All entries by this author

When the cane strikes

Jan 29th, 2015 10:24 am | By

A report commissioned by Amnesty International says – entirely unsurprisingly – that further lashes to Raif Badawi would cause permanent damage. Ludovica Iaccino gives the details.

Now, a medical expert from from the charity Freedom from Torture has warned in a report commissioned by Amnesty International that more lashes are likely to cause permanent damage.

Dr Juliet Cohen, head of doctors at Freedom from Torture, explained: “When the cane strikes, the blood is forced from the tissues beneath… Damage to the small blood vessels and individual cells causes leakage of blood and tissue fluid into the skin and underlying tissue, increasing the tension in these areas.

“The more blows are inflicted on top of one another, the more chance

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She is a ghost buster

Jan 29th, 2015 10:00 am | By

So let’s ask an actual female ghostbuster, shall we? Is it totally weird and off the wall to remake Ghostbusters with women in the eponymous roles? Is it weird the way it would be weird to remake Lone Star with frogs playing all the parts?

Ask her. Ask Hayley Stevens. Or don’t bother to ask her, because the answer is already there on her blog.

Throughout the history of paranormal research women have often been the leading figures despite being under-represented at every step of the way.

Eleanor Sidgwick was a leading figure in the Society for Psychical Research – easily the most established organisation dedicated to paranormal research in the country, if not the globe. Sidgwick was

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Stop making it about you!

Jan 28th, 2015 5:54 pm | By

Hmm.

It’s about their childhoods??

How? Is the remake of Ghostbusters (with – shudder – women playing the parts formerly played by men oh god I’m frightened) going to cause the original to disappear? Every single copy, including pirated copies, just poof gone like that?

No. So how can it be about anyone’s childhood?

Nobody’s going to arrest all the men and force them to watch the new pussy-based Ghostbusters. Nobody. They can all just ignore it. They can laugh and jeer and call it a chickflick, or Cunthunters, or whatever they want to call it. They can go on remembering the Ghostbusters of their childhoods, the manly man one, the one without all the bitches.

There there. It’s all … Read the rest

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One offending page

Jan 28th, 2015 4:49 pm | By

Turkish authorities want Facebook to block pages that insult Mohammed. If it doesn’t, Turkey will take its toys and go home.

A court has threatened to cut off Facebook across Turkey if the US tech giant does not block a number of pages which it believes insult the Prophet Mohamed.

The ruling passed on Sunday was followed by a request by a prosecutor, state broadcaster TRT reported.

By Monday, Facebook had blocked one offending page in response to a valid legal request from Turkish authorities, a source told Reuters.

The court order is the latest move to crack down on material seen as offending religious sensibilities in the secular but majority Muslim nation.

Religious sensibilities could always consider growing … Read the rest

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Maybe they were there for the shopping

Jan 28th, 2015 4:12 pm | By

On the one hand there are the censors in the University of Manchester Student Union, and on the other hand there are seven scholars of religion who have offered to take 100 lashes apiece in Raif’s place.

[T]hat is the proposal which seven members of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom have made to the government of Saudi Arabia, in the hope that Raif Badawi, a young Saudi blogger who has already endured 50 strokes, will be spared further suffering.

The signatories wrote in their personal capacities to the Saudi ambassador in Washington, DC, about a case which has focused attention on the uniquely harsh way in which the kingdom deals with religious and philosophical dissent. In

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It’s the pineapple all over again

Jan 28th, 2015 3:30 pm | By

Via the University of Manchester Free Speech and Secular Society on Twitter – here we go again.

Their flier

There they are -

Mais non – interdit -

Students Union told us not to display the Charlie Hebdo paper at refreshers fair at Uni of Manchester

Contemptible.… Read the rest

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What next, grilling?

Jan 28th, 2015 10:57 am | By

Wow. This is one I couldn’t have imagined if I’d tried for a week. (That’s a silly hypothetical really, because I get bored with trying after about ten seconds so I stop. But if I had tried…) Gwyneth Paltrow says women and others in possession of a uterus should steam their innards. Yes steam them. Squat over some steam and let it scour out the uterus. Jen Gunter has the story.

