Malalai Joya, anti-Afghan war, anti-ISIS


Malalai Joya with solidarity sign for Syrian Kurds

Malalai Joya is a well-known Afghan feminist who has resisted the Taliban and the United States-led occupation of her country.

From the site of the Defense Committe for Malalai Joya:

Fiery salutations to the brave women of Kobani

Malalai Joya, October 12, 2014

These days the bravery and resilience of the women of Kobani has amazed people around the world. To defend their soil from the criminal ISIS murderers, they are neither looking at the US and NATO’s support, nor appoint the west and US to defend their homeland from terrorists and foreigners, like a handful of mercenary analysts in Afghanistan. The noble men and women of Kobani selflessly defend their honor, freedom, and homeland with their own hands and have accepted to make all kinds of sacrifices for this purpose.

Heroines of Kobani,

I deeply support your inspiring resistance against the criminals of ISIS and humbly learn from your patriotism and pride. You are the unconquerable pinnacle of honor and courage. You have turned to symbols of humanity and freedom-fighting by your unrelenting fight against these ignorant criminals.

You are not alone in this glorious struggle. All the freedom-loving and progressive people of the world are with you. With your fight against oppression, you women are a kick in the gut of ISIS and all medieval-minded fundamentalists who see women as half of men and as objects to satisfy their animal-like lust. You have shown that women are capable of standing next to their brothers with guns in the toughest and most dreadful circumstances to defend freedom and justice, and strike enemies who are armed to the teeth.

The oppressed people of Afghanistan have been suffering under the domination of the dark-minded and notorious fundamentalist brothers of ISIS for the past few decades. Our people are inspired by your fearless struggle and will rub the snouts of the Taliban and Jehadi terrorists, these cruel heinous creations of the US, in dust to stand by you.

A nation whose courageous women take to guns next to the men to fight against oppression and colonization will never be defeated. Victory is yours! You previously crushed and humiliated the ISIS brutes and all the progressive people of the world admire you for that.

On behalf of the freedom-seeking women and men of Afghanistan, I send my warm salutations and offer my whole-hearted solidarity to each and everyone one of you dear people, and shake your strong hands warmly.

We will be, without a doubt, victorious against the barbarous fundamentalists and their western masters!

Malalai Joya

Here’s why Turkey will work with the Iraqi Kurds, but not Turkish Kurds. This is what the battle for Kobani looks like via satellite. ISIS’s far-reaching “sway” has begun to creep into Lebanon. ISIS forces are also approaching Mount Sinjar. The dangers of revolting against the Islamic State were made clear in a underreported Syrian massacre. And women fighting ISIS on the ground “share their battlefield stories.” [NYT]

Afghans demonstrate against NATO occupation and ISIS


Afghans demonstrate against NATO occupation and ISIS

From emptywheel in the USA:

Described Focus of Protest in Kabul Dependent on News Outlet

Published October 13, 2014 | By Jim White

A protest variously described as featuring “over a hundred”, “hundreds” or “over 500″ protesters took place in Kabul on Sunday. The object of the protest, however, was very dependent on whose report (or even whose headline) on the protest is being read.

The Wall Street Journal ran with the headline “Islamic State’s Siege of Kobani, Syria Sparks Protest in Kabul, Afghanistan” while Iran’s PressTV went with “Afghan protesters blast US-led forces, BSA”. Remarkably, Afghanistan’s Khaama Press did not see it necessary to spin the focus of the protest in a particular direction, using the headline “Afghans protest against Islamic State, US and NATO forces in Kabul”.

The Khaama Press article quickly sums up the protest:

Over 500 people participated in a demonstration against the Islamic State and presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The protesters were shouting slogans against the presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan and in support of the Kurdish people who are fighting the Islamic State militants.

Protesters were also carrying signs purporting crimes committed by US and NATO forces in Afghanistan and resistance of the female Kurdish fighters against the Islamic State.

The US and NATO were also accused by protester[s] for supporting the extremist groups in Afghanistan and Kobane.

We learn in the article that the protest was organized by the Solidarity party of Afghanistan, which Khaama described as “a small and left wing political party in the country”. Presumably, since they were allowed to stage the protest, the ban on the party issued in 2012 must have been lifted.

