Letter from the Editor

Aug. 17th, 2017 01:08 pm
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Posted by Heather Greene

Letter from the editor

There are times when journalists and editors have to tackle subjects that are difficult, complicated, and even deeply contrary to their own personal world view. We go in anyway, because that is our mission and our purpose. We go in anyway, because that is our personal and professional directive, similar to a doctor or nurse that cures the sick no matter who they might be.

It is what we do.

While The Wild Hunt was once a successful news blog, it has developed into a recognized news agency with a small team of dedicated and professional news writers who work by the ethical standards expected of objective journalism and who have a passion for their work as members of our collective communities.

We do our best within our resources to go the full distance, even if that means setting aside personal feelings or going into uncharted territory, in order to get as close to the center of a very difficult and even painful story.

Reporting on Charlottesville was one of these times. The process was not easy for both me as editor and for Cara Schulz as the writer.

Personally speaking as a woman of Jewish heritage, I found that the weekend events triggered my own family-based traumas, and I had a difficult time keeping my “ear to the ground,” so to speak, in order to support Cara in her work. Seeing the swastika and hearing the antisemitic rhetoric chanted over and over was terrifying, recalling the many warnings I had heard as a child.

To recall the words of Jonathan Korman, do I have time to let the bread rise?

But I am also a professional journalist and an editor. As such, it is my belief that in order to empower our readership, especially in times of crisis, and to serve a greater purpose in our collective communities and our world, I must set that aside my own fears to bring you the highest quality, ethically-based reporting as my news team can accomplish.

We will not waiver in this mission. For us, it is not only a job but a passion, a spiritual calling, a service, and a craft.

I want to personally thank every one of our readers for visiting us daily, for supporting our wholly independent efforts, and for sharing our articles.

May we find peace and unity in the beauty of our differences.

Heather Greene
Managing Editor
The Wild Hunt

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Posted by Mwegelo Kapinga

However, Tanzanian President John Magufuli thinks it will.

Credit: PesaCheck.org

This article was originally published on PesaCheck.org, East Africa’s first fact-checking initiative.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has called for teen mothers who get pregnant while they are still in school to be banned from returning once they have given birth.

Speaking at a rally in Chalinze, a small town in the eastern region of Pwani, President Magufuli chastised NGOs in Tanzania for encouraging teenage mothers to go back to school, stating that they were “finishing the country” and leading to a state of “moral decay” in Tanzania:

If a girl gets pregnant, if it is deliberate or by accident, gives birth and then returns to school, she will teach these others who haven’t given birth that this is okay. The same girl can then go again and get pregnant, give birth and go back to school. And again for a third time. Are we educating parents?

The president added that teen moms attending either primary or secondary school would be banned from going back once they have given birth:

I want to tell them, and those NGOs as well, that during my administration, no girl who has given birth will be allowed to go back to school .

The president went on to say that teen mothers could go elsewhere if they want to get an education, such as the Vocational Educational and Training Authority, or even taking up farming.

The announcement sparked outrage on social media, with Tanzanians using the #ArudiShule hashtag to criticize the move, especially considering that over 8,000 Tanzanian girls drop out of school every year due to pregnancy according to a Human Rights Watch report.

So, the question is, do student-mothers influence other students’ reproductive behaviour?

PesaCheck has researched the issue, with input from citizen-centered initiative Twaweza, and finds that President Magufuli’s statement is MISLEADING for the following reasons:

Causes of adolescent pregnancies

According to the Tanzania Health and Demographic Survey (THDS) 2015–16 the rate of adolescent pregnancies in mainland Tanzania is considerably high at 27%. What factors contribute to this figure?

publication by HakiElimu found citizens opinion on the key contributors to teen pregnancies includes low household income. The publication states that nearly 31% of the respondents (including parents and teenage girls) thought that poverty was a key factor, with difficult economic situations driving parents to marry off their children as they are not able to meet the basic needs of the female children.

The THDS report also shows that fertility varies with economic levels, decreasing with increasing household wealth. Wealthier households also have a higher age at first birth, meaning that poorer households are more likely to have younger mothers, most likely of schoolgoing age.

Corroborating this fact, a UNICEF report shows that one in six young women aged 15–19 is married in Tanzania. These girls get affected psychologically, meaning that many of them are unable to return to school once they drop out.

Another factor in the HakiElimu publication was “poor upbringing and teenage girls own personal desires”. They found that some parents don’t spend time on their children’s morals and upbringing. Another finding was the lack of reproductive education which helps teens to fully understand puberty. “A lot of parents in villages don’t speak to their female children who are going through puberty.” TDHS 2015 data shows that over half of women already experience sex before the age of 16.

The HakiElimu report also found another contributing factor to be the societal view of a girls child’s value is in being married and being a mother.

The TDHS 2015–16 report shows that fertility rates are strongly related to the level of education. It states that women with no education have 3.3 times more children than women with secondary education. Adolescent women with no education are 5 times more likely to have begun childbearing compared to those with secondary or higher education. TDHS 2010 as stated in the UNICEF report (p.12) found that for a majority of the girls who give birth while they are “still children themselves” are in fact not in school.

Are student-mothers key influencers of adolescent pregnancies?

According to the THDS, Zanzibar has a significantly low rate of adolescent pregnancies at 8% compared to mainland Tanzania. Zanzibar introduced a return to school policy in 2010 as a measure to reduce dropouts. Kenya is just in between Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar with 18% adolescent pregnancies. In both these places student mothers are going to school and the adolescent fertility is much lower.

Therefore the statement that student mothers returning to school will influence other students and lead to a rise in teenage pregnancies is MISLEADING. Most research around adolescent pregnancies attribute teen pregnancies to economic factors and the community attitude and upbringing of female children.

Do you want us to fact-check something a politician or other public figure has said about public finances? Fill this form, or reach out to us on any of the contacts below, and we’ll help ensure you’re not getting bamboozled.

This report was written by PesaCheck Fellow Mwegelo Kapinga, a development consultant, researcher and writer. Mwegelo has previously worked for Twaweza East Africa as a research analyst. The infographics are by PesaCheck Fellow Brian Wachanga, who is a Kenyan civic technologist interested in data visualisation. This report was edited by PesaCheck Managing Editor Eric Mugendi.

PesaCheck, co-founded by Catherine Gicheru, is East Africa’s first fact-checking initiative. It seeks to help the public separate fact from fiction in public pronouncements about the numbers that shape our world, with a special emphasis on pronouncements about public finances that shape government’s delivery of so-called ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ or SDG public services, such as healthcare, rural development and access to water / sanitation. PesaCheck also tests the accuracy of media reportage. To find out more about the project, visit pesacheck.org.

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Posted by Mwegelo Kapinga

However, Tanzanian President John Magufuli thinks it will.

Credit: PesaCheck.org

This article was originally published on PesaCheck.org, East Africa’s first fact-checking initiative.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has called for teen mothers who get pregnant while they are still in school to be banned from returning once they have given birth.

Speaking at a rally in Chalinze, a small town in the eastern region of Pwani, President Magufuli chastised NGOs in Tanzania for encouraging teenage mothers to go back to school, stating that they were “finishing the country” and leading to a state of “moral decay” in Tanzania:

If a girl gets pregnant, if it is deliberate or by accident, gives birth and then returns to school, she will teach these others who haven’t given birth that this is okay. The same girl can then go again and get pregnant, give birth and go back to school. And again for a third time. Are we educating parents?

The president added that teen moms attending either primary or secondary school would be banned from going back once they have given birth:

I want to tell them, and those NGOs as well, that during my administration, no girl who has given birth will be allowed to go back to school .

The president went on to say that teen mothers could go elsewhere if they want to get an education, such as the Vocational Educational and Training Authority, or even taking up farming.

The announcement sparked outrage on social media, with Tanzanians using the #ArudiShule hashtag to criticize the move, especially considering that over 8,000 Tanzanian girls drop out of school every year due to pregnancy according to a Human Rights Watch report.

So, the question is, do student-mothers influence other students’ reproductive behaviour?

PesaCheck has researched the issue, with input from citizen-centered initiative Twaweza, and finds that President Magufuli’s statement is MISLEADING for the following reasons:

Causes of adolescent pregnancies

According to the Tanzania Health and Demographic Survey (THDS) 2015–16 the rate of adolescent pregnancies in mainland Tanzania is considerably high at 27%. What factors contribute to this figure?

publication by HakiElimu found citizens opinion on the key contributors to teen pregnancies includes low household income. The publication states that nearly 31% of the respondents (including parents and teenage girls) thought that poverty was a key factor, with difficult economic situations driving parents to marry off their children as they are not able to meet the basic needs of the female children.

