Tag Archives: Dale Yeager blog

The Real ‘Killing Eve’ -Female ETA Terrorist Was A Sadistic Killer

Real ‘Killing Eve’ Female ETA Terrorist – Sadistic Killer

The terrorist called “the Tigress” had “spectacular” blue eyes and mounds of curly black hair. Idoia López Riaño wore skin-tight jeans and leather jackets, and thought nothing of seducing the officers she was assigned to kill. She was so vain that she once put her entire cell of Basque separatists at risk during an attempted terrorist strike because she was busy admiring herself.

But she was also one of the most bloodthirsty members of Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), an armed separatist group involved in a campaign of bombings and assassinations in Spain between 1968 and 2010.

Pursued by Spanish and French authorities for years, López Riaño was little known outside the Basque Country of northern Spain and southwestern France until two weeks ago — when British novelist Luke Jennings told a literary conference in the UK that he modeled Villanelle, his fictional femme fatale, after López Riaño in the novellas that became the basis for the hit BBC America series “Killing Eve.”

“She was clearly a psychopath and completely, completely without empathy,” said Jennings of the real assassin who killed 23 people in the 1980s and ’90s in Spain.

In “Killing Eve” — the third-season finale of which airs tonight — Emmy winner Jodie Comer plays the glamorous and mercurial Villanelle, a hired assassin obsessed with Eve (Sandra Oh), the MI6 operative pursuing her. Villanelle is ruthless but also incredibly vain. After savagely killing her targets — in one case, hoisting a man upside down by a pulley and disemboweling him — Villanelle treats herself to luxury shopping sprees.

López Riaño, who was also known by fellow militants as “the princess,” shared the same habits. “Idoia was, above everything, a slave to her body and to her hair,” writes Juan Manuel Soares Gamboa in a memoir about his years in ETA. “I never met an ETA militant who was more vain than this woman.”

Once, López Riaño missed a target when she “didn’t actually see him because she was so entranced with the window of a fashionable store and her own reflection,” Jennings said.

López Riaño was born in San Sebastian, a city on the northern coast of Spain, in 1964. As a child, she dreamed of becoming a firefighter. Instead, at 18, she was recruited to ETA by her boyfriend, a member, just as the group launched a civil war that would result in more than 800 civilian and military casualties throughout Spain.

“I became involved with ETA at a very young age,” López Riaño told a court. “I was full of romantic and idealistic ideas, and those who recruited me knew straight away how to make me choose: ‘Would you prefer to save a few people as a firefighter or a whole town? We need committed kids like you.’”

In her early days with the group, she had a string of lovers, including a policeman who learned she was part of ETA when he saw her on TV — after she killed his colleagues.

“Idoia was, above everything, a slave to her body and hair.” – Fellow militant Juan Manuel Soares Gamboa

Savvy and ambitious, the young militant longed to prove herself to the upper echelons of the separatist group and, on Nov. 16, 1984, participated in her first killing. Along with her ETA boyfriend Jose Angel Agirre and two other comrades, she stole a car at gunpoint and drove to a restaurant in Irun where their target — French businessman Joseph Couchot, suspected of financing a group of paramilitaries formed by Spanish authorities to kill ETA fighters — was in the middle of his lunch. López Riaño and her comrades shot Couchot six times, “finishing him off with a coup de grace as he lay on the floor,” according to “Dirty War, Clean Hands: The ETA, the GAL and Spanish Democracy” by Paddy Woodworth.

López Riaño was a rising star in ETA, and soon elevated to an elite cadre of assassins. During her first five months with the Madrid Command she participated in 20 murders, including the bombing of the Plaza Republica Dominicana in Madrid on July 14, 1986, which killed 12 people.

But she soon became a nuisance. López Riaño delayed an operation because she lost a shoe, and another had to be postponed because she needed a pregnancy test.

In one instance, she showed up to work without her gun, but was unrepentant when she was chastised by her commanders for putting the entire cell at risk.

“What do you want me to do?” she said, shrugging her shoulders. “I forgot. Period.”

Like Villanelle, she could be reckless. During a hit against a group of military operatives in June 1986, López Riaño grew tired of holding her submachine gun as she waited for a car carrying her targets to pass, and started to shoot indiscriminately, Soares Gamboa recalled. The officers died in a hail of submachine gun fire in the car that was transporting them to dinner.

In addition to her entitled attitude and reluctance to follow basic rules, López Riaño presented another problem for ETA. In his memoir, written with the journalist Matias Antolin, Soares Gamboa recalled that her stunning features — her “spectacular” blue eyes and “voluminous hair” — attracted too much attention on hits.

“It took 20 days of deliberations, 1,000 French francs for brown contact lenses, and countless meetings to convince her that she should alter her physical appearance because we had to go unnoticed,” he said. “She could not move in Madrid because she would attract too much attention … None of us wanted to accompany her.”

Exasperated with her insubordination, constant clubbing and revolving door of lovers, ETA leaders forced López Riaño into exile in Algeria, where she lived under the alias Tania. She continued to wear tight jeans and leather jackets, according to press reports.

After five years, ETA moved her to the south of France, where she was arrested in 1994. In 2001 she was extradited to Spain and later tried for the murders of 23 people. She was originally sentenced to 2,000 years but the maximum any prisoner can serve under Spanish law is 30 years. So she was released in 2017 after 23 years — one for every person she killed.

While in jail, López Riaño married twice. In 2011, she was formally expelled from ETA after publicly condemning their use of violence and issuing an apology to her victims.

Her current whereabouts are unknown. None of the families of her victims believed she was ever sorry for what she had done.

