All entries by this author

Because it perpetuates terror

Feb 7th, 2015 11:44 am | By

Another Facebook group supporting Raif Badawi.

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Pretty much what they recommended

Feb 7th, 2015 10:22 am | By

Udo Schuklenk has been working on the Canadian right to die issue for years. He has some first thoughts on the ruling.

Unless you have lived under a rock during these last few years you will know that I spent a significant amount of my time arguing in favour of the decriminalisation of assisted dying in the country, no least in a report of an expert panel the Royal Society of Canada asked me to chair, on end-of-life decision-making in Canada. In addition I wrote a large number of newspaper columns on the issue and gave oodles of TV interviews and what-not to advance that cause.

He and Eric and I met up for lunch at CFI-Ottawa’s Eschaton a … Read the rest

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Canada gets the right to die

Feb 7th, 2015 9:52 am | By

Big news from Canada via the Beeb

Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that doctors may help patients who have severe and incurable medical conditions to die, overturning a 1993 ban.

In a unanimous decision, the court said the law impinged on Canadians’ rights.

The case was brought by a civil rights group on behalf of two women, Kay Carter and Gloria Taylor, with degenerative diseases. Both have since died.

Wow. Eric MacDonald has been campaigning on this issue for years.

The government has to write a new law within a year or the law will be struck down.

Assisted suicide is legal in several European countries and a few US states.

In Canada is it illegal to counsel,

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Depicting Mohammed

Feb 6th, 2015 5:36 pm | By

Muhammed Syed explains about it.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuYaMhRGrtMRead the rest

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Oslo, Jordan, Sesame Street

Feb 6th, 2015 5:17 pm | By

Via the Humanistisk Ungdom page (Norway’s Humanist Youth) – a sizable collection of people on a cold snowy day protest in front of the Saudi embassy in Oslo.

A Google translatation with some adaptations –

For the fifth time we stand together with Amnesty International outside the Saudi embassy and demonstrate for Raif Badawi .

He is sentenced to prison and 1,000 lashes – for a blog post.

This time, we were suddenly chased 10 meters away from the embassy, behind a hedge, entirely without justification or explanation of who gave the order.

We didn’t give up though, and continued to shout: #Free Raif Badawi! #Stop the flogging!

Go there to see a 9 second video of them doing it, … Read the rest

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Guest post: To make sure the girls in category 2 don’t end up in category 3

Feb 6th, 2015 3:41 pm | By

Originally a comment by Anne Fenwick on FGM in the US.

It is frustrating that neither society nor the statistics seem good at separating 1) women who arrive as immigrants having undergone FGM in their previous countries; 2) their daughters who may be considered at risk; 3) those daughters who actually undergo FGM in a western country or ‘on vacation’. I’m glad this article seemed to get the problem – though I do wonder about their choice of age range, I think we would use a different one in the UK.

What seems to be important is that the arrival of a large number of women in category 1 is going to necessitate a response. In the first place, … Read the rest

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But never in the face

Feb 6th, 2015 1:03 pm | By

Pope sweety says it’s ok for adults to hit children, provided it’s done with dignity.

Pope Francis has backed parents who smack their children, providing the child’s “dignity” is maintained.

He made the remarks during his weekly general audience at the Vatican, which was devoted to the role of fathers in the family.

How does an adult hit a child while maintaining the child’s dignity? Is it that the adult doesn’t abort the child in the process?

The Pope said: “One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say ‘I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them.’

“How beautiful,” he added. “He knows

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FGM in the US

Feb 6th, 2015 12:18 pm | By

Nina Strochlic at the Daily Beast reports that FGM numbers in the US have skyrocketed despite strong federal and state laws against it.

In 1997, the CDC estimated that 168,000 girls and women were at risk or had undergone FGM—at the time of the last national census in 1990. A few years later, in 2000, the African Women’s Center upped the number at 227,000.

