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This is *What* Century?


Sometimes I read something so outrageous that just makes me go “huh?” or”OMG??” and when it deals with the oppression of women by men in the name of religion, I wonder what can be done.  How can we be a part of ensuring that women all over the world are allowed to take their rightful place in society – equal to men?

Check out this outrageous story from Saudi Arabia (you remember this place…the one where the leaders get all kinds of props and loving from American presidents, both Bush and Obama).

Saudi Arabia clamps down on unlicensed female gyms

Unhappy at the growing number of unlicensed female gyms, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs recently closed two in the Red Sea city of Jeddah and one in the city of Dammam on the Gulf Arab coast for not having a license.

OK, I’ll bite…why?

In Saudi Arabia, where clerics have extensive influence in society, gyms are sexually segregated because of conservative tribal and religious values.

Female participation in sports has long been a controversial issue in the kingdom, with physical education banned from public girls’ schools and clerics issuing religious prohibitions on female participation in sports.

Why of course we can’t have girls threatening the status quo…but wait, it gets better.  Talk about never having left the stone ages:

“Football and basketball are sports that require a lot of movement and jumping,” Sheikh Abdullah al-Maneea, member of the official Supreme Council of Religious Scholars, said in a religious opinion published in Okaz newspaper Thursday.

He said such excessive movement may harm girls who are still virgins, possibly causing them to lose their virginity.

Well, we can’t have our girls breaking those precious hymens.  What, and ruin all the fun on the wedding night?

This is unacceptable in this day and age.  Now, I know that this is small potatoes in the scheme of things.  Women are beaten, raped, and murdered at alarming rates.  Many are subjected to this violence under the umbrella of “religious belief.”  However, this is a major part of the over-arching problem – the continued use of religion as a weapon against women.  The above described actions are generally viewed as insignificant and ignored by the general public because they don’t involve overt violence.  Evidence of this is that this article was posted under Reuters “OddlyEnoughNews” section.  Odd?  That’s how they view it?  Of course…Religious oppression of women is just odd.  No it’s not assholes.  It’s disgraceful and offensive.  But we shouldn’t be surprised at the male-dominated media response to such things.  We recently witnessed a ho-hum approach from (gagh) journalist Geraldo Rivera who dismissed the Afghanistan “rape is OK” law as a “cultural” thing.

As we continue to hear about the global nature of our lives, so to is the global interdependence we have as women throughout the world.  I’m preparing a series of posts on the idea of social dominance theory and how males, having estabished dominance by their physical power, have used institutions such as government and religion to maintain that dominance.  This, I believe, is the core of our oppression as women worldwide and should be the key focus of our efforts to establish equality.  We need a strategic plan to fight not only the oppression, but also the cultural acceptance, dismissal, and sometimes outright denial, that this mindset is pervasive.

Thank God Hillary is in a position to make a difference and I’m confident she is and will continue to do everything in her power to end male social dominance throughout the world.

Hillary…what can WE do to help?

Afternoon Musical Interlude: Zombie Banks

More serenades to Simon Johnson and Paul Krugman.

(swiped from Susie’s post at Suburban Guerilla)

Shoes and Ideology

$540 Lanvin trainers

$540 Lanvin trainers

First Lady Michelle Obama is being criticized for wearing pricey designer sneakers to hand out food to the needy.

While volunteering Wednesday at a D.C. food bank, the First Lady sported her usual J.Crew cardigan, a pair of utilitarian capri pants and, on her feet, a sneaky splurge: trainers that go for $540.

That’s right: These sneakers – suede, with grosgrain ribbon laces and metallic pink toe caps – are made by French design house Lanvin, one of fashion’s hottest labels. They come in denim and satin versions, and have been a brisk seller all spring.

Apparently she needed the ridiculously expensive but comfy shoes to walk her daughters’ new dog.

“I got up at 5:15 in the morning to walk my puppy,” she joked Thursday. “That’s how my day starts. Even though the kids are supposed to do a lot of the work, I’m still up at 5:15 a.m. taking my dog out.”

