Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/

Shock Horror! Private Eye Gives Good Review to Book Attacking Transgender Craze for Children

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/01/2021 - 11:21pm in

This is actually great. I like Private Eye, but I also have grave criticisms of it. Such as the way it wholeheartedly backed the demonisation of Jeremy Corbyn and the anti-Semitism smears, and which it’s still doing to a certain extent. But this time I think they’ve done something genuinely good. They’ve given a good, appreciative review to Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage. Shrier is one of a growing number of medical professionals, feminist activists and ordinary peeps, who are deeply concerned about the march of trans rights and its excesses. Many of them, such as J.K. Rowling, Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, Sheila Jeffries and their male supporters, like former Father Ted writer and comedy legend Graham Linehan, believe that transwomen really aren’t, and can never be, women, and that the acceptance of them as such has grave and detrimental implications for women’s safety and the nature of femininity itself. They are also concerned about the massive increase in children, and especially girls, who are being diagnosed as transgender. They are concerned that this is a profound mistake, and that the reality is that deeply psychological disturbed, vulnerable girls are being influenced and manipulated into believing that they are really boys trapped in the wrong body. This is leading them to possibly unnecessary, life-changing surgery which will leave them infertile and with a range of other, serious medical problems. Shrier and another American researcher, Dr. Debra Soh, share these concerns, though are supportive of older transsexuals.

Unfortunately, the trans lobby, of which gay activist group Stonewall is now a part, are determined to silence any criticism of transpeople and the whole issue of gender reassignment, no matter how polite and well supported by the scientific and medical evidence. Such critics have been reviled as ‘Terfs’ – Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists. The Irish gender critical group, The Countess Didn’t Fight For This, have also been called ‘Tans’ – presumably a reference to the Black and Tans, the British military auxiliaries, who committed horrendous atrocities during the Irish Revolution, and even ‘British'(!). This is despite the fact that their name refers to the Countess Moskovitz, an Anglo-Irish aristocrat who became a socialist, feminist and Irish patriot, serving as a general during the Revolution. Over on this side of the Irish Sea, Rowling was accused of wanting to murder transpeople simply because she said she didn’t believe they were women. The rest of her message was actually very supportive of them. She told them they should dress how they liked, have sex with whoever would have them and live the best life they could – hardly a vicious condemnation. But to the militant trans activists, her refusal to accept them as women meant she had a deep loathing for them and really did wish them harm. They reacted with abuse and have tried to silence her, as they have similar critics.

It’s in this context that Private Eye published its supportive review of Shrier’s book. It’s in the literary column of this fortnight’s issue for 22 January – 4th February 2021. Entitled ‘Agenda Wars’, it runs

Thalidomide for morning sickness. Transorbital lobotomies – an icepick to the eye socket – for unruly psychiatric patients. Agonising vaginal meshes for the incontinent. The history of medicine is littered with confidently prescribed treatments that had terrible side-effects.

According to Abigail Shrier, an American journalist, the pattern is repeating itself with the puberty blockers and testosterone given to teenage girls who declare themselves to be transgender. Yet her bestselling book, Irreversible Damage has been subjected to the liberal version of a fatwa: there were calls to ban or burn it, and it has not been reviewed by the Guardian or the New York Times.

Crack it open, then, and let the wrongthink begin! Except this book has nothing in common with Mein Kampf apart from the idea of a struggle. It is a folksy, anecdotal tour of a well-evidenced phenomenon: in the decade to 2018, the number of female teenagers seeking help from gender clinics in the UK rose by 4,400 per cent. The statistics are similar in other countries.

We know that today’s teenage girls report high rates of anxiety, that they spend hours online, and that, compared with previous generations, fewer drink or get pregnant. So where to these isolated, stressed, straightlaced kids channel their anguish? Shrier’s answer is that they come out as trans. Then, egged on by adult activists and even their schools, they see any parental scepticism – “you’re 14, Flora, perhaps it’s a phase” – as evidence of transphobic bigotry.

Until recently, “transexuality” largely meant people born male who wanted to have surgery and live as women. As a psychological condition, being trans could happen to anyone, regardless of their personal politics. Kellie Maloney was a Ukip candidate and Caitlyn Jenner was a life-long Republican. But its links with fetishism made this model of transness seem grubby; too many women had found lingerie in their house and discovered their husband was having an affair with himself. So left-wing activists, inspired by the gay movement’s successful “born this way” rhetoric, championed the idea of “gender identity”, an inner sense of self. Being trans was now nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with living your life. Happily for commercial medicine in the US, surgery and hormones could help with that.

