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Guest post on “Aaron Swartz – The Internet’s own boy”

Jun 29th, 2014 10:23 am | By

Originally a comment by Harald Hanche-Olsen on The withdrawing room.

 I just finished watching Brian Knappenberger’s documentary on Aaron Swartz – The Internet’s own boy. Driven to suicide by overly aggressive prosecutors seeking to making an example of him for wanting to make knowledge available to everybody, Aaron was likely one of the brightest minds of his generation and a tragic loss to all. Have a look at Lawrence Lessig’s TED talk on The unstoppable walk to political reform to learn about just one important aspect of Aaron’s life.

The documentary is well worth watching. I believe it is screening in US movie theaters starting today. I got a copy because I backed the movie financially albeit very … Read the rest

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The reality check

Jun 29th, 2014 8:49 am | By


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A retributive God who must punish sin

Jun 29th, 2014 8:27 am | By

Valerie Tarico reports that Child Evangelism Fellowship is targeting Portland, Oregon this summer, but Portland is fighting back.

 Good News Clubs mix snacks, games, art projects and stories with upbeat moral lessons and the theology of blood sacrifice. In a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Child Evangelism Fellowship argued that they were entitled to operate in public schools because they are running a social and moral enrichment program akin to Scouting.

Much to the dismay of church-state watchdogs, a majority of the Court agreed, but to call Good News Clubs moral enrichment by secular standards or to liken it to Scouting, is a stretch. Despite evangelical influences in the Boy Scouts, scouting programs

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Dawkins v SJWs

Jun 28th, 2014 4:24 pm | By

What about that zany Richard Dawkins, eh? You’ve seen the infamous June 24 tweet, right?

Sun will engulf Earth. If we launch DVD as , what would you put on it? Shakespeare Schubert Darwin Einstein for me. You?

There were prompt rebukes for the all white all male you get the idea. I actually thought that was pretty silly – it’s only four choices, and we’re all allowed to have favorites. But I didn’t say so, because I knew what was going to ensue, and I wasn’t wrong – the assholes got involved, Dawkins said silly things, and it all went to hell even faster than usual.

Then today he let us know that he’s been learning Read the rest

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Red card for shock jock

Jun 28th, 2014 3:22 pm | By

Shock jock booted from lineup for calling Mo a diaper-lifter.

Broadcaster Michael Smith has been dumped from a guest slot on radio station 2GB after he referred to the prophet Muhammad as a paedophile.

Smith had been booked to present Chris Smith’s  afternoon program for three weeks starting Monday.

However, he has revealed on his website that 2GB’s program director, David Kidd, phoned him on Friday evening and allegedly said: ‘‘We won’t be needing you, you can’t call a Deity a paedophile.’’

Mr Kidd declined to comment when approached by Fairfax Media on Saturday.

Smith’s controversial outburst came during an on-air exchange with Ben Fordham on Thursday. ‘‘The prophet Muhammad was a paedophile, a pederast, a sexual offender, a man

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Happy Pride Day

Jun 28th, 2014 3:13 pm | By

Via EXMNA on Facebook:

EXMNA stands in solidarity with everyone celebrating world pride 

We support the simple idea that everyone should have equal rights

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Ramadan, meet Gay Pride

Jun 28th, 2014 12:56 pm | By

They met in Singapore, for one.

Pink Dot has been held every year since 2009. Attendees wear pink clothing and sit down for a mass picnic that ends with the forming of a pink dot.

But this year it falls on the eve of Ramadan, prompting an Islamic teacher to start a Wear White campaign against homosexuality, which has been supported by a Christian organisation.

Gay sex is illegal in Singapore.

I love it when Christians join with Muslims to oppose other people’s sexual orientations.

The Pink Dot rally proceeded peacefully on Saturday evening with no sign of anti-gay campaigners. Organisers said 26,000 people attended the event.

Wear White issued a statement saying it discouraged supporters from attending Pink

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Of Mollison and Muggles

Jun 28th, 2014 12:04 pm | By

I’ve just read J K Rowling’s novel for grownups Casual Vacancy. It was gripping at first and then got more and more unpleasant to read, but the basic story – about a pleasant village near a city and the tensions between the two, in other words about class – was interesting enough that I read the whole thing. (Usually I stop reading novels I don’t like. I know lots of people who seriously think that once you start a book you’re somehow obliged to finish it, no matter how much you hate it. I think that’s entirely and comprehensively wrong.)

