Julian Assange and the Femocracy, by Gavin Lewis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/09/2019 - 5:27pm in

On 25 November 2018 former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard appeared on the BBC global news channel’s 100 Women series. On the show’s website, Gillard was described as having ‘used her experience to help advance women and girls around the world through the promotion of education and leadership’. Obviously the women she’d ‘helped’ didn’t include the refugees she attempted to dump on Malaysia, or those refugee women and children imprisoned in the internment camps Gillard had re-opened on Manus Island and Nauru. In a similar vein, John Pilger notes ‘the views…gathered from remarkable, despairing, eloquent Indigenous women of Gillard and her “feminism” are mostly unknown or ignored or dismissed in this country’, reflecting the fact that, under Gillard’s regime, Indigenous youth incarceration occurred ‘at five times the rate of black South Africans during the apartheid era’. And this is only part of the picture. Gillard’s government also cut benefits to single parents, predominantly hurting working-class single mothers. In this respect Gillard’s rise to PM was as much a positive impact on women’s structural marginalisation as Barack Obama’s ‘Oh dear me’ performative hand wringing in relation to America’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ human rights crisis was on racism.

In Britain the equivalent to Gillard has been the former deputy leader of the Labour Party and similarly self-proclaimed feminist Harriet Harman. Harman voted for the Iraq War, for further air strikes in Iraq in 2014, for air strikes on Syrian territory and for a no fly-zone over Libya that ultimately led to Hillary Clinton’s brutal conquest of the country—Clinton, like Harman, describes/markets herself as a feminist. It scarcely needs to be said, and in contrast to Harman’s/Clinton’s politics, that central to feminist debates has been a mixed peace activist/academic tradition—including early figures like Jane Adams, Ruth Adler, Vera Brittain and Betty Reardon through organisations like Women Strike for Peace (WSP) and current activists like Medea Benjamin—that has been in existence almost as long as there has been militarism and imperialism.

Harman, like Gillard, presided over cuts to the lone-parent benefit, again adversely affecting working-class women. Even within the corporate media, Peter Kosminsky’s BBC Drama department production The Project (2002) situated the Harman benefit-cut announcement as the climactic moment when Labour’s traditional support realised they had been betrayed by neoliberal entryism. This attack on benefits for lone mothers flew in the face of feminist traditions. The issue of support for women in society—particularly for their unpaid work—has been central since before the International Wages for Housework campaigns of the early 1970s, initiated by such feminist figures as Mariarosa Dalla Costa, Silvia Federici, Brigitte Galtier and Selma James. This has subsequently broadened into a campaign that demands economic recognition of women’s disproportionate unpaid labour as society’s carers that is free from means testing. Consequently, the Wages for Housework movement has provided the foundation for subsequent global Guaranteed Minimum Income campaigns. Contrary to the debates stimulated by this feminist egalitarian tradition, thanks to ‘feminists’ like Harman, Britain now gives more economic support to individual temporary foster parents than it does to help lone mothers keep their children with them. It is not surprising then that those women members of neoliberal elites who bomb, wound and harm the life chances of other women and their children are pejoratively referred to in the United Kingdom as ‘femicrats’, ‘femocrats’ in Australia.

Globally, free-speech campaigners and anti-war and anti-imperialist activists have been outraged by the British police seizure of Julian Assange from his position of sanctuary within the Ecuadorean embassy. In retaliation for WikiLeaks past critical journalism, the United States immediately applied for Assange’s extradition on ‘hacking’ charges. In a transparent public-relations attempt to overwrite this outrage, seventy British MPs wrote to the Home Secretary demanding that Sweden first be given the opportunity to extradite Assange for alleged past sex offences. This petition was organised by two politicians from the femocrat formation—Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips. Bringing an alleged sex offender before a court would be fine in principle, but in this instance it was hypocritically inconsistent on a number of levels. At the time of the petition no such case existed, as Assange had previously been interviewed by visiting Swedish police and the investigation against him dropped. There was also the issue of the curious selectivity on the issue of sexist abuse by the femocrat elite, in particular, the deliberate blind eye turned to neoliberal political figures who had more obviously been accused of offences against women.

Brendan Cox was the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox and is a prominent neoliberal UK third-sector technocrat. He and his wife were friends with Phillips, who petitioned against Assange. In the face of a returning socialist tradition, the media often used Cox’s subsequent bereaved status to augment his new Blair-type neoliberal golden-boy public persona. Yet in 2015, a year before his wife’s death, a number of women colleagues at Save the Children where he worked made complaints about his inappropriate behaviour and threatened to go public when nothing was done. One such allegation was that Cox pinned a co-worker to a wall by her throat while telling her ‘I want to fuck you’. Cox left the organisation before being subjected to scrutiny on this and other allegations. However, another woman, a senior US official who met him at a Harvard University event, made similar allegations against him, ‘of grabbing her by the hips, pulling her hair, and forcing his thumb into her mouth’ ‘in a sexual way’. In contrast to Assange’s treatment, and despite a social-media furore, for nearly three years there was largely a media blackout on the story. At last, in February 2018, a right-wing tabloid broke the embargo and reported the allegations, and other news organisations had to follow suit. Finally, ‘Cox apologised for the “hurt and offence” caused by his past behaviour’ and announced he was withdrawing from public life. Philips played down events, stating ‘You have to show how you’re going to change the way you are in the future and I think Brendan, more so than many I’ve seen in this area, is actually trying to do that’. Other femocrats made similar conciliatory noises.

The blind eye turned to Cox is not unique. In 2010 neoliberal knight and Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese spent twenty hours in a cell, having struck his teenage stepdaughter in the head. Despite having previously fronted a ‘violence in the home will not be tolerated’ domestic-violence strategy, he was supported by his femocrat colleagues and quietly reinstated as leader. He is still council leader to this day, as the city newspaper has permitted no subsequent mention of the incident. Similarly, while an MP, Simon Danczuk had rape allegations made against him, and spent two nights in a Spanish jail following an incident that hospitalised his ex-wife. He also sex-texted a teenage job applicant—something that after a very lengthy investigation resulted in his deselection as a Labour candidate. Danczuk was a prominent critic of Jeremy Corbyn. No one in the establishment bothered with petitions against him, nor in the short term were the allegations allowed to dent his sideline career as a newspaper columnist.

