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Language changes. New words arrive and old words go out of fashion. Some people can’t wait. They want words banned. They want less words. In the Guardian Jessica Valenti writes on Paula Broadwell, a woman best known for her affair with married US military type David Petraeus:
In a New York Times profile, Broadwell talks about her behind-the-scenes campaign to get media outlets to stop using the word “mistress”, a term that has no similar male counterpart.
She wants the word banned.
“On the one hand, I don’t want to define myself by this” she told the Times. “But on the other hand, I’ve been defined by this. So if I can change things for the better because of it, then why not?”
We know what mistress means. It is well defined. Ban it and what will we use instead to describe a woman who dates and shags a married man? Valenti agrees with the ban:
Why stop at “mistress”, though? It’s hardly the only word reserved for women…. A man is a “bachelor” but a woman is a “spinster”. (Please spare me the argument that “bachelorette” is a word ever used outside of reality television and drunken parties.)
So mister is out, then?
We even use “female” words to insult men. On the first day of an English class I took in college, for example, the professor asked us what words were the worst things you could call a woman.
Dear. Call a woman “dear” as in “yes, dear” and watch.
In minutes, the board was filled with misogynist invectives – words like “slut” and “cunt”. When she asked us to do the same thing for men, the board filled up again: all the worst words you could use against a man – “bitch”, “pussy”, etc – were also distinctly female.
Balls. I’d go for knob, prick, dickhead, wanker – and feel free to use them toward women, in the spirit of equality. Or maybe we can ban all those words and just go for the unisex “arse”.
How do you fend off carjackers? On YouTube, we find an answer:
When this foot switch is pressed, two things happen. One, a 14-thousand volt spark would appear here in this nozzle, and then you have these four jets here shooting out gas. Liquid gas from the gas bottle in the boot. Liquid gas, as soon as it exits over the spark here, will ignite and a ball of flame will shoot out of both side of the vehicle. Incapacitating the hijackers immediately.”
Amazingly perhaps, the system’s legal in South Africa – provided the driver is acting in self defence as depicted in this mock-up.
Joseph Fuller, 65, picked up the wrong child went he meant to collect his grandson from Edisto Primary School in South Carolina on May 19.
He was not alone in this case of mistaken identity:
The report said the grandfather approached the boy, gave him a hug, and said he was there to pick him up early. He asked the boy, who he thought was his grandson, if he was ready to go and the little boy said “yes.” A teacher’s assistant told deputies that she asked the student, “Was this your granddad?” and the student said “yes.” At that point, the report said, the student and the man went to the front office so the boy could be signed out. According to the school, the grandfather was on the approved list of people who can pick up students. The report goes on to say the grandfather put the child in his car and his wife, without turning around in the car, handed the boy a Happy Meal.
When they got home, Fuller looked at the child again. “He had a tooth missing in the front, and I know my grandson did not have a tooth missing in the front,” he says. “Immediately, I brought him back to school, and I am very sorry.”
One more reason to vote to leave the European Union arrives. “The internet is a place for free speech, not hate speech,” says Vera Jourova, the EU commissioner responsible for justice, consumers and gender equality.
Jourova was born in 1964 Czechoslovakia. She grew up under Communist rule. You might suppose she’d know better than to meddle with hard-won freedoms. She says she understands what freedom means. Vera Jourova loves free speech. But Vera Jourova wants to censor free speech, to shackle it. The bits she does not like, she calls hate speech. These parts of free speech, says its champion, must be banned. And because the undemocratic EU works the way it does, what she says goes for every country in the bloc.
There’s a lot about European regulations, or regulatory intentions, that U.S. Internet giants don’t like. They hate being described and treated as monopolies, and a mention of paying taxes where they operate — as European countries have long wanted them to do — instantly puts them on the defensive. Yet ask Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube to censor their content, and they will happily oblige. Of all the U.S. rules that have allowed them to get as big as they have become, freedom of speech appears to be least important.
The four U.S. companies have accepted a European Union-dictatedcode of conduct, which obliges them to “review the majority of valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content.” The reviewing is to be done by “civil society organizations” and “trusted reporters”: the EU and its member states are to “ensure access” to them…
Laws limiting free speech have a tendency to change in response to terrorist attacks, electoral upsets, changes in public attitudes. Russians and Turks can attest to how quickly anti-terrorist legislation can turn into a system of censorship and suppression. Europe is not immune to versions of these developments. The U.S. giants’ willingness to work with governments and advocacy groups to uphold speech limitations makes them unreliable as platforms.
