Starving British children are looking for food in rubbish bins

British children are sifting through bins left outside houses in search of scraps of food because they are starving, it has been revealed.

But Tories and their supporters in rich London won’t have to look at them – because they are in Labour-held Stoke-on-Trent.

The Stoke Sentinel reported that “Youngsters have been searching through bins in the Hollings Street and Brocksford Street area of Fenton before eating any leftovers.”

It said, “Dozens of hungry families are referred to Fenton’s food bank for help every week.”

What’s really sad about this story is that some of the people interviewed seemed to think the problem was with the mess left behind by these children – youngsters who are, remember, so hungry that they are rooting through rubbish for stale leftovers.

One said: “It’s horrible to see… Some days on the school run we have had to actually cross over the road because there’s so much rubbish on the pavement because of this. Luckily I keep my bins to one side so we haven’t been too badly affected.”

On Vox Political.

Jesus H.

‘I Can Barely Afford My Children’s Shoes:’ My Life As A McDonald’s Worker

 “Each payday I choose, do I pay the light bill or do I pay the gas bill?” said Melinda Topel, a McDonald’s worker for 10 years in various cities. “Do I pay all of my rent or do I pay some of the rent and some for the lights? Do I pay a utility or do I buy food?”

Topel has to face difficult decisions like these on a daily basis. But she isn’t alone. She’s one of about four million fast-food employees nationwide struggling to survive on low-wage work. While fast-food corporations rake in billions each year, workers are paid the minimum wage or slightly above it. In turn, workers like Topel not only struggle with bills, but have to rely on public assistance. And like most fast-food workers, although she works full-time, Topel doesn’t receive any kind of benefits or paid sick days.

That’s why Topel and other fast-food workers across the country are fighting for a $15 per hour wage and a union.

“We deserve to go to work everyday and pay our bills like everyone else,” she said. “And our kids deserve new shoes or school supplies.… The CEOs of these multi-billion-dollar companies are putting the profits in their pockets — and we made them those profits… and it shouldn’t be like that.”

On Alternet.

Forced Sterilization in Prisons: Just Another Way to Take Away Women’s Rights

For you girlies who don’t know, compulsory sterilization (or, forced sterilization) is a government program that sterilizes people without their consent. Many countries, even our own, use population control and determined “sexual deviancy” as an excuse to sterilize. Eugenics refers to the practice of cleansing a population of “undesirables” — and distressingly enough, this concept is now being used as a punitive punishment for the incarcerated. Think Aryan Race and Hitler’s “population cleansing”policies. In some countries (France, Italy, Poland, just to name a few), transgendered people have to be sterilized if they want to be legally recognized as the gender of their choice. Unbelievable, I know.

So basically, forced sterilization is no short of a crime against humanity. And if that’s so, why is it still happening in the United States? America has a wretched, secret history of sterilizing the infirm, the mentally challenged and Native Americans without their knowledge — often as these people were visiting hospitals for other reasons. Yet, sterilizing inmates is not behind us.

In California state prisons, over 150 women have been sterilized under duress because the state doesn’t want to provide welfare to any future children they might have. These women haven’t been forced per se, but are pressured so aggressively by doctors that it’s really not their decision at all. Many Californians don’t know the money in their pockets is funding these procedures. Grossly enough, doctors claim that this is “money well spent.” It seems that instead of withholding welfare from those who need it, we’re just sterilizing women so less people will need it in the future. What a plan. [Rest.]

Stop using criminal justice to solve social problems

More from downsizingcriminaljustice. This is something I’ve mentioned a few times recently – the extent to which we should use our legal and criminal justice system to regulate and/ or address social problems. Below is a discussion of how that manifests.

When faced by the challenge of identifying ‘what bit of the criminal justice’ I would give up I was tempted to refuse.  For me it is a bit like asking what methods of capital punishment would you abolish?  By focus on one aspect, and by identifying it as particularly problematic, other aspects are, unintentionally, legitimised. So my first reaction is that the whole criminal justice system is so toxic, (with its single solution – state inflicted blame and pain – offered to every single problem it confronts), that we should not pick and choose but abolish the whole system, lock stock and barrel.

