Medical misogyny.

[CONTENT NOTE: misogyny, torture, extreme hostility to pregnant people.]

Rewire has a new piece by Amy Littlefield that details the unconscionable withholding of medical care from patients in Catholic hospitals.

Continue reading

Oww.

I was all set to ditch you guys, unceremoniously. It’s not that I don’t love my Loyal Readers™—perish the thought! It’s just that I have these…these…obligations every December, and they stress me the fuck out in countless ways, large and small. Though the temperatures in NYC have been downright subtropical these days, I was looking forward to escaping to the actual subtropics, as a reward to myself for not strangling all those Salvation Army bell ringers to death with my bare hands. Well, not too many of them. It’s Christmas ferchrissakes! I’m not a monster, people.

Or maybe I am? Non-holiday related deadlines are now looming: I owe a piece to TPJ Magazine in two days for which I have not written word one, and I’ve also been dragging my ass WAY too long on Secular Woman‘s HerStory Project (I’m sorry Elsa!), for which my only excuse is: you don’t know my family.

Anyway on December 26 I changed my Facebook pic to Vacation Iris, my cover photo to “gone fishin” and offered up my goodbyes, ta-tas, good job on the War on Christmas, Happy New Years, etc. Then I flew to Miami and met my friend Scotty at Yardbird for a fabulous dinner. (FYI: cocktails with friends from NYC always taste better in Miami. TRUE FACT.)

vacationirisVacation Iris.

This very morning I was hiking along the shallow surf of South Beach, taking pictures of my feet in the water (as one does) and gushing histrionically to My Amazing Lover™ that this, THIS, was one of life’s most magical pleasures.

“Are those jellyfish?” he asked of the gelatinous globs sparkling in the sun along the tide line. “I have no idea,” I said. “They seem kinda small for jellyfish? But hey, ocean critters are weird.”

On our way back, I stepped barefoot on the umpteenth patch of seaweed and heard a loud pop. “Hahaha,” I cackled. “That sounded like a balloon!” Within seconds a toe on my left foot was ablaze with pain. I pulled it out of the water and took a closer look: no obvious cuts or punctures. Indeed, it looked perfectly normal, or at least as normal as its doppelganger on my right foot. BUT HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS. Stinging, throbbing, aching, right down into the bone.

By the time I got back to the hotel it had only worsened. The blazing pain had now spread to my big toe and the ball of my foot. “What is this fuckery?!” I whined, and proceeded to google the shit out of this fuckery. “Miami beach pop sound pain” yielded various critiques of Gloria Estefan records, but alas nothing remotely related to my excruciating predicament. (Fortunately, My Amazing Lover’s Google-fu is far superior to mine.)

It turns out those gelatinous blobs strewn along the shoreline looked an awful lot like this:

Portuguese_Man-O-War_(Physalia_physalis)Allow me to introduce you to Physalia physalis, also known as “Portuguese man-of-war.” Interestingly:

The stinging, venom-filled nematocysts in the tentacles of the Portuguese man o’ war can paralyze small fish and other prey. Detached tentacles and dead specimens (including those that wash up on shore) can sting just as painfully as the live organism in the water and may remain potent for hours or even days after the death of the organism or the detachment of the tentacle.

Stings usually cause severe pain to humans, leaving whip-like, red welts on the skin that normally last two or three days after the initial sting, though the pain should subside after about 1 to 3 hours (depending on person).

It’s now been seven hours. A glass of sangria. A bottle of rosé. And counting. The pain is fucking excruciating, and so far shows no signs of abating.

However, the venom can travel to the lymph nodes and may cause, depending on the amount of venom, a more intense pain…There can also be serious effects, including fever, shock, and interference with heart and lung function. Stings may also cause death, although this is extremely rare.

!!! “Extremely rare” is good, amirite?

Physalia physalis features a gas-filled bladder it uses for buoyancy, which I am happy to report (FOR SCIENCE!) makes a delightful “pop” when crushed underfoot.

Also, I will be referring to these creatures as “sea squirrels” from now on. Fuckers.

Satire is dead. Again.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it harder and harder to distinguish national “news” stories from those in The Onion. Take this one, in yesterday’s Washington Post:

U.S. blocks some anti-drug funds for Mexico over human rights concerns

Fifteen percent of the money provided for the Mexican military and police is subject to provisions that the country make progress on protecting human rights, including enforcing rules against torture and prosecuting people for forced disappearances.