On Twitter, a few see the dangers:
You can vote to change this. You can vote ‘out’.
On the day the two women who murdered two-year-old Liam Fee ride high on the news cycle, the Guardian features the words of Professor Mirko Bagaric, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Sentencing at Deakin University, Melbourne. His story is entitled:
Why we should close women’s prisons and treat their crimes more fairly
Liam Fee was murdered by his mother and her wife, who also tortured two other boys.
Women almost never scare us; commit random acts of serious violence; violate our sexual integrity; or form organised crime networks and yet their prisons numbers are now the highest in recorded history.
Women “almost never scare us”.
The homogeneity of the human species breaks down when it comes to criminal behaviour. Women, who constitute slightly more than 50% of population, commit only about 20% of all crime. They commit even a lower portion of all serious crime.
Serious crime is a full-time job. Maybe the women involved with serious criminals prefer to run the home. And do we talk about serious criminals’ mothers yet?
Moreover, when it comes to sexual offences, rounded off to the nearest whole number, women constitute 0% of all offenders – that’s right, zero.
Liam Fee was beaten to death. The other boys were forced to strip, tied to chairs, caged and told they would be castrated by a drill the women kept hidden.
And as the Guardian puts it elsewhere:
Such are the facts.
Rachel Telfa, 31, and Nayomi Fee, 29, murdered their two-year-old son, Liam Fee, by beating him to death in March 2014. The couple were in a civil partnership. Telfa was the child’s birth mother. Both women denied killing Liam. There is every chance they still think they did nothing wrong. Indeed, as Trelfa was found guilty of murdering her son, she mouthed “I did not”. The tabloids report:
Daily Mirror (front page): “MOTHERS OF ALL EVIL”
That’s an odd headline given that the women were the mothers not of evil, rather an innocent child.
Page 4-5: “NOW CAGE THEM”
Well, that seems likely. The women – or one of them; the court could not decide which – hit Liam so hard in the abdomen his heart ruptured. Fee and Telfa tried to pin the blame on a six-year-old boy, one of two boys other than Liam who seem to have been living with the couple in Fife, Scotland. The women were found guilty of abusing the two other boys, including keeping one in a cage, forcing them to eat dog poo and vomit, and mentally torturing them. Fee told one she had killed his father with a drill she kept to castrate young boys.
In order to implicate the innocent boy in Liam’s murder, Fee shoved his hands into the dead’s boy’s mouth to leave traces of his DNA on the corpse. When paramedics arrived she told them Liam had been strangled by the other child.
We then get to know more of the killers’ lives. The Mirror says the women got drunk “and watched Shameless on TV”. It wasn’t all bad telly because the paper says Telfa kept a horse at riding stables. We get the lowlights, but the normality escapes reporting. It is the ordinary that helped mask their crimes.
In Voice of The Mirror, the women are labelled “monsters”. They are not. They are human beings. That’s what makes them terrifying.
The paper than tries to make some point. It says the killers “demonstrated sadistic women can be as depraved as violent men”. Why not violent women and sadistic men? Why is this even worth saying? The story has nothing to do with men behaving badly. Indeed, the only men to feature in it are the judge who found the women guilty and Liam’s father, Joseph Johnson, 33, who “sobbed uncontrollably” in court.
The Sun (Page 9): Tortured to death”
Liam was killed my his mum and “her lesbian partner”. He had more than 30 injuries, including “two broken legs and fractured arms”. As they were found guilty, the women “showed no emotion”. But the Times said Trelfa spoke out.
The Sun says the innocent 6-year-old framed for the killing “initially admitted he had strangled” Liam. It was only under questioning by police that the whole story came out. The child – not social services – cracked the case. He said Fee would make him lies on the floor. She’d place his foot on his next until he passed out. She beat him often.
Daily Express (Page 21): ” Lesbian loves face life for savage murder of Liam, 2″
The killers’ sexual orientation is to the fore. Sadly, the facts are less certain from there. The Express says the boy bullied into claiming he had killed Liam is age 7. Fee told one boy she killed his father not with a drill, as the Sun claims, rather with a “saw”. Fee and Trelfa are not merely “lovers”, they are a married couple, tying the knot in 2012.
Daily Mail (Page 6-7): “Lesbian couple battered son, 2, so brutally his heart ruptured”.
