First of The Geliophile’s new Monday instalments of ‘News.worthy’: a brief and largely subjective look back over some of the major and some lesser-reported news stories of the past week.
YOU COULDN’T MAKE IT UP | Over in the US, things seemed to be looking up last week, with the news that right wing evangelist extremist Rick Santorum has dropped out of the race to become Beloved Leader of the Free World. Santorum’s Greatest Hits Catalogue of political moments include: claiming that Palestinians doesn’t exist and that contraception is evil, telling children of same-sex parents they’d be better off being abandoned by a father in prison and the mother of a sick child not to whine about paying up to $1million a year for treatment (or the drug companies would stop making the medicine and her kid would die anyway) and, his crowing glory, calling President Obama a ‘government nig-uh’ in a recent speech. His departure paves the way for Republican rival Mitt Romney, a glorious self-parody of gleaming, vulture-eyed capitalist greed that could have been dreamed up by a Soviet PR guru, and who occasionally forgets his own name. Let’s just hope Obama gets re-elected, shall we?
THE BIG GAY BUS BUST | On the other side of the pond, a different set of crazed homophobes had been hatching a plot to piss off Londoners by plastering a dodgy pastiche of Stonewall’s iconic anti-discrimination campaign on the side of a London bus. The advert, funded by Core Issues Trust and Anglican Mainstream, is intended to promote the organisation’s ‘corrective’ services for gay people and caused so much (justified) outrage when announced on the Guardian website that, within hours, Boris Johnson stepped in to have the adverts pulled, emphasising that these sentiments have no place in a tolerant Britain. So, how did the Guardian congratulate itself for restoring justice and order to the Capital? Oh. By publishing this nonsensical faux-sophistic denunciation of the Stonewall campaign, argued with all the verve and brilliance of a teenage debating society hopeful.
With rather astonishing audacity, Mike Davidson, co-director of Core, tried to justify himself by saying that the concept of gay people being just as normal and healthy as anyone else is not ‘universally held’, and that he shouldn’t be prevented from trying to change their sexuality – even if this does mean using the methods that got him kicked out of the British Psychodrama Association for malpractice and breach of ethical standards. Core then continued on the counter-offensive by claiming that not being allowed to make unsubstantiated medical claims and perpetuate discrimination on public transport constitutes an attack on their freedom of speech. Perhaps Davidson would like to pause for a moment and compare his predicament to that of Sergey Kondrashov, who faces prison in Russia for quietly holding up a sign stating that one of his dearest friends is a lesbian, and that he and his wife love and respect her regardless of her sexuality.
On the contrary, Davidson and his cohorts have so far been allowed to spew up any nasty, baseless rubbish they like, so long as they don’t try and scrawl it on the side of a bus. In fact, it turns out that Anglican Mainstream have been allowed to organise conferences that refer to homosexuals as ‘lepers’, whilst equally repugnant co-organisers Care (Christian Action Research and Education) have been infiltrating parliament with their hate-infested, bigoted little minions, for the bargain price of £8,800 a pop. But yeah, they’re definitely the victims here.
MODERN SLAVERY| Weeks after the death of Alem Deschasa, the Ethiopian woman who was filmed being violently dragged into a car in Beirut by her Lebanese employment agent, her family in Ethiopia explained how the widespread dangers and lack of legal status for domestic workers in Lebanon has led the Ethiopian government to ban its nationals from working there. Maltreatment of foreign domestic workers is endemic throughout the Middle East – the Arab News website reports over twenty cases of maids being raped, severely beaten, tortured and / or murdered by their employers in the past six months in Kuwait City alone, whilst Human Rights Watch claims that one domestic worker dies of unnatural causes every week in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Anti-Slavery International released a video report depicting the ongoing plight of Nepalese foreign workers, persuaded by fraudulent ‘employment agencies’ into handing over staggering sums of money, only find themselves abandoned in Dubai or trafficked as slaves. According to the report, at least one body is returned from the UAE to Kathmandu every day in a coffin – in some cases, after families have been unable to pay vast relocation fees demanded for bringing their relatives back home alive. Still, as one Saudi Arabian expat website states, “good, trained maids are not difficult to locate, and it is often possible to retain your predecessor’s servants.” Phew. It’s such a pain when you have to waste time training your slaves to put up with dehumanising oppression.
PINCER POWER | On a lighter note: Japanese scientists have figured out a way to make a computer that is powered by crabs. Yes, I did say crabs. Swarms of tiny crabs that can be made to run through tunnels and logic gates by pretending you are a scary bird, in order to simulate the inner workings of a computer. So, when the end of the world is nigh, all infrastructure has crumbled and sea levels begin to soar, at least we’ll still be able to harness a few crustaceans and build a giant MacBook to rule us all. It’s what Steve Jobs would have wanted.