One has to read the Wall Street Journal article very carefully to find any evidence of the US criticism that was in the protest. The article opens:

Residents of Kabul have a war on their own doorstep: The provinces around the Afghan capital have seen an upsurge in violence this year.

But the conflict in Syria was on the minds of demonstrators who marched Sunday in solidarity with the town of Kobani, Syria, currently under siege by Islamic State militants.

Over a hundred Afghans—most of them women—held placards supporting Kurdish fighters defending the city.

Near the end, the article mentions, but dismisses as “conspiracy theory”, the accusations of US involvement in the creation of ISIS:

Conspiracy theories often thrive in Afghanistan, and at Sunday’s protest, many demonstrators expressed the belief that Islamic State was a U.S. creation. Some held placards saying, “Yankee Go Home.”

The article then mentions the BSA without stating that it was also a target of the protest other than citing the “Yankee Go Home” sign.

Pajhwok news agency in Afghanistan reports:

Hundreds attend anti-US/NATO rally in Kabul

KABUL (Pajhwok): Calling the new government as undemocratically elected, hundreds of people on Sunday took to the streets in the central capital Kabul, condemning security accords with the US and NATO.

The protestors, including women, marched from the Cinema Pamir locality to the Maiwand Square in Kabul City.

They called the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with NATO as shackling the nation into chains of slavery.

The protestors claimed permanent US military bases in Afghanistan could be a step towards a third world war.

The protest was organised by the National Solidarity Party. A member of the party, Hafizullah Rasikh told Pajhwok Afghan News the demonstration was aimed at condemning the presence of US/NATO forces in Afghanistan under the BSA and SOFA.

“The new government is not based on people’s votes but a deal brokered by (US president) Obama and (secretary of state) John Kerry,” he added.

Tarantulas, mating season and Halloween


This video says about itself:

31 October 2013

The world’s largest spider, the Goliath tarantula is also a venomous killer that liquefies its prey. Gustavo Hormiga, a biology professor at George Washington University, explains the arachnid’s ferocious hunting strategy—and why there’s no need to fear it unless you’re the size of a mouse.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Tarantulas Are Out At Halloween, But They’re Not Trick or Treating!

Posted on Monday, October 13, 2014 by eNature

Tarantulas are a group of often hairy and very large arachnids belonging to the Theraphosidae family of spiders, of which approximately 900 species have been found on 6 continents.

Halloween is almost here and lots of folks are thinking about spiders such as tarantulas—as well as bats, ghouls and other scary creatures.

But it turns out that tarantulas have a lot more on their mind this month than trick or treating.

It’s mating time for tarantulas.

And the story behind tarantula breeding season is a tale of long journeys, deadly peril, violence and love. It’s an epic worthy of Homer.

Mating Season Is Here

Fall is the time of year when male tarantulas, having finally reached adulthood, come out of the burrows in which they have lived for the first 5 to 12 years of their lives.

Their mission? To seek out females and mate with them. A host of perils awaits the newly emerged male in the outside world, not the least of which is the female herself.

The Women Are In Charge

Female tarantulas are doing what they usually do on warm evenings: sitting in their burrows near the surface, waiting to feel the vibrations of passersby. If the vibrations feel as if they might come from a small animal such as a cricket or another spider, she will rush out, grab the unsuspecting prey item and sink her fangs into it.

Clearly, approaching a female’s burrow is not a task for the faint at heart!

As a male tarantula approaches the burrow of a female, he first tastes the silk that lies around the entrance. If he detects a mature female in residence, he responds by drumming on the surface with his legs and his pedipalps (the leg-like first set of appendages, which are very long on tarantulas). The reason for this drumming is to let the female know that he is interested in mating—and would rather not be mistaken for a meal by the larger and always hungry female.

When and if a female emerges, he continues to drum as he approaches her. If she’s receptive, she will raise up the front end of her body and allow him to grab her fangs with the hook-like projections on his forelegs. He then transfers his sperm to her with his pedipalps.

