All entries by this author

The antisemitism problem that is growing in the party

Apr 27th, 2016 4:00 pm | By

Naz Shah has been suspended by the Labour party pending an investigation. Earlier today Corbyn said he had accepted her apology, but it turned out that his acceptance wasn’t the only issue.

But later in the day, Labour announced that the Bradford West MP had been suspended, “by mutual agreement,” while claims against her were investigated by the compliance committee of Labour’s national executive committee.

The allegations centre around a 2014 Facebook post, in which Shah shared a graphic of Israel’s outline superimposed on a map of the US under the headline “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States”, with the comment: “Problem solved.”

And Buzzfeed said its article about the party’s drastic editing of Shah’s apology … Read the rest

Party discipline

Apr 27th, 2016 11:03 am | By

The Labour Party doesn’t want Naz Shah to go overboard in apologizing, according to BuzzFeed.

Labour MP Naz Shah’s apology was edited by the party’s HQ to remove all mentions of the term “anti-Semitic”, along with references to wider problems of anti-Semitism in left-wing politics, after it was submitted for approval, BuzzFeed News has learned.

On Wednesday, Shah released a statement billed as a “full apology” to Jewish News.

But BuzzFeed News has seen the draft of the statement written by Shah’s team and sent to the party for approval, in which she went much further than the version that eventually was released.

For instance, the original draft included this admission by Shah: “I helped promote anti-Semitic

Read the rest

Russian Girl 500

Apr 27th, 2016 10:32 am | By

Jonah Mix on Facebook:

A sign outside a Hong Kong brothel, advertising (likely trafficked) women to white male travelers on a race-based pay scale, with indigenous women at the bottom and white women at the top.

Prostitution is an industry based on colonialism, white supremacy, and male violence.

China Girl 250

Hong Kong Girl 250

Malay Girl 180

Philippine Girl 200

Russian Girl 500

No further comment needed, I think.… Read the rest


Apr 26th, 2016 4:01 pm | By

The New Statesman has disappointing news:

Naz Shah resigns from Labour frontbench

The Bradford West MP has stepped down following the emergence of remarks made prior to her election as an MP.

Damn. I was so happy when she trounced Galloway.

Shah has resigned as parliamentary private secretary to John McDonnell, after the political website Guido Fawkes revealed that, prior to becoming an MP, she argued that Israelis should be relocated to the United States.

Or Madagascar or Poland? That’s not fair, but…Damn, this is disappointing.

Shah released the following statement on Monday afternoon: “I deeply regret the hurt I have caused by comments made on social media before I was elected as an MP. I made these posts

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The worst copsplaining ever

Apr 26th, 2016 3:35 pm | By

From the You have got to be kidding department:

The head of a Cleveland police union said the family of a 12-year-old black boy shot dead by a white police officer while playing with a pellet gun should use money from a $6 million settlement to educate children about the dangers of handling real and replica firearms, while an attorney representing the boy’s family blasted the comments.

You cannot be serious.

A Cleveland cop killed Tamir Rice, not out of malice but out of grossly reckless incompetence, and the police union chief thinks it’s a good idea to tell his family how to spend the settlement money? And not only that but to imply in the “advice” that the … Read the rest

De lange arm van Erdoğan

Apr 26th, 2016 12:31 pm | By

My column for the Freethinker this month is an invitation to Erdoğan to arrest me for insulting him.

RT reports on a Dutch cartoon that does the same thing.

A front-page caricature went public in a popular Dutch daily De Telegraaf, showing Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan as a sinister ape squashing freedom of speech in Europe.

The cartoon illustrates a brawny ape with President Erdogan’s face – turned red and puffy – squashing a slim woman resembling Dutch columnist Ebru Umar.

The Dutch cartoon is a reflection on the latest developments in Ankara’s crackdown on freedom of speech in Turkey and beyond.

Umar’s case appears to be the most recent in the growing log of media crackdowns in Turkey.

Read the rest

Guest post: How inferential science works and why it matters

Apr 26th, 2016 11:25 am | By

Guest post by James Garnett.

How inferential science works, episode one: the null hypothesis.

Ever wonder what things like medical studies are actually showing, and why they are sometimes (often?) disproved?

Inferential studies attempt to demonstrate a correlation between two things, generally speaking. That correlation is stated in a way that can be tested, through what is called a null hypothesis. Think of it as the default assumption. For example, in simple (aka not rigorous) terms: “the amount of cholesterol in the food that a person consumes is correlated to the amount of cholesterol present in their blood”. A statement of that nature can be tested, and disproved.

But null hypotheses cannot be proved. There are simply … Read the rest

And sometimes it’s just for the money

Apr 26th, 2016 11:13 am | By

You get your ideological beheadings, and then you get your cash beheadings. A Canadian man who was beheaded yesterday represents a failed transaction.

The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned the beheading of a Canadian hostage kidnapped by Islamist militants in the Philippines.

John Ridsdel, 68, was taken from a tourist resort with three others by the Abu Sayyaf group in September 2015.

In November, the Islamist militants released a video showing Mr Ridsdel and three other captives, and demanded a ransom of $80m (£55m).

Now, ideology gets a look-in too, since it was Islamists demanding the cash to buy back John Ridsdel, but it’s still a matter of no-pay no-return.

A Philippines army spokesman said Mr Ridsdel’s severed

Read the rest

Tell the family

Apr 25th, 2016 11:58 am | By

Sarah Ditum and Julie Bindel were on Victoria Derbyshire’s chat show this morning to talk about free speech and no platforming. Behold a clip:

I haven’t seen the rest of what they say yet, assuming Derbyshire kept her promise to return to Julie after the news, but this on its own is worth discussing.

There are people, there are people who are incredibly vunnerable [sic] who do feel very specific types of harm. Tell the family of trans people, the families of queer people who have committed suicide because of the likes of people who have invalidated their

Read the rest

Two more chopped to death in Dhaka

Apr 25th, 2016 10:48 am | By

The BBC reports:

Police in Bangladesh say two people including a leading gay rights activist and editor at Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine have been hacked to death.

The US ambassador to Bangladesh condemned the killing of Xulhaz Mannan, who also worked at the US embassy.

Another person was also injured when the attackers entered a Dhaka flat.

People who like violence and murder have that advantage over people who like better things.

BBC Bengali Service editor Sabir Mustafa said staff at Roopbaan, which had not been condemned by the government and received some support from foreign embassies, had been careful to protect their identities but had not believed their lives were at risk.

Suspected extremists in Bangladesh are gaining

Read the rest

Embedding hatred

Apr 24th, 2016 5:39 pm | By

The BBC has more details on Erdoğan’s way with dissenters.

Turkey’s hard line on insults:

  • Between August 2014 and March 2015, 236 people investigated for “insulting the head of state”; 105 indicted; eight formally arrested
  • Between July and December 2014 (Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s presidency), Turkey filed 477 requests to Twitter for removal of content, over five times more than any other country and an increase of 156% on the first half of the year
  • Reporters Without Borders places Turkey 149th of 180 countries in the press freedom index
  • During Mr Erdogan’s time in office (Prime Minister 2003-14, President from 2014), 63 journalists have been sentenced to a total of 32 years in prison, with collective fines of $128,000
  • Article
Read the rest

One thousand eight hundred forty five

Apr 24th, 2016 5:26 pm | By

Last month the Associated Press did a piece on Erdoğan’s 1,845 prosecutions of people who “insulted” him. That’s 1,845 just since 2014.

Turkey’s justice minister says as many as 1,845 cases have been opened against people accused of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since he came to office in 2014.

Erdoğan has been accused of aggressively using a previously seldom-used law that bars insults to the president, as a way to muffle dissent. Those who have gone on trial include celebrities, journalists and even schoolchildren.

I wish the AP had said how many were convicted and what the punishments were.

Responding to questions in parliament on Monday, Bekir Bozdag said his ministry had allowed 1,845 cases on charges of insulting

Read the rest

We ask urgently for the names and written comments

Apr 24th, 2016 5:02 pm | By

The Washington Post reported on that nonsense about Turkey’s forlorn hope of punishing everyone everywhere who insulted Erdoğan.

What should someone in the Netherlands do if someone says something “derogatory” or “defamatory” about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan? According to an email sent out by Ankara’s consulate in Rotterdam, Turkish organizations in the country should write in to report the insult.

This email, uncovered by Dutch news organizations Thursday, has sparked anger in the Netherlands, with the Dutch prime minister demanding an explanation from Turkish authorities.

You can see how it would, seeing as how Erdoğan doesn’t actually own the Netherlands, or the world, or in fact even Turkey.

