Notes and Comment Blog

The Twitter route out of purgatory

Jul 16th, 2013 5:04 pm | By


Vatican offers ‘time off purgatory’ to followers of Pope Francis tweets

[gasp] On the one hand purgatory, on the other hand tweets.


In its latest attempt to keep up with the times the Vatican has married one of its oldest traditions to the world of social media by offering “indulgences” to followers of Pope Francis’ tweets.

The church’s granted indulgences reduce the time Catholics believe they will have to spend in purgatory after they have confessed and been absolved of their sins.

Reduce the time Catholics believe they will have to spend in purgatory? What good is that?? Surely the believers want the indulgences to reduce the actual time Catholics have to spend in purgatory. I wonder if that’s the actual deal, or if it’s just the reporter’s clumsy attempt to say that some people don’t believe in purgatory.

The remissions got a bad name in the Middle Ages because unscrupulous churchmen sold them for large sums of money. But now indulgences are being applied to the 21st century.

But a senior Vatican official warned web-surfing Catholics that indulgences still required a dose of old-fashioned faith, and that paradise was not just a few mouse clicks away.

“You can’t obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine,” Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Indulgences these days are granted to those who carry out certain tasks – such as climbing the Sacred Steps, in Rome (reportedly brought from Pontius Pilate’s house after Jesus scaled them before his crucifixion), a feat that earns believers seven years off purgatory.

Ok, I think I understand. You can’t get an indulgence just by clicking a mouse a few times, but you can get one by climbing some stairs. Fair enough. The Vatican wants people to stay in shape.

But attendance at events such as the Catholic World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro, a week-long event starting on 22 July, can also win an indulgence.

Mindful of the faithful who cannot afford to fly to Brazil, the Vatican’s sacred apostolic penitentiary, a court which handles the forgiveness of sins, has also extended the privilege to those following the “rites and pious exercises” of the event on television, radio and through social media.

“That includes following Twitter,” said a source at the penitentiary, referring to Pope Francis’ Twitter account, which has gathered seven million followers. “But you must be following the events live. It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the internet.”

In its decree, the penitentiary said that getting an indulgence would hinge on the beneficiary having previously confessed and being “truly penitent and contrite”.

Oh dear god, how can anyone take them seriously? It makes as much sense as taking Sylvia Browne seriously.

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

It was they who exploited the women

Jul 16th, 2013 4:43 pm | By

And speaking of the Magdalenes – here is a petition you can sign, to force the orders who ran the Magdalen laundries to pay compensation to the victims.

They have refused to make payment of compensation, leaving this to the Irish Government but it was they who exploited the women, they who ran the laundries and they who should pay for the abuse they committed.  Letting them get away with not paying would be a true travesty of justice.

As is so common with the church.


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

Guest post on unethical vaccine experiments in Ireland

Jul 16th, 2013 4:38 pm | By

A comment that came in late on a post from last week, and I didn’t want it to go overlooked. By Mari Steed.

In August 2011, after filing a DPA request with GSK, the HSE South (record-holders for Sacred Heart Adoption Society files), I was able to confirm that I was part of the active 4-in-one vaccine trials group (1960-61 at Bessboro). And despite that myself and two others were actively sought out and contacted by the law firm Shannon Solicitors, who seemed to firmly believe we had a case, solicitor Vincent Shannon later dumped us like a hot potato with little explanation given.

Life and the Magdalene Laundries campaign intervened, so I set this issue aside for the nonce. But I am now ready to take it up again, most likely as one of just many human rights abuses under the umbrella of Ireland’s forced adoption schemes, including trafficking of children abroad.

For the skeptics, I’m not out to skin GSK or science (being an ardent science fan). However, all of my experimental injections were given prior to October 1961, when, according to the Irish Dept. of Foreign Affairs, my mother signed formal relinquishment. We were both resident at Bessboro until December 1961. That means that legally I was still her child and no permission was ever sought from her for my participation in the trials. And no follow-up was ever done with my adoptive parents in the US to insure I suffered no ill effects. Bad science? You betcha. Watch this space…we’re not done yet.

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

HRW on setbacks for women in Afghanistan

Jul 16th, 2013 3:48 pm | By

Another press release.

