All entries by this author

Grinding the faces of the poor

Apr 7th, 2016 1:27 pm | By

Fresh Air yesterday:

The North Carolina state legislature sparked a national controversy recently when it acted to overturn a law passed by the City Council in Charlotte, N.C. that banned discrimination against LGBTQ people. Our guest, Lisa Graves, says this move by the North Carolina Legislature is part of an increasingly common pattern in which towns and cities pass laws ranging from bans on fracking to increasing the minimum wage only to have their state legislature pass a law that overrules the local ordinance.

No minimum wage for you, city slickers! Your state knows best.

Lisa Graves is executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy. The center has been tracking this new trend of preemption laws on

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He didn’t worry about whether you were with him or not

Apr 7th, 2016 10:45 am | By

The NY Times on the murder of Nazimuddin Samad:

Mr. Uddin, 26, was a convinced atheist who frequently expressed his views on Facebook, often posting as many as five times a day. His family had asked him to stop, fearful that the posts would make him a target, and for about four months, ending in January, he had complied, said Gulam Rabbi Chowdhury, a childhood friend.

“To tell the truth, he was always a little detached from his family; he had trouble with them because of his views on religion,” Mr. Chowdhury said. “He was very outspoken. He didn’t worry about whether you were with him or not.”

Mr. Uddin’s killing deepens the sense of dread among those campaigning

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Threat season has begun

Apr 7th, 2016 9:52 am | By

The LA Times reports on threats made by supporters of Cliven Bundy and the Bundy gang.

In email, phone messages and Facebook posts, supporters have threatened retaliation for the mass arrests and the death of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, 55, an Arizona rancher and spokesman for the Oregon refuge occupiers who was gunned down by state troopers during a roadside confrontation.

The messages target law enforcement officers and government officials, including Oregon’s governor, according to a sampling of threats released last week by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators gathered more than 80 threats as part of the office’s investigation into the Finicum shooting in neighboring Harney County.

“We’re going to shoot to kill,” said an anonymous caller to Gov.

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The cis-privilege of cats

Apr 7th, 2016 8:56 am | By

Look at all the good she does. (The Washington Post files this story under Inspired Life.)

My new cats were freaking out. In carriers in the back seat of the car, they yowled their displeasure. I reassured them: “Don’t worry boys, we’ll be home soon.”

Whoops! I had called them boys, when in fact they were girls. An understandable mistake, as I’ve had cats for about 50 years, and all of them have been male. “I’m going to have to work on using the right pronouns,” I thought. And then another thought: “Why? They’re cats.”

Yo – “boys” is not a pronoun, and neither is “girls.”

That’s when I decided to raise my cats to be gender neutral.


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Apr 6th, 2016 4:41 pm | By

A fun event (too bad we missed it) –

Debate topic

“Do Muslim Women Need Feminism”?

Photo of a man: Muhammad Kashmiri

Photo of a man: Assadullah Al-Andalusi


Thanks chaps.… Read the rest

They sang the usual Allahu Akbar song

Apr 6th, 2016 3:48 pm | By

The Dhaka Tribune on the murder of Nazimuddin Samad:

A masters student of Jagannath University was killed by suspected Islamist militants in Old Dhaka’s Sutrapur area last night.

Nazimuddin Samad, 28, was a student of the law department’s evening batch.

He was attacked at Ekrampur intersection around 8:30pm by three assailants while walking to his home in Gendaria with another youth after completing classes at the university near Bahadur Shah Park.

The other guy is missing.

His friends said that Nazim used to campaign for secularism on Facebook and was critical of radical Islamists. A day before the murder, he expressed concerns over the country’s law and order in a Facebook post.

Police said that the killers who came

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His logic terrifies

Apr 6th, 2016 3:33 pm | By

So we need some more blasphemy. MORE BLASPHEMY I say. Jesus and Mo oblige.

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Najimuddin Samad

Apr 6th, 2016 3:25 pm | By

CFI reports there is a new horror:

The Center for Inquiry is saddened and outraged to learn that a university student in Bangladesh has been killed in an attack by suspected Islamic extremists. Najimuddin Samad, a 28-year-old law student at Jagannath University, was hacked to death and shot by several assailants as he was returning home from classes last night. CFI, which has been working to rescue secularists in Bangladesh who have been targeted for killing, demanded that the Bangladeshi government take affirmative steps to protect its people and their right to criticize Islam.

It has been reported that the killers chanted “Allahu Akbar” as they hacked Samad with machetes. CFI can confirm that Samad was an atheist, as

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The eyes

Apr 6th, 2016 11:40 am | By

It’s great that all the silly old stereotypes have faded away.

Just kidding.

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Spirit truffles contain spirit dust

Apr 6th, 2016 11:28 am | By

Good grief – doesn’t Gwyneth Paltrow have any friends capable of convincing her that she doesn’t know enough to be giving out medical advice? That there really are compelling reasons for not telling the world what to put in or on or up its poor vulnerable body unless one has the relevant knowledge? Which she doesn’t?

Dean Burnett at the Guardian tells us about her dangerous hobby.

For someone of even the slightest scientific inclination, Goop is a veritable cornucopia of What-The-Fuck? There’s “spirit truffles”, which contain “spirit dust” which apparently “feeds harmony and extrasensory perception through pineal gland de-calcification and activation”. In fairness to Goop, those are definitely all real words. They’ve got us

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They prefer to hound fellow activists

Apr 5th, 2016 6:02 pm | By

Peter Tatchell has some sharp words for the purity-enforcing virtue-signaling pseudo-leftists who spend all their time and energy attacking other leftists for making an unauthorized departure from the Dogma Express. Mind you, Tatchell has done some of that himself, even recently, even very recently – distancing himself from Julie Bindel and Germaine Greer, for instance. Nevertheless his counterblast is refreshing.