The Mail places the State in the dock:
Horrific failings by social services were exposed yesterday as a mother and her civil partner were found guilty of murdering her two-year-old son.
Liam was failed.
Karen Pedder, a manager with Fife Council, told the court a caseworker had been assigned to investigate reports of abuse after the concerns were first raised in January 2013.
But a social worker and a police officer sent to visit the family had accepted the ‘plausible explanation’ given that he had simply bumped his head. The social worker who had been dealing with Liam’s case then went off sick in April and it was not looked at again until the nursery got in touch in June, she said.
During cross-examination, Rachel Fee’s defence counsel Brian McConnachie asked: ‘What seems to have happened here is basically, as far as Liam is concerned, this case just went off the radar?’
Mrs Pedder replied: ‘It did. Yes.’ She said a case would normally be reviewed after about four weeks, but this had not happened.
Hideous stuff. And what also hurts is that Liam Johnson was renamed Liam Fee, forced to carry the name of his abuser. Our thoughts must be with his father.
They hated and criminalised football fans when 96 innocent Liverpool fans died at Hillsborough in 1989. They hate and criminalise football fans now, idiots included.
A 50-year-old man has been charged with a public order offence after he was seen at a pub wearing a T-shirt mocking the Hillsborough disaster. Paul Grange, from Worcester, was charged by West Mercia police with displaying threatening and abusive writing likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
Any police officers been charged with, you know, treating innocent people like criminals, putting their loved ones through years of hell, branding the survivors as killers, sending for the dogs as the dying cried out for help, causing distress, harassment and alarm?
Maybe if one of these ultra-sensitive coppers pulls on a rude T-shirt, his comrades will lock him away for the good of society…
More news on Harambe, the gorilla at Cincinnati zoo who died for our sins. The Mirror leads with a statement punctuated to look like a question: “Proof the gorilla was trying to protect the boy?” That question mark won’t show up on Google searches, so lots of people campaigning for Harmabe’s “murderers” to be tried in court and the boy’s mother, Michelle Gregg, to be punished, will see it as evidence they are right.
On the ridiculous and shrill Justice for Harambe petition, kind hearts want Michelle in prison and the child ripped from the family home:
It is believed that the situation was caused by parental negligence and the zoo is not responsible for the child’s injuries and possible trauma. We the undersigned want the parents to be held accountable for the lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life. We the undersigned feel the child’s safety is paramount in this situation. We believe that this negligence may be reflective of the child’s home situation. We the undersigned actively encourage an investigation of the child’s home environment in the interests of protecting the child and his siblings from further incidents of parental negligence that may result in serious bodily harm or even death. Please sign this petition to encourage the Cincinnati Zoo, Hamilton County Child Protection Services, and Cincinnati Police Department hold the parents responsible.
The Mirror has no idea what Harambe was and was not thinking. Yesterday, the same paper told readers Harambe was “violently pulling the boy” who had fallen into his pen. If Harambe was a child minder, and we are to treat dumb animals as human beings, affording them the same legal rights as so many demand in online petitions and twitter, Harambe stands accused of child abuse. That gorilla’s a beast.
On Page 9, the Mirror says “Harambe was holding the boys’s hand… responding to Isaiah’s frightened cry”. Only when we reach paragraph 11 are we told that Isaiah was “dragged around the enclosure’s moat”.
The Mail also loads the dice against humanity, leading with another question: “Was this gentle giant trying to protect boy he took by the hand.” In other words, was Harmabe behaving like a caring human being? No. Harambe was a massive gorilla. He is kept in a cage surrounded by water, less to protect him from human being than to protect us from him.
Simon Barnes tells us: “Death seems a harsh punishment for a chance encounter with a naughty child.” Barnes says humans share 95% of our genes with gorillas, who “seem to have the capacity to experience emotions we think of as human.”
It is very difficult to find reliable data comparing the human genome to animal genome. The principal reason is that few animals have had their full genome sequenced. Even those that have cannot be easily compared in terms of percentages because the genomic length and chromosomal division can vary greatly from one species to another.
– Cats have 90% of homologous genes with humans, 82% with dogs, 80% with cows, 79% with chimpanzees, 69% with rats and 67% with mice. (source)
– Cows (Bos taurus) are 80% genetically similar to humans (source)
– 75% of mouse genes have equivalents in humans (source), 90% of the mouse genome could be lined up with a region on the human genome (source) 99% of mouse genes turn out to have analogues in humans (source)
– The fruit fly (Drosophila) shares about 60% of its DNA with humans (source).