This would be finger-wagging by the same United States that instituted a worldwide torture regime and rendition program—and still refuses, in violation of its international treaty obligations, to prosecute the architects? The same country that holds vast numbers of its enormous prison population in solitary confinement? Yes, we’re lecturing Mexico about torture and human rights, and refusing to give it some money to fight its powerful drug cartels—the very existence of which is a direct result of US demand. Jeezus fucking Christ.

The War on Drugs is an abject failure by any reasonable metric. You know it, I know it, and the US government has long known it too:

In 1986, the U.S. Defense Department funded a two-year study by the RAND Corporation, a private organization with a long and close relationship with the U.S. government, which found that the use of the armed forces to interdict drugs coming into the United States would have little or no effect on cocaine traffic and might, in fact, raise the profits of cocaine cartels and manufacturers. The 175-page study, “Sealing the Borders: The Effects of Increased Military Participation in Drug Interdiction,” was prepared by seven researchers, mathematicians and economists at the National Defense Research Institute, a branch of the RAND, and was released in 1988. The study noted that seven prior studies in the past nine years, including one by the Center for Naval Research and the Office of Technology Assessment, had come to similar conclusions. Interdiction efforts, using current armed forces resources, would have almost no effect on cocaine importation into the United States, the report concluded.

President George Bush Sr. disagreed, arguing that “the logic is simple. The cheapest way to eradicate narcotics is to destroy them at their source….We need to wipe out crops wherever they are grown and take out labs wherever they exist.”

We’ll bomb everywhere! It’ll be cheap! Let’s turn all the fertile land and jungles of Central and South America into ash-charred barren deserts. THE LOGIC IS SIMPLE, PEOPLE. There’s just no denying that.

It is perhaps worth mentioning here the fact that before serving two terms as veep in the Reagan administration, George H.W. Bush was a Director of the CIA. Anyway:

During the early- to mid-1990s, the Clinton administration ordered and funded a major cocaine policy study, again by RAND. The Rand Drug Policy Research Center study concluded that $3 billion should be switched from federal and local law enforcement to treatment. The report said that treatment is the cheapest way to cut drug use, stating that drug treatment is twenty-three more times effective than the supply-side “war on drugs”. President Clinton’s drug czar’s office disagreed with slashing law enforcement spending.

Obviously the drug war is wildly successful as a pretext for the exploitation of Latin America on behalf of US-based banks and multinationals, and generates an endless stream of profits for weapons manufacturers and private prisons. WIN-WIN. Nevertheless, the very premise of the entire Post article requires us all to pretend that there is a military, law enforcement and incarceration solution to the illicit drug trade, when over here in the real world, there just… isn’t.

Similarly, as I’ve noted before, domestic mass surveillance programs do not work for their alleged purposes, and they are being used on targets that have nothing to do with terrorism whatsoever. Don’t you think those two facts should be highlighted in every news report about these programs? Headlines like these should be the norm:

Failed terrorist surveillance programs now targeting reporters and editors at The Associated Press.

NSA’s useless terrorist surveillance data now used to secretly tip off local police to suspected drug activity: cops paper over source of information, claim it’s only about 60 percent accurate anyway.

NSA, FBI and CIA agents say they can flush out terrorists by playing World of Warcraft all day: “deconfliction” groups ensure they aren’t accidentally spying on each other instead. 

If the truth is not Onion-worthy, well, I don’t know what is.

Recent reads.

library4DOJ Ferguson Report: How Elected Officials Used Racism To Generate Millions In Revenue. Morrison, A., International Business Times (Mar. 2015).

Justice Department Finds Bias In Ferguson But Clears Darren Wilson. India, L., UPTOWN Magazine (Mar. 2015).

U.S. millennials post ‘abysmal’ scores in tech skills test, lag behind foreign peers. Frankel, T.C., The Washington Post (Mar. 2015).

Sh*tting on the Israeli Flag: The Art of Natali Cohen Vaxbergyoutube (Feb. 2015).  (“a short documentary film about provocative Israeli playwright, actress and internet celebrity.”)