By Isabel Vincent

The Fight Between Feminist J.K. Rowling & The Transgender World

The Fight Between Feminist J.K. Rowling & The Transgender World

COVID-19 may have canceled the Pride Month parades, but LGBT activists have found another way to celebrate: vilifying J.K. Rowling.

The zillionaire “Harry Potter” author recently earned the wrath of the trans movement when she averred that biological sex is real. After reading an article that referred to “people who menstruate,” instead of “women,” Rowling took to Twitter: “ ‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” She added: “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. . . . I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”

Her take launched a thousand denunciations from trans activists, who declared Rowling a transphobic, bigoted TERF (“trans-exclusionary radical feminist”). It’s tough to “cancel” a household name, but her detractors are trying their best. Several employees at Hachette, Rowling’s publishing house, have said they may refuse to work on her forthcoming book, “The Ickabog.”

Even the young actors who owe their ­careers and platforms to Rowling publicly condemned her. “Transgender women are women,” announced “Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe. Never mind that Rowling is, as he admits, “unquestionably responsible” for the course his life has taken and, therefore, might deserve a tad more consideration.

But Rowling was merely noting that the trans agenda — and the distortions of language it demands — is a form of misogyny, yet another means of demeaning women. Men who transition don’t share the common experience of biological females. It is an offense against women to claim that they do.

In a follow-up essay, Rowling elaborated. “ ‘Woman’ is not a costume. ‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. . . . The ‘inclusive’ language that calls female people ‘menstruators’ and ‘people with vulvas’ strikes many women as dehumanizing.” Brava.

The writer revealed that she is a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault and so is particularly worried that the trans movement endangers women (Exhibit A: bathroom bills that permit men to enter female-only spaces on the basis of subjective mental states alone). Another concern: the increasing numbers of young girls who try to escape femaleness by transitioning, but then regret it and de-transition — often after they have irreparably deformed their bodies and reproductive organs.

“I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class,” she wrote, “and offering cover to predators like few before it.”

Rowling’s commonsense arguments are welcome. But the backlash is, in part, the logical terminus of her own beliefs. Since the “Potter” series’ final installment came out 13 years ago, many have called it too “heteronormative,” and Rowling has repeatedly politicized or revised her story to suit the ­sexual-liberationist causes du jour — whether by declaring President Trump worse than her villain Voldemort; stating that Remus Lupin’s affliction as a werewolf was an intentional metaphor for HIV; or disclosing that Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore was gay.

In 2007, she revealed the wizard had an “incredibly intense” sexual relationship with another character, Gellert Grindelwald (the recent “Fantastic Beasts” films are partially based on this backstory). The 2016 screenplay “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which she co-wrote, featured a homoerotic subplot for Harry’s son ­Albus and the seemingly bisexual Scorpius Malfoy.

After years of working messages of queer affirmation into her stories, and retroactively revising her tales to reflect progressive causes, it should be little surprise that some expected her to take this just a step further. She has been toeing the woke line for a long time.

Still, kudos to Rowling for choosing to take a stand here. Though she remains trans-affirming — “I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable” — her critics care not a whit. The mob demands total submission, even from those with a history of queer celebration; nothing less will do.

Rowling’s defense of women is cheering. More heartening still is how she is exposing the incoherence of trans ideology and its naked hostility to embodied femininity. In the name of liberation, that ideology has wrought cancellation, violence, misogyny, verbal abuse and too many girls consigned to lives of regret or painful de-transitioning.

Radical freedom, it turns out, looks a lot like bondage.

Ramona Tausz is associate editor of First Things. 

UNHRC Member Countries Have Massive Problems with Racism & Police Brutality

UNHRC Member Countries Have Massive Problems with Racism & Police Brutality

Racist and oppressive regimes should recuse themselves from today’s UN Human Rights Council urgent debate on racism and police brutality, says UN Watch, a Geneva-based independent human rights group that monitors the United Nations.

In testimony delivered before the 47-nation council yesterday (see below), UN Watch directed its appeal to such council members as Mauritania, which has up to 500,000 black slaves; Libya, which has up to a million African migrants treated as virtual slaves; and Venezuela, which kills protesters and has been accused of crimes against humanity.

Other council members with egregious records of racism or police brutality who approved today’s urgent debate include Burkina Faso (which initiated the session on behalf of African states), Bangladesh, Cameroon, DR Congo, Pakistan, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and Qatar.

Russia, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and China are expected to be elected to the council in October.

China recently chaired the UNHRC process for interviewing and recommending the UNHRC’s next expert on freedom of speech, to be appointed in July.

The following statement was delivered by UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer in testimony before the United Nations Human Rights Council, in its debate on June 16, 2020:

Mr. Chairman,

In the archives of Reverend Martin Luther King, there is a telegram from March 1965, sent to him in Selma, Alabama, by his friend and fellow civil rights leader Morris Abram, our founder, days after Bloody Sunday. Morris Abram condemned the “shameful exhibition of brutality” by police officers at the peaceful protests, and expressed solidarity with the “great cause” of justice and equality.

Sadly, a half century later, UN Watch must again today condemn the shameful exhibition of brutality by police officers, in the killing of George Floyd. We continue to stand unequivocally with the struggle against racism and police brutality.

In the spirit of Morris Abram—who served at the United Nations, and drafted the 1964 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination—UN Watch has been a leading voice at this Human Rights Council, fighting discrimination worldwide. When there was genocide in Darfur, it was UN Watch that organized the global Activist Summit, held here in 2007.

And every year, we campaign against the election of racist and brutal regimes to this Council. Too often, however, because of back-room political deals, they win. The accused become the judges.

If we wish to honor the memory of George Floyd, tomorrow’s urgent debate on racism and police brutality must be serious and credible — and not become a farce.

