Notes and Comment Blog

A gun on his hip

Feb 11th, 2015 4:12 pm | By

The Huffington Post has some more details on Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, and on Craig Hicks.

Barakat and Mohammad were newlyweds who helped the homeless and raised funds to help Syrian refugees in Turkey this summer. They met while running the Muslim Student Association at N.C. State before he began pursuing an advanced degree in dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mohammad planned to join her husband in dentistry school in the fall.

Abu-Salha was visiting them Tuesday from Raleigh, where she was majoring in design at N.C. State.

She was visiting. If she’d been in Raleigh she’d still be alive.

Imad Ahmad, who lived in the condo where his friends were killed until Barakat and Mohammed were married in December, said Hicks complained about once a month that the two men were parking in a vistor’s space as well as their assigned spot.

“He would come over to the door. Knock on the door and then have a gun on his hip saying ‘you guys need to not park here,'” said Ahmad, a graduate student in chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill. “He did it again after they got married.”

Both Hicks and his neighbors complained to the property managers, who apparently didn’t intervene. “They told us to call the police if the guy came and harassed us again,” Ahmad said.

“This man was frustrated day in and day out about not being able to park where he wanted to,” said Karen Hicks’ attorney, Robert Maitland.

And then there’s his favorite movie…

Hicks’ ex-wife, Cynthia Hurley, said that before they divorced about 17 years ago, his favorite movie was “Falling Down,” the 1993 Michael Douglas film about a divorced unemployed engineer who goes on a shooting rampage.

“That always freaked me out,” Hurley said. “He watched it incessantly. He thought it was hilarious. He had no compassion at all,” she said.

I’ve always avoided seeing that movie, because the premise revolts me, and this is why. Most people obviously don’t take that kind of inspiration from that kind of movie, but then there are the others…

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

So let’s relieve their pain

Feb 11th, 2015 12:18 pm | By

The Charlotte [North Carolina] Observer reports that the father of the two women murdered in Chapel Hill says it was a hate crime.

…the women’s father, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, who has a psychiatry practice in Clayton, said regardless of the precise trigger Tuesday night, Hicks’ underlying animosity toward Barakat and Abu-Salha was based on their religion and culture. Abu-Salha said police told him Hicks shot the three inside their apartment.

“It was execution style, a bullet in every head,” Abu-Salha said Wednesday morning. “This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime. This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt. And they were uncomfortable with him, but they did not know he would go this far.”

Abu-Salha said his daughter who lived next door to Hicks wore a Muslim head scarf and told her family a week ago that she had “a hateful neighbor.”

“Honest to God, she said, ‘He hates us for what we are and how we look,’” he said.

The police and prosecutors are still investigating.

Chapel Hill police found all three victims dead at the scene, after responding to a report of gunshots on Summerwalk Circle at 5:11 p.m. Tuesday. A woman who called 911 described hearing gunshots as she walked through the complex of apartments and condominiums adjacent to the Friday Center.

“I heard about eight shots go off in an apartment – I don’t know the number – about three girls, more than one girl, screaming, and then there was nothing,” the unidentified caller said. “And then I heard about three more shots go off.”

Oh, shit.

Barakat, a Syrian-American, enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013 to pursue his doctorate in dental surgery.

Both he and Abu-Salha advocated for global dental health, providing care and supplies to people in the United States and the Middle East. On Jan. 29, Barakat posted a Facebook photo of a Durham project that gave dental supplies and food to more than 75 homeless people this year.

Barakat was scheduled to travel with 10 other dentists this summer to Reyhanli, Turkey. There, they planned to treat Syrian refugee children for urgent dental needs, pass out toothbrushes and toothpaste, and support Turkish dentists and clinics.

In a video, he made an urgent plea for donations: “These kids don’t have access to the same health care as us, and their prolonged pain can easily be taken of with the work that we do, but we need the proper funding,” he said, wearing a “Carolina Dentistry” T-shirt. “So let’s relieve their pain. If you want to make a difference in the life of a child most in need, then I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity.”

That’s who they were.

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

She would like to dispel the rumors

Feb 11th, 2015 11:40 am | By

Mayim Bialik, the anti-vax tv star, has a Facebook post saying she is not either anti-vax so stop being poopy to her.

i would like to dispel the rumors about my stance on vaccines. i am not anti-vaccine. my children are vaccinated. there has been so much hysteria and anger about this issue and i hope this clears things up as far as my part.