– About 60% of chicken genes correspond to a similar human gene. (source)
Barnes adds: ” The ungorilla-like noises of the terrified child in Cincinnati might have confused Harambe and contributed to his ambiguous response to this difficult situation.”
To recap: Harambe did not call 911, 111, nor 999. But had he had his phone and a pocket to keep it in, he might have called for help. Maybe.
Johnny Depp says – yes! – he did buy a £5,000 bathtub from Stiffkey Bathrooms, in Upper St Giles Street, Norwich, in 2014. Depp took the 1880 French Bateau bath on ornate feet to the USA.
Does he still have it? “We disposed of the thing and everything’s fine,” says Mr Depp. “The thing” and it being now “fine” arouse suspicion that the bath might well have been a problem.
Depp denied rumours that he was spotted buying spatulas in Bath, Somerset.
The plot thickens…
For a brief period, Harambe, the 400lb silverback gorilla, had a playmate in his Cincinnati Zoo pen. Harambe dragged his pal, a four-year-old boy who had fallen into the enclosure, to his feet and then showed him around for ten minutes. The boy called for his “mommy”. From above, his mother replied, “Mommy’s right here. Mommy loves you.”
Deciding that a huge gorilla was not a suitable playmate for the young child, zookeepers thought it best to shoot Harambe dead. So they did. The boy was taken to hospital, where he is said to be in a “serous condition”.
On twitter, Brian May the Queen guitarist, was keen to know more, asking,”Why was the gorilla murdered?” It turns out that May is more moralist than zoologist, ending his question with a series of statements, “No trial – no reason. No excuse. Who will prosecute?”
We’d suggest a kangaroo court, of which May seems to be a founding member.
Others are less antagonist. The Daily Star says the the gorilla was shot to save the child, who will “make a full recovery”.
The Sun says the “28stone” gorilla was trying to protect the child. And it could be argued he was doing a better job of it than the aforementioned “neglectful” mommy. But, then, surely that is to place the animal on a higher plinth to a human being. To think the child was in no danger requires a leap of fancy. Do we know how a gorilla thinks any more than we do a bat or a frog? A mother and a child we can reason with. A huge gorilla speaks a different language, and when the conversation lulls, Harmabe has massive arms and teeth to support his argument.
In the Mirror, where the story is front-page news and the gorilla is “violently pulling the boy”, Harambe, now boosted to “30-stone”, illustrates the story “Miracle of the Gorilla Boy“. Wow, indeed. The boy falling, his rescue and the slaying of Harambe are all signs of god’s love. Take that May. It’s what god wanted. Divine wonders slew the beast and saved Isaiah, which we’re told the boy is called.
Like Isaiah of old, little Isaiah teaches us to stay on the right path, lest we fall by the wayside or into a gorilla’s lair and cause the loveable critter to be shot dead.
Compare and contrast the Daily Mail’s reporting on Becky Nicholson’s wedding to Leicester City and England footballer Jamie Vardy and Camilla Parker Bowles marriage to Prince Charles.
Alison Boschoff and Andy Dolan write on the Becky-Jamie alliance:
The most brazen WAG of all: Three children by three dads. A fling with Peter Andre. No wonder England football hero Jamie Vardy’s parents won’t be at his wedding…
For Vardy’s mother Lisa and stepfather Phil — who has raised him since he was a baby — will not be there because they do not approve of their son’s choice of wife, a glossy, risque brunette named Becky Nicholson…
So, what’s the problem? Well, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Becky, who will be gliding down the aisle in a £5,000 traditional white dress, is anything but a blushing bride. For she has not only been married once before as a teenager, but has also gone on to have two children by two other men….
As is perhaps customary when a high-profile footballer makes it official with a WAG, Hello! magazine will be in attendance, with its sizeable chequebook and security retinue…
Since Jamie’s rise to fame she has kept her colourful mouth shut, except when there is a cheque in it for her.
Now enjoy “Charles and Camilla: Married at last“. Charles, who may recalls was cheating on his wife, Princess Diana, with married mum-of-two Camilla. Charles once expressed a desire to be Camilla’s tampon. Cheating Charles, heir apparent and with it a defender of the faith and good morals, had a civil ceremony with Cheating Camilla, and then scored a televised Anglican blessing by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Charles’s parents did not attend the marriage ceremony.