Shrier is very clear that adult transition, which she supports, is very different from “rapid onset gender dysphoria”(ROGD) among teenagers. It is an important distinction: trans adults should be entitled to free, safe, empathetic medical care. (In 1972, Jan Morris had to have her surgery in Morocco.) There are also a handful of children whose gender distress is “insistent, consistent and persistent”.

But girls with ROGD are a distinct group. The tend to announce their transness suddenly, along with others in their peer group, and regurgitate the language of forums where being non-binary or something more exotic (lumigender, anyone?) brings great social cachet. They are anxious and unhappy: they don’t want to be degraded like the “teen sluts ” on Pornhub and they can’t imagine being as flawlessly feminine as an Instagram influencer. The answer to these feelings used to be feminism. Now it’s gender identity: they’re not like the other girls, because they’re not girls at all. Shrier argues that ROGD is closer to anorexia than to, say, being a goth – and we don’t treat eating disorders with liposuction.

In Britain the tide is turning against the snap diagnosis of unhappy girls as happy-boys-in-waiting. An English court ruled that under-16s are unlikely to be able to give informed consent to puberty blockers, since these drugs almost always lead to cross-sex hormones (and therefore infertility and impaired sexual function). Fox-bothering QC Jolyon Maugham is trying to get this overturned, but the ruling has emboldened activists – who have faced threats, harassment and career penalties – to demand evidence for the frequent claim that teenage transition “saves lives”. So far, England’s only child gender clinic, the Tavistock, has been unable to produce such evidence.

What comes across from Shrier’s book is the real unhappiness of too many teenage girls – and the mix of groupthink and arrogance which suggests that the answer must be today’s equivalent of an icepick to the eye socket.

Critics of ROGD have also pointed out that, if left to themselves, 80 per cent of child transgender cases sort themselves out naturally. The child becomes a normal member of his or her natural sex. But almost all children put on puberty blockers go on to have surgery. If that’s the case, then the majority of such kids are being horribly mutilated, primarily for ideological rather than medical reasons.

Furthermore, despite the liberal rejection of critics of the transgender movement, not all such critics are Conservatives. Kellie-Jay Keen and Graham Linehan are people of the left, as is the female Guardian journo who found herself sacked from the newspaper for not following the pro-trans line. They appear in right-wing media because it’s only these media that’s giving them space to air their views and concerns. That has to change.

I don’t wish to spread hate against transgender people, or see them suffer abuse or assault. But there is another side to this argument, and in my view that side is thoroughly based on scientific and medical fact and motivated by deep moral concerns. From what I’ve seen, the intolerance, including violent assault as well as abuse, comes from the trans side. I hope therefore more books like this will be published and people are made aware that there is also another view, which needs to be seriously considered.

For those wishing to see more from Abigail Shrier, She’s been interviewed on YouTube by Graham Linehan and Kellie-Jay Keen.

Shrier’s Interview with Keen is at

Abigail Shrier – Irreversible Damage. The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters – YouTube

Her interview with Graham ‘Glinner’ Linehan is at

A chat with Abigail Shrier – YouTube

She’s also been on the Joe Rogan Experience, which can be seen at

Abigail Shrier on the Transgender Craze Amongst Teenage Girls – YouTube

BBC Documentaries Next Week on the History and Prejudice against the Disabled

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 10:19pm in

Next week the Beeb is showing two programmes, one on the history of disabled people and the other on the prejudice, discrimination and cruelty they experience. The first of these programmes is Silenced: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain, on BBC 2 on Tuesday, 19th January 2021, at 9.00 pm. The blurb for it on page 88 of the Radio Times runs

Writer, actor and presenter Cerrie Burnell tells the story of how disabled people have had to fight back following more than 100 years of being shut out of society, denied basic human rights and treated with fear and prejudice. The former CBeebies host, who was born without the lower part of her right arm, discovers how modern attitudes to disabled people were formed in Victorian Britain’s workhouses, and hears stories from the brave pioneers who have changed the lives of those affected forever.

There’s a bit more about the programme by Alison Graham on page 86:

Cerrie Burnell, who was born without the lower part of her right arm, reads from a newspaper story about parents’ complaints when she became a CBeebies presenter in 2009. She was, apparently, “scaring children” and will always be remembered as “the woman with one arm”.