(Kabul) – Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, should reject a proposed criminal law revision that would effectively deny women legal protection from domestic violence, Human Rights Watch said today. A new draft of the criminal procedure code, seen by Human Rights Watch, is currently being considered by Afghanistan’s parliament.

The proposed language would prohibit the relatives of a criminal defendant from being questioned as a witness against the accused. Should this provision become law, victims and other family members who have been witnesses to abuse will be silenced in domestic violence cases, making successful prosecutions unlikely.

“Afghanistan’s lower house is proposing to protect the batterers of women and girls from criminal punishment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Legislative approval of this criminal law revision would effectively stop prosecutions of people who beat, forcibly marry, and even sell their female relatives.”

Article 26 of the draft law, entitled “Forbiddance of Questioning an Individual as a Witness,” states that “The following people cannot be questioned as a witness: … 4) Relatives of the accused person.” The amended procedure code would pose a serious threat to critical protections for women and girls embodied in Afghanistan’s groundbreaking Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women (the EVAW Law), passed by presidential decree in 2009. The EVAW law provides criminal penalties for various abuses including rape, child marriage, forced marriage, domestic violence, sale of women and girls, and baad, the giving of girls to resolve disputes between families.

The proposed ban on testifying against relatives follows several other efforts by the Wolesi Jirga to further weaken the inadequate legal protections for women’s rights, Human Rights Watch said. Members of parliament opposed to women’s rights have increasingly sought to repeal or weaken the EVAW Law. A Wolesi Jirga debate over the EVAW Law in May 2013 was halted after 15 minutes when parliamentarians called for revisions that would have eliminated the minimum marriage age for girls, abolished shelters, and ended criminal penalties for rape and domestic violence. Although the EVAW law has been slowly and unevenly enforced, it has been a crucial tool for fighting violence against women.

You kind of start to think they’re doing this for a reason, almost as if they want to commit violence against women.

The legislative threat emerging from the Wolesi Jirga coincides with other recent developments that indicate a broad-based attack on women’s rights which the government has contributed to, rather than opposed:

  • President Hamid Karzai appointed to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) a former Taliban government official, Abdul Rahman Hotak, who publicly denounced the EVAW Law. Hotak was quoted in the New York Times on July 1 saying, “The people who have written that law do not know Afghanistan and Afghan society very well – perhaps they think Kabul is Afghanistan.” The same week he told Reuters that in his view the EVAW Law is “violating Islam” and there should be a law that people are “comfortable” with.
  • Another ominous sign of the ongoing rollback in women’s rights in Afghanistan was the decision in early July by an appeals court to release three family members convicted for the torture and starvation of a teenage in-law, Sahar Gul, after serving only about a year of a 10-year sentence for her attempted murder. In 2011, Sahar Gul’s stepbrother sold her for US$5000 to be forcibly married. She was about age 13 or 14 at the time. According to media reports, soon after the marriage her in-laws attempted to force Sahar Gul into prostitution. When she resisted, the in-laws locked her in the basement of their house for months, burned her, pulled out her fingernails and pinched her with pliers. She was found in December 2011 locked in the basement, badly malnourished. The appeals court reversed the sentence and instead ordered the release of Gul’s mother-in-law, father-in-law, and sister-in-law for lack of evidence of attempted murder.
  • On July 3, unidentified assailants shot and killed Islam Bibi, the most senior female police officer in insecure Helmand province, on her way to work. The murder highlighted the risks to women in public life and the Afghan government’s failure to protect women under threat.

The escalating setbacks to women’s rights have not deterred the Afghan government from trying to put a positive spin on recent developments, Human Rights Watch said. On July 10, an Afghan delegation at the United Nations in Geneva for the first review of Afghanistan’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), assured the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women that the Afghan government is fully committed to implementing CEDAW and to promoting women’s rights.

“While Afghan officials give lip service to women’s rights at the UN, the president, parliament and courts are actively undermining those rights,” Adams said. “Afghanistan’s foreign donors should be loud and clear that they won’t stand by while Afghan women’s hard-won rights are swept away.”