Accordingly, we propose that Council members which practice systematic racism or police brutality refrain from taking part — that they recuse themselves.

We ask Mauritania: given that you have an estimated 500,000 black slaves, with CNN referring to Mauritania as “slavery’s last stronghold,” will your country recuse itself from this urgent debate on racism against blacks?

We ask Libya: given that your country subjects up to a million African migrants to virtual slavery—trapped in a terrifying cycle of extortion, imprisonment, forced labor and prostitution—will Libya recuse itself?

We ask Eritrea: given that your country has been condemned—by this Council itself—for “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations,” including arbitrary detention and torture, will Eritrea recuse itself?

We ask Cameroon: given that your country systematically bans peaceful demonstrations, crushes protests by the English-speaking population, and has committed atrocities, including massacring civilians, rape, and burning villages, will Cameroon recuse itself?

We ask the Democratic Republic of Congo: aside from being the rape capital of the world, given that your police just 2 months ago killed 55 people, in a coordinated crackdown on a religious sect, will DRC recuse itself?

We ask Venezuela: given that in just 5 days last year, your forces killed 47 protesters, and arbitrarily detained 900 people, will the Maduro government recuse itself?

Mr. Chairman, when will the UN stop electing racists and oppressors to be judges on human rights?

I thank you.

Campus cults: Buccaneers, Black Axe and other feared groups

Campus cults: Buccaneers, Black Axe and other feared groups

Roland* was a first-year student when he joined the Buccaneers, a secret, illegal student society in Nigeria. A brutal initiation ritual was held late at night in the forest.

Older members, singing, dancing and drinking, formed a ring around him and other blindfolded initiates, beating them severely until the early hours of the morning.

The ritual was supposedly to purge the initiates of weaknesses and instil bravery in them.

“The moment you go in there and come out, you are a different person,” Roland told the BBC.

These societies, also referred to as confraternities and campus cults, have names like Vikings, Black Axe, Eiye (a word in the local Yoruba language for bird), and the Buccaneers.

Illustration of cult initiation ceremony

They have a chain of command similar to militia groups, use code words and have insignia bearing the favourite weapon of the cult, along with its colour.

Members are promised protection from rival gangs, but it is mostly about power and popularity.

These secret societies are banned in Nigeria and hundreds of members have been arrested and prosecuted over the years. Nevertheless, they continue to operate, especially on university campuses, where they still attract new members.

‘Fake news’ about gangster attacks

These cults have been accused of being behind serious violence, including killings, at universities across the country and sometimes harassing lecturers for good grades.

In some cases, students are lured with promises of networking opportunities.

Most societies now operate off campus as well, often with members who never went to university. They have increasingly resorted to crime.

In places like the commercial capital Lagos and oil hub Port Harcourt, cults have been known to recruit teenagers into street gangs that serve as a training ground for membership if they get to university.

In April, residents of Lagos and neighbouring Ogun state resorted to forming vigilante groups as reports spread that hundreds of gangsters belonging to One Million Boys and Awawa Boys were attacking some neighbourhoods.

There was a lockdown in the state to halt the spread of the coronavirus and some residents said the gangs had become more daring and were robbing homes.

Soon there were more reports, especially on social media, of gangs attacking people in other communities in what looked like massive coordinated attacks.

Notice of fake attack
Police say messages like this were used to frighten the public

The police denied there were widespread robberies in the state, describing the reports as “fake news” spread by the gangsters to cause panic as a prelude to launching attacks.

Police, nevertheless, confirmed they had arrested more than 200 suspected cultists for being involved in a gang war that broke out after the death of a cult leader in a fight.

Why Roland became a Buccaneer

Roland decided to join a cult to get protection at his university in eastern Nigeria.

A friend of his was robbed by a confraternity member resulting in a feud. Roland got dragged into the feud, and was assaulted on two occasions.

Illustrations of Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have a reputation for living the good life

He reported the attacks to university authorities, but campus security guards could do little.

These unarmed private guards were – and remain – no match for the cultists, who carry guns and other deadly weapons.

Roland’s search for the “least violent fraternity” led him to the Buccaneers after he declined an invitation to join the notorious Black Axe.

But once inside he lived in fear of rival groups.

Nobel laureate’s role in formation of societies

The confraternity system in Nigeria was not always so violent.

It was started way back in 1952, during the last years of British colonial rule, by a set of young idealistic men.

They included Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka at Nigeria’s prestigious University of Ibadan in Oyo State in south-western Nigeria.

Wole Soyinka

“At no time did I imagine that anything could degenerate” Wole Soyinka
Pyrates founding member

The students named their confraternity the National Association of Seadogs, or Pyrates, to rebel against notions of elitism by middle-class Nigerians.

The original founders, known as the Magnificent Seven, were committed to the pirate theme. They used to even pretend to be pirates, wearing bandanas and carrying cutlasses.

“We were having fun with a social orientation,” Soyinka told the BBC.

He described the present confraternities as “vile, evil groups”.

“I never imagined that any university-based group could actually adopt a mafia style, which involved manhood tests like raping, robbery, arms, murder, kidnapping.

“At no time did I imagine that anything could degenerate. And why did it degenerate? Instead of these kids being treated as the criminals they were, they were being protected by their parents and their relations,” he said.

Old photo of Wole Soyinka
A young Wole Soyinka as a lecturer at the University of Ibadan in the 1960s

The Pyrates, of which Soyinka is still a member, now exist as a group dedicated to “humanitarian and charitable endeavours”.

It no longer recruits students, and its leadership took it off campuses in 1984 in order to distance the Pyrates from violence.

How the societies became violent

A split in the Pyrates in the late 1960s had led to breakaway students starting the Buccaneers, and other societies.

