All entries by this author

Not appropriate to give explicit guidance on how to achieve discrimination

Nov 24th, 2014 6:08 pm | By

The Lawyers’ Secular Society on the Law Society’s withdrawal of its sharia guidance.

The Law Society has sent the LSS a letter which says:

We have reviewed our practice note on Sharia succession principles following your feedback, and that of our members and other stakeholders. Following this review, we have withdrawn the note and it will no longer be available through our website. We have no plans to amend or replace the note.

We are mindful of the criticism we received and we apologise.

You can read the full letter from the Law Society here and you can see their press release here.

Very good.

The sharia guidance contained provisions, at section 3.6, which explicitly discriminated against women,

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Guest post: A history lesson on states’ rights

Nov 24th, 2014 5:48 pm | By

Originally a comment by Al Dente on Locke, Montesquieu and Moses.

The slavery issue was a major part of states rights.

In the decades preceding the civil war the states rights issue hung over the nation like a sword. The doctrine held that certain rights and powers remained as part of the sovereignty of individual states and that the exercise of that sovereignty lay in the will of the states’ citizens. Through elected officials the citizenry bestowed certain powers to the federal government such as conducting diplomacy and declaring war. But the states had powers denied to the federal government.

In the antebellum years authority granted the federal government by the Constitution was held to be vague and differing … Read the rest

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Good-bye sharia wills practice note!

Nov 24th, 2014 5:20 pm | By

Maryam posted a press release – with good news.

_________________________

One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters, the Centre for Secular Space, Nari Diganta and the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation have welcomed the Law Society’s withdrawal of their sharia wills practice note.

The practice note advised solicitors on how to draw up ‘Sharia-compliant’ wills, stating that

“… illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs … The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir … Non-Muslims may not inherit at all … a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir…” 

The ensuing campaign organised by women’s rights advocates Pragna Patel, Maryam Namazie, Gita Sahgal, Yasmin Rehman, Dianna Nammi, Rumana … Read the rest

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Amid this orgy of self-congratulation

Nov 24th, 2014 4:48 pm | By

Helen Lewis is pessimistic about the culture wars.

If today’s tech giants can be said to have an ideology, it is the promotion of unfettered free speech. Social media companies trumpet how pro-democracy protesters use their networks to oppose repressive governments. Celebrities are warned of the “Streisand effect” of trying to suppress unflattering information about them, and creating more publicity in the process. Twitter’s former general counsel once described the company as “the free-speech wing of the free-speech party”.

But amid this orgy of self-congratulation, there is one rarely mentioned fact: one person’s free speech can come at the cost of another’s. This is the kernel at the heart of so many harassment cases: the stalker will insist, with

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Too young to survive as an orphan

Nov 24th, 2014 4:07 pm | By

Here is Enkikwe’s rescue.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aNVm02NS8kRead the rest

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Saving Enkikwe

Nov 24th, 2014 3:56 pm | By

I came home and found a mysterious stiff envelope in the mail.

It’s a surprise from Jen Phillips.

Lookit!

It’s from Terra Dreams, who donates half the proceeds from her art to Elephants Without Borders and The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

What a beautiful thing.

Jen and the other people who have bought the art have fostered three orphan elephant calves. One is Enkikwei.

A young approximately 20 year old female elephant mother was sighted on the 22nd of September and appeared healthy while happily playing with her two calves near Enkikwei an area in the Mara North Conservancy. The older of her two calves was approximately seven years old and male while the younger baby was

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Another sad zoo story

Nov 24th, 2014 12:11 pm | By

Aw, damn.

The gorilla born at the Como Zoo to first-time mother Alice on Wednesday has died, the zoo announced Monday.

The “preliminary hypothesis” is there was difficulty with the newborn’s feeding that led to the death Sunday, the zoo said in a statement.

The statement added that zoo leadership was making the announcement “with a very heavy heart.” This was first gorilla birth in the 55 years that Como has housed the large primates. Another gorilla birth at the zoo is anticipated for December or January.

Crap. That’s so sad. Gorilla births are a big deal.

Since the birth, the baby and Alice were under zookeeper watch and care around the clock, the zoo statement noted. The baby had

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Locke, Montesquieu and Moses

Nov 24th, 2014 11:25 am | By

The Texas State Board of Education voted on a new set of social studies materials on Friday. NPR reports:

That includes some 89 textbooks, workbooks and other classroom materials. The vote matters because, with about 5 million students, the state has a big impact on the national textbook market.

