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Woman warriors: Media gets it all wrong

Woman warlord
© Brad Jonas
I read a long article called "My Terrifying Night with Afghanistan's Only Female Warlord" last month. It was utter crap, and so similar to a lot of utter crap I've been reading about the women fighters of the Kurdish YPJ militia in Syria that I realized it's time somebody called foul on the offensive, ignorant crap going around about what the media likes to call "women warriors." I don't particularly enjoy the role of progressive scold, and it don't hardly come natural to me, but somebody's gotta do it.

What happens, in every case where writers and TV reporters with no background in military reporting try to describe "women warriors" is that they sexualize everything, ignore the real context, and betray a deep misogyny in every word they write or speak on camera. I mean, to the point that it's surprising, at least to me, because a lot of these people make a big deal about being progressive. I'm kinda shocked, actually, how crude their gender bias is. Nobody seems to be even trying to hide it.

Reporters seem to insist on trying to "humanize," i.e. feminize and sexualize, their subjects by asking them about boyfriends, marriage, and kids. You can see that sort of tilt in nearly every story about the magnificent fighters of the YPJ, the women's military force defending Kobane and other Kurdish Syrian cities against Islamic State. YPJ fighters dominate the mixed YPJ/G forces in Rojava (Kurdish North Syria); the overall commander of Kurdish resistance to the IS swine attacking Kobane is female, for example. But even well-meaning reporters insist on bringing the conversation back to boyfriends, marriage, and kids, like this generally good story by Australia's 60 Minutes, which drags in the question of boyfriends, etc., at the 8:49 point.

Comment: Just another reflection of how shallow and totally lacking in insight the Western worldview is when it comes to pretty much everything. It's no wonder the Western media (at least those who don't receive explicit directives on what or what not to write) has fallen hook, line and sinker for the official party line on the conflict in Ukraine, for example. They can only see the situation through their narrow American lenses. And those lenses tend to blur out any insight into humanity and the reasons these conflicts are erupting worldwide.

Cowboy Hat

Hysteria: Texas considering bill allowing teachers to use lethal force against students

© Reuters/Mike Stone

Comment: It's bad enough that the U.S. has given carte blanch to police to shoot and kill with impunity, now Texas wants to extend that to teachers in charge of children? We've already seen how many innocent civilians are killed by police who claim to "fear for their lives", now they want to extend that to untrained school officials. Giving educators immunity for murder is absolutely insane.


Schoolteachers in Texas will be allowed to use lethal force against students without risking legal repercussions if a new bill being considered in the Lone Star State's legislature becomes a law.

The bill - HB 868, or the "Teacher's Protection Act" - affords educators legal immunity in the unlikely event that they happen to kill any of their students during school-sanctioned events.

Specifically, the bill - introduced to the Texas State Legislature on January 22 by Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Canton) - says "an educator is justified in using force or deadly force on school property, on a school bus or at a school-sponsored event in defense of the educator's person or in defense of students of the school that employs the educator if, under the circumstances as the educator reasonably believes them to be, the educator would be justified...in using force or deadly force, as applicable, in defense of the educator or students."

Indeed, the language does not limit any hypothetical action on the educator's part to be done in self-defense: the proposed bill actually allows teachers to use deadly force on children if they believe another student or their self is in danger.

As of August 2014, Texas was among eight states in the country where laws allow school employees to carry firearms on campus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And, as the Houston Chronicle pointed out this week, teachers in Texas are already granted immunity if they assault a student, and the "use of force, but not deadly force, against a [student] is justified."
Vader

Terrorists are us now? NYPD special force to patrol with machine guns

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced Thursday that 350 heavily armed NYPD officers, called the "Strategic Response Group," will soon be patrolling protests and the city at large. He said the new strain of hyper-armed police will be
...equipped and trained in ways that our normal patrol officers are not. They'll be equipped with all the extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and machine guns - unfortunately sometimes necessary in these instances.
Bratton announced their purpose is specifically
...designed for dealing with events like our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris.
Lumping protesters in with terrorists, he said the permanent force will deal with "disorder control and counterterrorism protection capabilities." It will allegedly assist on crime scenes and help with "crowd control and other large-scale events."