Charles and Camilla were in the ancient surroundings of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, for the service, conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury in front of more than 700 guests. Earlier they had married in more humble surroundings in the Windsor Register Office, with just 28 guests but without the Queen or the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Duchess of Cornwall changed into a porcelain blue silk dress with hand painted ikat design, hand embroidered with gold thread work, for the blessing of her marriage this afternoon.
The designers’ starting point was the Duchess’s comment that she liked the style of the velvet dress they had designed for her to wear for the gala night at the Royal Opera House…
At the reception, the Duchess wore a court shoe with a soft point toe and a 5.5cm heel in pale grey shot silk…
She carried a small, simple elegant floral bouquet bound with silk from her dress. Auricular flowers in dusty shades of greys and creams with touches of gold had been mixed with clusters of Lily of the Valley both for the scent and the sentiment…
The flowers were cut from English plants later to be grown in the gardens at Highgrove. A sprig of myrtle, representing happy marriage, was sent from a well wisher in Cornwall for the bouquet.
And what colour dress did chaste Camilla wear to that civil wedding to the down-at-heel Prince?
Good job Camilla’s not like that Becky. But if she wants to get the “brassy” look, the Mail is here to help her. Below photos of Becky in her undies – “Blushing bride: Rebekah appeared in a downmarket newspaper modelling ‘wedding lingerie’ (pictured)” – the Mail offers readers the chances to “GET THE LOOK” and “Say ‘I do’ like Becky in bridal lingerie”:
It’s not about money, readers. No. It’s about class…
Long ago, we kept up a feature called Now Watch, a look at instances of “NOIW” in front-page news headlines. Today we revisit the meme with a look at the Daily Express front-page laments: “NOW EU WANT TO BAN OUR KETTLES.”
Stopping just short of hailing the death of the Great British Kettle (made in Germany), the Express is at least prove that the boiler is reusable, having earlier thundered in 2014: “NOW KETTLES FACE EU BAN.”
Now, then, now, then…
Hey, celebs, you need a new, more exclusive drug:
Drugs furore at the Groucho Club over ‘bankers’ cocaine binges’: Veteran members pen letter to management over ‘open drug use taking place on the premises’.
So says The Mail, which fails to add that now is a great time for Groucho patrons to nip to the loo – no queue!
To New South Wales, Australia, where butcher Jeff Rapley from Naroomais talking about the sign in his shop window that promises, “Eating two strips of Rapley’s award-winning bacon for breakfast reduces your chance of being a suicide bomber by 100%.”
He fails to “or your money back!” but Jeff does add that he meant no offence and “no particular religion was mentioned“. “I’m definitely not a racist and didn’t mean for it to cause offence,” says Jeff.
The Vegan Militia has yet to respond.
When Harriet Harman, the Labour former deputy leader, told us Kim Kardashian’s naked breasts and pouting buttocks possessed “a kind of bravery and pioneering spirit” and that Page 3 Girls with their naked breasts and pouting buttocks were just “fodder”, we realised how right she was. So today we’re offering all Guardian readers a free Kim Kardashian Pioneer Kit. Each kit contains:
What they’re saying:
“Kim’s a pioneer, like Amelia Earhart, albeit with a better airplane and killer luggage” – Helen of Anjou
“You go, girl” – Emmeline Pankhurst
“Phwaor!” – Sun reader
See if you can fathom what it is Harriet Harman, the Labour former deputy leader, is saying. Appearing on ITV morning telly to talk about women’s issues, Harman turned to nudity, celebrity, Page 3, onanism, feminism and narcissism. Yeah, she was talking about naked-to-deadline, sex-tape stunna Kim Kardashian:
“I am an expert on the Kardashians, I have to confess. I think, if you step back, the overall message that comes out of the Kardashian women is that they are kind of going to make their own decisions, make their own way in the world, they’re not going to be told by anybody what to do.
“They are going to try things differently. If they make mistakes, well, they’ll get up back and try and do it differently. There’s a kind of bravery and pioneering spirit in them.”
Kim’s porn and naked pictures are” brave and pioneering”. Kim’s like Amelia Earhart, albeit with a better airplane.
Now Harriet talked about the Sun and Daily Star’s Page 3 girls, who are mostly not rich:
“I think it’s an issue of control actually, because I get the sense from the Kardashians that they are in control of their own agenda. The thing about Page 3 girls in the Sun is it was male editors producing young girls for the male readers as fodder.”
