The Manchester Arena bombing was not about feminism

The May 22nd bombing of Manchester Arena during a concert by Ariana Grande was a major atrocity and should be resoundingly condemned by anyone morally sane.

As ought to be the case whenever major atrocities occur on the soil of Western powers, especially when enacted by official state enemies, our anger is better to yield to our grief; since we are all in general unaccustomed to glimpsing, on our own streets or those of our friends, the violence we routinely inflict on vast portions of the world, the brisance of Monday night’s bombing should hopefully provide space for reflection. These actions cannot be forgiven or excused – but perhaps they can be understood.

Reflections are not all equally or equivalently valid or useful – to say nothing of factually sound – however.  Among the latest of the “hot takes” is a theme of wearying, propagandistic moralizing and pro-Western liberal jingoism best summed up as: the Ariana Grande concert bombing was an attack against women and feminism by primitive, misogynistic Muslims.

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News round-up for 07.09.2013,

1. Surveillance

  • Latest revelations from Glenn Greenwald (using documents leaked by Edward Snowden) show that the NSA spends millions of taxpayer cash to fund programs designed to hack into the encryption software of “the big Four” – Hotmail, Google, Facebook, & Yahoo.
  • In response, legislation is being proposed by Rep. Rush D. Holt Jr.
  • New documents show the NSA’s targeting of Mexican & Brazilian presidents.

2. Egypt

  • Hours ago, the Egyptian military government attacked what they described as “Islamic militants” in the Sinai.
  • In an eerie echo of Morsi’s government, the military regime has decided to “dissolve” the opposition Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Egyptian Minister of the Interior survives assassination attempt.

3. Syria

  • Tony Burman on why bomibng Syria is a bad idea (& what can be done instead).
  • EU urges the US to reconsider its position on Syria; Catherine Ashton correctly observes that an attack would be a “violation of international law.”
  • Stephen Harper, ever the US’s obedient dog, makes the case for military attacks in Syria.


  • A powerful new documentary, “Life After Gitmo” remains unavailable to viewers in the United States:

 5. Quebec values Charter

  • Good piece on the PQ’s proto-facistic new legislation.
  • Apparently, according to Frau Marois, people “in England…throw bombs at each other because of multiculturalism.”

6. Keystone XL Pipeline

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper sends Obama a personal letter offering joint action to reduce greenhouse emissions, in an effort to “win” the pipeline.

News round-up for 05.09.2013.

1. Syria

  • Obama wins support of the House Foreign Relations Committee for a strike on Syria.
  • UN warns that a US military strike without UN approval would be illegal under international law.
  • John Kerry misrepresents the number of dead in chemical weapons attack.
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper is, apparently, a “reluctant convert” of military intervention.
  • From DemocracyNow, as superb interview with Rep. Alan Grayson:

2. Chelsea Manning

3. Domestic surveillance

  • A primer in what Canadians need to know about CSEC spying.
  • Despite protest, the government is still strying to keep its spying program in the dark.
  • Fantastic overview from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

4. Mining

  • The international community condemns Barrick Gold’s attempt to prevent rape victims from seeking justice



News round-up for 30.08.2013.

1. David Miranda

  • The partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald (who is the primary reporter on Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks) will go forward with an injunction against the UK government in response to his 9-hour interrogation at Heathrow airport.

2. Legal aid

  • The Canadian Bar Association releases a report criticizing the current legal aid system as being “too costly,” “too inaccessible for most Canadians,” “and too reliant on pro bono work.” (N.B.: these are not direct quotes.)

3. Syria

  • The BBC has a horrific report on an incendiary bomb whichh was dropped on a school playground.
  • In the wake of a “No” vote on military intervention in British Parliament, other countries scramble to form coherent strategies.
  • French President Francoise Hollande is determined to intervene in Syria, with or without British/US support.
  • In the lead up to a possible military strike, the US Secretary of State John Kerry tried to actually call off the UN probe into the putative use of sarin gas in Syria.