It is not unusual for authorities to ramp up "security" efforts following attacks (such as the ax attack against officers in October), but the idea of machine-gun clad officers is disturbing, especially considering past NYPD abuses of protesters and other residents.

Comment: The Pentagon has been supplying police forces, cities and school systems throughout the country with military grade weapons. It appears that our government regards its citizens as enemies, and is prepared to use any amount of force to corral the populace. How such tactics can possibly be construed to lead to 'improved police relations with communities' is inexplicable!

Stop

South Carolina city quietly moving towards privatization of water supply

water privatization south carolina
© Steve Johnson/flickr/cc
Columbia, S.C. is looking at the possibility of privatizing its water and sewage system.
South Carolina's capital city is exploring the possibility of privatizing its water and sewage system, prompting warnings that it could spell higher costs and lack of public control over "our most essential resource."

Reporting for South Carolina's The State, John Monk wrote
A move to solicit written expressions of interest from private companies was approved by council in open session at an early January meeting, Mayor Steve Benjamin said at Tuesday night's council meeting. However, that approval received virtually no publicity.
Renée Maas, Senior Southern Region Organizer with Food & Water Watch, told Common Dreams that the privatization could take different forms, with Columbia leasing or selling its assets, hiring consultants, or privatizing its management system.

Previous efforts to privatize the municipal systems elsewhere have show they can be costly for consumers, Maas said.

Comment: There has been a trend toward privatizing water resources, with mega-banks and billionaires buying up water all over the world. They perceive water as a critical commodity and it is likely they will take full advantage of their 'rights' wherever water becomes scarce. A 2009 analysis of water and sewer utilities by Food and Water Watch found that private companies charge up to 80 percent more for water and 100 percent more for sewer services. Various privatization abuser failures occurred in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. This is because water corporations are primarily accountable to their stockholders, not to the people they serve.

Video

George Lucas talks future of film with Robert Redford

© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
George Lucas offered a bleak assessment of the current state of the film business during a panel discussion with Robert Redford at the Sundance Film Festival on Thursday, saying that the movies are "more and more circus without any substance behind it."

However, the Star Wars director hit back at critics who said his role in kicking off the blockbuster film business has watered down cinematic storytelling.

"If you go into Star Wars and see what's going on there, there's a lot more substance than circus," he argued.

In its day, Star Wars represented a major breakthrough in technology, and it's easy to discern a through line from the galaxy far, far away to the comic book movies and special-effects driven productions that dominate today's movie screens. The tools he helped popularize were all in the service of plot, he argued.

"All art is technology," said Lucas. "That's the one thing that separates us from animals."

Comment: The general public is easily amused and desperate not to realize the desperate condition they are in.

Handcuffs

Austria: 40 supporters of the One People's Public Trust arrested during meeting

Large-scale police operation: 200 cult-adherents wanted to pronounce their own judgements. Two police officers injured.

Hollenbach, Austria - They separate themselves from society, don't accept any kind of authority or government agency, and even want to make their own laws: Supporters of the cult-like One People's Public Trust assembled last Monday in Hollenbach, Austria. Under the guise of a "summer festival" they wanted to hold some kind of a "court trial", pronounce their own judgements, and even enforce it at the same time.
© Peter Zellinger
An OPPT-adherent in front of a police car at Walknerhof.
But it wouldn't come to that. On Monday morning, 60 police officers raided the Walknerhof farm in Hollenbach. 200 supporters of the alleged cult had settled down in the desolate farm. Members of this cult had been under police surveillance in the days before. In the internet videos are circulating showing supporters engaging in verbal fights with the police officers who only wanted to keep the situation calm. The local town hall had previously declared this assembly as illegal.
Handcuffs

New dashcam video shows white Seattle cop arresting 70yo black veteran for walking with golf club

© Reuters/Elaine Thompson
The Seattle Police Department is reviewing the conduct of an officer after she arrested an elderly black man who was using a golf club as a cane. Posting online, the officer also characterized civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., as "chronic black racism."

Seattle police released dashcam footage of the July encounter on Wednesday.

"You swung that golf club at me when I turned the corner at 11th and Pike," Officer Cynthia Whitlatch said to 70-year-old William Wingate before arresting him.

