All entries by this author

Here’s that Buddha with his tunes

Mar 17th, 2015 11:12 am | By

Via Kenneth Wong SF.

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The Buddha rocks out

Mar 17th, 2015 11:05 am | By

Two and a half years in prison for advertising a bar with a poster of Buddha in earphones.

A New Zealander and two Burmese men have been found guilty of insulting religion in Myanmar over a poster promoting a drinks event depicting Buddha with headphones.

Philip Blackwood, who managed the VGastro Bar in Yangon, was arrested in December along with bar owner Tun Thurein and colleague Htut Ko Ko Lwin.

They have each been sentenced to two and a half years in jail.

Burmese law makes it illegal to insult or damage any religion.

From what I know of Siddhartha, he would think that’s a crock of shit.

The poster, which was posted on Facebook to advertise a cheap

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Iago in the interrogation room

Mar 17th, 2015 10:27 am | By

Speaking of that New Yorker article – it’s well worth reading. It’s about US law enforcement’s widespread reliance on “the Reid technique” for eliciting confessions, which was concocted by a retired cop out of…nothing in particular.

A growing number of scientists and legal scholars, though, have raised concerns about Reid-style interrogation. Of the three hundred and eleven people exonerated through post-conviction DNA testing, more than a quarter had given false confessions—including those convicted in such notorious cases as the Central Park Five. The extent of the problem is unknowable, because there’s no national database on wrongful convictions. But false confessions, which often lead to these convictions, are not rare, and experts say that Reid-style interrogations can produce them.

See, the … Read the rest

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Small favors

Mar 17th, 2015 9:59 am | By

Pakistan had a big hanging party today.

Pakistan has hanged 12 convicts, the largest number of people executed on the same day since the country overturned a ban on executions.

The men were terrorists, murderers or guilty of “heinous crimes”, an interior ministry spokesman said.

At least 27 convicts have been executed since the moratorium was lifted, most of them militants, Reuters reported.

It is estimated there are more than 8,000 Pakistanis on death row. Rights groups say many convictions are unsafe.

Human rights groups say that prisoners often do not receive a fair trial within Pakistan’s outdated criminal justice system and that poorly-trained police often use torture to force confessions.

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported that the latest

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In front of synagogues and Holocaust memorials

Mar 16th, 2015 5:50 pm | By

A distasteful little item from a long piece by Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic, on anti-Semitism in Europe.

[T]he new anti-Semitism flourishing in corners of the European Muslim community would be impoverished without the incorporation of European fascist tropes. Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, a comedian of French Cameroonian descent who specializes in Holocaust revisionism and gas-chamber humor, is the inventor of the quenelle, widely understood as an inverted Nazi salute. His followers have taken to photographing themselves making the quenelle in front of synagogues, Holocaust memorials, and sites of past anti-Jewish terrorist attacks. Dieudonné has built an ideological partnership with Alain Soral, the anti-Jewish conspiracy theorist and 9/11 “truther” who was for several years a member of the National

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Let’s do the numbers

Mar 16th, 2015 3:40 pm | By

We’re bad, when it comes to executions, but we’re significantly less bad than Saudi Arabia.

DeathPenaltyInfo.org gives the tally: 35 last year, 39 the year before, 43 each the two before that; 46, 52, 37. There were big spikes in 1999 and 2000 – 98 and 85 respectively.

Our population is larger than that of Saudi Arabia – theirs is 28.3 million, ours is 318.9 million.

But then there’s the issue of the race of the people executed

Yeah.

Then compare that to the race of the victims.

See it?

Yeah.

 

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Going for a new record

Mar 16th, 2015 3:22 pm | By

Saudi Arabia is working hard at being more horrible this year than it was last year. Every day in every way it gets worser and worser. The Telegraph reports via AFP:

A man convicted of murder was beheaded in the Saudi capital on Monday, amid a steep rise in the number of executions in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom this year.

The beheading of Saad bin Abdullah al-Jadid, who had shot dead fellow Saudi Abdullah bin Faraj al-Gahtani, took to 45 the number of executions since January 1, according to an AFP count.

I’m an American, so I have nothing to boast of. We execute lots of people too, and sometimes we fry them for an extended period before we … Read the rest

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The 2%

Mar 16th, 2015 12:32 pm | By

This was yesterday – bombs near two churches in Pakistan.