The future of progressive politics is under threat, again. But this time from the left. Historically, socialists and greens have made gains by building broad alliances around a common goal, such as the campaigns against the poll tax and the bombing of Syria. We united together diverse people who often disagreed on other issues. Through this unity and solidarity, we

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Guest post: The Abortion Act was considered “religiously sensitive”

Apr 5th, 2016 4:49 pm | By

Originally a comment by Bernard Hurley on Too bad for her she lived in Belfast.

While the influence of the Catholic Church needs to be taken into account the situation in Northern Ireland is far more complex than than you suggest. NI is a sort of dual-theocracy. Members of the NI parliament who wish to be part of government must declare themselves to be either Nationalist or Unionist – in practice code for Catholic or Protestant – and the NI cabinet balanced to make it contain equal numbers of each. The NI parliament is about 52% Unionist (Protestant), 40% Nationalist (Catholic) with the other 8% undeclared. But it gets a bit confusing because, for instance, the Progressive Unionist Party … Read the rest

If women aren’t people to you

Apr 5th, 2016 3:10 pm | By

Dr Jen Gunter on Ted Cruz on Fox News:

When asked about abortion, given Trump’s recent flip flops (I think he’s had six or is that seven positions this week?), Ted Cruz said “the people” should decide. And that Roe is so terrible because it took abortion “out of the control of the people”

Not the women people, the other people.

And women should carry their rapists baby to term.

His plan, which he somehow feels is very moderate and filled with empathy, appears to be get rid of Roe and then let the voters decide state by state. Women and doctors? Silly, they don’t know anything.

If the majority decides women shouldn’t be able to decide … Read the rest

Going up

Apr 5th, 2016 2:52 pm | By

A NASA photo of a space shuttle leaving earth’s atmosphere:

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Men complain based on religious beliefs, and women are forced to move

Apr 5th, 2016 11:55 am | By

Nick Little – director of legal affairs and VP at CFI – casts a cold eye on this business of airlines making women change their seats when men afflicted with religious misogyny refuse to sit next to women. He starts with Renee Rabinowitz, and then proceeds to the general.

This isn’t an isolated event. This scene is being played out repeatedly at multiple airports, and on multiple airlines. Men complain based on religious beliefs, and women are forced to move. When men are denied this “accommodation” they have protested, stood in the aisles, and refused to allow the plane to take off. So the airlines have kowtowed to their demands, and the men have gotten their way. The offending and

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Oxymoron in chief

Apr 5th, 2016 11:07 am | By

So this is one of the funnier headlines I’ve seen in some time:

The President of Transparency International Chile Resigns After Being Named in the Panama Papers


The head of global corruption watchdog Transparency International’s Chile branch resigned on Monday, after his name appeared in a data leak from a Panamanian law firm detailing thousands of offshore companies — now being dubbed the Panama Papers.

“Gonzalo Delaveau resigned as President of Transparency Chile, which has been accepted by the board of directors,” the agency said on Twitter.

Although Delaveau has not directly been accused of unlawful practices, Reuters reports that he was linked to at least five offshore firms by the leak.

See, “unlawful” is not the only … Read the rest


Apr 5th, 2016 9:54 am | By

Georgina Kenyon at the BBC magazine on Robert Proctor and agnotology.

She starts with the well-known tobacco industry memo that said “Doubt is our product.”

In one of the paper’s most revealing sections, it looks at how to market cigarettes to the mass public: “Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

This revelation piqued the interest of Robert Proctor, a science historian from Stanford University, who started delving into the practices of tobacco firms and how they had spread confusion about whether smoking caused cancer.

Proctor had found that the cigarette

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Too bad for her she lived in Belfast

Apr 4th, 2016 5:29 pm | By

Northern Ireland as a little outpost of Catholic woman-hatred, even though it’s officially not Catholic as it’s part of the UK.

A woman bought drugs for a home abortion after failing to raise enough money to travel to England for a termination, a court heard on Monday.

A barrister for the woman told Belfast Crown Court that had his client lived in any other region of the UK, she would “not have found herself before the courts”.

She was in court because she was on trial, because Northern Ireland isn’t as free of Catholic dogma as it might like you to think.

She bought drugs online and then miscarried, in July 2014. She was 19 then.

The male foetus,

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Attacks with acid were also common

Apr 4th, 2016 4:48 pm | By

The BBC says “honor” murders are on the rise in Pakistan.

Nearly 1,100 women were killed in Pakistan last year by relatives who believed they had dishonoured their families, the country’s independent Human Rights Commission says.

In its annual report the commission said 900 more women suffered sexual violence and nearly 800 took, or tried to take, their own lives.

Of course those are the ones they know about. It’s very unlikely that they know about all the ones there are.

“The predominant causes of these killings in 2015 were domestic disputes, alleged illicit relations and exercising the right of choice in marriage,” the report said.

Most of the 1,096 victims were shot, the report said, but attacks with

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“I could only see her eyes but they were full of rage”

Apr 4th, 2016 4:30 pm | By

Meet Hibo Wardere:

Hibo Wardere, 46, who fled Somalia’s civil war at the age of 18 having suffered FGM aged six, has made it her life’s work to educate and speak frankly about the brutal surgery which affects 200 million women in 30 countries.

Mrs Wardere, a teaching assistant who visits [London] schools to educate children about the procedure, has written a book about her one-woman fight to wipe out FGM in her lifetime.

But the Somalian’s outspoken approach and refusal to sugar-coat the  topic with young children has made her the target of attacks.

She said: “I had a scary confrontation on the 257 bus in Walthamstow. A woman with a full niqab recognised me and ran at

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