All entries by this author

Annals of evil

Jul 11th, 2014 4:10 pm | By

The BBC’s Humphrey Hawksley reports on brutal physical abuse meted out to slaves in India.

Warning of horrors.

He starts with Dialu Nial getting his right hand chopped off.

Now free, and his injury healing, he is back home deep in the countryside of Orissa. There is no electricity or sanitation. Many of the villagers are illiterate.

“I didn’t go to school. When I was a child I tended cattle and harvested rice,” Nial says, sitting on the earth outside the cluster of huts which are his family’s home.

It is from communities like this that people are liable to be drawn into a system known as bonded labour.

Typically a broker finds someone a job and charges a

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Display

Jul 11th, 2014 3:07 pm | By

A heat wave is getting going here, and I need refreshment. Courtesy of Biologia com o Prof. Jubilut:

 … Read the rest

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Guest post: Webpages, mission statements and group photos of smirking assholes

Jul 11th, 2014 1:15 pm | By

Originally a comment by Andrew B on Accessing celebrities is expensive work.

I think I’ve made this point before, but this seems like a form of sock-puppetry. “Hey, look at all of our affiliated groups! There’s the World Secular Team (which we also run), the Global Enterprise of Religious Freedom (which we also run) and the Alliance for Atheist Voices (which we also run).” Meanwhile it’s just the same dozen assholes changing hats.

You know how meaningful, effective groups form? FIRST you start with committed people that REGULARLY do quality shit, THEN you form your fucking group. Isn’t this how freethoughblogs started? You all had your own blogs, regular pumping out ideas and commentary, and THEN you got together … Read the rest

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The high price of oil

Jul 11th, 2014 12:40 pm | By

A few days ago Saudi Arabia sentenced lawyer and human rights defender Waleed Abu al-Khair to 15 years in prison. Amnesty International has details.

The Specialized Criminal Court in Jeddah convicted Waleed Abu al-Khair of a string of “offences” including “inciting international organizations against the government” and “breaking allegiance to the ruler” among others. He will also be subject to a 15-year travel ban after his release.

He is the latest in a long list of human rights activists who have been harassed, intimidated and imprisoned by Saudi Arabia’s authorities in recent months.

Waleed Abu al-Khair has represented many victims of human rights violations. His former client Raif Badawi, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in

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Accessing celebrities is expensive work

Jul 11th, 2014 11:23 am | By

Oh good, another shiny new secular project. We just can’t have enough of those, all the more so if they’re all run by the same people who say the same things.

The mission of Openly Secular is to eliminate discrimination and increase acceptance by getting secular people – including atheists, freethinkers, agnostics, humanists and nonreligious people – to be open about their beliefs.

Ok, that’s fine. It’s good to eliminate discrimination and increase acceptance. I think their including should include theists, since some theists are also secularists according to one definition of secular, but perhaps they’re using a different definition. So, ok so far.

[Updating to add: Actually that was too hasty. I gave them that part mostly for … Read the rest

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Remembering Srebrenica

Jul 11th, 2014 10:26 am | By

Riada Asimovic Akyol points out one of the many genocides we get to commemorate.

In July 1995 in Srebrenica, the Bosnian Serb forces committed genocide, by killing 8,000 Bosniak men and boys. What is more shameful is that Srebrenica was a protected UN safe area, but the Dutch peacekeepers who had the responsibility to protect around 30,000 refugees in the area failed to prevent the mass slaughter.

This wasn’t a battle; it was rounding people up and murdering them; murdering them for genocidal reasons.

The two main masterminds of the genocide are currently on trial at The Hague Court: The former president of Republika Srpska, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, war general of the Army of Republika Srpska, also

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Resting velocipede face

Jul 10th, 2014 6:34 pm | By

The things people worried about in the 19th century…

One such was the risk that women who rode bicycles would get – wait for it – bicycle face.

