declassification of U.S. documents on the Rwandan Genocide

Rwandan genocide clothes

The clothes of vic­tims killed dur­ing the Rwan­dan geno­cide laid out in the Nya­mata Church in Nya­mata, Rwanda. (AFP PHOTO /​PHIL MOOREPHIL MOORE/​AFP/​Getty Images)

Decades-​Old Rwan­dan Geno­cide Doc­u­ments With­held under B(5) FOIA Exemp­tion, Researchers Forced to look Abroad for Trans­parency by by Lau­ren Harper

with con­tri­bu­tions by Kristin Scalzo at Unredacted

Twenty years ago at least half a mil­lion mem­bers of Rwanda’s Tutsi minor­ity, along with tens of thou­sands of “mod­er­ate” Hutus, were slaugh­tered in the Rwan­dan geno­cide, and the world is finally –with the help of newly declas­si­fied records– begin­ning to piece together a fuller account of the role the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity played dur­ing the atrocities…

… if agen­cies fol­lowed Pres­i­dent Obama’s 2009 FOIA memo instruct­ing all agen­cies “to adopt a pre­sump­tion in the favor of dis­clo­sure,” and Attor­ney Gen­eral Holder’s guid­ance that doc­u­ments should not be with­held “merely because [an agency] can demon­strate, as a tech­ni­cal mat­ter, that the records fall within the scope of a FOIA exemp­tion,” we should be see­ing it a lot less – not more. Sadly, it is clear that agency restraint and even procla­ma­tions from the Pres­i­dent and Attor­ney Gen­eral have not worked.

Agen­cies’ con­tin­ued mis­ap­pli­ca­tion and overuse of the b(5) exemp­tion, despite Pres­i­dent Obama’s and Attor­ney Gen­eral Holder’s clear direc­tives to the con­trary, has prompted a long­stand­ing push by the open gov­ern­ment com­mu­nity for a leg­isla­tive fix to end agen­cies’ prac­tices of with­hold­ing too much information.

These efforts to rein in the exemp­tion recently cul­mi­nated in the Sen­ate when Sen­a­tors Leahy (D-​Vt) and Cornyn (R-​Tx), two long-​time FOIA cham­pi­ons, intro­duced leg­is­la­tion to fix the b(5) loop­hole: the FOIA Improve­ment Act of 2014 would stip­u­late, among other things, that his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments (doc­u­ments cre­ated over 25 years ago) can­not be with­held under b(5), and would require agen­cies to bal­ance the ben­e­fit to the pub­lic inter­est against the ben­e­fit of gov­ern­ment employee con­fi­den­tial­ity before with­hold­ing documents.

the psychiatric industrial complex and talking back


Open Let­ter to the Board of Trustees and the Assem­bly of the Amer­i­can Psy­chi­atric Asso­ci­a­tion by Dr. Mickey Nardo posted at his website.

It has been a dark time for psy­chi­a­try. Since the inves­ti­ga­tions of Sen­a­tor Grass­ley exposed sig­nif­i­cant cor­rup­tion and unseated three chairs of Psy­chi­a­try in 2008, there has been a series of dis­turb­ing expo­sures involv­ing wide­spread ghost writ­ing, guest author­ing, and ques­tion­able clin­i­cal trial report­ing; esca­lat­ing widely pub­li­cized set­tle­ments by phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies involv­ing psy­choac­tive drugs and impli­cat­ing promi­nent psy­chi­a­trists; charges of over­med­ica­tion and entre­pre­neuri­al­ism; the dry­ing up of the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal pipeline; recur­rent charges of ubiq­ui­tous Con­flicts of Inter­est in high places; and an ongo­ing and divi­sive process that spanned the DSM-​5 Revi­sion process. Besides the grav­ity and fre­quency of the prob­lems, their han­dling by the admin­is­tra­tive lev­els in our spe­cialty have played poorly in the eyes of the pub­lic and our cur­rency is at an all time low.

feminism, democracy, and gender equality

women in congress

Fem­i­nism, Democ­racy and the ‘War on Women’

Food for thought– should women who are emo­tion­ally and/​or eco­nom­i­cally invested in second-​class sta­tus have the power to shape laws that effect other women?

