Sunday, June 28, 2015
It takes a woman...
The feminist claim that there is a sisterhood always amuses me. Women can certainly be very supportive towards their friends and, as good persons, be nice to many others, male or female. But the other side is female rivalry and it takes a woman to tear another woman to shreds verbally.
So I was amused to read the article below under the heading: "As scary as she is sexy: Maria Sharapova has all the warmth of her Siberian homeland" by Jane Fryer. It is incredibly bitchy in an only slightly guarded way. Just part of it below
Teetering about in five-inch black heels and a teeny sleeveless skater dress, Maria Sharapova looks like a giantess dressed up as a doll. Her enormous shoulders jut out either side. Her thighs are rippling, surprisingly chunky and ever so slightly veiny. Her beautiful face is expressionless.
And her eyes . . . her eyes are green, sleepy, incredibly sexy but also rather scary. Like a tiger that could turn any moment, and take out her entire (very extensive) entourage with one arm and then gobble us all up.
She is being photographed in the new Porsche Boxster Spyder, being driven round and round a block in London’s Mayfair.
She appears bored and beautiful, very Russian and very, very tall (6 ft 7 in in her heels) — as if she’s somehow been enlarged by a computer program, or we’ve all shrunk. The driver is very pink. And we are all agog and a little bit afraid.
She is a daunting woman — ranked No 4 in women’s tennis, winner of five Grand Slams, including Wimbledon when she was just 17, beating defending champion Serena Williams to shock and awe. Accompanied, who can forget, by extremely loud grunts every time she served or over-exerted herself. They measured more than 101 decibels, for goodness sake — just nine less than a lion’s roar.
She is also the world’s most highly paid female athlete and has been for more than a decade. She earns more than $20 million a year from endorsements and sponsorship deals ranging from Nike to Tag Heuer, Evian to Porsche.
On top of that, she has her own range of sweets, Sugarpova; a Maria Sharapova Foundation through which she helps victims of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion; and a Pomeranian dog called Dolce, who stays at home in her mansion in Florida where, apparently, the air better suits his flyaway furry coat.
Maria controls everything in microscopic detail. So while, of course, she is delighted to chat, I am warned — very firmly — that she must not be asked any questions about grunting. Or her boyfriend. And particularly no questions connecting the two.
Which is a shame, because for the past three years she has been dating Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov, who is No 11 in the world and the hottest man in tennis — in looks, potential, and temper — though he insists he’s made great strides in controlling it better these days, and last year only smashed 200 racquets.
He is utterly gorgeous, silly, fun-loving and a terrible show-off. Last week he tweeted a picture of himself hanging upside down on the London Underground with the caption ‘feeling silly’. If I were dating him, I’d never stop talking about him.
She was also, I’m told, extremely upset about reports in the Mail that the confectionery in her sweetie range are full of sugar.
So I start with an apology for any thoughtless comments and she looks me very hard in the eye and says, ‘no problem, I have a short memory’ — clearly meaning the opposite.
And we move swiftly to permitted topics, such as how much she loves Wimbledon, which, obviously, she wants to win again. ‘It’s a dream of mine and something I work towards every single day,’ she says........
A colleague of mine (male, obviously), who once spent a day with her for an interview and claims he even saw her in a thong during the photoshoot, said that despite her extraordinary looks, he found her utterly unsexy.
I disagree. Maria Sharapova is astonishingly sexy, but you’d have to have a death wish, or be a kamikaze Bulgarian tennis star, to try your luck with her.
A very deceptive multiculturalist in Britain
Another "affirmative action" beneficiary, it would seem
On Monday, June 8, a British academic called Connie St Louis uploaded a sensational document to her Twitter feed. Beginning with the question ‘Why are the British so embarrassing abroad?’, it offered an account of bizarre remarks that a Nobel Prize-winning biologist by the name of Sir Tim Hunt had made earlier that day at a conference in Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
His audience was comprised of roughly 100 science journalists, most of them female, who were being treated to a free lunch by a local trade body representing Women’s Science & Technology Associations.