Burnell carries that quiet anger throughout this powerful film looking at society’s treatment of disabled people throughout history.

It’s a litany of casual cruelty, misguided “kindness” and downright wickedness, as men, women and children were put, out of sight and often for decades, in institutions.

The following day, Wednesday 20th January 2021, there’s Targeted: the Truth about Disability Hate Crime, on the same channel, BBC 2, also at 9.00 pm. The blurb for this in the Radio Times on page 98. runs

Testimony from a handful of the nation’s 14 million disabled people reveals just how tough it is to live with a disability in 21st century Britain. Among those telling their stories are Hannah, a young mixed-race woman who has cerebral palsy and is clear about the fact that it is her disability, not her skin colour, that provokes discrimination. Andrea, who has dwarfism, says she is routinely treated with contempt and reveals how she was left with a fractured skull and being kicked in the head. Dan, who has autism and just wants to fit in, finds himself a social outcast and now suffers from severe depression having fallen prey to random violent attacks.

Radio 4 has also been running a ten part series on the history of the disabled for several weeks now, Disability: A New History. The 5th instalment, which is on next Sunday, 17th January 2021 at 2.45 pm, is entitled ‘Finding a Voice’. The blurb for it says

‘Peter White highlights the work of William Hay, an 18th-century MP born with spinal curvature.’

I’m mentioning these programmes, especially that on hate crime, because the Tories and New Labour have both been determined to demonise disabled people and find ways to throw them off benefits. The work capability examinations, devised in conjunction with American insurance fraudster Unum, are based on the assumption that a particular percentage of claims for disability are fake and that those making the claim are malingering. This has seen jobcentres falsify the evidence given by claimants in order to fulfil the number of claimants they are required to deny benefits. As for the violence experienced by the disabled, a friend of mine told me he had been abused several times while out with his wife, who had to use a wheelchair. He blamed one of the characters on Little Britain for the rise in prejudice. This was the disabled character, who gets up from his wheelchair to run around when his carer leaves him. I’m no fan of Little Britain, but I think a far greater cause of prejudice and hostility is the Tory. This consistently vilifies the disabled and other benefit claimants as scroungers and malingers, to the extent that the British public think 27 per cent of all claims for benefit are fraudulent, while the true figure is less than one per cent. Mike over at Vox Political has put up very many posts covering this topic, as well as the numerous deaths of people with severe disabilities, who were wrongfully and grotesquely thrown off the benefits they needed to survive. I hope this will also be covered in the documentaries. But as it’s the Beeb, it probably won’t.

#1522; In which a Backstory is established

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 21/12/2020 - 7:14pm in


comic, Children


Why the World Hates America and the West: We Bomb, Kill and Wreck their Countries

One of the issues William Blum repeatedly tackled in his books about the crimes of American imperialism was the complete failure of the American political establishment and the general public to understand why their country is so hated by the rest of the world. He produces quote after quote from American politicians, civil servants and senior military officers declaring that America has America’s actions have always been for the good of those nations they’ve attacked, whose politicians they’ve overthrown or assassinated and whose economies they’ve destroyed and plundered. In their opinion, it has always been done by a disinterested America for the benefit of other nations. America has been defending freedom from tyranny and trying to rebuild their economies through free trade capitalism. And American forces have never been responsible for the deliberate targeting of civilians and have been concerned to rebuild the countries afterwards.

Again and again Blum shows that this is all lies. America has overthrown and interfered with democratically elected regimes as well as dictatorships. It has installed vicious fascist dictators, mass murderers and torturers in their place. It has stolen countries’ industries so that they could be acquired by American multinationals. It has hypocritically deliberately targeted civilians, even while denouncing its enemies for doing so. And while it has signed contracts obliging it to pay compensation to the nations it has attacked, like Vietnam and Serbia, these treaties have never been honoured.

But the American state and public have absolutely no idea why America is so hated and resented, particularly in the Muslim world. They’ve set up think tanks to try to work out why this is, and hired public relations companies to find ways of persuading the rest of the world why America is a force for good. In their view, this hatred is due not to America’s vicious imperialism per se, but simply to their mistaken views of it. In 2005 the Smirking Chimp, George W. Bush, sent his Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy on a tour of the Middle East to correct these mistaken impressions. She did not have an easy time of it, particularly in Turkey, where they told her where the people of that country made their views very clear. She told the crowd that sometimes to preserve the peace, America believed war was necessary, and repeated the lie that after the fall of Saddam Hussein, women were being better treated in Iraq. She got angry replies from the women present, to which she responded that this was just a PR problem, just like America had in other places around the world. The Arab News, the leading English-language newspaper of the Arab world, described her performance as ‘Painfully clueless’.

