‘Sit down, pay extra to upgrade to business class, or get off the plane.’

Music to UD‘s ears: An ultraorthodox man demands that a woman sitting next to him on an El Al flight move because he refuses to sit next to women. Instead of letting him rant on and eventually force the woman to move, the flight director tells him what it says in UD‘s headline: Fuck off.

As long as Israel’s courts remain real courts (not guaranteed!), her heroine, Anat Hoffman, who with her organization brought the suit that forced gender equality on El Al, will keep winning virtually every case she brings, just the way she won this one.

Hoffman was on this particular plane; she witnessed the exchange.

I was proud to hear the flight director use the exact wording as promised by El Al in court. It was as if she were reading from the verdict itself, stating in no uncertain terms that the in-flight staff would not ask the woman to change her seat. If the staff had acted differently, and if they had, in any way, asked the female passenger to change her seat ‘for everyone’s benefit,’ I would have encouraged her to sue El Al. That passenger did not know it, but she had all of IRAC—a powerful ally—standing behind her.

Before the flight director finally issued an ultimatum to this man, other people on the plane began to pressure the woman to move, practically bringing her to tears. But, as UD‘s beloved Christopher Hitchens used to say, “Enough with clerical and religious bullying and intimidation.”

“Child abuse with a sharp object.”

Ilhan Omar’s brushoff of Maryum Saifee’s urgent and pertinent question about female genital mutilation earned Saifee an NPR interview, during which she pointed out that since plenty of children in Omar’s own district suffer this abuse, it’s kind of rich of her to get all huffy and refuse to deal with the issue. Here’s more of what Saifee said:

[We need to be willing to talk about] misogyny within our own community… [N]obody talks about FGM. [It’s a ].. squeamish topic.

[Also problematically,] it is politicized as an anti-Muslim issue. [But this] doesn’t give the community a free pass not to talk about it. [In any case, FGM is not merely a local issue; it is an international] human rights issue. [It is] systematized child sexual abuse with a sharp object… 

[There’s] very low literacy on this issue, [and people need to be educated about it; silence of Omar’s sort is just the opposite of what’s needed].

Sing it.

I look for my heart
It’s Rapinoe
I lost it to her she’s divino
The day that the final started

‘“She’s a real intellectual,” said Barry Lynn, executive director of the Open Markets Institute, who has worked with Warren and her team on their anti-trust tech proposals.’

The kiss of death for longtime UD favorite, Elizabeth Warren. It’s going to be close to impossible for her to dig herself out of the “she’s an intellectual” hole.

Butterflies – and Kurdish Judges – Are Free.

‘On this day, presiding over [an ISIS fighter’s] trial, [Judge] Amina is wearing a white shirt and jeans with embroidered butterflies — clothing ISIS would have whipped women for wearing in public. She is seated behind a wood and faux-leather desk, which hides her platform heels. The public prosecutor is wearing a short-sleeved shirt.

In the future, Amina says, perhaps they will have judge’s gowns and proper courtrooms where journalists and the public can come all the time.

It’s a shock to some ISIS fighters to be sentenced by a woman. In the self-declared caliphate, women had very restricted roles, requiring them to stay at home unless they were accompanied by a close male relative. According to ISIS ideology, men are not allowed to look at women who are not direct relatives.

“Some of them, when they hear the voice of a woman, they look at the ground,” says Amina. “I tell them, ‘I am talking to you — raise your head and look at the committee.'”

Amina says a female colleague jokes that ISIS fighters thought that, as the Quran promises men who are faithful, they would end up in paradise with dozens of beautiful women to accompany them. “Instead, they look up and see us” in the courtroom, Amina says with a laugh.’

In memory of Agnes Varda…

… the French New Wave director who died yesterday, an essay UD wrote long ago about one of her best-known films, Vagabonde.

In memory of Sarah Auffret…

… killed in the Ethiopian Air crash, excerpts from an interview she gave about her two seasons at Port Lockroy, Britain’s most southerly post office. Auffret was – like so many people on that flight – an adventurer, an environmentalist, and a moralist.

As the sun never sets, days are long, but always enjoyable. The team wakes up around 7 a.m. – my morning alarm was the sound of penguins calling and snowy sheathbills knocking at the window. A typical day during high season very much revolves around ship visits – there would be two a day and sometimes a sailing yacht at lunch time. One or more of us would go on board the vessel first thing for a pre-landing briefing and perhaps breakfast – fans of bacon and eggs were always keen to get on board for this!

… Living conditions are pretty basic – there is no running water, only one gas heater in the team’s living quarters, and you may get one shower a week on a visiting ship if you’re lucky. You also need to be able to live with just a small number of people, yet also be very sociable, as you meet about 300 people a day.

When I left, I really missed the light and the tranquility of the island, and the absence of phones and internet. On base you can be connected to what is actually around you without the constant distraction of the online world.

We know who to thank.

First managing director! First chief economist! Take a bow, DSK.

“Hundreds give blood for the mayor of Gdansk.”

In the city of Solidarity, people come together in an ultimately losing battle for the life of their assassinated mayor.

O powerful western fallen star! 
O shades of night—O moody, tearful night! 
O great star disappear’d—

Supreme Court keeps worst state in the union from…

making itself even worse.

Well, you already know I spent my last birthday…

… heading into Woodstock with my sister at the wheel, the two of us belting out Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock. You know I sing and play guitar (though I mainly sing and play piano now), and that my roots are very Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and Joni Mitchell. (My aspirational roots are Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, but let’s get real…) For Joni Mitchell’s 75th birthday, Canadian singers talk about their favorite songs of hers.

Although I sat around my freshman dorm room at Goucher College obsessively listening to the sad songs on Blue, it’s her fast ecstatic songs that have stayed with me: Woodstock, Carey, California. These are the songs that, decade after decade, sashay through my head while I sashay.

Name of the hot dog pilot who did a crab landing while all the other pilots at Bristol airport aborted and landed elsewhere?


Since You’ve Been …


Hopeless Hopeless Hopeless Hopeless

Lindsay Shepherd’s Song

(Sing it.)

There is a school in north Ontario
Witch hunt, Orwellian, despair
Urgently I need a different place to go
All its faculty’s bizaire

Open windows to my students’ souls
Higher thought on the rise
Then came the commissar patrols
Throwing shadows in their eyes

It’s just hopeless hopeless hopeless
Hopeless hopeless they lie to me now
Hopeless hopeless hopeless
Have to get out of here somehow


(Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!
Sorry you recorded what we said!
Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!
Can’t believe where this has led)


[T]hough social-justice ideology isn’t leading to the gulag, its worst forms have an obvious family relation to communism, complete with internal purges and hostility to dissent.

“I found a kindred spirit in Zuzana because she was someone who played the harpsichord simply in order to …

exist as a human being.”

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