So that women won’t be murdered or raped or locked up and tortured. That’s not asking so much…

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

Saturday afternoon in Dublin

Jul 16th, 2013 3:33 pm | By

In Dublin a couple of weeks ago -

Photo: At  "Empowering Women Through Secularism 2013" International Conference in Dublin with Ophelia Benson, Marie Therese Loughlin, Venie Martin, Taslima Nasrin, Maryam Namazie, and Farhana Shakir

Next to me but one is Venie Martin, Taslima, Shah Nawaz, Maryam, and Farhana Shakir.

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

The murder of an inspiring activist

Jul 16th, 2013 2:45 pm | By

Human Rights Watch’s news release on the torture and killing of Eric Ohena Lembembe.

(Nairobi) – Cameroonian authorities should immediately conduct an effective and thorough investigation into the torture and killing of Eric Ohena Lembembe, an activist and journalist who was found dead at his home in Yaoundé on the evening of July 15. Lembembe, executive director of the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS), was an outspoken activist who defended the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people.

Lembembe’s friends discovered his body on Monday evening after being unable to reach him by telephone for two days, and went to his home. They found his front door padlocked on the outside, but could see Lembembe’s body lying on his bed through the window. Lembembe’s friends alerted the police, who broke down the door. According to one friend, Lembembe’s neck and feet appeared to have been broken, and his face, hands, and feet had been burned with an iron.

Lembembe was one of Cameroon’s most prominent LGBTI rights activists. On behalf of CAMFAIDS, he collaborated closely with Human Rights Watch and two other Cameroonian organizations, Alternatives-Cameroun and the Association for the Defense of Homosexuals (ADEFHO), in researching and launching a March 2013 report on prosecutions for consensual same-sex conduct. He also participated in drafting a submission for Cameroon’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2013 at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Lembembe was also a contributor to the blog “Erasing 76 Crimes” and authored several chapters in a book on LGBTI rights around the world, From Wrongs to Gay Rights. His organization assiduously documented arrests, violence, and blackmail against LGBTI people in Cameroon.

“Eric was an inspiring activist whose work was deeply appreciated by human rights activists in Cameroon and around the world,” said Neela Ghoshal, senior LGBT rights researcher. “Advocating for equal rights in Cameroon, where LGBTI people face severe discrimination and violence, takes tremendous courage. Eric’s activism paved the way for a society based on equality and nondiscrimination.”

Lembembe’s killing follows several attacks on the offices of human rights defenders, including those working for equal rights for LGBTI people. On June 26, 2013, unidentified assailants burned down the Douala headquarters of Alternatives-Cameroun, which provides HIV services to LGBTI people. A few days earlier on June 16, the Yaoundé office of human rights lawyer Michel Togué, who represents clients charged with same-sex conduct, was burgled, and his legal files and laptop stolen. Both Togué and Alice Nkom, another lawyer who represents LGBTI clients, have received repeated death threats by email and SMS, including threats to kill their children. Although activists have reported all of these incidents, the Cameroonian authorities have not apprehended a single suspect.

“We don’t know who killed Eric Lembembe, or why he was killed, but one thing is clear: the Cameroonian authorities’ utter failure to stem homophobic violence sends the message that these attacks can be carried out with impunity,” Ghoshal said. “The police should not rest until the perpetrators of this horrific crime are brought to justice. President Biya should break his silence on the wave of homophobic violence in Cameroon and publicly condemn this brutal attack.”

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

Broken and burned

Jul 16th, 2013 2:39 pm | By

Well here’s a horrible bit of news (so consider yourself warned):

Prominent Cameroonian gay rights activist and journalist Eric Lembembe has been killed in the capital, Yaounde, a rights group says.

Mr Lembembe’s neck and feet appeared to have been broken and his face, hands, and feet burned with an iron, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

The cause of the killing is not known, but Mr Lembembe is the latest activist to
be targeted in Cameroon, it added.

Homosexual acts are illegal in socially conservative Cameroon.

Lots of things are illegal in most or all places, but that doesn’t mean they’re all punished with torture and murder. How strange and how appalling to be so freaked out by gay rights that it seems right to torture people to death for advocating them.

In December, a Cameroon appeals court upheld the sentencing to 36 months in prison of Roger Jean-Claude Mbede under anti-gay legislation.

His lawyer said he was sentenced simply for sending a text to someone to say he loved him.

Three years in the slammer for expressing love.