The THDS report also shows that fertility varies with economic levels, decreasing with increasing household wealth. Wealthier households also have a higher age at first birth, meaning that poorer households are more likely to have younger mothers, most likely of schoolgoing age.

Corroborating this fact, a UNICEF report shows that one in six young women aged 15–19 is married in Tanzania. These girls get affected psychologically, meaning that many of them are unable to return to school once they drop out.

Another factor in the HakiElimu publication was “poor upbringing and teenage girls own personal desires”. They found that some parents don’t spend time on their children’s morals and upbringing. Another finding was the lack of reproductive education which helps teens to fully understand puberty. “A lot of parents in villages don’t speak to their female children who are going through puberty.” TDHS 2015 data shows that over half of women already experience sex before the age of 16.

The HakiElimu report also found another contributing factor to be the societal view of a girls child’s value is in being married and being a mother.

The TDHS 2015–16 report shows that fertility rates are strongly related to the level of education. It states that women with no education have 3.3 times more children than women with secondary education. Adolescent women with no education are 5 times more likely to have begun childbearing compared to those with secondary or higher education. TDHS 2010 as stated in the UNICEF report (p.12) found that for a majority of the girls who give birth while they are “still children themselves” are in fact not in school.

Are student-mothers key influencers of adolescent pregnancies?

According to the THDS, Zanzibar has a significantly low rate of adolescent pregnancies at 8% compared to mainland Tanzania. Zanzibar introduced a return to school policy in 2010 as a measure to reduce dropouts. Kenya is just in between Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar with 18% adolescent pregnancies. In both these places student mothers are going to school and the adolescent fertility is much lower.

Therefore the statement that student mothers returning to school will influence other students and lead to a rise in teenage pregnancies is MISLEADING. Most research around adolescent pregnancies attribute teen pregnancies to economic factors and the community attitude and upbringing of female children.

Do you want us to fact-check something a politician or other public figure has said about public finances? Fill this form, or reach out to us on any of the contacts below, and we’ll help ensure you’re not getting bamboozled.

This report was written by PesaCheck Fellow Mwegelo Kapinga, a development consultant, researcher and writer. Mwegelo has previously worked for Twaweza East Africa as a research analyst. The infographics are by PesaCheck Fellow Brian Wachanga, who is a Kenyan civic technologist interested in data visualisation. This report was edited by PesaCheck Managing Editor Eric Mugendi.

PesaCheck, co-founded by Catherine Gicheru, is East Africa’s first fact-checking initiative. It seeks to help the public separate fact from fiction in public pronouncements about the numbers that shape our world, with a special emphasis on pronouncements about public finances that shape government’s delivery of so-called ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ or SDG public services, such as healthcare, rural development and access to water / sanitation. PesaCheck also tests the accuracy of media reportage. To find out more about the project, visit pesacheck.org.

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Posted by rahirah

GROO: And that, my princess, is my story in full. When the Covenant summoned me I was vanquishing the Mogfan beast that bedevils the scum pits of Ur. CORDELIA: Uh, that's a great story. And you are a great groosalug. But, I'm not your princess. The truth is, I'm not anybody's princess. GROO: Have you not the curse? CORDELIA: The visions? Oh, yeah, I've got visions coming out of my ears, sometimes a little blood, too, but that doesn't make me a princess. That just makes me kind of weird.

~~Through The Looking Glass~~



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Posted by Cara Schulz

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Vir. – It began with online organizing among nationalist groups to protest the removal of a Confederate statue from a local park. It ended with street battles, three people dead, and an unknown number injured.

While most Pagans watched the events on the news or through live streams, there were Pagans and Heathens present at the weekend riots.They were protesters who lined the streets around the park, and they also participated in the Unite the Right rally as members of the self-described “alt-right.” And one well-known Pagan even helped organize the rally and was scheduled to speak.

Augustus Invictus, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2015, was scheduled to speak at the rally. Mr. Invictus has been criticized in the past for seeming to openly advocate violence, eugenics, and for participating in animal sacrifice.

Although the planned rally itself was shut down before anyone could speak, Invictus claimed the event was a success.

Invictus and the other rally organizers say the purpose of the event had less to do with protesting the removal of a statue from a park and more to do with uniting various nationalist groups.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says normally groups such as 14/88, Traditionalist Workers Party, the National Socialist Movement, the KKK, Aryan Nation, and the League of the South are more apt to fight each other than to work together.

That changed with Unite the Right. The groups came together for the rally, and Invictus says the violence that they claim to have experienced as being directed toward them has united these rivals against a common enemy.

History teacher and adjunct professor Ryan Denison agrees that the goal was to bring these groups together. In an interview, Denison told The Wild Hunt, “[The organizers] definitely wanted to unite far-right groups that usually don’t mix or, at worse, fight each other. That was their stated goal. It also seems to be to create conflict and chaos in order to recruit.”

Denison, who is a member of the Troth, Heathens of Atlanta, and Red Earth Grove ADF, believes they chose Charlottesville because the rally leaders believe that the South is an area more sympathetic to their message than other regions.

However, Lonnie Murray, a Pagan elected official who works in Charlottesville, told The Wild Hunt that Charlottesville is not a typical southern city.

Murray says, “We have a long history of progressive politics; however, like many Southern cities we still haven’t fully come to terms with the lingering consequences of slavery and segregation.”

Firsthand accounts

Pagan Jennifer Lewis heard about the rally through social media and local television coverage. Lewis works in Charlottesville caring for persons with mental illness.

She decided to attend the rally as a protester because she “wanted to show [her] opposition to everything [the rallying groups] stand for.”

Lewis says, “I am an activist for the protection of our environment, women’s reproductive rights, and LGBTQ rights. There was no way I was not going to go and stand up against them targeting my friends, neighbors and loved ones.”

She believes the “alt-right” are a tiny segment of the population and believes it is important to show how little influence they have.

Freda Wood, a Wiccan from Richmond, says that she has become more politically active recently. She heard about the rally through a YouTube channel, and decided to attend the protest in order to “stand up for what’s right.”

Wood says the gods don’t discriminate and people shouldn’t either.

On the other side, Kevin C is a Heathen from southern New England who attended the rally as security for an “alt-right video crew.” He is also a member of the Traditionalist Workers Party and says it’s “great that Pagans and Heathens are supporting their people and traditions” through involvement in Unite the Right.

Rachel Summers, a Teutonic Heathen, traveled from Atlanta to participate in Unite the Right as a medic. She believes white history and culture are “being erased due to false crimes and an implanted but unearned white guilt.”

While they had different reasons for attending and were on different sides, the four people interviewed all agreed on one aspect of the event. They were all critical of the how the police handled the escalating violence.

As was the ACLU of Virginia.

It is not clear who gave the stand down order to police, but Kevin C says police stood right next to people who were being beaten, and they did nothing to intervene.

Lewis says, “I was shocked that the police were behind two barricades and some a block or more away. It was much different from the KKK rally in July where the police had the two sides barricaded from one another. This time, they barricaded us, the two sides, in and [the police] on the outside.”

Police initially set up barricades around the park, where the rally was to take place, to keep the “alt-right” and the protesters separated. However, the rally participants had to walk through the protesters to get into the park.

“As we left the parking garage we could see the road in front of us was blocked by protesters. They were throwing bleach bombs as we walked by,” describes Kevin C.

“Once we got into the park, the police had the entire area around the statue blocked off, so we had to walk all the way around to get to the area where the speakers would talk. While we were walking we were being maced and had things thrown at us.”

Lewis says she witnessed extreme, unprovoked violence from both sides.”I heard unimaginable slurs from the Nazi side, I was chanting Black Lives Matter and a older man got so mad and started yelling at me, calling me a whore and how my dad should have taught me better.”

She also noted that it was hard to tell who was on what side, and it made her suspicious of everyone around her.

“It was like walking into an Orwellian hate minute that lasted several hours,” relates Rachel Summer. She said rocks and other objects were thrown at them by the crowd while they were attempting to walking to the park. She also treated some of her group after they were sprayed with pepper spray.

Freda Wood says she was with protesters marching down Market Street alongside anarchists. “As we got closer to Emancipation Park, we were greeted by a roar and surrounded by heavily armed self-proclaimed militia on both sides of the street. They were stoic, staring straight ahead, holding their rifles. I felt exposed and vulnerable.”