The alleged club-swinging is not shown in the 20-minute video which starts out with Whitlatch -- who is white -- repeatedly yelling at Wingate to drop the golf club, calling it a "weapon" at one point. Wingate protests that he has been "walking with this golf club for 20 years."

Comment: With outlandish arrests such as these, it will not help the police relieve public tension questioning their actions.

Handcuffs

Missouri police-public meeting turns into brawl over Ferguson tensions

© Reuters/Jim Young
A meeting aimed at healing mistrust between the black community and police in St Louis descended into a brawl Wednesday evening, underlining the tension that is still simmering in the area since the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in August.

Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson shot dead 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, sparking months of protests.

Protesters say that the incident is one of many across the state and the country, which show that blacks and other minorities are mistreated by the police.

Comment: Nothing is seriously being done to improve police relations with the public. These tensions will not automatically disappear.

Stormtrooper

Stand back! Hysterical Seattle police pepper-sprays black teacher in face for walking too closely after leaving MLK rally

© Youtube
A high school teacher and activist sued the city of Seattle after a police officer sprayed chemical irritant directly into his face as he left a peaceful rally on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jesse Hagopian, who spoke at the event about how black lives matter, was making arrangements by cell phone with his mother to attend his son's second birthday party when he passed a Seattle police officer screaming at passersby.

Video of the Jan. 19 incident shows the officer and some others standing at a police barricade as she orders a small, peaceful crowd - most of whom were walking past the police - to disperse.

Hagopian said officers set up a barricade with their bicycles to prevent protesters from marching, and he said some participants walked through the line - but he did not.

"Stand back, stand back," the officer screams as she holds a canister of pepper spray.

Suddenly, as Hagopian walks past talking on his cell phone, the officer blasts pepper spray - which the video shows hits him and an unidentified woman directly in the face.

Hagopian and the woman immediately duck for cover and the crowd scatters.

"I felt the piercing pain shoot through my eye, my ear drum and my nostril, all over my cheek and face," said Hagopian, whose eye was swollen shut afterward. "I yelled out. My mom was in distress as she heard me yell."

The officer continues to spray the chemical irritant in a sweeping motion toward the crowd, and she again orders the crowd to stand back when some witnesses ask what happened.

Video of the incident was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday, the same day Hagopian's attorney filed a lawsuit against the city.

A spokesman for the police department said he had not seen the video and was unable to comment.

Comment: Assaulted by a police officer for the crime of walking?! Not a day goes by where you don't hear or read about police officers using excessive force or even murdering people. The police state has happened incrementally - to the surprise of those who thought it would never happen again. As outlined in the article below, history may be repeating itself.

The path to tyranny: The Nazi Gestapo and the US police state

Camcorder

Video surveillance shows cops assault and kill young woman who was seeking help

© Courtesy of Heather Robertson
Kristina Coignard
A 17-year-old girl walked into the Longview, Texas police station. Then, only minutes later, police say they were "forced" to shoot and kill her, Thursday night. Now, the police have released surveillance footage that captured the final moments of Kristiana Coignard's life. Cognard walked into the empty lobby and approached the after-hours assistance phone.

"We don't know how she got here," Longview police officer Kristie Brian said. Coignard was connected to dispatch, via the after-hours phone. Dispatch then sent officers out to confront her. But no one knows exactly what was said then. Police, however, say that she "pulled a weapon" and "threatened" them.

We asked what weapon she brandished.

"I don't know what kind it was, yes she did brandish a weapon," Officer Brian said on Friday.

Comment: For those of you short on time, the key points are:
  • 7:40 Kristina is approached by an officer, grabbed and then forced into a chair.
  • 10:10 She manages to stand up, and is promptly slammed onto the floor.
  • 10:35 The officer gets off her and draws his weapon while she lies on the floor.
  • 10:50 A second officer joins them and she stands up.
  • 11:05 A third officer walks in and she tries to escape, the first officer shoots her point-blank and she goes down.
Contrast that with the video below of a gunman who entered a Dutch TV station demanding airtime. When confronted by police, at the end of the video, he drops the gun and is arrested. Taken alive... imagine that.



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