Instead, some late 19th century doctors warned that — especially for women — using the newfangled contraption could lead to a threatening medical condition: bicycle face.

Because…what? They were facing forward and paying attention, so they wouldn’t look all languorous and dreamy and fragile, as the fashion was?

“Over-exertion, the upright position on the wheel, and the unconscious effort to maintain one’s balance tend to produce a wearied and exhausted ‘bicycle face,’” noted the Literary Digest in 1895. It went on to describe the condition: “usually flushed, but sometimes pale, often with

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Todd Akin regrets

Jul 10th, 2014 6:00 pm | By

Former Congressional Rep Todd Akin, Very Republican-Missouri, famous solely for being the guy who said “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” has regrets.

He has regrets about saying that ridiculous and insulting thing?

Oh no. No no no. He has regrets about apologizing for saying that ridiculous and insulting thing.

Sean Sullivan at the Washington Post tells us about the regrets.

Akin explains himself in a soon-to-be-released book, “Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom.” 

Let’s pause for a second to admire that string of clichés. Bosses, media elite, faith, freedom; enemy enemy, good good. Imagine what the book … Read the rest

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Few things are as grave as the rape of land

Jul 10th, 2014 5:02 pm | By

Back in 2008, in Cairo, another discussion of rape.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDqWGtykYNERead the rest

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Pictures of themselves splayed out on the ground

Jul 10th, 2014 1:31 pm | By

Amanda Marcotte on the Jada outrage.

Man, does this demonstrate what a double-edged sword social media can be when it comes to issues of assault and bullying. On one hand, social media can be used to pile on someone who is already the victim of abuse. The Houston Press reports that after Jada gave her interview to KHOU, another round of ugliness started when idiots started tweeting pictures of themselves splayed out on the ground, mimicking the pose Jada was in when someone snapped the photo of her passed out.

I’ve seen some more on that hashtag. Callous, brutal – simply horrible.

It’s a shame that anyone would feel like they might as well come forward because they have

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So raping girls for lolz is a thing now is it?

Jul 10th, 2014 12:58 pm | By

There’s another Steubenville type case in Texas, to provide us with yet more despair about human beings.

In an incident that shares several elements with the infamous Steubenville rape case that made national headlines last year, a 16-year-old girl from Texas says that photos of her unconscious body went viral online after she was drugged and raped at a party with her fellow high schoolers. But the victim isn’t backing down. She’s speaking out about what happened to her, telling her story to local press and asking to be identified as Jada.

After other teens started mocking her online — sharing images of themselves splayed out on the floor in the same pose as Jada’s unconscious body under the

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The god seats

Jul 10th, 2014 12:42 pm | By

Why, why, why.

Obama goes to Texas to chat with Rick Perry about immigration.

Obama delivered remarks after he met in Dallas with local elected officials, faith leaders and nonprofit leaders to discuss how to handle the flood of illegal immigrants, many of them unaccompanied minors from, crossing the southern border.

Why? Why did he meet with “faith leaders”? What have they got to do with anything? Why not limit it to nonprofit leaders, some of whom could well be religious? Why give “faith leaders” a seat at the table? Why can’t the government just stop doing this?

Asking for a friend.… Read the rest

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The mundane and beyond

Jul 10th, 2014 11:57 am | By

My boss (so to speak – the editor of Free Inquiry) Tom Flynn takes on the notion of “transcendence” in his editorial in the current issue.

In a 2013 Guardian blog post bewailing atheism’s poverty as a supporting matrix for secular ceremonies, British writer Suzanne Moore wrote: “We may find the fuzziness of new age thinking with its emphasis on ‘nature’ and ‘spirit’ impure, but to dismiss the human need to express transcendence and connection with others as stupid is itself stupid.”

If you’ve been looking for an elevator speech about the differences between religious and secular humanism, this is a great place to start. Religious humanists may well yearn to “express transcendence and connection with others.” How

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



Combat the demons by taking their pants off!

