All entries by this author

Atwood takes the prize

Jun 19th, 2016 6:04 pm | By

Margaret Atwood has won the 2016 PEN-Pinter prize.

Margaret Atwood has said that she is humbled to win an award from PEN celebrating her political activism, describing herself as “a stand-in for the thousands of people around the world who speak and act against [human rights] abuses”.

The PEN Pinter prize was set up seven years ago in memory of the Nobel prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter, and is given to a writer of outstanding literary merit who, in the words of Pinter himself on winning the Nobel, casts an “unflinching, unswerving” gaze upon the world and shows a “fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies”.

The Booker prize-winning Canadian author

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The more susceptible are more susceptible

Jun 19th, 2016 5:44 pm | By

Carla Clark at Brain Blogger on repressed memories: bullshit or not?

The idea is that repressed memories are different to suppressed memories. Suppressed memories we have pretty solid proof of, although some of us are better at it than others, which in some scientific circles, as we mentioned in a recent article on how best to control intrusive thoughts, has resulted in these proficient thought controllers being dubbed ‘natural repressors’.

Suppressing a memory involves some form of consciously directed effort – a choice – to attempt to not think about it or not. A bona fide repressed memory on the other hand is often considered to happen without free will in response to traumatic events, or has been

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Can we have that please?

Jun 19th, 2016 4:25 pm | By

Sarah Champion MP on Twitter:

 … Read the rest

Branded as witches

Jun 19th, 2016 4:07 pm | By

From Cross River State, Nigeria:

Two children age, 10 and 7, were this morning, rescued from being murdered by some members of Divine Zion of God Church Ikot Abasi Effiom district of Akpabuyo LGA.

Led by one Prophet David Effiom Zion and some members of their family, the children were accused by their cousin of being witches and allegedly snatching her baby in a dream.

The stigma that confronted the children since they were branded witches took on a new dimension when the children were taken to the forest, tied to a tree, battered and assaulted with a machete by some members of the family, leaving them with cuts and bruises all over their bodies.

This happened on the

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Guest post: The referendum

Jun 19th, 2016 3:15 pm | By

Guest post by Maureen Brian, originally a reply to a question about whether Brexit is binding or not.

The majority in Parliament is certainly for remaining though the whole process seems to have unhinged one or two minds so that it’s difficult to say who would vote which way after the referendum! Some may see it as morally binding: others will not and that’s whichever way the result goes.

All the legislation supposedly “imposed by Brussels” operates through laws passed by Westminster. That includes the treaties at various stages of the EU’s development. In many cases passing that legislation repealed earlier UK legislation so that we can’t just roll them all into a ball and repeal the lot. That would … Read the rest

Psychoanalysis and Hollywood

Jun 19th, 2016 12:38 pm | By

I’m reminded by a Facebook conversation that there are people who still believe in “repressed memory.” (I’m reminded – see what I did there?)

An interesting article from 2008 talks about it as a cultural phenomenon:

ARE SOME experiences so horrific that the human brain seals them away, only to recall them years later? The concept of “repressed memory,” known by the diagnostic term dissociative amnesia, has long fueled controversy in psychiatry. During the 1980s, claims of childhood sexual abuse based on recovered memories led to a spate of highly publicized court cases. A number of the supposed victims retracted their allegations in the early 1990s, admitting that they had been swayed by therapeutic techniques. Yet the scientific

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Eine Frau kommentiert das Spiel?

Jun 19th, 2016 11:16 am | By

Ew, a woman. Deutsche Welle:

Social media users flooded German public broadcaster ZDF’s sites after Friday’s Italy-Sweden match, not to voice complaints about the game, but to bemoan the broadcaster’s female commentator.

Claudia Neumann, a reporter for German public broadcaster ZDF, became the first female play-by-play announcer for this year’s men’s European Championships in France.

But her role as the match’s main commentator enraged numerous soccer fans. Many of whom posted complaints about her “annoying voice” while others said women have no place doing sports commentary for men’s soccer. One Twitter user wrote: “Women shouldn’t commentate men’s soccer. It doesn’t fit. Annoying. Period.”