Two bomb blasts have killed at least 14 people near two churches in a Christian neighbourhood of the Pakistani city of Lahore, local officials say.

More than 70 people were hurt in the explosions, which targeted worshippers attending Sunday mass at the churches in the Youhanabad area.

An offshoot of the Pakistan Taliban, calling itself Jamatul Ahrar, has said it carried out the attack.

The murders. Jamatul Ahrar boasted that it had committed the murders.

The caption under a photo of weeping women says “Relatives of the dead consoled each other.” Well no – they wept and clung to each other.

A large crowd gathered at the scene

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Their imprint of destruction

Mar 16th, 2015 11:50 am | By

The BBC takes a long look at the devastation Boko Haram has left behind in northern Nigeria.

From one town to another, Boko Haram fighters have left their imprint of destruction – the charred remains of market places, homes, government buildings and farms.

Signboards have been painted over in black and replaced with Boko Haram insignia and inscriptions in Arabic.

“Thank you! Thank you!” a group of women chant as they praise the soldiers who reclaimed their town, Doron Baga, from Boko Haram.

They are the few people we found in the area. Most others fled after possibly the worst insurgent attack yet in the region.

Read the BBC piece itself, because they took pictures. Destroyed market, blackened sign, empty … Read the rest

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Bye bye, have fun

Mar 16th, 2015 11:05 am | By

I accidentally saw the last few minutes of the everlasting CBS news show 60 Minutes last night, and was horrified. It was about one Damian Aspinall and his Exciting Adventure of taking some captive-raised gorillas to Africa and abandoning them there. At the end Leslie Stahl said, “I wish we could end on an optimistic note but we can’t. A month later all five adult females were found dead” and so was the one juvenile.

Five adult female gorillas killed by the actions of their “owner” – a critically endangered species. I went incandescent with rage. I know, I’m always doing that, but then I’m always being given reasons, aren’t I.

I used to work up close and personal with … Read the rest

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They pushed the whole world to subscribe to Charlie Hebdo

Mar 15th, 2015 4:50 pm | By

More from that long interview with Caroline Fourest.

What about Charlie Hebdo now?

The irony of this crime is that those jihadists have killed the journalists of Charlie Hebdo because they wanted to silence this newspaper, but today they pushed the whole world to subscribe to Charlie Hebdo. The cartoonists who have been killed, we grew up with them. They made us laugh since we were very young, about the actuality, about religion, about politicians, about everything! To see this pure violence, fanaticism, this completely stupid brutality against these sweet, smart and funny people, it created a big shock in France.  Today, Charlie Hebdo is the symbol of the progressive people who want to continue to be free to

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The hallowed existence of women in the Islamic State

Mar 15th, 2015 2:35 pm | By

From last month – life for women under Daesh control.

Residents of Mosul, Raqqa and Deir el-Zour have told the Guardian in interviews conducted by phone and Skype that women are forced to be accompanied by a male guardian, known as a mahram, at all times, and are compelled to wear double-layered veils, loose abayas and gloves.

Their testimonies follow the publication this month of an Isis “manifesto” to clarify the “realities of life and the hallowed existence of women in the Islamic State”. It said that girls could be married from the age of nine, and that women should only leave the house in exceptional circumstances and should remain “hidden and veiled”.

That’s a “hallowed existence” all right … Read the rest

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The reason why they killed my colleagues

Mar 15th, 2015 11:19 am | By

Dilara Gürcü talks to the amazing Caroline Fourest.

Let’s begin by talking about Charlie Hebdo. How would you define Charlie Hebdo?

Charlie Hebdo is a satirical newspaper, it’s a paper known to make people laugh about all types of power, domination and ideology. It’s very important to understand that no cartoon in Charlie Hebdo goes to publication without context. The fanatics and the literalists cannot or do not want to understand this. It probably did a hundred times more caricatures of the Pope, the Catholic Church then of Islam. They’re making caricatures about politics a lot, all types of politicians but especially the extreme right. The worst enemy of Charlie Hebdo is National Front and Marine Le Pen. There

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Standing up for the right to blaspheme

Mar 15th, 2015 9:22 am | By

A news item that’s not being reported yet (Twitter can be very useful for that) – Maajid Nawaz got a motion on free speech and the right to blaspheme passed at the LibDems conference a few hours ago.