I dislike her mind. It makes me feel dirty. Reading the novel made me feel dirty much of the … Read the rest

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Jun 28th, 2014 11:22 am | By

Chris Stedman interviews Hemant Mehta for RNS.

CS: What do you love most about the nontheist community? Where do you think it can improve?

HM: I love how certain issues that are controversial everywhere else in the country, like marriage equality, comprehensive sex education, and science in schools, are almost non-issues within our community. Where can we improve? In many ways, we act like there’s an atheist orthodoxy everyone must follow. As the demographics shift and atheists increase in number, we have to realize we won’t always agree on every issue. 


Hemant must have forgotten what he had just said when he went on to say the exact opposite. He loves how certain issues that are controversial everywhere Read the rest

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Her views brought her into conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood

Jun 27th, 2014 6:23 pm | By

The Guardian has more on Salwa Bugaighis.

Bugaighis, a lawyer from a prominent Benghazi family, was among the first to the barricades in Libya’s 2011 Arab spring revolution, and later resigned from the first rebel administration, the National Transitional Council, accusing it of freezing-out female members.

She was identified as perhaps the most charismatic figure in Libya’s women’s movement, supporting a successful campaign to establish minimum quotas for female lawmakers in parliament. She also opposed moves to make the wearing of the hijab compulsory, and her views brought her into conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist extremists.

“The killing seems intended to silence critics and muzzle dissent,” said Hanan Salah of Human Rights Watch. “Her conviction that dialogue

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Armed militia groups competing for turf and power

Jun 27th, 2014 5:54 pm | By

The New Yorker’s Newsdesk blog mourns Salwa Bugaighis.

On June 25th, in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, the lawyer and democracy activist Salwa Bugaighis was killed, bringing despair to those who knew her. Bugaighis, a bright, funny, courageous woman, fifty years old, was fighting for a democratic, open society. Along with her husband, Issam, and her sister Iman, she was at the forefront of the uprising against Muammar Qaddafi; later, she sat on the hastily declared transitional council that sought to bring order to the excited anarchy that followed Qaddafi’s fall.

As that anarchy turned to bedlam, Bugaighis worked to reconcile Libya’s feuding groups—even as her life was threatened, and as other critics of the militias were

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Her legacy and achievements

Jun 27th, 2014 5:39 pm | By

Samantha Power issued a statement on the assassination of Salwa Bugaighis yesterday.

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the brutal assassination in Benghazi of prominent Libyan political thinker and human rights activist Salwa Bugaighis. Through her dedicated activism and her leadership in Libya’s democratic transition, including most recently through the Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue, Bugaighis courageously worked to achieve the aspirations of the Libyan people. Her legacy and achievements in building the foundations of an open, transparent and stable democracy will endure and her example will serve as a model for civil society activists in Libya and around the world.

In 2011, I had the honor to meet Salwa in Benghazi. She was exhilarated by Libya’s

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But go ahead anyway

Jun 27th, 2014 2:54 pm | By

An under-reported item – USA Today seems to be the only source even mentioning it: the Food and Drug Administration has lifted restrictions on a clinical trial run by Stanislaw Burzynski of the eponymous clinic.

Burzynski — hailed as a maverick by his fans but derided as a snake oil salesman by mainstream doctors — has long claimed to have achieved dramatic success in hard-to-treat cancers, especially brainstem tumors that are usually considered fatal. According to the National Cancer Institute, however, Burzynski has not produced proof that his drugs save lives by publishing a randomized, controlled trial in a peer-reviewed journal.

But now the FDA says all is forgiven, because Burzynski answered all their questions.

Some cancer specialists say

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Wanted poster

Jun 27th, 2014 12:32 pm | By

You know Nineveh? You know ISIS is in Nineveh? You know that fabulous Assyrian winged bull?

It’s still there.

There’s a rumor that ISIS has destroyed it, but apparently the rumor is false. Conflict Antiquities says there is no evidence that the bull has been destroyed. Also, it was a lion, also, that one is at the University of Chicago, not the Nineveh Museum.