Ms. Wood says she traded insults with rally participants in the park, but felt trapped in by the press of the crowd, so she moved back toward an intersection where she and her group met more rally attendees.

“They barreled through the barricades. There were fist fights. Pepper spray, mace, colored smoke bombs and paint balloons were deployed. The street medics were treating the injured.”

Lewis says it was a sad day for the city of Charlottesville and for America. “It was really difficult to see the various Nazi and white supremacy groups just march down the street and into the park, like they were invading our city.”

It was at this point that police declared the rally an unlawful assembly and shut it down. Then, the police formed a line on one side of the park and pushed the rally participants into the streets.

The two sides, which up until that point had only traded minor blows, were now forced into direct contact with one another. Local police, state troopers, and National Guard stood behind the barricades. That’s when fighting increased and was strung out over several miles surrounding the park.

Kevin C says when the order to clear the park came, he grabbed the person he was assigned to protect and headed out of the park.

“The police blocked the only safe exit out of the park and pushed us into the protesters. We saw 100 to 150 Red Block marching up the street toward us. Luckily I got my person out before the commies arrived.”

Wood, thinking she was now outside of the main action, unexpectedly found herself right back in the middle of it. “Suddenly, someone said ‘look!’ Hundreds of guys in their white polo shirts and khaki pants started walking down the street toward us. They were being paraded between two lines of counter protesters down the street to get them far away from the park.”

Kevin C says he was part of the group that exited with alt-right speaker Richard Spencer. Neither Kevin or Wood knew it, but they were about to confront one another.

Wood remembers that group walking by. “We taunted them. We saw Richard Spencer be rushed through the crowd by his people. He looked disheveled and frightened.”

Summers was with a different group, exiting the park. “We were marched back through hostile protesters for two miles or more and again, no police protection despite our permit. I have the uneasy feeling that the city’s leadership wanted things to escalate.”

Wood describes the scene as a “war zone” and “complete chaos.”

As ProPublica reported, state police and National Guardsmen mostly stood aside and watched as the violence get worse.

Summers looks back at events and is unhappy with the media portrayal of the rally as racist. “Allegations of white supremacy are everywhere, but there were very few people there who explicitly supported that. Most were trying to stop the erasure of history and the infringement on our Constitution and Bill of Rights. This was not about racism.”

Reflecting back, Wood says that she’s profoundly changed by her experiences in Charlottesville, “I have a more determined fierceness now. My state was invaded by terrorists, and attacked one of our tribe, left us with mental scars.”

“I may be extra grouchy or sullen, and I will not apologize for it,” she adds. “You hurt my family. I’m pissed!” She also says she is dealing with survivor’s guilt.

Minority Pagans react

While the events of the day deeply impacted those Pagans who live in the city and who attended the rally and protest, many other Pagans across the country were also deeply affected as news spread of Saturday’s events.

Pagans of color and Jewish Pagans listened to “alt-right” rally participants chanting  phrases like “White Lives Matter” and “Jews won’t replace me,” while KKK and Nazi symbols were openly displayed and celebrated.

Dianne Daniels, a Connecticut-based Witch and Unitarian Universalist Pagan said, “The events of Charlottesville hurt me to my very soul. The thought that someone could intentionally drive their car into another car to force the vehicles to injure and in this case kill another human being…the unrepentant anger and vitriol being aimed at those who were marching in support of their principles is unconscionable and unnecessary.”

Along with being a seminary student and member of the Temple of Witchcraft, Daniels is also the president of the NAACP Norwich chapter. She attended a rally Sunday to support “those fighting against hate in Charlottesville.”

“One of my favorite tenets of my [UU] faith is that everyone has worth and dignity. Though I find it very hard to imagine the worth and dignity of people who scream hateful slogans and threaten other beloved human beings with injury and death because they disagree with them on philosophy, I still try.”

Daniels went on to say that she does not “deign to speak for all African-Americans, all women, or all Unitarian Universalist Pagans,” but she encourages everyone to “raise their voices and speak their truth, especially if it is not denigrating others.”

When asked what she is doing to cope with the news, Daniels said, “I have been spending more time in prayer and sending healing, positive energy to the communities that are faced with these incidents and the rise of hate groups coming into their communities. I believe that energy can be directed, and I would encourage all who believe that energy has an effect to direct positive energy toward those who have to respond to these incidents. Keep those first responders and law enforcement officers who are doing their jobs safe and whole.”

Jonathan Korman, a Jewish Pagan from the Bay Area, said the events reminded him of a Jewish ritual story. It’s about the act of eating matzoh as a way to remind them that when it’s time to run, you shouldn’t wait long enough for the bread to rise.

“I think all American Jews, whether consciously or not, read the news asking themselves if it means that they don’t have time for the bread to rise.”

“Despite this I am letting the bread that will nourish me and my community rise, because several years ago I swore an oath to another god, the Morrígan, that I would fight fascism in my nation,” Korman added. “As is so often true of the important oaths, I did not know the implications of what I swore.”

He closed is comment with “Hold fast. Love the gods and each other. And fuck fascism.” His full statement can be found here.

Rippling effect

Pagans and Heathens around the country have been taking part in protests and demonstrations since the violence ended. Well-known Pagans, such as Starhawk, are writing about the event and Pagan organizations are putting out official statements. Here are a few: ADFCherry Hill SeminarySolar Cross Temple, Circle Sanctuary, and The Troth.

Author and speaker Bryan Wilton says that, due to Saturday’s rally and protest, his speaking events are now being targeted as “alt-right” events.

Mr. Wilton believes that individual activists and Heathens United Against Racism (HUAR) called the venue, demanding that his event be cancelled. Wilton says people are carelessly throwing around the label “alt-right.”

Wilton told The Wild Hunt that he doesn’t identify as “alt-right,” although he has friends who do and were at the rally.

“I’m not having an alt-right event, everyone is welcome at my event.” He says the event is not political and relates to material from his books.

When asked about Wilton’s claims, HUAR admin Ryan Smith says that the organization is responding in support of local activists who feel “the white nationalist group supporting, promoting, and attending the event are a clear and present danger to the safety of their communities.”

Smith adds, “Many, such as the Proud Boys, have a proven history of violence and local residents are fearful this will be used as a recruiting platform by such groups.” He noted that hate crimes can follow such events, as was the case in Charlottesville.

Wilton says that he does support the right of the “alt-right” to speak freely. However, he also spoke against the weekend’s violence, “We have three people dead and that is unacceptable.”

Going forward

The ripple effects stemming from the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville has not subsided. More rallies and demonstrations are planned on both sides, as the country comes to terms with what was just witnessed and where it will lead.

Looking forward, Dianne Daniels notes, “My NAACP members will be hearing from me specifically on this issue (beyond my postings on social media) on Thursday when we have our monthly meeting. I’m going to do a special statement before the meeting starts, and incorporate the situation into the prayer we normally do to open our meetings. I have a statement from our current national interim president/CEO regarding the events that I will read.

“I’m encouraging people to be careful of watching the news – so much triggering information,” she adds. “And I refuse to repost things (like the video of the car striking people) that could be triggering.”

Looking at Saturday’s event through a lens of history, Ryan Denison adds, “I always think that liberty and freedom are on a precipice and we must always be on guard. By being good citizens and good to each other. Hitler and the Nazis rose to power not in a night, but slowly over a number of years. Much like boiling live crabs, just turn the heat up slow.”

“My best advice is to stay vigilant and call out hate, call out lies, call it out to the light,” he says, “As I quoted Edmund Burke earlier today on social media, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ “

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Posted by Rezwan

Flood in Biratnagar Airport, Nepal. Screenshot from YouTube video by Deo Creations.

A series of terrible floods in Bangladesh, India and Nepal are disrupting lives of hundreds of thousands of people, displacing them and causing serious damage to property and infrastructure.

Heavy monsoon rain in southern Nepal and northern India caused flash floods and landslides, and the flood waters swept across downstream rivers in Bangladesh, killing at least 175 people in these three countries.

At least 6 million people were affected by the floods in Nepal's Terai region and more than 48,000 homes were submerged. A section of the Mahendra Highway, the most important east-west connection in Nepal, was washed away by torrential rains. Several villages and settlements were without help or relief as rescuers found it difficult to reach remote areas. The telecommunications and electricity services were down and connecting roads had been washed away.

People are sharing images and videos of the devastation on social media.

