A Piece Of The Peace Wall
March 10, 2021
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“Feminism, unlike almost every other social movement, is not a struggle against a distinct oppressor – it’s not the ruling class or the occupiers or the colonizers – it’s against a deeply held set of beliefs and assumptions that we women, far too often, hold ourselves.” — Kavita Ramdas
“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” — Rebecca West
Ripping A Piece Out Of The Peace Wall
(Luis Barron via Getty Images)
When Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO as he’s called, became Mexico’s president in 2018, he appointed a gender-balanced cabinet and promoted women with feminist sympathies to key positions. Many of Mexico’s female activists felt they finally had a sympathetic leader who would champion their issues, like abortion and domestic violence.
That has not happened. “For many feminists, it seemed like a government was arriving that would take up their agenda,” said a political analyst in Monterrey. “But not only has AMLO antagonized the movement … he’s always portrayed it as manipulated and lacking legitimacy.”
AMLO’s political allies include a party founded by evangelicals, who prefer those touchy issues remain in the background. When campaigning, AMLO identified himself as a leftist and branded his opponents as conservatives. Once in office, he often preached morals and values, and tilted conservative on social issues. He has cut funding for daycares and women’s shelters, and promoted families as a solution for pandemic hardships, even as domestic violence has soared. Plus, AMLO has thrown his support behind Félix Salgado Macedonio, who is running for office in the southern state of Guerrero. Five women have accused Salgado of sexually assaulting them, yet no charges have been brought against him.
In anticipation of protests by women marching on International Women’s Day on Monday, AMLO had metal barricades installed around the National Palace in Mexico City. A spokesperson described it as a “peace wall,” meant to protect government property from vandalism. Instead, it was a provocation. One angry protester carrying a sign reading “Fight today so not to die tomorrow,” exclaimed “We want him to protect us the same way he’s protecting these buildings.”
When marchers attempted to tear down the barricades, they clashed with police and were pepper-sprayed. The city government, however, “categorically denied” using any kind of gas against demonstrators. According to the city’s police, 62 officers and 19 civilians were injured.
In Mexico, 10 women become victims of femicide every day; last year at least 939 women were killed. Women believe their president has lied to them and is not doing enough to stem the rampant sexual violence against them. “Where were you when I was being raped,” one woman shouted at police during Monday’s mayhem.
That same day AMLO falsely claimed that women’s protests didn’t begin until he took office. And at his daily press conference Tuesday, he said: “These protests against the government under the flag of feminism… in reality, they are driven by conservatives whose interests and privileges are threatened.” (Guardian)
But It Won’t Be Over ‘Till They Clear His Name
- In 2001 nearly 400 Muslim scholars, activists, and community leaders from across India planned to attend a three-day seminar on Muslim education organized by the All India Minority Education Board. One attendee was Mohammad Abdul Hai, a board member and university associate professor.
- At the end of the first day, police arrived where Hai and 120 other seminar attendees were staying and arrested them all under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, a stringent anti-terror law. They were charged with being members of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a group accused of terrorist activities and banned in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks on America. India’s government said those arrested had organized the meeting to “promote and expand” SIMI’s activities.
- The group claimed it merely propagates an “Islamic way of life” for India’s Muslims. A total of 127 people, all Muslims, were arrested that night. Hai spent 14 months in jail before being granted bail in 2002. Thereafter for several years, he traveled long distances every week to appear before officials. He kept his university job but was denied promotions.
- On March 6, after a nearly 20-year legal ordeal, all the accused were acquitted. They are but a few of the many hundreds of Indian Muslims routinely charged in bogus terror-related cases, only to be acquitted later after spending years in jail or facing court trials, losing jobs and promotions, and having their lives ruined. (Al Jazeera)
Researchers’ Information Bomb Reveals France’s Devastating Nuclear Effects
- From 1966 to 1996, France conducted 193 nuclear tests at Moruroa and Fangataufa atolls in French Polynesia. The tests included 41 atmospheric tests until 1974 that exposed the local population, site workers, and French soldiers to high levels of radiation. Now groundbreaking new research shows that France has consistently underestimated the devastating impact of its nuclear tests and that more than 100,000 people may be able to claim compensation.
- Researchers analyzed data from 2,000 pages of recently declassified French defense ministry documents, poured over maps, photos, and other records, and carried out dozens of interviews in France and French Polynesia to meticulously reconstruct three key nuclear tests in 1966, 1971, and 1974.
- Fallout from the tests was far greater than officially acknowledged. “The state has tried hard to bury the toxic heritage of these tests,” said one of the researchers. “This is the first truly independent scientific attempt to measure the scale of the damage and to acknowledge the thousands of victims of France’s nuclear experiment in the Pacific.” (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Young men take up arms in northern Ethiopia as atrocities fuel insurgency (Guardian
- Bangladesh bought phone-hacking tools from Israel, documents show (Al Jazeera)
- India begins deporting more than 150 Rohingya refugees to Myanmar (CNN)
- Why Post-Abortion Care Is Lacking In Many Countries (NPR)
- Myanmar coup: The shadowy business empire funding the Tatmadaw (BBC)
- Myanmar protesters trapped in late-night standoff as military targets media (CNN)
- Global heating pushes tropical regions towards limits of human livability (Guardian)
- Compulsory romance lessons among proposals at China’s political conference (Guardian). We could all use a few pointers.
- South Africa’s economy shrank by most in century last year (Al Jazeera)
- CDC guidelines: Masks, indoor visits, and other activities you can do after being fully vaccinated (Vox)
- No vax & no facts: Vaccine misinformation has been spreading on Facebook and Instagram for years (Vox)
- Instagram Algorithms Serve Up COVID-19 Misinformation, Study Finds (NPR)
- UK Challenge Study Will Expose Healthy Volunteers To The Coronavirus (NPR)
- After year of isolation, vaccinated older Americans start to reclaim their lives (Reuters). Time to party like it’s 1965!