No male readers ogle Kim Kardashian? No women read the Sun? No Page 3 Girl wanted to pose topless? Male editors get young girls as “fodder” but young Kardashians on TV stations and Twitter – any men on the board of MTV, Instagram or Twitter? – are empowered and possessed of the pioneering spirit?
What hideous elitist balls.
PS – Rupert Murdoch, why not get Kim Kardashian on Page 3? Admittedly, you’ll have to tell it’s just topless, but if she tones it down a notch, Harman will be even more confused.
It’s Health Tuesday in the Mail. Scare Story highlights are:
Page 47: “Just one court of antibiotics may raise risk of depression.” The thinking is if you take antibiotics, you cause in imbalance in bugs in your guts which upsets your brain cells’ ability to communicate.
You might have read the same tory in 2015, when it appeared on a website as, “Antibiotic exposure associated with increased risk for depression, anxiety.”
But what of one courts of antibiotics making you depressed?
Exposure to antibiotics was not associated with a change in risk for psychosis. A single course of antifungals was associated with a mild increase in risk for depression and anxiety, however, there was no increased risk with repeated exposures.
, Leo Galland has more:
No, antibiotics do not directly cause panic attacks.
They can, however, exacerbate symptoms in those who already have anxiety disorders.
There has been a wealth of research in the recent years connecting gut bacteria to mental processes. This connection is aptly named the “gut-brain axis.” Antibiotics are prescribed to get rid of bacterial infections. Unfortunately, most antibiotics don’t just kill the bad bacteria, they kill the healthy bacteria living in your gut. This healthy bacteria has a lot of different functions, one being to line the gut and basically reinforce its “walls.” They can also influence neurotransmitters.
When you destroy these bacteria, it makes sense that you may notice a bodily change. This could be intestinal distress or mood changes. In scientific studies “germ-free” mice, or those without gut bacteria, are more reactive to stress than non-germ-free (normal) mice. It’s important to remember this is a mouse study, not a human study. It can give some important clues, but might not be the whole picture.
In short, antibiotics will not induce a panic attack, but may increase reactivity, making it more likely that a person prone to panic attacks will feel anxious. This can possibly turn into a panic attack, but with an established treatment regimen, it can be avoided.
You can read the the research first-hand here.
Why anyone plays golf is beyond me. A friend interested in joining a club was put off by what he called a strong whiff of anti-semitism around the place. He never complained. He didn’t want to hang out with bigots. So he gave up on golf and built a snooker room at home. But some people – not all racists, I’ll give you that – do want to play golf and chat in an actual golf club. And some of them want to play in a club just for men. The Guardian’s Laura Bates writes:
Muirfield golf club has lost the right to host the prestigious Open championship after taking the stunningly regressive step of voting against reversing its ban on female members.
If it’s what the members want – and we mean members in every sense of the word – what’s the issue?
In fairness, Muirfield members seem to have some very real concerns – a letter circulated by those campaigning against the change revealed the terrifying prospect that “lady members” may pose a threat to such noble traditions as “our foursomes play, our match system … our lunch arrangements”. Quelle horreur.
Do the French play golf?
The news has prompted intense debate about male-only spaces and whether or not they should still be allowed, with one major argument cropping up again and again in most of the discussions I have heard. “Why shouldn’t men be allowed their own space, when women have women-only gym and swimming sessions? Isn’t that sexist?”
The answer is that these two things are not the same. In fact, they couldn’t be more different.
One sports club wants just women; one sports club wants just men. How is that different?
Kehinde Andrews, Associate Professor in Sociology at Birmingham City University, wants to talk about studying black subjects. Birmingham City University has opened a black studies university course. The black experience in Britain is worthy of study, of course it is. But doesn’t this course limit black students, make what should be a full education with all the navigating between opinion, debate and textual evidence into a ‘safe space’ where minds are narrowed? It’s more divisive than it is empowering, offering segregation over equality. He writes in the Guardian:
While in the UK the student body has also become undoubtedly more diverse, the staff and therefore academic interests have remained overwhelmingly exclusive and white. Black British-born staff make up only 1% of full-time staff, representing just 85 out of the UK’s 18,510 university professors and face barriers to promotion once employed. The unfortunate reality is that black studies has not emerged sooner because there has not been a critical mass of staff who could teach the subject.
We at BCU are able to offer a high-quality black studies degree because our department has six full-time black academic members of staff who work in the discipline.
