Today's Blogs

Snip Shape

Bloggers are dissecting new research on circumcision and the risk of HIV transmission, agonizing over the potential war between Somalia and Ethiopia, and calculating who will take home a Golden Globe.

Snip Shape: After circumcision, a man is 50 percent less likely to acquire the HIV virus, a National Institutes of Health study in Uganda and Kenya found. Some bloggers worry that, in the heat of the moment, people will forget that circumcision is not a substitute for safe sex.

At Salon’s Broadsheet, Tracy Clark-Flory details the implications of this study: “Should circumcision be encouraged in areas where unsafe sex and HIV run rampant?” she asks. “Even if we’re able to set aside cultural debates about circumcision, though, we’ll still be grappling with whether advocating for male circumcision in Africa is simply realistic broadening of the scope of the fight against AIDS or a dangerous endorsement of the idea that safe sex is as easy as a one-time snip.”

If the study is validated, anti-infant-circumcision lefty Brian Donohue at Daily Revolution could see offering adult circumcision with “some sort of carrot tied to the scalpel. … But I’m still uncomfortable with even that: there are alternatives to managing the spread of AIDS that do not involve surgery, and I feel strongly that we have to get beyond this societal obsession with solving all problems with a knife, a pill, or a bomb.” At Cut the Chatter, anti-snip Graeme Perrow retracts some of his criticism of the practice in light of these findings. “These results are certainly interesting, and if I lived in sub-Saharan Africa, I would have to seriously reconsider having it done to my kids. However, incidence of HIV among heterosexual non-drug-using men is far lower here than it is there. … I must take back my (implicit) assertion that it’s pointless and has no benefits.”

“More good bris news, just in time for Chanukah!” Rabbi Yonah at Jewlicious celebrates. Gawker gives the BBC kudos for its “Male circumcision ‘cuts’ HIV risk” headline and goes on to smirk at the World Bank’s HIV/Aids director’s name: Dr. Kevin De Cock. (See Tim Noah’s collection of aptronyms here.)

Read more about HIV and circumcision. In Slate, read Emily Bazelon’s findings on circumcision here.

Trouble in the Horn: War between Somalia and Ethiopia looks increasingly likely, as both countries gear up for an armed conflict that would further destabilize East Africa. Currently, Somalia is governed by a shaky U.N.-backed interim coalition, which is in constant conflict with Islamist elements in the country, particularly the Union of Islamic Courts. Ethiopia and Eritrea have been sending in soldiers to Somalia to fight a proxy war for some time to hash out their longstanding border dispute.

Chicago Dyke at Liberal CorrenteWire terms the conflict “the next Afghanistan,” taking the opportunity to critique the Bush administration’s foreign policy: “There was a chance for diplomacy and international aid to quell the Islamacist rise to power, and we blew it. Just as we’re failing to properly understand what the actual Islamacist threat really is, around the globe, challenging the old orders of corrupt dictators and Western puppet governments.”

At the Agonist, liberal Ian Welsh examines the various forces at play: “I don’t know if the ICU will win this - they’re going up against better equipped, better disciplined troops. I do know that Ethiopia can’t precisely win this - the ICU’s support is too widespread, but then Ethiopia doesn’t want to occupy Somalia, just keep it from developing an effective government. That they can do for quite a while - as long as they’re willing to bleed. And Ethipia has shown a lot of willingness to bleed interminably.”

The conservative at Hegemonic Discourse & Global Meme Dominance blames Bill Clinton for creating this “Islamic menace” in the ‘90s and ends with a battle cry: “The main problem is that so many still do not see a threat. They see the Islamist threat through the rose colored glasses of the false ideology of multiculturalism and moral relativism. Sometimes you have to fight for what’s right– and there’s always a price to be paid.”

The Council on Foreign Relation’s Daily Analysis offers a tidy summary of the conflict.

Read more about the buildup in Somalia.

Golden Glitz: Nominees for Oscar’s little brother, the Golden Globes, were announced today, pushing bloggers into the throes of speculation. Alejandro Iñárritu’s multilingual Babel came out on top, with seven nominations.

At the Carpetbagger, New York Times movie critic David Carr parses Hollywood golden-boy-turned-outcast Mel Gibson’s nomination for Apocalypto: “The fact that Mel Gibson got a nomination in the foreign category is an indication that his rehabilitation is underway, and if ‘Apocalypto’ does the kind of box office the Bagger thinks possible, all might not be forgiven, but people, even Academy members, might be willing to separate the man from the movie.”

L.A. gossip-hound Defamer laments that last year’s Brokeback Mountain-based tension will be hard to top: “[W]e suppose we’ll have to settle for … the double nominations of Clint Eastwood in the directing category (for both of his World War II movies) and Leonardo DiCaprio’s dual Best Actor nods for The Departed and Blood Diamond. For those so inclined, squeezing one’s eyes shut and imagining the steamy Leo-on-Leo action of DiCaprio’s Boston cop and South African smuggler wrestling over the gilded Globe statue while grunting in passable Southie and Afrikaner accents might fill the erotic void left by the celebrated gay cowboys.”

Read more about the Golden Globes.