All entries by this author

Warwick welcomes Maryam to speak

Sep 27th, 2015 3:55 pm | By

A win!

Warwick says procedures weren’t followed, and apologizes, and says hell yes Maryam can speak.

In the last few days we have all seen much debate, and considerable concern, expressed about an application to Warwick Students’ Union made by the Warwick Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society, that an SU society host the campaigner and blogger Maryam Namazie as an external speaker.

Warwick SU has a process for assessing any potential risks or legal issues associated with any external speaker, and it is now very clear to us that in this case that process has not been followed.  Speaker invitations that may involve such issues are routinely considered by the SU President, who will also take advice from senior

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Isis Threaten Sylvania

Sep 27th, 2015 12:38 pm | By

London. Exhibition. Celebrating freedom of expression.

Visitors to a London exhibition celebrating freedom of expression this week found plenty of familiar taboo-busting work, from Jamie McCartney’s The Great Wall of Vagina, an eight-foot long cast featuring the genitals of 400 women, to Kubra Khademi’s video of an eight-minute walk she made through Kabul in Afganistan, dressed in lushly contoured body armour.

You know what the next word is.



But they will have looked in vain for one work detailed in the catalogue by an artist known only as Mimsy.

Last name Borogoves? Sorry, sorry.

Isis Threaten Sylvania is a series of seven satirical light box tableaux featuring the children’s toys Sylvanian Families. It was removed

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Busted for condemning the stampede

Sep 27th, 2015 11:43 am | By

Prepare to be disgusted.

Newsnext Bangladesh reports:

Dhaka  – Police on Saturday arrested an NGO executive for his reported social media comments condemning Saudi Arab stampede that left more than 700 pilgrims killed during hajj Thursday.

Police officer Inamul Haque said they picked up Mohan Kumar Mondal in south-western Satkhira district for the reported comment. They also arrested one of the friends of Mondal as he tried to prevent police from arresting him at Munshiganj of Shymnagar sub-district.

Another story linked in the margin of this one reports that three people from Bangladesh were killed in the stampede.

Police detained Mondal after a local leader of the ruling Awami League party lodged complaint that the accused hurt Muslims’ religious

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They must remain silent and accept their lot in life

Sep 27th, 2015 11:08 am | By

Maryam responds to Warwick Student Union’s deceptive ass-covering statement yesterday.

Warwick Student Union (SU) has officially responded to the uproar surrounding their decision to refuse the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists’ Society (WASH) request to have me as a speaker in October.  They deceptively imply that the uproar over their denial is premature as a “final” decision has not been made.

And so the white wash begins.

We already know why that’s deceptive and a whitewash (aka ass-covering). The SU told ASH No, weeks ago. Just No, not No pro tem, not No until we reconsider, just No.

ASH appealed the decision.

The SU ignored the appeal.

ASH asked the SU to respond.

The SU did not respond.

ASH told … Read the rest

If those facts are an insult to Islam

Sep 26th, 2015 3:18 pm | By

Another post by Benjamin David of Warwick ASH, this one with screenshots of his exchanges with the Student Union, to corroborate that they said what he said they did.

Here’s his reply to their message saying Sorry, nope.

I look forward to hearing from them too.… Read the rest

Warwick’s Student Union defamed Maryam

Sep 26th, 2015 11:12 am | By

Warwick ASH president Benjamin David’s post yesterday:

As President of WASH, I feel that it is important that I comment about the recent controversy regarding the decision taken by The University of Warwick’s Student Union to prohibit Maryam Namazie from speaking on campus. For those unfamiliar with Maryam, she is a secularist, a human-rights campaigner, and leader of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain – as well as being a friend of mine.

After submitting a guest-speaker application to the SU, I received the following response explaining their decision to bar Maryam:

…after researching both her and her organisation, a number of flags have been raised. We have a duty of care to conduct a risk assessment for

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1,492 signatures and counting

Sep 26th, 2015 10:33 am | By

There’s also a petition, organized by Benjamin David of Warwick ASH, petitioning the Student Union to Allow Maryam Namazie to speak at The University of Warwick.

Signatures are rolling in fast, so join the fun.