According to St Louis, who was in the crowd, their meal was ‘utterly ruined’ by the ‘sexist speaker’. She claimed that Sir Tim, having been asked to deliver a toast, embarked on a surreal rant in which he boasted of being a ‘male chauvinist’.....
Then, early this week, the simmering dispute took a further, seismic twist.
It came courtesy of The Times newspaper, which revealed the contents of a leaked report into Sir Tim’s fall from grace compiled by an EU official who had accompanied him to the Seoul conference.
This individual, who has not been named, sat with him at the lunch and provided a transcript of what Sir Tim ‘really said’.
Crucially, it presented a very different take to the one which had been so energetically circulated by Connie St Louis.
The report began by confirming that Sir Tim had joked about falling in love with women in laboratories and ‘making them cry’.
However, it said he’d prefaced those comments with an ironic introduction, joking that they would illustrate what a ‘chauvinist monster’ he was.
The report then revealed the existence of an entire second half of the controversial toast. In it, Sir Tim was said to have told his audience that his remark about ‘making them cry’ was, indeed, an ironic joke.
He purportedly said, ‘now seriously . . .’ before going on to speak enthusiastically about the ‘important role’ women scientists play. He ended by joking that his largely female audience should pursue their trade, ‘despite monsters like me’.
The report’s author added: ‘I didn’t notice any uncomfortable silence or any awkwardness in the room as reported on social and then mainstream media,’ going on to describe the speech as ‘warm and funny’.
However, Sir Tim’s critics remained unmoved and disputed the EU report’s contents. Importantly, given how the scandal had originally emerged, they were led by Connie St Louis.
She stood by her remarks and told the Mail that she explicitly denied that the scientist’s toast ever contained the words ‘now seriously’.
As a result, this explosive controversy now rests on a single, straightforward question: which of these two, first-hand versions of events is true? Either the anonymous EU official is telling the truth, in which case Sir Tim is a hapless victim, guilty of nothing more than telling a misjudged joke. Or Connie St Louis, the architect of the witch-hunt against him, is in the right. In that case, many will continue to argue that he got what he deserved.
So, who are we to believe?
The EU report appears to dovetail with Sir Tim’s own version of events. Meanwhile, Connie St Louis’s account is shared by two fellow witnesses: Deborah Blum, an academic from Wisconsin, and Ivan Oransky, co-founder of a science website called Retraction Watch. Although, following the leaked report, Blum and Oransky told The Times that they could not recall enough to confirm or deny the additional quotes from Sir Tim.
Strangely, given that there were more than 90 other journalists present at the fateful lunch in Seoul, no other detailed accounts of the toast have emerged. St Louis did not make a shorthand transcript of it. And, again very strangely, no tape-recording appears to exist.
Perhaps, therefore, we should ask two other related questions: who exactly is Connie St Louis? And why, exactly, should we trust her word over that of a Nobel laureate?
A good place to start is the website of London’s City University, where St Louis has, for more than a decade, been employed to run a postgraduate course in science journalism.
Here, on a page outlining her CV, she is described as follows:
‘Connie St Louis . . . is an award-winning freelance broadcaster, journalist, writer and scientist.
‘She presents and produces a range of programmes for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service . . . She writes for numerous outlets, including The Independent, Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, BBC On Air magazine and BBC Online.’
All very prestigious. Comforting, no doubt, for potential students considering whether to devote a year of their lives (and money) to completing an MA course under her stewardship. Except, that is for one small detail: almost all of these supposed ‘facts’ appear to be untrue.
For one thing, Connie St Louis does not ‘present and produce’ a range of programmes for Radio 4.
Her most recent work for the station, a documentary about pharmaceuticals called The Magic Bullet, was broadcast in October 2007.
For another, it’s demonstrably false to say she ‘writes’ for The Independent, Daily Mail and The Sunday Times.
Digital archives for all three newspapers, which stretch back at least 20 years, contain no by-lined articles that she has written for any of these titles, either in their print or online editions. The Mail’s accounts department has no record of ever paying her for a contribution.