Why Does the FBI Have to Manufacture its Own Plots if Terrorism and ISIS Are Such Grave Threats? Greenwald, G., The Intercept (Feb. 2015). [To ask the question is to answer it. –Ed.]

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Long History of Crying Wolf About Iran’s Nuclear Weapons. The Intercept (Mar. 2015). (“The Israeli Prime Minister is expected to warn the U.S. Congress an Iranian bomb is imminent — just as he warned in 1992, 1995, 2002, 2009, and 2012.”)

How a Mid-Sized Tennessee Town Took on Comcast, Revived Its Economy and Did it With Socialism. Gibson, C., Nation of Change (Mar. 2015). (“Since its launch, the EPB’s network has proven to be 50 times faster than the average American’s internet connection.”) [But…but…the Free Market™ is superior and more efficient! Also, BOOTSTRAPS!!! –Ed.]

10 Tricks To Appear Smarter In Meetings. Bradford, H., Huffington Post (Mar. 2015). [LOL. -Ed.]

Two headlines perfectly sum up everything wrong with American drug policy. Ingraham, C., The Washington Post (Mar. 2015). [SPOILER ALERT! the headlines are “Colorado sold 17 tons of retail marijuana in first legal year” and “Life in Prison for Selling $20 of Weed“, both of which are well worth reading. –Ed.]

Out of Trouble, but Criminal Records Keep Men Out of Work. Appelbaum, B., The New York Times (Feb. 2015).

Bayes’ Theorem with Lego. Count Bayesie (Feb. 2015).

Petraeus reaches deal to plead guilty to misdemeanor; likely won’t face prison. Goldman, A. and Horwitz, S., The Washington Post (Mar. 2015).

At New York Private Schools, Challenging White Privilege From the Inside. Spencer, K., The New York Times (Feb. 2015). [h/t Sunshine]

Native American Council Offers Amnesty to 240 Million Undocumented Whites. City World News (Jan. 2015). (“They all need to be deported back to Europe,” John Dakota from True Americans said. “They came here illegally and took a giant crap on our land. They brought disease and alcoholism, stole everything we have because they were too lazy to improve and develop their own countries.”) [Hahaha. Perfect. -Ed.]

Schizophrenic Brains Not Fooled by Optical Illusion. Buchen, L., Wired (Apr. 2009).

5 Women Cut from Pop Culture History for Being Too Important. Sargent, J.F., Cracked (Feb. 2015).

The Inside Story Of How A For-Profit College Hoodwinked Students And Got Away With It. Pyke, A., Think Progress (Feb. 2015).

Bush White House’s Repeated Torture Denials Led CIA Torturers to Seek Repeated Reassurances. Froomkin, D., The Intercept (Mar. 2015). [War criminals in the Bush administration lied?! GTFO. –Ed.]

War On Christianity? FBI Hate Crime Statistics Utterly Destroy Fox News Lies. Morris, R., Addicting Info (Feb. 2015). (“in far more cases than not, right wing Christians are the instigators or even the perpetrators of a very large majority of the hate crimes committed in the US… In 2013 there were 7,242 hate crimes committed in the US. In total, crimes against protestant Christians amounted to .0051 percent, a tiny fraction of a percentage point.”)

The cost of getting an abortion is higher if you’re poor. Dusenbery, M., Feministing (Feb. 2015). (“the process of obtaining an abortion could total up to $1,380 for a low-income single mother saddled with charges related to gas, a hotel stay, childcare, and taking time off work. For a middle-income woman living comfortably in a city with no children and public transit options to the clinic, meanwhile, those fees dropped to $593.”…”The idea that it is somehow not a serious burden for someone who is living paycheck to paycheck to be forced to — suddenly and entirely unexpectedly — come up with more than a month’s wages is absurd.”)

Drink In Style At Dear Irving, The Most Gorgeous Bar In Manhattan. Carlson, J., Gothamist (Mar. 2015). [h/t Vanina]

‘Is College Bad for Girls?’ cautionary pamphlet from 1905. Jardin, X., Boing Boing (Mar. 2015). [At least according to this pamphlet, college is absolutely fucking awesome for girls! –Ed.]

Nothing Is Wrong With Your Sex Drive. Nagoski, E., The New York Times (Feb. 2015). [The Palace’s favorite sex nerd and Your Humble Monarch™’s longtime correspondent not only has her first Op-Ed in the NYT, she also has a new book out: Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life. YAY EMILY! –Ed.]