Jul 9th, 2014 6:16 pm | By

Another from the annals of video game weirdness.

The plot of Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed, a new Japanese adventure game making its way to the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PS Vita this year, is pretty straightforward: As a young man, you’re tasked with identifying and eliminating bloodthirsty demons that have invaded Tokyo. The concept seems harmless, if a bit tired, until you realize that the “demons” in question seem to primarily take the form of young girls, and your best method of combating them is to strip off their clothing and expose them to the sun.

So, instead of battling grotesque enemies like you can in so many games involving demons, you’re stripping what appears to be

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Chillin’

Jul 9th, 2014 6:01 pm | By

Have a red panda.

Have I ever told you about the evening the male red panda somehow went for walkies and ended up lounging in the smaller (and fortunately empty) outdoor gorilla enclosure? Yes I probably did.

Have a red panda.

 … Read the rest

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The Obama administration’s initial, parsimonious exemption

Jul 9th, 2014 5:03 pm | By

This is a depressing story, which I didn’t know about – the role of liberal columnists in stoking the fires of rage about the “religious exemption” from the ACA birth control mandate. Patricia Miller at Religion Dispatches tells that story.

On the left, E.J. Dionne calls for a “broad public consultation with religious groups” on the issue to avoid another firestorm:

After first providing a far-too-narrow exemption from the contraception mandate for explicitly religious nonprofits, President Obama came up with an accommodation that provides birth control coverage through alternative means….

It’s unfortunate that the Obama administration’s initial, parsimonious exemption for religious groups helped ignite the firestorm that led to Hobby Lobby. It might consider this lesson as it moves,

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Surely goodness and mercy

Jul 9th, 2014 4:26 pm | By

The pastor of a California church and a couple of other guys pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of beating and threatening the life of a 13-year-old boy.

Some unpleasant details ahead.

Lonny Lee Remmers, 56, Nicholas James Craig, 24, and Darryll Duane Jeter Jr., 30, tortured the boy in the church-run group home where he lived, according to a witness report in affidavits for search warrants.

The March 2012 incidents included Craig and Jeter driving the victim to the desert and forcing him to dig his own grave. They then made him get in and threw dirt on him. They were responding to Remmers’ instruction to “scare” the boy, according to the affidavits.

While the boy was

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Balance, baaaaaalance

Jul 9th, 2014 3:48 pm | By

I’ve spent one half of today arguing with people who think I’m too ideologically pure and the other half arguing with people who think I’m not ideologically pure enough.

I can’t decide if that’s hilarious or annoying.

 

 … Read the rest

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Can I sidewalk counsel people on their way to…?

Jul 9th, 2014 11:49 am | By

I got an idea from Katha Pollitt on Twitter – she’s making suggestions for sidewalk counseling. Like:

Can i sidewalk counsel women on their way to Mormon temple? Stay away from that sexist place where 12 year old boys have more power than you.

Let’s play.

Can I sidewalk counsel people on their way to a yoga place? Hey, don’t go in there, you can’t twist yourself into a pretzel like that!

Can I sidewalk counsel people on their way to a rock concert? Stay away from that place, you’ll damage your hearing!

Can I sidewalk counsel people on their way to get a haircut? Don’t waste your money in there, get a friend to cut it for you!Read the rest

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



Canya fixit?

Jul 9th, 2014 11:39 am | By

CFI urges:

Help Fix What Hobby Lobby Broke: Tell Your U.S. Senators to Protect Women’s Access to Birth Control

Yes do that, even if you think this is just window-dressing by the Democrats.

Trying to repair the damage done by the Court, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) today introduced the “Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014.” The bill states that employers cannot refuse to cover any health coverage – including contraceptive coverage – promised to employees and their dependents under federal law. It includes the exemption for houses of worship and the accommodation for religious non-profits already put into place by the Obama administration.

We at the Center for Inquiry

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