4. Chelsea Manning

  • The New Yorker has a great piece  on what prison would mean for the transgender whistleblower.

5. Toronto Police

  • The head of the Toronto Police Department’s SIU harshly criticized chief Bill Blair for ignoring reports that officers were obstructing investigations.


News round-up for 29.08.2013. (update)

1. Syria

  • UK Prime Minister David Cameron continues to push for a military strike, without giving indication as to what, exactly, would be struck.
  • Not “news” precisely, but important to bear in mind, at at all times, the sheer magnitutde of US hypocrisy.
  • US Intelligence admits there is no “smoking gun” to link the Assad regime with the chemical weapons attack.
  • UK & US remain skeptical about blaming Assad, saying “it is not a slam dunk.”
  • From the above article, a graphic of potential strike targets in Syria:


2. Egypt

3. Fraser Institute inanity

  • A new report from the Fraser Institute concludes that all immigration of “parents and grandparents” be ended, so as to ease the “fiscal burden” of immigrants & refugees. Make of this what you will.
  • MP Niki Ashton deconstructs a recent report from the same which concludes that the minimum cost of raising a child is $4000/year. Yup.

4. Poll: Half of Canadians say government surveillance is OK

  • Too depressing for words: here.

5. The Most Astonishing Headline of 2013?

(Update – 11:33am)

  • French prosecuters have launched a criminal investigation in to the NSA’s PRISM spying program

(Update – 2:29pm)

  • Using documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Washington Post details the top-secret US “Black Budget,” the goals, expenditures, & logistical history of never-before-scene global spying apparatuses.

News round-up for 28.08.2013. (update)

1. Tasers

  • The Canadian Civil Liberties Association releases a statement in response to the Ontario government’s plan to expand the use of tasers among police. The statement calls for funds to expandd de-escalation training, as opposed to new weapons.

2. Syria

  • The  Nation‘s Phyllis Bennis has a fantastic piece this morning making the case against military intervention.
  • The website of The New York Times was hacked yesterday; the so-called “Syrian Electronic Army” has taken credit.
  • For perspective, a blog written by an actual Syrian revolutionary, & why he opposes Western intervention.

3. Fukushima

  • The severity of Japan’s nuclear facility’s leak has been upgraded by the country’s nuclear regulator.

4. Surveillance

  • Evidence that the US government bugged the UN has damaged American relations with other countries, particularly Germany.

5. Quebec

  • The PQ government unveils a new, bigoted “Values Charter”: here.


  • In an historic ruling, the Ontario Supreme Court ruled that the Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals could be held liable for massive human rights abuses at its mine in Guatemala, including the assassination of community organizer Adolfo Ich Chaman.

News round-up for 23.08.2013

1. Fish Lake mining disaster

  • A follow up to the story concerning Professor John Stockner’s haunting remarks at the public hearings for the New Prosperity mine in BC. The primary victim of the mine would be Fish Lake, known for it’s plenty of rainbow trout. This is from the article posted on MiningWatch Canada’s website:


  • A backgrounder on Fish Lake & the mine is available here.

2. Global surveillance

  • The ACLU’s Ben Wizener has a great op-ed this morning about the sentencing of whistleblower Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning. The most salient sentence in the piece is:

Those who expose misconduct should not be punished more severely than those who engage in misconduct.” – Ben Wizener, ACLU

  • DemocracyNow’s Amy Goodman gives a great commentary on recent events w/r/t government surveillance here.
  • Is the UK government leaking its own information in an attempt to discredit Edward Snowden? Glenn Greenwald thinks so.

3. Fracking

  • Good piece on the dangers of fracking, & its deleterious effects on potable water in the Great Lakes.

4. Syria

  • Estimates for the death toll in yesterday’s chemical weapons attack in Syria yesterday range from 500 to 1400. (Is it crass to have ads on a video that shows images of dead children? I leave that for you to decide.)
  • This article ask an interesting questions w/r/t who is actually responsible for the attacks, the regime, or the rebels? It seems odd that the regime would engage in exactly the kind of activity which would precipitate foreign intervention when this is its primary fear. This isn’t to say they are not responsible, but a healthy skepticism might be warranted.
  • An American journalist, Matthew Schrier, claims he was held in prison & tortured for a period of seven months at the hands of a jihadi rebel faction.