- US daily COVID-19 death toll below 1,000 for first time in months (Al Jazeera)
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Some Conservatives Are Simply In-trans-igent
(Tom Williams via Getty Images)
- South Dakota’s state senate passed legislation Monday restricting transgender women athletes from competing on high school and college girls’ and women’s teams. The measure now goes to Republican Governor Kristi Noem, who says she’s excited to sign the bill into law.
- Republican State Senator Maggie Sutton, a primary sponsor of the legislation, said the bill was simply meant to protect women’s sports. “It’s not against transgenders,” Sutton added. There are around 40,000 students who compete in sports in South Dakota, and this legislation requires schools and athletic associations to collect written waivers documenting every student athlete’s “reproductive biology.”
- Mississippi lawmakers already passed an identical bill. Critics say the measures violate Title 7 and Title 9 of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating based on sex. (NPR)
After Microsoft Hack, Biden Going Macro-hard On Cyberattacks
- The Biden administration has launched an emergency task force to address an unusually aggressive cyber-attack affecting hundreds of thousands of Microsoft customers. The attack, first reported on March 5 by a security researcher, allowed hackers to access the email accounts of at least 30,000 organizations in the US.
- Hackers infiltrated accounts using tools that give them “total, remote control over affected systems,” which can include credit unions, town governments, and small businesses. All organizations using Microsoft Exchange were urged to scan devices for vulnerabilities. Microsoft first issued patches for the attack on Tuesday, but fixing the issue will be more complicated.
- “Patching their Exchange servers will prevent an attack if their Exchange server has not already been compromised,” one expert said. “But it will not undo the foothold attackers have on an already compromised Exchange server.” This latest violation comes on the heels of SolarWinds, a separate series of sophisticated attacks attributed to Russia that breached about 100 US companies and nine federal agencies. (Guardian)
Additional USA News
- Drug Companies Plan Tax Breaks To Offset $26 Billion Opioid Settlement (NPR). Big pharma has a cash addiction.
- Kentucky Election Reform Effort Gets Bipartisan Backing (NPR)
- Biden will offer Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans in the US (Vox)
- American Rescue Plan Details: Tax Credit, COVID-19 Vaccine Funds (NPR)
- COVID bill to deliver big health insurance savings for many (AP)
- Biden’s leaked Afghanistan peace plan, explained: A “Hail Mary” bid to bring Ghani and Taliban to an agreement (Vox)
- Undocumented Texans are reeling from last month’s storm – and they’re cut off from federal aid (Guardian)
- One in six jobs lost: the effect of the pandemic on childcare providers (Guardian). They want our kids out of the house as much as we do.
- We Already Got Rid of the Filibuster Once Before (Atlantic)
- Opinion | We Need a G.I. Bill for Essential Workers (NYT, $)
The Quality Of Our Swimmers Is Taking A Dive
- Shanna Swan is a noted environmental and reproductive epidemiologist who has studied human infertility for over two decades. In collaboration with health and science journalist Stacey Colino, Swan chronicles the rise in human infertility and the dire consequences it could have for our species in a new book whose title says it all: Count Down, How our Modern World is Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, Threatening Sperm Counts, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.
- Swan received worldwide attention in 2017 for her work on falling sperm counts. From 1973 to 2011, the total sperm count of men in Western countries dropped by 59%. The quality also suffered, with more odd-shaped sperm and fewer strong swimmers capable of fertilizing an egg. Plus, the DNA they carried was also more damaged. As she explains in her book, Swan thinks the reason is likely growing exposure to “endocrine disrupting chemicals” found in everything from plastics, flame retardants, electronics, food packaging, and pesticides to personal care products and cosmetics.
- These substances interfere with normal hormonal function, including testosterone and estrogen. Even in small doses, they pose particular danger to unborn babies and young children whose bodies are growing rapidly. The hormone-warping chemicals can enter the placenta, where they have the ability to alter the anatomical development of girls and boys, change brain function and impair the immune system.
- One study cited in Count Down found that just over 25% of men experiencing erectile dysfunction were under age 40. Swan says that may be because testosterone levels have been dropping at 1% per year since 1982. As for women, the miscarriage rate has risen by 1% per year in the last 20 years. Swan predicts that if these trajectories continue, there could be a much greater need for in vitro fertilization and other artificial reproductive technologies to conceive children. (NYT, $)
- ‘Song of Rapa Nui’ Celebrates Pianist Mahani Teave’s Easter Island Return (NPR)
- These Sea Slugs Decapitate Themselves and Grow New Bodies (Wired)
- Prince Harry And Meghan, The Duke And Duchess of Sussex, Spill To Oprah (NPR). 250 years later, Americans may finally bring down the Crown.
- Immersive van Gogh Experiences Bloom Like Sunflowers (NYT, $)
- Flying cats and a burning Banksy: why are digital art prices suddenly rocketing? (Guardian)
- An Oxford Professor, a Hobby Lobby Collector, and a Missing Gospel of Mark (Atlantic)
- The gender-fluid look that fans love (BBC). Gotta love Harry’s styles.
- Why Can’t I Stop Staring at My Own Face on Zoom? (Wired)
- Adoption Moved to Facebook and a War Began (Wired)
- How to grow food in a concrete jungle (BBC)
- The Shaky Ground Truths of Wikipedia (Wired)
- The Latest Wrinkle in Crumple Theory (NYT, $). Researchers announced they’re ready to bring new paper scientists into the fold.
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