All entries by this author

1,500 Yazidi and Christian persons may have been forced into sexual slavery

Aug 15th, 2014 5:33 pm | By

Two UN officials have condemned the avalanche of sexual violence that IS is perpetrating on Iraqi minorities.

13 August 2014 – Two senior United Nations officials today condemned in the strongest terms the “barbaric acts” of sexual violence and “savage rapes” the armed group Islamic State (IS) has perpetrated on minorities in areas under its control.

In a joint statement from Baghdad, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence (SRSG) in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov urged the immediate protection of civilians.

“We are gravely concerned by continued reports of acts of violence, including sexual violence against women and teenage girls and boys belonging to Iraqi minorities,” Ms.

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



If you think this is new…you’re wrong

Aug 15th, 2014 4:32 pm | By

I got permission to quote a brilliantly shrewd Facebook comment on a long thread on Martin Wagner’s wall that was full of guys explaining at great length what’s wrong with feminism today. You already know what they said, because you’ve seen it many times before.

Here is that comment, by Justin Connelly:

1907: “Feminism? Bunch of men-hating women that don’t know their place. They don’t want equality, they want to be men”

1930s: “Feminism?! Pft. Ugly lesbians that just want to do men’s work if you ask me”

1960s: “Feminism? Bunch of ugly, man hating, bra burning hippies. Who needs it”

1990s: “Feminism? Radical man-hating liberal PC Police. Nothing more”

Today: “I just hate how feminism has been hijacked by

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The right to pick and choose

Aug 15th, 2014 3:18 pm | By

It’s not just Kenya that has nasty new legislation in the pipeline; we do too. (Well of course we do. Congress is full of terrible people.)

…a newly proposed bill from two GOP Senators would allow faith-based adoption agencies opposed to marriage equality to deny service to gay and lesbian couples.

The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014 was introduced last week by Republican Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Representative Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania because, apparently “some people in positions of power are essentially discriminating against people of faith.”

By “discriminating against” of course they mean “expecting to follow the law like everyone else.” But this is Hobby Lobby America, where the whole point is that People … Read the rest

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The archbishop is fussed

Aug 15th, 2014 1:54 pm | By

A Catholic archbishop in Oklahoma City, with the church’s usual unerring nose for what’s important, is all in a lather about the blasphemous misuse of a thin biscuit for something called a “black mass.” Dude…it’s just a thin biscuit. None of the magic makes it anything else, neither your magic nor the satanists’.

The purported use of a consecrated Host at a planned satanic black mass at an Oklahoma City civic center would be a “terrible sacrilege” that requires a prayerful response, the local archbishop emphasized.

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City in an Aug. 4 message lamented that the city-run Civic Center Music Hall was selling tickets for the event “as if it were merely some sort of dark

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The cherished culture

Aug 15th, 2014 11:20 am | By

Pink News reports that a new bill to allow gays to be stoned to death is under discussion in Kenya.

A new Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been submitted by the Republican Liberty Party in the National Assembly.

It would introduce harsh punishments for homosexuality, with life imprisonment or the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’.

The bill’s author, Edward Onwong’a Nyakeriga, said: “The petition aims at providing a comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect the cherished culture of the people of Kenya, legal, religious and traditional family values against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Kenya.”

Damn I wish people would stop thinking it’s a cherished part of their … Read the rest

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We are not talking about isolated acts committed by a few priests

Aug 15th, 2014 10:33 am | By

A Catholic religious order in Quebec has approved settling a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of abuse victims at a school it ran. It’s a large settlement. Very large.

It’s twenty million dollars.

“This is a landmark case,” said Robert Kugler, a Montreal lawyer who represents the victims. “This is the highest amount that has ever been paid by a religious congregation in Quebec to settle a class action dealing with sexual abuse.”

The suit was launched by former student Frank Tremblay against the school, the Redemptorist order, and priest Raymond-Marie Lavoie. Mr. Tremblay recounted that as a 13-year-old student, he sought out Mr. Lavoie after feeling anxious and unable to sleep one night; he ended up being assaulted

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Look, a neck

Aug 15th, 2014 8:22 am | By

Kaveh takes a look at the semiotics of Iran’s media coverage (or lack of coverage) of Maryam Mirzakhani’s winning of the Fields medal.

It’s all about the hijab.

