Desegregation in Iran (just a bit)

For the first time since 1979, women in Iran are allowed to attend a men’s game in a stadium with a mixed crowd.

For nearly 40 years, half of Iran’s population was not allowed to go to a stadium to watch soccer, the country’s single most popular sport. The defacto ban, instilled by religious clerics after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, had prevented women from attending a majority of men’s sporting events, and women who challenged it risked arrest and imprisonment. But the long-standing segregation policy loosened during the 2018 World Cup, when thousands of women poured into Azadi Stadium, Tehran’s largest sports stadium, to watch live broadcasts of their national team playing in the group stage.

The deadening hand of organised religion. It’s all about power and control.

Yonatan Zunger – What things going wrong can look like

In Trumpistan, Yonatan Zunger had a guess at how things might play out (

On a recent post I made about how President Trump marked Holocaust Remembrance Day, one of my readers asked a good, but hard, question: Why did this regime single out some particular groups (e.g., Muslims, Latinos, Black, and Trans people) as their main targets, and not others?
The post which sparked this.

I tried to answer his question, and while what I wrote is necessarily incomplete, I think it at least gives some directions. That led to adding some notes about how things are likely to develop over the next few years for each of the respective groups.

I decided to repost this here, but I want to give you fair warning right now: This is not going to be a pretty thing to read. It will not have any reassurances in it. If you’re looking for an argument that we’ve been exaggerating the threat and everything is going to be alright, or that Trumpism is really great after all, stop reading now: you are in the wrong place. Go look at some cute animals instead.

No, it’s not pretty, but provides some solid food for thought.

Autocracy Or Kleptocracy – Trump’s America

David Frum expounds on the possible outcomes of Trump’s Presidency in the Atlantic. Fascinating and though-provoking, it’s a long but worhtwhile read. He covers something I’ve noted before:

In an 1888 lecture, James Russell Lowell, a founder of this magazine, challenged the happy assumption that the Constitution was a “machine that would go of itself.” Lowell was right. Checks and balances is a metaphor, not a mechanism.
Everything imagined above—and everything described below—is possible only if many people other than Donald Trump agree to permit it. It can all be stopped, if individual citizens and public officials make the right choices. The story told here, like that told by Charles Dickens’s Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, is a story not of things that will be, but of things that may be. Other paths remain open. It is up to Americans to decide which one the country will follow.
No society, not even one as rich and fortunate as the United States has been, is guaranteed a successful future. When early Americans wrote things like “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” they did not do so to provide bromides for future bumper stickers. They lived in a world in which authoritarian rule was the norm, in which rulers habitually claimed the powers and assets of the state as their own personal property.

While (obviously) focused on Trump’s America, this stuff applies to any nation anywhere. And Frum lists Hungary, Poland and others where it’s potentially happening (Hungary in particular, is worrying). At the end of the day, it’s down to the citizens to defend their democracy. It can’t defend itself.

Those citizens who fantasize about defying tyranny from within fortified compounds have never understood how liberty is actually threatened in a modern bureaucratic state: not by diktat and violence, but by the slow, demoralizing process of corruption and deceit. And the way that liberty must be defended is not with amateur firearms, but with an unwearying insistence upon the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of American institutions and those who lead them. We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered. What happens next is up to you and me. Don’t be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.

“There is no justice, there’s just us”

Rules, justice, the system, none of this works by itself. Terry Pratchett once wrote “There is no justice, there’s just us”. It’s true. People make justice, it doesn’t exist on it’s own. Without people standing up for the system, it collapses. It doesn’t work on it’s own. Laws, norms of government, all can be bypassed, circumvented, ignored. That’s why sitting back is not an option when you’re dealing with someone who is willing to throw away the rulebook. The system, the legalities that protect you, all will crumble without support. Action is needed. #resist

Journalists charged after covering Trump inauguration unrest

This certainly seems chilling, “Four more journalists get felony charges after covering inauguration unrest | Media | The Guardian”. While I don’t doubt that policing a riot situation is difficult, this does look like simple bulk arresting based on location. Which sends a chilling message to anyone covering future events – don’t, or you too could end “facing up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.”

In all, more than 200 people were arrested on Friday, after property was vandalized in the US capital in the hours around Trump’s swearing-in as president. Police said that six officers suffered minor injuries.

The National Lawyers’ Guild accused Washington DC’s metropolitan police department of having “indiscriminately targeted people for arrest en masse based on location alone” and said they unlawfully used teargas and other weapons.