How to Be the Perfect Welfare RecipientFeminace (Mar. 2015). (“where the fuck do people get off trying to talk about welfare while knowing fuck all about it?…allow me to tackle some of those shit excuses for arguments here, where I can be an uncivil as I please.”) [FIVE STARS.Ed.]

The word-hoard: Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape. Macfarlane, R. The Guardian (Feb. 2015). [h/t Chris Clarke] [Gorgeous essay! If you love words and good writing, stop whatever you are doing and read this right fucking now. –Ed.]

Pioneering Women of PhysicsPerimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (Feb. 2015).(“They discovered pulsars, found the first evidence of dark matter, pioneered mathematics, radioactivity, nuclear fission, elasticity, and computer programming, and have even stopped light.”)

Coalition of Police Officers Heads to D.C. to Demand the Broken and Brutal Police System Be Fixed. Syrmopoulos, J., The Free Thought Project (Feb. 2015).

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For the Palace Quote collection:

If your different-sex marriage isn’t special or “sacred” or whatthefuckever just because more people are allowed to do it, then that’s not a problem with the law; that’s a problem with your marriage. –Melissa McEwan

From Frida Kahlo:

FridaKahloFrida Kahlo
Mexican painter
(1907-1954)

I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.

The most important thing for everyone in Gringolandia is to have ambition and become ‘somebody,’ and frankly, I don’t have the least ambition to become anybody.

I paint flowers so they will not die.

I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.

Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.

I hope the exit is joyful. And I hope never to return.

At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.

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PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

Recent reads.

library4Transgender teen commits suicide, cites Christian parents in blog. Stone, M., Patheos (Dec. 2014). [HEARTBREAKING. Anyone reading this who is trans* and struggling, or who knows someone who may need help:

Trans Lifeline
US: (877) 565-8860
Canada: (877) 330-6366
http://www.translifeline.org/

Ed.]

Christians More Supportive of Torture than Non-Religious Americans. Posner, S., Religion Dispatches (Dec. 2014). [And they worship a (fictional) torture victim. Nice people. –Ed.]

House Majority Whip Scalise confirms he spoke to white supremacists in 2002. O’Keefe, E., The Washington Post (Dec. 2014).

#BlackLivesMatter: More Than Just Shootings. Feminace, Seriously?!? (Dec. 2009).

Irony 101: Study Ethics with Legal Ace Who Sanctioned NSA Wiretapping, CIA Torture. Silverstein, K., The Intercept (Dec. 2014). [Heh. Hahaha. HAHAHA. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!Ed.]

The Price of Private Prison. Rosenblatt, S., Truthout (Dec. 2014). (webgraphic) [h/t SJ.]

How many days did the #TeaParty “cease protest activities” after their supporters Killed Cops? Walton, F.V., Daily Kos (Dec. 2014). [Remind me again? Oh. I see… –Ed.]

Police Chief’s Perfect Response: Respect Protestors, Keep an Open Mind. Hongo, H., Gawker (Dec. 2014). [Amazing. I looooove this d00d. We need many, MANY more like him. –Ed.]

The Buy Nothing Project.

On The Silencing of Trans Women of Color: A Response to Trans Glamour vs. Trans Activism. Ailith, L.J., Autostraddle (Dec. 2014).

Domestic Violence Is Violence: Mass killers often start by stalking or assaulting women. Leong, N., Slate (Dec. 2014).

Hell Yes, I’m a Feminist. Scalzi, J., Whatever (Dec. 2014). [h/t PZ] [See also: this superb piece of mockery—this is how it’s done, people. –Ed.]

The Invisible Backpack of White Privilege from L.L. Bean. Miller, J., McSweeney’s (Dec. 2014). [Brilliant. –Ed.]

The Year In (Peer) Review: Nine Great Moments for Women In STEM From 2014. And counting! Cox, C., The Mary Sue (Dec. 2014).

Kid who made good comes home and tells his parents he paid off their mortgage. McNulty, J., Happy Place (Dec. 2014). [What the hell is this…this…watery stuff on my face? –Ed.]

How to Stop Violence: Mentally ill people aren’t killers. Angry people are. Hayes, L.L., Slate (Apr. 2014).