Petty rivalries developed between them as they jostled for prestige, power, women and access to corrupt politicians who began hiring cult members to unleash violence against opponents.

Some groups are more violent than others and not all members are involved in crime. Nevertheless, they all strike fear in the hearts of Nigerians.

The Black Axe are among the most notorious. They emerged in the 1970s and were originally known as the Neo Black Movement. Its founders said the group’s aim was to “liberate” the black race.

But at universities, the group no longer seems to be driven by any political ideology.

Instead, Black Axe members are accused of numerous killings and sexual attacks.

Military accused of funding cults

In 1999 they killed five members of the student union at Obafemi Awolowo University in the ancient city of Ile-Ife in Osun State.

Black Axe members have also been victims of brutal violence.

At the University of Port Harcourt in the mid-1990s, a cult leader was decapitated and his bloodied head was hung on a pole at the university’s entrance as a sign of triumph.

Cult violence on campuses has decreased in recent years. It was at its worse in the 1980s and 1990s when Nigeria witnessed numerous coups.

The military was repeatedly accused of funding and arming confraternities to attack and suppress the student protest movement demanding democracy.

Omoyele SoworeThey stabbed me in the head, left the knife there and stripped me naked” Omoyele Sowore Ex-student union leader

Journalist Omoyele Sowore knows the groups well from that era, when he was a student at the University in Lagos.

Cults were causing havoc on campus and as president of the student union he decided to take them on.

It would prove costly.

“I almost lost my life,” Sowore told the BBC.

In March 1994, he was held at gunpoint and injected with an unknown substance.

“Several of them pounced on me. They stabbed me in the head and left the knife there and stripped me naked,” Sowore said.

He was later rescued by other students and taken to hospital.

Cults, drugs and people trafficking

The activities of some of these groups are not restricted to Nigeria. The Eiye cult is accused of criminal activities as far away as Europe.

Its members were among a group of 23 arrested by police the Spanish region of Catalonia in 2015 for being part of an international syndicate accused of trafficking people and narcotics (cocaine and marijuana) and forging passports.

The group was also accused of facilitating the transport of stolen crude oil into Europe.

Lagos area boys
Gangsters known locally as area boys operate in most bus-stops and flyovers in Lagos

Rarely do members leave a cult while still in university – those who dare to do so are assaulted or, in some cases, killed.

Some students have quit their studies to escape the grip of the cults.

Others remain lifelong members of their cult. It provides them with networking opportunities to get good jobs and to access power.

They also fund the cults, whose members in turn act as pimps. They hook them up with female students, sometimes for sex orgies involving politicians and businessmen.

Roland believes the cults offer a false sense of security, prestige and power. Members are always on the edge, not knowing when a rival group will attack.

“Half the time you would be afraid. No matter what they [members] say, they are always afraid,” he said.

* Roland’s name has been changed for his own protection

By Helen Oyibo

PROFOUND! On the Unjust Death of George Floyd and Racism in America

The fact is, many in positions of power and influence are oblivious or unaware of the unique challenges disproportionately facing African American communities across this country. We must now acknowledge these challenges and address these disparities that they create. The only way forward is to treat each other with the empathy and respect required of a people who have decided to share a nation—and a future.

The murder of Mr. Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers was an outrageous crime that has shocked this nation. But it would be a mistake to conclude that the unrest of the last two weeks is only about his death or relations with the police.

At its core, this unrest is about the question of what kind of society we are, and what kind of society we want to be.

The murder of Mr. Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers was an outrageous crime that has shocked this nation. But it would be a mistake to conclude that the unrest of the last two weeks is only about his death or relations with the police.

A society is a voluntary agreement by people to live together. For a society to thrive, those in it must believe their interests are protected and their voices are heard. But when a substantial number of people in a society come to believe that they are not valued, they do not matter or they are not wanted, then that society will have big problems.

For decades, African Americans have complained that they feel that their voices are ignored, their problems are not addressed, and their lives are not valued. Given our nation’s history with race, this is an uncomfortable grievance, and one many would rather avoid. But like a bad debt that must eventually be paid, it is a grievance we can no longer ignore.

Like before, the latest unrest has given rise to voices arguing that the foundations of our republic are built on systemic racism and must therefore be brought down. The only difference is that this time claims like these don’t just come from the fringes of our politics. Like before, we also have voices who say that today race is a factor only in individual cases, distinct from our society at large.

Both of these views are wrong.

The foundations of our country are not irredeemably racist. Abolition, women’s suffrage, desegregation, the Civil Rights movement—these were not appeals to overthrow our values, these were demands that we fulfill them. And the Constitution that once considered slaves three-fifths of a human being was ultimately the vehicle used to free them and, eventually, to secure their most basic rights.

We have made tremendous progress on racial equality over the last fifty years, but there remain shocking racial disparities on health, on education, on housing, on economics and criminal justice. And there remains the fundamental truth that, any society in which a substantial percentage of the people believe that they are treated unjustly, is a society that has a problem—a society that can never fulfill its full potential unless those grievances are addressed.

None of this excuses radical, violent extremists’ setting fires, looting buildings, and hurting innocent people. It also shouldn’t lead us to stupid ideas like de-funding the police. And this is not going to be fixed by endless e-mails from corporation after corporation trying to prove how “woke” they are, even as they outsource your job to China. But it’s also not going to be fixed by pretending that race is no longer an issue, and by accusing everyone who disagrees and says it is, of hating America.

Yes, there are still vile racists among us, although few of them will ever openly admit it. But, in twenty-first-century America, few people consider themselves racists. The primary reason why race remains relevant today is that the African American community faces a unique set of challenges that far too few people in positions of power and politics fully understand.