Lucky Deepak shared this YouTube video showing landslides and flood damages in Nepal:

Some are trying to crowdsource funds and relief goods to help the Nepal flood victims:

Meanwhile, In India, continuous rainfall triggered landslides in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and caused flooding in the eastern and northeastern states of Assam and parts of Bihar and West Bengal. At least 99 people died and over 2 million people were affected across 21 districts of the Indian state of Assam. At least 41 people died and 180,000 people were evacuated in the Indian state of Bihar after flooding in 10 districts. This is the third wave of flooding since the start of the 2107 monsoon.

Downstream in Bangladesh, water levels in most of the major river systems sharply rose, caused by the overflow of flood water from India and Nepal and some heavy monsoon rain. More than 1 million people had been affected by flooding after rivers burst their banks following days of heavy rain in Bangladesh. Experts predict that the country is headed for a major flood, similar to the one in 1988.

This YouTube user posts a video showing the extent of floods in Dinajpur, a northern Bangladeshi district:

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Posted by Mong Palatino

Tep Vanny's supporters calling for her release. Photo from LICADHO, a human rights group in Cambodia.

At least 65 civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-government organizations (NGOs) from across the world have already signed a unity statement urging the Cambodian government to release land rights activist Tep Vanny, who has been in detention for the past 12 months.

Tep Vanny is a prominent human rights activist who has been campaigning on behalf of marginalized farmers and displaced small landholders in Cambodia. She was arrested last August 2016 for leading the ‘Black Monday’ protest which was organized to call for the release of five human rights defenders accused of interfering in a government case involving an opposition leader.

The court convicted Tep Vanny of “insulting a public official” and sentenced her to six days in prison. But during her detention, the government revived a 2013 case against her when she led a protest in front of the prime minister’s house over the eviction of Boeung Kak Lake residents. A government reclamation project in Boeung Kak Lake, located in the capital city of Phnom Penh, has displaced thousands of residents living around the area.

On February 23, 2017, Tep Vanny was found guilty of committing “intentional violence with aggravating circumstances” during the 2013 protest, and she received a prison sentence of two years and six months.

On August 8, 2017, the court affirmed the decision to convict Tep Vanny. It was also reported that Tep Vanny could face a third trial for another revived case related to a 2011 protest in a Boeung Kak Lake community.

Tep Vanny’s prolonged detention is seen by some activists as part of a government plan to silence the opposition and spread fear among the people in time for the 2018 general elections. Cambodia’s ruling party has been in power for the past three decades, but it lost a significant number of seats in the 2013 elections.

The joint statement signed by 65 CSOs and NGOs warned that Tep Vanny’s detention “contributes to creating an atmosphere of fear for human rights defenders throughout Cambodia.” It also emphasized that dissent and peaceful activism should not be criminalized:

As a result of her imprisonment, Tep Vanny is prevented from carrying out her peaceful and valuable work as a woman human rights defender. Peaceful protest and expressions of dissent are not a crime, and human rights defenders should not be penalized for the exercise of their human rights.

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development noted that Tep Vanny’s trial violated international norms:

The fabricated charges against Tep Vanny and her arbitrary detention are politically motivated attempts to silence and restrict her activism as a human rights defender. The trial itself did not meet international standards for a fair trial.

Aside from local human rights groups, activists and residents in Boeung Kak Lake have been petitioning the offices of UN agencies and various embassies in Cambodia to seek help in pressuring the Cambodian government to release Tep Vanny.

Cambodian social media users are also encouraged to replace their profile photos with icons of the campaign.

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Posted by chasingdemons

SPIKE: Must-See-TV. Bait's been taken. Trap's all set. The Slayer has landed. So... Hello??? Paging Dr. Owe Me One.
ADAM: She's not alone. You've failed me again.
SPIKE: Well, that's one way of looking at it.
ADAM: What's the other way.
SPIKE: Oh, come on! It's not like I wasn't trying! That's worth something, isn't it?
ADAM: I suppose. Yes. I will honor our agreement to remove your chip. (to Forrest) Take his head off.

~~Primeval (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 4, Episode 21)~~




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Daily Feminist Cheat Sheet

Aug. 15th, 2017 09:40 pm
[syndicated profile] feministing_feed

Posted by Juliana Britto Schwartz

A not-so-gentle reminder: white women, this moment is not about your brand.

After failing to condemn violent white nationalists, Trump is ‘seriously considering’ a pardon for Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

California’s AB 638 would criminalize immigration consultants who provide accessible immigration services for people filing their immigration papers. Learn more here.

CeCe McDonald and BCRW put together a video on Ky Peterson, “Survived and Punished.” Ky is asking people to join in a letter-writing campaign to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Sign Ky’s petition, get information about the letter-writing campaign, and follow Ky’s case at freeingky.com.

Everything you need to know about Taylor Swift’s day in court: “Swift’s argument was that by countersuing Mueller, she was making it easier for other, less powerful women to punish the men who think they have a right to their bodies.”

 

 

 

 

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Posted by Emma Lewis

(Left to right): Artists Miriam Hinds-Smith, Margaret Stanley and Katrina Coombs at the opening of their exhibition “3 Generations of Textiles and Fiber Arts” at the Grosvenor Galleries, Kingston, Jamaica on June 24, 2017. Photo by Andrew P. Smith, used with permission.

An unusual exhibition took place recently at Kingston's Grosvenor Galleries: “3 Generations of Textiles and Fiber Arts” brought together Kingston-based artists Margaret Stanley, Katrina Coombs and Miriam Hinds-Smith for a vibrant expression of their personal aspirations and perspectives of society.

Stanley, 66, holds a degree in Fashion/Textiles from the Ravensbourne College of Art in London, England. She lectured at Jamaica's prestigious Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA) from 1989-2017 and has exhibited widely in both the United Kingdom (UK) and Jamaica. Kingston-born Coombs, 31, was educated in Textile and Fiber Art and Curatorial Studies at the EMCVPA. She also holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Practice from the University of Plymouth in the UK, via New York's Transart Institute. She has exhibited widely since 2008 and was featured in the Young Talent 2015 exhibit at the National Gallery of JamaicaHinds-Smith, 48, was also educated at EMCVPA and received her MFA degree from the Winchester School of Art at the UK's University of Southampton.

Global Voices asked the three artists about the development of their individual work, feelings about each others’ art and views on a recent nationwide controversy related to a “tablecloth.”

Global Voices (GV): Congratulations on a great exhibition! What moved you to take up textile art? Was it a process? Did you start out in textiles or in other art forms?

Margaret Stanley poses next to two of her pieces at the opening of the exhibition “3 Generations of Textiles and Fiber Arts” at the Grosvenor Galleries, Kingston, Jamaica on June 24, 2017. Photo courtesy Grosvenor Galleries, used with permission.

Margaret Stanley (MS): I originally wanted to be a fashion designer. My chosen course at college in the UK also offered textiles. I focused on making hand printed textiles for my fashion graduation show. Then I worked briefly in the fashion industry, but soon realised I wanted to make textiles. I did not know much about Textile ‘Art’, but fell into making large appliqué pictures, which over the years just developed into the work I do now.

Katrina Coombs (KC): I first started textiles and fiber art in high school, when I was introduced to macramé. I immediately found a love for fibers, tying knots and creating pieces.

Miriam Hinds-Smith (MHS): I am from a family of tailors and seamstresses. My mother sewed for us as children, and in my formative years, I had the fancy idea that I would become a fashion designer. This peaked in high school, where I made everything for myself. But I would say it was a gradual process. My initial decision to pursue a path in the arts was from a completely different angle. I wanted to become a graphic designer. But at the School of Visual Arts I had greater exposure to other art forms. I knew I wanted to do something far more expansive. It was a kind of returning to something I was innately responding to when I really fell in love with textiles. I loved every facet of it — designing, creating, imagining. There are cathartic aspects to working with this medium. It provided me with a voice that was quite poignant, quite auditable, unscripted, ephemeral yet tangible.

GV: To what extent does your work reflect your personal outlook or situation — or do you see it as a broader reflection of society?

Katrina Coombs with her pieces at the opening of the exhibition “3 Generations of Textiles and Fiber Arts” at the Grosvenor Galleries, Kingston, Jamaica on June 24, 2017. Photo courtesy Grosvenor Galleries, used with permission.

MS: My work mainly reflects my personal outlook. However, as I am part of Jamaican society, obviously it would also reflect my daily thoughts and observations.

KC: The works are generally a broader reflection of society as they deal with issues of ‘othering’ faced by all women at some point in their life. However, the first reference is the self and as such, the pieces are directly speaking to issues I have faced as a woman attempting to find my identity.

