This was the week we were all forced to contend with the term “pro-rape rally”.
In case you were fortunate enough to miss this, I’m here to ruin your day: A noted internet asshole organized men’s rights events in 43 countries for this Saturday evening. Following widespread outrage (prompted by the aforementioned asshole’s public position that legalizing rape would be a good way to stop it), he announced that he was canceling the event because “I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend”. Honestly, gross as this is, it’s not 100% clear that this was ever a real thing, and efforts to get more information have only yielded additional nonsense. To wit:
Meanwhile, the competition to be the biggest dick to refugees continues unabated. The EU plans to criminalize offering assistance to migrants arriving on the Greek Islands. And Australia’s high court just ruled that the country’s abhorrent practice of imprisoning asylum seekers in offshore camps is totally legal.
Welcome to 2016, everyone. Here’s how the first week of the new year has gone:
North Korea says that it tested a hydrogen bomb, a technology that it totally, definitely, absolutely has. Other things North Korea claims to have include: a cure for Ebola, unicorns, and a functioning economy.
Ben Carson, who is somehow still a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, despite his militant ignorance of policy, politics, and interior design, humiliated a small child at a campaign event yesterday. If you don’t know that when you ask a roomful of 5th graders who the dumbest kid in the class is, they’re all going to point to the same kid, you’re probably not equipped to govern.
And in Gambia, perennial spouter-of-ridiculous-nonsense (and president) Yahya Jammeh has ordered all female civil servants to cover up their hair. The directive is presumably pursuant to his unilateral announcement last month that Gambia is now an Islamic republic. Because I guess that’s a thing the president can do.
I can’t even with this thing about Denmark trying to seize asylum seekers’ valuables. So instead, let’s talk about the patriarchy.
Japan’s highest court ruled that spouses must have the same last name, effectively requiring women to either give up their maiden names, or forgo the legal benefits of marriage.
The UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women in Law and Practice paid a visit to the U.S. and did NOT like what they found here. In what may or may not be news to anyone, they concluded that the U.S. is failing to uphold the human rights of women, and that the situation is particularly dire for poor women, ethnic minorities, migrants, LBTQ women, women with disabilities, and the elderly.
And 46 year old millionaire Ehsan Abdulaziz was acquitted of rape charges by a London jury, which apparently accepted his story that he tripped and landed with his penis inside of a sleeping teenage girl. (Seriously, I am not exaggerating this one AT ALL.)
A few weeks back, Gawker ran a piece reporting that the U.S. State Department ignored a letter from Joseph Kony, in which the LRA leader “express[ed] interest in a ‘peace process'”.
At the time, many of us thought “hmm, that sounds… incorrect.” Well, Ledio Cakaj has the story on just how incorrect it was. Basically, Gawker got pranked hard, and probably should have spotted the hoax. If only because Kony would almost certainly spell the name of his rebel movement correctly…
Robert Mugabe, 3,112 year old dictator of Zimbabwe, just won the Confucius Peace Prize, a.k.a. “China’s Nobel Peace Prize”, for his contributions to “African peace”. Because “peace” is definitely the thing you get from 28 years of systematic repression, political violence, and torture. (h/t: Milli. Thanks Milli!)
Jina Moore, a.k.a. “Lady Issues Reporter Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary”, found clear evidence that refugee women and children are being sexually assaulted and exploited as they journey across Europe, despite official denials. (Today the UN High Commission for Refugees changed its tune, admitting that refugee children face “heightened risk of violence and abuse, including sexual violence”.)
But then I learned that presidential candidate Mike Huckabee thinks the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which denied citizenship to black Americans, is still “the law of the land” and I. Just. Cannot. Even.
This means one of two things: Either Huckabee does not have the basic knowledge of our system of government necessary to understand that a subsequent Constitutional Amendment can overturn a Supreme Court decision, or he doesn’t know about the 14th Amendment. In either case, I feel comfortable concluding that he does not meet the minimum qualifications necessary to be president. Yeesh.
A man is arrested for stabbing three marchers in Jerusalem’s 2005 Gay Pride Parade. He is convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. His sentence is reduced to 10 years and he is released JUST IN TIME for the 2015 Gay Pride Parade. Where he promptly stabs six people.
All I’m saying is, maybe someone could have seen this coming? (And also: ugh, why are people continually the worst?)
Hey, remember that time Sri Lanka shocked the world by booting Mahinda Rajapaksa out of office just as he was fixing to settle into the presidency for life? (I was there, it was pretty major.)
The new president, Maithripala Sirisena, was celebrated for his bravery in defecting from the regime, and for his principles in his campaign against the abuses of Rajapaksa rule. After the election, investigations of Rajapaksa and his family were announced on allegations of massive corruption, extrajudicial killings of journalists, and attempts to stage an election-night coup.
But six months later, things have gotten weird.
Sirisena’s coalition, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) said today that Rajapaksa will run on their ticket in next month’s parliamentary polls. Rumor has it he may even be the pick for prime minister.
If that sounds like an unbelievably speedy rehabilitation of someone whose ousting was met with global cries of “Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead”, remember that the January election was close. Rajapaksa remains very popular with the majority Sinhalese community and their representatives in Parliament. And, in the absence of clear evidence that he tried to overturn the election results, the fact that he gracefully exited office allowed him to preserve the option of a comeback.
At the moment, it’s not clear whether Sirisena actually signed off on Rajapaksa’s return. Over the last couple of days, he’d sounded adamantly opposed to the idea. If he changed his mind, it would indicate a major split in the (always tenuous) big tent movement that brought him to power. If he didn’t, he may have lost control of elements of the UPFA.
And either way, looks like the lead up to the August 17 election is going to be another bumpy ride for Sri Lanka.
A five justice majority of the Supreme Court made human rights history by ruling that the states cannot ban gay marriage. The other four justices continued to insist that allowing gay people to form stable family units will ruin marriage, democracy, pizza, and the American way of life.