All entries by this author

The credibility of the young victims was questioned

Sep 2nd, 2014 4:55 pm | By

The Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Northwest (of England), Nazir Afzal, is getting some heat for doing his job.

As the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West, I led the teams that brought the so-called Rochdale Grooming Gang to justice in 2012 for abusing up to 47 girls.

My work saw me go up against not only the offenders, but those who tried to intimidate me for bringing abusers before the courts. They said I had given racists a stick with which to beat minorities – I said our communities should be carrying their own sticks.

Right-wingers went after him too.

The network of prosecutors I lead has tackled grooming and child sexual abuse in England and Wales

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Bassam Raies

Sep 2nd, 2014 4:03 pm | By

I saw an angry tweet by Razan Saffour @RazanSpeaks saying a journalist called Bassam Raies was killed by ISIS two weeks ago and there wasn’t a peep about it. So I looked for news and…it’s true, there’s not a peep about it, which means I can’t even tell if it’s true or not. There are a few mentions but they’re all identical and all from either Twitter or random sites that I don’t recognize.

Reporters Without Borders has nothing. The Committee to Protect Journalists has nothing. I think they would have anything if there were anything to have, so…I’m not sure this is a true story. But if it is, I would like to make a peep about it.… Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Another beheading

Sep 2nd, 2014 3:46 pm | By

It’s being reported that IS has beheaded the American journalist Steven Sotloff. NBC says it’s not confirmed yet, but there seems little reason to think that IS would say it had when it hadn’t. It’s not as if its members are hesitant about being brutal bastards. The text of the story (as opposed to the video) states it as fact in any case.

The Islamic militant group ISIS cut off the head of an American journalist in a video made public Tuesday — following through on a threat it made when it beheaded another American two weeks ago and vowed to keep killing unless the United States stopped airstrikes.

The journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff, was beheaded in a video

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



“We will rape your mother and make you watch”

Sep 2nd, 2014 12:17 pm | By

The New York Times reports on Rotherham.

It starts with one victim’s account of how the grooming was done – it started with teenage boys flirting and then older men taking over and closing the doors of the trap.

The rapes started gradually, once a week, then every day: by the war memorial in Clifton Park, in an alley near the bus station, in countless taxis and, once, in an apartment where she was locked naked in a room and had to service half a dozen men lined up outside.

She obliged. How could she not? They knew where she lived. “If you don’t come back, we will rape your mother and make you watch,” they would say.

She … Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



He promised to do so

Sep 2nd, 2014 11:15 am | By

Well this is one possible reason – Maria Berglund at Skepchick Sweden.

Last year D.J, who was booked as a speaker at the European Skeptics Congress in Stockholm, simply didn’t show up. The group that organized the congress were quite surprised, since he hadn’t contacted us for a cancellation. They managed, at the last minute, to throw in another speaker to take his place.

When I got in contact with him, he sounded quite surprised and claimed that he absolutely had cancelled recently. I then asked him to let us know who he had communicated with, and he promised to do so. He didn’t, however, and when I kept asking him for it he kept telling me that he

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Knowingly or unknowingly

Sep 2nd, 2014 10:32 am | By

Sanal Edamaruku posted a photo of a chilling ad from an Indian newspaper on his Facebook page, with a comment.

Freedom of thought and expression are guaranteed as fundamental rights in Indian Constitution. Promotion of critical inquiry, scientific temper and spirit of reform are fundamental duties.

Resist all attempts to take India back to medieval times. The picture given is an advertisement by Karnataka state government in a prominent Indian newspaper.

That’s a hell of a sweeping prohibition – note the “with a view to hurt religious sentiments knowingly or unknowingly.” Emphasis mine. Don’t do it on purpose and don’t do it by accident either! So the only way to be sure not to do it is … Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Terrified of what Zimmy would do

Sep 2nd, 2014 9:41 am | By

A guest post at Left Foot Forward by “Helen” who tells a story of being groomed at age 16 by her “boyfriend” age 24.