MHS: It is a mix of both, my personal references and what I know — what WE know — is happening in society. It is all in front of us. For some, it does not impact directly; it's a distant thing that you hear on the news. Truth be told, the effect is often closer to home — but we either sweep it under the rug or find ways of rationalising the situation away. Unresolved injustices are not acceptable. My work has moved from the very visceral and stridently literal. With this exhibition, I chose to focus on creating a space for healing, of sanctuaries for those to whom justice has been unrequited.

GV: How do you feel the medium of textiles enhances artistic expression?

Miriam Hinds-Smith poses next to her pieces at the opening of the exhibition “3 Generations of Textiles and Fiber Arts” at the Grosvenor Galleries, Kingston, Jamaica on June 24, 2017. Photo courtesy Grosvenor Galleries, used with permission.

MS: Textiles are important in all our lives, from birth to death. Special garments and fabrics in all societies have historical, cultural and emotional significance. Although I use many traditional techniques in my work, mostly in non-traditional ways, the layering of fabrics of differing colours, patterns and textures is an important inspiration.

KC: Textiles and fiber are used by artists as any other medium. One must first understand the material for all its characteristics — and through that understanding, be able to express oneself artistically.

MHS: The medium of textiles is canonised by Western culture as residing in a feminine domain — a specifically feminine expressive media. This is in stark contrast to other cultures where the medium (or interactions with textiles) resides in the male domain. I find textiles a pliable and eloquently responsive medium that communicates immediately. It has many nuances that allow for a multi-layered conversation.

GV: Do you feel that textile/fiber art gets the recognition it deserves in Jamaica? 

MS: Skills in traditional textile techniques like embroidery are still appreciated by the older generation. Textile Art? Not so much! However, with exposure from foreign experience and the Internet, more fine artists are using textile techniques in their work. This has led to more acceptance. The average Jamaican, however, is still more comfortable with painting!

KC: Recently, textiles and fiber have been put in the forefront of some exhibitions by some artists. This has been a slow process; however, it is beginning to get the recognition it deserves. With more artists exhibiting textile and fiber art-based works […] there will be more recognition.

MHS: Good Lord, no! I recall having a conversation with someone who considers himself an ‘art connoisseur’. He was concerned with the resale value of fiber-based art work. My preoccupation is to have works of art that speak to the issues, in places that will stir further conversations and awareness. Not the sale and ‘art as object’ scenario.

GV: How do you feel about the work of the other two artists in the exhibition? Where do you see the contrasts and similarities in your cross-generational work?

MS: I feel Katrina’s pieces work on many levels. Her concept is not necessarily what the viewer might take away. The visual experience is strong. Miriam’s work, to me, seems more cerebral and needs closer examination. Both artists use textiles, threads and fabrics in very creative ways.

KC: There are three powerful voices speaking through the works, which highlight very personal issues for all three of us. The works themselves reflect our identities as women and the different stages we are at in the process of our development — as well as our different generations. I have always admired Margaret and Miriam for the works they produce, the energies that flow through them and into their works. From being trained by them both, it was an honour being able to exhibit alongside them.

MHS: …The contextual synergy of the exhibition is interesting, considering we really had no prior discussion of theme, any concerns of the sort or any other area that would create forms of alignment. There are similarities across our work from a purely generic frame, being all textile-based. However, Katrina’s poignant fiber-based constructs are very powerful and allude to the tenuous yet robust feminine quality of her concerns. Yet, they are carefully positioned in a very contemporary context, speaking to issues that need to be confronted. I enjoy Margaret’s work, as she employs traditional techniques — but her approach is mixed, creating her unique play with these mediums. Her work is whimsical yet stoutly satirical; a reflective commentary on the every day and the celebratory nature of accepting self, our independence to change, and the cadence of our evolution as women.

GV: Lastly, what are your thoughts on the recent controversy over Jamaica's bandana fabric? (A  dancehall star recently sparked controversy when she disparagingly called the Jamaican bandana a “tablecloth.”)

MS: Bandana is just one colour combination of a traditional woven Indian Madras fabric called Cotton Madras. It has a link with colonialism but has become a symbol of the Jamaican culture. It is similarly used in other Caribbean islands. It is a wonderful, very useful fabric.

KC: This relates back to the issue of textile and fiber being recognised. Firstly, the bandana is a plaid printed cloth. It was originally woven, but due to manufacturing processes it is now easily found in print. It is labeled as our national dress; however, it is hardly ever used in any of Jamaica's ‘branding’. I think the controversy has brought some needed dialogue and recognition to the material and its values for our country.

MHS: “…My concern [is] that as an independent nation, as a signifier of our national identity, we still utilise, like all the other islands, one of the remnants of colonial domination — the ‘Madras’ cloth. It comes from Chennai which was renamed Madras by the British during the mid-19th century. Now Jamaica, an independent country celebrating 55 years of nationhood, still struggles with issues of identity and who we are as a people.

I did not hear the unfortunate ‘tablecloth’ incident first-hand [the comment was made on an Instagram post] but this singer referred to ‘not wearing a tablecloth like Miss Lou’. I don’t believe she meant to disrespect Miss Lou personally. In her own way, though, she was speaking out against the cloth forced on us as a label.

The Madras identified us as property of the colonial empire. Back then, each island was assigned a specific pattern. Now let us look at Miss Lou: an iconic stalwart, a defender of our spoken language patois, dressed in this Madras costume, reciting ‘Colonisation in Reverse’ (one of my faves!). To me, this is an ironic satire of her redefining who we are through wearing this costume. Miss Lou is saying the labeled slave now speaks with a voice that stands strong, resolute and independent — not celebrating the cloth, but what the wearer of the cloth has become.

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Posted by Terence P Ward

TWH –An recently discovered case of the sharing copyrighted Pagan books via a Facebook group highlights the seriousness of this problem in the digital age. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Pagan-themed books were discovered to be hosted through The Wiccan Circle.

While the group’s owner is now removing those copies, he is not only unapologetic, but has made it clear that he will find other means to share the books. He believes that it his right, because he purchased them in the first place. In response, many group members are expressing outrage, not over the sharing, but over it been stopped.

The Wiccan Circle group is owned by Lord Thrullas, who also has at least two other Facebook profiles found here and here. When confronted by Elysia Gallo, senior acquisitions editor for Llewellyn Worldwide, Thrullas defended the uploads by comparing it to lending physical books to friends.

The long list of files, which also included spells, were largely uploaded by him personally. He confirmed with The Wild Hunt that his intention was to help the group’s members, and that he did purchase the items himself.

“A complete stranger on Facebook sent me a message about this group, as she was very concerned,” Gallo said when reached for comment. “When I told our copyright infringement person about the group, she said it was on her radar, as other people have reported it as well.”

Gallo joined the group herself, and was quite transparent about her reason by posting: “I am looking for illegal copies of books posted without permission of the publisher so they can all be reported to Facebook.”

There are protocols for getting illegal copies removed from a web site which are laid out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but the process is cumbersome, particularly on Facebook and other content platforms.

According to Gallo, “You have to submit a report to their DCMA agent, and you have to list each title individually, which can take hours if not days for a group that has well over 2,000 PDFs to scroll through (especially as you can’t do a regular scroll, but a ‘facebook scroll’ – where it only loads, I don’t know, 20-40 titles, and when you get to the bottom you have to hit ‘more’ to continue).”

Thrullas replied to Gallo, “Then stop downloading Copyrighted[sic] information and pics from the internet.”

In something of a victory lap, he removed Gallo from the group and deleted her post, but posted an announcement of what he’d done, and why. The comment thread which ensued was largely supportive.

However, several Pagan authors who had joined for that purpose tried to explain their point of view. They were also removed and the thread deleted, but screen shots document the exchange.

“There are a lot more groups doing it then just mind[sic],” Thrullas said, “so make sure you look at all the groups.”

It is clear that this activity is a widespread problem. “Think of it as a hydra,” Gallo said. “You chop off one head, another one springs up to take its place.”

“Just like illegal downloads of music and movies, it can never be fully eradicated from the internet, although as a society we can hope to get better at it,” Gallo continued. “Some people have no respect for creative work, despite having other free outlets to legally obtain this content,” such as public libraries.

Exactly how much money is denied authors by such activities is less clear because much of it is simply unknown.

Moon Books publicist Nimue Brown used the same simile to explain the problem. “I’ve had plenty of occasions of getting illegal copies taken down,” she wrote, “but it often feels like cutting heads off a hydra, in no small part because the Pagans doing it have some very odd attitudes. I’ve been told we should be glad people are bothering to read us, that they’re doing us a favour – it’s exposure (exposure is something people die of).”