But according to estimates released on Friday, there currently are around 507,000 girls living in the U.S. who are either at risk of being cut or who have already been cut. That’s more than triple the figure from the very first nationwide count.

These are estimates, not counts.

This fresh data comes from a new

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We’ve got leverage

Feb 6th, 2015 11:11 am | By

The New Statesman said something interesting in a piece on January 15th on why protesting the flogging of Raif matters.

Under recent Saudi law, anything from “calling for atheist thought” to “inciting protests” or organizing petitions is now punishable as an act of terrorism.

Despite the crackdown at home, however, Saudi Arabia is angling to present itself as a supporter of free expression abroad.

Oh is it. Is it really.

Not that we didn’t know that – what else were they doing turning up in Paris on January 11th? What else were they doing joining that protest march?

But still. Having it spelled out is clarifying. If the Staggers is right about that, then that’s how we have leverage. If … Read the rest

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Another Friday

Feb 6th, 2015 10:25 am | By

For the fourth week, the Saudis have refrained from hitting Raif Badawi with a stick 50 times.

Saudi Arabia has again delayed a planned flogging of a blogger, according to a report from Amnesty International.

The Twitter account of the organization’s press office said Raif Badawi was spared a flogging today for reasons not yet known.

Not being able to get away with it without a lot of yelling and shouting, would be one big reason. The embassies would prefer a quiet life.

Via the Austrian Greens

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Feminism is a core humanist value

Feb 5th, 2015 6:08 pm | By

Greg Epstein later did another series of tweets in order to make clear his attitude to feminism and its more acrimonious opponents.

I’ll start with this one.

Greg Epstein @gregmepstein · 4 hours ago
This Sunday, the organization I direct– the @HarvardHumanist @HumanistHub will present an award to feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian.

Ms. Sarkeesian and other online feminist leaders have been the target of an extraordinary amount of harassment by anti-feminists, MRA’s etc.

I want to address those individuals, and anyone else with questions about why we chose this awardee.

Feminism is a core Humanist value. This isn’t something I decided-it’s the consensus view over ~100 years of a “good without God” movement

Mkay? Can we stop wrangling … Read the rest

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His child is pure

Feb 5th, 2015 5:28 pm | By

Here’s a “doctor” who should be struck off.

An Arizona cardiologist told CNN in an interview that went online Monday that he doesn’t care if his refusal to vaccinate his kids gives other children grave, preventable diseases.

“I’m not going to sacrifice the well-being of my child. My child is pure,” Dr. Jack Wolfson said in the interview. “It’s not my responsibility to be protecting their child.”

Wolfson was responding to a public appeal for all parents to vaccinate their children from Arizona pediatrician Dr. Tim Sacks…

That’s the one we read about yesterday.

Wolfson dismissed his fellow doctor’s appeal to anti-vaxxers.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s very likely that her leukemia is from vaccinations in

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Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000

Feb 5th, 2015 5:16 pm | By

Mary Wisniewski at Reuters tells us there’s a measles outbreak in Chicago.

Five babies at a suburban Chicago daycare center have been diagnosed with measles, adding to a growing outbreak of the disease across the United States, Illinois health officials said on Thursday.

Officials are investigating the cluster of measles cases at KinderCare Learning Center in Palatine, said a statement from the Illinois and Cook County health departments. All the children are under 1 year old and would not have been subject to routine measles vaccination, which begins at 12 months.

Infants. With measles. Thanks, anti-vaxxers.

Public health officials have reported that more than 100 people across the United States have been infected with measles, many of them traced

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The world is watching you, Saudi Arabia

Feb 5th, 2015 4:35 pm | By

It’s Thursday again. In a few hours it will be Friday morning in Saudi-family Arabia.

From Italy, via Ensaf Haidar:

 

From Tunisia via Ensaf:

Via Ensaf’s wall – Copenhagen today:

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Baby, darling

Feb 5th, 2015 1:38 pm | By

Check out Greg Epstein on Twitter.