Only black teachers can teach black subjects? Is work by non-black scholars like Harvard’s Roland Fryer into the causes of economic disparities between blacks and whites invalidated? What of non-black academic Eugene Genovese’s studies on slavery and the role of religion in black American history? Is black history only for blacks? As she asks, is the course about black justice, politics and rights or a bona fide filed of study?
We have started to build a network of scholars, a research community and to publish work on black studies in Britain. Sadly the majority of academic departments in the UK have no black members of staff at all, let alone enough to even hold a conversation about starting a black studies degree.
Movements such as Why is My Curriculum White? and Rhodes Must Fall show that students are tired of some of the unrepresentative and outdated knowledge and experiences being reproduced in British universities.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, large populations of poor immigrants arrived in the U.S.–Irish, Italians, and Jews from Russia and Poland. Their extreme poverty placed them at the bottom of the social ladder, and they were often treated with contempt. Yet just a few generations later they were assimilated, and their rapid upward social mobility had produced mayors, senators, judges, and even Presidents from among their ranks. None of this could have happened without first-rate public education.
To be sure, they worked hard to get ahead, but they were not obstructed by something that afflicts the have-nots of today: as they walked through the school gates they were not met by people intent on luring them into Irish or Italian Studies programs whose purpose was to keep them in a state of permanent resentment over past wrongs at the hands of either Europeans or establishment America. Instead, they could give their full attention to learning. They took courses that informed them about their new land’s folkways and history, which gave them both the ability and the confidence needed to grasp the opportunities it offered them.
When we compare this story with what is happening to minority students today, we see a tragedy.
Dr Andrews says that’s not so:
“Birmingham is the perfect place to launch Black Studies, being one of Europe’s most diverse cities, with a strong history of community activism and engagement. For too long UK universities have overlooked the experiences and perspectives of those in the African diaspora. The contributions of Black scholars, activists and communities have not been recognised, creating a limited curriculum.
“Student movements have recently demonstrated this across the country, complaining of a ‘narrow knowledge’ in universities, including the ‘Why is my curriculum white?’ campaign “The new degree offers students a critical understanding of British and global society, international study abroad opportunities and experiences working to improve conditions in communities.”
Isn’t University education meant to be expansive? Is this a course in a bubble? Would you sign up?
The Guardian states the obvious:
Labour’s Future, Why Labour Lost in 2015 and How it Can Win Again, to be published this week, says the party is losing socially conservative voters to Ukip in droves, while appealing most to metropolitan liberals who tend to be better off and to have been to university.
Thankfully, Islington’s knowing and elitist dinner party chatters aren’t in the majority…
The Sunday Mirror leads with the child it calls “Maddie”. The headline thunders: “Sharon’s Shocking Rants Over Missing Maddie.”
Foul-mouthed, pixie-voiced reality TV show Sharon Osbourne, for it is she, has said something. With no other news to report on (what – no killer wasps in your picnic basket and Great white sharks in Devon? – ed), Sharon’s words are front-page news.
Outspoken star Sharon Osbourne has been blasted by the parents of missing Madeleine McCann after she branded them “insane” for leaving their daughter alone.
Outspoken woman speaks out! That’s a shock? This is Sharon who is married to drug-addled rock star and bat-head-biter Ozzy. If anyone knows insane… Which makes us wonder: is Sharon trolling the McCanns?
Former X Factor judge Sharon made the hurtful claims on her US chat show The Talk as she criticised parents for leaving children without supervision.
How cutting-edge is The Talk in talking about a news item from 2007 that has trundled on in the media, turning the missing child into the benchmark of all missing children. The ‘Missing Maddie” story is a fallback news item. Just press f9 on the keyboard and watch as the journalisamobile churn out some non-news.
In a clear attack on Kate and Gerry McCann, Sharon said: “I will tell you a very quick story. There was a husband and wife on holiday in Portugal. They left their baby in the room sleeping, sleeping while they went to dinner in the restaurant. While they were in the resort their baby was taken. And it is like, ‘Oh but we can see everything that is going on’ and it is, like, insane.”
Quick story, yes. One with no ending and – get his – Sharon can’t even get the facts right. The McCanns left three children in their apartment. Madeleine McCann was not a baby – she was aged 4. Then she vanished. Them’s the facts. it. It’s a single-thread story.
Sharon’s comments are facile, desperate and appear calculated to attract headlines (job done).
Of course, this is the story of Madeleine McCann and the Mirror is every bit as desperate. It too presses f9, slaps the non-news on its front page and then asks “Kate and Gerry” for a few words, which they duly don’t give.