Tracy Hig­gins explained in 1997 why courts should review and some­times even reverse demo­c­ra­tic out­comes in order to ensure equal pro­tec­tion on the basis of gen­der. Con­sti­tu­tional the­ory pre­sumes an autonomous, self-​defining indi­vid­ual and thus jus­ti­fies “state action as the legit­i­mate expres­sion of pop­u­lar will.” Fem­i­nists have coun­tered that this lib­eral view of indi­vid­ual agency does not cap­ture women’s expe­ri­ences under patri­archy. Instead, people’s pref­er­ences are socially con­structed, such that “women’s choices should be under­stood as nei­ther fully free nor com­pletely deter­mined.” In other words, “[h]ow can a cit­i­zen mean­ing­fully con­sent if her nature and beliefs are them-​selves a prod­uct of the sys­tem to which she con­sents?” Sit­u­ated within cer­tain cul­tural norms of “lan­guage, law, myth,[and] cus­tom” some “indi­vid­u­als may not be the best judges of their own inter­ests or those of the com­mu­nity.” This is a con­tro­ver­sial view of agency. An alter­nate view is that women gay sup­port poli­cies that are not in the strate­gic inter­est of their gen­der because changes “could threaten the short-​term prac­ti­cal inter­ests of some women, or entail a cost in the loss of forms of pro­tec­tion which are not then com­pen­sated for in some way.” How­ever, under either con­cep­tion of agency, the fail­ure of demo­c­ra­tic processes to ensure gen­der equal­ity means that judi­cial review can be nec­es­sary to check major­ity outcomes.

misogyny online

steubenville rape joke

Why Women Aren’t Wel­come on the Inter­net by Amanda Hess at Pacific Standard

Accord­ing to a 2005 report by the Pew Research Cen­ter, which has been track­ing the online lives of Amer­i­cans for more than a decade, women and men have been log­ging on in equal num­bers since 2000, but the vilest com­mu­ni­ca­tions are still dis­pro­por­tion­ately lobbed at women. We are more likely to report being stalked and harassed on the Inter­net — of the 3,787 peo­ple who reported harass­ing inci­dents from 2000 to 2012 to the vol­un­teer orga­ni­za­tion Work­ing to Halt Online Abuse, 72.5 per­cent were female. Some­times, the abuse can get phys­i­cal: A Pew sur­vey reported that five per­cent of women who used the Inter­net said “some­thing hap­pened online” that led them into “phys­i­cal dan­ger.” And it starts young: Teenage girls are sig­nif­i­cantly more likely to be cyber­bul­lied than boys. Just appear­ing as a woman online, it seems, can be enough to inspire abuse. In 2006, researchers from the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land set up a bunch of fake online accounts and then dis­patched them into chat rooms. Accounts with fem­i­nine user­names incurred an aver­age of 100 sex­u­ally explicit or threat­en­ing mes­sages a day. Mas­cu­line names received 3.7.

This Is What the Harass­ment and Abuse of Women on the Inter­net Looks Like, Part II

Rape and Death Threats: What Men’s Rights Activists Really Look Like by Katie J.M. Baker at Jezebel

Men’s Rights Activists are rage-​filled misog­y­nists who claim fem­i­nists inten­tion­ally “cover up” issues like male rape and work­place injury rates so women can achieve global dom­i­na­tion. Har. Those pesky fem­i­nazis, how­ever, keep get­ting in the way, so it’s up to the MRAs to win the world over. And how do they do this? By threat­en­ing to “gag, rape and gut” bitches who dare to ques­tion their flimsy politics.

End Online Misogyny

The Inter­net – a stalker’s haven

book review: “Misogyny: The Male Malady”


Henry Fuseli
Swiss, 17411825
Oedi­pus Curs­ing His Son, Polyn­ices, 1786
oil on canvas

Oh, Andrea Dworkin a review of Misog­yny: The Male Mal­ady by David Gilmore at the Lon­don Review of Books by Jenny Diski