If in the femocrat universe only some people’s alleged sexism is to be strategically targeted, it is also true that only some people qualify as victims. Certainly there’s never been a parliamentary petition to bring to justice those politicians responsible for civilian deaths—including those of many women—in the course of actions taken under the new imperialism. There’s not been a parliamentary petition even in regard to specific incidents such as the Baghdad massacre of civilians, including two Reuters journalists, which was revealed by Chelsea Manning and Assange via WikiLeaks. There’s been no parliamentary furore even after it was revealed that torture went on under the Blair regime and that one of the victims—Fatima Bouchar—had been pregnant at the time of her rendition. To put this in perspective, it could have been demanded that the MPs—many of them women—with ‘collective cabinet responsibility’ for these practices should face some form of deselection process or career censure.

What is significant is that those petition organisers attempting to narrow the public focus and debate exclusively to issues of Assange’s sexual past are closely linked to the type of reprehensible practices and sites of vested interest upon which WikiLeaks shines a spotlight.

Petition organiser Stella Creasy has ‘(g)enerally voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas’ and ‘against investigations into the Iraq war’. In the run-up to her vote to bomb Syria, Creasy smeared as an abuse of her and her staff a peace vigil outside her constituency office where Reverend Stephen Saxby and representatives of the local mosque led prayer. Phillips is being groomed by an intrusive corporate media as a ‘future leader’ neoliberal replacement for Corbyn. Yet she seems to have little connection to the traditions of Labour or to feminism—even though she uses the latter label as part of her personal political marketing. Historical Labour icon Beatrice Webb supported the cooperative movement, and championed trade unionism to the point of coining the phrase ‘collective bargaining’. Phillips, by comparison, does paid side work for Michael Ashcroft, the Conservative peer, former deputy Tory party chairman and party donor, and infamous offshore tax avoider. Phillips, like a number of her femocrat contemporaries, is an advocate of the Western imperialist agenda, which she spins as ‘intervention’. When Tory prime minister Theresa May ordered air strikes on Syria, Phillips boasted, ‘I regret that were wasn’t a parliamentary vote on this issue. But I wish to tell the prime minister and the house that she would have had my vote had I been asked to give it’. By contrast with Phillips’ agenda of Western expansionism, Sylvia Pankhurst, representing that deep feminist tradition of peace and female solidarity, has a memorial in her name in Addis Ababa and was made an honorary Ethiopian for her role in championing the country’s resistance against invading Italian fascist forces.

Many British femocrat neoliberals have not only harmed other women but entered politics content to market themselves as ‘Blair Babes’, having only recently jumped on the feminist bandwagon. They have often been supported in spinning a neoliberal agenda by middle-aged columnists who have similarly spent much of their careers beginning articles with the phrase ‘I’m not some sort of boring feminist, but…’ and have now been forced to brush the dust off their undergraduate notes on women’s issues.

In the meantime, a generation of young Britons is suffering the consequences of reduced funding for the educational opportunities, workplace protections and access to welfare their grandparents had decades ago. This has happened because the Labour Party has been infiltrated by neoliberal fake socialists and fake social democrats, of which the femocrat phenomenon is a manifestation. And this reflects a global problem that the corporate media have refused to scrutinise, and indeed have been willing participants in. The political corruption and imperialist crimes revealed by WikiLeaks is material to which the corporate media not only turns a blind eye but supports with propaganda. Unsubstantiated speculation on Assange’s sex life receives more coverage than a million dead Iraqis. Between media misdirection and femocrat outrage, Assange’s chance of a fair hearing based on evidence seems ever diminishing.

My Review of Russian UFO Conspiracy Book Now Up At Magonia Blog

My review of Nick Redfern’s Flying Saucers from the Kremlin (Lisa Hagen Books 2019) is now up at Magonia Review of Books. Magonia was a small press UFO magazine, which ran from the 1980s to the early part of this century. It took the psycho-social view of the UFO phenomenon. This is a sceptical view which sees the UFO phenomenon as an internal experience generated by poorly understood psychological mechanism, whose imagery was drawn from folklore and Science Fiction. It took the name ‘Magonia’ from Jacques Vallee’s groundbreaking UFO book, Passport to Magonia. Vallee, a French-American astronomer and computer scientist, along with the American journalist and writer on the weird and Fortean, John Keel, took the view that UFOs weren’t real, mechanical spacecraft piloted by beings from other worlds, but were created by the same paranormal phenomenon behind encounters with fairies and other paranormal entities. The name ‘Magonia’ itself comes from a statement by a sceptical 7th-8th century Frankish bishop, that the peasants believed that storms were caused by men in flying ships, who came from a country called Magonia.

The magazine didn’t just discuss UFOs. It also covered other paranormal phenomena and subjects, such as witchcraft. It provided a very necessary sceptical corrective to the Satanism scare of the ’80s and ’90s. This was a moral panic generated by conspiracy theories, largely from the Christian right but also from some feminists, that Satanic groups were sexually abusing and ritually sacrificing children. The Fontaine Report, published by the British government over 20 years ago now, concluded that there was no organised Satanic conspiracy. This effectively ended a real witch-hunt, which had seen innocent men and women accused of terrible crimes through warped, uncorroborated testimony. It needs to be said, however, that sociologists, social workers and law enforcement authorities do recognise that there are evil or disturbed individuals responsible for horrific crimes, including the molestation of children, who are or consider themselves Satanists. But the idea of a multigenerational Satanic conspiracy is absolutely false. See Jeffrey S. Victor’s excellent Satanic Panic.

Nick Redfern is a British paranormal investigator now resident in Texas. In this book, subtitled ‘UFOs, Russian Meddling, Soviet Spies & Cold War Secrets’, he proposes that while the UFO phenomenon is real, the terrible Russkies have been manipulating it to destabilise America and her allies. This comes from the Russians attempting to interfere in the American presidential elections a few years ago. In fact, the book doesn’t actually show that the Russians have. Rather it shows that the FBI, Airforce Intelligence and CIA believed they were. Prominent figures in the UFO milieu were suspected of Russian sympathies, and investigated and question. George Adamski, the old fraud who claimed he’d met space people from Venus and Mars, was investigated because he was recorded making pro-Soviet statements. Apparently he believed that the space people were so much more advanced than us that they were Communists, and that in a coming conflict Russia would defeat the West. Over here, the founder and leader of the Aetherius Society, George King, who also channeled messages from benevolent space people on Venus and Mars, was also investigation by special branch. This is because one of the messages from Aetherius called on Britain to respond to peace overtures from the Russians. This was seized on by the Empire News, which, as its name suggests, was a right-wing British rag, that denounced King for having subversive, pro-Commie ideas and reported him to the rozzers. King willingly cooperated with the cops, and pointed out that his was a religious and occult, not political organisation. But he and his followers were still kept under surveillance because they, like many concerned people, joined the CND marches.

