All entries by this author

All aboard for Manchester Peterloo

Sep 3rd, 2014 6:26 pm | By

Here’s a good idea – changing the name of Manchester’s main railway station from Manchester Piccadilly to Peterloo.

Last month was the anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre. This peaceful rally on 16 August 1819 radically transformed British politics and marked the beginning of the long march to universal suffrage.

To mark the occasion this year, actor Maxine Peake read out the names of the 15 people who lost their lives in the tragedy. But for the 200th anniversary, in 2019, we want that important day to be given the commemoration it deserves.

We want it to be remembered by having the word Peterloo on the lips of the millions of people who ask for train tickets across a counter

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Sommers thinks she is liberal-minded

Sep 3rd, 2014 5:55 pm | By

bspencer at Lawyers, Guns & Money points out one of Christina Hoff Sommers’s latest sneers at feminism.

Anita Sarkeesian Kickstartered a video project continuing her work on women and tropes in video games. Gamers everywhere responded with measured skepticism by threatening her with rape and death. She was even temporarily hounded from her home. But she was a feminist on the internet–she should have known what she was getting into. Christina Hoff Sommers, vile faux-feminist, approves.

Christina H. Sommers @CHSommers

I always expected other liberal-minded scholars to join me in exposing 3rd wave feminist lunacy. Never happened. But now the gamers r here.
7:21 PM – 30 Aug 2014

Yes, that’s right. Christina Hoff Sommers is backing doxxers and

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A clash of values

Sep 3rd, 2014 4:50 pm | By

A guy in Dublin wants state schools to be more accommodating to Islam, according to the Irish Times.

It goes wrong right in the first sentence.

A spokesman for the Muslim community in Ireland has called for radical change in the educational system to accommodate children with Islamic beliefs.

There is no “spokesman for the Muslim community in Ireland.” That’s not a thing. The guy wrote a book; that doesn’t make him a spokesman, and you couldn’t have “a spokesman for the Muslim community in Ireland” if you wanted to, because there’s no procedure for electing one.

But anyway…

Dr Ali Selim, of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Dublin’s Clonskeagh and a lecturer in the Mater Dei

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Found near a railway track

Sep 3rd, 2014 4:20 pm | By

More village cruelty in India.

The semi-naked body of a teenage girl who was allegedly humiliated by village elders for protesting against her father’s harassment has been found near a railway track in eastern India.

Police suspect the 15-year-old girl in West Bengal was raped and murdered.

Her family said she was made to spit on the ground and lick it up – an act considered a grave form of humiliation.

So the official punishment by humiliation was the making her spit on the ground and then lick it up, and the unofficial punishment (for having spat on the ground and licked it up?) was the suspected rape and murder. Thorough, aren’t they.

The BBC’s Amitabha Bhattasali in Calcutta

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A bacchanalia of gridiron pageantry

Sep 3rd, 2014 3:37 pm | By

American football – maybe it’s actually not the coolest sport there is? Some heretic called Steve Almond is suggesting as much.

Every Sunday (and Monday, and some Saturdays and Thursdays) for the next five months, millions of Americans – and plenty of Brits, thanks to three regular-season games in London – will feast on a bacchanalia of gridiron pageantry.

Best-selling author Steve Almond, however, won’t be watching.

The self-professed long-time American football fan writes in the Los Angeles Times that he feels guilty about watching a sport whose participants risk traumatic brain injury.

More than that, however, he says he objects to “the cynical commercialisation of the sport, its cultish celebration of violence and the more subtle ways in which

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Martin and the women

Sep 3rd, 2014 11:39 am | By

A long Guardian think-piece on Martin Amis and why he gets so much attention and why so much of it is hostile yadda yadda – kind of a dopy navel-gazing three levels of meta piece, frankly, but I skimmed down to see if it ever gets to the thing that most annoys me about Martin Amis, and it does. I wonder if you can guess what that might be…

Also there’s the old question mark over his women. When I interviewed Amis about House of Meetings I asked him about the charge levelled by some reviewers that the female protagonist Zoya was a “male fantasy figure” (the same thing could be said of Nicola in London Fields and Scheherazade in

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Not in attendance

Sep 3rd, 2014 10:27 am | By

So that’s another no-show.

A comment by Carol on He promised to do so:

I know that DJ also didn’t appear at CSICON 2011, even though he was scheduled to present there.