Well it also matters because 5 million students are a lot of students, and they need good textbooks too.

We know how the Texas Board of Ed is. It’s been colonized by Christian Nationalists, who want to teach Christian Nationalist things to captive students.

Consider one high school government textbook. It lists four thinkers who influenced the Founding Fathers.

“Three of those on the list make a lot of sense:

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After killing their daughter…

Nov 24th, 2014 10:04 am | By

From India, another item for the annals of “honor” killing.

In a suspected case of honour killing, a 21-year-old Delhi University student was strangled by her parents, who later allegedly set her body on fire, just three days after her marriage to her friend against their wishes. The accused were arrested on Tuesday and sent to judicial custody by a Delhi court.

Strangling. It’s so intimate. It’s hard to get your head around the thought of strangling one’s own child.

Bhavna Yadav was allegedly killed on the intervening night of November 15-16 by her father Jagmohan Yadav and mother Savitri Yadav at her house in south-west Delhi’s Dwarka North. After killing their daughter, the parents took her body to

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Brendan O’Neill attacked by Stepford students horror

Nov 23rd, 2014 12:45 pm | By

There was supposed to be a debate on abortion last Tuesday at Christ Church, Oxford. Brendan O’Neill and Timothy Stanley were the scheduled debaters.

That fact by itself fills me with a great cloud of weary irritation. If you want to stage a debate on abortion, why the fuck ask two men to do it? What is the point? Why is it of more interest or significance to hear what two men have to say on the subject than it is to hear what two women have to say? Why just always ignore and jump over women as if they weren’t there, even when talking about things that affect women directly in a way they don’t affect men? Why do … Read the rest

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Women are unable to safely report

Nov 23rd, 2014 10:32 am | By

The New York Times has a think piece on the clash between Cosby’s Wholesome Image and the proliferating allegations that he had a decades-long habit of drugging and raping women. It starts off with a very peculiar headline…

For Some Fans, Accusations of Rape Crumble Bill Cosby’s Wholesome Image

Department of pointing out the obvious.

“He implanted so many positive images, moments, subliminal pictures of what African-Americans can be,” Mr. Osborne said. The portrayal struck him as false — the families he knew in Brooklyn did not live in well-appointed townhouses in the Heights; the Cosby children’s range of skin tones made it a strain to see them as siblings. Still, he recognized the accomplishment.

“There was a time when

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Cosby would then take his pick

Nov 23rd, 2014 10:16 am | By

Another corroborator of the allegations about Bill Cosby – this time not a woman but a former wing man.

A former NBC employee and Bill Cosby confidante has claimed to the New York Daily News that he acted as a cover-up for the comedian as he slept with women and paid them off.

Well…he’s just doing it for the fame and attention!

Frank Scotti, 90, who worked for the studio where “The Cosby Show” was filmed from 1984 to 1992, told the Daily News that he took out money orders in his name to pay women who he suspects Cosby had slept with. Scotti also alleges that he would stand guard at Cosby’s dressing room while he met with

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A bus to Nairobi

Nov 23rd, 2014 8:57 am | By

What’s new in Kenya: al-Shabaab murdered 28 people on a bus at dawn on Saturday.

The bus travelling to the capital Nairobi with 60 passengers was hijacked about 50 kilometres from the town of Mandera near Kenya’s border with Somalia, said two police officers who insisted on anonymity because they were ordered not to speak to the press.

The attackers first tried to wave the bus down but it didn’t stop so the gunmen sprayed it with bullets, said the police. When that didn’t work they shot a rocket propelled grenade at it, the officers said.

The gunmen took control of the vehicle and forced it off the road where they ordered all the passengers out of the vehicle

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Who is most popular?

Nov 22nd, 2014 6:22 pm | By

Elsewhere in tvworld, the Duggars are getting some pushback.

A petition on Change.org urging TLC to cancel the family’s reality show, “19 Kids and Counting,” is gaining momentum.

“End LGBTQ fear mongering by the Duggars,” a letter posted on petition page reads. “The Duggars have been using their fame to promote discrimination, hate, and fear-mongering against gays and transgendered people. You need to take a stand on the side of justice and cancel their show.”