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

A caution

Jul 16th, 2013 2:15 pm | By

Heh. I missed Michael Nugent’s comment on that “playful” incident in the Dáil during the abortion bill debate.

Irish Government Health Warning

Don't Drink and Legislate


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

The lowering of standards

Jul 16th, 2013 11:46 am | By

So John 23 is on a fast track to sainthood, and to speed things up, Frank is waiving the second miracle requirement. The what? I don’t know, I don’t make the rules; apparently that’s the requirement – not one miracle but two. Only now they’re saying maybe it isn’t, or maybe it shouldn’t be. Deep stuff.

With that rare, if not unprecedented, move, Francis has rekindled a years-old debate in Catholic circles, with some asking whether miracles are really needed for sainthood anymore.

“I think it is time to drop the miracle requirement,” says the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest who is a senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter.

“It is sufficient to look at a person’s life and ask, did this person live the life of a Christian in a special or extraordinary way that can be held up for admiration and imitation by other Christians?”

So what are we talking about here? What, exactly, is a “saint”? Does it mean an especially good person, or an especially holy person? The two are hardly identical, after all, and in fact they can easily be antithetical. Look at “Mother” Teresa for example, refusing to provide pain medications to the unfortunate people in her hospices, and rejoicing in their suffering because it made them more like Jesus. That’s very “holy” and very bad.

According to the church, miracles are performed by God, not the saints. The saints’ role is to bend God’s ear, to intercede on behalf of those who pray to them and make sure that God heeds their requests.

The rationale for the miracle requirement is that it proves “that the person is in heaven and listened to by God,” Reese said.

Do you listen to yourselves? Do you realize how infantile that sounds?

Professor Daniele Menozzi, a church historian at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, said the importance of miracles grew during the 19th century as the church was engaged in its struggle against the modern world.

“Miracles — events that science wasn’t able to explain — were the church’s answer to the scientific mindset,” he said.

Events that science wasn’t able to explain and that didn’t happen. They’re not events, they’re stories. The Vatican’s mumbo-jumbo doesn’t turn them into events; they’re still just stories.

At the Vatican, potential miracles are vetted by a team of specialist doctors, who are called to determine whether a miraculous healing can be explained by modern medicine.

“But medicine becomes more complex and advanced by the day, so it’s possible to make mistakes,” cautions the Rev. Peter Gumpel, a Jesuit expert who has worked on saints’ causes for more than 60 years.

Today, unexplained healings make up about 95 percent of church-certified miracles. But it has happened in the past that what was considered a miracle has been later explained by science.

Like that.

For Gumpel, by looking only at physical miracles “the church ventures in a field that is not its own.”

He says that the church could look for God’s intervention “in the many spheres of human experience” beyond medicine.

“When a couple gets reconciled, or economic help arrives against all human expectations — if there are hundreds of such cases, all after praying to the same person, then God wants to tell us something,” Gumpel argues.

No. Those are not “miracles.” They defy no laws of nature. Even Jesuits don’t get to make up the rules.

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

The coat hanger we are discussing is the wire affair

Jul 15th, 2013 6:01 pm | By

Avicenna has his own ferocious post on coat-hanger abortions, in his case with trigger warning (so consider this a trigger warning). It’s useful to hear from doctors, like Avi and like Jen Gunter whom I quoted Saturday, about the realities of amateur abortion.

A small bit from Avicenna’s post.

The coat hanger we are discussing is the wire affair. It’s rather hard to actually do it with the plastic affair unless you break it apart.

To put it into perspective. It’s like trying to thread a sharpened object into a balloon if the walls of the balloon were made out of cake. If you touch them with the sharp bit you lose, good game have fun.

The solo self abortionist while unskilled is enthusiastic. It’s almost as if such an individual doesn’t want the baby. To this end she has to thrust the coat hanger into her vagina with the hope of threading it through the cervix. Most women who do this and who come in have no idea why they were doing it. They just figure it would cause the foetus to stop developing or cause a miscarriage. They hear about it from word of mouth.

It’s why I specifically learnt all my medicine from strange men in the pub rather than a university. Because word of mouth is an excellent teacher of clinical skills. No wait… It’s not.

