weird” it is. And to make political statements against it. So, you’re calling for discrimination and razzing instead of an outright ban? Bravo, Joan, what a brave and rational stance to take! I’m sure that will convince everyone!

Covering the face doesn’t make anyone a better human being and the “modesty” argument doesn’t wash; if you wear outlandish clothes, whether it’s a face-veil or fancy dress, of course people will stare.

What is this, an argument for staring? Did your mother not teach you any manners? A veil isn’t a “fancy dress” costume. Not even in not-so-great Britain, anymore.

And how do you know it’s only about “modesty”? You don’t. It may in fact be a statement about nationality or tribal allegiances, not religious belief or a fear of sexual assault. Different women from different regions wear different headgear to say “this is where I come from”. More on this later.

Nor does the niqab discourage violence; evidence from Egypt suggests that veiled women are slightly more likely to suffer sexual harassment, probably because men regard them as easier targets than women in Western clothes. Does anyone seriously believe that women are safer in Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran, where most women wear the veil (many of them against their will) in one form or another? Wearing the niqab or the burqa is self-defeating, exposing women and girls to more oppression rather than less.

Well, isn’t this a hot mess? I’ll gladly concede that there is no article of clothing that will ever really discourage sexual harassment, assault or violence. But the other side of this coin is that removing a veil just because it offends your delicate British sensibilities won’t make those women any safer, either. The only thing that will work is educating the men. And by that, I mean ALL men.

Plus, women in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran don’t wear niqabs. Iraq is largely secular, and the women there usually wear either a hijab (which shows the face) or no veil at all. Afghanistan? Well, the burqa (which is even more concealing than a niqab, seeing as it has a mesh panel to cover the eyes) has been in fashion ever since we in the “enlightened” west (or at least, Ronald Fucking Reagan) saw fit to help them defeat godless communism by sending in the “Arab-Afghan mujahideen”, otherwise known as al-Qaida. Before that, Afghan women tended to dress a lot more like us:

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As for Iran, they wear the chador there; again, a veil that leaves the face uncovered. And it’s not strictly required of all women, only those who are Shia Muslim.

Oh here, have this handy guide to all the different veils worn by women you know nothing about. Maybe it will help you to stop embarrassing yourself with this ignorant blather.

Where I think the state is entitled to intervene is when a woman’s decision to cover has negative consequences on others, including her daughters; face-covering should never be a component of school uniform, let alone compulsory. Then there’s the example of a courtroom: when someone is giving evidence, she should be subject to exactly the same rules as the rest of us. Vulnerable witnesses need to have their identities protected but as a general rule the judge, jury, defence and prosecution should be able to see witnesses’ faces. I wouldn’t expect to be allowed to appear in court in a balaclava, and the public good of open justice takes precedence over demands for special treatment on religious grounds.

I fail to see what “harm” it does to cover one’s face in public, or in a court of law. Where in the rules of evidence does it say that one must be bare-faced? This “pro-equality” argument is bullshit on the face of it (pun intended).

As for the NHS, I’m aghast at the prospect of being treated by a health professional in a niqab. Patients often have to discuss intimate matters with GPs and nurse-practitioners, from sexual health to domestic violence. If someone doesn’t trust me enough to let me see her face, I’m hardly going to feel comfortable about her carrying out an intimate procedure such as a cervical smear. Nor is it easy to imagine a man discussing the symptoms of prostate cancer with a health professional whose idea of “modesty” doesn’t allow her to expose her nose.

Well, Joan, if you’re so offended by veiled doctors or nurses, don’t use the NHS, then! Take your prejudices private, if they’re so important to you. You’re making an awful lot of assumptions about the hypothetical practitioner’s motive for wearing the veil. Have you ever actually been treated by somebody wearing one? And if so, has it impaired her ability to help you in any way? If not, you have no business complaining.

At one level, it’s hard to believe we’re having this debate.

I quite agree. But since you insisted on yattering ignorantly on about it, there you go. You got yourself a debate, lady! And you’re losing to cold hard fact. Sucks to be you.

Human rights law is clear about the right to manifest religion but it isn’t an absolute right, and can be limited when it conflicts with the rights of others.