Warwick Students Union have made the appalling decision to bar Maryam Namazie from giving a talk on campus to Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists. For those unfamiliar with Maryam, she is a secularist, a human-rights campaigner, and leader of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

A student union official said the decision had been taken “because after researching both her [Namazie] and her organisation, a number of flags have been raised”.

It went on: “We have a duty of care to conduct a

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WASH replies

Sep 26th, 2015 9:37 am | By

And the Warwick U Atheists, Secularists and Humanists have responded to Isaac Leigh’s statement for the Student Union. That statement was a lot more obfuscating than I realized.

Warwick SU has officially responded to the burgeoning controversy surrounding their decision to bar Maryam Namazie from giving a talk on campus to our society. We find that it is important to respond to this in order to represent the facts clearly and accurately in order to avoid any ambiguity or deceit. We at Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists (WASH) take serious umbrage with the claims that WarwickSU have made, namely:

“contrary to what has been communicated in the public domain over the last 24 hours, no final decision has been taken”

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Timely discussion

Sep 26th, 2015 9:19 am | By

Isaac Leigh, the president of the Warwick University Student Union, posted a statement on the WSU Facebook page a little over an hour ago.


“In reference to the external speaker request the SU has received regarding Maryam Namazie visiting Warwick SU, I feel I must clarify both mine and the SU’s position given the rather premature discussion alive on social media and in the press.

As previously stated, the SU has a process for assessing the risks associated with any external speaker in accordance with our legal responsibilities. Our policy aims to provide an environment where freedom of expression and speech are protected, balanced with the need to ensure

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Highly inflammatory

Sep 26th, 2015 8:44 am | By

The Independent on Warwick University’s Student Union’s cancellation of Maryam’s talk.

Maryam Namazie had been booked by the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists (WASH) group to speak about secularism to Warwick University’s Student Union on 28 October.

However, the group was notified last month that Ms Namazie’s speech had been cancelled. The decision has led campaigners to raise concerns about student bodies across the UK thwarting freedom of speech on their campuses.

The union said that “after researching both [Ms Namazie] and her organisation, a number of flags have been raised. We have a duty of care to conduct a risk assessment for each speaker who wishes to come to campus”.

Articles written by Ms Namazie indicated she was

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He was very large and strong

Sep 25th, 2015 3:49 pm | By

This is a horrible story that Sarah Beamish tells:

Tonight I got into a confrontation with an apparently famous (I didn’t know this) local man named David Zancai. He was very large and strong. He got onto the subway and started storming around, yelling, doing pushups and roaring, and ranting about how “ladies” and “girls” need to “keep their knees together” and “stop showing their monkey” to men on the subway. He went on for about five minutes about why men shouldn’t let their girls out of the house dressed in spandex, and the male pedophiles and rapists and voyeurs wandering among us and how women and girls are responsible for such men’s reactions to them and “know what they

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The union has claimed

Sep 25th, 2015 2:54 pm | By

Student Rights has more on Warwick University Student Union’s cancellation of its Atheists, Secularists and Humanists’ Society’s invitation to Maryam Namazie to speak October 28.

In an email published by Namazie, the union has claimed: “a number of articles written both by the speaker and by others…indicate that she is highly inflammatory, and could incite hatred on campus”.

But you could say that about anyone, or almost anyone. People who give talks on how to make cookies or how to plant a garden are unlikely to incite hatred on campus…but frankly they’re unlikely to be invited to give talks, too, because why bother? It’s pretty dishonest, not to mention prejudicial and even somewhat threatening to call Maryam … Read the rest

Must seek to avoid insulting other faiths

Sep 25th, 2015 12:47 pm | By

This stinks. Maryam reports:

I was invited to speak at Warwick University by the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists’ Society on 28 October 2015. The University Student Union has declined the request for me to speak saying the following:

This is because after researching both her and her organisation, a number of flags have been raised. We have a duty of care to conduct a risk assessment for each speaker who wishes to come to campus.

There a number of articles written both by the speaker and by others about the speaker that indicate that she is highly inflammatory, and could incite hatred on campus. This is in contravention of our external speaker policy:

The President (or equivalent) of

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How we frame

Sep 25th, 2015 11:43 am | By

Lauren Rankin wrote about abortion rights as a “not just women” issue at Truthout in July 2013.