So she doesn’t know what she is doing, merely hoping that something happens. The waggle it about and hope it works methodology of medicine. What she is hoping is to pass the point of the object through the cervical opening, rupture the membranes and cause the leak of amnion liquor. This will eventually cause the foetus to die and be miscarried. Stressful but less so than having the baby.

The uterine wall is soft and spongy during pregnancy. It’s thick but not very muscular. It’s richly supplied with blood vessels as it forms part of the exchange surface with the placenta (which helps the baby breathe). Now you can rupture ANY of these with a sharp object that is blindly inserted. This leads to massive blood loss. Not helped by the fact that pregnancy causes physiological strain that reduces a woman’s capacity to tolerate blood loss.

Due to the nature of handedness, chances are the blood vessel hit is the uterine artery. Arterial bleeding is powered by the heart. You can bleed out in minutes. Shock ensues followed by death if there is no medical staff present to control it.

The good old days.

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

A funny thing to watch

Jul 15th, 2013 5:39 pm | By

Convos With My 2 Year Old

as re-enacted by me and another full-grown man – Episode 1

Very Pinteresque.

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

Oh give it a rest

Jul 15th, 2013 4:48 pm | By

The godbotherers go to the pub.


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

Arguing from insult

Jul 15th, 2013 3:26 pm | By


Sexism among politicians in Ireland. Again.

Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty was accused of “talking through her fanny” by Senator David Norris over the abolition of the Seanad.

Note for US readers: “fanny” over there doesn’t mean bum, it means cunt.

THE FINE Gael TD accused of “talking through her fanny” by David Norris is to lodge a formal complaint about the Trinity senator over his “sexist” remarks.

Regina Doherty is the Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum, but Mr Norris also dismissed her opinions as “The Regina Monologues”. In a statement, Ms Doherty said she was “upset” by the comments.

“I have to admit that I was upset by the personal nature of the remarks that Senator Norris made about me in the Seanad earlier today,” the Meath East TD said.

“They were contrived and intentional. I will be making a formal complaint to the Leader of the Seanad in relation to Senator Norris’ comments.

“Senator Norris’ sexist and deeply inappropriate language certainly brought public attention to the Seanad today. But his comments have done absolutely nothing to strengthen his claim that the superior level of debate in the Seanad means the Upper House is worth saving.”

Seriously. This crap has got to stop.

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

Nation Throws Hands Up

Jul 15th, 2013 3:11 pm | By

Maybe the only fitting commentary comes from the Onion.

Nation Throws Hands Up, Tells Black Teenagers To Do Their Best Out There

WASHINGTON—Following Sunday’s not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, an exasperated and speechless nation could reportedly do nothing other than wish black teenagers good luck out there, saying that they’re definitely going to need it.

“Yeah, I don’t know what to tell you other than keep your wits about you and hope for the best,” Alexandria, VA resident Michael Klein advised the nation’s 10 million African-American youths. “Honestly, I’d recommend just staying inside after sundown if you can.”

“Try to stay safe, okay?” he added.

After neighborhood watch patrolman George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in a case where he admitted to shooting and killing unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a frustrated U.S. populace said that maybe the only thing left for black teenagers to do is hope and pray for the best.

In addition, the citizenry said that it’s basically gotten to the point where African-American teens need to avoid walking alone, hanging out in groups, or even minding their own business, especially if they are planning to do any of those things in public.

Read on.

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

Another “spiritual leader” convicted of atrocities

Jul 15th, 2013 11:49 am | By

Ghulam Azam has been sentenced for crimes against humanity in a Dhaka court today.

Azam led Jamaat-e-Islami in then-east Pakistan in 1971 when Bangladesh became independent through a bloody war. He is among several Jamaat-e-Islami leaders convicted by a tribunal formed in 2010 by the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to try those accused of collaborating with the Pakistani army in the war.

Bangladesh says the Pakistani army killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women during the nine-month war, and some 10 million people took shelter across the border in India.

Azam led the party until 2000 and is still considered to be its spiritual leader. Jamaat-e-Islami claims his trial and others were politically motivated, which authorities deny.

The tribunal said Azam was guilty of all 61 charges under five categories: conspiracy, incitement, planning, abetment and failure to prevent killing.

He and his party were accused of forming citizens’ brigades to commit genocide and other serious crimes against the pro-independence fighters during the war.

