by Dish Staff

Brandon Ambrosino interviews Nicholas Opiyo, a Ugandan attorney who helped overturn the country’s infamous anti-gay law. He describes the harassment Ugandan gays face:

You’re not going to see public flogging of gay people in the streets. That would be a rarity, and even if it occurs, because of the nature of our media, it’s not going to get reported widely. What, however, happens is persistent, consistent, daily discrimination of the smallest nature possible. The shopkeeper at the kiosk next to your house, the boda boda guy, they keep heckling at you. People keep telling your family and brothers about you. They tell your family they will not come to your burials. People sneering at you, saying negative things to you. People pointing at your back: you cannot go to public places without being pointed at.

There is also the blackmail and extortion by police and security forces.

Read On

The Ebola Outbreak Grows Worse

Aug 22 2014 @ 6:42pm
by Dish Staff

Julia Belluz flags an eye-opening chart on the growing severity of the Ebola crisis:

Ebola Chart

The situation is dire in West Point, a Liberian slum:

Tens of thousands of people are trapped in a slum in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, after officials put the neighborhood under strict quarantine to prevent the spread of Ebola. Clashes broke out on Wednesday, as riot police and soldiers attempted to barricade angry residents. Days earlier, locals had raided a holding center for suspected Ebola patients, pulling out mattresses covered in blood, which could spread the disease.

Per Liljas provides more details:

On Saturday, a health center was looted and Ebola patients sent running, after a rumor spread that infected people were being brought in from other parts of the country. Others refused to believe the disease existed. “There is no Ebola,” some protesters attacking the clinic shouted. “There is a high level of disbelief in the government in West Point,” Sanj Srikanthan, the International Rescue Committee’s emergency response director in Liberia, tells TIME. “The government has made a concerted effort to reach out to community leaders, youth groups and churches with the message that the only way to contain the disease is to understand it. But some people still believe Ebola is a conspiracy, and those people we need to reach.”

Raphael Frankfurter is unsurprised “that aggressive, opaque public health measures are met with suspicion, resistance, and anger”:

In public health, the emphasis on “harmful behaviors” arising from ignorance fails to acknowledge the complex socioeconomic factors and structural conditions that can lead to poor health.

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Should ISIS Be Censored? Ctd

Aug 22 2014 @ 6:11pm
by Dish Staff

Glenn Greenwald is upset at Twitter for censoring the video of James Foley’s beheading:

Given the savagery of the Foley video, it’s easy in isolation to cheer for its banning on Twitter. But that’s always how censorship functions: it invariably starts with the suppression of viewpoints which are so widely hated that the emotional response they produce drowns out any consideration of the principle being endorsed. It’s tempting to support criminalization of, say, racist views as long as one focuses on one’s contempt for those views and ignores the serious dangers of vesting the state with the general power to create lists of prohibited ideas. That’s why free speech defenders such as the ACLU so often represent and defend racists and others with heinous views in free speech cases: because that’s where free speech erosions become legitimized in the first instance when endorsed or acquiesced to.

The question posed by Twitter’s announcement is not whether you think it’s a good idea for people to see the Foley video. Instead, the relevant question is whether you want Twitter, Facebook and Google executives exercising vast power over what can be seen and read.

Jay Caspian Kang joins the debate, coming down on the same side as Greenwald:

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The View From Your Window

Aug 22 2014 @ 5:33pm
by Dish Staff

Lake Lodge, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. 716pm

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 7.16 pm

Is ISIS A Threat To Us?

Aug 22 2014 @ 4:46pm
by Dish Staff

Chuck Hagel thinks so:

The group “is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group,” Hagel said in response to a question about whether the Islamic State posed a similar threat to the United States as al Qaeda did before Sept. 11, 2001. “They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They’re tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything that we’ve seen,” Hagel said, adding that “the sophistication of terrorism and ideology married with resources now poses a whole new dynamic and a new paradigm of threats to this country.”

Hagel’s comments added to the mismatch between the Obama administration’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric and its current game plan for how to take on the group in Iraq and Syria, which so far involves limited airstrikes and some military assistance to the Kurdish and Iraqi forces fighting the militants. It has also requested from Congress $500 million to arm moderate rebel factions in Syria. But for now, the United States is not interested in an Iraqi offer to let U.S. fighter jets operate out of Iraqi air bases.