But on reflection there is something specific I think we need to focus our energies on abolishing, what Joelandeuit Beijerse and Rene Kool have referred to as the ‘traitorous temptation of criminal justice’. In contemporary society it is clear we face a whole range of social problems which need solutions.  The common sense of our age has increasingly been to conceptualise these problems in a manner that makes criminal justice the obvious response. Homelessnesspovertypre-natal caresquattinghungerprotestpoor mental health, druguse and abuse and the failure to buy a TV Licence are all seen as problems best solved through criminal justice interventions leading in many cases to the infliction of punishment through imprisonment. Readers of this blog would most likely agree that these are all areas where criminal justice interventions could (and should) be rolled back, even possibly abolished, but what about killing and sexual violence?  Surely we need the criminal justice system to protect us from those serious harms? [Rest.]

Zero Tolerance and Broken Windows Policing Criminalizes Homeless and Poor People … and Can Kill Them


The recent death of homeless veteran Jerome Murdough in a Rikers Island cell should be more than a temporary debate in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it New York media cycle that often desensitizes us to tragedies. I know it hit close to home for myself — Mr. Murdough sought refuge the night of his arrest in an East Harlem public housing staircase three blocks from my home and across the street from my where my kids go to school. When sleeping in a staircase, I thought, lands you in a Rikers cell, something is wrong.

Murdough’s death laid bare some of our collective disregard for the poor as well as an aggressive police department with an obsession for law and order rivaled only by military dictatorships and science fiction characters (i.e., RoboCop, Judge Dredd). Is it enough to have roundtable discussions lamenting the case of Mr. Murdough as one of someone slipping through the cracks? What happened to him is the not-so unpredictable outcome of a society heavily invested in enforcement by way of zero-tolerance policing and criminal justice system. It’s an approach that is neither humane nor sustainable. But as some debate what stop-gap reforms or long term legislation might be crafted, let’s not lose sight of how Murdough arrived at the cell he would die in: the NYPD and the low-level crime-focused Broken Windows theory that guides it. [Rest.]

This is the US criminal justice system

Rich white man gets no jail time for raping three year old. Meanwhile, they’re now seeking 60 years for Marissa Anderson’s warning shot in self-defence.

On Feminist Philosophers.

Disgusting and distressing.

More on the first story from feministing:

I can’t really imagine a story that more perfectly illustrates how totally broken the criminal “justice” system in the US is.

Robert H. Richards IV, a rich unemployed heir to a chemical baron fortune who lives off his trust fund, was convicted of raping his three-year-old daughter. He also allegedly admitted to abusing his toddler son. But a Delaware state Superior Court judge decided that he “will not fare well” in prison, so he should get probation and treatment instead.

As a public defender in the state notes, the sentence might make the public skeptical about “how a person with great wealth may be treated by the system.” Um, ya think?

Nobody fares well in prisons. Because they are terrible, dehumanizing places. And, while treatment is sometimes presented as an alternative to incarceration–usually in cases of drug addiction–in the vast majority of cases, the US criminal justice system does not give a flying fuck about how prison affects the incarcerated. If it did, the system would look nothing like it does today. If it did, solitary confinement would be understood to be torture and outlawed as such. If it did, prison rape would be treated like the serious epidemic it is instead of as a punchline. If it did, literally millions of black men would not be condemned to second-class citizen status for minor drug offenses. If if did, there would be no mentally ill people in our prisons. If it did–if rehabilitation was really considered the goal–the world would probably be a better and safer place.

But that’s not the world we live in. As Kendall Marlowe, executive director of the National Association for Counsel for Children, says, “Our prisons should be more rehabilitative environments, but the prison system’s inadequacies are not a justification for letting a child molester off the hook.” If we’re gonna start giving a shit about whether incarcerating people is really a productive way to address criminal behavior–which, again, I would love for us to do–I can think of way better places to start than with a one percenter who raped his daughter. [Rest.]

See also Shakesville for coverage:

Shades of the sentencing of Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old wealthy white Texas teenager who received probation after killing four people while drunk driving, because he suffers from “affluenza,” i.e. being a privileged shit who’s never held accountable for his actions.

As I said regarding that case, I agree that the worst way to deal with a lot of criminalized behavior is sending people into our terrible for-profit prison system, and I strongly believe that the US prison system needs major reforms, but “rich white cis male perpetrators get probation and therapy” does not constitute meaningful prison reform. Privileging the privileged merely entrenches existing inequities.

Further, this is a man who raped his own child. (Possibly both his children: He also stands accused of sexually abusing his infant son.) He is vanishingly less likely to benefit from treatment than a person convicted of just about any other crime. [Rest.]