… we can con­cen­trate our thoughts and con­cerns on the real vic­tims of the mal­ady of misog­yny: the psy­chogeni­cally chal­lenged male who needs all the under­stand­ing we can give him. Appar­ently men’s psy­ches are ‘trou­bled’, they are in ‘mas­cu­line tur­moil’ as a result of uni­ver­sal expe­ri­ences in ‘the male devel­op­men­tal cycle’. Lord, how eas­ily the image of the oppressed is appro­pri­ated. If women think they’ve had a hard time as a result of being loathed and bul­lied by men, it’s noth­ing com­pared to the hard­ship suf­fered by men that has resulted in their feel­ing the loathing. If you are begin­ning to get an uncom­fort­able sense of milky moth­ers and moist mer­maids loom­ing on the hori­zon you are right, because men’s fear of help­less­ness, suf­fo­ca­tion and sub­mer­gence, in the inescapably female and del­i­ques­cent form of uterus, breast and vagina, is judged to be at the root of it all. Women drip with dan­ger for men, who, as we know, first can’t live with­out us and then can’t live with us. You can love your mother for a while, but then she betrays you with your father and you have to marry other men’s sis­ters: ene­mies, out­siders, who as like as not are plot­ting against you with their sex­u­al­ity and secre­tions while try­ing to abort your sons on whom the patriliny depends. Of course, it’s not women’s fault that it’s all their fault – Gilmore has all the rhetoric of a mod­ern man and throws his hands up sadly at the unfor­tu­nate social and bio­log­i­cal arrange­ments that make it this way – but men suf­fer from hav­ing been given birth to by women from whom they have to sep­a­rate in order to become men; they suf­fer from hav­ing to desire peo­ple of the same gen­der as their mother (my, this is very awk­ward, Jocasta), and they suf­fer because they can­not per­form the mir­a­cle of repro­duc­ing the species directly from their own bod­ies. Men suf­fer. No, they do. It’s awful.

the courts and distortions in abortion cases

Tamir Kalifa/​The Asso­ci­ated Press

Corbin on “Abor­tion Dis­tor­tions” via Fem­i­nist Law Professors


Two types of dis­tor­tions often arise in abor­tion jurispru­dence. The first is dis­tor­tion of sci­en­tific fact. Too often abor­tion oppo­nents dis­tort med­ical facts and courts accept those dis­tor­tions as true. Take, for exam­ple, the claim that abor­tion makes women depressed and sui­ci­dal. In fact, no rep­utable study sup­ports any such causal link. Equally with­out sci­en­tific foun­da­tion is the claim that morn­ing after pills like Plan B act as abor­ti­fa­cients. They do not.

The sec­ond kind of dis­tor­tion that occurs in abor­tion jurispru­dence is that the nor­mal doc­trine does not apply. Thus, despite the fact that com­pelling some­one to artic­u­late the government’s ide­ol­ogy is anath­ema in free speech jurispru­dence, courts have upheld manda­tory abor­tion coun­sel­ing laws that force doc­tors to serve as mouth­pieces for the state’s view­point. Sim­i­larly, despite the fact that for-​profit cor­po­ra­tions have never been held to have reli­gious rights, sev­eral courts have stayed appli­ca­tion of the new con­tra­cep­tion man­date on the grounds that it might vio­late the corporation’s con­science.” This abor­tion excep­tion­al­ism is prob­lem­atic for women and for First Amend­ment jurisprudence.


Abor­tion excep­tion­al­ism means the rules are dif­fer­ent for abor­tion cases. Instead of reject­ing base­less sci­en­tific claims, courts rely on them. Instead of apply­ing exist­ing First Amend­ment jurispru­dence, courts ignore fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples or dis­tort them beyond recog­ni­tion. Con­se­quently, false claims about abor­tion have jus­ti­fied manda­tory coun­sel­ing laws, and mis­taken claims about morning-​after pills have allowed for-​profit cor­po­ra­tions to avoid the con­tra­cep­tion man­date. These dis­tor­tions not only impede women’s repro­duc­tive rights but also result in highly prob­lem­atic prece­dents. Indeed, the will­ing­ness to bend the rules when it comes to abor­tion may result in a jurispru­dence where for-​profit cor­po­ra­tions are enti­tled to reli­gious exemp­tions, even when the exemp­tion bur­dens the corporation’s (whole, sep­a­rate, unique liv­ing human being) employees.

You can down­load the paper 31 pages) for free here.

finally rethinking: the marshmallow study

kindergarden graduationWe Didn’t Eat the Marsh­mal­low. The Marsh­mal­low Ate Us. by Michael Bourne in the New York Times

The tale of the marsh­mal­lows, as pre­sented in Goleman’s book, read like some science-​age Calvin­ist para­ble. Was I one of the elect, I won­dered, a child blessed with the moral for­ti­tude to resist temp­ta­tion? Or was I doomed from age 4 to a life of impulse-​driven gluttony?