On today’s episode of ask the experts we pit the gynecologic advice of Gwyneth Paltrow, a consciously uncoupled actress and self-professed lifestyle expert who dabbles in vaginal health, against that of yours truly, a board certified OB/GYN who has completed a 5 year OB/GYN residency and a fellowship

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Common goals

Jan 28th, 2015 10:07 am | By

Does the Obama administration give a shit about Raif Badawi? No. It gives a shit about “stability” in the region.

That’s stability of torture, obliteration of women, and zero freedom of inquiry and expression.

Today as in years past, Americans value their ties with Saudi leaders, working closely with them on counterterrorism and intelligence issues.

Not everything is perfect, though.

The Saudis wish US officials would push harder for Syria President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster, for instance. But overall, the US and Saudi Arabia have a shared history – and common goals.

What common goals? I don’t have any common goals with Saudi Arabia.

For these reasons Mr Obama and his advisors appear to have downplayed the issue of human

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Meet at the Curzon Street entrance

Jan 28th, 2015 9:54 am | By

English PEN reminds us that it’s holding a vigil for Raif every Friday.

According to an update issued by our colleagues at Amnesty International (26 January):

‘Although Raif Badawi’s scheduled public flogging on Friday 23 January was not carried out, the prison doctor who examined Raif Badawi that morning argued he was fit to be flogged. This is in direct contradiction to the recommendation of a medical committee only two days earlier. He continues to be at risk of receiving the remaining 950 lashes.’

English PEN is in regular contact with Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who remains gravely concerned for his well-being. She is extremely grateful for PEN’s ongoing support and has urged us to keep fighting.

What … Read the rest

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What to admire

Jan 28th, 2015 9:13 am | By

The BBC says people in Saudi-family Arabia mostly don’t care about Michelle Obama’s daring to appear in public without her head bandaged.

Although some foreign media reported a big social media controversy, an Arabic hashtag that translates as “Michelle Obama with no headscarf” or “Michelle Obama immodesty” was in fact tweeted about 2,500 times – not a small number, but not overwhelming in a country with a relatively high Twitter following.

And significantly, this “backlash” was dwarfed by another tag related to the US President’s visit to the kingdom. “King Salman leaves Obama to pray” attracted more than 170,000 messages. Saudis used this slogan to show their warm admiration for new King Salman leaving during the Obamas’ visit to pray,

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Insult the monotheisms

Jan 27th, 2015 5:23 pm | By

Meanwhile, in Egypt

An Egyptian court has sentenced a student to three years in jail for announcing on Facebook that he is an atheist and for insulting Islam, his lawyer said Sunday.

Karim al-Banna, a 21-year-old whose own father testified against him, was jailed by a court in the Nile Delta province of Baheira on Saturday, lawyer Ahmed Abdel Nabi told AFP.

I’m going to have to start doing more of this “insulting Islam” thing, to make up for the people who aren’t allowed to.

Abdel Nabi said his client’s father had testified against his son, charging that he “was embracing extremist ideas against Islam”.

Banna’s name had appeared in a list of known atheists in a local daily

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On the job training

Jan 27th, 2015 5:19 pm | By

King Salman is kicking off his new job with allowing a beheading to proceed.

Well, to be fair, I don’t know of Obama’s intervening in any executions either.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud has already overseen his first beheading just days after succeeding his brother, ignoring widespread claims that the case against the man was weak.

The controversial killing of Moussa al-Zahrani came shortly before President Barack Obama arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday to pay respects to the late King Abdullah.

Al-Zahrani, a teacher, was executed in the city of Jeddah. He had been convicted of sexually assaulting underage girls in a string of attacks in 2011. Al-Zahrani had maintained his innocence throughout two appeals and

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Blasphemous hair

Jan 27th, 2015 4:28 pm | By

Barack Obama didn’t say anything about Raif Badawi on his visit to Saud-family Arabia, but Michelle Obama gave them a slight poke in the eye by not wearing a bag over her head.

In Saudi Arabia, that’s unusual: The country is one of the few on Earth where women are expected to cover their heads, and most Saudi women wear niqabs.

Exceptions are made for foreigners, however, and Michelle – who did wear loose clothing that fully covered her arms – appears to have been one of them. In photographs from the official events, other foreign female guests are also shown not wearing headscarves.