White Wealth & the Cult of White Victimhood. Hutchinson, S., blackfemlens (Dec. 2014).

Billion Dollar Surveillance Blimp to Launch over Maryland. Froomkin, D., The Intercept (Dec. 2014). [I find this absolutely fucking hilarious. –Ed.]

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For the Quote collection, the first three courtesy of Loyal Reader™ PN.

Conservatives lie when they say they are for families, liberty, and religious freedom. What they really mean is that they want to control others’ families, take away others’ liberties, and foist their religion onto others. Religious freedom means that I can be free of the murderous fraud known as Christianity just as others are free to uncritically support it. –Don Baker

The most obvious way of reducing abortions is to increase contraceptive use and education, but Christians have worked overtime against these obvious and proven techniques. They have worked overtime to close down Planned Parenthood, an organization that has actually prevented more abortions than any Christian organization has ever done. –Don Baker

Do we require that parents donate their organs to their children if that’s the child’s only hope for life, even if the hope is most desperate or even truly hopeless? Do we prosecute parents who fail to rush into burning buildings to save their children, who may or may not have a chance of survival anyway? … So why the double standard for “children” not yet born? Since when does the “pre-born” have the right to jeopardize the woman’s life, to suck literally dry her very precious bodily fluids, when the “post-born” most certainly doesn’t?  Of course, the real answer has something to do with Exodus 20:17… –Ben Goren

[E]mpathy — not squishy self-serving conflict avoidance — is the hand-maiden, not the enemy, of reason and intellectual inquiry. –Ta-Nehisi Coates

Violence by those with mental illness is so small that even if you could somehow cure it all, 95 percent of violent crime would still exist. –Paolo del Vecchio, of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

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PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

Recent reads.

library417 Disgraceful Facts Buried In The Senate’s 600 Page Torture Report. Volsky, I., Think Progress (Dec. 2014). [Perhaps the most disgraceful of which is that—like NSA surveillance—the torture program did not stop a single terrorist attack. –Ed.]

Obama says CIA torture report exposed ‘brutal activity,’ won’t criticize Bush administration. Garcia, A., Raw Story (Dec. 2014). (“mistakes were made.”) [By war criminals. –Ed.]

Instead of prosecuting torturers, Obama prosecuted the guy who revealed the program. Lee, T.B., Vox (Dec. 2014).

Let’s not kid ourselves: Most Americans are fine with torture, even when you call it “torture”. Ingraham, C., The Washington Post (Dec. 2014).

Inconsistencies in rape victims’ statements about the trauma are understandable. Tetlow, T., The Times-Picayune of Greater New Orleans (Dec. 2014). (“Carefully trained officers recognize these symptoms as evidence of trauma. Most confuse it with lying.”)

The backlash to Rolling Stone’s story about rape culture at UVa. Reed, K., reedkath (Dec. 2014).

A Texas Grand Jury Recently Cleared 2 White Cops Who Beat a Black Woman in Jail. Brodey, S., Mother Jones (Dec. 2014).

Black Trans Woman Killed While Pounding on Door for Help. King, J., For Harriet via Colorlines (Dec. 2014). (“Anti-Violence Project issued a statement bringing attention to a rash of recent murders of transgender women of color…the organization has “documented 18 anti-LGBTQ homicides last year. Of those homicide victims, almost 90 [percent] were people of color, almost three-quarters (72 [percent]) of homicide victims were transgender women, and more than two-thirds (67 [percent]) of homicide victims were transgender women of color.”) [Fucking hell. –Ed.]

The Global Rich Are a Tribe with Their Own Folkways, Values & Mythology. Those Values Are “Pathological.” Publius, G., Down With Tyranny! (Dec. 2014).

Kinky*Cool. “Fucking the patriarchy with a rainbow strap-on.” [Rainbow strap-on added to shopping list: CHECK. –Ed.]

The Feminist Killjoy Gift Guide. The Belle Jar (Dec. 2014). [Needz moar rainbow strap-ons. –Ed.]

Dear White Allies: Stop Unfriending Other White People Over Ferguson. Spectra, The Huffington Post (Dec. 2014).

A Concise History Of Black-White Relations In The United States. Deutsch, B., Everyday Feminism (Oct. 2014). (Comic.)