Azam had openly campaigned against the creation of Bangladesh and toured the Middle East to get support in favour of Pakistan. He routinely met with Pakistan authorities during the war. A mouthpiece of the party routinely published statements by Azam and his associates calling for crushing the fighters who fought against the Pakistani military in 1971.

The prosecution in the trial said Azam must take “command responsibility” for months of atrocities perpetrated by his supporters.

The religion of peace.


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

Memory on tv

Jul 15th, 2013 10:58 am | By

I watched a rerun of a Law and Order last night, and got very exasperated at the way it portrays memory. It got it all wrong, of course. I know this about cop shows, so it may be silly to get exasperated, but I did all the same.

A crucial character was an Iraq war vet working security in a rowdy club, who had undiagnosed PTSD which was triggered by a band setting off fireworks. Throughout the episode he was pushed to think again about the incident and see what else he could remember about it – so, as you would expect with a visual medium, we would get a visual replay of what was supposed to be his memory, and then a zoom and freezeframe on a particular face, which he would then describe and pick out of a lineup or point to in court.

Memory isn’t like that. It’s not a tape. You can’t “go back in” and “replay the tape” and “spot the forgotten person.” Memory is not a tape. But movies and tv have trained us all to think it is, and they renew the training every day.

Eyewitness testimony is horrendously unreliable, and made even more unreliable than it needs to be because people think it is like a tape and you can go back in and dig up forgotten faces with total accuracy, so witnesses have way more confidence than they should have.

It would be nice to see cop shows start to do a better job of informing us about that.

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

“We will kill them in front of their students”

Jul 14th, 2013 3:25 pm | By

The leader of Boko Haram has made a video in which he tells everyone that Boko Haram plans to go right on murdering as many people as it possibly can, in order to pay its compliments to God and to kill lots and lots of human beings. The loathsome piece of shit held a Kalashnikov and harangued everyone about reading the Koran. If anyone wants to know what the combination of hatred and pious stupidity results in, the leader of Boko Haram has made it easy to find out.

And that’s not even all; he also tells insulting stupid lies to the effect that Boko Haram doesn’t kill children.

The leader of Nigeria‘s Islamist militant group Boko Haram has called for more attacks against schools, describing western education as a “plot against Islam”, in a video released days after his fighters killed 46 students in an assault on a dorm.

In the 15-minute recording released at the weekend, Abubakar Shekau said schools would continue to be targeted “until our last breath”.

“Teachers who teach western education? We will kill them! We will kill them in front of their students, and tell the students to henceforth study the Qur’an,” he said, gesticulating energetically while dressed in military fatigues and a traditional hat.

Shekau denied that his fighters killed children. “Our religion does not permit us to touch small children and women, we don’t kill children,” he said, reading from sheets of paper as he cradled a Kalashnikov.

It’s disgusting and foul and horrible, but it works well for them.

A recent spate of attacks on schools is part of a two-pronged strategy that plays up the extremists’ ideology against western institutions while also providing a stream of potential new recruits as frightened parents pull their children out of education.

Unschooled and unemployed children are increasingly being recruited – sometimes forcibly – to fill the ranks of Boko Haram and unleash violence against their peers, the Guardian has learned.

Win-win, you see? They kill some students, then the others get pulled out of school and Boko Haram grabs them and makes them do more of the same. At that rate it shouldn’t take them long at all to either kill or ruin every child in Nigeria.

Just after dawn on 6 July,  a school dormitory was doused in petrol and set alight in north-eastern Yobe. Those trying to flee the flames were shot. The attack left 46 dead, mostly students. More than 300 classrooms have been torched in the remote, arid state since 2009, according to official counts.

Hundreds of families have fled the region. “This really shook us up. Students being attacked in their sleep is too disgusting for us to even imagine,” said Adam Mohammed, a textiles trader visiting neighbouring northern Kano state, where he relocated his family for safety reasons. “It was hard, but I feel I made the right decision to leave Yobe. I’m a father of three and when I think of what those parents must be going through …” He shook his head mutely.

A god that does nothing but hate. A god that hates children, teachers, education, peace, progress, happiness, kindness, generosity – all it wants is death and misery.