Yes, he was scheduled to present there. He was scheduled to present at the Houdini Seance, along with Randi and Massimo Polidoro and Ray Hyman.

DC in Detroit did a long, detailed post covering the whole conference, and she reports that he did not appear.

12pm-1.30pm: Houdini Seance
Joe Nickell
Massimo Polidoro
Ray Hyman


CFI has been doing a Houdini seance every Halloween for… well, I don’t know how long, but I’ve heard several of them on Point of Inquiry. Because of circumstances, two of

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The credibility of the young victims was questioned

Sep 2nd, 2014 4:55 pm | By

The Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Northwest (of England), Nazir Afzal, is getting some heat for doing his job.

As the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West, I led the teams that brought the so-called Rochdale Grooming Gang to justice in 2012 for abusing up to 47 girls.

My work saw me go up against not only the offenders, but those who tried to intimidate me for bringing abusers before the courts. They said I had given racists a stick with which to beat minorities – I said our communities should be carrying their own sticks.

Right-wingers went after him too.

The network of prosecutors I lead has tackled grooming and child sexual abuse in England and Wales

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Bassam Raies

Sep 2nd, 2014 4:03 pm | By

I saw an angry tweet by Razan Saffour @RazanSpeaks saying a journalist called Bassam Raies was killed by ISIS two weeks ago and there wasn’t a peep about it. So I looked for news and…it’s true, there’s not a peep about it, which means I can’t even tell if it’s true or not. There are a few mentions but they’re all identical and all from either Twitter or random sites that I don’t recognize.

Reporters Without Borders has nothing. The Committee to Protect Journalists has nothing. I think they would have anything if there were anything to have, so…I’m not sure this is a true story. But if it is, I would like to make a peep about it.… Read the rest

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Another beheading

Sep 2nd, 2014 3:46 pm | By

It’s being reported that IS has beheaded the American journalist Steven Sotloff. NBC says it’s not confirmed yet, but there seems little reason to think that IS would say it had when it hadn’t. It’s not as if its members are hesitant about being brutal bastards. The text of the story (as opposed to the video) states it as fact in any case.

The Islamic militant group ISIS cut off the head of an American journalist in a video made public Tuesday — following through on a threat it made when it beheaded another American two weeks ago and vowed to keep killing unless the United States stopped airstrikes.

The journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff, was beheaded in a video

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“We will rape your mother and make you watch”

Sep 2nd, 2014 12:17 pm | By

The New York Times reports on Rotherham.

It starts with one victim’s account of how the grooming was done – it started with teenage boys flirting and then older men taking over and closing the doors of the trap.

The rapes started gradually, once a week, then every day: by the war memorial in Clifton Park, in an alley near the bus station, in countless taxis and, once, in an apartment where she was locked naked in a room and had to service half a dozen men lined up outside.

She obliged. How could she not? They knew where she lived. “If you don’t come back, we will rape your mother and make you watch,” they would say.

She … Read the rest

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He promised to do so

Sep 2nd, 2014 11:15 am | By

Well this is one possible reason – Maria Berglund at Skepchick Sweden.

Last year D.J, who was booked as a speaker at the European Skeptics Congress in Stockholm, simply didn’t show up. The group that organized the congress were quite surprised, since he hadn’t contacted us for a cancellation. They managed, at the last minute, to throw in another speaker to take his place.

When I got in contact with him, he sounded quite surprised and claimed that he absolutely had cancelled recently. I then asked him to let us know who he had communicated with, and he promised to do so. He didn’t, however, and when I kept asking him for it he kept telling me that he

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Knowingly or unknowingly

Sep 2nd, 2014 10:32 am | By

Sanal Edamaruku posted a photo of a chilling ad from an Indian newspaper on his Facebook page, with a comment.

Freedom of thought and expression are guaranteed as fundamental rights in Indian Constitution. Promotion of critical inquiry, scientific temper and spirit of reform are fundamental duties.

Resist all attempts to take India back to medieval times. The picture given is an advertisement by Karnataka state government in a prominent Indian newspaper.

That’s a hell of a sweeping prohibition – note the “with a view to hurt religious sentiments knowingly or unknowingly.” Emphasis mine. Don’t do it on purpose and don’t do it by accident either! So the only way to be sure not to do it is … Read the rest

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Terrified of what Zimmy would do

Sep 2nd, 2014 9:41 am | By

A guest post at Left Foot Forward by “Helen” who tells a story of being groomed at age 16 by her “boyfriend” age 24.