It’s at this point that Redfern repeats the Sunset Times slur about the late Labour leader, Michael Foot. Foot also joined these marches, and the former Soviet spy chief, Oleg Gordievsky, had declared that Foot was a KGB spy with the codename ‘Comrade Boot’. It’s malign rubbish. Redfern notes that Foot sued the Sunset Times for libel and won. But he prefers to believe Gordievsky, because Gordievsky was right about everything else. So say. Actually, Gordievsky himself was a self-confessed liar, and there’s absolutely no corroborating evidence at all. And rather than being pro-Soviet, Foot was so critical of the lack of freedom of conscience in the USSR that he alarmed many of his Labour colleagues, who were afraid he would harm diplomatic relations. The accusation just looks like more Tory/ IRD black propaganda against Labour.

Other people in the UFO milieu also had their collar felt. One investigator, who told the authorities that he had met a group of four men, who were very determined that he should give his talks a pro-Russian, pro-Communist slant, was interrogated by a strange in a bar on his own patriotism. The man claimed to be a fellow investigator with important information, and persuaded him to take a pill that left his drugged and disorientated. Redfern connects this the MK Ultra mind control projects under CIA direction at the time, which also used LSD and other drugs.

But if Redfern doesn’t quite show that the Russians are manipulating the phenomena through fake testimony and hoax encounters, he presents a very strong case that the Americans were doing so. During the Second World War, Neville Maskelyn, a British stage magician, worked with the armed forces on creating illusions to deceive the Axis forces. One of these was a tall, walking automaton to impersonate the Devil, which was used to terrify the Fascists in Sicily. Redfern notes the similarity between this robot, and the Flatwoods monster that later appeared in America. The Project Serpo documents, which supposedly show how a group of American squaddies had gone back to the Alien homeworld, were cooked up by one of the classic SF writers, who was also a CIA agent. And the scientist Paul Bennewitz was deliberately given fake testimony and disinformation about captured aliens and crashed saucers by members of the agency, which eventually sent the poor bloke mad. He was targeted because he was convinced the saucers and the aliens were kept on a nearby airforce base. The American military was worried that, although he wouldn’t find any evidence of aliens, he might dig up military secrets which would be useful to the Russians. And so they set about destroying him by telling him fake stories, which he wanted to hear. And obviously, there’s more.

It’s extremely interesting reading, but Redfern does follow the conventional attitude to Russian. The country was a threat under Communism, and is now, despite the fact that Communism has fallen. He is silent about the plentiful evidence for American destabilisation of foreign regimes right around the world during the Cold War. This included interference in elections and outright coups. The most notorious of these in South America were the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile by General Pinochet, and Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala. He also doesn’t mention recent allegations, backed up with very strong evidence, that the US under Hillary Clinton manufactured the Maidan Revolution in Ukraine in 2012 to overthrow the ruling pro-Russian president and install another, who favoured America and the West.

If you want to read my review, it’s at




His year of reading women

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 07/09/2019 - 3:50am in


Feature, Feminism

A few months into his year of reading female authors, he developed a feminist spidey sense.

Inspired by television producer Shonda Rhimes’s manifesto Year of Yes, a friend spent 2017 saying ‘yes’ to every challenge thrown her way. In the same spirit, I decided that 2018 would be my year of reading women. My friend starred in a local production of the Wizard of Oz, and became pregnant with her first child. The shifts in my life were less dramatic, but notable nonetheless

I was proud to call myself a feminist, but had started to realize that my tastes did not reflect my politics.  I believed in equal pay, in sharing domestic responsibilities, in righting historical wrongs; but when I got home after a day at the office, I would put on a Kamasi Washington record, pour myself a glass of Eben Sadie wine, and read the new Murakami. If I looked up, I would see an apartment decorated with art by men, with the exception of a lone Louise Bourgeois multiple. I needed a re-education.

A mild panic set in after I made the decision, in December 2017, to spend the coming year reading books by women. It was similar to the one I felt a year later, when I decided to give up alcohol for lent. But I quickly rationalized the project. There was exceedingly more worthwhile literature in the world than I could ever read. By limiting myself to women, I argued to myself, I would not jeopardize the quality of my to-read list; I would just change its focus. And if, after all, it was a big disaster, I could revert to my sexist ways in 2019.

In the publishing industry, conventional wisdom holds that men do not read books by women. The evidence, however, suggests that this perception does not reflect reality, although Joanna Rowling did yield to the suggestion that she might sell more books if she styled herself as J.K.. I knew I was not unique in failing to live according to my ideals, but this knowledge was not validating. I wanted to change, and I believed I could. Research has shown we can reprogram our subconscious: decorating one’s work or living space with images of successful African Americans, for example, is shown to decrease implicit anti-black bias.

I decided that the books I would read over the following year could be in any genre, and on any topic. I would make exceptions for reading related to my work or studies, and for long-form journalism in periodicals. But that was it. Even if a favorite male author published a new title, it would have to wait until 2019.

January was a few days away, so I had to figure out how to begin. I read a New York Times list of best art books of 2017, which recommended the novel Autumn, by Ali Smith. That seemed as good a place to start as any, so I ordered a copy. It was magnificent.

Finding books was, as you might imagine, easier than I had anticipated. We can often identify gender from a name. When in doubt, the dustjacket will typically provide clarity; even if there is no author portrait, a bio will refer to ‘her city of birth,’ or ‘his fifth novel.’ I did occasionally get it wrong: Tracy Daugherty, who authored a biography of Joan Didion, is a man.

