In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Terrorism; death] I noted on January 5 that Boko Haram had started the year by seizing a multinational military base in Nigeria and massacred hundreds of people. In subsequent days, reports began to emerge that Boko Haram had killed "as many as two thousand people in at least sixteen towns and villages in the last week. ...Today I spoke to Hamza Idris, a friend and senior reporter with the Nigerian newspaper Daily Trust, who has been covering the Baga massacre for the past week from the Borno State capital of Maiduguri. He had spoken with Baga residents and a district head who said that they had seen hundreds, but not as many as a thousand, bodies: people who were breathing and eating one moment and dead the next, from a grenade or bullet. ...I asked Idris if he knew what was happening in Baga. He sounded defeated: 'They've taken over the town, so we don’t know if they've stopped the killing or not.'"

The massacre in Nigeria has gotten comparatively little attention in the Western media, which has been obsessively documenting the attack in France on the staff of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Though both attacks were committed by men who are Muslim extremists, here are some key differences between the two massacres:

1. In Nigeria, the victims are black, many of them women and children. In France, the victims are almost exclusively white men.

2. In Nigeria, many/all of the victims were themselves Muslim. In France, all but one of the victims were not Muslim.

These are the facts underwriting Western indifference to the massacre in Nigeria, which has exponentially more victims. As "reprisal" attacks on French Muslims are justified or contextualized with rhetoric about people being "fed up" with Muslim extremism or terrorist violence, we are not meant to question the yawning apathy directed toward Nigerian victims who don't fit into simple narratives of Muslims attacking non-Muslims, or dark-skinned people attacking white people, and who don't inspire calls for solidarity because they were killed for simply living their lives instead of something "heroic" like publishing reprehensibly racist cartoons.

Everyone definitely cares about Muslim extremist violence—except, apparently, when it's directed at black Muslim women and children.

I am not, of course, suggesting that we shouldn't care about the victims in France. I am saying that we should care, at least as much, about the victims in Nigeria.

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Mitt Romney really wants to make sure my Photoshop skills stay in tip-top shape: "Romney forcefully declared his interest in a third presidential run to a room full of powerful Republican donors Friday, disrupting the fluid 2016 GOP field as would-be rival Jeb Bush was moving swiftly to consolidate establishment support. ...'I want to be president,' Romney told about 30 donors in New York. He said that his wife, Ann—who last fall said she was emphatically against a run—had changed her mind and was now 'very encouraging,' although their five sons remain split, according to multiple attendees." OH NO! I hope this Romney family discord doesn't ruin the next family retreat at the giant beautiful boat house!

In other 2016-ish news: Rick Santorum accuses his potential rivals of having thin resumes without a trace of irony. Rand Paul has hired someone yawn who cares. And Jay Leno says Hillary Clinton seems old and slow. Well, maybe some of us don't have time to dip our toes into the Fountain of Youth that is telling shitty jokes as a career and zipping around town in exhorbitantly priced cars while wearing head-to-toe denim, Mr. Leno.

* * *

President Obama has unveiled the America's College Promise proposal, which would "make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor's degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost." That is definitely better than nothing!

In related news: "Senior Democrats, dissatisfied with the party's tepid prescriptions for combating income inequality, are drafting an 'action plan' that calls for a massive transfer of wealth from the super-rich and Wall Street traders to the heart of the middle class. The centerpiece of the proposal, set to be unveiled Monday by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), is a 'paycheck bonus credit' that would shave $2,000 a year off the tax bills of couples earning less than $200,000. Other provisions would nearly triple the tax credit for child care and reward people who save at least $500 a year. The windfall—about $1.2 trillion over a decade—would come directly from the pockets of Wall Street 'high rollers' through a new fee on financial transactions, and from the top 1 percent of earners, who would lose billions of dollars in lucrative tax breaks." Sounds great! Too bad it will never pass out of the Republican-controlled Congress.

* * *

[CN: Domestic violence] George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, has been arrested, again, for domestic violence. It's almost like if you let a guy literally get away with murder, he acts like he can get away with murder. Huh.

[CN: Police brutality; racism] Extended video footage of the police killing of Tamir Rice has been released, and shows that his 14-year-old sister "was pushed to the ground, handcuffed, and then shoved into the back of a patrol car as her 12-year-old brother lay dying after being shot by a Cleveland police officer who mistook his toy gun for a real one." Honestly. None of these people should be police officers. None of them.

[CN: Rape culture] In a survey of 73 men by University of North Dakota researchers, 31.7% of the respondents said they "would force a woman to have sex with them if there was no chance of being punished." When asked if they would rape a woman if there were no consequences, only 13.6% said they would. I am pretty disturbed by the cognitive dissonance there, but I am way the fuck more disturbed that nearly 1/3 of men will confess to raping women (as long as it's not called rape) if they can get away with it.

[CN: Rape culture] Veterans who have been discharged from the US military after sexual assaults are fighting to get veterans' benefits, which are often denied to them on the basis that they didn't serve long enough to qualify for them. Got that? The military doesn't do enough to prevent sexual assault, then denies benefits to service members who are discharged after being sexually assaulted. Fucking hell.

[CN: Appropriation] The Golden Globes were last night, and of course Eddie Redmayne, an able-bodied man, won Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama) for playing Stephen Hawking, a man with a disability, and of course Jeffrey Tambor, a cis man, won Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical) for playing a trans woman. Yeah, it's a real celebration for trans women, I'm sure, when someone playing a trans woman wins Best Actor.

RIP Taylor Negron, who was one of my absolute favorite character actors. The very first thing I ever saw him in was Better Off Dead, as the worst mail carrier ever, and I always got so excited every time I saw him in something, because he just had a droll style I adored, and the greatest face.

And finally! Please enjoy this ridiculous video of an adorable begging bunneh.

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