See: America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy, p. 29.

But some sections of the American political and military establishment have a far better idea of the cause of this hatred. In 1997 a study by the Department of Defense concluded that ‘Historical data show a strong correlation between US involvement in in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States’.

And former President Jimmy Carter also realised that American military action in Lebanon and the consequent killing of Lebanese civilians had cause the people to hate America. He told the New York Times in an interview in 1989 that

We sent Marines into Lebanon and you only have to go to Lebanon, to Syria or to Jordan to witness first-hand the immense hatred among many people for the United States because we bombed and shelled and unmercifully killed totally innocent villagers – women and children and farmers and housewives – in those villages around Beirut…. As a result of that… we became kind of Satan in the minds of those who are deeply resentful. That is what precipitated the taking of our hostages and that is what has precipitated some of the terrorist attacks.

See Blum’s Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, pp. 34-5.

General Colin Powell in his memoir discusses the American military actions in Lebanon in 1983. Instead of blaming the terrorist attacks subsequently launched against America on Muslim hatred of western democracy and liberty, he recognised that they were only acting as America would if it were attacked.

‘The U.S.S. New Jersey started hurling 16-nch shells into the mountains above Beirut, in World War II style, as if we were softening up the beaches on some Pacific atoll prior to an invasion. What we tend to overlook in such situations is that other people will react much as we would.’ (p. 35).

A 2004 poll by Zogby International of public opinion in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates came to the following conclusion, as reported in the New York Times:

Those polled said their opinions were shaped by U.S. policies, rather than by values or culture. When asked: ‘What is the first thought when you hard “America?” respondents overwhelmingly said: ‘Unfair foreign policy’. And when asked what the United states could do to improve its image in the Arab world, the most frequently provided answers were ‘stop supporting Israel’ and ‘Change your Middle East policy’…. Most Arabs polled said they believe that the Iraq war has caused more terrorism and brought about less democracy, and that the Iraqi people are far worse off today than they were while living under Hussein’s rule. The majority also said that they believe the United States invaded Iraq for oil, to protect Israel and to weaken the Muslim world. (pp. 37-8).

Which is more or less true, as Greg Palast has also shown in his book, Armed Madhouse.

The Defense Sciences Board, which advises the Pentagon, partly confirmed these findings in a report published in November 2004:

“Today we reflexively compare Muslim ‘masses’ to those oppressed under Soviet Rule. This is a strategic mistake. There is no yearning-to-be-liberated-by-the-U.S. groundswell among Muslim societies-except to be liberated perhaps from what they see as apostate tyrannies that the U.S. so determinedly promotes and defends…. Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather they hate our policies…when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy…. [Muslims believe] American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering.” (p. 38).

Unfortunately, our government and public opinion shares the same attitude as the American imperialists. This was shown by the full backing of the Iraq invasion and, indeed, the whole neo-Conservative foreign policy by the unindicted war criminal, Tony Blair and the propaganda of the lamestream British media. If you believe Daily Mail hack, Melanie ‘Mad Mel’ Philips, the cause of these attacks is simply Islam. It isn’t. It’s western foreign policy in the Middle East.

If we really want to do something to stop the terrorist attacks on our countries, we could start by stopping bombing, invading and looting other countries around the world, particularly in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, even with the accession of Biden to the presidency, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Petition to Stop Rishi Sunak Cutting Universal Credit

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/11/2020 - 6:22am in

Here’s another email I received from Labour Against Austerity promoting a petition. This time it’s to stop the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, cutting Universal Credit by £20.

PETITION: Boris Johnson & Rishi Sunak – Don’t cut Universal Credit
Add your name here // Share here on Facebook // Retweet here

“The Government must not go ahead with plans for Universal Credit to be cut back down by £20 in April.

Poverty – including child poverty – is rising during this pandemic and this callous cut will make this situation even worse.

We need a war on poverty not a war on the poorest.”

Add your name here // Share here on Facebook // Retweet here

I’ve signed it, because I strongly believe that Universal Credit is at starvation level as it is, and to cut it back down will cause massive hardship. No more families should be forced to use food banks. If you feel the same, please do sign it.