Her work for The Guardian appears to consist of two online articles: one published in 2013; the other, about the Sir Tim Hunt affair, went live (online) this week.
Curiously, that 1,000-word piece, in which St Louis recalled the scandal, was heavily edited after publication. Around 30 changes, some of them significant, were made to it. In an apparent contradiction of usual Guardian policy, the version now running online contains no disclaimer detailing this fact.
Elsewhere on the City University web page, readers are led to believe that St Louis has either become, or is soon to become, a published author.
‘She is a recipient of the prestigious Joseph Rowntree Journalist Fellowship to write a book based on her acclaimed two-part Radio 4 documentary series, Raising Ham,’ it reads.
But that is not the full story. In 2005, St Louis did, indeed, receive the liberal organisation’s ‘fellowship’. She was given £50,000, which was supposed to support her while she wrote the book in question.
However, no book was ever published. Or, indeed, written. An entire decade later, the project remains a work in progress.
Asked to explain these discrepancies — although details of the claims are carried, remember, on the internet page where she is supposed to present her credentials to students and fellow academics — St Louis said she had done interviews for the Daily Mail but conceded it was ‘possible’ that she had never written for the paper.
She said her by-lined articles in the Independent and Sunday Times may have been published more than two decades ago. Asked how she could, therefore, justify the claim on her CV that she ‘writes’ for the titles, she hung up.
In a subsequent email, St Louis appeared to backtrack and insist that she has written for all the newspapers cited on her CV, but said: ‘I don’t have time . . . to find all the articles on different old computers.’
She did not respond to a question asking what awards she had ever won for journalism, science, broadcasting or writing.
With regard to the £50,000 fellowship, she added: ‘I didn’t finish the Rowntree book I was writing because I had breast cancer and was extremely ill for a year.
‘Then, after that, I had to work to look after my family. It doesn [sic] take away the fact that I won it [the £50,000] and still hope to finish the book does it?’
Readers can, of course, draw their own conclusions.
In common with most academics, St Louis also uses her online CV to cite articles she has previously published in prestigious academic journals. It claims that she has published three. However, even this is misleading. Two of the three cited journal articles are the same: a piece for the British Medical Journal entitled: ‘Can Twitter predict disease outbreaks?’
Are such errors merely sloppy? Or were they designed to mislead? And what do they tell us about the attention to detail of a woman whose purported recollection of a short lunchtime toast has effectively ruined a Nobel laureate’s career?
Again, readers must draw their own conclusions.
In an email, one of the prominent scientists who have publicly supported Sir Tim Hunt tells me: ‘What you have discovered is very alarming. False claims about publications are taken very seriously by universities. Perhaps even more seriously than reports of dodgy, sexist speeches!’
Another, Dame Valerie Beral, who has worked with Sir Tim, added that if St Louis had made false claims on her CV, then her evidence about his speech ought to be discounted.
‘I think the institutions who have forced Tim to resign now need to look at the claims that this person has made in the past, and work out whether they can trust what she says regarding this incident. ‘If her previous claims turn out to be false, then I believe that Tim must be re-instated.’
City University, meanwhile, says it’s investigating the web page in question.
This is not, however, the only medium in which St Louis appears to make false, or at least misleading, statements.
Earlier this year, she stood, successfully, in an election to become a board member of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ). As part of the election process, St Louis was required to present a detailed CV to voters.
This document, which stretches to six pages, is still on the WFSJ’s website. It contains several deeply questionable statements.
In an early passage, she for example writes: ‘I am a regular contributor to ABC News Worldview TV programme.’ Yet ABC News Worldview has not aired for roughly five years. Factiva, an online search engine which carried transcripts of it, suggests that the last recorded contribution by Connie St Louis to the show was on May 31, 2006.
In another early passage, St Louis writes that she has a second career working for quangos.
‘In November 2002, I was invited and subsequently appointed by the Minister responsible for media, sport and culture to be a board member of UK Sport (the former UK Sports Council) . . . My term of office ended last year but I continue to serve on the audit committee as an external member.’