I met Zimmy through Zamir, who I truly believed to be a “friend”, although since friends tend not to take you round to their uncle’s and offer you for sex in exchange for heroin, I can see now that he most definitely was not.

Zimmy was Zamir’s dealer and didn’t hesitate in asking me out, although like “friend”, “out” meant sitting in his Audi smoking a drug I thought was weed but that he later told me was heroin. Being such a good ‘boyfriend’, he also later introduced me to crack.

It was 1996. Looking

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Press release from JREF

Sep 1st, 2014 3:45 pm | By

Los Angeles Office Closed

In order to achieve cost-savings and greater efficiency, the Los Angeles office of the JREF has closed effective September 1, 2014. All operations have been moved to Falls Church, Virginia.

DJ Grothe is no longer with the JREF. James Randi has taken over as acting President.

This restructuring is part of an enhanced educational agenda aimed at inspiring an investigative spirit in a new generation of critical thinkers by engaging children and their parents, as well as educators and the general public, in how to think about the many extraordinary claims we hear every day.

Contact the JREF at:
James Randi Educational Foundation
2941 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 105
Falls Church, VA 22042
JREF@Randi.Org

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



The permanency of such violation is a bitter thing

Sep 1st, 2014 12:48 pm | By

Roxane Gay at Comment is Free on the misogyny underlying this trick of stealing and publishing photos of women.

What these people are doing is reminding women that, no matter who they are, they are still women. They are forever vulnerable.

The racy images of these nubile bodies are the biggest story on the internet, and every site that refuses to reprint the images has already left itself absolved while leaving a prurient trail of breadcrumbs. The permanency of such violation is a bitter thing. These leaked images are instantly widely available and they always will be. The images will be downloaded and viewed and shared. These women’s lives and their private choices will be dissected. They are

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Mother of three

Sep 1st, 2014 12:40 pm | By

Hadley Freeman in the Guardian on the fun new trend of stealing photos of women to publish on the internet.

I think we know that the biggest fashion trend, really, for women – now and always – is no clothes at all: it’s having stolen naked photos of yourself leaked all over the internet. It’s like the story of the emperor’s new clothes all over again, if the emperor was harassed by sex pests and thieves and humiliated on an international level.

How strange it is to be a woman, in a world where everyone seems to be obsessed with what you do with your vagina: who are you letting into it, what children are you expelling from it,

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Advice

Sep 1st, 2014 12:11 pm | By

The Mirror has an appropriately angry piece about how women can avoid what happened to Jennifer Lawrence. (It’s by someone who goes by “Fleet Street Fox”…)

A total of 101 female celebrities are thought to have been targeted by someone who hacked the Apple photo storage service iCloud and published them in return for money.

In an extra layer of creepy weirdness, actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead said the photos taken with her husband years earlier had been deleted – so iCloud had kept a copy, and the hacker had to hunt for it.

There are no leaked photos of naked male celebrities.

It’s more fun to do it to people who won’t enjoy it, FSF says.

So here’s … Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Ukpabio sues BHA and WHRIN

Sep 1st, 2014 8:18 am | By

Helen Ukpabio is suing the British Humanist Association and the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network for £500,000,000.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) and Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN) are being sued by the wealthy evangelical preacher and ‘witch hunter’ Helen Ukpabio who has dubbed herself a ‘Lady Apostle’. Mrs Ukpabio claims to have expertise in identifying children and adults who are possessed with witchcraft spirits and in how they can be ‘delivered’ from those spirits. Her lawyers have informed the BHA and WHRIN that she is launching a legal case against them due to their criticism of her teachings and methods.

Claiming to be a former witch herself, the Nigerian founder of the Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Harm rising to the level of persecution

Aug 31st, 2014 6:15 pm | By

Well this is huge.

In a ruling that advocates described as a historic victory for Central American refugees, a federal immigration board said Tuesday that a married woman fleeing domestic violence in Guatemala, where authorities could not or would not protect her, can seek political asylum in the United States.