Who Is Disfigured by a Cleft Lip?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 10/11/2020 - 11:00pm in

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons When my mother was pregnant with my youngest sister, she went to consult a cleft jaw...

Read More

Colorado’s New Family Leave Law Could Transform Fatherhood

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 10/11/2020 - 2:56am in

In last week’s U.S. presidential election, voters in states across the country approved an array of ballot initiatives. Among them was Proposition 118, which guarantees residents of Colorado the right to three months of paid family leave. It’s a right that comes standard in Iceland, where it’s common for fathers to take several months off work when their kids are born.

This norm has had far reaching effects in Iceland — not just for men, but for Icelandic society as a whole, which enjoys some of the highest rates of gender equality in the world. In this excerpt from Solved! How Other Countries Have Cracked the World’s Biggest Problems and We Can Too, author Andrew Wear examines how paid parental leave for both moms and dads in Iceland has paid off.

“This is probably the most important time to bond with a kid. Why not take the chance to be with your child when they’re just becoming an individual?”

Sigurður Bragason is outlining his approach to parenting. Sigurður, who is Icelandic, and his Swiss wife, Dr Nicole Keller, have two young children: Felix, six, and Miriam, three. They are speaking to me via Skype from their kitchen in Iceland with their kids on — and off — their knees.

When each of their children was born, both parents took extended parental leave. Nicole returned to work six months after the birth of Felix and eleven months after the birth of Miriam, and each time Sigurður took six months. Both now work — Sigurður full-time as a graphic designer and Nicole four days per week at the Environment Agency. Sigurður explains how things work in their family. “We divide the parenting quite equally. It’s not like one of us is taking care of everything.”

icelandReykjavik, Iceland. Credit: Chris Yunker / Flickr

In Iceland, it is normal for fathers to take extended parental leave, although six months is less typical. “Most men I know have taken three months,” says Nicole. As a consequence of this early time with their children, fathers tend to be extremely involved in parenting. 

The Icelandic government provides each parent with three months of non-transferrable leave at 80 percent of their salary (up to a ceiling). This leave must be taken within 18 months of the child’s birth. Parents also have a joint right to an additional three months that can be used by one parent or divided between them. So Icelandic parents face a “use it or lose it” situation. 

While the flexible component of parental leave is mostly used by mothers, about 80 percent of fathers take at least three months of paternity leave to care for their children as infants. Paid paternity leave is just one of a host of measures that have helped Iceland to address historical gender-based inequalities in the areas of education, health, employment and political representation.

With the world’s smallest gender gap, Iceland has topped the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index for 11 years running, and The Economist ranks Iceland as the best place in the world to be a working woman. Iceland’s experience shows us that with organized and persistent community campaigning and a government prepared to legislate protest demands into practice, we can move much closer to a world in which the gender gap is eliminated. 

A strike for women’s rights

Iceland has a long history as a seafaring nation, which meant the men were often at sea for extended periods. Women were farmers, hunters, or builders and managed the household finances. Like many maritime nations, Iceland’s ability to prosper was underpinned by its women.

In 1850, Iceland became the first country in the world to grant equal inheritance rights to men and women. The Icelandic Women’s Association was established in 1894, and the struggle for women’s suffrage grew to become a powerful movement.

Yet by the 1970s, Iceland was no longer leading the way on equality. Women earned at least 40 percent less than men, and there were just three female members of parliament, five percent of total parliamentarians.

The Red Stockings, a radical women’s movement, proposed action. Their plan to strike felt too confrontational for some citizens, but when the protest was renamed the Women’s Day Off, it achieved near-universal support, including backing from influential unions.

On October 24, 1975, 90 percent of Iceland’s female population went on strike, refusing to work, cook or look after children for the day, demonstrating the “indispensable work” women did for the nation’s economy. Schools, childcare centers and businesses were closed for the day. No newspapers were printed, as most typesetters were female. Flights were cancelled as flight attendants did not come to work.

More than 40 years later, Icelandic women are still taking to the streets to agitate for equality. They have gone on strike five times since 1975: in 1985, 2005, 2010, 2016 and 2018. At the 2018 Women’s Day Off, women walked out at 2.55 p.m., in protest over the fact that Icelandic women earn 74 percent of men’s income on average and have therefore “earned their wages after only five hours and 55 minutes.”

