WTF Friday, 3/11/2016

This week’s WTFs come in three flavors: WTF Islamophobia, WTF Eagles, and WTF Cambodia. Check it out:

In a victory for crabby 6 year olds everywhere, “she was LOOKING AT ME” has finally been recognized as a legitimate cause for retaliation. Specifically, two women were kicked off of a JetBlue flight for having their eyes open while also being Muslim. Ugh.

An Egyptian student who posted on Facebook that he “wouldn’t mind serving a life sentence” for killing Donald Trump has had his visa revoked and will have to leave the US by July 5. Most of my Facebook feed should be breathing a sigh of relief that they have American citizenship and can’t be deported.

The rise of Trump is not the only harbinger of doom for America: 13 dead bald eagles were found in Maryland. Authorities suspect that they did not die of natural causes.

Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, two men who filmed themselves torturing and killing an endangered eagle have been arrested.

In Cambodia, three of the five refugees resettled pursuant to a lucrative, much-criticized deal with Australia have left the country, apparently preferring to risk persecution back in Iran and Burma.

And finally, Cambodia’s apparent-Prime-Minister-for-life, Hun Sen, decided to celebrate International Women’s Day on Tuesday by advocating the creation of a men’s rights association.

On the bright side, at least we live in a world where this happened:

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WTF Friday, 3/4/2016

Did you guys see the GOP debate last night? Donald Trump repeatedly referred to Rubio as “Little Marco”, bragged about the size of his penis, and insinuated that our nation’s military would be perfectly happy to commit war crimes at his say-so.

Combined with a lady showing up to the Oscars in pants and the virtually-unprecedented occurrence of Clarence Thomas asking a question from the bench, it all adds up to a pretty clear sign that the end times are upon us.

On the bright side, here is a rhino who thinks he’s a lamb (h/t: Ami Shah).

Happy Birthday, Bob

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Robert Mugabe’s birthday.

Uncle Bob turned 3,113 last week (actually, 92). And, as usual, he celebrated in style. This year’s party cost $800,000 (note: the average Zimbabwean lives on approximately $3 per day) and involved a 203 lb “edible replica of the Great Zimbabwe ruins“.

It also involved this travesty of a birthday cake (photo screengrabbed from the NYT article linked above), which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t admit to the existence of South Sudan, and maybe also has some unorthodox ideas about where Eritrea and Djibouti are relative to Ethiopia?

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Thanks, everyone who sent this to me!

WTF Friday, 2/19/2016

Your weekly dose of horrible:

This just in from the internet’s foremost supplier of lady-bummers, Jina Moore: Women in a German refugee camp are accusing nine security guards of not only failing to provide security, but actively sneaking men into the camp to rape them.

In only slightly lighter news, humans once again demonstrated that we should not have been left in charge of a planet when a bunch of us took a baby dolphin out of the ocean and passed it around taking selfies until it died.

And finally, Maine’s idiot governor thinks asylum seekers are his state’s “biggest problem“. (Note: Despite the efforts of Governor LePage, Maine is one of a small number of states that provided welfare to asylum applicants, making it an attractive destination. But we’re still not talking about very many people; a 2014 article reported that at the time, there were 587 applicants in Maine awaiting their asylum interviews. And, because there’s a good chance that Governor LePage doesn’t know the difference between asylum seekers and refugees, it’s worth noting as well that Maine welcomed a grand total of 388 refugees in 2014.) Anyway. Why are they such a problem, you might ask? Well, apparently, they’re bringing in the “ziki fly”. (Additional note: that is not a thing.)


WTF Friday, 2/12/2016

I’m really busy today and wasn’t going to post, but then Kanye West happened. And not in the usual way Kanye happens –tweeting something insane, or misunderstanding somebody else’s tweet and tweeting something insane, or getting freaked out by a water bottle and then tweeting something insane. No, this was new.

It seems that Kanye had a fashion show last night and the theme was Rwandan refugees.