I became far more acutely aware that newspapers and magazines review fewer books by women than by men. While I could have guessed this prior to my year of reading women authors, I had never given it much thought. I was discovering the patriarchal pattern that determines what we read, and when. Perversely, this pattern actually turned my experiment into a pleasurable game — a big feminist where-is-Waldo, if you will.

Nowhere was this game more challenging than in airport bookstores. I had struggled to find books while in transit even before 2018, but now I was forced to be open to unfamiliar authors and genres. As a result, some of the highlights of my year originated in airports. I read my first fantasy novel, The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes. I liked it so much I followed with Zoo City. On a particularly long intercontinental flight I alternated between watching The Handmaid’s Tale on the inflight entertainment system and reading two books — Margaret Atwood’s Freedom and Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s classic Women Who Run With the Wolves. I am still astonished to have discovered the latter in the tiny bookstore of my hometown airport.

A few months into the year, I started to develop a certain vigilance, a feminist spidey sense. I imagine it is second nature to many women, but it was new to me.

During a visit to Amsterdam I visited a well-known feminist bookstore called Xantippe and asked the salesperson for a recommendation. She directed me to Grand Hotel Europa by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer. A man. Not wanting to appear to second guess the store clerk, whose age, appearance, and occupation gave her a natural authority on matters of gender and literature, I mumbled something about the book’s heft, and asked for other suggestions.

Despite shelves largely filled by women, the next two recommendations were also written by men. At this stage, I quietly suggested I had walked into this book store on purpose. It was an awkward moment. When we regained our composure, we discussed the salesperson’s experience that men don’t read women, which had prompted her suggestions. She also insisted I read Pfeijffer at some point, because it really was that good. I left with a new novel by Eva Meijer.

What my encounter at Xantippe alluded to, of course, was that there is no such thing as women’s literature. Yes, non-fiction with feminist under- or overtones had become one of my staples: I read and internalized the voices of Roxane Gay, Joan Didion, Terry Castle, Sisonke Msimang, Zadie Smith, and Maggie Nelson. They gave me a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the range of female experiences in our sexist world, in a way that only the written word can.

Yet many of my most exciting discoveries were novels. Among them were Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights, which won the 2018 Man Booker International Prize; Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s Call Me Zebra, winner of the 2019 PEN/Faulker award; and The Parisian, the stunning debut of 27-year old Isabella Hamad. Any lingering suspicion I had that women restrict themselves to certain themes or subject matter was put to rest by the depth and range of these three writers.

It turned out that my rule did even not even preclude me from reading about dead white men. One of my other airport bookstore finds was a biography of Seneca, by Emily Wilson.

While it is, in all respects, a classic biography, Wilson is more attuned to the gender dynamics in Seneca’s life than most male biographers would have been. Something similar had happened for me. The spidey sense I first noticed about halfway through my year of reading women had, towards the end of the twelve months, become a program that ran permanently in the background of my consciousness. I instinctively played where-is-Waldo, extending it to other domains, too. I started looking for women in jazz. Female wine makers. When reading the news, I was more likely to notice a byline. I searched out women in politics.

I am now well into year two.  While I have recently cheated — I succumbed to the overwhelming marketing for Sapiens, and did eventually read Pfeijffer’s Grand Hotel Europa — I still read women almost exclusively. They enrich my life. They give me a broader horizon. And slowly but surely, they are chipping away at my subconscious sexism. The slight sense of dread I felt when first conceiving the experiment is now a source of embarrassment. To quote feminist icon Diane Lockhart, “I realize it’s alright that the world is crazy, as long as I make my little corner of the world sane.” One book at a time.

The post His year of reading women appeared first on The Conversationalist.

No, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, You and the Press Are also Guilty for Enabling Johnson’s Dictatorship

Yesterday the I’s columnist, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown took it upon herself to identify the ‘guilty men’ responsible for enabling Johnson’s seizure of dictatorial power yesterday. This followed an anonymous piece by someone calling themselves ‘Cato the Younger’, with the title of ‘The Guilty Men’. ‘Cato’ blames thirteen western leaders, two of whom are women. Alibhai-Brown, however, put up her own, shorter list of six men. They are George Osborne, Nigel Farage, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson. Now I agree with her identification of all the above as causes of the crisis, with the exception of Jeremy Corbyn. She includes him because he

has been another unknowing collaborator. He still can’t find the voice or moral clarity to oppose Brextremism, and is worryingly beholden to his close, maniacally anti-capitalist advisers. He could come out for Remain and let, say, Caroline Lucas lead a temporary government of unity. It won’t happen. Not even in our dreams.

This is utter balderdash, just Centrist, anti-Corbyn propaganda. Corbyn has made his views on Brexit very clear. He was going to get Britain the best deal he could. If he couldn’t, he would hold a general election and/or second referendum. This, however, has not been reported in the press and media, which still continues to trot out the pat lie that he never campaigned properly for Remain. Swinson, the leader of the Lib Dems, was asserting this outright lie again the other day, claiming that Corbyn was ‘nowhere to be seen’ at the Referendum campaign. He certainly was. Matt Thomas posted a tweet declaring that Corbyn made 123 media appearances, attended 15 rallies and posted 118 pro-Remain tweets. Swinson herself posted only a couple of tweets for Remain.

And Tory Fibs also tweeted

That is a provable lie. During the EU Referendum Campaign 7 May-22 June 2016, Corbyn, over 46 days, campaigned as follows:

• Traveled 5851km
• Spoke at 15 rallies
• Sent 100 Remain Tweets
• Achieved 33,760 retweets
• Received media exposure 120 times

and contrasted this with Swinson’s own lamentable performance. While Professor Andrew Russell pointed out that the Lib Dems, by contrast, were ‘conspicuous by their absence’.

Academic exposes ‘invisible’ LibDem’s Brexit hypocrisy. Swinson pushing UK toward no-deal Brexit

As for Corbyn being ‘worryingly beholden’ to ‘maniacally anti-capitalist advisers’, this is just a bit of doubletalk trying to stir up the Red Scare about Corbyn and the Labour party a little more. One of Corbyn’s advisors is hard Left. Seumas Milne is, I believe, a real Stalinist. But Corbyn isn’t, neither is he a Trotskyite, or any other kind of Communist. And the Labour party’s programme is simply a return to the mixed-economy, strong welfare state with strong unions that gave Britain three to four decades of prosperity and economic growth after the War.