Partly due to its history of feminist activism, Iceland now tops the world on measures of political empowerment. In the Global Gender Gap Index, no other country comes close. Iceland has closed 70 percent of the gap between men and women, while the second-ranked country, Norway, has closed only 60 percent. The United Kingdom (40 percent), Australia (23 percent) and the United States (16 percent) are a long way down the list.

Putting parenthood first

In 2000, Iceland’s parental leave legislation came into effect, giving parents a total of nine months of leave, including three months for each parent. Both parents are entitled to this leave regardless of gender, custody arrangements, or size or shape of family. The full nine months can be allocated to one parent in special circumstances, such as serious illness or when one parent is serving a prison sentence. Since the law’s introduction, about 80 percent of fathers have taken paternity leave to care for their children as infants. In 2013, fathers took an average of 87 days of leave after the birth of their child.

Take a moment to reflect on what this means. Almost every male truck driver, lawyer or construction worker spends months out of the workplace to care for their child while their partner returns to work. Picture these men en masse, pushing prams at the playground or changing nappies at home. Think about what this means for how their families function.

Fathers’ participation in caregiving is essential to ensure that mothers can remain and advance in the workforce. Research into Icelandic paternity leave arrangements has shown that it has led to greater involvement of fathers in child-rearing and women returning to work faster — and returning to their pre-childbirth hours faster too. Furthermore, parenting behavior established at childbirth tends to persist as children age.

This in turn shapes children’s experience of gender, says Frida Rós Valdimarsdóttir, chair of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association. “Those measures are so important. You can see changes in the society.”

Discussion in Iceland has been focused on extending paid parental leave still further. In 2019, the Icelandic parliament enacted legislation to extend paid parental leave to an impressive 12 months. From 2020, each parent will be given five months of leave, with the remaining two months to share between them.

Returning to work after having children is made easier in Iceland by a workplace culture that supports flexible approaches to parenting. “Our work supports parenting,” Sigurður says. “If I tell people I need to take care of a sick child, or I need to go to the kindergarten because there’s a festival there, they’re super supportive. They just say, ‘Yes, go for it.’”

Government in Iceland plays a critical role in supporting parents through heavily subsidized childcare. In Reykjavík, a married couple would typically pay about US$215 per month for eight hours of childcare a day (that includes food), while a single parent would only pay US$145.45 

Access to affordable childcare is fundamental to achieving gender equality as it helps parents return to work when children are young. In a survey of 23 OECD countries, more-accessible childcare was the most commonly cited way of removing barriers to female workforce participation.

Perhaps due to these measures, Icelandic women participate in the workforce at almost the same rate as men. The workforce participation rate is 86 percent for women and 92 percent for men. This rate for women is among the highest in the world, far higher than countries such as Australia (72 percent), Canada (74 percent), the United Kingdom (72 percent) or the United States (66 percent). Iceland has also managed to smash the stereotype of women in STEM careers. While women are underrepresented in STEM careers globally, in Iceland men are now a minority in these disciplines — some 56 percent of “professional and technical workers” are now women, the highest rate in the world.

It’s clear that gender equality at work is only possible if there is also equality at home. Given the huge share of unpaid domestic work that women have historically undertaken, equal pay and greater female workforce participation is unlikely to be possible unless men spend more time at home. Hence, Iceland — through a comprehensive and well-planned paid paternity leave scheme — has intervened to encourage fathers to establish a new relationship between work and parenting.

It’s important that they do. The evidence suggests that children of highly involved fathers develop better cognitive abilities, perform better at school, are more resilient and have enhanced social relations. Positive co-parenting relationships also provide a model of the types of skills that children can use in their own relationships. Mothers benefit from highly involved fathers too. While extended paternity leave allows women to return to work more quickly, involved fathers also lead to mothers experiencing a greater sense of wellbeing and lower rates of post-natal depression. 

Reflecting on their experience of parenting in Iceland, Sigurður and Nicole both emphasize the importance of early connections. 

“Children are developing most in the early years of life, and being able to connect during that time is priceless,” says Sigurður. “I hope more fathers will have a chance to build a strong relationship with their children.”

The post Colorado’s New Family Leave Law Could Transform Fatherhood appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Book at Lunchtime: Iconoclasm as Child's Play

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 09/11/2020 - 5:24pm in

Dr Joseph Moshenska, Associate Professor and Tutorial Fellow at University College, discusses his new book, Iconoclasm as Child's Play. Drawing on a range of sixteenth-century artifacts, artworks, and texts, as well as on ancient and modern theories of iconoclasm and of play, Iconoclasm As Child's Play argues that the desire to shape and interpret the playing of children is an important cultural force. Formerly holy objects may have been handed over with an intent to debase them, but play has a tendency to create new meanings and stories that take on a life of their own.