That was the easy part—the difficult task still lies ahead: he must release her fangs, disengage himself, and make a hasty retreat before she can overpower him and eat him. Even if he successfully escapes from his big date, the male tarantula is still not long for this world. Adult males (mated or not) usually die before winter arrives.

It’s Not Easy Being A Male Tarantula

As if being eaten by your mate isn’t enough to worry about, the male tarantula must also be on the alert for predators like owls, skunks, and foxes.

If he detects the approach of a hungry hunter, his most effective defense is to quickly use his hind legs to kick some of the hairs off of his abdomen. The hairs dislodge easily and are light enough to float into contact with the nose and eyes of the approaching predator. On contact the hairs produce a burning sensation.

This line of defense works well against mammals and birds, but there is another tarantula hunter out there that is an even greater threat, and it is considerably smaller than the spider: it is a wasp called the Tarantula Hawk.

A Wasp That Loves The Taste Of Fresh Tarantula

Tarantula Hawks are among the largest wasps in the world; one North American species exceeds two inches in length. They are handsome insects with metallic blue bodies and orange wings, sometimes seen sipping nectar at flowers (particularly milkweeds) in the early evening hours. Female Tarantula Hawks patrol low over open country, searching for wandering male tarantulas or for the burrows of females.

When the wasp finds a tarantula, she lands and approaches the spider directly. The spider assumes a defensive posture, raising the front legs and baring the lethal-looking fangs. Unfortunately for the spider, this posture also exposes its underside to the agile wasp, which quickly darts under the spider and stings it in a soft spot where the legs join the body.

The sting of the Tarantula Hawk contains a peculiar potion; it paralyzes the spider almost instantly, but does not kill it. The “sleeping” spider is then dragged to a burrow, pulled underground, and buried with a single wasp egg attached to the outside of the body. When the egg hatches, the maggot-like wasp larva has a huge fresh meal waiting for it. The spider is still alive, its tissues undecayed and ready for the wasp larva to devour. The voracious larva will even eat the muscles and other “nonessential” tissue before consuming the still-functioning organs.

So if you are out for a walk or a drive on an early autumn evening and you happen to see a giant hairy spider making his way over the ground, don’t react with fear.

Just wish him the best of luck. With all the perils ahead of him, he’s going to need it!

Ever encounter a tarantula in the wild? Or anywhere else?

We always enjoy hearing your stories!

USA: HALLOWEEN COSTUMES FOR KIDS: SEXISM AT A YOUNG AGE “We quickly located a firefighter costume for boys, complete with a bright red jacket, a traditional helmet and an axe. The girls’ version, on the other hand, is a skin-tight, short, shiny dress that’s surely flammable. It includes a fascinator (in lieu of a helmet) never before seen on a real firefighter.” [HuffPost]

Australian government has racist and sexist adviser


This 16 October 2014 video about Australia is called Barry Spurr allegedly describes Aboriginals as ‘human rubbish tips’ and women as ‘whores’.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Professor Barry Spurr suspended by Sydney University over offensive emails

Spurr, a consultant to the federal government’s national English curriculum review, has been suspended over ‘serious allegations’, university says

Gay Alcorn

Friday 17 October 2014 04.25 BST

The University of Sydney has suspended Prof Barry Spurr over emails in which he called the prime minister, Tony Abbott, an “Abo lover”, Indigenous Australians “human rubbish tips” and Nelson Mandela as a “darky”.

In a statement, the university said Spurr was facing “serious allegations in relation to offensive emails sent from a university account”.

Spurr, a poetry expert, was a specialist consultant to the federal government’s national curriculum review looking at English from foundation to year 12.

The emails, first obtained by website New Matilda, have seriously damaged the review’s findings, with Labor calling them “tainted” and the Australian Education Union saying the review had been exposed as “an ideological waste of time from the start”.

In a series of emails over two years sent to senior academics and officials within the university, Spurr wrote that Abbott would have to be surgically separated from his “Siamese twin”, Australian of the Year and AFL star Adam Goodes, who is Aboriginal.

He said the university’s chancellor, Belinda Hutchinson, was an “appalling minx”,’ while other women were described as “whores”. He used terms such as “mussies” and “chinky-poos”.