And then there’s Alibhai-Brown’s whinge that he didn’t make way for Caroline Lucas’ female-only unity government. But this was never a realistic proposal. It was profoundly sexist, and ignored the profound differences between all of the women Lucas invited to join her. It looks to me far more like an attention-grabbing stunt than a serious proposal. It also belies Alibhai-Brown’s claim to be concerned about the poor. Earlier in her article, attacking George Osborne, she states quite correctly that he

punished the neediest, weakened the welfare state and rewarded the richest. Those “left behinds” who voted for Brexit were deliberately left behind by this coldly ideology, small-state Tory.

All of which is correct. And it also describes precisely many of the women Lucas invited to join her unity government. They were also ideological Thatcherites, determined to punish the poor, reward the rich, and destroy the welfare state. And it’s remarkable that Alibhai-Brown, who has spent her journalistic career fighting racing, hasn’t pointed out that not one BAME woman was included on Lucas’ list.

Of course, the real reason Alibhai-Brown is trying to dump on Corbyn yet again, is because she shares her masters’ fears about a Corbyn government that would really empower working people and bring the profiteering super-rich to heel. And so a fair amount of the blame for BoJob’s seizure of power should go to the men and women of the Fourth Estate. 

Murdoch’s papers naturally share a very large part of the blame, because they have relentless hyped and promoted the Tories and particularly Boris Johnson. So have the Torygraph, owned by the weirdo Barclay twins, while the Heil and Depress have also pushed the same extreme right-wing views.

But the nominally left-press should also shoulder their fare share of the blame. The Groaniad, Absurder and the I followed the Tory press in lying about, vilifying and smearing Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, for exactly the same reasons as the Tory papers: they are afraid of anything that really empowers the working class. The only difference is that they have tried to dress up their Thatcherism with some shreds of progressive ideology. The I, for example, tried promoting Sandi Toksvig Women’s Equality Party. That feminist organisation’s credentials went out the window when Toksvig declared her backing for Hillary Clinton in the American presidential election. Clinton shared her husband’s attack on the American welfare state, such as it was, passed racist legislation designed to come down hardest on Blacks supposedly to tackle the ‘war on drugs’, and presided over an aggressive programme of regime change every bit as militaristic as George Bush’s. Clinton was very much a member of the American establishment, but she tried telling everyone she wasn’t, ’cause of her gender. Now we have Alibhai-Brown trying out the same tactics in promoting Lucas against Corbyn. And in doing so Alibhai-Brown shows what a hypocrite she is.

She, and the rest of the press, have also contributed to Johnson’s resistible rise. All of them have supported the neoliberal economics that have empowered the Tory Brexiteers, even when, like Swinson, they claimed otherwise. The left-wing press could have got behind Corbyn. They didn’t. And so they deserve their share of the blame, along with the Tory rags, for keeping the Tories in power, and allowing Johnson to elevate himself to virtual dictator. 

A Postcard to Ann

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 22/08/2019 - 2:11am in


Feminism, New York

Dear Ann, I am remembering the signs we made so often at your loft. One year you wanted a certain color. When asked to describe it, you said, “Prada green,” and I thought I should know what that was, and I found it in a magazine. One time in the ’70s I was on a […]

Nigel Farage Reveals Contempt for Royal Family to Ozzie Tories

Yesterday, the Groaniad reported that Nigel Farage had made some unpleasant, and quite possibly impolitic, comments about the royal family atthe Conservative Political Action Conference in Sydney. The Brexit party’s fuhrer spared the Queen his sneers, but went on to attack Prince Harry and Megan Markle for their ‘irrelevant’ social justice and environmental concerns, called the late Queen Mother a ‘slightly overweight gin drinker’. He then went on to say that he hoped the Queen would continue to live a long time to stop ‘Charlie boy’, as he called Prince Charles, becoming king, and that William would live forever to stop Harry ascending the throne. He also bewailed how Megan Markle changed Harry’s laddish behaviour. According to today’s I, page 9, the Fuhrage said

Terrifying! Here was Harry, here he was this young, brave, boisterous, all male, getting into trouble, turning up at stag parties inappropriately dressed, drinking too much and causing all kinds of mayhem. And now he’s met Megan Markle and it’s fallen off a cliff.

The I explained that when Fuhrage referred to him as being ‘inappropriately dressed’ at stag parties, he meant the time when Harry turned up at one dressed in Nazi uniform. According to the I, a spokesman for the man ‘Judge Dredd’ satirised as ‘Bilious Barrage’ claimed that the Groaniad had taken his comments out of context. But as Mike says in his article about this, it’s irrelevant whether Farage meant what he said or not. He was telling his right-wing audience what they wanted to hear: that he was their friend.

He was raising money from rich foreigners again.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/08/12/what-he-thinks-they-want-to-hear-farage-attacks-royals-in-speech-to-far-right-aussies/

Now I’m aware that some of the readers of this blog may well be republicans, who believe that the monarchy is a vestige of feudal privilege and that we would be better off with a proper democratic constitution and an elected presidency. I’m also aware that what Farage said at the conference would be unremarkable if it came from a member of the public or a journalist. A few years ago, before his career imploded due to plagiarism, Johan Hari wrote a very long article in either the Independent or Guardian attacking the royal family. A tranche of government material had been declassified and released to the national archives. These revealed that ministers and senior civil servants had been worried about Prince Charles writing letters to newspapers and various official bodies trying to influence government policy. He was, for example, very keen to stop the closure of the grammar schools. The officials found his interference a headache because the monarchy is supposed to be above politics. They are definitely not supposed to try to influence government policy.

The Tory press, including and especially the Heil, despise Charles. I can remember the Rothermere’s mighty organ claiming that that the Tories were discussing ways to ensure that the Crown passed directly from the Queen to William, completely bypassing Charles. The reason they cited for this was that Charles was too close to Laurens van der Post, the author of Testament to the Bushmen. Under van der Post’s influence, the Heil claimed, the future heir to the throne had become too New Age in his spiritual beliefs. He had indicated that he wanted to be known as ‘Defender of Faith’ when he ascended the throne, an inclusive title to cover all religions, rather than ‘Defender of the Faith’, meaning exclusively Christianity. As he would be the head of the Church of England, this would create a constitutional crisis. I wonder if the real reason was that Charles appeared a bit too left-wing, especially in his concern for the unemployed. And Charles’ office also spoke out against the decision by John Major’s government to close down Britain’s mining industry.

Hari was also scathing about the Queen Mother. He claimed that she was certainly no democrat, complaining that it was ‘so unnatural’ when she was a young woman. Ministers were also upset at the government apparently having to spend £1 million a year keeping an office open for her so she could get the results at Ascot. Private Eye has also described her as ‘greedy’ and criticised Charles for hypocrisy over his views on architecture. Charles caused outrage a little while ago by describing modern buildings as ‘monstrous carbuncles’. But the Prince himself was also employing the same type of architects to design similar buildings. They also attacked him for the colossal overpricing of his organic honey.

Now we live in a democracy, where you are allowed to criticise the government and the monarchy. One where people do, often. But what makes Farage’s comments unwise is that they come from a ruthlessly ambitious politician. Attacks on the royal family are bound to be controversial because they still have a central role in the country’s constitution. The Queen is the head of state, and the royal family act as this country’s ambassadors. They also have a politically unifying role. Some people may find it easier to respect a head of state like the Queen, who is above party politics. To many people the royal family also embody British history and tradition, and they are still regarded with respect by millions of British and commonwealth citizens. I dare say this is particularly true of Conservatives. I’ve a Conservative friend, who hates the Scum because, in his view, it has done nothing but run down the royal family. And looking at the wretched rag, I can’t say he’s wrong either. Nor is it alone – all of the papers run stories trying to create some controversy about the royal family. The latest of these are about Markle, and how she is apparently throwing her weight around and causing some kind of feud with the rest of the royals.

Farage’s piece of lese majeste Down Under is controversial and offensive because it comes from a politician, who clearly hopes one day to serve in government. If he did, it would surely create tensions between him and the Crown. It’s also impolitic, as even though the culture of deference is supposed to have gone, the constitutional importance of the monarchy means that any criticisms politicians have of the royal family or differences of opinion between them should be settled discreetly. Farage has shown himself to be incapable of maintaining a tactful silence on the matter.

Of course, what Farage really hates about Harry and Megan, along with Conservative rags like the Spectator, is that Harry has dared to be environmentally concerned, like his father. He’s also fallen behind Markle’s feminism, so obviously they despise him for that. And there’s also a nasty tone of racism there was well. They certainly wouldn’t have objected if he’d married a White American. But instead he married a woman of colour. Farage’s apparent view that Harry dressing up as a Nazi officer was just natural masculine hi-jinks shows just how seriously he takes the issue and the offence it caused. I’ve no problem with comedies spoofing the Nazis, like Mel Brooks’ The Producers or the BBC’s ‘Allo, ‘Allo. But the Nazis themselves were far from a joke, and people are quite right to be angry at those who think dressing up as them is a jolly jape. But Farage and his audience obviously don’t. Quite possibly the Conservatives he addressed are still pining for a White Australia policy. But in their environmentalism and their social concerns, Harry and Megan, as Mike says, are just showing themselves to be a modern couple. The monarchy also has to move with the times, whatever reactionaries like Farage like to think.

Farage’s comments aren’t just disrespectful to the royal family, they also show how he places his own political ambitions above them as an institution as well as showing his contempt for the genuinely liberal attitudes Harry and Megan have espoused. I hope they lose him votes with that part of the Conservative-voting public, who still revere the her Maj and the other royals above the sneers of press and media. 


Attribute To Stupidity That Which Qanon Inadequately Explains As Malice

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 12/08/2019 - 12:01pm in

So, this rich pedophile/trafficker in the rape of minors guy killed himself in what is ambiguously federal-run, NY-local jail. One imagines he did this to avoid the agony of his revolting crimes being discussed in court, inability to conceive 45 years in prison, the real kind where you don’t get to check out for half the day, and a craven fear of facing the victims of his innumerable rapes (said by a number of credible sources to amount to three a day.) Now, it’s true that Trump has accused a president of being responsible, and that by strict and iron rules of the Republican law “it’s always projection,” he himself is guilty. And it’s also true that he or some flunkie in the federal justice system (cough Barr) are the only people capable of kicking Epstein out of suicide watch just eleven days after a suicide attempt.

Epstein had so many contacts with so many powerful or influential or intellectually prestigious people (like, just so, so randomly, Murray Gell-Mann) that’s it’s very tempting to imagine someone must have taken him out. BUT, we have to consider how much this jail sucks, and how little the guards give a crap about anyone, and how particularly they probably don’t give a crap about child molesters. They didn’t follow even their own lame procedures, taking him off suicide watch after only eleven days, placing him in a cell without a fellow inmate (who is meant in part to warn guards and in part to talk the other inmate out of being depressed (?)), and failing to check on him every 30 minutes as required. These places are notoriously under-staffed, in addition to which there are almost twice as many inmates in the facility than what it was built for.

I have a friend who’s been under both failure mode direct observation and well-run direct observation. For…reasons, but she’s fine now. In failure mode D.O. they just look in on you from time to time, let’s say half-hourly, having made sure at the beginning that there’s nothing in your room that you can ever hurt yourself with, but actually failing on this front because you can hurt yourself on the very construction of the room/shower/sheets etc. Successful D.O. is when they watch you literally every second, and if you so much as glance at a paper clip they are on your ass like white on rice. You can’t go to the bathroom by yourself. It’s so draining that they do it in four-hour shifts, around the clock. You know what that must be? Expensive. So expensive. You could do it somewhat more cheaply with panoptical clear cells, and by deputizing other inmates as guarded guards.

Inmates on suicide watch are generally placed in a special observation cell, surrounded with windows, with a bolted down bed and no bedclothes, the official said. A correction officer — or sometimes a fellow inmate trained to be a “suicide companion” — is typically assigned to sit in an adjacent office and monitor the inmate constantly.

Robert Gangi, an expert on prisons and the former executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, said guards also generally take shoelaces and belts away from people on suicide watch. “It’s virtually impossible to kill yourself,” Mr. Gangi said.