Joe Moshenska shows that this form of iconoclasm is not only a fascinating phenomenon in its own right; it has the potential to alter our understandings of the threshold between the religious and the secular, the forms and functions of play, and the nature of historical transformation and continuity.

Panel includes: Dr Joseph Moshenska is Associate Professor and Tutorial Fellow at University College. Joe grew up in Brighton, and as an undergraduate he read English at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. After graduating he went to Princeton, initially for a year as the Eliza Jane Procter Visiting Fellow, and stayed there to complete his PhD. From 2010 to 2018 he was a Fellow and Director of Studies in English at Trinity College, Cambridge. Joe joined the Oxford Faculty in 2018. In 2019 he was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize. Professor Lorna Hutson is the Merton Professor of English Literature and Director of the Centre for Early Modern Studies. She was educated in San Francisco, Edinburgh and Oxford and has repeated that pattern in her career, having taught at Berkeley, St Andrews and now Oxford. Professor Hutson is a Fellow of the British Academy and works on English Renaissance literature. She has written on usury and literature, on women’s writing and the representation of women, on poetics and forensic rhetoric and, most recently, on the geopolitics of England’s ‘insular imagining’ in the sixteenth century.” Professor Alexandra Walsham is Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge. She currently serves as Chair of the Faculty of History. She was an undergraduate and Masters student at the University of Melbourne before coming to Trinity College, Cambridge, for her PhD. After a Research Fellowship at Emmanuel College, she taught at the University of Exeter for fourteen years before returning to Cambridge in 2010. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2009 and of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2013. She was appointed a CBE for services to History in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2017. Professor Kenneth Gross is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Rochester. His critical writing ranges from Renaissance literature, especially Shakespeare, to modern poetry, theater, and the visual arts. His books include The Dream of the Moving Statue, Shakespeare’s Noise, Shylock is Shakespeare, and most recently Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life, winner of the 2012 George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. He’s also the editor of John Hollander’s 1999 Clark Lectures at Cambridge, The Substance of Shadow: A Darkening Trope in Poetic History. Gross has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Bellagio Study Center, the Princeton Humanities Center, and the American Academy in Berlin. Gross has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Bellagio Study Center, the Princeton Humanities Center, and the American Academy in Berlin.

Professor Matthew Bevis is Professor of English Literature and Tutorial Fellow at Keble College. He is the author of The Art of Eloquence, Comedy: A Very Short Introduction, and, most recently, Wordsworth’s Fun (Chicago University Press, 2019). His recent essays have appeared in the London Review of Books, Harper's, Poetry, and The New York Review of Books. He’s currently working on Knowing Edward Lear for Oxford University Press, and a book On Wonder for Harvard University Press.

‘I’ Article on Revelations about Police Unit Set Up to Infiltrate Protest Groups

Tuesday’s I, for 3rd November 2020, also carried a story by Margaret Davis, ‘Secretive police unit ‘infiltrated a range of groups’, about information about the Special Demonstration Squad and its activities that has come out in the Undercover Policing Inquiry. The article runs

A shadowy and controversial Metropolitan Police unit was originally set up amid protests over the Vietnam War in the late 60s, a public inquiry has been told.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry, which has cost £30m so far, began hearing evidence yesterday about undercover policing in England and Wales between 1968 and 2008.

The counsel to the inquiry, David Barr QC, said that the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) was set up because there were official concerns that public anger over the conflict and unrest in Europe, particularly in Paris, signalled that far-left groups in England and Wales were planning disorder in the UK.

It has emerged that for decades undercover police officers infiltrated a significant number of political and other activist groups, in deployments which typically lasted for years.

“The information reported by these undercover police officers was extensive. It covered the activities of the groups and their members. It also extended to the groups and individuals with whom they came into contact, including elected representatives.

“Groups mainly on the far left but also the far right of the political spectrum were infiltrated, as well as groups campaigning for social, environmental or other change.”

The-then home secretary, Theresa May, set up the inquiry in 2015 after widespread condemnation of the tactics used by secret units. “The inquiry will be seeking out the truth,” Mr Barr said. “Publicly wherever that is possible, so the full facts become known and appropriate recommendations can be made for the future conduct of undercover policing.”