The national curriculum review, released this month, largely accepted Spurr’s recommendations regarding the teaching of English. He had asserted in his report to the review that “the impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on literature in English in Australia has been minimal” and advised a greater emphasis on the western literary canon.

The university said Spurr was immediately suspended from teaching and was “precluded from attending any university campus while the matter is investigated and dealt with in accordance with the terms of the university’s enterprise agreement”.

“Racist, sexist or offensive language is not tolerated at the University of Sydney.”

The government-appointed heads of the curriculum review, Dr Kevin Donnelly and Prof Ken Wiltshire, chose Spurr as a specialist consultant on English.

Donnelly told Guardian Australia he had not heard of the email story and “would have to Google it”. “I have no comment.” Wiltshire did not respond to requests for comment.

The education minister, Christopher Pyne, attempted to distance the government from the controversy, saying the subject experts were chosen by the independent review and that the government had no involvement. Pyne rejected the denigration of minority groups, saying it was “repugnant”.

Spurr was a well-known conservative critic of the national curriculum before his appointment to review English. In 2010 he contributed to a critique published by the the libertarian think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

In his chapter, Spurr was scathing about the curriculum proposed by the former Labor government. “An empty generosity is proposed, bloated with ramifying detail and long on windy rhetoric, an obesity of the mind: short on nourishing, intellectually-bracing substance. It is the educational equivalent of fast food.”

He also stressed the importance of studying the Bible as “essential” throughout a child’s learning. “The biblical story of Noah’s ark is an obvious example of the kind of text to which the youngest children will be drawn and it can begin their introduction to the ‘great code’ of literature in English.

He has published books including Studying Poetry, See the Virgin Blest: Representations of the Virgin Mary in English Poetry and Anglo-Catholic in Religion: TS Eliot and Christianity.

Spurr’s expert advice to the national curriculum was influential, with most of his recommendations accepted in the final report. He criticised the emphasis on Aboriginal texts, saying the “the impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on literature in English in Australia has been minimal and is vastly outweighed by the impact of global literature in English, and especially that from Britain, on our literary culture”.

He noted that the curriculum suggested reading texts that made links between students’ lives and texts about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. “Why aren’t texts mentioned that might establish links between young Australian children’s lives and those from Europe or North America? Why must the linkage be confined to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander texts?”

The review recommended that there should be a “greater emphasis on dealing with and introducing literature from the western literary canon, especially poetry,” which Spurr had urged. It also recommended a “stronger emphasis on exemplary literary texts”, with less focus on “children creating their own literature”, again, a recommendation of Spurr.

In one of the emails published by New Matilda written on 19 April this year, Spurr reveals that Pyne wanted him to compare Australian school curriculums with curriculums from other countries.

“The Californian high school English curriculum has arrived (as Pyne wants me to compare ours with other countries). Another 300 pages of reading!

“And whereas the local curriculum has the phrase ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’ on virtually every one of its 300 pages, the Californian curriculum does not ONCE mention native Americans and has only a very slight representation of African-American literature (which, unlike Abo literature, actually exists and has some distinguished productions).”

On Friday, Abbott said he had seen a report about the emails, but ‘“I haven’t had much of a chance to read it yet and I’m not easily upset, I’ve got to say, so I’ll study it closely.”

Shorten said Abbott’s remarks were inadequate. “It is not right when you are the leader of this country to simply laugh off racism. It’s not leadership to not stand up for minorities, to not recognise that what makes this country great is that we come from a hundred different countries, and that adds to the richness of who we are.”

“The government needs to explain and reassure Australians that the view of the reviewer and the disgusting remarks have not infiltrated the curriculum that is taught to all young Australians.”

The federal president of the Australian Education Union, Angelo Gavrielatos, said the emails exposed the national curriculum review as ideological.

“It is clear that Professor Spurr’s independent review of the English curriculum had a strong influence on the final review, which quotes him extensively.

“While Pyne can try and distance himself from these shocking remarks, he cannot change the fact that the curriculum review has been tainted by the people that have been chosen to contribute to it.”