A family friend said: “It’s very disappointing when someone with such a high profile makes this sort of ignorant, ill-informed comment. She should think about the effect it could have on Madeleine’s brother and sister, as well as the wider family.”
Chances are the children wouldn’t have heard Sharon’s words on her dire US telly show. So, good of the Mirror to broadcast them in the UK and tell them what they missed. Cheers. Not that anyone under 16 buys the Mirror.
When Oxfam began to bemoan ‘tax avoidance’, it was inevitable some would cast their eyes on the charity’s tax affairs. Oxfam is hot on everyone paying there ‘fair share’, having published such articles as:
EU Anti-Tax Avoidance package will fail to end the era of tax havens, warns Oxfam – Despite EU intentions to crack down on tax avoidance, the European Commission’s Anti-Tax Avoidance Package does not do what it says on the tin, warns Oxfam, and developing countries will feel the EU’s failure most.
You get the idea.
As does the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Richard Teacher, who writes:
While it is commonly assumed that charities are exempt from tax, that is not actually the case. Although they are exempt from tax on certain types of income (from donations, rent or investments), the profits they make on business or “trading” operations are taxable, except in specific circumstances. By setting out the very limited circumstances in which trading profits are exempt (see section 524 of the Income Taxes Act 2007), Parliament made it very clear that it intends charities’ other business income to be taxable.
The reaction of Oxfam, and most of the other charities, has been to run their business operations through a separate company. That company would be taxable on its profits, but it donates all its profits to its parent charity through the “Gift Aid” scheme, which exempts them from tax.
This fits the standard definition of tax avoidance – an artificial structure (separating out some of the charity’s activities into a separate legal entity) that gives it a tax advantage.
Of course I do not think there is anything wrong with Oxfam doing this; like all good tax avoidance it is perfectly legal and it is an ingenious way to escape a tax liability. But should Oxfam really be criticising other businesses for avoiding taxes when it does just that with its own?
That question might well be rhetorical.
J.K. Rowling was speaking at the PEN America Literary Gala & Free Expression Awards:
Intolerance of alternative viewpoints is spreading to places that make me, a moderate and a liberal, most uncomfortable. Only last year, we saw an online petition to ban Donald Trump from entry to the U.K. It garnered half a million signatures.
Just a moment.
I find almost everything that Mr. Trump says objectionable. I consider him offensive and bigoted. But he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there. His freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot. His freedom guarantees mine. Unless we take that absolute position without caveats or apologies, we have set foot upon a road with only one destination. If my offended feelings can justify a travel ban on Donald Trump, I have no moral ground on which to argue that those offended by feminism or the fight for transgender rights or universal suffrage should not oppress campaigners for those causes. If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply on them grounds that they have offended you have crossed the line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justification.
What she said.
Boris Johnson’s wife Marina Wheeler is the victim of a “sex smear”, says the Sun. The attack on Marina is “designed to derail his battle for Britain to leave the EU”.
You might well roll your eyes. So what if Marina Wheeler has been playing away. What business is it of ours? Her husband is no paragon of virtue.
The Mail had more on Petronella Wyatt and her affair with Bozza the boffa:
Her four-year affair with Boris Johnson, which ended with her having a termination, led to Johnson being sacked from the Shadow Cabinet after famously rejecting reports of the affair as an ‘inverted pyramid of piffle’.
Is the Sun’s issue with the fact that a woman is now accused of straying outside her marriage? Is it different for girls? The paper adds:
False claims have been swirling around Westminster and online that Marina Wheeler was the high-profile QC caught in a drunken clinch with a fellow lawyer at Waterloo station last summer. And it’s members of the Remain camp that have helped fuel the lie, a Tory minister says. Sources claim the slur was spread around a champagne reception for Lord Ashcroft in early March. But a pal of Boris, 51, said she was “categorically” not involved and branded the slurs “pure poison”.
The Sun knows the real identity of the QC at the centre of the affair, but cannot reveal it for legal reasons.
Maybe that Sun story should run: “BORIS Johnson’s wife is the subject of a vicious sex smear campaign designed to derail the battle for Britain to STAY IN the EU.”
Those inners are real scum, aren’t they?
How did the baby opossum get into a San Diego, California, woman’s toilet? She says she has no idea how the creature got there. San Diego County Animal Services don’t believe the opossum crawled through the plumbing.
Which makes your wonder if it was something she ate? Or if that luxury toilet paper is a little too bulky to flush…