Was this too expensive? Did he get crowded out? Were there not enough guards to run the suicide watch centre? Were the officers just sick of him whining about his private island full of child rape victims? I guess we’ll find out, but the answer is going to be some combination of the previous and some further, mundane poorly-run federal jail problem that hasn’t occurred to me. Or, I mean, I guess it could be some high-up in the DOJ had him taken off suicide watch and then murdered! But, you know, almost certainly not. Now what’s necessary is to give his accusers something equivalent to the day in court they have been cheated of, with the most thorough investigation of all time, of his finances, contacts, records, co-conspirators, Alan Dershowitz, and who all else ever went to those fancy parties. Like every other Democrat I’ve ever met, I don’t care what side of the aisle anybody is from. Let justice rain down like waters. Alternately, burn it all down.

[Belle, why not mention the former president in question by name? Google search trending fans the flame of conspiracy theories even when the intention is to debunk them.]

UPDATE: sure, convince me of your conspiracy theory. I am not entirely unpersuadable on this front.

Giles Coren Racially Abuses Megan Markle

Just as the CST this weekend decided to smear 36 people as anti-Semites, largely because they supported Jeremy Corbyn, and hated the Tories, Rachel Riley, and Tom Watson, Times‘ columnist Giles Coren made his own racist comment about Prince Harry’s consort, Megan Markle. Harry had said that he intends to have only two children because of the the current environmental crisis. So Coren jumped in and declared that he really said it because Markle had ‘raised the drawbridge’ and it was really due to domestic squabbles between the royal couple. He then went on and declared that they had booked a meeting with a marriage guidance counselor, but had got Jane Goodall instead.

That’s Jane Goodall, the primatologist, who studied gorillas.

The good peeps on Twitter were not amused, and pointed out just how racist the tweet was. It’s the old sneer about Black people being subhuman monkeys. They also predicted that if Coren was taken to task for it, he’d immediately start trying to excuse it by saying he wasn’t being racist, honest, and then give out some remarks supporting him by his White friends, while issuing some kind of non-apology.

Zelo Street concluded his article on this nasty little piece of privileged racism

From Coren there has so far been silence. But he will have to say something, even if he attempts to cover his tracks by pretending he didn’t mean what he clearly did mean.

Attempts to normalise racism are worrying. Attempts to normalise racism coming from a supposedly quality paper are not just worrying – they are totally inexcusable.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/08/giles-coren-right-royal-racist.html

Coren is the Times’ restaurant critic, and like several other ‘slebs, he has quaffed deep of the well of mediocrity. It’s unlikely he would have got his job, and appeared on TV – he was one of the ‘Supersizers’ who every week looked back at the cuisine in different periods of the past with Sue Perkins – if he didn’t come from a privileged background.

He is also sadly not alone in his sneers and abuse at Markle. The I’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown commented on it in her column in this morning’s edition of the paper. She noted the ugly racism hiding behind these sneers. They’re based on outrage at an American woman of colour with genuinely feminist views marrying into the royal family. How dare she! Especially after she edited Vogue to list the leading, most influential and inspirational women.

I’ve no doubt that part of the sneer also comes from part of the Tory right’s bitter hatred of environmentalism. The Daily Heil published a whole slew of articles a few years ago declaring global warming to be fake, because the Russians apparently said so. And Trump’s government is doing its level, horrendous best to close down and silence the Environmental Protection Agency for the Republicans’ supporters and donors in the petrochemical industry, like the notorious Koch brothers. I’ve got a feeling the Times is one of the other newspapers, whose columnists have tried to discredit climate change. I seem to remember one of the producers of the BBC science documentary series, Horizon, remarking at a talk at the Cheltenham Festival of Science a few years ago how he had been forced to put right gently another very well established journo, who didn’t believe in it.

I believe a number of members of the royal family are also patrons of the World Wide Fund for Nature, what used to be the World Wildlife Fund, and so do have an interest in conservation. Which would suggest that Harry’s statement on why he was having no more than two sprogs is entirely genuinely. One of the problems is overpopulation, although in the West birthrates are actually falling to or below replacement level, so that there may well be a demographic crisis due to this. Quite apart from all the nutters, who believe that it’s all part of the ‘Great Replacement’ in which the Jews are secretly destroying the White race to replace them with non-White immigrants.

This isn’t the first Coren has expressed noxious, right-wing views either. A little while ago he took it upon himself to sneer at people from council estates. I have no idea why, except perhaps just sheer snobbery. Now he’s found a new target in Megan Markle. And it’s an example of the racism, snobbery and reactionary anti-environmentalism that now permeates and shames the Tory press. And it shows just how nasty the Times has become under Murdoch.


Right, Absolutely Not.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 03/08/2019 - 2:54am in

What would the world be like if women were unable to withdraw consent with regard to sex? You would be living in North Carolina, is what. Now, as an aside, I would totally live in North Carolina (please don’t tell my dad I would live in the wrong Carolina.) It’s lovely. But boy howdy does it have some terrifying rape laws and legal precedent. I mean, would I let my daughters live there?

Some cases are more difficult than others, especially if the initial act began with consent.

In 1979 the Supreme Court of North Carolina that once a sex act begins, a woman cannot withdraw her consent.

The court wrote that: “if the actual penetration is accomplished with the woman’s consent, the accused was not guilty of rape, though he may be guilty of another crime because of his subsequent actions.”

DA Welch called this a “troubling precedent.”

“I feel like you should be able to withdraw consent at any time,” Welch said. “If you have consented to one act, to me it doesn’t mean that act can keep going as long as necessary.”

“However, again it comes back to juries and how they view consent.”

“You will see someone who is consenting to a particular act, and all of a sudden it gets rougher than what they bargained for, or they change their mind, and we’re stuck,” Welch said. “If it goes from one act to another I don’t feel that that law apples, but you still have to deal with that issue in front of a jury, and that’s going to be very hard to convict.”

Oh but surely at least sometimes the juries are reasonable, right, and see that the law shouldn’t apply to cases in which people go from one sex act to another? Wait, or at least the prosecutors, right?

Two cases she’s [Monika Johnston Holster, head of NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault] heard recently are very similar. The prosecutors told both there is nothing they can do.

Even though the women did not consent to sex, “the offender felt like fooling around was consenting to sex,” Johnson Holster said.