Imagine a child who is raised in a stable home in a safe neighborhood, attends a good school, and has a private tutor to help them prepare for the SAT. Meanwhile, another child—just two miles away—is raised by one parent or even a grandparent, living in substandard housing in a dangerous neighborhood. That child attends a school that is failing—or failing them—and has no access to a private tutor for the SAT. On most days, he doesn’t even have access to WiFi.

Do these two kids really have an equal opportunity to go to the same college?

If one college student has the connections and money to complete unpaid internships in the summer or study abroad, and another student has to work in the summer just so they can afford to go back to school in the fall, do they really have an equal opportunity to get hired when they graduate?

If one young adult does something stupid and gets arrested, his parents can hire good lawyers, and he is able to avoid having a criminal record. Meanwhile, another young adult who does the exact same thing has to use a public defender, pleads guilty to a lesser charge, and now has a criminal record. Do they really have an equal opportunity when they apply for the same job?

When policymakers encourage sending manufacturing jobs that once employed African American men overseas, in an effort to benefit those employed in technology and finance, how can we truly expect widespread prosperity for all Americans? And when a disproportionate number of those with these disadvantages come from one race, while a disproportionate number of those with the advantages comes from another, the result is a racial disparity.

Some suggest these disparities are the result of institutionalized racism or of a deliberate effort designed to harm African Americans. I believe that it’s the product of something far less sinister, but sometimes equally damaging.

It is the result of racial indifference.

The fact is, many in positions of power and influence are oblivious to or unaware of the unique challenges disproportionately facing African American communities across this country. We must now acknowledge these challenges and address these disparities that they create, because when disparities go unaddressed, they become grievances. And when grievances are ignored, it leads to friction, division, and unrest.

By no means do these disparities alone fully capture the entirety of the challenge before us. There still remain points of friction more reminiscent of a different and shameful era in our history, and here too we can suffer from indifference. The vast majority of Americans simply do not personally know the sting that comes from implicit—and sometimes explicit—reactions to the color of your skin.

True progress requires that we listen to the viewpoints of those who do.

Listen to the young man I know, who sees reports of a young man that looks like him, like his uncles, like his grandfather, being murdered by vigilantes in a case of mistaken identity. Who knows that, had they not taken a video of themselves doing this, they would have gotten away with it. Listen, and he will tell you that he feels his life wouldn’t matter either, if he didn’t play professional football.

Listen to the police officer I know, who was pulled over while off duty at least seven times by his own department for no reason. And he will tell you of the humiliation of having to explain this to his teenage son.

Listen to what it feels like for African Americans to see on the news that, when a mother in Miami recently drowned her own autistic son in a terrible tragedy, she tried to cover it up by falsely telling the police that he had been abducted by two African American men demanding drugs.

And listen to what it feels like for them to read about the indictment of the Chief of Police of Biscayne Park, Florida, who—so that he could brag about having a perfect crime-solving record—ordered his officers to arrest anybody black walking through their streets, and if they had any kind of criminal record, pin one of their unsolved crimes on them.

Listen, not because it is your fault. Not because you are to blame. Listen, because this is what people who want to live together in harmony must do. This is the respect we owe one another, as colleagues, as co-workers. This is the empathy that is required of us as neighbors, as friends, and as children of the same God.

This may not be YOUR fault. But this is OUR problem. Until we heal this divide, we will never, ever have the kind of society we want. And we will never fulfill the full promise of our nation.

There is reason for hope. Even in a deeply divided country, where the political and cultural lines that divide us continue to harden, a clear consensus has emerged that we can no longer ignore matters of race in America.

There is reason for hope. Even in a deeply divided country, where the political and cultural lines that divide us continue to harden, a clear consensus has emerged that we can no longer ignore matters of race in America. But it is a fragile consensus. It is already being tested by loud voices appealing to our most basic fears, and those who see this time as an opportunity to advance divisiveness and extreme ideas.

If this is the path we choose, we will all look back at this time with profound regret. We will be left with a society that is even angrier and more divided than it is now. We will be left with an America that no longer resembles the one we honor when we stand during the national anthem. And ironically, we will also be left with an America even further away from the one some kneel to demand.

The only way forward is to treat each other with the empathy and respect required of a people who have decided to share a nation—and a future.

The above text was delivered as a floor speech by Senator Rubio on June 9th, 2020.

Disturbing parallels between Russia before the Revolution and contemporary America

Communist Nazi KKK Antifa

The similarities between this week’s riots and the Los Angeles riots of 1992 are obvious. Both were occasioned by appalling video images, and both divided the nation along partisan and ideological lines. The differences between the two events, however, are more revealing. The violence in 1992 came after a court verdict; the beating and arrest of Rodney King had happened more than a year before. This year’s riots came within days of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis officers. The riots of 1992 were mostly confined to poor and working-class areas of Los Angeles. This week saw mayhem all over America, and in Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere the rioters targeted wealthy streets and neighborhoods.

But perhaps the most striking difference is the rationalization, and sometimes full-throated defense, of violence from left-wing elites: the glorification of havoc, the vilification of cops and their middle-class admirers, highfalutin defenses of vandalism. The sense of revolution and class warfare was everywhere this week: the cognoscenti and underclass arrayed against the petty bourgeois shop owners; the elite and those they claim to represent against everybody else.

Gary Saul Morson says he has no special insight regarding police actions and the death of George Floyd. But he does have a provocative thesis about America’s current political moment: “To me it’s astonishingly like late 19th-, early 20th-century Russia, when basically the entire educated class felt you simply had to be against the regime or some sort of revolutionary.”