Such as…your “right” not to have someone else’s Muslim-ness visible to your virgin eyes? That’s not a right, that’s a privilege. And your column reeks of it. Get over yourself, Joan.

The demand by a small number of Muslim women to cover their faces in all circumstances clearly impacts on the rights of others, and requires a robust response.

No, it doesn’t. And no, it doesn’t.

Secularism is not about forced suppression of religion, or at least it wasn’t the last time I looked. But hey. If a piece of fabric is really so offensive, Joan, maybe you should move to Québec. They just instituted a “Charter of Values” there that has a strangely subjective definition of secularism that, I suspect, would fall right in line with yours.

Submissive? HA!

In case you ever get to thinking that all Middle Eastern Muslim women are hopelessly under the thumb of men just because they wear veils, this video from an Egyptian TV program should prove instructive:

The interviewer, Riham Said, “agrees” to wear a scarf while she interviews this cleric, who appears to have no trouble with her uncovered hair beforehand, when he doesn’t realize the cameras are already rolling. But when the interview gets going in earnest, soon Ms. Said removes her scarf, saying it feels hypocritical (and it is). And when the cleric starts to object, she brings up the salient fact that the channel paid him to appear in what is supposed to be a discussion on sexual harassment. He denies it, but he isn’t very convincing. Probably because the sight of a woman’s uncovered head is just so distracting, eh?

But for me, the best part of all is HER explanation: She says she’ll wear a scarf for God, not men. Not even “holy” men. A point that even a wily old cleric can’t counter very effectively, because it reminds him of whom he is supposed to be serving!

Never forget.

I will walk the streets again
in what was bloodied Santiago,
and in a beautiful liberated square
I will stop to weep for the absent.

I will come back from the burning desert
and come out of the woods and the lakes
and I will evoke, on a mountain in Santiago,
my brothers and sisters who died before.

I, united to those who do much and little,
to those who want a free country,
will fire the first bullets
sooner rather than later, without rest.

The books will come back, the songs
which murderers’ hands burned.
My people will be reborn from their ruin
and pay back their faults to the traitors.

A boy will play on a tree-lined street
and sing to his new friends,
and this song will be the song of the soil
to a life cut short in La Moneda.

I will walk the streets again
in what was bloodied Santiago,
and in a beautiful liberated square
I will stop to weep for the absent.

40 years ago today, 9-11 came to Chile with gunshots and a roar of jets over the presidential palace, La Moneda. The coup was launched from Viña del Mar, on the coast, with CIA and US military “assistance” to the fascist troops of Pinochet. But really, it was Pinochet and Co. helping the US in the end, using Chile as a laboratory for libertarian cuckoo economics enforced by fascism.

The idea that libertarianism is actually a form of fascism may be anathema to those who still naïvely and quaintly assume that it’s all about personal and economic freedom, but the facts are that Chile was on a true course toward freedom under the democratic socialist, Salvador Allende (the “life cut short in La Moneda”), and certain powers-that-be (and still are) in the United States of Amnesia couldn’t have that. There was dire talk of “ruin”, and of course, Milton Freedman’s “Chicago Boys” were only too happy to ruin the Chilean economy ahead of the coup — and destroy it utterly thereafter. THEY reduced it to the irreparable state it is still in today. Chileans cannot forget 9-11, because that is the day their democracy died, and they have yet to get it — and their sovereignty — all the way back.

If you wonder why the OTHER 9-11, the one the US is commemorating today, happened…this might just be a clue. It’s the imperialism, stupid. Other countries want to be free to make their own decisions, and other people deeply resent it when US-trained “experts” parachute in to fuck it all up on them. The OTHER 9-11, the one that happened in 2001, is the blowback from US interference in Afghanistan and the Middle East. What’s truly insane is that it’s still being used to justify wars in countries that have nothing to do with that day at all; the latest to get blamed is Syria, which is still on the warmongers’ radar. After all, there is still that arch-capitalist military-industrial complex to feed. And fascism is nothing but capitalism minus gloves…

It’s just like some people have never learned the lessons of history, isn’t it?

Protesters seek Venezuelan leader

…and no, it’s NOT Chavecito. It’s his former electoral rival:

where-is-capriles

“Where is Capriles? There’s a power vacuum in Miranda!”