The trouble with #WhiteHistoryMonth is that it is not history

Here’s John Pilger, writing as late as Friday, March 21, on on the continued theft of Aboriginal children in Australia:

… Up to the 1970s, thousands of mixed-race children were stolen from their mothers by welfare officials. The children were given to institutions as cheap or slave labour; many were abused.

Described by a chief protector of Aborigines as “breeding out the colour”, the policy was known as assimilation. It was influenced by the same eugenics movement that inspired the Nazis. In 1997 a landmark report, Bringing Them Home, disclosed that as many 50,000 children and their mothers had endured “the humiliation, the degradation and sheer brutality of the act of forced separation … the product of the deliberate, calculated policies of the state”. The report called this genocide.

Image Credit: Wiki Commons

Assimilation remains Australian government policy in all but name. Euphemisms such as “reconciliation” and “Stronger Futures” cover similar social engineering and an enduring, insidious racism in the political elite, the bureaucracy and wider Australian society. When in 2008 prime minister Kevin Rudd apologised for the stolen generation, he added: “I want to be blunt about this. There will be no compensation.” The Sydney Morning Herald congratulated Rudd on a “shrewd manoeuvre” that “cleared away a piece of political wreckage in a way that responds to some of its own supporters’ emotional needs, yet changes nothing”.

Today, the theft of Aboriginal children – including babies taken from the birth table – is now more widespread than at any time during the last century. As of June last year, almost 14,000 Aboriginal children had been “removed”. This is five times the number when Bringing Them Home was written. More than a third of all removed children are Aboriginal – from 3% of the population. At the present rate, this mass removal of Aboriginal children will result in a stolen generation of more than 3,300 children in the Northern Territory alone. []

Over 100 Years Ago, 146 Young Women Working In A Factory Never Came Home.

Over 100 Years Ago, 146 Young Women Working In A Factory Never Came Home. It Changed Our Country (US).

I have a hard time watching this and not getting terribly angry. Those 146 young women who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25, 1911, deserve to be remembered. But we’re watching it happen all over again in developing countries that supply Walmart, Gap, and other marketing and retail giants. [Rest.]

Sunday feminist roundup (23rd March 2014)

- Beauty Standards Are Bullshit (The Belle Jar)

- International Women’s Day and the feminists who inspired me to reclaim my body (A Room of Our Own)

- How Mumsnet put some fire in my belly and why I hope my boys embrace feminism by @mummytolittlee (A Room of Our Own)

- Hidden sexism in the Academy (The F Word)

- Gang Raped at 15-Fiancee Says I Wanted It (everydayvictimblaming)

- In prostitution, ‘race, class, and sex intersect in the worst of ways to subjugate Native women’ (Feminist Current)

- Sex and the REF (Times Higher Ed)

And the best of the quickhits from the last week:

Sunday feminist roundup (16th March 2014)

A double edition this week. Since the last roundup, we have, of course, had #IWD14. I was torn about it this year, for  reasons you can see here.

- Of Frats, Rape Culture and #TFM (Ms Blog)

- International Women’s Day: In defence of feminist dissent (Guardian)

- This Is Feminism: Speech at Cambridge Union Debate (Week Woman)

- Alison Bechdel: A Review (Lip Magazine)

- 25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture  (Everyday Feminism)

- Sorry, Men’s Rights Activists, You Don’t Have Abortion ‘Rights’ (RH Reality Check)

- Men who need cookies are not feminist allies. (My Elegant Gathering of White Snows)

- Sexual harassment is ‘normal’ in clubs, but are things about to change? (Guardian)

- How To Attack A Feminist (Week Woman)

- This Is How Anti-Choice Brainwashing Starts (RH Reality Check)

And on the quickhits lately:

“But frankly, I am plumb tired of doing that…

But frankly, I am plumb tired of doing that. You can look it up on the internet for yourself. To enter that discussion is to jump down an endless rabbit hole of contention to which there is no bottom, in which your racial privilege and angst are the perpetual centre of gravity. There is no relationship of love in the darkness of that debate, no way to make you understand, no reason for me to stay. So let’s make a deal, WILWP. You don’t ask me to explain history’s connection to the present, and I won’t ask you to reimburse generations of poverty created by slavery and indentured servitude, head taxes, internment, and discriminatory education and employment practices. You don’t ask me when you can stop feeling guilty, and I don’t ask you when I’m going to get back those conversations I didn’t have with my grandparents because my family decided that I would have a better chance at life in Canada speaking English instead of an obscure Chinese village dialect. You don’t ask me what your place is in the “struggle for racial equality,” and I don’t tell you that you directly benefit from oppression that has resulted in my personal trauma. To borrow a phrase from the Daria theme song, “Excuse me, you’re standing on my neck.

