For many rape survivors, today is an important day. It means that the devastating violence they suffered will now be counted in this nation’s crime statistics. Attorney General Holder announced today that the FBI will be changing the definition of rape used to collect data from local law enforcement about these crimes. This data is published in the Uniform Crime Report and is the nation’s main source of information about crime trends. Continue reading
reason over relics: restructuring our nuclear force
In To End All Wars, his excellent history of World War I, author Adam Hochschild recounts how passionately some strategists defended the perceived essential role of the horse cavalry. In an era that war was to be dominated by the machine gun, artillery bombardments and the emergence of the tank, these strategists resisted any re-evaluation of the role of cavalry as heresy itself. In the face of all the evidence, they stubbornly resisted change, and their blind devotion to the status quo cost their nation dearly.
You don’t have to look far to see a modern day example of this type of thinking.
Last week, the Associated Press reported that President Obama, as Commander in Chief, has asked our military leadership to present him with a range of options for re-structuring our nuclear forces. The AP further reported that the range of options runs from maintaining “the status quo” to making significant changes that modernize our strategy and force structure to reflect current realities.
The AP story is likely to send the most ardent defenders of nuclear arms into a tizzy. They will no doubt trot out all of the usual, cliché language about appeasement and unilateral disarmament.
Catholic women remember the woman in the pew next to them in church, dragging 13 children behind her, her husband dead or gone and no help at hand. They remember the neighbor who died in childbirth because her doctor was bound by faith to save her baby at all costs. They remember the relative whose husband defied the hospital’s orders to make sure there were no more children, who suffered horribly before the end. They remember their own miscarriages, stillbirths, when God wanted them to have just one more baby, at the age of 45 in 1953. And those were the married women who wanted the children they had. Those were the ones doing it right, in the eyes of the more conservative bishops and members of the church. That was the fate due the good girls. I don’t need to go over what happened to the bad ones, and what we remember about them. So go ahead, tell those women that a condom is cause for excommunication. Tell those women that the greatest threat to their liberty is some other lady in their health plan getting the pill for free. Tell those women, who lost their sisters, who lost their aunts, who lost their mothers, who saw the women around them worn out and rubbed down to nothing, that they don’t have the right to painlessly, reasonably ensure that they live to care for the family they want. Let’s have that fight. Let’s haul out all the arguments.
Let’s talk about how God really wants our infant mortality rate to skyrocket. Let’s talk about how many women, exactly, God wants dead. Let’s make adherence to a rule of the modern world the be-all and end-all test of who is a true believer. That’s never gone horribly wrong before. Let’s have that fight, because there’s no way it goes the way the bishops think it’s going to go.
– Athenae, “War on the Modern World,” First Draft
by Courtney Desiree Morris
Courtney Morris is a writer and community organizer living in Austin, TX and Bluefields, Nicaragua.
published in makeshift magazine
via incite blog
Maybe it isn’t that informants are difficult to spot but rather that we have collectively ignored the signs that give them away. To save our movements, we need to come to terms with the connections between gender violence, male privilege, and the strategies that informants (and people who just act like them) use to destabilize radical movements. Time and again heterosexual men in radical movements have been allowed to assert their privilege and subordinate others. Despite all that we say to the contrary, the fact is that radical social movements and organizations in the United States have refused to seriously address gender violence  as a threat to the survival of our struggles. We’ve treated misogyny, homophobia, and heterosexism as lesser evils — secondary issues — that will eventually take care of themselves or fade into the background once the “real” issues — racism, the police, class inequality, U.S. wars of aggression — are resolved. There are serious consequences for choosing ignorance. Misogyny and homophobia are central to the reproduction of violence in radical activist communities. Scratch a misogynist and you’ll find a homophobe. Scratch a little deeper and you might find the makings of a future informant (or someone who just destabilizes movements like informants do).
what breast cancer is and is not
How far should scientists, & those who communicate about science, go in ‘pushing’ against strongly-held beliefs? (These could include creationism, but also beliefs about ‘alternative therapies’ such as homeopathy & TCM.)
It is an area where care is needed, because if you ‘push’ so hard that people feel their ideas are threatened, they may become defensive & those ideas more entrenched. Neither’s a desirable outcome from science’s point of view. On the other hand, in teaching about science, from time you actually need to put students in an ‘uncomfortable’ place regarding their conceptions about the world, if they’re to examine those questions critically & perhaps reshape them in the light of the new knowledge they’ve acquired. (If that doesn’t happen, then that new knowledge is likely to be learned only superficially — quickly gained & just as quickly forgotten.)
found via alas a blog
Mother doesn’t trust us anymore. She won’t let us leave the house. You just stay there where I can keep an eye on you, she says. No, you can’t go play in the yard. Don’t you move.
We’d noticed her starting to change a while ago. It worried us. When had she become different?
Bicky said she hadn’t. He said Mother had always been spiny-skinned, and the rest of us had just grown old enough to notice, was all. Besides which, she was teeter-wobble in the head. Anybody with so many kids had to be, Bicky said. It was just a fact. We thought Bicky was full of kak, and Verrie told him so to his face. Mother had always been hug-again, until recently. Verrie said he remembered tickles and kisses. He looked at us, and we nodded. And what about the squeezie-dolls, and the blankets crocheted out of for-real unraveled sweaters? Only a few of us nodded that time. Verrie still had his blanket. It was yellow partway and a bluey-gray the rest. Hill had one, too, but he had cut a hole in the middle and used it as a poncho now. It looked stupid, because it didn’t even reach down to his belly-button. Squeezie-dolls were harder to remember. Maybe Coy had had one. Maybe Nardo had broken it.
You can’t be sentimental, Bicky said. We’re doing something important. If Mother tries to stop us, we’re going to have to be hard.