OK let’s think about how banaynays this is. To be blunt and explicit about it, you could consent to making out with someone and touching them in explicitly sexual ways, but with both of you having your clothes on, and then that person can force you to have anal sex. This might strictly violate the law as noted above, but the prosecutors don’t appear to think so, because they won’t even try to bring a case. But wait, there’s more!

While state law defines sex with an incapacitated person is rape, court precedents say those laws don’t apply if the person caused the incapacitation through drinking or drug use.

OOOOoookay, as far as I can see this means you could just wait around at a party for a women to get too drunk to consent to sex, and then rape her with impunity. That can’t be right at all. But on the first part about withdrawing consent, I think we can all see how important and it is that a woman (or man, but these laws are written explicitly with women in mind) be able to say “no” at any time during any sex act and that the person having sex with her be required to stop, and the minute they go on regardless, then they are raping the woman, full stop. (The N.C. legislature apparently made some changes in the law, but left the treatment of withdrawal of consent alone.) Here I expect Kiwanda’s hypothetical thread in which I force everyone to agree with me, because it’s my party. Except I won’t force you, you’ll just all agree anyway. “Wow Belle that’s terrifying,” you’ll say.

Yeah, Sorta.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 30/07/2019 - 3:11am in

This article is posted on Slate but is not, in fact, #slatepitchy, but rather, informative! NY recently passed a law banning revenge porn. Which is great! But it has a flaw. A loophole so big you could take the trouble of dynamiting a tunnel below some Alpine pass and then float a loaded container ship through it on a shallow, glassine stream. Because, you see, if the person non-consensually uploading pornography has the “intent to cause harm to the emotional, financial or physical welfare of another person,” then it’s a crime, and the victim can bring suit on the grounds that the perpetrator shared images of her “with the purpose of harassing, alarming, or annoying” her. But…

…[U]nfortunately, most cases of nonconsensual sharing of sexual images wouldn’t necessarily fall into the category of harassment, nor does the individual distributing the photos always want to cause some kind of distress to the person depicted.
Take the case of the 30,000-member Facebook group Marines United, which was outed in 2017 for hosting hundreds, potentially thousands, of explicit photos of female Marines and veteran service members without their consent. The creators and users of that group likely weren’t sharing images of unclothed female Marines in order to harm them [?]. They were sharing the photos for their own entertainment. The group’s members probably didn’t even want the women to know their photos had been posted in the group. Under the New York law, those women wouldn’t have much recourse. According to a 2017 study conducted by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a nonprofit that works on policy and helps victims of nonconsensual pornography, 80 percent of people who share private and sexual images of someone without consent aren’t trying to harm anyone….

Here I must object rather strenuously. Is it because I possess some version of the view, probably wrongly attributed to Native Americans, that photographs capture and diminish your spirit, such that I believe shared photographs eat away at your soul like a subtle acid whether you know the cause or not? Ah, interrogating myself, hmm, somewhat? That is, say we are to imagine a case in which some towering asshole of an ex is sharing sexual photos of me online in a huge, 30,000 man strong facebook group. And I don’t know this fact. A good 400 men are out there enjoying themselves on the back of this dehumanization at any given time, and I in all ignorance go about my life imagining I retain my personhood and dignity. But then I discover what has been happening. My sense of harm is deeply retroactive. It’s not as though I imagine only the moments or hours or days before my images are taken down as being the cause of harm. Those are, in fact, the least of it.

Is my tormentor’s general, vague hope that I not discover what he’s done; his willingness to roll the dice on that; his malicious enjoyment at subjecting me to something he knows would agonize me if I knew, such a good defense against his having done it with the intention of causing me distress? Let’s stipulate it was done for his own sexual enjoyment. What, exactly, does he find sexually arousing in this case, if not my humiliation, in which case he must intend to humiliate me in order to satisfy his desires? Or to come at it another way, isn’t “without the victim’s consent” really just the end-all and be-all of this crime?

And if someone whose photo was posted to the group did try to use the New York law, “It would be a nonstarter,” said Mary Anne Franks, a law professor at the University of Miami and the author of the first model bill to criminalize revenge porn in 2013. “There’s a huge difference in saying, ‘I know he’s doing this to hurt me’ and being able to prove in a court of law that’s why he did it. If you ask yourself, ‘What other reasons could a person give?’ a defendant could easily say, ‘I actually meant it as a compliment. I think she’s so beautiful that I shared her picture for that reason.’ ”

[Belle grinds teeth in so audible a fashion that John can hear them in Singapore from West Virginia. “Jesus what did I do?”, he wonders, half-asleep.] “She’s so beautiful!” is this an actual defense? If this is a defense against a law you have written, then you have written a very bad law indeed. But who could have lobbied you to write so bad a law?

As was the case in other states, the New York law was watered down in part thanks to advocacy from groups like the Internet Association, the powerful tech industry lobbying organization that represents companies like Google and Facebook. The Internet Association has long argued that revenge porn bills must include language about the intent to harm, according to Franks. She says that big tech companies want to protect themselves from being sued for hosting the images (despite the fact that technology companies are already protected by another law that shields them from liability for what their users post)….

Additionally, a woman posting revenge porn is bringing her first amendment rights into this. ASD3@FF*&%XSH@#. (That’s a literal quote from me). I have never had this problem but I did have an comparatively extremely minor annoying problem with a friend who…I mean, I knew he had a crush on me but this seemed extreme…anyway he carefully photoshopped my head onto a (reasonably tasteful) nude, and then actually showed it to me?! Like, slow your roll crush-boy. (Crush-man. He was much older than me). And it was reasonable to infer that, having done so once, he was likely to do it again, or have done it before, with nudes that were less tasteful. And I didn’t even like that at all, and he wasn’t sharing them on the internet! Uhhhh. I guess? [Belle considers the perfidy of human nature; weighs likelihood of corpses in thawing permafrost reviving 1918 pandemic; eats over-large slice of newly made lemon merengue pie to soothe raw nerves.]

NOTE TO MY BELOVED PLAIN PEOPLE OF CROOKED TIMBER: the comments thread to my last post was an epic shitshow. I have never been mansplained to about my own rape and stalking so much in my entire life, while listening to claims backed up by the most tendentious and point-scoring arguments. And I spent plenty of time in a philosophy department! (Which I loved, but we have the worst gender ratio of any departments.) You guys can do better than this. The preponderance of comments do not need to defend revenge porn. I believe in you.