- Dear Well-Intentioned Liberal White People


Over on the quickhits earlier, I posted this link. It was to a piece in the Indy today, entitled, “To those who can’t see the point of International Women’s Day: you are the very reason it exists”. Well ain’t that the truth.

I did my usual quickhitting and tweeting on Saturday – International Women’s Day – but I didn’t bother with the day itself so much or with its coverage. It’s not that I don’t support International Women’s Day (there’s very little women’s anything that I don’t support) but this year, it weighed heavily on me that we still need it. There was the usual backlash on twitter from all the detractors. When is International Men’s Day, they asked. Richard Herring handled that much better than I ever could. I, of course, would have responded that every single day is International Men’s Day because this is a patriarchy and that is how it works.

Yesterday, also over on the quickhits, I posted the main findings from a report on violence against women in the EU. The report interviewed 42,000 women across the EU about “their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence, including incidents of intimate partner violence (‘domestic violence’)”. That’s a good sample size by anyone’s measure so there shouldn’t be any doubt about the findings. Here are some of them:

  • One in three women (33%) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since she was 15 years old. Out of all women who have a (current or previous) partner, 22% have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner since the age of 15.
  • Of those women who indicate they have been victims of sexual violence by a non-partner, almost one in 10 indicates that more than one perpetrator was involved in the incident when describing the details of the most serious incident of sexual violence they have experienced.
  • Whereas in most cases violence by a previous partner occurred during the relationship, one in six women (16%) who has been victimised by a previous partner experienced violence after the relationship had broken up.

There are many more on the link and in the report’s PDF. It is not until you see the starkness of the statistics, written neatly in a paragraph, that you realise and understand just how much violence women experience. One in three women and girls. I’ll say that again: ONE IN THREE WOMEN AND GIRLS.

So why do we still need International Women’s Day? We need it because of violence against women, because a young student I know was belittled and humiliated by her campus welfare support team for reporting on women’s issues, because another young student I know was called a “feminist bitch” and threatened when she stood up for women and girls at her college, because I get a taxi home after dark instead of walking even if it’s still early, because of rape culture on campus, because of everyday victim-blaming, because of everyday sexism, because violence against women is up for bets, because the default position is to question the victim’s story, because of street harassment, because of our reproductive rights, because there are “blurred lines“, because of lad culture, because of Page 3, because of the impact of porn, because of these statistics, because of these statistics, because of these statistics, and because of these women.

And why I am so weighed down by it? Because it really should be better by now.

child bride

child bride. (bust_magazine)


In honor of International Women’s Day (IWD) coming up this Saturday March 8th, Catapult – a crowd-funding website championing the empowerment of women and girls – created a series of photos as a part of a visual campaign depicting the growing global epidemic of sex slavery, child slavery, and child brides. The campaign created mock magazine covers, nearly identical to the well-known pop-culture magazines we see stuffed into our newsstands. These covers illustrate the reality of some girls across the world—abuse, fear, and oppression—making the real cover stories from magazines like Seventeen and Good Housekeeping even more embarrassing than they already are. The mocks the headlines we do gawk at, by highlighting the stories we tend to ignore. [Rest.]

Protect Our Sisters From FGM This International Women’s Day

March 8th is International Women’s Day, yet we still have A LOT to get done before we can confidently say that women around the world are receiving equal rights. In fact, there is a war against the pride and beauty of women’s genitals going on right now — the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). You can learn more and sign a petition to help end this horrifying practice here. [Rest.]

Sunday feminist roundup (2nd March 2014)

- The Anti-Choice Movement Is a Denialist Movement (RH Reality Check)

- Could this be the year the pro-choice movement goes on the offensive? (Feministing)

- “You made me do it”: A post about abuse (glosswitch)

- Rape Culture at the University of Ottawa (The Belle Jar)

- bell hooks on the State of the Feminist Movement (Feminist Law Professors)

Some from the quickhits: