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Margaret Atwood faces feminist backlash on social media over #MeToo

Canadian author Margaret Atwood is facing a social media backlash after voicing concerns about the #MeToo movement and calling for due process in the case of a former university professor accused of sexual misconduct.

Writing in the Globe and Mail, Atwood said the #MeToo movement, which emerged in the wake of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, was the symptom of a broken legal system and had been “seen as a massive wake up call”.

However, she wondered where North American society would go from here. “If the legal system is bypassed because it is seen as ineffectual, what will take its place? Who will be the new power brokers?” Atwood asked.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/15/margaret-atwood-feminist-backlash-metoo

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Posted by on January 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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France’s Fight Over Sexual Freedom

After the backlash, comes the backlash to the backlash. It’s been fascinating to follow the torrent of responses in France this week to an open letter in Le Monde signed by French actress Catherine Deneuve and 99 other women, effectively saying that the #MeToo movement had gone too far and that women should own up to their own sexual agency. (I wrote about the letter here and you can find a full translation here.)

“Sexual Freedom Threatened, REALLY?” ran the headline of Thursday’s Libération, a left-wing daily, beneath photos of three signatories: Deneuve, Catherine Millet, the author of The Sexual Life of Catherine M., and Brigitte Lahaie, a talk-show host and former porn actress. The implication was, why should we listen to these women? “To entertain the idea that a groper on the metro ‘is the expression of a great sexual misery, or a non-event’”—as the Deneuve letter had—“presumes that you live on a planet without rush hour and have enough power and/or hours on the couch to relativize it at your leisure,” the paper wrote in an editorial.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/me-too-france-le-monde-letter-backlash/550361/

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2018 in European Union

 

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The Guardian view on Egyptian democracy: it would be a good idea Editorial

Earlier this month Egypt’s authorities announced the dates for the nation’s next presidential poll. Yet before the starting pistol has been fired, the winner seems not in doubt. The country’s current president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, will almost certainly be his nation’s next president. A growing list of potential candidates have either withdrawn their bids or have seen them blocked. The man with the best chance of tapping the discontent in the Arab world’s most populous nation had been Ahmed Shafik, a former air force general who narrowly lost the country’s only free presidential election in 2012. His lawyer took to Twitter to claim that the government had forced him to pull out.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/15/the-guardian-view-on-egyptian-democracy-it-would-be-a-good-idea

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2018 in Africa

 

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‘A different dimension of loss’: inside the great insect die-off

The Earth is ridiculously, burstingly full of life. Four billion years after the appearance of the first microbes, 400m years after the emergence of the first life on land, 200,000 years after humans arrived on this planet, 5,000 years (give or take) after God bid Noah to gather to himself two of every creeping thing, and 200 years after we started to systematically categorise all the world’s living things, still, new species are being discovered by the hundreds and thousands.

In the world of the systematic taxonomists – those scientists charged with documenting this ever-growing onrush of biological profligacy – the first week of November 2017 looked like any other. Which is to say, it was extraordinary. It began with 95 new types of beetle from Madagascar. But this was only the beginning. As the week progressed, it brought forth seven new varieties of micromoth from across South America, 10 minuscule spiders from Ecuador, and seven South African recluse spiders, all of them poisonous. A cave-loving crustacean from Brazil. Seven types of subterranean earwig. Four Chinese cockroaches. A nocturnal jellyfish from Japan. A blue-eyed damselfly from Cambodia. Thirteen bristle worms from the bottom of the ocean – some bulbous, some hairy, all hideous. Eight North American mites pulled from the feathers of Georgia roadkill. Three black corals from Bermuda. One Andean frog, whose bright orange eyes reminded its discoverers of the Incan sun god Inti.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/14/a-different-dimension-of-loss-great-insect-die-off-sixth-extinction

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2018 in Reportages

 

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This is not a Corbynite coup, it’s a mandate for his radical agenda

Kings were put to death long before 21 January 1793,” wrote Albert Camus, referring to Louis XVI’s execution after the French revolution. “But regicides of earlier times and their followers were interested in attacking the person, not the principle, of the king. They wanted another king, and that was all.”

One of the biggest mistakes the critics of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, made from the outset – and there are many to choose from – was that his victory was about him. They refer to “Corbynites” and “Corbynistas” as though there were some undying and uncritical devotion to a man and his singular philosophy, rather than broad support for an agenda and a trajectory. If they could get rid of the king, went the logic, they would reinherit the kingdom. With a new leader normal service could resume. Labour could resuscitate its programme of milquetoast managerialism, whereby it was indifferent to its members, ambivalent about austerity at home, and hawkish about wars abroad.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/19/corbyn-lead-momentum-labour-ladder-leftwing

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2018 in Europe

 

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Rome: A Eulogy

When we find ourselves in times of trouble, we could do worse than plunge into The Academy of Western Civilization.

So let me take you down on a stroll around the ultimate theo-geopolitical space: the Eternal City, a.k.a. Caput Mundi (“wonder of the world”).