Clearly I’m not alone in this reac­tion. Search for “marsh­mal­low exper­i­ment” on YouTube, and you’ll find page after page of home-​video ver­sions of the exper­i­ment in which 4-​year-​olds strug­gle not to eat a marsh­mal­low. The marsh­mal­low study has been the sub­ject of TED talks. The New Yorker pub­lished a long arti­cle about it. Radi­o­lab did a show on it.

If you doubt the ubiq­uity of the Mis­chel study, try this sim­ple exper­i­ment: Put a few social-​policy geeks in a room and ask them about willpower, then see how long it takes before some­body brings up the 4-​year-​olds and the marsh­mal­lows. My bet is you wouldn’t have to wait more than a minute or two.

The marsh­mal­low study cap­tured the pub­lic imag­i­na­tion because it is a funny story, eas­ily told, that appears to reduce the com­plex social and psy­cho­log­i­cal ques­tion of why some peo­ple suc­ceed in life to a sim­ple, if ancient, for­mu­la­tion: Char­ac­ter is des­tiny. Except that in this case, the for­mu­la­tion isn’t com­ing from the Greek philoso­pher Her­a­cli­tus or from a min­is­ter preach­ing that “patience is a virtue” but from sci­ence, that most mod­ern of pop­u­lar religions.

coming up: January 19 exposé on the top 3 libertarian “whistleblowers”

snowden ron paul

The Whistle­blow­ers: Under­stand­ing the real moti­va­tions of Edward Snow­den, Glenn Green­wald, and Julian Assange at The New Republic

In our upcom­ing cover story (avail­able online Sun­day evening), Sean Wilentz takes a deep dive into the his­to­ries of the world’s most famous “whistle-​blowers”: Edward Snow­den, Glenn Green­wald, and Julian Assange. What he uncov­ers — a “crazy-​quilt assort­ment of views, some of them bla­tantly con­tra­dic­tory” — should make their lib­eral sup­port­ers doubt their calls for clemency.

excerpt: “The Myths We Live By” by Mary Midgley

sheep on the internet
paint­ing by Mike Sowa

Am lov­ing this pop­u­lar phi­los­o­phy book. Among other things, this descrip­tion of the par­tic­u­larly male fan­tasy of being human with­out a human body enter­tained me. She was address­ing a ten­dency had by some male philoso­phers had to despise their car­nal incar­na­tion because body flu­ids, soft flesh, vul­ner­a­bil­ity, phys­i­cal needs, and mor­tal­ity is a (dreaded) fem­i­nine thing to be loathed. They some­times felt that a human body was beneath their iron will. It’s a gen­er­ally male con­ceit to want to be god­like and to believe that he would be if only he had the right tech­nol­ogy and there was a col­lec­tive will to go there.

It has for some time been pro­posed that Homo sapi­ens should colonise space, and should, for con­ve­nience in this project, trans­form him­self mechan­i­cally into non-​organic forms. This project is now held to look increas­ingly fea­si­ble, on the grounds that com­puter soft­ware is the same what­ever kind of hard­ware it runs on, and that minds are only a kind of com­puter soft­ware. Thus, as the emi­nent Prince­ton physi­cist Free­man Dyson puts it:

It is impos­si­ble to set any limit to the vari­ety of phys­i­cal forms that life may assume … It is con­ceiv­able that in another 1010 years life could evolve away from flesh and blood and become embod­ied in an inter­stel­lar black cloud … or in a sen­tient computer …

Our suc­ces­sors can thus not only avoid ordi­nary death, but also sur­vive (if you care to call it sur­viv­ing) the heat-​death of the uni­verse, and sit about in elec­tronic form exchang­ing opin­ions in an oth­er­wise empty cos­mos. This, Dyson thinks, would restore the mean­ing to life, which has oth­er­wise been drained from it by the thought that final destruc­tion is unavoidable.

Midg­ley, Mary. “The Jour­ney From Free­dom to Desolation.“The Myths We Live by. Lon­don: Rout­ledge, 2003. 100. Print.