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Some Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King for the Quotes collection. D00d is as relevant now as ever.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.

Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.

That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.

We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

See also: Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did. HamdenRice, Daily Kos (Aug. 2011).

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PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

North Korea sure is terrible.

We were heartened to hear of North Korea’s release of Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae, the last two Americans held there, and fervently hope they can swiftly and fully recover from their unimaginable ordeals. Miller, a tour guide, was tried and convicted on charges of committing “hostile acts” against the North Korean government, then sentenced in September to six years hard labor. Bae, a missionary, was given a 15-year sentence after being convicted on charges of “antigovernment activities.”

North Korea’s human rights violations are notorious: a 2014 report by the U.N. found a litany of horrors, including torture, starvation, and imprisonment for “questioning the system or trying to escape it.” A senior Obama administration official who would only speak to the press anonymously said the prisoner release “does not mean a change in U.S. posture regarding North Korea’s disputed nuclear program, and the North still must show it is serious and ready to abide by commitments toward denuclearization and improved human rights.”

Damn right, anonymous senior Obama administration official! Way to scold that nasty Kim Jong Un, and tell him what’s what.

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Of the 149 prisoners remaining in US custody at Guantánamo Bay, 78 of them have been cleared for release. Defense and intelligence officials have determined that these men pose no threat to national security. They have never been charged with a crime, much less tried and convicted of one. Many have been imprisoned for more than a decade. They are not going anywhere anytime soon.

Reports from a variety of sources confirm “unremitting” psychological abuse at Guantánamo, resulting in extraordinary mental health damage to detainees. Solitary
confinement for long periods (more than a year, for some), long-term exposure to extremely cold temperatures, weeks or months of sleep deprivation and threats of extradition for torture have resulted in hundreds if not thousands of suicide attempts and other forms of self-harm. Then there is the physical abuse: slamming heads into floors and walls, brutal punishment beatings based on pretexts, permanently debilitating medical neglect and forced unnecessary medical procedures including amputations, routine sexual assault by interrogators, rape and rape threats by guards, painful short-shackling and stress positions, head-shaving (one prisoner was left with a cross-shaped patch of hair), forced nudity, pepper spraying, tear gassing, and religious and cultural abuse, such as being wrapped in Israeli flags during interrogations. In fact, the sadistic torture, degradation and abusive interrogation techniques you may recall from Abu Ghraib were first developed and implemented at Guantánamo before they were unleashed in Iraq. And as horrifying as all of that is, many Gitmo prisoners report that their treatment in US custody before their arrival was worse: waterboarding, electric shocks, hanging by the hands from hooks for days, being spit on and pissed on. And on and on.

It is worth remembering that at least half of those detained at Guantánamo were probably completely innocent, and that our government has always known this. Since 2002, out of hundreds of Gitmo prisoners only three have been tried and convicted. Another seven will eventually face military tribunals—assuming they live that long. Then there are the 38 subject to “indefinite detainment.” They have never been convicted or even charged with any crime, but our human-rights-promoting government has decided not to ever let them out anyway. And all of this for the low, low price of an average $2.7 million per prisoner per year, to the tune of over $5 billion since prisoners began arriving in 2002.

The UN, just as it recently did with North Korea, has issued scathing reports condemning the inhumane treatment of prisoners in US custody, in knowing and flagrant violation of both US law and long-standing international treaties to which the US is bound as a signatory. Strangely, though, I could not find a single news story in any mainstream media since the release of Bae and Miller this weekend that contains the phrases “Guantanamo Bay” and “North Korea.” (I did get a hit on this, though, which is pretty cool.)

So I guess the really important message to take from recent news coverage is that North Korea sure is terrible, and we can all feel superior to North Korea.

Have a nice day.

Recent reads.

REMINDER: The acquisition of links for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization, source or individual.

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Captives held by Islamic State were waterboarded. Goldman, A. and Tate, J., The Washington Post (Aug. 2014). (“James Foley was among the four who were waterboarded several times by Islamic State militants who appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”)

The Ferguson Syllabus: Sociological Research Puts Ferguson in Context. Cole, N.L., About.com (Aug. 2014).

We should all be feminists. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at TEDxEuston (Apr. 2013) (VIDEO).