UK Sport describes things differently. A spokesman says St Louis was appointed to the board in November 2002 but she left in 2005.
St Louis did not respond when asked by the Mail how she can, therefore, claim, in a CV published in 2015, to have been a board member of UK Sport until ‘last year’.
Elsewhere in the six-page CV is a section devoted to ‘Qualification and Training’. In it, St Louis trumpets the fact that she is ‘a member of the Royal Institution’.
Again, very prestigious. Or so it seems, until a spokesman for the Royal Institution told me: ‘Anyone can be a member. It’s simply a service you pay for which entitles you to free tickets to visit us and gives you a discount in our cafe. ‘It’s like having membership of your local cinema or gym.’
Why would someone include such a thing on their CV?
‘Actually, that’s a bit of a problem,’ the spokesman added. ‘We have heard of a few people using membership on their CV to imply that they have some sort of professional recognition or qualification. But it means nothing of the sort. It’s very, very odd to see this on a CV.’
St Louis did not respond when the Mail asked why she cited this membership as a ‘qualification’.
Neither, as it happens, did she reply to a request to explain what academic qualifications she actually has.
The CV again is unclear. In a section outlining her education, she states: ‘BSc (Hons) Upper Second Class degree in Applied Biology.’ But it does not state where she gained it from, making it impossible to fact-check.
Doubtless, more facts will eventually emerge, perhaps once City University has finished investigating this matter.
In the meantime, those who have condemned the Nobel laureate Sir Tim Hunt may wish to re-examine some of her previous statements about the affair.
Take, by way of a final example, an interview with the BBC on June 10, in which St Louis recalled that toast in Seoul: ‘He just ploughed on for five to seven minutes, actually,’ she said. ‘It was really shocking. It was culturally insensitive and it was very sexist.’
Strangely, the passage from Sir Tim’s speech that St Louis has so far made public is exactly 37 words long. It would take, at most, 20 seconds to recount.
So did Sir Tim really ‘plough on’ for five to seven minutes? And, if so, what did he say?
Why did she selectively quote just one statement from his toast? And how did such a remark end the 50-year career of a Nobel laureate?
Islamic State: Where sex-slave depravity masquerades as faith
“Don’t worry brothers, she won’t dissappoint you,’’ Australian jihadist Mohamed Elomar declared in his misspelled tweet, posted with an image of the young captive with sad and tortured eyes.
She was almost certainly Yazidi, one of seven slaves of Islamic State he claimed to have for sale for $2500 each. We don’t know what happened to her, whether Elomar got his price, and probably never will after the former Sydneysider was reported this week to have been killed. But the brutal intent was all too apparent.
The twice-married Elomar, 29, was reaching out to young Muslims to join him in the combat zone in Syria and Iraq and enjoy the same spoil of war: sex. The inconvenient truth for the professed puritans of Islamic State is that the prospect of “guilt-free sex’’ has moved up on the list of attractions promoted in their slick, multi-dimensioned recruiting online and through social media.
The uncomfortable questions for the Western world, including Australia, are why this debased appeal seems to be gaining traction with Islamic State’s target audience, which increasingly includes women, and why it’s not challenged more stridently in the public arena.
In an internet chat room recently, monitored by US researchers covertly keeping tabs on a presumed Islamic State recruiter, the discussion was explicit about the earthly pleasures available to young men who got into the fight.
“They were promised a girl would be provided for them to marry, she would be pretty, and they be given a home to live in,’’ said one member of the team, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There were direct questions about when there would be sex. They were told, ‘as soon as you like’.’’
Similar Q&A sessions have been logged on the notorious web platform Ask.fm, as well as the plethora of encrypted messaging sites that are used by Islamic State operatives to reel in recruits.
The pitch to young women is more nuanced, but the obligations are clearly understood. Islamic State propaganda plays heavily on “romantic notions of adventure and finding romance in the form of a husband or wife’’, according to British academics Erin Marie Saltman and Melanie Smith, writing for London’s Institute for Strategic Dialogue on the gender factor in jihad.