The government paper uses a photo of her from when she was trapped in Iran and had to wear it.

Other papers retouch the photo so that the hijab disappears.

Rouhani used two photos, the one with hijab and another without.

Signs, signs, signs.… Read the rest

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Amnesty sends a delegation to Ferguson

Aug 14th, 2014 6:36 pm | By

Amnesty International is sending a human rights delegation to Ferguson.

(FERGUSON, MO) – Today, Amnesty International USA announced that it has sent human rights delegation to Ferguson, MO to observe police and protester activity, gather testimony, seek meetings with officials and offer support to the community. The 12-person delegation also includes organizers who will train local activists on methods of non-violent protest.

“Law enforcement, from the FBI to state and local police, are obligated to respect and uphold the human rights of our communities. The U.S. cannot continue to allow those obligated and duty-bound to protect to become those who their community fears most,” said Amnesty International USA’s executive director, Steven W. Hawkins.

“Our delegation will remain in

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Oh no, not formidable women

Aug 14th, 2014 6:26 pm | By

Andrew Brown has an annoying piece about the Global Humanist Conference that wastes most of its space ruminating about how close the resemblance is between humanism and religion haw haw geddit no god but it’s still like a religion yawn.

The World Humanist Conference in Oxford at the weekend struck me as a completely religious gathering, even though it is predicated on atheism. If it hadn’t been for the words of the sermons, we might have been at any Protestant missionary society.

Part of this was the architecture. The old parts of Oxford University date from the time when there was no clear distinction between religion and society, and most of them now have a faintly sacerdotal air. Part

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World Taslima

Aug 14th, 2014 5:42 pm | By

Catching up with Taslima’s adventures via Twitter.

Her talk at the Global Humanist Conference, which was the last talk of the event:

Via Humanisterna

A standing ovation for that talk:

Taslima tweeted

World Humanist Congress honored me by standing ovation. I was so moved.

Taslima again:

After my speech Professor Richard Dawkins embraced me. It was a great honor for me.

There’s a picture with wonderful Gulalai Ismail:

And now she’s in Stockholm. Lots more photos on her Twitter.… Read the rest

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“I just wanted to know if I was going to be gassed again”

Aug 14th, 2014 1:55 pm | By

Missouri state Senator asks the Ferguson cops if they’re going to gas her again. She just wants to know, like.

Missouri state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal confronted Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson during a press conference Wednesday, asking why she was tear-gassed during a nonviolent protest.

Chappelle-Nadal, a Democrat, said she had been tear-gassed while peacefully protesting the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager shot to death by a police officer on Saturday.

“I just wanted to know if I was going to be gassed again, like I was on Monday night,” Chappelle-Nadal asked. “We couldn’t get out, and we were peacefully sitting. I Just wanted to know if I’m going to be gassed again?”

Jackson said he hoped … Read the rest

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The Ferguson police chief does a reporter a favor

Aug 14th, 2014 1:11 pm | By

Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery reports on his own arrest in Ferguson.

Reporters were using a MacDonald’s a few blocks from where Michael Brown was shot as a staging area, because it has WiFi and outlets. Lowery was there charging his phone and responding to people on Twitter yesterday when the cops came in. They told Lowery and another reporter to leave. Lowery started recording video on his phone.

An officer with a large weapon came up to me and said, “Stop recording.”

I said, “Officer, do I not have the right to record you?”

He backed off but told me to hurry up. So I gathered my notebook and pens with one hand while recording him with the

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Here, have a few spare grenade launchers

Aug 14th, 2014 12:45 pm | By

Have you been wondering how it is that Ferguson, Missouri can send such heavily-armed cops into the streets to terrorize the citizens?

It’s thanks to the nauseatingly-named Department of Homeland Security. Alec MacGillis at The New Republic* explains.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the American taxpayer has been providing the funding for an eye-popping influx of money from the Department of Homeland Security to state and local law enforcement agencies.

The funding is all in the name of preventing “terrorism,” but funds are fungible, and so are heavily-armored vehicles and high-powered weaponry. As the Missouri Department of Homeland Security explains on its own website advertising one of the federal DHS grants it distributes to local agencies: “Activities implemented under

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Providing those dresses would break God’s law

Aug 14th, 2014 11:36 am | By

You know how the more theocratic of religious types expect to be able to impose their views on everyone else without the converse happening to them? Simon Brown at AU knows how.