California Passes Affirmative Consent Bill; Rape Apologists Retreat Into Fantasy. Mandanas, L., Autostraddle (Aug. 2014).

These tiny scorpions would like to perform an important inspection of your old book collection, please. Crew, B., Scientific American (Aug. 2014). (“When they’re not patrolling old books or supporting oversized appendages with their tiny heads, book scorpions are having weird sex.”) (with VIDEO).

We Won A Thing: Texas Judge Throws Out Parts Of Restrictive Abortion Law. Audrey, Autostraddle (Aug. 2014).

There’s a big gap between what men and women make in the restaurant industry. Ferdman, R.A., The Washington Post (Aug. 2014).

Fucking Pick One. Feminace, Seriously?!? (Aug. 2014). (“Man, for all of the claims that ladyfolks are the emotional and irrational gender, nothing hits the heights of hysteria like a pissed off dudebro.”)

Texas National Guard troops forced to go to food banks for help amid paycheck delays. Forsyth, J., Reuters via Raw Story (Aug. 2014).

The One Word Men Never See In Their Performance Reviews. Davis, K., FastCompany (Aug. 2014).

Abortion Access for All: Two Nonprofits Embrace Gender Inclusive Language. KaeLyn, Autostraddle (Aug. 2014).

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For the Palace Quote Collection:

“The Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and black, the Thracians that theirs have light blue eyes and red hair.” –Xenophanes (5-6th century BCE)

“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” –attributed to Emma Goldman

Haha what.

(Yes I know, I’m just phoning in my post titles today. Hey, at least the content is original. You get what you pay for, people.)

Spotted in the West Village (10th & Greenwich Sts.):

jesustirewutI think I’ll just drop a quote here:

Imagine the culture we would live in now if, instead of a dead corpse on an instrument of torture, our signifier was a child staring in wonder at the stars. –PZ Myers

Meanwhile, right around the corner:

torturejeezusThere are children around here, FFS. What is wrong with these people?

Why stop there?

[TRIGGER WARNING: hostility to agency; brief description of graphic violence; the links in the section about South America lead to sites containing violent images and/or graphic descriptions of violence, including sexual violence; well-deserved f-bombs + s-bombs.]

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I recently wrote a piece entitled This is your water on conservatives about the West Virginia water crisis. It got some nice traction on Twitter, so I figure why stop there?

This is your body on conservatives.

marlise&matteomunoz

Marlise Munoz and her son, Mateo.
(PHOTO: Lynne Machado)

For those who may be under the mistaken impression that I make exaggerated claims when I say that the Forced Birth Brigades are depraved woman-hating shitbags who view pregnant people as subhuman incubators, meet Marlise Munoz. On the morning of November 26, her husband Erick found his wife unconscious on their kitchen floor. She was pronounced clinically brain dead at the hospital; she had suffered a pulmonary embolism and her brain had received no oxygen for an extensive period of time. Both paramedics, Erick and Marlise understood better than most people exactly what “life support” means. According to Erick and Marlise’s parents, she had made it crystal clear that in such a tragic situation she would not want any artificial measures keeping her alive.

But Marlise was 14 weeks pregnant with the couple’s second child, and Texas has a “pregnancy exclusion” law. This means that unlike any other human adult, a pregnant woman may not have life support withdrawn according to her own wishes and those of her family. To this day—although she is technically dead—Marlise’s body is being kept minimally functioning by artificial means in order to sustain the fetus. (It may also occur to my astute Loyal Readers™ that if Marlise’s brain was without oxygen for a significant period of time, so was the developing fetus. No one presently knows the ramifications of that.) Her husband is now suing the hospital, which may take months or even years to resolve.

This is not a Catholic hospital, and similar laws are on the books in 31 states. Only in one state—Pennsylvania—will the state itself pick up the exorbitant tab for its enslavement of dead or dying women in hospitals in order to harvest their fetuses. Katherine Taylor and Lynn Paltrow over at RH Reality Check wryly put it: “Apparently, in some circles, objections to government-supported health care disappears if the money serves the dual purpose of sustaining fetal life and denying women their rights.” See also this report of arrests, detentions, forced medical interventions, criminal charges and other actions taken by states to deprive pregnant women of their human rights (pdf).

The only right pregnant people have in any conservative context is the “right” to be treated like subhuman incubators and breeding sows. If you share this view, of course, you can expect nothing from me but my deepest, abiding contempt.