Retired Gen. John Allen seconds Hagel’s assessment, arguing that the US has the means to destroy ISIS and a moral and security-based obligation to do so:

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Mental Health Break

Aug 22 2014 @ 4:20pm
by Dish Staff

(Hat tip: Tastefully Offensive)

The Planet Hacking Rules

Aug 22 2014 @ 3:57pm
by Dish Staff

All this week Brian Merchant has been reporting from Berlin’s Climate Engineering Conference. On Monday, he brought word that “Professor Steve Rayner, the co-director of the Oxford Geoengineering Programme, has unveiled a proposal to create the first serious framework for future geoengineering experiments”:

It’s a sign that what are still considered drastic and risky measures to combat climate change, like artificially injecting tiny particles into the Earth’s atmosphere to reflect sunlight back into space, are drifting further into the purview of mainstream science. The august scientific body has issued a call to create “an open and transparent review process that ensures such experiments have the necessary social license to operate.”

In a second post he discusses how, in “the international and academic communities, geoengineering is still something of a scientific non grata” because, for many, “even by floating the idea that climate change can be solved with a techno-fix, it’s presenting humanity with a get-out-of-jail-free card that could erode the impetus for tougher action”:

For better or for worse, we’re talking about hacking the planet.

Read On

by Dish Staff

NATO claims that Russian artillery have been moved into Ukraine over the past few days and are now firing on Ukrainian forces:

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a statement from Brussels, said the group has “also seen transfers of large quantities of advanced weapons, including tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and artillery to separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine. Moreover, NATO is observing an alarming build-up of Russian ground and air forces in the vicinity of Ukraine.” Rasmussen condemned Moscow for allowing an ostensibly humanitarian economic convoy to enter Ukraine with no involvement from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which typically coordinates such missions. He went on to blame Russia for escalating tensions with a military buildup along the Ukrainian border.

Brett LoGiurato portrays Russia’s decision to send its suspicious aid convoy across the border without the Ukrainian government’s consent as calling the bluff of Kiev and its backers in the West:

The European Union commission urged Russia to “reverse its decision.” The Pentagon told Russia to “remove its vehicles immediately.” But the “or else” threats from the West have been piling up for months in the Ukrainian crisis. And Putin suspects that Ukraine will not fire on the convoy, which would give Russia a pretext for more direct intervention. Putin also knows the European Union and U.S. are unlikely to directly intervene, as they are looking to calm tensions in the region and for a possible cease-fire. Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko are scheduled to meet next week in Minsk, Belarus, the first time the two will have met face-to-face since June. It’s the best chance in a while that European leaders have seen to defuse the crisis.

Read On

by Dish Staff

How will the midterms change the balance of power in the Senate? The NYT calculates the odds of various scenarios:

Senate Odds

This week McConnell previewed how a Republican Senate would function:

Mitch McConnell has a game plan to confront President Barack Obama with a stark choice next year: Accept bills reining in the administration’s policies or veto them and risk a government shutdown.

In an extensive interview here, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate if Republicans gain control of the chamber. The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to “move to the center” if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress.

In short, it’s a recipe for a confrontational end to the Obama presidency.

Beutler doubts his strategy will work:

Read On

Two Cheers for Bustle

Aug 22 2014 @ 2:57pm
by Freddie deBoer

While I’m on the subject of making professional online writing sustainable– yesterday, Amanda Hess at Slate took a look back at the first year of Bustle, the controversial women’s site that launched to much derision. That criticism largely stemmed from Bustle’s founder, Bryan Goldberg, and a disastrous announcement he made that made his site sound simultaneously self-important and condescending to its own audience. Internet infamy followed. And yet Hess has found that Goldberg has wooed many of his old critics, and that Bustle has been a massive success in terms of building an audience and securing ad revenue. To which I say: good, I guess?

Goldberg is a dink. His initial rollout of the site was plainly dopey, although from a troll bait, “any publicity is good publicity” standpoint, kind of genius. I can understand why people would be upset that this guy has become a powerful force in women’s media, and that he’s raking in more money. But I think there was a simple reason to cheer Goldberg’s site even back before he did his apology tour: Bustle pays, and it pays women, and that in and of itself is a kind of victory online.

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