Mr. Morson, 72, is a professor of Russian literature at Northwestern University and an accomplished interpreter of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy. Obviously we haven’t arrived at anything like what Lenin called a “revolutionary situation,” Mr. Morson says, but we have arrived at a situation in which well-intentioned liberal people often can’t bring themselves to say that lawless violence is wrong.

In late czarist Russia, some political parties and other groups—the Social Democrats, the anarchists, the Marxists—explicitly endorsed terrorism. “The liberal party—the Constitutional Democrats, they called themselves—did not condone terrorism,” Mr. Morson says. “But they refused to condemn it. And indeed they called for the release from prison of all terrorists, who were pledged to continue terrorism right away. . . . A famous line from one of the liberal leaders put it this way: ‘Condemn terrorism? That would be the moral death of the party.’ ”

The lesson seems highly relevant today. “When you’re dragged along into something you don’t really believe yourself—because otherwise you are identified with those evil people, and your primary identity is being a ‘good guy,’ not like those people—you will wind up supporting things you know to be wrong. And unless there is some moral force that will stop it, the slide will accelerate.”

Mr. Morson, ensconced in his delightfully untidy and book-laden office in Chicago as we chat on Zoom, concedes that a scholar who spends much of his time thinking and writing about Russia’s revolutionary period will tend to look for parallels between that time and our own. The parallels don’t obtain in every way.

But some of them make the analogy worth considering. One is that many of today’s revolutionaries are wildly successful and privileged. Take Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman, both New York lawyers in their 30s, who have been criminally charged for attempting to firebomb a police vehicle with a Molotov cocktail. Mr. Mattis was educated at Princeton and New York University, Ms. Rahman at Fordham.

Why do people at the top want to destroy the system that enabled them to get there? “No,” Mr. Morson says, “you have it wrong. When you’re such a person, you don’t feel you’re at the top. The people at the top are wealthy businesspeople, and you’re an intellectual. You think that people of ideas should be at the top.”

The word “intelligentsia,” he notes, comes from Russian. In the classic period, from about 1860 to the First Russian Revolution in 1905, “the word did not mean everybody who was educated. It meant educated people who identified with one or another of the radical movements. ‘Intelligents’ believed in atheism, revolution and either socialism or anarchism.

“The idea was that since they knew the theory, they were morally superior and they should be in charge, and that there was something fundamentally wrong with the world when ‘practical’ people were. So what you take from your education would be the ideology that would justify this kind of activity—justify it because the wrong people have the power, and you should have it. You don’t feel like you’re the establishment.”

Is American society, shaped by Protestant Christianity and dominated by a kind of dovish, humanitarian left-liberalism, ever likely to fall into the barbarity of the Russian Revolution? Aren’t we too—I fumble for a word as I formulate the question—soft for that sort of totalizing violence?

“I don’t know,” Mr. Morson answers after a long pause. “I don’t know if that means people won’t go as far as they did in Russia, or if it just means there will be less resistance to it.”

The danger begins, he thinks, when complex social and political problems can’t be debated any longer. “You get into a revolutionary situation because people can’t hear,” he says. “Can there be a dialogue on important questions, or is there only one thing to say about every question? Are people afraid to say, ‘Well, yes, but it’s not quite as simple as that’? . . . When you can’t do that, you’re heading to a one-party state or a dictatorship of some sort. If one party is always wrong and another always right, why not just have the right one?”

Mr. Morson speaks with conviction about the peril of “ideological segregation”: “It was very easy for white people to believe evil things of black people when they never met any. But when you live with somebody, you realize that they’re no worse than you are. . . . We’ve increasingly had ideological segregation on both sides. Each side has caricature views of the other.”

The assumption of historical inevitability may play a part here. You hear it in our political language: A favored policy is “an idea whose time has come,” a disfavored one is “on the wrong side of history.” This sort of teleological thinking—history has a direction, and that direction is identical with our political views—is fervently, if unconsciously, embraced by highly educated people today. It was also “one of the central arguments of late-19th-century Russian thought,” Mr. Morson says.

“Does history have a direction? And is later necessarily better? The greatest thinkers—Tolstoy, Alexander Herzen—answered no, later is not always better. They believed that sort of thinking was an importation of religious providentialism into history—the determinism of Hegel and Marx. The difficulty of this form of thinking is that it paralyzes you from acting. Between the wars, it was common for people to say: ‘Yes, you may like liberal democracy, but that’s of the past. We fascists are of the future.’ Or ‘We communists are of the future.’ People would resign themselves to the inevitable and conclude, ‘Well I can’t fight the future, I can’t resist the fascists or the communists.’ ”

I suggest that the American left is very fond of this teleological language—Barack Obama spoke in his first inaugural address of the “worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.” But Mr. Morson reminds me that Ronald Reagan used similar rhetoric. “Part of being a revolutionary is knowing that you don’t have to acquiesce to the tired, old ideas of the past,” he said in a 1985 speech.

Another marker of the Russian intelligentsia was the sheer contempt its members had for the peasants and workers they claimed to represent. “How many workers, how many peasants, were even in the Bolshevik Party? Very few. . . . Lenin’s whole idea was that ‘the working class, left to itself, will never develop more than a trade-union consciousness.’ That’s his famous phrase. They had to be led by the intelligentsia and completely disciplined. No matter what you say, they will do it, no matter how violent. They don’t have to understand the reasons, they’ll just do it. Because they’re the agents of history, as Marx described them. . . . That implies a contempt for the working class and a greater contempt for the peasantry.”

The supposition that America is moving toward anarchy or revolution because we’ve had a week of riots—or three years of bad faith and acrimony, or three decades of polarization—still seems hard to accept. Mr. Morson is careful not to predict the course of events. He uses the phrase “insofar as the Russian example applies” more than once.