The petition currently has over 78,000 signatures.

Not terribly impressive when you note that they have 400,000 likes on their Facebook page, but it’s a start.

Last week, the couple posted a Facebook photo of them kissing and encouraged other married couples to share

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An adoring audience

Nov 22nd, 2014 6:00 pm | By

How sweet, CBS reports that Bill Cosby did a show last night and everybody forgot all about those pesky rape allegations and just had a damn good time laughing at his jokes. How warm and cuddly.

“I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn’t have to answer to innuendos,” the comedian told Florida Today. “People should fact check. People shouldn’t have to go through that and shouldn’t answer to innuendos.”

After giving the backstage interview, Cosby regained the revered status he long enjoyed, for 90 minutes at least.

The show in Melbourne, Florida, might have seemed destined for disaster for the comedian. What he got, though, was an adoring audience that laughed so

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Guest post: The problems of American Women are fast becoming the problem of Global Women

Nov 22nd, 2014 11:22 am | By

Originally a comment by Hj Hornbeck on Yes, there should be rivalry in victimhood.

[Trigger Warning: Domestic and Sexual Assault. Also, BIG comment with many a footnote.]

Here’s an angle I haven’t seen mentioned yet: there’s more than some hidden racism in Dawkin’s focus on Islam, which he exploits to distract from real global problems. The quoted portion in the OP is my starting point:

The greatest threats to women, in his view, are Islamism and jihadism — and his concern over that sometimes leads him to speak off-the-cuff.

“I concentrate my attention on that menace and I confess I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water

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Guest post: The motto draped above the Dudebro Defense League crest

Nov 22nd, 2014 10:57 am | By

Originally a comment by Tom Foss on If only you’d said it more sweetly.

Wait. I thought atheist dudebros were super-rational and only care about things by order of magnitude of objective mattering, while SJWs and feminazis are all hyper-reactionary people who want their subjective feelings of offense enforced by totalitarian law. But now Dawkins is so offended by mild snark that he doubles down even on things he’s admitted being wrong about, while SJWs are irrationally failing to consider feelings when they think a preeminent science popularizer with a reputation for being a blunt firebrand could see past harsh language to the actual arguments and evidence?

Oh right, I forgot the motto draped above the Dudebro Defense League … Read the rest

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Next stop Europa?

Nov 22nd, 2014 10:48 am | By

Wo – how about a probe of Europa next? It has an ocean covered by a thick layer of ice. Phil Plait has the story:

He starts with a remastered image just released by JPL:

Click on it for even bigger detail.

So that would be a hell of an interesting thing to explore, right?

Europa is 3120 km (1930 miles) in diameter, a hair smaller than our own Moon. Unlike our Moon, which is rock through and through, Europa has a rocky core covered with water. And by water, I mean liquid water, an undersurface ocean covered with a kilometers-thick shell of ice. The water may be in a layer 100 km thick, and salty, making it a

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Now the Royal Astronomical Society

Nov 22nd, 2014 9:53 am | By

The Royal Astronomical Society has also issued a statement on shirtstorm / shirtgate. (That’s what they call it, just as the AAS did.)

It’s not nearly as well worded as the AAS statement, but it’s still good to have. I doubt that Dawkins will be calling the RAS “pompous idiots” the way he called feminists he considers wrong “pompous idiots,” so the statement is good to have. It might conceivably cause Dawkins to reflect on the fact that some people he respects actually agree with the feminists he considers wrong (and pompous idiots).

Last week saw the successful landing of the Philae space probe on the surface of Comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This is a huge achievement for the European

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Yes, there should be rivalry in victimhood

Nov 21st, 2014 6:03 pm | By

Andreas Rekdal at NonProphet Status considers Dawkins’s revelation the other day that he is a passionate feminist.

Dawkins has been criticized by many, including fellow atheists, for trivializing Western women’s experiences of sexual harassment. According to Dawkins, his apparent insensitivity is really borne out of his deep commitment to feminism. And as a feminist, he believes we need to focus more on the threat of Islam to women everywhere:

I concentrate my attention on that menace and I confess I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler or invited for coffee or something which I think is, by comparison, relatively trivial.

This statement casts doubt on the sincerity of

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