Some of the methods employed included using names of dead children as undercover identities without their families’ consent.

A number of women, including at least one who had a child with an undercover officer, were deceived into sexual relationships.

Initially the SDS, also known as the Special Operations Squad and nicknamed “the Hairies” because of undercover officers’ hippie appearance, targeted only far-left groups and those associated with Irish civil rights campaigns.

Now it was quite right for the state to set up groups to infiltrate some of these groups. The late 60s were the time when the Weathermen were blowing up things across America and in Europe there were radical, ‘Maoist’ Marxist organisations also committing terrorist outrages. I still remember the Bader-Meinhof Gang in the 1970s in Germany. Over here, apart from the IRA and other Northern Irish terrorist groups, there were other, smaller groups that were taking up violence. One of these was the Angry Brigade, who blew the door off the house of a Tory MP with a bomb. Although no-one was fortunately killed, they were arrested before they could go further. The One Show a few years ago had an item on them and their bombing campaign, and in the opinion of one of the cops interviewed on the programme, they would have gone on to kill people.

The problem isn’t that the cops infiltrated and disrupted genuinely extremist, violent groups but that they also infiltrated other, mainstream left-wing organisations in order to destroy them and smear their members. And as the scandal over the wretched Institute for Statecraft and the Democracy Initiative shows, the British state is still determined to smear the left, and recent Tory legislation trying to define what is a subversive group includes even some of the most innocuous organisations.

The SDS and similar organisations are out of control and a real threat to democratic left-wing politics and organisations, and they’ve been seeking to disrupt and undermine them for a very long time. It will be very interesting to see what else comes out about this branch of Met during this inquiry.

Momentum’s Stand With Corbyn Rally

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 31/10/2020 - 9:17pm in

Yesterday Momentum held an online rally to support Jeremy Corbyn on YouTube. The speakers included Diane Abbott, Jess Barnard, Howard Beckett, Sonali Bhattacharyya, Rivkah Brown, Richard Burgon, Deborah Hermanns, John McDonnell, Roger McKenzie, Barnaby Raine, Chardine Taylor Stone, and Jon Trickett.

They paid tribute to Jeremy Corbyn’s tireless work opposing racism, which some of the speakers had personally experienced. Jon Trickett is Jewish through his mother’s side, and suffered anti-Semitic abuse recently from a real Nazi. They acknowledged that there was a problem with racism and anti-Semitism in the Labour party and society, and felt that it was growing, and needed to be fought. They also attacked the Conservatives for their continued attacks on working people.

Some speakers made it extremely clear that the anti-Semitism smears against Corbyn weren’t actually motivated by any concern about real Jew hatred, but were instead an attempt to stop the emergence of a genuine socialist Labour party. This was shown in a Torygraph article that day calling for Starmer to purge the party completely of Corbynism. They made the point that what frightens the Tories and their supporters is that Labour has a membership of 500,000. The Labour party isn’t the leadership, it isn’t MPs, it’s the members. They also pointed out that Corbyn’s problem was that no socialist could become a Labour MP during Blair and Brown’s tenure of power, and so the parliamentary MPs from this time, who have only been MPs for a few years, are naturally opposed to the Labour leader.

They described how immensely popular Jeremy Corbyn and his policies were. One of the speakers told how the manifesto was clapped and cheered by everyone at one Labour rally or conference. This was astonishing, as it wasn’t a person, but a manifesto. One northern MP also described how, when Corbyn came to speak in a small northern pit town, the rally was packed with a thousand extra people, who had walked there. He believed Corbyn was more popular than Arthur Scargill.

They acknowledged that it was going to be a struggle to recover from this crisis and get back into government. But it was never easy, and the press and media will always be opposed to Labour. It’s not called ‘the struggle’ for nothing. Nevertheless, they urged their audience to remain in the Labour Party and join Momentum to create a united left that can fight and win. And they had other demands for the reform of society and the removal of the Tory policies that are harming and killing the British people. One of the MPs condemned the way the Tories could find billions for their cronies in industry, such as giving money for a test and trace system, that doesn’t work, but couldn’t find the paltry amount for free school meals for starving children.

It was an inspiring rally uniting Blacks, Whites, Asians, Jews and gentiles in support of an inspiring Labour leader. A leader who was brought down by conspirators in his own party, and who still now terrifies the right-wing political establishment. A great politician, who should never have been suspended and deserves to be back in the Labour party.

Here’s the video: