All entries by this author

Urge the ambassador

Jan 30th, 2015 9:33 am | By

Another action we can take, via Amnesty – send an email to Simon Collis, the new UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia, asking him to

  • Prioritise Raif’s case in all meetings with the Saudi Arabian authorities
  • Meet with the Minister responsible in the Saudi Arabian government and ask permission to visit Raif in prison.

That will be a pain in the neck for the new ambassador, so he will want the Saudis to free Raif and let him leave the country immediately.… Read the rest

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



Uh oh, there’s no exit door in this corner

Jan 30th, 2015 8:59 am | By

A thought has occurred to me about Saud-family Arabia and the torture of Raif Badawi.

They’re boxing themselves in. By repeatedly postponing the torture, they’re admitting that they can’t do it without causing permanent damage. They have no qualms about doing that, of course, but they know they’re under a spotlight, and it must be getting quite warm there.

Hello Era of Social Media.

They’re stuck. This isn’t going away, and in fact it’s doing the opposite – it’s both growing and intensifying. They clearly don’t feel happy about just going ahead and flogging Raif again anyway…but nor do they feel happy about letting the horrible infidels and apostates win.

They should have thought of that sooner.… Read the rest

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Not this week

Jan 30th, 2015 8:10 am | By

The lashes were postponed again, with no reason given.

I wonder if they’re getting anxious about the rapidly spreading global odium.

I certainly hope so.

Raif should be in Sherbrooke with Ensaf and their three children.… Read the rest

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Airwaves

Jan 29th, 2015 5:49 pm | By

I did a podcast a couple of days ago, talking about Does God Hate Women? It’s AtheistAirwaves, out of Corpus Christi, Texas.

The first 36 seconds is Susan Turpin (one of the four presenters) reading part of the angry summation at the end of the book. I enjoyed listening to that – it’s quite cool listening to someone read aloud words that you wrote. She did it with just the kind of biting emphasis I wrote it with.

I see PZ was on it a few months ago.… Read the rest

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A protest in Vienna

Jan 29th, 2015 5:06 pm | By

Via Facebook.

 … Read the rest

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In Ottawa

Jan 29th, 2015 4:50 pm | By

Today a bunch of people from Sherbrooke accompanied Ensaf Haidar to Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Pierre-Luc Dusseault shared photos.

That’s Ensaf on the left edge.

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A panel of experts

Jan 29th, 2015 12:51 pm | By

Sam Harris talks to Michael Shermer about morality, or meta-morality. They’re both experts in the subject, so the combination must be super-expert.

Shermer: The criterion I use—inspired by your starting point in The Moral Landscape of “the well-being of conscious creatures”—is “the survival and flourishing of sentient beings.”

He says that as if the idea originated with Sam Harris. It didn’t.

Today we no longer accept the witch theory of causality because science debunked it. In its stead science created natural and more accurate explanations for such phenomena as weather and diseases. Science has also debunked other superstitious beliefs, such as demon possession; the need for animal and human sacrifice to appease God; that Jews caused the Black Death;

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The content is vetted

Jan 29th, 2015 12:13 pm | By

Heina is disappointed with the Sunday Assembly Los Angeles.

When I was invited to be the main speaker for the first-ever Sunday Assembly Los Angeles, I felt very optimistic. The people with whom I worked were so incredibly helpful, I got to cover an awesome topic that gave me an excuse to further educate myself, and the event went swimmingly. The press coverage wasn’t bad, either. I later spoke at the first Sunday Assembly Orange County as well.

As rarely happens, I had hope about something. But, as always happens when I do have them, those hopes were dashed. I have recently found out that this April, Sunday Assembly Los Angeles is hosting Michael Shermer. His talk is promoting

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Well aware of expectations

Jan 29th, 2015 11:10 am | By

Sophy Ridge at the Telegraph says what I more or less assumed – that Michelle Obama’s non-compliance with the Saud family dress code was an intentional snub. I more or less assumed that simply because there’s not really any way it could be just neutral, given what everyone knows about “the kingdom” and how many people are available to tell her all about it.

Make no mistake: this was a deliberate decision by the First Lady.

She and her advisers will have been well aware of expectations in the ultraconservative Saudi Arabia. They will have known her outfit choice would attract attention away from the role of her husband, Barack Obama, who cut short a trip to India in

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It has a hard time accepting that women can compete in sports

Jan 29th, 2015 10:51 am | By

Saudi Arabia wants to host a men-only Olympics. What a fun idea.

Saudi Arabia has proposed holding a gender-segregated Olympic Games.

In comments made by Prince Fahad bin Jalawi al-Saud – a consultant to the Saudi Olympic Committee –it was suggested the country could bid jointly with Bahrain, which could host the women’s events.

“Our society can be very conservative. It has a hard time accepting that women can compete in sports,” the Prince told French website Francs Jeux.

“Wearing sports clothing in public is not really allowed. For these cultural reasons, it is difficult to bid for certain big international events.”

Right – and that’s as it should be. It should, in fact, be 100% impossible for Saudi … Read the rest

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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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