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Michelle probably got the shoes at the Ikram boutique in Chicago. Continue reading

Pop Quiz


This group’s annual conference begins today in Washington D.C. An estimated 6500 people will attend the conference, including half the House and Senate plus such congressional leaders as Dick Durbin, Eric Cantor, Steny Hoyer and Jon Kyl.  Vice President Joe Biden speaks on Tuesday. Other speakers include John Kerry, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  As a candidate, Barack Obama addressed the conference last year.  The event typically draws more members of Congress than any outside a joint session or State of the Union address.

This group is:

A) The National Organization for Women (NOW)

B) The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

C) The National Rifle Association (NRA)

D) The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)

E) The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

Answer after the jump: Continue reading

Sunday: She’s a supergeek, supergeek, she’s super geeky.

For those of you still interested in the H1N1 influenza, I have some orgasmic youtube selections for you.

But first, a few words why the H1N1 flu is still relevent.  Check out one of the latest posts from the WHO for information about vaccines.  Here’s the lowdown: the H1N1 virus is in 17 countries as of last count and although it looks like a mild case of flu, the sucker is biding its time, figuring out which genetic combinations work in its human hosts.  This is not an unusual phase in the lifespan of an epidemic.  During the summer months, the flu may seem to fade away, making the recent media hype seem like Much Ado About Nothing.  If it turns out that the Obama administration used the flu to ram through its appointments to HHS and the CDC, that would be a pretty cynical thing to do.  The media might feel like it was used and not cover this problem as diligently as it should.  The media has already shot its reputation to bits over everything else.  Making it less credible in future emergencies is really not helpful.

Anyway, the H1N1 virus is out there.  WHO says that closing the borders is moot at this point and would be disruptive to commerce.  Given the latency period of the virus, up to 7 days, the flu could spread among seemingly healthy people before there is any indication that there are clusters of sick.  So, now we wait.  If public health officials are unable to contain the spread by following up on reported cases, it increases the likelihood that we will see the return of H1N1 in the fall.  This flu is different from the seasonal flu and appears to be a result of antigenic shift rather than antigenic drift.  To find out what the difference is, I highly recommend the following selections in order of geekiness.  Choose your geek level.

If you are a history geek but not really technical, go with An Interview with John M. Barry regarding his book, The Great Influenza.  Barry has written about the Spanish Flu of 1918 from a historical perspective and discusses the advances of medicine at the time.  You might be mildly surprised to learn that medicine was not nearly as crude back then as we tend to think.

If you are conversant in geek but not fluent, check out Influenza Pandemics: Past and Future from the Research Channel.  This is NOVA level geekiness.  The lecturer’s presentation is excellent and easy to follow.

If you are into supergeek and know what RNA polymerase, trimer and 5′ to 3′ means, go directly to Dr. Donald Ganem’s lecture on Emerging Infections: How epidemics arise on the Research Channel.  There are high school students in the audience and they look perfectly normal so if they can handle it, you probably can too.

I’m a big believer in Knowledge is Power.  Stuff is a lot less scary and people can make more rational decisions when they educate themselves.  Knowing what to expect with respect to new strains of influenza can help us keep our heads the next time the media goes on a full blown panic attack and will keep the propagandists from yanking our chains.

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Your Breakfast Read, Served By The Confluence

Morning reading

  • The last words 100-Days-Palooza
    The Black Agenda Report has its own review of Obama’s first 100 Days and it ain’t pretty
    Status QuObama: A Hundred Days of Fake-Progressive BS and Liberal-Left Surrender

    The nation’s first Black president proceeds unmolested by the Left as he moves mountains of money in a crusade to save the investment banking class. Anti-war forces dissolve into nothingness as Barack Obama extends the U.S. occupation of Iraq indefinitely. A new theater of war called Af-Pak coagulates in South Asia, yet benumbed “progressives” praise their president as the consummate man of peace. “By demanding nothing of Obama and the Democrats except that they not technically be Republicans, our so-called “progressive” organizations effectively grant advance approval to whatever corporate and imperial policies the new president and the Democrats execute.

    (Status QuObama? How can you beat that?)

    Dissenting Justice reviews the NYTimes article about the potential revival of Guantánamo military courts to make similar points
    Kinder, Gentler Military Tribunals? You Betcha. . . .

    If the New York Times article is accurate, then the use of military tribunals issue will join the list of policies that Obama has endorsed, despite the loud liberal criticism that Bush received when he did the same things. It remains unclear, however, whether these contradictions will erode any of Obama’s political support. Despite his blatant departure from some of the most important progressive issues that defined his campaign, liberals remain quite pleased with Obama’s performance.

    (Commenter Sophie insist we add one more thing to 100-Days-Palooza)
    President Barack Obama can’t top Hillary Clinton in job approval rating

    And now let’s give the last word to Frank Rich. He’s on to something
    Enough With the 100 Days Already

    The 100 Days celebrations could not fade soon enough, because neither he nor the country should be lulled into resting easy. There are at least two toxic fiefdoms to keep the president and us awake at night: Pakistan and Wall Street. Both could wreak further untold catastrophe.
    The Republican Party has collapsed, and that is not a good thing for the country or for Obama. We need more than one functioning party, not just to ensure checks and balances and pitch in ideas at a time of crisis, but to temper this president’s sporadic bursts of overconfidence and triumphalist stagecraft. No one is perfect. We must remember that there is also an Obama who gave us “You’re likable enough, Hillary,” a faux presidential seal and a convention speech delivered before what Sarah Palin rightly mocked as “Styrofoam Greek columns” hauled out of a “studio lot.”

  • The never ending story
    Iraqi soldier kills 2 US soldiers, wounds 3

    Iraq bloodshed rises as US allies defect

    Obama’s withdrawal pledge is at risk as militias paid by the US begin to rejoin the insurgency

    Taliban terror holds 2,000 villagers as human shields

    Pakistan opposition chief Nawaz Sharif wooed by US

  • The latest on the “swine” flu
    US taking ‘all necessary precautions’ on swine flu

    New swine flu alert despite doubts over level of danger

    Farmer may have given swine flu to pigs, Canada says

    More than a week after the swine flu outbreak rattled the world, with cases of infected people popping up from Mexico to South Korea, the new virus strain has shown up in a herd of swine. The catch, Canadian officials say, is that the animals may have caught the flu from a human.

    Nicholas Kristof suggests we used the flu crisis as opportunity
    A Nation of Typhoid Marys

    The flu crisis should be a wake-up call, a reminder that one of our vulnerabilities to the possible pandemic is our deeply flawed medical system.

  • Lessons from the Chrysler Bankruptcy
    Chrysler’s Fall May Help Administration Reshape G.M.

    Fresh from pushing Chrysler into bankruptcy, President Obama and his economic team are hoping that the hard line they took last week gives them leverage to force huge changes in General Motors, a far larger and more complex company.

    Why Chrysler’s Bondholders Should Stop Whining

    Will Ford benefit from bankruptcies?

  • How bad is the economy?
    Buffett dispenses gloom at Berkshire fest

    Social Security Benefits Not Expected to Rise in ’10

    For the first time in more than three decades, Social Security recipients will not get any increase in their benefits next year, federal forecasts show.

    FT’s Gillian Tett has a terrific piece detailing the origin of the financial mess
    Genesis of the debt disaster

  • Some thoughts “Torturegate”
    Washington still dancing the torture minuet

    Their view: Unraveling a culture of torture

    Torturing for America

    I know it’s MoDo but she makes some good points: How Character Corrodes

  • Big Dog remembers the victims of the Oklahoma bombing
    Clinton returns to Oklahoma bombing site for tour

  • Does this mean we (men) are better off?
    Women live longer, not better, largely because of obesity and arthritis

    Obesity and arthritis that take root during early and middle age significantly contribute to women’s decreased quality of life during their senior years, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

  • In Memoriam
    Jack Kemp, Star on Field and in Politics, Dies at 73

    Jack Kemp, the former football star turned congressman who with an evangelist’s fervor moved the Republican Party to a commitment to tax cuts as the central focus of economic policy, died Saturday evening at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 73.

  • What are you reading?

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    Overnight Open Thread

    They’re clowns

    They’re zombies

    They want to eat your brains

    Sleep tight!