Brown continued on, saying: “I’ve been told they are entitled to share books – some people can’t grasp that there’s a world of difference between passing a book round a few friends, and giving it to thousands of people. It’s really frustrating. Authors who challenge over this can expect abuse, harassment, and a total failure of understanding from the people involved in it.”

In this particular case, the group owner likened it to a lending library or trading books. Gallo addressed that in a blog post from 2012, in which she wrote:

Um, except for the fact that the library bought a copy of the book, or your friend bought a copy of the book. (Even libraries that now do digital lending.) And that they have a finite number of copies (physical or digital) that they are able to lend out at any given time – not a file that can be downloaded over and over again in the blink of an eye by complete strangers all over the world.

Some group members were less than full-throated in their support of illegal copies being available for sharing. One wrote, “I like to hope that people can have their own opinions, and as [Thrullas] said, don’t download if you don’t agree.”

Just as these violations are common online, the mindset that simply not breaking the relevant laws and international treaties is the ethical alternative is regularly used as a defense, together with “it’s all over the internet anyway,” which Gallo also addressing in 2012, saying:

There are tons of free resources on the internet – ones that are given freely by their creators. (Perhaps because they have ad revenue they can rely on. Perhaps they just do it out of the goodness of their heart.) So why do people even feel the need to download whole books in the first place? By wanting to download a book more than you want to read a website or blog . . . you are admitting that it has a certain value that is greater than what you can browse for free. The sum is greater than its parts. So please, pay for it.

Another sentiment expressed by some members of The Wiccan Circle is that if it were illegal, it would not be happening on Facebook.

Gallo said that their DCMA agent requires a link to a valid copy of the book and the illegal one on Facebook, and each file must be reportedly separately, an extremely time-consuming process that can only be undertaken by someone who is already a group member.

Author Kerri Hope chimed in on that point, saying to other members, “Facebook doesn’t enforce copyright law for this kind of stuff. The courts do. I just found this group, but seriously? Isn’t this a Wiccan group? Harm none? I’m floored.”

Hope later said to this reporter, “I don’t know how anyone could do that and call themselves Wiccan. If Pagans are willing to treat other Pagans that badly, well it’s just baffling. Doesn’t give me much hope.”

Thrullas commented during the exchange, saying: “Im[sic] the founder of this group, people can take [it or] leave it as is. I have enough going on from my recent post then[sic] pety stuff.”

This is certainly true. A post he shared to the group indicated that his mother is in her final days of life, and less than a year ago he and his partner lost their home to fire, which killed six cats and injured two dogs.

Despite the impression he makes in these copyright exchanges, Thrullas, who identifies as a Norse Wiccan, is an active volunteer and teacher in his local and online Pagan communities, and did sign the Pagan community environmental statement. His store, the Sage Emporium, does not presently have any books listed for sale on its site.

One group member characterized Thrullas as a “really good person” who “perhaps . . . didn’t know the particulars of the publishers’ and authors’ copyright laws” and might have reacted differently had he been approached privately.

Thrullas stuck to his position that purchasing the books gives him right to distribute them for free.

After the group owner began deleting the illegal copies, he simultaneously made clear that he would find another way to distribute his digital library, to the cheers of many group members.

“I cant[sic] put them back up on FB but Ido have the vast library and more posted somewhere trust me on that.”

To the end, he laid blame on those reporting the files, rather than ignorance of the law. At least one group member appeared ready to lay a curse on those doing the reporting.

Author Lupa published a post titled “When You Steal a Book From an Author,” in response to this particular issue. However, she is also well aware that it’s not at all rare:

They’re saying they are above the law. Sorry, but there is no way to legally justify sharing the entire book without permission. Fair use applies to a few hundred words, that’s it. ‘Educational use’ is only within certain educational establishments, and again is piece and part, not the whole damned thing. Sharing a bunch of PDFs to random strangers on Facebook? Sorry, your educational defense doesn’t work.

Lupa additionally suggested that the copyright notice in all books might have provided a clue, as it reserves the right to reproduce to those who have obtained permission to do so.

In her own blog post on the issue, Brown wrote:

I realise that most people don’t know copyright law, and it is easy to be persuaded that it’s ok to have something you want. There are a lot of people out there spouting all kinds of crap about why giving away other people’s ebooks is ok. It isn’t ok to give other people’s ebooks away, simply. However, anyone can make a mistake. Anyone can pick up a book because it sounded legit. . . . If you’ve made a mistake and taken something you shouldn’t have had, you can fix this by rebalancing things. Buy another book from the same author. Buy a hard copy for yourself. Stick something in their donations pot or Patreon.

One group member, upon learning that the group as a whole had been reported and the files were being removed, suggested it might be the result of anti-Pagan conspiracy.

It was not. It was the result of Pagan publishers and authors such as Gallo and others who reported the group.

“If we want to deal with the issue of Pagan books being pirated,” said Brown, “I think we have to tackle it as a cultural issue, not a practical one. And really, if you believe in any kind of magic, or energy, or power, or underpinning logic to the universe, why would you feel safe and comfortable learning your magic from a stolen book? How can that not have consequences? Whatever path you follow, whatever you believe, there are consequences.”

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Posted by rahirah

SNYDER: Here are the terms of your re-entry, Missy. Take 'em or leave 'em. One: that you pass a makeup test of every class you skipped out on last year. Two: that you provide, in writing, one *glowing* letter of recommendation from any member of our faculty who is not an English librarian. Three: that you complete an interview with our school psychologist who must conclude that your violent tendencies......are under control.

JOYCE: I'm not sure I like your attitude, Mr. Snyder. I spoke with the school board, and according to them...

SNYDER: I'm required to educate every juvenile who is not in jail where she belongs. Welcome back.

BUFFY: So let me get this straight. I'm really back in school because the school board *overruled* you. Wow. That's like having your whole ability to do this job called into question, when you think about it.

JOYCE: I think what my daughter's trying to say is... (sing-song) Nyah, nyah-nyah-nyah, nyah.

~~Faith, Hope & Trick~~



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Charlottesville: What We’re Reading

Aug. 14th, 2017 07:51 pm
[syndicated profile] feministing_feed

Posted by Dana Bolger

First, a reminder: It’s not just men. Many white women are — and have long been — white supremacists, too. Laura Smith gives us a short history.

Liberals and centrist Dems: The “alt-left” is not a thing. Please stop pretending “that the people fighting white supremacists are somehow exactly like them.”

Jia Tolentino on the “American fetish for tradition, which is, in part, a fetish for the authority of the rich white male.”

Lincoln Blades on who gets named a terrorist, and why.

And Chanelle on the questions to ask as you consume mainstream media in this moment (and always).

Donate to medical and legal funds supporting the activists in Charlottesville.

Find a solidarity event near you.

Are you a student? Check out this guide to responding when a white supremacist is brought to campus.

Plus, don’t miss UVA graduate students’ Charlottesville Syllabus.

Moving words from a former UVA student: “Instead of watching the videos of tiki-torch yielding white supremacists reenacting the violence of their ancestors in the evil ground of Charlottesville and UVA, I’m going to re-watch the beautiful portrayals of Black folks living in their fullness; standing together and studying deeply; loving on each other.”

No more Charlottesvilles.

Header image via.

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Posted by The Wild Hunt

Covenant of the GoddessONTARIO, Calif. — Covenant of the Goddess members elected a new First Officer Saturday. Canu, who has been a member for 25 years, will be moving into the position Nov. 1, along with the newly-elected board. Canu said,”My goals include drawing on CoG’s deep combined experience to: support our local councils’ and solitary members’ needs and goals, such as intrafaith interaction with the broader Pagan community; review our membership processes and barriers to joining the Covenant; support our interfaith work and plan for the periodic costs of interfaith representation at the Parliament of the World’s Religions and North American Interfaith Network events; and engage all of our members to make CoG more focused on, and communicative about, what we have to give directly, like community events, philanthropy, and networking.”

He added that, generally speaking, he wants “our Wiccan and Witchcraft communities [to] know that CoG supports them, their work, and their exercise of religious rights.” He thanked the efforts of the past board, which has been headed up by First Officer Jack Prewett. Canu said, “I’ll step into some big shoes on November 1st, and I hope to build on the efforts of those that have been caretaking CoG for many years.”

The new board was elected at CoG’s annual business meeting, Grand Council, that is held during the Merry Meet event. Joining Canu will be Circe as National Second Officer, Morgana as Recorder, Janine as National Public Information Officer, Stachia Ravensdottir as Publications Officer, Thea as National Membership Officer, Amber K as National Communications Officer, Manny Tejeda-Moreno as National Pursewarden.