News round-up for 22.08.2013. (update)

1. Civil Liberties

  • The Parti Quebecois are set to unveil (so to speak) new legislation which would ban religious symbols in all public institutions, including hospitals, government buildings, & courts.
  • CSEC (Communications Security Establishment Canada), the Canadian equivalent of the US’s NSA, is accused by watchdog Robert Decary of illegally spying on Canadian citizens.
  • The US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) accuses the NSA of illegally collecting tens of thousands of emails.

2. Egypt

  • A Canadian lawyer is set to meet with detained Canadian citizens John Greyson & Tarek Loubani.

3. Syria

  • Interesting piece in the New Yorker concerning chemcial weapons viz. the Assad regime.
  • Hundreds feared dead in recent chemical weapon attack; see here.

4. Bradley Manning

(update – 10:32 PM)

  • There are, in today’s news, three stories about the shameful & grossly under-reported activites of Canada’s powerful mining industry. In the first, here, three aboriginal tribes (the Lutsel K’e Dene, the Yellow Knife Dene, & the Tlicho) have come out to publicly oppose a newly proposed diamond mine 300 kilometres east of Yellowknife, citing environmental conerns. The second, here, summarizes commens of UBC Professor John Stockner at the public hearings for the New Prosperity open-pit mine in British Columbia. Finally, Mexican journalists the account the role the Canadian embassy played in the deaths & abuses against miners & local activists committed by Canadian mining giant Blackfire.

“Fairly soon, the impact will roughly destroy 40 to 50 per cent of the wetlands that drain into the system, and its productivity is completely based upon on what happens in its drainage.” – UBC Professor John Stockner

News Round-up for 19.08.2013

(Beginning today, I will be providing my readers with a curated selection of news. I hope that those of you who tell me they “don’t know where to look for real news” will use this as a resource; I’ll be selective so you don’t have to be. Be advised that these selections reflect only my own sensibility & those looking for more are encouraged to do so.)

1. Candian citizens held without charge in Egypt after being arrested

  • Canadian filmmaker John Greyson & physician, Tarek Loubani are somewhere in Egypt. For the story, click here. For updates, check here.

2. Egyptian military coup deepens & worsens.

  • The military dictators who have claimed power admit to killing unarmed detainees. (Disregard the use of the word “Islamist” in this piece; it is a descriptor which is devoid of content)
  • More than 800 people have died since Wednesday.
  • Deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak claims he will released within the week. The truth of this is in dispute.
  • Obama refuses to call the incident a “coup” (which it is) & continues US military aid to the dictatorship.

 3. “Time Magazine” journalist Michael Grunwald writes tweet celebrating the putative drone assasination of Julian Assange

  • For a really good discussion as to why this is newsworthy, as well as the ideological framework that underpin it, click here.

4. Constable John Forcillo, the officer responsible for the shooting death of Sammy Yatim, has been charged with second-degree murder.

5. Amnesty International condemns the detainment of Glenn Greenwald’s partner as “revenge tactics.”

  • Greenwald is the journalist who broke & continues to break the stories on the NSA’s illegal wiretapping programs. He was approached by whistleblower Edward Snowden a few months ago. Now the US & UK aren’t happy with him. Full story here.
  • For more on the NSA story, perhaps the most important ongoing story in the world, please click here.
  • For Greenwald’s fantastic blog, go here

6. UN chemical weapons inspectors arrive in Syria.

  • Their mission is to determine whether or not chemical weapons were used, not who used them. Accusations of the use of chemical weapons have been made against both sides.

7. Flotilla protesting Indonesian occupation of West Papua to be intercepted by Indonesian authorities.

  • Story here. It’s estimated that 500 000 West Papuans have been killed by the Indonesian occupiers since the island was annexed in 1969.