“These illegal acts are clearly designed to chill the speech of protesters engaging in First Amendment activity,” Maggie Ellinger-Locke, of the guild’s DC branch, said in a statement.

None of the arrest reports for the six journalists makes any specific allegations about what any of them are supposed to have done wrong. Keller’s report, which also covers the arrests of an unknown number of unidentified other people, includes a note that a police vehicle was vandalized. “I had absolutely nothing to do with the vandalism,” said Keller.

Reports on the arrests of five of the six journalists contain identical language alleging that “numerous crimes were occurring in police presence”. They state that windows were broken, fires were lit and vehicles were damaged. “The crowd was observed enticing a riot by organizing, promoting, encouraging and participating in acts of violence in furtherance of the riot,” the police reports said.

The US attorney’s office for Washington DC, which is prosecuting those arrested, declined to comment on the journalists’ specific cases but said it was continuing to review evidence from the day with the police.

“Based on the facts and circumstances, we determined that probable cause existed to support the filing of felony rioting charges,” William Miller, a spokesman for the office, said in a statement. “As in all of our cases, we are always willing to consider additional information that people bring forward.”

Big Data requires Big Laws

There’s no such thing as being ‘offline’ anymore. It’s almost impossible, I’d say, to live any sort of normal life without having your data on some machine somewhere. And if you engage in any way with other people, then you use at least email, and probably some sort of social network. There’s no escape now from having your personal and private information up there on the ‘net’ in some shape or form. The old retort of ‘if you don’t want people to see it, don’t go online’ has become a kind of joke.

Who has access to your data? Who’s administering the many sites and machines it resides on? Is there ‘adequate’ and ‘reasonable’ security procedures and processes in place? How can you tell anyway? And who in government can access that information and for what purpose?

We need strong and transparent laws, backed up with oversight, checks and balances, before this just gets completely out of hand. There’s still an attitude in some quarters that this is all irrelevant, that being online is somehow optional in this day and age, and worst of all, that if “you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear“. Which is bull. Privacy is a basic right, not an option.

Social networking forum reddit on Thursday removed a section from its site used to tacitly inform users it had never received a certain type of U.S. government surveillance request, suggesting the platform is now being asked to hand over customer data under a secretive law enforcement authority.

Source: Reddit deletes surveillance ‘warrant canary’ in transparency report

Police speak to boy, 10, due to spelling error

As a result, the child was interviewed on 7 December by police and the authorities examined a laptop found at his family home.

His family has since demanded the school and police apologise, according to the BBC.

A cousin of the boy, who has not been named to protect his identity, said his relatives initially thought it was a joke, but that the boy had been traumatised by the experience.

“You can imagine it happening to a 30-year-old man, but not to a young child,” she told the BBC. “If the teacher had any concerns it should have been about his spelling.”

“They shouldn’t be putting a child through this.”

“He’s now scared of writing, using his imagination.”

If you have nothing to hide, you still have everything to fear.

Challenging Gender ‘norms’ with Cycling: Kabul, Afghanistan

Bicycles as tools of liberation.


Why did you focus on bike riding?

It’s kind of cliche, but it’s really important for a woman to be able to get somewhere without a male’s help.

There are so many girls in Afghanistan who can’t afford to drive to school so they walk for hours. But they can use a bicycle. First, it’s not that expensive, and second it’s a kind of sport. There aren’t many opportunities for women to exercise. So biking serves multiple purposes. I don’t know who said this, but I think women on wheels is the start of women’s independence.


Source: A Gender Revolution Hits The Streets, Two Wheels At A Time : Goats and Soda : NPR

“it’s not illegal, it just needs bravery”

Bushra Al-Fusail is a young female photographer who’s pushing one solution to severe petrol shortages caused by the conflict in Yemen: bicycles.

“In 2011 when there were fuel shortages we could still find petrol in the black market,” she explains, “but things are so bad right now that we can’t even find a black market.” Last week Al-Fusail launched a campaign to encourage Yemeni women and girls to hop in the saddle with a Facebook event called “Let’s ride a bike.”

Unlike in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, women in Yemen can drive and it’s common to see women in cars zipping around the capital Sanaa. But female bike riding is almost unheard of – many conservative Yemenis believe it’s immodest or shows off too much of a woman’s body.

“I see men cycling everywhere,” Al-Fusail says. “So I thought, why can’t we ride bikes too? After all, it’s not illegal, it just needs bravery.”


“People need to change the way they think,” she says. “They need to stop thinking of women as sexual objects, only then will they stop seeing everything they do as sexual.”

Why some people are blaming war for… women on bikes – BBC News