All entries by this author

Make the choice

Dec 16th, 2014 5:29 pm | By

Karima Bennoune says what’s needed now is firm rejection of violent religious fanaticism.

As many Australians themselves have already clearly demonstrated in the wake of the attack through the wonderful anti-racist hashtag #I’llridewithyou, the correct response to such atrocious events is not blind discrimination against people on the basis of real or presumed religious identity or refugee status. However, unconditional condemnation of the extreme Islamist political ideology that may be behind this terrible attack — and at least was used to justify it — is absolutely essential, and is in no way discriminatory.

In fact, any tolerance of such intolerance does not produce tolerance, but rather has paradoxical and dangerous results — allowing illiberalism to flourish and letting violent

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



The ideology-spotter

Dec 16th, 2014 3:33 pm | By

I’ve been getting a barrage of hostile tweets and comments today about four fatal words in the post I did when I first learned of the Sydney siege, soon after it started. The one or ones I got that day – Sunday here – were reasonable and accepted my explanation and apology for clumsy wording. The ones today not so much.

D.J. Grothe ‏@DJGrothe 8h
Ugh. Tells you everything you need to know about the worldview there: “privileged rich coffee drinkers” http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2014/12/hostages-in-the-window-with-their-hands-up/ … #sydneysiege

Shane Walsh ‏@mountainsRhigh 7h
@DJGrothe so bitter about everything. It must be miserable to be her.

D.J. Grothe @DJGrothe
@mountainsRhigh When I knew her she seemed pleasant enough. People change with age, I guess.

Geddit? I’m … Read the rest

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You can tell what brand and style the shoes are

Dec 16th, 2014 2:47 pm | By

Drone footage maps the damage done to the Nazca site by Greenpeace, io9 reports.

As PBS Newshour reports:

The Nazca figures were drawn between 500 BC and 500 AD by removing a thin patina of dark rocks covering light sand. This is one of the driest regions of the world, and the lack of water and wind has helped preserve the lines for centuries.

But they’re still quite fragile. “When you step on it, you simply break the patina and expose the bottom surface,” said Peru’s Deputy Culture Minister Luis Jaime Castillo . “How long does it take for nature….to again create a patina? Hundreds of years? Thousands of years? We really don’t know.”

Watch the video and … Read the rest

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Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson

Dec 16th, 2014 12:58 pm | By

CBS and the AP have more about the two people who were murdered at the Lindt Cafe yesterday.

Dawson was the mother of three young children, Chloe, Sasha and Oliver, and a highly respected commercial lawyer. She was remembered as “one of our best and brightest” by New South Wales Bar Association president Jane Needham.

Andrew Powell, head of the Ascham School, which Dawson attended in her youth, said she was a well-respected and giving woman who excelled at her studies. Dawson’s daughter Chloe is a student at the school and Sasha will be attending next year.

Dawson was the school’s debating captain and played hockey and basketball. After she became a lawyer, she helped teach senior students at

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Watery Greenland

Dec 16th, 2014 12:30 pm | By

Another piece of global warming underestimated, the Guardian reports.

Melting ice from the coast of Greenland could make a much bigger contribution to rising sea levels than has previously been thought, a new study suggests.

Scientists believe a previously overlooked side-effect of global warming could greatly increase the rate of melting of the vast Greenland ice sheet.

That sounds bad.

The ice covers 1.7m sq km (656,000 sq m), an area three times the size of Texas. If all the ice melted and flowed into the sea, oceans around the world would rise by as much as six metres (20ft), causing extensive damage to coastal communities.

While such a disaster is not expected to happen, ice losses from Greenland

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Keeping watch over their flocks by night

Dec 16th, 2014 10:52 am | By

It’s a rough day. I think we need a baby Jesus cat.

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The gunmen shouted “Allahu akbar”

Dec 16th, 2014 10:38 am | By

A survivor of the Taliban massacre in Peshawar describes his experience.

Speaking from his bed in the trauma ward of the city’s Lady Reading Hospital, Shahrukh Khan, 16, said he and his classmates were in a careers guidance session in the school auditorium when four gunmen wearing paramilitary uniforms burst in.