Maajid 4 H&K @MaajidLibDem 6 hours ago
Motion on free speech & right to blaspheme PASSED!

Well done.… Read the rest

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A prize for courage

Mar 14th, 2015 5:11 pm | By

A good thing today – Lars Vilks won an award.

A Swedish cartoonist who depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog has made his first public appearance since attending a debate that was targeted in a gun attack in Copenhagen last month.

Lars Vilks received a prize for courage from a free press group, at a heavily secured event in the Danish parliament.

His cartoon offended many Muslims and he now lives under guard in Sweden.

Oh damn, Beeb, you were doing so well. Two whole sentences you managed before blaming Lars for being almost murdered for drawing cartoons about religion.

And I doubt that it’s even true that his cartoon “offended many Muslims”; I think it offended a … Read the rest

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Why external and independent?

Mar 14th, 2015 4:12 pm | By

Amnesty International issued a statement two days ago when it decided it was no longer “appropriate” to work with Cage.

Further to our statement below, Amnesty International UK’s Director Kate Allen today said:

“Amnesty no longer considers it appropriate to share a public platform with Cage and will not engage in coalitions of which Cage is a member.

“Recent comments made by Cage representatives have been completely unacceptable, at odds with human rights principles and serve to undermine the work of NGOs, including Amnesty International.”

She continued: “We had engaged with Cage together with several other organisations on the specific issue of UK complicity in torture abroad, on which they had particular expertise.

“At the time that Gita Sahgal left

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Their choices need to be consistent with a universal human rights agenda

Mar 14th, 2015 12:14 pm | By

Rahila Gupta discusses Amnesty International and Cage at Open Democracy.

[W[hen Asim Qureshi, Research Director of Cage, alleged that harassment from MI5 was responsible for Emwazi’s journey to IS (Islamic State) in a Channel 4 interview with Jon Snow, they overreached themselves and opened themselves up to general ridicule and incredulity.

The ensuing outrage at Cage’s arguments appears to have pushed Amnesty International (AI) to put more distance between itself and Cage than it has ever done before, even though it was widely called upon to do so at the time of Gita Sahgal’s suspension from her post as head of the Gender unit at AI in 2010.

In December 2014, Gita Sahgal again criticised AI for co-signing a

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Guest post: Canada needs to fight sexism, not import new forms of it

Mar 14th, 2015 10:50 am | By

Guest post by Saba Farbodkia.

The comments made by Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper have caused a national conversation to form about niqab. The fact that Stephen Harper can use this to collect votes shows that many Canadians do find niqab an anti-woman practice. Even many lefties express their support for Harper “on this one”. So if there are so many people against this practice, how is that we don’t hear much debate and conversation on this at other times? Is that because people rely on law to limit undesirable cultural practices?

But banning someone from doing something that doesn’t harm anyone and is not against the law is not the way to fight an anti-woman or oppressive practice. Talking … Read the rest

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A complex network of ideological and cultural norms

Mar 14th, 2015 10:37 am | By

The actor Frieda Pinto gave a speech at the New York premiere of India’s Daughter. The Huffington Post reports:

“Today in 2015 despite the vast improvements in the lives and rights of women across the world in the last century, there still seems to exist this very complex network of ideological and cultural norms that still plague our society and that make global misogyny, in my opinion, a great scourge and most pressing issue of our age,” Pinto said.

That’s why we’re still battling – because of that network of ideological and cultural norms. The ones that put women in various inadequate pigeonholes that all function to diminish and constrain them.

Pinto told the audience that gender inequality

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Invoking the history

Mar 14th, 2015 9:31 am | By

Shaun King at Daily Kos has more about Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Oklahoma and elsewhere.

27 days ago, people on Reddit were talking about this exact same chant, and stating that it was a required chant to enter the SAE fraternity at the University of Texas. Before this controversy at the University of Oklahoma ever existed, here is how it was recounted in Texas,

For SAE context a few buddies of mine told me their favorite song to sing went-
“There will never be a n*gg*r SAE, there will never be a n*gg*r SAE, Abe set ‘em free but they’ll never pledge with me, there will never be a n*gg*r SAE.”

But even before this, SAE had

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