All entries by this author

Mosul library

Feb 25th, 2015 10:53 am | By

It had been thought that ISIS burned 8000 manuscripts and documents from the Mosul library. Now, the Independent reports, there’s a corrected estimate.

AL RAI’s chief international correspondent Elijah J. Magnier told The Independent that a Mosul library official believes as many as 112, 709 manuscripts and books, some of which were registered on a UNESCO rarities list, are among those lost.

Mosul Public Library’s director Ghanim al-Ta’an said Isis militants then demolished the building using explosive devices.

“People tried to prevent the terrorist group elements from burning the library, but failed,” a local source told IraqiNews.com.

Other reports indicated that Isis militants later broke into the library and constructed a huge pyre of scientific and cultural

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Underappreciated

Feb 25th, 2015 10:01 am | By

A public Facebook post by Valerie Tarico

 … Read the rest

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He has a stable of luxury cars and a Beverly Hills mansion

Feb 24th, 2015 6:10 pm | By

Uh oh – another celebrity star famous guy brought down by multiple accusations of rape.

This one’s a famous star yoga guy.

He has a stable of luxury cars and a Beverly Hills mansion. During trainings for hopeful yoga teachers, he paces a stage in a black Speedo and holds forth on life, sex and the transformative power of his brand of hot yoga.

Not to mention his black Speedo.

But a day of legal reckoning is drawing closer for the guru, Bikram Choudhury.

He is facing six civil lawsuits from women accusing him of rape or assault.The most recent was filed on Feb. 13 by a Canadian yogi, Jill Lawler, who said Mr. Choudhury raped her during

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The Geneva Summit 2

Feb 24th, 2015 5:35 pm | By

Also at the Geneva Summit today

[T]he 2015 summit’s “Women’s Rights Award” was given to Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, the creator of a Facebook page titled “My Stealthy Freedom,” which shows pictures of Iranian women without hijabs. The page now has nearly 770,000 Facebook likes.

Addressing summit attendees before the awards ceremony, Alinejad said she was forced to wear a headscarf from the time she started going to school, aged seven. She explained that, to her, a headscarf is not just a small issue and it is not “just a piece of cloth,” but a way of quietening her voice and the voices of other Iranian women.

“Every time when I was running or walking in a free country

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The Geneva Summit

Feb 24th, 2015 5:25 pm | By

Today’s news from Geneva is that Raif Badawi was given the Geneva Summit’s “Courage Award.” Sally Hayden reports at VICE:

Badawi is the 2015 recipient of the Geneva Summit’s “Courage Award” — sponsored by a coalition of 20 human rights NGOs from around the world.

Dr. Elham Manea, a spokesperson for Badawi, told VICE News that Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, is “delighted” at the news of the award, and that his children “are thrilled that their father is being recognized and also honored with such a prize from such a human rights summit. It means a lot.”

Manea talked to VICE News while on the train to Geneva, where she accepted the award on Badawi’s behalf. Haidar is

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Without fuss

Feb 24th, 2015 4:30 pm | By

They do these things better in Denmark. Jesus and Mo Author was impressed. He tweeted about it, twice.

AuthorJ&M @JandMo · 6h
So impressed with Danish press + TV. All J&M reviews + interviews incl images without fuss. Miles ahead of UK

Go Denmark!… Read the rest

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The pope tries his hand at a simile

Feb 24th, 2015 12:01 pm | By

Pope Fuzzy explains how people who mess around with the god-given nature of gender are like nuclear weapons. (Spoiler: they both wreck everything.)

The Pope has compared the threat of transgender people to nuclear weapons.

The head of the Catholic Church made the claims, that have come to light this week,  in an interview for a book last year.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, he said: “Let’s think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings.

“Let’s think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.”

And there you have it. They … Read the rest

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Kiran’s report

Feb 24th, 2015 11:23 am | By

Kiran Opal’s report on the International Conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights last October in London is now available.

A few months ago, I was privileged to participate in, and speak at, an historic conference, the two-day International Conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights held in London, UK on 11th-12th October 2014. At the conference, I got to meet and speak with some of the world’s most interesting activists who work tirelessly to promote human rights and secularism, and I presented a talk on The Human and the Kafir: How Fear of Apostasy Fuels Islamist Power.

Then Atheist Alliance International asked her to write a report on the conference, and with help … Read the rest

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Pick your enemies

Feb 24th, 2015 10:56 am | By

Lots of people seem to think Patricia Arquette basically said gay people and people of color should stop fighting for their rights and instead fight for the rights of rich white women.

I don’t think she said that.

Soraya Nadia McDonald at the Washington Post tells the story:

…while the language in Arquette’s acceptance speech may have set off some silent alarms, her follow-up comments backstage proved more incendiary to some.

Said Arquette:

“The truth is, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are at play that do affect women, and it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color

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This is not Akram’s house

Feb 24th, 2015 10:19 am | By

This won’t end well. The BBC reports that IS has grabbed up a bunch of Christians in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 90 men, women and children were seized in a series of dawn raids near the town of Tal Tamr.

Some Assyrians managed to escape and made their way east to the largely Kurdish-controlled city of Hassakeh.

The militants have reportedly taken the male captives to nearby Abdul Aziz mountain, while the women are being held in the village of Tal Shamran, where activists say most of those captured came from.

The men will be killed and the women will be enslaved. That’s the purpose of separating them.

Islamic State’s online

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Geneva today

Feb 23rd, 2015 6:24 pm | By

Caroline Fourest opened a Geneva summit on free expression today.