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You might be wondering “What does that even mean?” or “Isn’t that incredibly offensive?” or “Does he mean mid-90s Rwandan refugees in the DRC, or like, current day Burundian refugees in eastern Rwanda?”

I have no answers for you. Maybe there are none.

H/T: Jay Lyall.

WTF Friday, 2/5/2016

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:

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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.

And also, for some reason, the Dutch are pressing bald eagles into service as an anti-drone patrol.

What Would LM Montgomery Do?

Militant pro-choice Anne of Green Gables, you guys:

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These posters are appearing all over Prince Edward Island, home of the beloved fictional character, and her creator, Lucy Maud Montgomery.

The work of anonymous activists tweeting under the handle @iamkarats, the posters call on Premier Wade MacLauchlan to ensure the reproductive rights of the island’s residents. Currently, PEI women seeking an abortion must travel to one of Canada’s other provinces, an option that is not economically feasible for everyone. A group called Abortion Access Now is seeking a court order to compel the provincial government to make safe and legal (and government-funded!) abortions available to everyone. But in the meantime, Anne Shirley is ON IT.

H/T: Vocativ

Stuff to Check Out

(1) The return of Mass Atrocity Mondays, now live at Justice in Conflict. This month’s atrocity is the 2005 Andijan Massacre, and I’m taking requests for future posts.

(2) Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski is giving a talk here at Stanford on Wednesday (details below). Word on the street(s of Palo Alto) is that this will be a major human rights policy speech. If you’re in the Bay Area, come join the excitement.

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WTF Friday, 1/29/2016

There’s been a lot of ludicrously implausible stuff going on lately. So quick quiz:

Speaking Out of School

I’ve spent a lot of time these last few days talking with other academics about this NYT article by philosopher Carol Hay. Titled “Girlfriend, Mother, Professor?”, it decries the extra emotional work female faculty do as a consequence of students’ difficulty figuring out how to process women as professors and authority figures.

Many of these conversations went something like “Man, she’s strangely approving of the ancient Greek sex-with-boys approach to pedagogy, huh?” But the others suggested that Hay’s argument rings broadly true. There’s the YikYak problem. There’s the teaching evaluation disparity. And then there’s the Kleenex box Hay mentions, which many female academics keep on hand for the inevitable midterm tears.

Hay is correct that female faculty often bear the burden of providing emotional support to students. And that it’s a no-win situation. Falling behind on your research agenda due to time spent performing emotional labor results in penalties at tenure time. Declining to play the role of nurturer leads to punishment in your course evaluations.

But that’s not the whole story.

This isn’t simply a gender issue. Minority faculty members perform tremendous amounts of emotional work. For any student whose natural life cycle is not likely to include a phase as an middle-aged white man with elbow patches, seeing someone who looks like you in the professoriate is valuable. Developing a relationship with them is even more valuable. Faculty who come from under-represented communities know this. And even though they also know that being a role model and a support system for students will eat into their research productivity and may hurt their chances for tenure, many of them do it anyway. Because it’s important to them.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s ostensibly important to the schools, too. Almost every university and college in the U.S. has a publicly stated goal of increasing diversity in their student body. The emotional labor that female and minority (and particularly female minority) faculty perform is critical to this mission. It’s a rare 19 year old who doesn’t occasionally need a sympathetic adult ear. But for college kids who are the first of their family to go to college, who are working two jobs to stay there, or who are facing racism, sexism, or homophobia from fellow students, this need is even greater.

Emotional support from faculty can make the difference of keeping these students in school and ensuring that they succeed. But universities don’t seem to value this work, compounding the already higher rate of tenure denials among women and minorities. Which again, only makes the academy a whiter, more male place.

So maybe these schools aren’t that serious about being a welcoming environment for everyone, after all. If they were truly committed to diversity, they wouldn’t have policies that penalize labor that is disproportionately performed by female and minority faculty, and which disproportionately benefits female and minority students.