But, he says, “we have a major depression, we have terrible fear from the illness, and now we have mass riots in the street, which our leaders do not seem to know how to handle. That’s a very rapid slide from only a year ago. And there’s no reason to think it will slow down. The slide could well continue.”

And history can unfold in unpredictable ways. Who would have guessed 20 years ago, he asks, that the First Amendment’s free-speech guarantee would become passé on the liberal left? “I used to get a laugh from students by quoting a Soviet citizen I talked to once. He said to me, ‘Of course we have freedom of speech. We just don’t allow people to lie.’ That used to get a laugh! They don’t laugh anymore.”

By Barton Swaim Mr. Swaim is an editorial page writer for the Journal.

The Overlooked Disparity: Coronavirus, Murder, and Cancer Kills Mostly Men

The United Nations wants you to know that coronavirus is a particular problem for women. So does Politico (“Covid’s war on women”). An article in the feminist magazine Ms. says women are shouldering the brunt of Covid-induced “emotional labor,” which is “all-consuming.”

The virus, unenlightened by this outpouring, persists in killing mostly men. The U.S. male-to-female ratio of confirmed Covid-19 deaths is running about 54 to 46, but the imbalance is much greater among younger people, meaning men are losing many more years of life. Global Health 50/50, a group devoted to equality of the sexes in health, finds that “in most countries, available data indicates that men have been upwards of 50% more likely to die following diagnosis than women.” The disparity probably has several causes. In the U.S., men have more health problems to begin with but get less medical care. And women appear to have stronger immune systems.

Pandemics tend to change the world. One overdue change is a greater focus on men’s health. Even before Covid-19, U.S. women outlived men by about five years. Most people take the difference for granted, as they once took for granted that women couldn’t do all kinds of things men can do.

Women have a tough life in much of the world, but the global longevity gap is even larger than it is in America. America’s gap was also bigger in the mid-20th century, when more men smoked, worked as coal miners or lumberjacks, and went to war. But after shrinking for a while, there are signs the gap is growing again.

Remember the opioid epidemic? Men accounted for 69% of its U.S. deaths. And 3.5 times as many American men as women die by suicide. Violence against women is the focus of much-needed attention lately. But around three quarters of U.S. homicide victims are men.

Men bear the greater lifelong burden of illness, too. They have a 20% higher chance of developing cancer, for example, but they are less likely to have health insurance or go to the doctor. In 2017, American men between 18 and 64 accounted on average for $3,979 in health-care spending, compared with $5,447 for women in the same age range.

Yet the focus—culturally, politically and medically—is unrelentingly on women’s health. Searching “men’s health center,” I got 3.8 million hits on Google. “Women’s health center” yielded 24 million. Celebrities and progressive CEOs like Twitter’s Jack Dorsey direct their donations to women’s health causes. The federal Health and Human Services Department has an Office on Women’s Health but no equivalent for men.

During the pandemic, news articles and polemics have decried the burden of coronavirus on women, how they are more likely to be interrupted on Zoom, how they are publishing fewer scientific papers, and how they may face additional domestic violence—all real concerns. The burden of fatality, unfortunately, falls quite a bit more on men.

Like so many differences between men and women, the difference in lifespans is partly biological. Females outlive males in most places and in most mammal species.

But one reason to believe we can help American men live longer is that the longevity gap is smaller in some other affluent countries—three years in the Netherlands and four in Sweden. In both those countries, men and women alike outlive their American counterparts.

“The diversity in worldwide longevity alone indicates that the difference in mortality between the sexes is not purely biological and that there are intervening social factors,” the demographic researcher Bertrand Desjardins wrote in 2004. “Women most probably have a biological advantage that allows them to live longer, but in the past—and in several places, still today—the status and life conditions of women nullified this benefit. Today, given the general progress in female life conditions, women have not only regained their biological advantage, but have gone much beyond it.”

Surely if women died five years younger than men, or if coronavirus were killing far more women than men, it would prompt an outcry. Perhaps the time has come to acknowledge the problem of men’s health—everything from declining sperm counts to suicide—and do something about it.

I regularly see public-service commercials and other advertisements aimed at improving women’s health and well-being, but I don’t see many aimed at men. That ought to change. We need to get guys to eat healthier, exercise more, smoke less and moderate their drinking. And they need to hear this message from other guys.

Men need to see the doctor more, too. That’s true for Covid-19, for which women are more likely to get tested, as well as other diseases. It might help if there were more outfits like NYU Langone’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Men’s Health. There aren’t any bearskin rugs, brandy snifters or cigars. But most of the doctors are men and the name is inviting, even if patient forms ask about pregnancy (some patients are women who followed doctors to the center or simply find it convenient).

For too long, men’s deficits in health and well-being have mostly been ignored, at least compared with such sins as “mansplaining.” Perhaps the pandemic can serve as a useful reminder that men’s health, like women’s, is a matter of life and death.

Mr. Akst is a writer in New York’s Hudson Valley.

TRANSGENDER BACKLASH – NHS gender clinic ‘should have challenged me more’ over transition


A 23-year-old woman who is taking legal action against an NHS gender clinic says she should have been challenged more by medical staff over her decision to transition to a male as a teenager.

A judge gave the go-ahead for a full hearing of the case against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust.

Lawyers will argue children cannot give informed consent to treatment delaying puberty or helping them to transition.

The Tavistock said it always took a cautious approach to treatment.

Gender identity charity Mermaids said that people face a long wait for access to such services, that they can save lives and that very few people regret their decision.