This is your state on conservatives.

Here is a 46 minute sci-fi fantasy thriller that paints a horrifying view of a dystopic future where a bunch of scheming and entitled right-wing shitweasels engineer the takeover of every single part of a state’s government. Oh wait, no. It’s actually a documentary by Bill Moyers about present-day North Carolina. My bad.

[h/t SJ]

This is your world on conservatives.

plunder(I hesitated to post this image because I am unsure of its provenance,
and will take it down immediately upon request of the copyright holder.)

That is a pretty good graphic depiction of Western imperialism, and the entirely predictable outcome of right-wing, rapacious capitalism presently dominating the world and led by the United States government and those whose interests it serves. One thing it doesn’t illustrate, however, is the blood-soaked methods used to achieve that outcome. Consider Colombia, our closest ally in South America, where we have been meddling and supporting the killing of poor people for decades. Even before the Colombia Free Trade Agreement was signed into law by President Barack Obama in October of 2011, people in the Pacific port city of Buenaventura began experiencing a brutally sadistic campaign of violence, torture and intimidation at the hands of right-wing paramilitaries, often in the presence of local police and with the support of the Colombian army. Their aim was the eradication of thousands of some of the world’s poorest people in order to make room for construction of the expanding port. The violence has only worsened since the trade agreement went into effect. It also compounded the already accelerating land grab by Big Agra and mining interests—which is pretty much the entire point of the exercise in the first place (the country is also oil-rich). A U.S. House of Representatives report has since noted:

“[w]hile Buenaventura is a strategic hub for international commerce, the riches of this growing global economy fomented by the U.S.-Colombia [Free Trade Agreement] mainly pass through Buenaventura and do not integrate or benefit the local Afro-Colombian population…[s]ixty-three percent of Buenaventura’s residents who are Afro-Colombian live under the poverty line, and unemployment is 64 percent.”

With nearly 5 million internally displaced people (and growing), Colombia is now the number one country in the world for internal displacements. Indigenous people and Afro-Colombians are disproportionately victims. A prominent human rights advocate in the region wrote to the U.S. embassador, calling the situation in Buenaventura a “permanent genocide”:

…where the neighborhoods and the Community Councils around the port are being invaded by paramilitaries supported or tolerated by the armed forces. They cut people in pieces with horrifying cruelty throwing the body parts in to the sea, if any of them dare to resist the megaproject for the new port. This included the expulsion of people living in the poorest areas and it includes the expropriation of the plots of garbage dumps where these people, in the midst of their misery, have over decades tried to survive.

Of course Buenaventura is just one city, in one country, where the U.S. government and those it serves are having their way. Nick Alexandrov writes of a Guatemalan peasant woman who in 1984 explained to author-activist Kevin Danaher exactly what’s up. He was visiting her country “shortly after School of the Americas alumnus Ríos Montt had completed his genocidal tear through the countryside.”

The woman, Danaher writes, “told us that soldiers had come to her home one night and hacked her husband to death, right in front of her and her three children;” the man “was a subversive,” in the military’s eyes, “because he was helping other peasants learn how to raise rabbits as a source of food and money.” Danaher struggled to understand the connection between this effort at self-sufficiency, and the brutal end its advocate met. “Look,” the widow explained, “the plantations down along the coast that grow export crops are owned by generals and rich men who control the government. A big part of their profit comes from the fact that we peasants are so poor we are forced to migrate to the plantations each year and work for miserable wages in order to survive.”  Were she and other Guatemalan peasants to become self-reliant, they “would never work on the plantations again”—an indication of the severe threat rabbit-raising posed.

This woman’s remarks indicated who Washington’s real enemy was in Guatemala, and throughout the world. The U.S. government was not opposed merely to “Communists,” real or imagined, during the Cold War, and in Colombia its policies have helped ruin—or end—the lives of millions of destitute individuals.

All of which is to say that American citizens are beyond redemption to the extent they believe that either the U.S. government or those on whose behalf it operates give one single flying fuck about democracy or human rights anywhere in the world—including here.

Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate. –Bertrand Russell

So in short—and as usual—FUCK YOU, CONSERVATIVES.

palacefuckyouEveryone else: have a nice day.

palacehappyface