W.W. Bridal Boutique in Bloomsburg, Pa, and the Inne of the Abingtons – they tried to class it up with an extra “e” – in North Abington, Pa., each recently refused to offer their services to same-sex couples.

Victoria Miller, who co-owns W.W. Bridal, cited her religious beliefs to justify this discrimination.

“We feel we have to answer to God for what we do, and providing those two girls dresses for a sanctified marriage would break God’s law,” she said.

Ok I just have to stop and interrupt … Read the rest

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In Edinburgh this evening

Aug 14th, 2014 10:38 am | By

In case you’re in or near Edinburgh and (unlikely) don’t already know, PZ is doing a talk for the Edinburgh skeptics in about an hour and a half.

Thursday 14 August 2014, 7:50 pm – 8:50 pm
At: Banshee Labyrinth, 29-35 Niddry Street

What’s it about? Creationism and the rural US, aka the Bible Belt.

The rural United States is a strange place to live, with a citizenry absolutely convinced of their divine favor and destiny, yet still insisting that the silliest ideas must be respected. I’ll be discussing some of the more memorable encounters with creationists, and how I think we must deal with this problem.

Prediction: it’s not by Teaching the Controversy.

 … Read the rest

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And the Fields medal goes to

Aug 14th, 2014 10:25 am | By

An Iranian mathematician working in the US has won the Fields medal. And the kicker? She’s a woman. Professor  Maryam Mirzakhani was recognized for her work on complex geometry.

In becoming the very first female medallist, Prof Mirzakhani – who teaches at Stanford University in California – ends what has been a long wait for the mathematics community.

Prof Dame Frances Kirwan, a member of the medal selection committee from the University of Oxford, pointed out that despite maths being viewed traditionally as “a male preserve”, women have contributed to mathematics for centuries.

She noted that around 40% of maths undergraduates in the UK are women, but that proportion declines rapidly at PhD level and beyond.

“I hope that

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An asset to atheism and a supporter of brave infidels

Aug 13th, 2014 6:01 pm | By

Now here’s the Richard Dawkins I consider a major asset to the atheist movement and to other atheists. It’s the Dawkins who has been giving support to Maryam Namazie for years, and continues to do so.

The sound is terrible, but there are titles. Note what Richard does and says at the end.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgMaaL9UgoURead the rest

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Women don’t matter

Aug 13th, 2014 4:34 pm | By

One might have thought the abortion situation would improve after the tragic, pointless, cruel death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012, but apparently any change at all is going to be tiny, slow, and resisted every step of the way.

The Guardian got its hands on a copy of new guidelines issued to Irish doctors. The guidelines stink.

Pregnant women in Ireland could be blocked from having an abortion even if they are at risk of suicide after conceiving as a result of rape or incest, under new guidelines issued to Irish doctors.

Experts warned that the Guidance Document for Health Professionals, which has yet to be made public but has been obtained by the Guardian, will give power to

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Taking the empty back roads over the moors

Aug 13th, 2014 4:11 pm | By

Here’s an amusing blog post about PZ’s talk in Hebden Bridge yesterday.

A few days ago I saw that Paul Zachary “PZ” Myers associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota MorrisPharyngula blogger, and sworn enemy of creationist nut-jobbery in all its forms was coming to speak in Hebden.

But he was snowed under and forgot, until he saw a tweet of PZ’s mentioning it was starting in 30 minutes.

Hebden Bridge is about 30 minutes away by car from my house. I found my keys, leapt into the car, forgetting my phone, and hit the road. Taking the empty back roads over the moors I somehow managed to get to the Trades Club with two

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Manly men drop former manly man Mark Driscoll

Aug 13th, 2014 3:13 pm | By

Manly man Mark Driscoll has been dropped from a Manly Men conference because…well because they don’t like him any more. His jesus is broken.

Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll was scheduled to be a headliner at the upcoming Act Like Men conferences, a nationwide evangelical convention where men get together to talk about Christianity and manhood. Which makes sense: Everyone knows that manhood is Mark Driscoll’s favorite subject. He can’t stop talking about being a man, and how cool it is, and how difficult it is, and how awesome God thinks it is. It’s fair to say, in fact, that Mark Driscoll has men on the brain, all the time. It’s raining men in Driscoll-town!

And so this has

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