“Someone screamed at us to get down and hide below the desks,” he said, adding that the gunmen shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) before opening fire.

“Then one of them shouted: ‘There are so many children beneath the benches, go and get them’,” Khan told AFP.

“I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the

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Guest post: If you know anything about the Amish

Dec 16th, 2014 10:22 am | By

Originally a comment by Misty Griffin on What Amish life is really like, by an eyewitness.

This seems a little akward but I left the Amish 9 years ago. Reading some of these comments makes my blood absolutly boil. I beleive that people who are constantly saying that they have such nice Amish neighbors, they never see anything out of place, they are so well mannered and so on are just plain ignorant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you know anything about the Amish you will know that they are a closed society and they will not let you see anything they don’t want you to see.

The things I have seen and heard would leave you truamatized for the rest of your … Read the rest

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The daily horror

Dec 16th, 2014 8:27 am | By

The Taliban killing as many children as it can at an army-run school in Peshawar.

Scores of survivors are being treated in hospitals as frantic parents search for news of their children.

The attack is the deadliest ever by the Taliban in Pakistan.

There has been chaos outside hospital units to which casualties were taken, the BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil reports from Peshawar.

The BBC’s live update page says 132 children and 9 staff members were killed.

Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid tells the BBC the Taliban raid was “a revenge attack, as many children in the school are sons and daughters of army officers”. Mr Rashid adds it was also “an attempt to unify the Taliban, who are currently divided”.

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The guy who killed them

Dec 15th, 2014 5:08 pm | By

The Sydney Morning Herald tells us a little about Man Haron Monis.

Self-described cleric, Man Haron Monis, 50, first came to attention of police when he penned poisonous letters to the family of dead Australian soldiers seven years ago.

Last year he was charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife and mother of two.

Most recently, he was charged with more than 50 allegations of indecent and sexual assault relating to time allegedly spent as a self-proclaimed “spiritual healer” who dealt with black magic at a premises in western Sydney more than a decade ago.

He was out on bail on those last two cases.

He was charged in November 2013 with being an accessory

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The victims at the Lindt Café

Dec 15th, 2014 5:06 pm | By

The manager of the café and a barrister are the two hostages who were killed, The Australian reports.

The manager of the Lindt Café, Tori Johnson, 34, was one of the two hostages killed during the 16-hour siege, along with 38-year-old barrister Katrina Dawson.

Reports suggest Mr Johnson died after trying to knock the gun from the hand of Man Haron Monis shortly after 2am this morning.

That is, Monis murdered him.

Mr Johnson had been manager of the Lindt Chocolate Cafe for more than two years, and worked previously in hotel and restaurant jobs around Sydney.

He was a porter and assistant concierge at the five-star Observatory Hotel at The Rocks, before working for hotels overseas in the US

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Guest post: Upset people don’t process information well

Dec 15th, 2014 4:24 pm | By

Originally a comment by Brisvegan on Even when you are emotionally invested.

I am a law lecturer. Many of my students will go on to practice law. However, legal practice is enormously variable. Some will work in criminal law, dealing with the worst of offenders, some in family law, with distressing family breakdowns and some will work in areas like leasing or commercial transactions, which don’t require them to deal with the more traumatic sides of human experience. Each student must still study core curriculum that includes cases with very nasty facts. However, some very able students and lawyers will create a professional life that lets them avoid areas of practice that they personally can’t cope with.

I teach … Read the rest

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A one-way ticket to London please

Dec 15th, 2014 3:50 pm | By

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid tells us about a reactionary cleric who finds himself hoist by his own petard fatwa.

Pakistani pop singer turned religious cleric Junaid Jamshed has been accused of blasphemy recently. Jamshed has now taken refuge in London, rightly fearing for his life in Pakistan.

The allegation occurred after Jamshed re-enacted a hadith which suggests that the Prophet Muhammad’s youngest wife Ayesha occasionally faked illness to seek her husband’s attention. The re-enactment was entitled ‘even the prophet’s company cannot tame a woman’.