24 News (@24news__) reported in Arabic, ‘Iraq: “Daash” gunmen seize Nineveh Museum, and they destroyed ancient masterpieces, including the rare Assyrian winged bull [العراق : مسلحو "داعش" يستولون على متحف نينوى ويقومون بتكسير التحف منها تحفة الثور الاشوري المجنح النادرة]‘. Coptic Nationalism (@DioscorusBoles) repeated the news in English, ‘ISIS destroys archaeological monuments at Mosul (Nineveh)

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To protect the slut-whisperers

Jun 27th, 2014 12:00 pm | By

The Rude Pundit has a suggestion in the wake of the SCOTUS ruling in McCullen.

There’s a sweet little church in Grafton, Massachusetts.

The congregation participated in 40 Days for Life, an action during Lent that 17,000 churches around the world took part in, with another 40 Days planned for September 24 to November 2.

The St. Mary’s churchgoers headed over to Worcester to protest at a Planned Parenthood and to “sidewalk counsel” women there…

Come September, and maybe even before, the parishioners will be harassing every woman who goes to the Planned Parenthood, even those just going for pap smears and help getting pregnant. And they will no doubt be joined by the anti-abortion radicals, the fetus picture carriers,

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What the Saudi representative actually said

Jun 27th, 2014 10:51 am | By

Paul Fidalgo explains why the Saudi representative had a triple meltdown at the UN Human Rights Council on June 23 (last Monday).

Part of that has to do with what CFI is and what it’s been doing lately.

The organization for which I work, the Center for Inquiry, sees as part of its core mission the proliferation of the rights to free belief and expression around the world. In recent years, we’ve worked very hard to raise awareness of the threat posed by state-sanctioned anti-blasphemy laws, which criminalize religious criticism; apostasy laws, which make leaving the majority religion a crime; and the various forms these violations of human rights take, such as laws against “offending religious feelings.”

This work … Read the rest

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To engage in personal, caring, consensual conver­sations

Jun 27th, 2014 8:57 am | By

Ok I’m reading the McCullen opinion, and already in the first sentence I have a problem. This is going to take years – it’s 52 pages.

In 2007, Massachusetts amended its Reproductive Health Care Facili­
ties Act, which had been enacted in 2000 to address clashes between
abortion opponents and advocates of abortion rights outside clinics
where abortions were performed.

Um, no. That makes it sound like a matter of political theater, or debates that turned into clashes. The clashes were between abortion opponents and women attempting to enter the clinics where abortions were performed. The abortion opponents try to stop them.

There are escorts, who are there to try to protect such women from the protesters, but they … Read the rest

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To depart as swiftly as possible from Sudan

Jun 27th, 2014 7:46 am | By

In better news, Meriam Ibrahim is again out of prison, and this time she’s safe at the US embassy. Since the US is where she wants to go, and her husband is a US citizen, that’s the best place for her inside Sudan.

On Monday the appeal court annulled her death sentence and freed her, after which she went into hiding because of death threats.

Wani, a US citizen since 2005, said he hoped the family could start a new life in America. But 24 hours later security service agents apprehended the family, including a baby girl born while Ibrahim was shackled to the floor of her cell, claiming that her travel documents were forged. Ibrahim’s lawyer, Elshareef

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The holy duty to be raped

Jun 27th, 2014 7:34 am | By

There is really only one Commandment: Control All The Cunts. From the Assyrian International News Agency:

On June 12, only two day after capturing Mosul and other territories in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria issued a decree ordering the people to send their unmarried women to “jihad by sex.” In the proclamation ISIS threatens to impose Sharia law on all who fail to comply with the decree.

Here’s a translation of the decree, followed by the original in Arabic. AINA cannot confirm the authenticity of this document.

In the Name of Allah the Merciful

Subject: Mandate

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
The State of Nineveh

In the Name of Allah the Merciful

After liberation

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So, explain to America why anyone would make a woman CEO

Jun 26th, 2014 6:05 pm | By

Hahahaha some silly woman thought she could do a high-level job but tv personality Matt Lauer put her straight. He wanted to know if she was going to be able to do the high-level job and take care of her children. He also asked her if she got the job because she’s a fuzzy touchy-feely wooooman, because why else would anyone ever hire a woman for anything, except wet nurse or prostitute.

Today Show host Matt Lauer on Thursday asked General Motors CEO Mary Barra if she felt she could run a company and be a good mother during an interview about the company’s controversial recalls.

“I want to tread lightly here,” Lauer said before launching into a question

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