Ghana: woman burned to death for being a “witch” *

Dec 13th, 2010 | Filed by

Ama Hemmah was allegedly tortured into confessing she was a witch, doused in kerosene and set on fire.… Read the rest

Expensive communication

Dec 12th, 2010 4:30 pm | By

Stephen Law offers us a video of the Permanent Secretary for Government Communications telling a bunch of people that communications are goods things and that he is goods at doings them. I watched a minute or two, which was enough to confirm me in my surmise that I didn’t want to watch more than that. Stephen explains why.

He has little to say, surely? Strip out the “successful behavioural outcomes”, “partnership”, “stakeholder”, “co-creation”, “we’re on a journey” jargon and rhetoric, and his message boils down to:

• The public used to be seen by Government as passive recipients of information, not as customers to engage with, which they now are, ‘cos of the internet, twitter, etc. Citizens can now provide

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Abandoning FGM in the Afar Region of Ethiopia *

Dec 12th, 2010 | Filed by

The strategy is to gain the support of a core group, which decides to abandon the practice then helps mobilize enough people to facilitate a tipping point.… Read the rest

Simon Blackburn replies to Sam Harris *

Dec 12th, 2010 | Filed by

It’s one thing to know the world, it’s another to care.… Read the rest

Deep anger in the bombing world

Dec 12th, 2010 12:53 pm | By

As is typical with coverage of this subject, the New York Times has to blame Lars Vilks just a little for doing that Motoon.

But the country’s prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, stopped short of connecting the bombs to an e-mail that a Swedish news organization received minutes before the blasts, which seemed to link the attacks to anger over anti-Islamic cartoons and the war in Afghanistan.

It wasn’t cartoons plural, it was one cartoon. And anti-Islamic? What’s that supposed to mean? It sounds sinister.

The e-mail’s reference to Mr. Vilks, a 64-year-old artist and free-speech activist, pointed to the deep anger in the Muslim world over his drawings of the prophet Muhammad in 2007.

“The” deep anger in “the” … Read the rest

Jerry Coyne on Michael Behe in Boston Review *

Dec 12th, 2010 | Filed by

Behe likens himself to Newton, Einstein, and Pasteur, but claims that a defensive band of evolutionists blocks his ascendancy to the pantheon. Such declarations of unrecognized genius are a diagnostic feature of crank science.… Read the rest

Swedish police confirm terror attack *

Dec 12th, 2010 | Filed by

Elements in Somalia linked to al-Qaida have been recruiting young people from Sweden.… Read the rest

“Your children — daughters and sisters — will die” *

Dec 12th, 2010 | Filed by

Deep, deep, deep anger in “the Muslim world” over Lars Vilks’s Mohammed cartoon. Boom.… Read the rest

Anti-“Islamophobia” parliamentary group drops Engage *

Dec 12th, 2010 | Filed by

Ant-semitism, Zionism, the MCB, views that others may disagree with, “Jewish schools,” “Islamophobia” – a riot of bad thinking.… Read the rest

Hitchens on Glenn Beck and tea partiers *

Dec 11th, 2010 | Filed by

Beck’s “9/12 Project” is canalizing old racist and clerical toxic-waste material that a healthy society had mostly flushed out of its system.… Read the rest

Stockholm: email threats, then explosions *

Dec 11th, 2010 | Filed by

The writer of the e-mail mentions the presence of Swedish troops in Afghanistan and Lars Vilks.… Read the rest

AAA rejecting science? *

Dec 11th, 2010 | Filed by

 “Interpretation” opened not just one but dozens of exits from scientific rigor and was the beginning of the postmodern moment in anthropology.… Read the rest

Separating the fluff

Dec 11th, 2010 1:59 pm | By

Alice Dreger was at the American Anthropological Association meeting when it moved to kick science out.

Interestingly, it isn’t just that the AAA leadership is ditching science. They’re also trying to position the AAA as being primarily about “public understanding” of humankind. As Stu Plattner, who served for many years as Cultural Anthropology Program Director for NSF, observed in email exchanges, this looks like “another step in the conversion of Anthropology from a social science into an esoteric branch of journalism.” Yeah, but the kind of journalism that is much more concerned with editorials than factual reporting.

So not one but two giant steps away from genuine truth-seeking.

Presumably, in the AAA’s tradition, the promotion of the “public understanding of

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Did Joe pull a fast one on Jesus and Mo? *

Dec 11th, 2010 | Filed by

Oh surely not. He’ll be back tomorrow, or the next day…… Read the rest

Royal family not keen on ecumenical dialogue

Dec 11th, 2010 10:28 am | By

And we learn that the archbish of Canterbury isn’t as fond of the pope as we had been led to believe.

During his recent visit to Rome and meeting with the Pope –planned before the Pope urged disaffected Anglicans to convert to Catholicism Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams challenged the position of the Catholic Church on ordination of women and made it clear that the Vatican should have consulted with him before reaching out to the Anglican community. Although Williams’ visit to Rome was cast as positive and reinforcing of ecumenical dialogue, it’s clear the wounds from this controversy will affect that dialogue negatively (at least for now) and are likely to cast a pall over the Pope’s planned

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Vatican demanded immunity from testifying

Dec 11th, 2010 10:14 am | By

I’m very ambivalent about WikiLeaks and especially about the diplomatic data dump, but I must say, the Vatican stuff is certainly worth having (and it’s not something the Vatican has any moral right to keep secret, either). The more we know about the inner workings of the Vatican, the better.

Requests for information from the 2009 Murphy commission into sexual and physical abuse by clergy “offended many in the Vatican” who felt that the Irish government had “failed to respect and protect Vatican sovereignty during the investigations“, a cable says.

Typical Vatican, isn’t it? Not shock-horror and remorse about rape and physical violence by clergy, but “offense” at failure to “respect” Vatican “sovereignty.” It’s all about them, and … Read the rest

Ashtiani forced to incriminate herself on tv *

Dec 11th, 2010 | Filed by

“To organise a televised ‘confession’ midway through a judicial review of a serious case makes a mockery of Iran’s legal system.”… Read the rest

Vatican was “offended” by Irish requests for info *

Dec 11th, 2010 | Filed by

Vatican dug in its heels, then had the gall to claim it “shared the outrage.”… Read the rest

Roy Sablosky on the myth of Christian charity *

Dec 11th, 2010 | Filed by

The statistical studies that supposedly demonstrate that religion has a positive influence in charitable giving do not hold up when examined carefully.… Read the rest

American Anthropological Association: no science for us *

Dec 11th, 2010 | Filed by

The AAA decided at its recent annual meeting to strip the word “science” from a statement of its long-range plan.… Read the rest