“The sense of adventure in leaving home to travel is influential particularly for the young women,’’ they write. “The other adventure is one based on the promise of meaningful romance as a prize for making the journey.’’
Jytte Klausen of Boston’s Brandeis University calls it a “very professionally run deception scheme’’. She told The Weekend Australian: “It is of course completely in violation of Islamic religious law to lure young people away in marriage and to fight without parental consent … this particular trick appeals to the incipient desire of teenagers to be validated in their thinking that they are right and their parents just plainly not with it.’’
Another notorious Australian jihadi, Khaled Sharrouf, was reported to have died by Elomar’s side when their convoy was taken out by an airstrike in Raqqa, the capital of the so-called caliphate in Syria. Sharrouf was more than his friend and mentor: they were family. Elomar had married Sharrouf’s 14-year-old daughter, Zaynab, after his first wife was intercepted with their three children while trying to join him.
Together, they formed the nucleus of what Saltman and Smith identified as an Australian “sub-cluster’’ within Islamic State, a crucible for exploiting women under the guise of sharia.
When Elomar boasted last December about his slave girls, Islamic State was still on a roll, having seized vast tracts of territory in southern Syria and northern Iraq in the breakout that put it on the map. The Yazidis had paid a particularly terrible price.
Long persecuted because some of their beliefs derived from the Bible, they were branded devil worshippers by the Islamists and systematically rounded up. Up to 5000 Yazidi men were murdered and at least that number of women enslaved, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights estimated.
The accounts of what happened to them are horrifying. Human Rights Watch, a non-government organisation, issued a report in April detailing the systematic rape and torture of young women and girls, based on interviews with some who had escaped the clutches of Islamic State.
Jalila, 12, described how she was beaten and dragged away by a gunman. “I told him not to touch me and begged him to let me go,’’ she said. “I told him to take me to my mother. I was a young girl, and I asked him: ‘What do you want from me?’ He spent three days having sex with me.”
Dilara, 20, was taken to a wedding hall and held with about 60 other terrified Yazidi women and children. “From 9.30 in the morning men would come to buy girls to rape them … they were like animals … they would rape them and bring them back to exchange for new girls. The girls’ ages ranged from eight to 30 years … only 20 girls remained in the end.”
Wafa, 12, was told by an older fighter she could trust him; she was “like a daughter’’ to him and wasn’t to be afraid. Soon enough, he raped her. “He was sleeping in the same place with me and … one day I woke up and my legs were covered in blood,’’ the child said.
Islamic State has sought to justify the sexual violence by claiming that Islam permits sex with non-Muslim “slaves”.
At least 3000 Yazidis remain in captivity alongside members of other persecuted minorities, Human Rights Watch believes.
Girls of nine are known to have been violated, a fact chillingly acknowledged in an Islamic State field manual that licenses its men to “have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for (it)’’.
The UN’s special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Bangura, revealed earlier this month that women could be bought in the slave markets of Raqqa province for the price of a packet of cigarettes. “This is how they attract young men — ‘we have women waiting (for) you, virgins that you can marry’,’’ she told news service AFP.
Klausen, the founding professor of the well-regarded Western Jihad Project, however, insists the proposition that the typical Islamic State recruit is an alienated nerd who can’t meet girls doesn’t fly. “Many of the young men have had plenty of girlfriends before they left for IS,’’ she said. “It is, in my view, more important that IS gives them a salary, a house when they marry and they can have children. The inability to set up independent households is a huge social problem across Africa, Asia and also in Europe’s expensive cities.’’
Greg Barton, a professor at the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University, said Islamic State offered a way for young Muslims to have “their sexual needs met without feeling guilty about it’’. Like just about everything else, the ghanimah system of distributing war booty, including subjugated women, is run on tight hierarchical lines.
The top rung of the male leadership, the emirs, get the first pick of captives, followed by unit commanders and the rank-and-file fighters. The women of Islamic State also receive their cut of the spoils with wedding gifts and living allowances.