The subhead, by Rankin or an editor, puts it this way:

The “War on Women” isn’t just a war on women. Trans men and gender-non-conforming people are losing their rights too, and we need to rework how we frame these “women’s issues.”

The war on women is in fact just a war on women; that’s merely tautological. Saying there’s a war on women isn’t saying there is no war on anyone else. Saying there’s a war on women isn’t saying there is no war on trans men and gender-nonconforming people. I think when people start telling us we should rework how we … Read the rest


Sep 25th, 2015 10:48 am | By

This is from two years ago but it’s amazing enough to point and exclaim at now – naturally occurring mechanical gears. had the story (the beginning of the sentence is missing for some reason):

a plant-hopping insect found in gardens across Europe – has hind-leg joints with curved cog-like strips of opposing ‘teeth’ that intermesh, rotating like mechanical gears to synchronise the animal’s legs when it launches into a jump.

The finding demonstrates that gear mechanisms previously thought to be solely man-made have an evolutionary precedent. Scientists say this is the “first observation of mechanical gearing in a “.

Through a combination of anatomical analysis and high-speed video capture of normal Issus movements, scientists from the University

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Horror in Mina

Sep 24th, 2015 5:37 pm | By

At least 717 people have died in a stampede near Mecca; 863 were injured.

During the Hajj, pilgrims travel to Mina, a large valley about 5km (3 miles) from Mecca, to throw seven stones at pillars called Jamarat, which represent the devil.

The pillars stand where Satan is believed to have tempted the Prophet Abraham.

That sounds like a harmless game, except that it involves huge crowds of people.

Tchima Illa Issoufou, BBC Hausa, whose aunt was killed reports:

People were going towards the direction of throwing the stones while others were coming from the opposite direction. Then it became chaotic and suddenly people started going down.

There were people from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Senegal among other nationalities.

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A misunderstood guy

Sep 24th, 2015 5:14 pm | By

The Feds have been looking at Martin Shkreli, the “that lifesaving pill you need is now $750 apiece” guy, for months.

Since at least in January, Shkreli has been under criminal investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, court records show. And Shkreli is not alone—some of his business associates have also received grand jury subpoenas in the case.

The criminal investigation involves Retrophin, a public company where Shkreli served as an officer, director, and 10-percent owner of the outstanding stock before being ousted amid multiple allegations of misconduct. Retrophin focuses on the development, acquisition and commercialization of therapies for the treatment of catastrophic or rare diseases, and was founded by

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The sillier sex

Sep 24th, 2015 4:44 pm | By

A public post on Facebook a couple of days ago:

A colleague just returned from a luncheon to benefit the National Women’s History museum, which is proposed for the Mall in Washington. Here’s what was in the bag of shwag they gave everyone who attended: lip gloss, nail polish, copy of “Glamour” magazine, candy, bracelet, dishwashing detergent.

One commenter called bullshit on the dishwashing detergent, but the poster said

No it was a bottle of some eco bullshit dishwashing detergent.

So there’s that.

 … Read the rest

An awkward truth

Sep 24th, 2015 1:40 pm | By

Are missionaries missionaries, part 2. The Atlantic:

From 1769 until his death in 1784, Serra was the head of the missions in the northern portion of California, helping to establish nine communities where natives lived under the supervision of priests in a life of prayer and work. “One of their major goals was to assimilate the native peoples and eventually make them productive peoples of the Spanish empire,” said Senkewicz. “The mission was to contribute to that assimilation in two ways: by making the native people Catholic, and by teaching them European-style agriculture.”

All of which applies a lot of assumptions – that the Spanish got to make California (and Mexico and all points south) part of the Spanish … Read the rest

Is a missionary a cultural imperialist?

Sep 24th, 2015 12:54 pm | By

How bad was Junipero Serra really? Was he a red-eyed imperialist torturer? Was he a doe-eyed humanitarian altruist? Was he an average guy just doing a job?

Emma Green at The Atlantic collects some opposing views.

“Serra did not just bring us Christianity. He imposed it, giving us no choice in the matter. He did incalculable damage to a whole culture,” Deborah A. Miranda, a Native American and a professor of literature at Washington and Lee University,told The New York Times earlier this year. She joins a host of others who arevoicing objections to Serra’s canonization.

“There is one basic article that North American journalists are writing about this: that the Indians don’t like it, and

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