The clinic based in Hampstead, north-west London, which runs the UK’s only gender-identity development service (GIDS), added that it welcomed an examination of the evidence in this contentious area.

Keira Bell is one of the claimants and will give evidence in the judicial review, which is likely to be heard in early summer.

The second claimant, known only as Mum A, is the mother of a 15-year-old girl with autism, who is awaiting treatment at the clinic.

Keira describes being a tomboy as a child. When asked how strongly she felt the need to change her gender identity, she replied that it gradually built up as she found out more about transitioning online.

Then as she went down the medical route, she said “one step led to another”.

The Tavistock Centre sign

She was referred to the Tavistock GIDS clinic at the age of 16. She said after three one-hour-long appointments she was prescribed puberty blockers, which delay the development of signs of puberty, like periods or facial hair.

She felt there wasn’t enough investigation or therapy before she reached that stage.

“I should have been challenged on the proposals or the claims that I was making for myself,” she said. “And I think that would have made a big difference as well. If I was just challenged on the things I was saying.”

What are puberty blockers?

They are drugs which can pause the development of things like breasts, periods, facial hair and voice breaking

They can be prescribed to children with gender dysphoria who feel their sex at birth doesn’t match up with their gender.

This is meant to give them more time to weigh up their options before they go through the physical changes of puberty.

Although puberty blockers are described by the NHS as reversible, GIDS acknowledges that their impact on brain development and psychological health is not fully known.

A year after starting the puberty-blockers she said she was prescribed the male hormone testosterone, which developed male characteristics like facial hair and a deep voice. Three years ago, she had an operation to remove her breasts.

“Initially I felt very relieved and happy about things, but I think as the years go on you start to feel less and less enthusiastic or even happy about things.

“You can continue and dig yourself deeper into this hole or you can choose to come out of it and have the weight lifted off your shoulders.”

‘Too young’

She decided to stop taking cross-sex hormones last year and said she was now accepting of her sex as a female. But she was also angry about what had happened to her in the last decade.

“I was allowed to run with this idea that I had, almost like a fantasy, as a teenager…. and it has affected me in the long run as an adult.

“I’m very young. I’ve only just stepped into adulthood and I have to deal with this kind of burden or radical difference – in comparison to others at least.”

Keira’s lawyers will argue that children cannot weigh up the impact such a treatment might have on their future life, including for instance, on their fertility.

Former staff at the clinic have raised concerns that teenagers who want to transition to a different gender are being given puberty blockers without adequate assessment or psychological work.

It has been claimed that children as young as 12 have received the drugs, which block the hormones that lead to puberty-related changes like periods or facial hair.

But she also understands why teenagers arrive at the clinic deeply distressed and desperate to change their gender.

“I did say the same thing years ago when I went to the clinic. I would say it was saving me from suicidal ideation and depression in general and at the time I felt it relieved all those mental health issues I was feeling, alongside gender dysphoria.”

She described her family life as difficult. She also believes if she had felt more accepted by society as she was then, she might not have wanted to change her gender. She added that she wouldn’t have wanted to listen to voices of caution when she was younger.

“I feel I could say anything to my 16-year-old self and I might not necessarily listen at that time. And that’s the point of this case, when you are that young you don’t really want to listen.

“So I think it’s up to these institutions, like the Tavistock, to step in and make children reconsider what they are saying, because it is a life-altering path.”

Dr Polly Carmichael is the consultant clinical psychologist who runs the Gender Identity Development Service. She praised Keira for speaking out, but insisted the clinic did have a thorough assessment process.

‘Really complex’

She described their approach as cautious and said they work closely with children and their families to reach the right decisions for them, with fewer than half of those seen going onto take puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones.

“This is a really complex area with strong feelings on all sides. And at its centre, the young people we work with – they come to us in often really great distress around their sense of themselves.

“We’re talking about identity here, their identity, and a feeling that their gender identity does not match that body.”

She believes the judicial review, when it happens, will be an important opportunity to ensure the evidence around treatment and a child’s ability to consent is thoroughly examined.

“This is a heated debate at the moment. And I think taking a step back – and having an external considered review of the evidence and people’s feelings about the most appropriate way to support young people – can be nothing but beneficial at this point.”

Waiting time

Gender identity charity Mermaids provides support to trans and gender-diverse young people and their families.

Its chief executive, Susie Green, has defended the current process, which she said was based on years of research, and said she hoped the judicial review would “shine a light” on young people’s experiences.

She told BBC News that many people who approached the charity were “very distressed” and that research had suggested puberty blockers could help reduce rates of self-harm and suicide.

And she said it was “not proportionate” to take away services because of “a very small number” of people who regretted undergoing medical intervention.

“In the first instance the waiting time is well over two years and when young people get into the service there is then a process which takes well into a year before medical intervention is considered,” she told BBC News.

“The process is very detailed they get a lot of information about the benefits, the pitfalls and the projected outcomes of what comes of any kind of medication. So they make informed consent and that underpins the NHS.”

NHS England is an interested party in the legal case. It has already announced an independent review of its policies on the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.

It describes this as part of a planned examination, which will be undertaken by a panel of independent experts.

By Alison Holt Social Affairs Correspondent, BBC News

BREAKING VIDEO: Bill Ayers Planned to Kill 25 Million Americans in Re-Education Camps

Basically Ayers believes the biggest problem in American is education. So the answer to that problem was to round up 100 million people and ship them by train to the Southwest and re-educate them in Marxist ideology.

Out of that 100 million they were ready to kill 25% off the top they estimated could not be re-educated. This is the mentality of Stalin killing hundreds of millions of peasants because it would take too much time and effort to re-educate them to Marxist thought. If given the chance these people would turn the US into the Cambodian killing fields.