In Adonais, Shelley urged “Go thou to Rome” and “from the world’s bitter wind / seek shelter in the shadow of the tomb”. What better refuge than Rome’s ruins, stressing loud and clear that fragmentation and mortality are mere illusion, and reality is enduring unity outside time.

Since Petrarch arrived from Avignon in 1341 to sing its praises, Rome in the Western mind has represented the ultimate threshold, the ultimate shrine. It’s still easy to picture Freud at the Forum comparing the vertical sequence of Roman ruins to the layers of memory in our psyche. Or Fellini in La Dolce Vita also interpreting Roman life as a vertical sequence, cinematically playing with images from different historical eras.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/01/19/rome-a-eulogy/

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2018 in European Union

 

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The next Kurdish war is on the horizon – Turkey and Syria will never allow it to create a mini-state

Colonel Thomas Veale has had the unenviable task of announcing the first official Western attempt to partition Syria on ethnic-sectarian lines. Whether or not he realises the implications of his extraordinary statement a few days ago, Colonel Veale – a Kansas University and US Military Academy graduate who rejoices in the title of “Public Affairs Director at Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve” – was quite open about the creation of another new and largely Kurdish force which will, in theory, control tens of thousands of square kilometres of Syria. Arab members of the same 30,000-strong “Border Security Force” will man checkpoints further south along the Euphrates river valley.

To quote the good colonel, “recruiting is done in such a manner as to build a force reflecting [sic] the populations they serve; both in gender and ethnicity”. And there you have it. The Kurds will look after the Kurds, the Arabs (largely Sunnis, though there aren’t many of them) will run the non-Kurdish bits of this new enclave which will, in the north, run right along the Turkish border – an invitation to further civil war, if ever there was one.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-kurds-kurdish-turkey-border-security-force-war-on-the-horizon-a8165746.html

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2018 in Middle East

 

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Potere al popolo e la crisi della sinistra italiana

S’ispirano al Partito laburista di Jeremy Corbyn, alla France insoumise di Jean-Luc Mélenchon e agli spagnoli di Podemos, rivendicano la lotta di classe e il sindacalismo di base nato intorno alle vertenze dei braccianti agricoli nell’Italia meridionale, ma anche le battaglie dei lavoratori della logistica e dei call center nel centro e nel nord, denunciano l’esclusione delle donne e dei giovani dalla leadership politica italiana e provano a fare i conti con la complessa eredità politica e culturale del Partito comunista più grande d’Europa: il loro obiettivo è rifondare la sinistra.

Un intento ambizioso se si considera che le elezioni politiche del 4 marzo potrebbero segnare una delle sconfitte più clamorose per i partiti del centrosinistra italiano, che si presentano divisi e che i sondaggi danno in forte svantaggio sia rispetto alla coalizione di centrodestra – rinata intorno alla figura del vecchio leader Silvio Berlusconi – sia al Movimento 5 stelle (M5s), che si candida a diventare il primo partito del paese.

Anche per reagire alla sensazione che la partita sia già persa un gruppo di attivisti vicini al centro sociale Je so’ pazzo di Napoli ha deciso di lanciare la lista Potere al popolo, attirandosi da subito pesanti critiche. Una tra tutte quella sollevata da Luciana Castellina, fondatrice del Manifesto, che in un articolo sul suo quotidiano definisce Potere al popolo “una protesta elementare che rinnega la ricca complessità del pensiero comunista”.

https://www.internazionale.it/reportage/annalisa-camilli/2018/01/18/potere-al-popolo-elezioni-sinistra

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2018 in European Union

 

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Trump will not bring Middle East peace this year – instead he is helping to make the region a crueller place

There really is no point any more in talking about Donald Trump or US foreign policy. They do not exist. Indeed, the Trump “presidency” is about as real as “Palestine”. Both deserve inverted commas although the first fantasy would clearly represent white and largely Christian Americans trying to make their country great again at the expense of lesser creatures, while the second – which is not even a state – obviously qualifies as a Trump “s***hole country”; its people are not exactly white, they are largely Muslim and many seek asylum from the enslavement of the longest military occupation of modern times. For Norway, of course, read Israel.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/trump-jerusalem-middle-east-brutal-cruel-region-one-year-a8164511.html

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2018 in Middle East, North America

 

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You Don’t Need a Telescope to Find a ‘Shithole Country’

I covered the war in El Salvador for five years. It was a peasant uprising by the dispossessed against the 14 ruling families and the handful of American corporations that ran El Salvador as if it was a plantation. Half of the population was landless. Laborers worked as serfs in the coffee plantations, the sugar cane fields and the cotton fields in appalling poverty. Attempts to organize and protest peacefully to combat the huge social inequality were met with violence, including fire from machine guns mounted on the tops of buildings in downtown San Salvador that rained down bullets indiscriminately on crowds of demonstrators. Peasant, labor, church and university leaders were kidnapped by death squads, brutally tortured and murdered, their mutilated bodies often left on roadsides for public view. When I arrived, the death squads were killing between 700 and 1,000 people a month.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/dont-need-telescope-find-shithole-country/

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2018 in North America, South America

 

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