More than 1,500 tweets using the hashtag #ميشيل_أوباما_سفور (roughly, #Michelle_Obama_immodesty) were sent Tuesday, many of

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Guest post: Oh, no one complained so far

Jan 27th, 2015 3:51 pm | By

Originally a comment by Ben Finney on Repainting the break room.

If you accept that there weren’t any complaints – and you explicitly do – what is there to excuse?

This is the same defense used by people who act completely surprised when yet another courtroom is found to have exclusive Christian symbolism in it. Oh, no one complained so far, so why would you expect anyone to have done anything about it?!

It’s bullshit for the same reason: The fact that such depictions express the attitude that some people are deserving of unequal treatment by the institution.

No complaint is needed for the institution’s management to know that this depiction expresses that attitude to anyone who comes in. … Read the rest

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Guest post: Now that men are facing the same kinds of hard choices

Jan 27th, 2015 2:44 pm | By

Originally a comment by Jennifer Phillips on That’s why you have a wife.

Although some encouraging changes (or at least awarenesses, which are necessary precursors to changes) seem to be afoot, this is sadly just ‘the way things are’ in STEM fields. I had both of my kids in graduate school, and I was a freakish anomaly for doing so. Part of it was my unusual financial stability–I was lucky enough to have a gainfully employed partner to supplement my meager grad student stipend–but part of it was that it’s just not done. My first pregnancy was seen by at least some members of my department (and I know this because they openly told me so) as a … Read the rest

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Unlikely

Jan 27th, 2015 1:00 pm | By

Update: the Beeb updated this into the past tense, confirming that he did not mention Raif to his nice new friend King Salman.

The two leaders also discussed the security situation in Yemen as well as stability in the global oil market.

Mr Obama stressed the importance of human rights, US officials added, but did not raise the case of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

The Beeb reports on Obama’s plans for his trip to Riyadh.

US President Barack Obama is heading a large, bipartisan US delegation travelling to Saudi Arabia following the death of King Abdullah.

Large and bipartisan because Saud-family Arabia is such an important “ally,” I suppose.

He is being accompanied by prominent Republican officials, including

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Free Waleed, Free Raif

Jan 27th, 2015 10:58 am | By

King’s College Cambridge, if I’m not mistaken.

Public Facebook post.… Read the rest

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The doctor wanted to approve the flogging

Jan 27th, 2015 10:51 am | By

Terrible news via a public Facebook post by Ensaf Haider.

Important-Urgent: We received information that last Friday ‪#‎RaifBadawi‬ was subjected to a third medical examination to see if he was fit for a second session of lashing!

This surprising/unsettling examination came despite the conclusion of a previous medical check that was done two days earlier which recommended the stopping of any future flogging. #RaifBadawi

Strangely, the doctor conducting the examination wanted to sign the paper and approve the flogging, but due to discussions that took place and the previous medical report, he finally agreed to postpone the flogging for a further medical examination!

As a result, the intentions of the Saudi authorities are not clear and there is a possibility

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To help the nation

Jan 27th, 2015 10:37 am | By

Mike Huckabee wants to set us all straight about where laws come from. They don’t come from Hoboken. They don’t come from Walmart. They don’t come from Microsoft nor yet from Apple. They come from god, gee oh dee god.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said during an appearance Thursday on a Christian television show that he’s thinking about running for President to help the nation know where laws come from: God.

“We cannot survive as a republic if we do not become, once again, a God-centered nation that understands that our laws do not come from man, they come from God,” he said on the show “Life Today.”

Izzat right?

Then what went so wrong during … Read the rest

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That’s why you have a wife

Jan 27th, 2015 10:17 am | By

To the surprise of no one, it turns out that men who have “traditional” marriages, in which their wives take on all the domestic duties, have more time to devote to their jobs and thus rise higher up the ladder than men who share the domestic duties. Is this true also in STEM fields? Why yes, yes it is. The Washington Post explained last September.

For years, people have been puzzling over why there are so few women in science, technology, engineering and math, and why the university professors who teach the subjects are predominantly men. Is it genetics? Preference? Caregiving responsibilities? An unwelcoming environment?

Turns out, according to a new study released Thursday on men in academic

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