Mohammed, a gardener working in the economic capital of Lagos, said he had fled from his village of Dikwa, a few miles from a large Boko Haram camp. “The Boko Haram were everywhere. They collected taxes from us. They stripped one Muslim girl naked and beat her because they said she didn’t cover her ankles,” he said, looking nervous at the mention of the militants.

He said two men had turned up at his grass-roofed house in May. “They said the almajari [religious school] my son was going to was haram [forbidden] because the imam used prayer beads. They gave me all kinds of warnings. They said that I shouldn’t cross my arms when I was talking to them because crossing the arms is haram too.”

The final straw had come days later when his family were awakened by a neighbour’s wailing. “[Boko Haram] told her they took her son to their camp to fight for Allah,” Mohammed said. “They said the boy’s family is now the Boko Haram. My wife said we should leave that very day.”

How to create hell on earth.

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

Only family violence

Jul 14th, 2013 11:53 am | By

RAWA comments on the release of Sahar Gul’s torturers.

Sahar Gul, who was 15 at the time her ordeal, was burned, beaten  and had her fingernails pulled out by her husband and in-laws after she refused  to become a prostitute in a case that shocked the world.

She was found in the basement of her husband’s house in northeastern Baghlan province in late 2011, having been locked in a toilet for six months prior to her rescue by police.

Her father-in-law, mother-in-law and sister-in-law were  sentenced to prison for 10 years each for torture and attempted murder, though her husband remains at large.

“But after the court reviewed their case, it found out that they were only involved in family violence,” Supreme Court spokesman Abdullah Attaee  told AFP.

Excuse me? “Only” family violence? What the fucking fuck can that possibly mean? Because she was sold to them in “marriage” therefore she is “family” and therefore they get to burn her, beat her, pull her fingernails out, and chain her in a toilet for months? That’s “only” family violence?

Afghan rights groups expressed indignation over the early  releases, calling it a step back in time for Afghanistan’s women.

“This case, once heralded as a legal triumph underscoring the  advances for women’s rights in the past decade in Afghanistan is now a harbinger  of a grim future,” Women for Afghan Women, a Kabul and New York based women’s  rights organisation who helped Gul during the trial wrote on their website.

Violence and abuse against women continues to be a major problem in Afghanistan a decade after US-led troops brought down the notorious Taliban  regime.

In May the Afghan parliament cut short a debate on a bill to protect women from violence after complaints from some traditionalist MPs that  it was against Islamic teaching.

If it is against “Islamic teaching” then “Islamic teaching” is evil and monstrous. Period.


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

Widespread laughter

Jul 14th, 2013 10:44 am | By

Everyday sexism, Boris Johnson division.

Boris Johnson has risked accusations of sexism after he told a City Hall audience that rising numbers of women are attending university in order to find a husband.

Well that’s a stupid way of putting it. It’s not much of a “risk,” is it. It’s the other way around – it’s uppity women who make “accusations of sexism” against important men who take a risk, not important men who say sexist shit. I know this. I still get solemn, “thoughtful” guys telling me I owe Michael Shermer an apology for pointing out that he said something sexist when he did in fact say something sexist.

Boris Johnson risked nothing by making a stupid degrading sexist joke. Nothing.

Johnson’s remark was made at last week’s launch of the World Islamic Economic Forum, where he appeared alongside the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Asked about the role of women in Islamic societies,  Razak told the Evening Standard’s Pippa Crerar:

“Before coming here my officials have told me that the latest university intake in Malaysia, a Muslim country, 68% will be women entering our universities.”

After which Boris interrupted with the suggestion that:

“They’ve got to find men to marry”

The comment was greeted with widespread laughter as well as a few groans.

See what I mean? Widespread laughter and a few groans. Contempt for women is perfectly mainstream and risk-free.


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

Who followed whom?

Jul 14th, 2013 10:32 am | By

Do I have anything useful to say about the Zimmerman verdict? No, not really, except that I don’t get it. Martin didn’t stalk Zimmerman; Zimmerman stalked Martin; so I don’t get it.

Or maybe I do, but wish I didn’t.

Update: someone named Julia Wong put it very well in a tweet.

The actions our society condones as “self-defense” are indicative of who is deemed to have a self (be human). This is white supremacy.

I’m afraid I think that’s about right.

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