So true. And people who don’t commit murder shouldn’t report on murders, and people not in … Read the rest

Her father, mother and brother cut her throat

Jun 18th, 2016 5:29 pm | By

News from Lahore:

Relatives slit the throat of a young mother who was pregnant with her second child after she married against their will near Lahore, officials said Friday, the latest in a spate of so-called “honour killings”.

Muqaddas Bibi, 22, married Taufiq Ahmed three years ago in defiance of her family, who considered a marriage for love — rather than an arranged marriage — shameful, police investigator Mohammad Arshad told AFP.

Bibi’s ties with her family were severed after the marriage, Arshad said, but her mother and brother allegedly approached her at a clinic where she was having a check-up on Thursday and convinced her to come home, saying they accepted her decision.

Local police station chief Gohar

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Facebook standards

Jun 18th, 2016 3:46 pm | By

Clementine Ford on Facebook:

Catherine Deveny has just been given a 30 day ban for posting this status. Something like this is removed while posts celebrating violence against women are just a laugh m8.

Maybe if Dev had made a horrible joke about rape or beating women, it would have been considered okay by the ‘community standards’.

Facebook Community Standards are a sour joke.… Read the rest

His name

Jun 18th, 2016 10:21 am | By

Thomas Mair has appeared in court.

The venue chosen for Thomas Mair’s first court appearance was the most important magistrate’s court in London. Deputy Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot was presiding.

Reporters from the broadcasters and Sunday newspapers and from overseas packed the press seats at the back.

As is almost always the case, the hearing was brief, but it had a key moment of drama – the moment the man in the dock was asked his name.

He stood, as asked, for what is normally one of the most mundane parts of the proceedings. Not this time.

“My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain,” he said.

Asked to repeat it, he said the same thing. Then he

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Yorkshire’s women

Jun 18th, 2016 10:16 am | By

Another heartbreaker about Jo Cox, by Kate Proctor at the Yorkshire Post.

On Tuesday night Yorkshire’s women of 2015 gathered on Jo Cox’s houseboat on the River Thames for a party. These feisty ladies from West Yorkshire were brought together by the MP for Batley and Spen to celebrate and reflect on their first year in Parliament.

I started my job as Westminster Correspondent for the Yorkshire Post at roughly the same time, and have got to know this particular band of women very well. They are a close bunch, all elected in May 2015, and they include the powerhouses of Holly Lynch MP for nearby Halifax and Paula Sherriff, MP for Dewsbury. They are all inspiring in their

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Jo Cox on Saudi Arabia and Yemen

Jun 17th, 2016 5:32 pm | By

Jo Cox wrote a public Facebook post on Tuesday.

If, as the foreign secretary claims, “close relations with Gulf countries are vital in keeping Britain safe”, isn’t it also time to use our close relationship with Saudi Arabia to end the slaughter of Yemeni children?

Fifteen months ago the Yemeni conflict escalated, when the Saudi led-coalition launched a military operation in support of the government against Houthi opposition forces. Half of Yemen’s population now lack access to the most basic items – food, water and medicine. And with violence rife across the country, the death toll continues to rise.

Life for children in Yemen has always been tough but the recent conflict has made it unbearable. Children represent one third

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Atheism in Ethiopia

Jun 17th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center has revealed that Ethiopia is the world’s most religious nation. According to this survey, nine-eight percent of Ethiopians thinks that religion is the most important part of their life. This development should not surprise anyone because Christianity and Islam are the dominant faiths in Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity accounts for most of the Christian population.

Though belief in God is pervasive, atheists, agnostics or freethinkers exist in Ethiopia and they are beginning to organize under different umbrella groups. Some of the atheist groups are visible online and they have Facebook pages, with hundreds and thousands of members, where they express themselves and socialize with people of like minds.

Recently … Read the rest

The negative symbiosis between Islamist and far right extremism

Jun 17th, 2016 4:27 pm | By

Quilliam on Jo Cox:

With the research emerging overnight that Jo Cox MP’s murderer Tommy Mair was a supporter of various extreme right wing groups and the three eyewitness accounts that he shouted “Britain first”, it is looking increasingly likely that this was an act of nationalist far right terrorism.

Quilliam condemns this repulsive act and remembers the wonderful life of Jo Cox, an MP, a mother of two, a tireless campaigner for refugees, the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group ‘Friends of Syria’ and the former Head of Policy at Oxfam. Our thoughts are with her friends and family on this dark day for British politics.

The terrorist Tommy Mair was a long standing member of the

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Britain’s enduring fascist heritage

Jun 17th, 2016 4:04 pm | By

Juliet Samuel at the Telegraph – yes really – says the murder of Jo Cox is far-right terrorism.

The Quilliam Foundation, one of Britain’s foremost anti-extremism think tanks, has been the first major organisation to call this dreadful event by its name: an act of nationalist far-Right terrorism.

Why does it matter what we call it?

Because calling it by its name shakes us out of our complacency and it helps us to understand how we should react. There’s a tendency to think of Britain as a moderate, sensible, reasonable place. Until yesterday, we had been spared the horrifying extremist attacks that have recently been taking place in other western countries. And Britain is mostly a safe and moderate

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“She got what she deserved”

Jun 17th, 2016 11:24 am | By

Never mind. Apparently the “source” is a “satire” site although I’m damned if I can find any confirmation of that. I was misled by the fact that it cited Breitbart – not because Breitbart is reliable but because it doesn’t consider itself satire.

Oh god oh god oh god.

Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska, commented on the tragedy in her own, provocative style, saying that “it’s no use trying to teach people that pacifism doesn’t work when you have things like these happening almost every day. A woman who had a family, a husband and two young children, was shot dead in the middle of the street like a beggar. Who should we be upset with?

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Guest post: A seething morass of racial animosity

Jun 17th, 2016 11:16 am | By

Originally a comment by Claire on A noxious brew.

When I moved from the UK to the US, several years ago, I was genuinely shocked at the amount of open racism I saw from just people on the street right up through the rhetoric of politicians. I was appalled and admittedly a little complacent – I didn’t think the UK was some racism-free utopia, but it seemed considerably better by comparison.

The EU referendum campaign has opened my eyes to a seething morass of racial animosity that apparently was right there beneath the surface the whole time. It’s horrifying – what has happened to my country of birth in the years since I moved away? I hadn’t even planned … Read the rest

Only a matter of time before we take it to the next level

Jun 17th, 2016 10:54 am | By

The Guardian is live updating coverage of the murder of Jo Cox. The newest item is terrifying:

In a further indication of far right reaction to the murder of Jo Cox, the Observer’s home affairs editor Mark Townsend reports that another Yorkshire MP received a death threat for sympathising with refugees the day before Jo Cox was murdered.

Notts Casual Infidels, a far right group belonging to the extremist Infidels network, posted an image of York Central Labour MP Rachael Maskell addressing a “refugees welcome rally” at 9:39am on Thursday June 15 with the warning: “This bitch needs to disappear.”

Hours after Cox’s death later that day, the same group said in a Facebook post: “We knew it was

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She had to somehow stand for both

Jun 17th, 2016 10:41 am | By

Julian Borger had a conversation with Jo Cox on Tuesday.

On Tuesday in Westminster, she talked for an hour about trolling, Brexit, Labour in the north, Syria and humanitarian intervention, life as an MP and the struggle to make a difference. We were supposed to meet on Wednesday, but it was brought forward because she had to go to her Yorkshire constituency a day early in an attempt to shore up the remain vote. That was what she was doing when she was killed.

The overwhelming majority of Labour members in Batley and Spen oppose her position on the EU referendum, and she conceded Labour had failed to connect with its supporters on immigration. A dispassionate debate on the issue

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The bullying was an accident

Jun 17th, 2016 10:08 am | By

Speaking of ugly climates…there’s this private school in Texas

The parents of a 12-year-old black girl have sued her Texas school after a group of white classmates allegedly wrapped a rope around her neck and “violently jerked” her to the ground, leaving burns in her skin that are documented in graphic photos included in the complaint.

The incident, which reportedly left the girl with a “severe and painful” rope cut on her neck, has brought national attention to Live Oak classical school, a largely white private school in Waco, Texas, that has been accused of having a history of bullying problems.

The lawsuit filed this week – which seeks damages of $3m for medical bills, physical pain, disfigurement

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