Next year’s Merry Meet and Grand Council will be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

 *    *    *

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Catland Books hosted a hexing event Friday evening, which was aimed at President Donald Trump and “his cohorts.” Catland reader Dakota Bracciale organized the event and was allowed to use store’s space. When explaining the ritual, Bracciale reportedly told the dozen attendees: “Moral questions come up. ‘Oh God, I’ve heard cursing is so bad.’ Well, hexing someone because they’ve wronged you is very simple. It’s what laws are based on. It’s punitive, that’s what it is.”

This was not the first hexing ritual of its kind held in the metaphysical store or beyond. The hexing trend continues on, as it has since Trump first announced his bid for the presidency. As for hex events held at Catland, Bracciale has a mason jar filled with tiny crumbled papers “holding curses” from past similar ceremonies. Friday’s attendees were invited to add to the jar.

Part of the proceeds raised by the event were donated to Planned Parenthood. Catland says that number totaled $78. In a Facebook post, Catland Books also advertises: “Join us for next month’s hex, and help us continue to make a difference!”

Although Caltand spokesperson did tell The Wild Hunt that the event was not run by the store owners, they are holding classes on magical activism to explore “the world of occult political resistance.”

 *    *    *

TWH — Concerns about Pagans violating copyright protections of Pagan books have resurfaced in a big way, with thousands of volumes being uploaded by the owner of one popular Facebook group. Authors and publisher’s agents who knew that no such permission had been granted have tried to get the files removed, and after several days those attempts appear to have been successful, to the disappointment of some group members.

Tomorrow we will have coverage of how copyright laws are used and ignored in the digital age, including interviews with author Lupa Greenwolf, Nimue Brown of Moon Books, and Llewellyn’s Elysia Gallo. Included will be common misconceptions about what’s acceptable to share over the internet, and what it takes to get an illegal copy of a book or other work of art removed from a site.

Coming up this week we will have reactions and reports concerning the weekend’s violent actions in Charlottesville.

In other news:

  • New Jersey-based priestess Deborah Lipp was featured on Beyond Reality Radio Aug. 7. The show is hosted by Jason Hawes, who is co-founder of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) and by JV Johnson, a paranormal investigator and publisher. They talk to Lipp about the practice of modern Witchcraft and “what it means to be a Witch.”
  • Catland Books, mentioned above, is hosting a lecture series by the New York City-based Satanic Temple. The next class, to be held Aug. 25, is called “Satanic Feminism, Rebellion, Identities.” Proceeds from this event will go to the Satanic Temple’s Religious Reproductive Rights campaign.
  • Feminist historian Max Dashu has published an essay that explores the “pornification of goddess figures.” She begins by saying, “For some time I’ve been thinking that something needs to be said about the the toxic femininity scripts creeping into ‘Goddess’ imagery, mass-media contamination, and all in the name of women’s empowerment. These posed, stilted, playmate-like ‘goddesses’ sticking their breasts out and pouting like lipstick models are all over the net.”
  • Pagan Pride season is upon us, and will run through November. Twin Cities Pagan Pride Day, which will be held in September, is celebrating its 20th year. This year’s event will include the sharing of memories from past years, and cake. Organizers also note that they will be hosting “Murphey’s Midnight Rounders farewell concert, as they prepare to embark on new musical projects.”
  • And, Mercury is once again retrograde.
[syndicated profile] feministing_feed

Posted by Barbara Sostaita

TIME‘s one-minute immigration quiz — “Find Out If President Trump Would Let You Immigrate to America” — allows anyone to answer seven simple questions and find out if Trump would let them into the United States under the RAISE ActBy turning the arduous visa application process into a Buzzfeed-style-What-Hogwarts-House-Would-You-Be-In-quiz, TIME has obscured the RAISE Act’s real-life implications.

In brief, the RAISE Act — Trump’s proposed immigration reform bill — would operate on a points-based system, giving priority to people between the ages of 26 and 30, with a doctorate in a STEM field, English language proficiency, and a high-paying job offer. Applicants would need 30 points to be eligible to apply for a visa (with no guarantee they would be approved); those with the highest number of points would jump to the front of the line.

The quiz aims to put U.S. citizens in immigrant’s shoes by showing them how (much more) difficult the visa application process would be under the RAISE Act. It’s effective in triggering empathy and mobilizing support against Trump’s policies by demonstrating that when we base immigration on “merit,” most — if not all — of us fall short.

That said, here’s how the quiz falls short:

1. Rather than emphasizing how exhaustive and exhausting the visa application process is, TIME‘s quiz turns it into a quick and simple game. It does not take a minute to apply for a visa to the United States. It’s a laborious and painstaking process, with real costs including application, legal, and travel fees, and the emotional burdens that come with the uncertainty and scrutiny of the process. The quiz trivializes all that by presenting it as a game you can easily engage with, share on social media, and forget about a few minutes later.

2. Without contextualizing the bill or offering analysis of the race, gender, and class dynamics at play in Trump’s proposal, the quiz obscures the groups most affected by the RAISE Act. Taking the quiz, you’re left with the impression that the bill discriminates equally against everyone. That’s not the case. The RAISE Act is meant to keep out poor people (specifically, women) of color from the Global South. The bill limits family-sponsored visas to spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, taking away opportunities for siblings and adult children to apply for visas. Seventy percent of all immigrant women gain legal status through family-based visas, compared to 61% of men; employment-based visas favor men over women by nearly four-to-one margin. The bill also imposes a cap of 50,000 refugee admissions a year (84,995 were admitted to the U.S. last year) — whose beneficiaries come mostly from Burma, Iraq, Congo, Syria, and Somalia — and would end the visa diversity lottery, which benefits African immigrants the most. TIME‘s quiz fails to mention all of these restrictions, which disproportionately target women and Black and Brown people mainly from Muslim-majority countries. The RAISE Act is anti-women, anti-Muslim, and anti-poor — but you wouldn’t know that from TIME‘s quiz.

3. In trying to make white people feel empathy for the other, TIME‘s quiz falls into the trap of centering whiteness and white feelings in political activism. To its credit, the quiz shows that playing “who is most deserving of citizenship” is a game we all lose, and that basing immigration on Olympic gold medals, Nobel prizes, and doctorate degrees creates impossible standards that even the most “respectable” and “deserving” white U.S. citizens would fail to meet. The quiz tries to make white U.S. citizens care about these issues because it affects them, too. But the truth is, it doesn’t affect them. The RAISE Act will target poor, Brown and Black women. That alone should be enough to trigger the outrage in white folks who are failing to earn 30 points on that quiz.

The RAISE Act is not a game; it was not designed to entertain you during your lunch break or to collect likes on a Facebook post. It is a racist and discriminatory bill aimed to keep out the most vulnerable and at risk immigrants. Those people’s lives — our hopes, dreams, and fears — do not exist to indulge your voyeurism or satisfy the curiosity of white U.S citizens. This is not a hypothetical situation. This is our lives.

Header image via Avvo.com.

[syndicated profile] thewildhunt_feed

Posted by Heather Greene

TAMPA, Fla. — Outback Steakhouse became the focus of the latest social media meme craze when a Twitter user suggested that the Tampa-based restaurant chain was connected to the Illuminati and had occult leanings. The claim was backed up by a series of map images demonstrating how the chain’s locations around the country always form pentagrams.

[Twitter: @eastmyaesthetics.]

The initial tweet, dated July 27, resulted in a firestorm of speculation as can only manifest in a social media environment. Users began creating their own pentagram maps with responses such as ,”Hold the damn phone,” “I’m scared,” “What is going on here?,” and “Illuminati Confirmed.”

Most of those memes do appear to have been created tongue-in-cheek, some more obviously than others. In some of the more farcical ones, people used steakhouse locations to draw demons, crosses, the Eye of Providence, genitalia, Pac-Man, cats, turtles, and more.

Some people discovered messages spelled out by connecting the steakhouse dots. One user in São Paulo demonstrated that the city’s local Outback Steakhouse locations indeed spelled the word Satan.

Another user responded, “Who knew when they said ‘a taste from down under’, they meant hell.”

The Outback occult-based conspiracy theory spilled out into other social media venues, eventually making international headlines. Mashable writes, “Conspiracy theory suggests that Outback Steakhouse is the center of a satanic cult.” HuffPost wrote, “Outback Steakhouse At The Center Of Bizarre Conspiracy Theory.”