Hillel Neuer @HillelNeuer · 13h 13 hours ago
Courageous journalist @CarolineFourest, ex-Charlie Hebdo, opens @GenevaSummit: “No shelter anymore; ppl die in Paris”

She tweeted:

“Les démocrates doivent nous aider à défendre le droit au blasphème qui permet la démocratie.” @GenevaSummit

Democrats have to help us defend the right of blasphemy which allows democracy.

And another tweet:

Saa, l’une des élèves ayant réussi à échapper à Boko Haram raconte son évasion au @GenevaSummit

Saa, one of the students who succeeded in escaping from Boko Haram tells the story of her escape at the Geneva Summit

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“The GamerGate thing is absolutely horrible”

Feb 23rd, 2015 5:13 pm | By

The CEO and president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe says Gamergate sucks.

In an in-depth and reliably entertaining interview with Metro’s David Jenkins, Ryan labelled the online movement “absolutely horrible”.

Asked for his thoughts on the matter Ryan said: “Well, more females are playing games now than ever before. I think the GamerGate thing is absolutely horrible. I agree, I read what you wrote about it, again your language was intemperate – as befits your views on an issue…”

Referencing Jenkins’ passionate views on the hate group – which last year gave rise to a sustained campaign of abuse targeting female game developers and vocal critic Anita Sarkeesian, leading to one of the gaming industry’s most depressing periods

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Whither philosophy?

Feb 23rd, 2015 5:02 pm | By

There was a debate at the British Academy last week about whether or not philosophy is dead, apparently inspired by Stephen Hawking’s related claim that scientists rather than philosophers “have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.” (That really is a different claim. Discovery isn’t all there is, and not doing it isn’t the same as being dead.) The Times Higher tells us things about the debate.

According to Tim Crane, Knightsbridge professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, Professor Hawking himself proved that philosophy is unavoidable, since he put forward a lot of philosophical views. Unfortunately, these amounted to “bad philosophy, because he is unaware of it as a discipline and

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From Buenos Aires to Montréal

Feb 23rd, 2015 10:57 am | By

And – in front of the Saudi embassy in Argentina – via Amnistía Internacional Argentina.

And another photo from Montreal

 … Read the rest

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In Montreal

Feb 23rd, 2015 10:38 am | By

Now Ensaf has posted photos from her meeting with the mayor of Montreal.

How amazing she is. All that courage and aplomb.

 … Read the rest

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“A man should not be questioned why he hit his wife”

Feb 23rd, 2015 10:25 am | By

Universities and student unions don’t generally invite Nazis to give talks, do they? Free inquiry is good, open discussion is good, but that isn’t necessarily taken to mean that it’s good to have proponents of genocide give talks to university students, is it?

I’m wondering why Islamist preachers with fascist leanings get invited to give talks at universities.

A controversial preacher who described homosexuality as a “scourge” has been invited to speak at a London university the day before a national gay pride event takes place there.

More than 500 people have signed a petition against allowing Haitham al-Haddad to speak at the University of Westminster’s Islamic Society event on Thursday.

Dr al-Haddad has called homosexuality a “criminal act”,

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Sentenced to beheading

Feb 23rd, 2015 9:23 am | By

Life proceeds in a normal way in Saudi Arabia, as another court sentences someone to death for “abusing Islam.” Emirates 24/7 reports, complete with mandatory groveling to the prophet.

A Saudi court sentenced a local man to death after he was found guilty of insulting Islam and its Prophet (PBUH), a newspaper reported on Monday.

The unidentified man, in his 20s, was also charged with ripping a copy of the Holy Koran, filming the act and publishing it on social networks, ‘Sharq’ said.

“The court sentenced the man to beheaded after finding him guilty in those charges,” the paper said in a report from the northeastern town of Hafr Albatin.

That’s some of that “violent extremism” we hear so … Read the rest

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More every day

Feb 23rd, 2015 8:52 am | By

In Raif Badawi news today –

Ensaf Haidar is meeting with the mayor of Montreal, who according to a tweet by Breakfast Television Montreal  is expected to introduce a motion at City Council condemning the flogging of Raif.

Elham Manea tweets

We call on his majesty King Salman to free #RaifBadawi and unite him with his family – (picture of @Amnesty_Schweiz )

That’s Elham in the middle, I think.

LiberalInternational tweets

Tomorrow, LI will jointly give the @GenevaSummit Courage Award to @raifbadawi #FreeRaif #humanrights

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And if you do not like it here

Feb 22nd, 2015 5:50 pm | By

Ah the mayor of Rotterdam – what an admirable guy. A story from January 8, the day after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo.

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb appeared on television programme Nieuwsuur Wednesday night, and lashed out at Muslims living in this society despite their hatred of it. “It is incomprehensible that you can turn against freedom,” he said. “But if you do not like freedom, in Heaven’s name pack your bag and leave.”

“There may be a place in the world where you can be yourself,” he continued. “Be honest with yourself and do not go and kill innocent journalists,” Aboutaleb, a Muslim himself, said.

“And if you do not like it here because humorists you do not

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Playing house with beheaders

Feb 22nd, 2015 5:36 pm | By

The Beeb has more details on the three addled teenage girls who ran off to be with IS, and how much fun they can expect to have there.

Dr Erin Saltman, from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which offers independent expertise in counter-terrorism, said IS propaganda targets young women specifically with the promise of being part of a humanitarian movement.

She said: “They are the wives and mothers of the future jihadists so quite a lot of dedication and time has been put into trying to allure these younger women to come and join in these efforts.

“They are very much restricted to the house and home for the most part. There is strict sharia law in the region.”

Imprisoned … Read the rest

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