And, yes, sex once they are married, though not necessarily to a man of their liking. “In the case of women who come from sheltered families, the promise of legit sex may be as much of the draw as the promise to the guys that they will ‘be somebody’ and become a ‘lion’,’’ Klausen said.
One jihad bride, calling herself Umm Layth, told a British research team: “Honestly, there is something so pleasurable to know that what you have has been taken off the kuffar (non-believers) and handed to you personally by Allah.’’
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said up to 500 foreign women were with Islamic State in the Middle-East war zone, though none was allowed to fight, owing to sharia strictures. By the estimate of Saltman and Smith of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue the intermarried knot of Australian women numbers about 20.
If Elomar is dead — and there’s every chance he is — his teenaged wife has joined the ranks of jihad widows whose availability is also used as recruitment bait by Islamic State.
Zaynab was barely 13 when her father moved the family to Syria and made his mark by having one of her brothers pose for gruesome photographs with a severed human head. She professes to have no regrets. “Chillin in the khilafah, lovin life,” the teenager tweeted in March, together with a photograph of five veiled women reclining against what appeared to be Sharrouf’s new BMW.
The hypocrisy of the scene seems to have escaped her. Yet she shows a distinct awareness of the atrocities committed by Islamic state against the Yazidis and would have been mindful of what Elomar was up to with the slave girls. Whether he did anything more than try to sell them is something else we may never know; what can be said with certainty is that he would have been prosecuted in Australia for taking a bride as young as Zaynab.
She will have the regulation period of iddah — four months, 10 days — to mourn, then be expected to remarry, just as her friend, Zehra Duman, from Melbourne, was after husband Mahmoud Abdullatif, also from Melbourne, died in Syria in January.
Christian Farmers Fined $13,000 for Refusing to Host Same-Sex Wedding Fight Back
The owners of a small family farm in upstate New York fined $13,000 for discriminating against a same-sex couple for refusing to host a wedding on their property are fighting back.
In an appeal filed today before an appellate division of the New York Supreme Court, a lawyer for Cynthia and Robert Gifford, owners of Liberty Ridge Farm near Albany, N.Y., argued that when finding them guilty, the court did not consider their constitutional freedoms and religious beliefs.
“[The decision] violates the Giffords’ free exercise of religion, freedom of expressive association, and freedom of expression protected under the United States and New York Constitutions,” James Trainor, an allied attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote in the appeal.
The Giffords were found guilty of “sexual orientation discrimination” by an administrative law judge last July.
Because Liberty Ridge Farm is open to the public for seasonal activities such as an annual fall festival, the state of New York classifies it as a public accommodation that therefore cannot discriminate on the basis of certain personal characteristics, including sexual orientation.
“Discrimination in the name of civil rights is as abhorrent as discrimination which does violence to the concept of civil rights,” wrote the administrative law judge.
In a statement issued to press today, Trainor said the judge’s order “forces the Giffords to host same-sex ceremonies or to host no wedding ceremonies at all.” He added:
The government is essentially saying to the Giffords, give up your faith, or give up your livelihood.
The conflict began on Sept. 25, 2012, when Melisa Erwin and Jennifer McCarthy, a lesbian couple, called the Giffords to ask them to host their same-sex wedding at Liberty Ridge Farm.
The Giffords live on the second and third floor of the barn and, when they host weddings on the first floor, open part of the second floor as a bridal suite.
Not wanting to go against her beliefs of traditional marriage, Cynthia Gifford politely declined the request. Unbeknownst to the Christian couple, the caller recorded their conversation. Shortly thereafter, the lesbian couple filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights.
“We’re not hateful people,” Gifford said in an interview with The Daily Signal, holding back tears. “We just believe that a marriage is between a man and a woman, and we do not want to hold a [same-sex] marriage ceremony here on our family farm because the state tells us we have to do it.”
As punishment, the government fined the family $10,000 and ordered them to pay an additional $3,000 to the women. The Giffords were also required to attend staff re-education training classes to teach the state’s viewpoint on marriage. These are the stipulations that the family is challenging with their appeal this week.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.