A couple of days ago, the crowd of anti-feminist atheists on Twitter zoomed in on him because…Anita Sarkeesian is Harvard Humanist of the Year. She will accept the award at an event next Sunday.

Well you know that can’t be allowed. So the shouting began.

Chas Stewart ‏@BirdTerrifier Feb 3
.@gregmepstein baby, darling… Why are you watering down humanism? Surely there were more deserving HotY recipients. How’s she a humanist?

Greg Epstein ‏@gregmepstein
.@BirdTerrifier Your tone is inappropriate & gives me just a tiny hint of the massive disrespect Anita addresses bravely, strongly. Blocked.

Chas Stewart ‏@BirdTerrifier Feb 3
@gregmepstein dude, inappropriate. Can’t nudge someone with a “baby, darling”? Why haven’t

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No-platform the pope

Feb 5th, 2015 12:29 pm | By

Hot news – the pope will address Congress.

Pope Francis will become the first leader of the Catholic church to address the United States Congress.

Francis will stop off in the Capitol on Sept. 24 during his week-long tour of the U.S., and speak to a joint session of Congress. House Speaker John Boehner announced the news in a Thursday morning tweet.

Why. Why will he do that. Why will the pope address Congress.

Why? Why was he invited?

Congress is the government. It’s a secular government. The pope is the head of a religious institution, and a very wicked reactionary woman-hating child-raping lawbreaking religious institution at that. Why invite him to talk to a major branch of government? … Read the rest

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Harassment is not the same as trolling

Feb 5th, 2015 11:27 am | By

The BBC reports on the Verge’s publication of Costolo’s admission that Twitter sucks at preventing harassment. That’s good, because it puts Costolo and Twitter that much more on the spot. Yes, Twitter, you suck at preventing harassment. Yes, Mr Costolo, Twitter sucks at preventing harassment.

Twitter’s chief executive Dick Costolo has admitted that the company “sucks” when it comes to dealing with abuse and trolling on the service.

In a memo to staff, leaked to tech news website the Verge, he said that bullying behaviour on the network was driving users away.

He promised tougher action to deal with abusers.

A series of high-profile users have quit Twitter in recent months, citing online abuse.

And you know what else? … Read the rest

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Dogma v rights

Feb 5th, 2015 10:46 am | By

Jamila has an autobiographical or miniature memoir-type post which is a must-read.

My mother was a Baptist who converted to Catholicism about the time it came to enroll me in school and to get a parish discount.  I do believe her devotion, but the timing leads me to think that her god’s got wonderful timing.  Except for a 6-8th grade reprieve, ALL of my education up until my final semester in college was at the hands of Catholic schoolteachers. And true to form, they taught me how to question and dissect everything.

I actually did consider myself to be an adherent Catholic… though it never did make sense to me.  I put forth a good face.

The face started to

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Light dawns

Feb 5th, 2015 9:28 am | By

Twitter CEO to employees: “We suck at dealing with abuse.”

Why yes, yes you do. What was your first clue?

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is taking personal responsibility for his platform’s chronic problems with harassment and abuse, telling employees that he is embarrassed for the company’s failures and would soon be taking stronger action to eliminate trolls. He said problems with trolls are driving away the company’s users. “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” Costolo wrote in an internal memo obtained by The Verge. “It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by

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Humanist of the year

Feb 4th, 2015 5:32 pm | By

Oh, gawd. It just never stops.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

Jeffrey Epstein, a financier who served jail time for procuring an underage girl for prostitution, currently finds himself the focus of lawsuits saying that he arranged for various prominent people to have sex with underage girls. An article by Reuters notes that Epstein has also donated to many colleges and backed the work of various professors. Some researchers and charity officials said that they would not accept any more money from Epstein. But others defended him. “His interest is in interesting people and interesting ideas,” Lawrence Krauss, an Arizona State University physicist, told Reuters. Krauss directs a program on the origins of life — a program that Epstein has

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