“I am surprised,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters in Germany

Read the rest

Oklahoma to women: you have no rights, bitches

Apr 24th, 2016 3:00 pm | By

Oklahoma throws the very idea of women’s rights out the window. Don’t be stupid: incubators are machines, and machines don’t have rights.

An Oklahoma bill that could revoke the license of any doctor who performs an abortion has headed to the governor, with opponents saying the measure in unconstitutional and promising a legal battle against the cash-strapped state if it is approved.

In the Republican-dominated legislature, the state’s House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a Senate bill late on Thursday. Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, has not yet indicated whether she will sign it.

Under the bill, doctors who perform abortions would risk losing their medical licenses. Exemptions would be given for those who perform the procedure for reasons including

Read the rest

Because of two tweets

Apr 24th, 2016 12:15 pm | By

So Turkey thinks it gets to arrest people for saying “insulting” things about government officials.

Turkish authorities on Sunday released a Turkish-Dutch journalist from police custody but barred her from leaving Turkey as they continue to investigate tweets she posted about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ebru Umar, a columnist for Metro newspaper, was detained for questioning late on Saturday at her home in the Aegean resort of Kusadasi, on the orders of a prosecutor for social media postings deemed to be “insulting to state leaders,” Turkey’s state-run news agency reported.

The thing is, Turkey, people with power are the ones who should be most open to public dissent, including “insult.”

In a short video posted on Metro’s website, Umar said

Read the rest

Another one

Apr 23rd, 2016 3:48 pm | By

In case the murder of Professor Rezaul Karim Siddique wasn’t enough, there was also the murder of a provincial Pakistani minister for minority affairs.

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN:  A provincial Pakistani minister for minority affairs was shot dead in his car by on Friday [by] men on motorbikes in the country’s restive northwest, officials said.

Sardar Soran Singh, who was a Sikh, had held one of several seats reserved for religious minorities in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly.

“Gunmen riding on two motorbikes came in front of the car and started indiscriminate firing which killed the minister on the spot,” Khalid Hamadani, district police chief told Agence France Presse.

All gunmen all the time.… Read the rest

We need both options

Apr 23rd, 2016 3:01 pm | By

Meghan Murphy says no, Prince was not trans. Prince was a guy who defied gender stereotypes. Defying gender stereotypes ≠ trans.

As Prince is mourned by millions across the world, his life and artistry are rightly being embraced as unconventional and as boundary-pushing in many ways, including in terms of gender. But, whereas 10 or 20 years ago, a man like Prince would have been celebrated, in death, as someone who did not conform to gender norms, today he is instead being transed. And this is a problem.

Well, to be precise, he would have been celebrated for that by some and ridiculed or excoriated by others. It’s not as if defiance of gender stereotypes was universally celebrated … Read the rest

It pains her heart

Apr 23rd, 2016 11:58 am | By

Yesterday Samantha Power visited the refugee camp in Yola, Nigeria for women and girls fleeing Boko Haram. Here’s one story from one refugee:

When the boy next door joined Boko Haram, Mummy Ibrahim knew she had to run.

For the past few months, her next door neighbor had been telling everyone in their village just outside of Maiduguri that he was going to force Mummy, a soft-spoken girl with large eyes, to be his bride.

And, she said, he had finally figured out the way to do it: by pledging allegiance to Boko Haram and then taking, by force, the girl he had watched grow up into a gorgeous 15-year-old.

This is what I’m always saying – religion is such … Read the rest

Coddling the killers and chastising the dead

Apr 23rd, 2016 10:38 am | By

Paul Fidalgo and Michael De Dora wrote a piece for CNN the other day on the murders of atheists in Bangladesh. It’s good to see them on such a mainstream site.

An innocent young man is brutally hacked to death in the street by marauding thugs with machetes, and the government’s response is to effectively blame the victim. This is the outrageous and absurd situation in the supposed democratic state of Bangladesh, where a bloody campaign of terror is being waged against secularists and atheists who have criticized radical Islam. But rather than act to protect the rights and safety of its people, Bangladesh’s leaders are coddling the killers and chastising the dead.

One would expect in a civilized

Read the rest


Apr 23rd, 2016 9:10 am | By

A mosaic dating to 2,400 years ago was dug up in what was Antioch in Turkey in 2012.

AA Photo

The inscription translates as “Be cheerful, enjoy your life.”

 … Read the rest