Jamshed is notorious – or renowned, depending on who you talk to – for his misogynistic views. He is on record as saying:

“If you want a happy life, do not teach your wives how to

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They have faces

Dec 15th, 2014 3:03 pm | By

Lejla Kurić points out that Mughal art has plenty of faces.

Oh so it does. I have a big ol’ stack of postcards of Mughal art, from the V&A and the British Library and the Fitzwilliam and wherever else I found them. Faces. There are faces.

Faces faces everywhere.… Read the rest

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Now that’s a face

Dec 15th, 2014 11:32 am | By

Last August Slate ran a piece debunking the mythmaking in the documentary Dinosaur 13, about the federal prosecution of a fossil-collector who found a 90% complete T Rex skeleton in 1990.

Dinosaur 13’s embattled hero is Peter Larson, introduced as a “brilliant paleontologist” by no less an authority on earth science than a former National Geographic photographer. In truth, Larson is a commercial collector and vendor of fossils. Paleontologists have formal training in graduate school, where they learn to excavate and document fossil finds to preserve invaluable information. Along the way, one hopes, they learn that fossils are part of the public trust, not to be hawked or pirated.

CNN has been showing Dinosaur 13 so I watched it; … Read the rest

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Faces

Dec 15th, 2014 10:45 am | By

It’s true, what several commenters said in response to the nightmare Deeni-doll – the Amish do have nightmare faceless dolls.

You can shop for them.

They’re rag dolls, soft and squashy for small children who like to squash things. They’re like Raggedy Anne and Andy, except…Anne and Andy have faces.

Having a taboo on human faces seems to me a wretched idea. Aversion to eye contact is a disability, not something to instill in people on purpose.… Read the rest

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Leaving a footprint at Nazca is like leaving a footprint on the moon

Dec 15th, 2014 9:52 am | By

Greg Laden is also outraged by Greenpeace’s vandalism of the Nazca site.

Greenpeace activists entered a restricted area in Peru, where the Nazca lines are located. They drove into the area, and walked around there, and laid out banners. The banners were then photographed from the air (from a drone, as I understand it) to produce a message supporting renewable something. I’m guessing energy. The message was not clear. Nor was the link between their big yellow banners and the sacred and ancient Nazca lines.

This is an abuse of the cultural patrimony of Peru and the native people’s who have lived there.

In this fragile environment, footprints constitute irreparable damage.

One of the Nazca lines was apparently damaged directly,

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Staying within the line

Dec 14th, 2014 5:53 pm | By

Frank Foley,a Lecturer in the War Studies Department at King’s College London, explains some things about torture for the BBC.

As they came to terms with the shock of 9/11, people at the highest levels of the US government wanted to mete out a ferocious response to al-Qaeda suspects.

But let it not be said that they wanted to torture – of course not. We’re the good guys, so we don’t torture. We do something else, that’s unpleasant, but it’s not what fits under the word “torture.” Hell no.

“Everyone was focused on trying to avoid torture, staying within the line, while doing everything possible to save American lives,” Bush administration lawyer Timothy Flanigan has been quoted as saying.

What

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Just what every child wants: a faceless doll

Dec 14th, 2014 5:10 pm | By

I saw this horror via Tehmina Kazi on Facebook. A faceless “Deeni doll” is now on the shelves.

A new faceless doll, produced in accordance with Islamic law, has been launched in Britain.

The ‘Deeni Doll’, which is adorned with a traditional hijab headdress, has no nose, mouth, or eyes, in order to comply with Islamic rulings regarding the depictions of facial features.

A doll with no face – it’s hard to imagine anything more creepy. The picture is certainly a nightmare.

The toy, which took four years to create, is the brainchild of Ridhwana B, a former teacher at a Muslim school.

She told the Lancashire Telegraph: ‘I came up with the idea from scratch after speaking to

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Insiders don’t criticize other insiders

Dec 14th, 2014 4:44 pm | By

Zachary Goldfarb at the Washington Post reports on how the insiders told Warren to act like an insider. She had dinner with Larry Summers back in 2009, when she was the chair of that panel panel investigating the government’s response to the financial trainwreck.

Larry leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice. … He teed it up this way: I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say. But insiders

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