I met Zimmy through Zamir, who I truly believed to be a “friend”, although since friends tend not to take you round to their uncle’s and offer you for sex in exchange for heroin, I can see now that he most definitely was not.

Zimmy was Zamir’s dealer and didn’t hesitate in asking me out, although like “friend”, “out” meant sitting in his Audi smoking a drug I thought was weed but that he later told me was heroin. Being such a good ‘boyfriend’, he also later introduced me to crack.

It was 1996. Looking

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Press release from JREF

Sep 1st, 2014 3:45 pm | By

Los Angeles Office Closed

In order to achieve cost-savings and greater efficiency, the Los Angeles office of the JREF has closed effective September 1, 2014. All operations have been moved to Falls Church, Virginia.

DJ Grothe is no longer with the JREF. James Randi has taken over as acting President.

This restructuring is part of an enhanced educational agenda aimed at inspiring an investigative spirit in a new generation of critical thinkers by engaging children and their parents, as well as educators and the general public, in how to think about the many extraordinary claims we hear every day.

Contact the JREF at:
James Randi Educational Foundation
2941 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 105
Falls Church, VA 22042
JREF@Randi.Org

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The permanency of such violation is a bitter thing

Sep 1st, 2014 12:48 pm | By

Roxane Gay at Comment is Free on the misogyny underlying this trick of stealing and publishing photos of women.

What these people are doing is reminding women that, no matter who they are, they are still women. They are forever vulnerable.

The racy images of these nubile bodies are the biggest story on the internet, and every site that refuses to reprint the images has already left itself absolved while leaving a prurient trail of breadcrumbs. The permanency of such violation is a bitter thing. These leaked images are instantly widely available and they always will be. The images will be downloaded and viewed and shared. These women’s lives and their private choices will be dissected. They are

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Mother of three

Sep 1st, 2014 12:40 pm | By

Hadley Freeman in the Guardian on the fun new trend of stealing photos of women to publish on the internet.

I think we know that the biggest fashion trend, really, for women – now and always – is no clothes at all: it’s having stolen naked photos of yourself leaked all over the internet. It’s like the story of the emperor’s new clothes all over again, if the emperor was harassed by sex pests and thieves and humiliated on an international level.

How strange it is to be a woman, in a world where everyone seems to be obsessed with what you do with your vagina: who are you letting into it, what children are you expelling from it,

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Advice

Sep 1st, 2014 12:11 pm | By

The Mirror has an appropriately angry piece about how women can avoid what happened to Jennifer Lawrence. (It’s by someone who goes by “Fleet Street Fox”…)

A total of 101 female celebrities are thought to have been targeted by someone who hacked the Apple photo storage service iCloud and published them in return for money.

In an extra layer of creepy weirdness, actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead said the photos taken with her husband years earlier had been deleted – so iCloud had kept a copy, and the hacker had to hunt for it.

There are no leaked photos of naked male celebrities.

It’s more fun to do it to people who won’t enjoy it, FSF says.

So here’s … Read the rest

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Ukpabio sues BHA and WHRIN

Sep 1st, 2014 8:18 am | By

Helen Ukpabio is suing the British Humanist Association and the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network for £500,000,000.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) and Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN) are being sued by the wealthy evangelical preacher and ‘witch hunter’ Helen Ukpabio who has dubbed herself a ‘Lady Apostle’. Mrs Ukpabio claims to have expertise in identifying children and adults who are possessed with witchcraft spirits and in how they can be ‘delivered’ from those spirits. Her lawyers have informed the BHA and WHRIN that she is launching a legal case against them due to their criticism of her teachings and methods.

Claiming to be a former witch herself, the Nigerian founder of the Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries

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Harm rising to the level of persecution

Aug 31st, 2014 6:15 pm | By

Well this is huge.

In a ruling that advocates described as a historic victory for Central American refugees, a federal immigration board said Tuesday that a married woman fleeing domestic violence in Guatemala, where authorities could not or would not protect her, can seek political asylum in the United States.

A woman who has been brutally beaten by her husband, who tried to prevent her from leaving, has suffered “harm rising to the level of persecution,” said the Board of Immigration Appeals, which oversees the Justice Department‘s immigration courts.

Observing that Guatemala “has a culture of machismo and family violence,” the board said a married woman there who flees an abusive relationship can be considered a member of

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