A woman who has been brutally beaten by her husband, who tried to prevent her from leaving, has suffered “harm rising to the level of persecution,” said the Board of Immigration Appeals, which oversees the Justice Department‘s immigration courts.

Observing that Guatemala “has a culture of machismo and family violence,” the board said a married woman there who flees an abusive relationship can be considered a member of

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



You don’t mean to say they were naked!

Aug 31st, 2014 5:29 pm | By

Another nice thing – a bunch of women have had naked pictures of themselves stolen and posted online. Punishing women for existing just never gets old, does it.

A hacker has reportedly obtained nude photos of a slew of female celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence.

The anonymous source, according to The Hollywood Gossip, has 60 images of the 24-year-old The Hunger Games star in various states of undress and has posted them on an online bulletin board. The photos of Lawrence, some of which are topless, have since appeared on photo sharing site Imgur.

Because obviously women have no right to be left alone, because they’re women – they’re public property.

Reports in the US suggest the phones and

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



For the sake of abstract future benefits

Aug 31st, 2014 3:45 pm | By

I’m reading a piece by Paul Bloom in the Boston Review arguing that empathy is a bad thing. I say it in the present tense because I haven’t finished yet; I stopped to argue with something he said, before finishing the whole thing, because I feel like it. If I were reading it offline I would do the same thing in a notebook. (So it will probably turn out that he answers the question, but I want to say anyway.)

Most people see the benefits of empathy as akin to the evils of racism: too obvious to require justification. I think this is a mistake. I have argued elsewhere that certain features of empathy make it a poor guide to

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



I knew it all along

Aug 31st, 2014 12:32 pm | By

Uh oh.

SourceRead the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Talented mediocrity

Aug 31st, 2014 12:08 pm | By

Will Self says Orwell was a talented mediocrity.

The curious thing is that while during the post-war period we’ve had many political leaders, we’ve got by with just a single Supreme Mediocrity – George Orwell.

I don’t doubt characterising Orwell as a talented mediocrity will put noses out of joint. Not Orwell, surely! Orwell the tireless campaigner for social justice and economic equality; Orwell the prophetic voice, crying out in the wartime wilderness against the dangers of totalitarianism and the rise of the surveillance state; Orwell, who nobly took up arms in the cause of Spanish democracy, then, equally nobly, exposed the cause’s subversion by Soviet realpolitik; Orwell, who lived in saintly penury and preached the solid virtues of

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



It was finally time to “do the right thing”

Aug 31st, 2014 11:27 am | By

The BBC News Magazine has a longish piece by Shaimaa Khalil about not wearing hijab then wearing it then not wearing it and now wearing it again – in which, bizarrely, she never mentions the actual (and obvious) gender politics of it. It’s just a religious requirement or duty that she either accepts or doesn’t accept, but the content of the requirement/duty is left out.

She talks about photos from the 50s and 60s that speak volumes about social change in Egypt.

There they are in short-sleeved dresses, impeccably cinched at the waist. The dresses of some of the younger ones actually stopped well above the knee. And the hair!

The beautiful and complicated hairdos that my aunties and their

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Frowned upon by the bien-pensants

Aug 30th, 2014 6:07 pm | By

I love this Jesus and Mo:

Author’s caption:

I’m a cultural imperialist. I believe in universal human rights.

Mo perches his steaming hot tea on the arm of the couch. Risky.

Author’s Patreon is here.… Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Different rules for different f00ts

Aug 30th, 2014 5:11 pm | By

Oh looky here, what do you know – Phil “Thunderf00t” Mason who thinks Anita Sarkeesian is lying about getting threats for the sake of “PR” – that Phil Mason posting in October 2011 about threats he gets.

October 8 for instance.

So here I am at the Texas Freethought convention, where I’ve met for the first time Matt Dillahunty from the Atheist Experience, and been having a great time with folks such as Aronra (also met in person for the first time) and many others when I get email from the infamous ‘crying muslim’ (dawahfilms).  He STILL seems to be operating under the delusion that universities base their hiring and firing policies based on how much a v. whiney

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)