What in the World has Happened to the American People?

Like others in my generation, I remember proudly the response of the American people to the war in Vietnam. I remember the marches, the sit-ins, the protests. I remember the small Midwestern liberal arts college I first attended deciding to shut itself down as its students readied to pour into the nation’s capital and I remember being tear gassed in Berkeley.

Vietnam pales in magnitude when compared with the military actions launched by the US since the turn of the century.  Since 2000, US troops have fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.

War, no longer an anomaly, has become common fare.

The virulence of the US government is increasingly evident towards its own people. In certain  arenas, and against certain kinds of people, the US has become brutally aggressive against its own citizens.

The response by the people of the United States to its continuing incursions abroad has been colorless, to say the least.  No schools shut down, no massive mobilizations on Washington, no general strikes.  As far as the domestic violence goes, the response is equally bland. One might posit that the people of the US have become accustomed to their bellicose government.

In light of the history of protest, how does one account for the muted response of the American people? …


Hasn’t she heard?  There’s a WAR ON TERROR and a WAR ON WARMING and a WAR ON DRUGS and a WAR ON RUSSIAN AGGRESSION and a WAR ON UNRULY FORESKINS and a WAR ON DISORDERLY BIRTH and a WAR ON RECALCITRANT CHILDREN …..   There’s no time to think!  Seek out and obey your state-sanctioned authority figures!

MGM and FGM: Why the Double Standard?

Having spent years as a physician with expertise in male and intersex genitalia, and performing extensive research on the practice of female genital mutilation, the double standard here is obvious. In regions practicing female genital mutilation, they do not call it mutilation. They call it female circumcision, and they do not agree it is mutilation. They believe it is best for the child and the woman she will become, and it does offer many cultural and psychosocial benefits. The practice is usually done under the guise of good intentions, not as punishment, torture, or intentional trauma.

Female circumcision is practiced in more than 29 countries in the world, and it is estimated that there are 125 million women living who have undergone this procedure. Male circumcision remains common in many places, and an estimated 661 million men living today have been cut. Estimates of the number of intersex children (in which their biology does not conform to medical ideals of male or female biology) are at least 1 in 2000 (about 3.5 million of this world’s approximately 7 billion population), and, depending on definitions, may be as high as 1 in 150. A significant number of these intersex children undergo gender-conforming surgery during childhood, which is surgery designed to make the appearance of the genitals match the gender of rearing decided upon by the care team.

The World Health Organization defines genital mutilation as intentionally altering the genitals for non-medical reasons. Male circumcision is widely recognized as being medically unnecessary. Gender-conforming surgery in intersex individuals is performed for psychosocial reasons, not medical issues. I agree with the World Health Organization’s choice to call female circumcision for what it is, mutilation to genitals, and out of respect for the severity and harm of this practice, I will use the phrase “female genital mutilation” rather than “female circumcision.” Because the discussion here is on medically unnecessary alteration of genitals, I will also use the phrases “male genital mutilation” rather than “male circumcision” and “intersex genital mutilation” rather than “gender-conforming surgery” in the remainder of this article. …


Iraqi Prime Minister: US ground forces not welcome in Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ruled out supporting the deployment of US ground forces in the country to fight against jihadist groups like Daesh, also known as ISIL, saying that while Iraq welcomes US training and support, it doesn’t need combat troops in the country.

“We do not need foreign ground combat forces on Iraqi land,” Abadi said in a statement, which comes after Washington hinted that it plans to extend anti-Daesh military operations on the ground in both Iraq and Syria.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the US would deploy a special expeditionary force to Iraq, and hinted that ground forces could be sent to Syria to assist in the international fight against Daesh. The US already has an estimated 3,500 troops in Iraq to “train and advise” local forces, with officials in Washington explicitly saying that American troops would not take part in active combat.

However, there has been speculation that US forces are already engaging in active fighting against Daesh in Iraq. Kurdish fighters reported to the Guardian that the US had been actively fighting against the jihadist group for months. US officials have denied the claim, however it has sparked concerns in Baghdad that Washington may be engaging in covert mission creep tactics by slowly increasing its ground presence in the country. …


Call Washington now: Net Neutrality in trouble

Members of Congress are STILL hard at work doing everything they can to sneak dangerous riders into a must-pass government funding bill that could prevent the FCC from enforcing the Net Neutrality rules implemented this year.

We’re at real risk of losing everything we fought so hard for. Can you pick up the phone right now, make phone calls to the White House and Senate, and urge that they stand strong with an open Internet?

Phone calls are the single most important method of getting Washington’s attention on this. Corporate lobbyists are hoping that while Congress is swept up in fights over the fate of Syrian refugees, gun violence and Planned Parenthood, they can sneak in giveaways to the Big Telecom companies that want to gut Net Neutrality. And without a free and open Internet, it would be much harder to demand real change on the issues we care about.

It’s cheap, it’s sneaky, and it’s wrong.

Your voice is needed. Will you pick up the phone and tell the White House and Senate that Net Neutrality is NOT on the bargaining table?

Yes, I’ll make phone calls to the White House and Senate right now.

No, I can’t do that — but I’ll chip in $5 or $10 to help Demand Progress in the fight to protect Net Neutrality.

Thanks for taking action on this at a critical time.

—David, Daniel, Kurt, Mark, Sara and the rest of the Demand Progress team

P.S. Seeing this message after 5:30pm EST today? No problem. Leave a message, and then pick up the phone tomorrow to try again!


Is Circumcision Legal? by Peter W. Adler

An important, divisive, and unanswered question of American law – and indeed of international law – is whether it is legal to circumcise healthy boys.

American medical associations and experts assert that circumcision is a common, safe, and relatively painless procedure with many medical benefits that exceed the risks. They argue that insurance should pay for it. Some religious organizations argue that circumcision is a sacred religious ritual. In any event, proponents claim that parents have a general and religious right to make the circumcision decision. They can point to the fact that no physician has ever been held liable by an American court for a properly performed circumcision.

Legal scholars, foreign medical associations, intactivist organizations, and increasing numbers of men claim the opposite, namely that circumcision is painful, risky, harmful, irreversible surgery that benefits few men, if any. These opponents of circumcision argue that, in any event, boys have a right to be left genitally intact, like girls under federal law, and to make the circumcision decision for themselves as adults…