The Widdershins

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First the good news. How a small Turkish city successfully absorbed half a million migrants:

Gaziantep has grown by 30% due to newcomers fleeing the crisis across the border in Syria, but remains a model of tolerance and pragmatism. …

In one 24-hour period alone, Gaziantep took in 200,000 people. To put that in perspective, Turkey’s biggest city, Istanbul, with a population of 15 million, hosts 560,000 refugees in total. Gaziantep has just a 10th of the population but took in 500,000. …

Early on, the Turkish government pursued a policy of integrating the newcomers into urban areas, rather than let them fester in refugee camps. Only 4% still live in camps.

This put pressure, however, on the existing housing stock in Gaziantep, forcing up rents. Employers, meanwhile, took advantage of the sudden increase in the workforce to push down wages. There was also conflict over access to drinking water, and burgeoning resentment that the aid pouring in was going to Syrians, not to poor Turks. …

It was precisely to avoid this sort of conflict that the city adopted a new approach, based on integration.

The mayor, Fatma Sahin, established a migration management department. The idea was that Turks and migrants would receive equal treatment and benefits.

It persuaded the government to pipe in water from over 80 miles away to address the water crisis, and then set up a plan to build 50,000 new homes, as well as new hospitals and better public services. All were available to Turks and migrants alike.

“I said to them, we have to work together,” Yalçin says. “We are aiming for social cohesion, because Turkish and Syrian people are going to live together here[.”] …

What sets Gaziantep apart is that it didn’t wait. It was quick to accept the reality that the migrants were there to stay – and the sooner integrated, the better.

“Migration has always been with us,” says Yalcin. “It’s not a problem to be solved but a reality you have to manage. You should see the advantages. And you need to tell people the truth: these people are not stealing your jobs, they’re not stealing your houses.”

(It’s worth mentioning, since it may not be obvious to English-speaking readers, that Fatma is a woman’s name. Margaret Thatcher and many others are evidence to the contrary, but on the whole leaders who are women seem to do a damn good and visionary job more often than not.)

building a home using sand-filled plastic bottles for new refugees in SE Algeria
A project to help new Sahrawi refugees in SE Algeria by building them homes using sand-filled plastic bottles for walls. This is old refugees helping new ones, so not an example of integration among foreigners, but it’s the same idea.

 

So the good news is that solutions to the plight of refugees exist.

 

The bad news is that most places are doing the 180° opposite.

As I’ve pointed out in other blogposts, Trump is not the first to try sadism to stop refugees. The Australians did it years earlier. And they’ve dealt with the downstream consequences that we’re only imagining. The outlook is terminal.

The USA is imprisoning people it finds undesirable. Australia has already lived this nightmare

It’s long been observed that any network of camps, once established, becomes worse. As Andrea Pitzer shows in her history of concentration camps, One Long Night, over and over again since the invention of concentration camps in the late 19th century, in each iteration they develop their own terrible, internal logic. Laws are circumvented or changed, secrecy inhibits scrutiny, logistical problems complicate detention such that the brunt is always borne by prisoners, and a dynamic of brutalisation sweeps up prisoner, jailer and the whole society surrounding them.

Even if such camps are not deliberately constructed for the purposes of murder, they kill people. In Australia’s camps, dozens have died, a score or more at their own hands. …

Australia’s camps are now baked into its national politics. They look set to remain as long as there are elections to win, focus groups to placate, and no outside agency truly capable of enforcing any consequences for its architects. The longer that they are in place in the US, Italy and elsewhere, the more likely it is that in those countries, too, they will become permanent features of the political landscape. … [emphasis mine]

The difficulty of holding a nation’s most powerful people accountable is why it seems likely that the camps won’t be shut down on the basis of national politics. Angela Mitropoulos, a scholar on the topic, says only a globalized opposition can succeed.

And to me, that sounds even more depressing than the fact that we’re back to explaining that concentration camps are a bad idea. In a world with Xi Jinping, who puts millions of Uighurs in camps, with Putin, with The US’s own flabby version of an autocrat, with elections being rigged to make Europe fall apart, with the lack of respect and funding for the UN — with all of that the chances of a useful global response seem kind of microscopic.

But then there are the Greta Thunberg’s of the world. An idea catches fire and people decide they’re not going to take it anymore.

I just hope maybe once we can reach that point before the full disaster strikes, not afterward as we’re dragging ourselves out of the horror.

“I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.” Joe Biden, 1974

Compare and contrast, as they used to say on essay exams, with this:

Jennifer Wright.
You can’t take organs from a corpse without the deceased’s written permission, even if it will save lives. When you outlaw abortion, you’re allowing women less bodily autonomy than the dead.

Betty Bowers.
In Alabama is it is now more illegal to be a woman who aborts a child of rape than to be the man who raped her.

Chambliss, responding to the IVF argument from Smitherman, cites a part of the bill that says it applies to a pregnant woman. “The egg in the lab doesn’t apply. It’s not in a woman. She’s not pregnant.” (But, but, but, now it’s not about the sacred egg+sperm? All that sacredness is only when there’s a woman to control?)

And then, this good idea:

Daniel Silvermint
We should pass a Woman’s Heartbeat law: if a woman has a heartbeat, you can’t tell her what to do with her goddamn body, ever.

B.e.c.a.u.s.e. t.h.a.t. i.s. t.h.e. p.o.i.n.t.

If your heartbeat counts (or counted!), nobody can take parts of you, even to save someone else. No real human being can be forced to donate life support. If the fetus’s heartbeat counts for more than the woman’s providing life support, then she has to be a non-person.

The talk about fetal personhood bills, and especially Lauren Kelley’s point about the activists turning a health issue into a criminal one, got me thinking. So much so that I actually wrote her some feedback, which now, I guess, I’m going to turn into an open letter of feedback. (There’s a whole series in the NYTimes, a newspaper I’m terminally annoyed with, so I have most of this secondhand from public twitter feeds.)

Pregnancy is a health issue if women are people.

But they really can’t be people to those pushing fetal personhood. If women were actual humans in their minds, the pro-fetus crowd would know that personhood does not mean a guaranteed right to erase women.

After all, if an adult man is about to die for lack of a kidney transplant, we don’t send tissue-typing trucks to roam the streets until a match is found for him and the required spare kidney is extracted. Yet it’s a parallel case. A person (everyone agrees an adult man is a person) will die unless he can use another person’s kidney. If you wanted an exactly parallel case, the healthy person would be drafted to dialyse his blood for nine months. We don’t do that either.

That’s for the simple reason that the counterparty really is a person in that example. In the case of pregnancy, it’s necessarily a woman which somehow makes everything different.

But it isn’t. The only thing that’s different is that plenty of people are not used to thinking of women as actual human beings. They’re brood mares first, humans, maybe, second.

The real assumptions behind all this are important because they determine the ground on which you argue. Remember the old Roe v Wade days and the anti-choicers calling themselves “pro-life”? The size of the joke on us is becoming clearer by the day. At the time too few wanted to hear that accepting bogus terminology ceded the high ground before we’d even begun to fight. Now here we are, pleading for our lives, not our rights.

We need to be as clear as we can about the real terms of the argument. This isn’t really about anyone’s health. If it was, we’d have had those tissue-typing vans driving around ever since organ transplantation was feasible. This isn’t even about whether fetuses are persons. It’s about whether women are persons.

The enablers, Republicans in the US case, say we have to maintain civility to the syndicate (and the enablers themselves, of course) at all costs.

While the ship of state is falling apart around us, the trusty Democrats scurry around trying to figure out which salad fork to use so that Emily Post McTurtle won’t sneer at them.

Hillary, as always, says it well: “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for.”

But, zomg, then what to do?! We can’t sink to their level! Right?! !Eleventy!

I’m going to be serious for a second and shout the obvious answer:

You speak the truth. You call things what they are. You stop worrying about Repub fee-fees.

No, it’s not civil. No, you wouldn’t do it at a garden party. This is not a goddamn garden party.

You don’t shut down your most direct truthtellers. Maxine Waters, bless her, can’t be shut down. But give her a megaphone! Alan Grayson — remember Alan Grayson? The Repub health plan was don’t get sick, and if you do, die quickly — was somehow shut down and disappeared. Al Franken was bundled off by what looks to me a lot like a Rove-style plot to blow backstage comedy trip weirdness, in which all participated, out of proportion. Maizie Hirono is brilliant. Give her another megaphone!

Impeachment? Sure, if you’re Pelosi, you can point out that enablers in the Senate would make it a waste of time, but make it clear: impeachment for treason is deserved. It’s what checks and balances are for. It’s not the same as using it to try to kneecap a popular president with a popular agenda.

So, stop being civil. In the service of truth. Not lies. It’s that simple.

 

arrestee in handcuffs
I wish.

 

Apologies about all the shouting. But … honestly.

Crossposted from Acid Test

Gillian Flynn’s words echo and echo and echo inside my skull.

They don’t care about us enough to hate us. We are simply a form of livestock.

(Via Sarah Kendzior. I’ve said the same too, repeatedly, less efficiently.)

There’s Senator Orrin Hatch saying, “…consider who the judge is today – because that’s the issue. Is this judge a really good man? And he is. And by any measure he is.”

“By any measure.” Any measure.

Kavanaugh has never shown any repentance or made any amends, but by any measure he’s in Hatch’s good books. Despite every indication of willingness to commit a crime so bad it’s right up there with murder. Technically, of course. It’s vanishingly unlikely to happen to Hatch. So Kavanaugh is a “good man.”

They don’t care about us enough to hate us. We are simply a form of livestock.

You wonder how the slavers could do what they did to black human beings two hundred years ago? This is how. They thought it was natural, normal, just how things were. They could think well of themselves with no trouble while they sold people. Those people were livestock. Just as people now consider themselves “good” while thinking that a little rape never hurt anyone. Not any real people. Slaveholders were Supreme Court Justices once. What could possibly be the objection to a rapist on the highest court in the land?

They don’t care about us enough to hate us. We are simply a form of livestock.

Crossposted from Acid Test

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but honestly. Is there no end to the inspissated stupidity of the Dump’s dumps? (Don’t answer that.)

I was reading an article about it in The Guardian and ran into a whole bedlam of bullshit triggers. (There is so much bullshit now that we need a collective noun for it. A bedlam of bullshit.)

In no particular order, the things that smacked my gob:

Space Operations Force – an “elite group of war fighters specializing in the domain of space”

“War fighters”? “War fighters”? As opposed to what? Peace fighters? War nurses? They’ll be doing everything from consoles in Nebraska. Maybe they’re trying to stop us from thinking “video game players”? The sentence could have just said an “elite group of fighters” but noooo. Idiots.

Under the heading of Why Do We Need It:

The White House points to galactic threats from US adversaries, particularly Russia and China

Galactic? Wow. I had no idea the Russkies and the Chinese were that far ahead. They probably already have InterGalactic War Treaties with the Pod People of Zorg! Arm the (space) torpedoes! Space Farce ahead!

Does it already exist?

No! of course not. NORAD just tracks Santa. Jeebus. Try to keep up.

As to how it would be paid for? Hahahahaha. You sillies. Congress will whistle up the required billions. Duh. I’m sure there are still some kids or old people who have health insurance that’s being wasted on them.

Finally, the Guardian article politely asks:

Is it a Trump campaign tactic?

Hysterical laughter. Why would anyone think that? Major technology programs are always started with logo competitions and sales of Big Boy undershorts.

Tags:

Knowing about CRISPR-Cas9 may even turn out to be useful, unlike most of the news while we wait.

Okay, so what is that endless acronym? It’s used as shorthand to refer to a very accurate way of inserting a snippet of DNA into a chromosome. For instance, if someone has cystic fibrosis, there’s a very small mutation that causes the whole problem. You can, theoretically, use CRISPR-Cas9 to insert a corrected segment of DNA in the right place in the affected person’s cells and make the problem go away permanently. The cells incorporate the corrected DNA and when they make new cells, they pass on the corrected information.

 

CRISPR-Cas9 and DNA
CRISPR-Cas9 working on some DNA, image from NIH Director’s blog

 

Sounds like every genetic problem is solved, right? It would be if that’s all there was to it. For a while people thought so and optimism ran rampant. Wall St. bid up the prices of a new cohort of shaky biotech stocks and hung breathless on every snippet of gossip about new treatments in the works for FDA approval.

Plenty of non-scientists are still in that starry-eyed mood, but the research data has suddenly turned grim.

It appears that the process of inserting a bit of DNA using CRISPR-Cas9 causes multiple off-target mutations. The target (in my hypothetical example the cystic fibrosis gene) may be corrected, but there are other changes that appear all over the place. Most frighteningly, they can appear in regulatory segments of the DNA. Those are not the bits that code for something, such as mucus production. They regulate how active a gene that codes for something is, or they regulate when it activates.

Obviously, that’s rather important. Messing with regulatory activity can have disastrous and unforeseen consequences, even if the target gene did get fixed. It’s like changing the index and table of contents in a textbook on molecular biology. Changing a page number here and there is tiny compared to throwing out an entire chapter, but the whole book becomes useless.

There is a note of hope. These unwanted changes were found after using a type of CRISPR process (“single specificity targeting”) which has a much higher chance of error than the alternative (“double specificity targeting”). Researchers are looking at that less error-prone process now. If it solves the problem of unwanted changes, we can go back to ringing joy bells.

But until we know that for a fact, don’t let anyone talk you into taking a flier on some startup curing stupidity using CRISPR. And don’t let anyone you care about take a trip to Singapore for the cure to old age. Yes, I’m trying to be funny. In reality, even the CRISPR-based therapies closest to approval are still in the research phase. If you have a chance to have input on anything to do with regulation — a vote or a townhall meeting or anything like that — point out that there are massive unresolved issues that can’t be waved away by saying, “What could possibly go wrong?”

Now back to our regular programming of WAITING FOR THIS WHOLE GODDAMN CRIME FAMILY AND ALL ITS ACOLYTES TO GET TOSSED IN THE JUG. (I am not good at waiting.)


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Mueller Testimony Info

 

  • Date: Wednesday, July 24, 2019
  • Times: (Eastern) 8:30 a.m. – House Judiciary Committee hearing; 12 p.m. – House Intelligence Committee hearing

Blog Archive

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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

Take the kids to work? NO!

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
18 months to go.

Mueller Time!

Wise Words from Paul Ryan

B-I-N-G-O!

Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Perfect Picture

Rudy: oh shit the pee tape IS real!

Need Reminders?

Never too early to shop for Christmas

“Look this way”

Manafort’s Jail Photo

Indeed who?

Trump spam

IOW Dumb = Happy?

Simply Put

Ironic

Awrite! Here’s your damned wall

Dems are coming for ya

NEXT DEMOCRATIC DEBATES

The next set of Democratic debates – 2 nights again, will be July 30th and 31st on CNN.

Not sure of times.

Lineup for Detroit Dem Debates

NIGHT ONE, Tuesday, July 30, 9 pm Eastern each night

  •     Steve Bullock
  •     Pete Buttigieg
  •     John Delaney
  •     John Hickenlooper
  •     Amy Klobuchar
  •     Beto O’Rourke
  •     Tim Ryan
  •     Bernie Sanders
  •     Elizabeth Warren
  •     Marianne Williamson

 

NIGHT TWO, Wednesday, July 31:

  •     Michael Bennet
  •     Joe Biden
  •     Cory Booker
  •     Julián Castro
  •     Bill de Blasio
  •     Tulsi Gabbard
  •     Kirsten Gillibrand
  •     Kamala Harris
  •     Jay Inslee
  •     Andrew Yang

Moderators will be Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper

There’s even info on who stands where but I’m not interested in who is in the center square.

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/18/cnn-dnc-pick-second-debate-lineups-1422147