Users even began tweeting directly at the company, asking for an explanation.

While the entire episode is largely being brushed off as fun and games, any Pagan or occult practitioner who lived through the 1980s and ’90s might find it less than humorous. During those two decades, the nationwide Satanic Panic created a cultural environment that allowed for similar accusations and theories to fester and spread, even in the absence of social media.

California’s infamous McMartin preschool case, which is often cited as marking the beginning of the moral panic, began with local accusations of occult practice. The fear spread across the country and well beyond the school environments. Anyone or anything could become the center of an occult-based conspiracy theory. It is not insignificant to note that the first film version of Arthur Miller’s 1953 play The Crucible (1996) was released during this time.

Satanic or occult influence was found everywhere, specifically in children’s fare. As we previously noted, Pokemon was the focus of one was such conspiracy theory. The Harry Potter book series, which is now celebrating its 20th anniversary, was also the focus of such claims at one point in time.

Organizations like Covenant of the Goddess, Lady Liberty League, the Witches League for Public Awareness and others were formed to combat the negative perceptions that came with such claims.

Although the famous McMartin trial ended in 1990 and the FBI denounced the idea of widespread Satanic abuse in 1994, the residual cultural effects of the panic lasted into the early 2000s.

While that is all now a part of history, many in the Pagan community have not forgotten the experience and how it touched them personally. To this day, modern occult-based practices are still looked on with fear and trepidation, as demonstrated in the rising reports of Witchcraft in Nottinghamshire, and the practices are also often used as examples of misbehavior, as is suggested by the reports on the 2017 Dyleski hearing.

Independent of any grandiose moral panic, conspiracy theories are not new to the internet age and are not going away any time soon. Occult-based theories abound in history, entertainment, and contemporary politics. Children and teenagers love the mystery and simultaneous fear rush that goes along with ghost stories and the legend trip experience.

Devil’s Tour in Alpine, N.J. [Scaramouch/Flickr].

People look for underlying meaning, connections, and narratives in places where there may or may not be. This is human nature. The unknown worlds, speculation, and the shadow side of living are sources of both fear and attraction.

For example, in the music industry, both backward masking, which is a recording technique, and backmasking, which is a technological coincidence, have both been labeled as being Satanic influences. The messages that come out of the reversal of the sound are considered spiritually dangerous. When playing the song Help by the Beatles, a hidden message can be heard: “Now he uses marijuana.”

Historical sites, graveyards, and old buildings are attractive locations for teenagers to engage with similar narratives. In Alpine, N.J., there is an old stone tower that is said to be an inverted cross built by the Satanist who owned the surrounding land. The blood of his sacrificed victims stained the floors of the locked tower gates. If you drove around the tower backwards, you could hear Satan’s spirit speak. It is the perfect place for a legend trip.

More recently, in 2016, Taylor Swift was accused of being a Satanic leader due to her striking resemblance to Zeena, the daughter of Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey. Social media users went wild with that suggestion, as they have done with the recent Outback frenzy.

Most Americans are aware of the large number of occult-based conspiracy theories that circle around the city Washington D.C. and the often-cited connections made between politics and Illuminati influence.

While much of these episodes and speculation is limited to fun and games, there is still a real possibility of that occult-based or Satanic-based conspiracy theories can lead to moral panics if the environment is right, as history has proven. Such panics, regardless of how large the can get, do have a direct and negative affect on Pagan communities and occult practitioners who get caught in the panic’s net.

The recent Outback Steakhouse Twitter craze ended a few days after it began and largely seen as a joke.

Since that social media meme outbreak, there have been secondary theories suggesting that Outback itself was behind the frenzy in the first place. Those theorists have suggested that it was a simply a backhanded advertising effort.

While the company has not responded to that particular claim, it did have something to say to the original Twitter user who started the entire episode:

An Outback spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the tweet, but would not comment further.

[syndicated profile] globalvoices_gender_feed

Posted by Janine Mendes-Franco

Writer Ingrid Persaud; photo used with her permission.

With a humourous, tender and engaging story about a father-son bond, Trinidad and Tobago-born writer Ingrid Persaud copped the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the Caribbean region; she was also this year's overall winner. In “The Sweet Sop”, she masterfully explores the difficult themes of love and death without getting maudlin, and deliciously sweetens a sour relationship with all manner of chocolate.

Global Voices chatted with her about her win, her writing and Caribbean literature in general.

Global Voices (GV): Congratulations on winning this year’s Commonwealth Short Story prize (Caribbean). The narrative around your success has been that you are a “first-time author” and that you pretty much came out of nowhere to win this prize, but you have been honing your craft for a long time now. Can you tell us about your journey?

Ingrid Persaud (IP): The notion of a writer emerging fully formed is simply a version of the genius myth. I have been writing for the past five years persistently trying to understand how words slide and fall and play. I’ve written a novel and [am] working on another. I haven’t been writing short stories and the prize incentivizes me to look at this form more seriously.

My journey to writing has been circuitous. I have had two other lives. [I was] an academic lawyer and later I trained as an artist. Looking back, the thread that binds it all is the power of words.

GV: The beauty of “The Sweet Sop”, your story that so impressed the panel of judges with its originality, strength of characterisation and humour, is that it spoke of universal experiences with a distinctly Trinidadian voice. How did you accomplish that?

IP: Caribbean voices are as distinct and as easily understood as, for example, the Irish or Scottish voices we unquestioningly accept. I think this generation of writers is making a stand against the othering of Caribbean
voices as ‘patois’ or ‘first nation language’. Good stories and poems will always find a space because they speak to our common humanity. Trini humour warms my heart and I am delighted it touches others.

GV: Has blogging been useful in honing your writing skills, especially with regard to the short story format? What has it taught you as a writer?

IP: I am not a regular blogger but starting the blog was crucial to making writing a more central part of my life. We had moved from London to Barbados and I set myself the task of writing a 900-word weekly essay on this new life. It doesn’t sound like much but it provided structure, discipline and forced me to be more observant. Notes From A Small Rock gave me the space to experiment and get feedback from readers. I really ought I to feed that beast more often.

GV: Not only are you a writer, you are a parent, too. How did your family react when you won the prize, and how do you balance being a wife, mother and writer?

IP: The whole family was proud. Even our teenaged twin boys muttered something about my prize being cool. The boys are my first obligation and until they leave for university in the next year or so my world is determined
by their needs. That is my choice. The time and head space I reserve for writing is also sacred but what that looks like depends on whether it is holiday or term time or if the boys have exams. My husband is incredibly supportive of my writing as I am of his work [he's an economist]. We struggle on as a team — compromising and firefighting.

Ingrid Persaud; image used with her permission.

GV: How has social media factored into your ability to share and promote your work and connect with other Caribbean writers?

IP: I spend far too much time on Facebook and Twitter and excuse it because I live on an island that is 14 by 21 miles. It is my portal to interacting with other writers worldwide as well as my interface with news services and various publications. But I never confuse a virtual friend with the kind that turns up for lunch and you are both still talking and laughing as the moon is rising.

GV: Speaking of other writers, who inspires you?

IP: I read widely to catch a glimpse of the zeitgeist and I read strategically depending on the challenges I am trying to overcome in my own writing. For craft, Olive Senior’s work is inspiring. I re-read Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying more often than I care to admit. This summer’s best find has been The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam.

GV: How do you notice Caribbean literature evolving and where does your voice fit into it?

IP: The Caribbean has a proud tradition of producing world class literature and we are continuing to do so with the authentic and unique voices of writers and poets such as Kei Miller, Vahni Capildeo, Marlon James, Barbara Jenkins, Jacob Ross and Sharon Millar. In time, when I’ve produced more work, my voice might find a space. But that is the critic’s job. My task is to keep writing.

GV: Any practical advice for aspiring regional writers, particularly female ones?

IP: Treat yourself with respect and kindness. Make your writing time sacred. When you are not writing, you should be reading. Writers are never off duty because material can come from anywhere — a chance remark or when buying bread. Maybe it is just my sieve of a memory but I recommend note taking on the go. And don’t wait for the muse. That woman woke up late this morning and is stuck in traffic. She’s coming but best you start writing now. She’ll join you later.

GV: Finally, what does winning the Commonwealth Short Story prize mean to you and how do you expect it might change the trajectory of your career?

IP: The prize has brought me in contact with some fantastic writers from around the Commonwealth — people I hope will be in my life for a long time. It has given me greater confidence and resilience to meet the demands of a writer’s life. But it also makes me a little scared that maybe the next thing I write won’t be as good.

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