Well might you ask, muchachas. The so-called governor of Miranda isn’t governing; he’s too busy trying to hound a certain high-profile cancer patient, and getting his brain-dead followers to do the same (with the usual backing from you-know-where). Meanwhile, his state can best be described as “all gone to shit”:

Mirandans protested peacefully on Sunday outside the Miranda state government building in Los Teques, demanding that governor Henrique Capriles Radonski step down due to repeated absence from his job.

With slogans like “Capriles, govern or resign”, the demonstrators camped out in front of the state government office to denounce the apathy and the state of abandonment in which the governmental entity finds itself ever since Capriles took office as governor. Capriles visited Colombia a few weeks ago, and more recently the United States, abandoning his functions.

María Castro, one of the demonstrators, explained that the government is in disarray due to the nonexistence of policies on health, security and education. She also described Capriles’ leadership as “the worst”, since every day the level of insecurity in Miranda increases, along with the preoccupation of the state’s population.

“Miranda is the most insecure state in the country. It’s in decadency. Capriles doesn’t govern, nor does he concern himself for the region. He always asks: Where is Chávez? But we Mirandans ask: Where is Governor Capriles, who doesn’t govern? Lamentably, neither Capriles nor his committee is governing,” Castro said.

Dalia Araujo, who lives along the old Los Teques highway, pointed out that the state doesn’t have a governor who responds to the needs and demands of the people and added that “if Capriles can’t rule as governor, he should resign, because we don’t want him.”

“Here in Miranda, we don’t have a governor, Capriles should resign because insecurity is killing us, and he doesn’t show his face. What’s Capriles doing in the United States when he should be in Miranda?”

During the demonstration, a group of Capriles sympathizers approached with the intention of disrupting the peaceful protest.

One of the Capriles sympathizers pushed and assaulted members of the reporter team from the Mayor’s Office of Guaicaipuro, who were there to cover the protest. Meanwhile, functionaries from the Miranda Police (Polimiranda), who were present outside the government building, did not act in defence of the citizens.

Yelitza González, one of the witnesses, denounced the “fascist and violent” attitude of the right-wing sectors who support Capriles, adding that they would not permit violence or destabilization from the opposition, since “we want peace and we are demonstrating peacefully, we all believe in our president (Hugo Chávez), we want respect. Capriles should present a security plan.

“We’re here peacefully, and we see how this citizen, under the effects of alcohol, pushed a young reporter. Never mind that she’s a woman; he threatened her with death. The Miranda State Police, who are here as witnesses, just stood by inertly in the face of sexist violence; they should have acted, and they did not. The Guaicaipuro Police took him into custody because he was violating the rights of the woman,” said González.

Translation mine.

Here’s some video relating to the events in question:

The demonstrators gave a press conference denouncing Capriles’ irresponsibility and lack of plans, and his participation in a Washington-backed plan of destabilization while the president undergoes chemotherapy. It appears alongside footage of the demonstrations described above. They call on the people of Miranda to demand that Capriles show his face and govern, already. And in the face of the dismal crime statistics of the state, Capriles is in no legitimate position to blame Chávez for the insecurity problem, much less launch a new (and illegitimate) campaign (in MIAMI!) for his own presidency after losing the REAL vote, which took place last October. He’s discredited even among his own. He should take his lumps, admit he lost fair and square, and get down to his job, which is governing the state of Miranda, not all of Venezuela as a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington.

PS on Tuesday, 5:40 pm: Out of respect for today’s bad news from Venezuela, commenting on this entry is now closed. I’ve gotten two pathetic, lonely boys looking for love in all the wrong places so far. Fair warning: All trollish attempts will be subjected to a trashing (complete with IP and e-mail doxxing) on Saturday’s wankapedia. I know you fascists out there have no shame, so I feel none dishing it back to you. If you shit-eaters have no respect for someone’s death or their family, or my blog (which is NOT your toilet!), you deserve none either. And you WILL get gay porn spam…count on it. Meanwhile, Chavecito vive…la lucha sigue. He’s more alive than ever now, you fucking bastards. Just like Che and Camilo before him. ¡VIVA CHAVEZ, CARAJO!