It’s not rumors. I’ve read interviews in which she explains why she’s anti-vax. Tara Smith at Science blogs has more:

So did she really change her mind and her stance?

If so, why? Or is she just jumping on the “I’m not anti-vaccine” bandwagon like Jenny McCarthy and others who claim not to be anti-vaccine, but at the same time spew vaccine fear and misinformation? Are her kids fully vaccinated, or did they only have the ones she mentioned previously (such as polio for international travel)? Is she walking back statements that are basically anti-vaccine talking points, and removing her support of anti-vaccine doctors like Bob Sears and Lauren Feder (or her own pediatrician, Jay Gordon)?

I really hope so. But I won’t hold my breath, and take her statements that she’s “not anti-vaccine” with a big grain of salt. After all, that statement, itself, is often an anti-vaccine talking point.

Bialik’s post doesn’t look like a change of mind at all. It looks like saying she’s not anti-vax and never has been, which is very different from saying she was and has now fortunately changed her mind.

And she has the gall to be miffed about what she calls “hysteria and anger.” Yeah gee why would anyone be angry that Hollywood celebrities use their fame to help promote an anti-vax stance that can help to trigger epidemics? Don’t forget, measles was eradicated in the US until the anti-vax bullshit got going.

Shame on you, Mayim Bialik.

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

They were just starting out

Feb 11th, 2015 10:31 am | By

Damn. Twitter is full of photos of the three murdered students and they’re heartbreaking. They looked so happy…

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There’s also a Facebook for them set up by their families.

One post -

Yusor dancing with her father at her wedding. Her wedding was a little more than a month ago.

May Allah have mercy on the bride and groom in paradise.



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

Who your friends are

Feb 11th, 2015 9:18 am | By

Three students were murdered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina yesterday, two sisters and the husband of one of them. All three were Muslims, but the police are saying the shooting may have been to do with a parking dispute.

A 46-year-old man has been charged with murder in the shooting deaths of three students in an apartment near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

Police said “an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking” may have been a factor in the shootings Tuesday evening.

The suspect, Craig Stephen Hicks, turned himself in to police later in the night and is being held in the Durham County Jail without bond. He was cooperating with investigators, police said Wednesday morning.

You know what? He’s on Facebook. He’s a vocal atheist. I’m not FB friends with him but I have no fewer than 49 mutual friends with him, which is creepy as hell.

Ex-Muslims of North America posted on the subject an hour ago; a public post.

This is an atrocity and should be condemned as such, by Muslims and atheists alike. We, more than anyone, understand the dangers Islamism pose to individuals and to the world. But no matter what, opposition to Islamism CANNOT become opposition to Muslims. We stand in solidarity with the Muslim community – violence is never the answer.

It’s been becoming ever more apparent over the past few years (it was apparent to some people all along, and I’m not one of those people – I was wrong) that combative atheism is attractive to a lot of mean, belligerent, hostile, sadistic people. I still think a certain amount of combativeness is necessary for movements of social change, but…now I spy a danger, to quote Polonius or whoever it was.

About those three students whose lives were taken away from them -

The victims were Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

Barakat was Mohammad’s husband; Abu-Salha was her sister, the school said.

Barakat was a second-year student at the UNC School of Dentistry, who was raising money on a fundraising site to provide dental care to Syrian refugees in Turkey.

He had been married for just over a month to Yusor Mohammad, who was planning to begin her dental studies at UNC in the fall, according to the school.

Abu-Salha was a student at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.


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

For uh, committing sex crimes, uh

Feb 10th, 2015 5:29 pm | By

Here’s George Galloway being disgusting in 2008, that time he said a gay man was executed in Iran not because he was gay but because he committed “sex crimes” – on the basis of nothing whatever, apparently.

Outspoken London MP George Galloway has said that the boyfriend of Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi was executed for sex crimes.

The Respect politician made his claims on Channel Five show The Wright Stuff yesterday morning.

Mr Kazemi is claiming asylum in the UK.

He claims his boyfriend was arrested by police in Iran for being homosexual, forced to reveal the names of men he had relationships with, and executed.

The 19-year-old also said there was a warrant for his arrest as a result of his boyfriend’s confession and he would face execution if he was returned.

But Galloway said don’t you believe it. Galloway said it was a calumny on that nice Iran.

Mr Galloway, the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, is well-known for his trenchant views and belief that there is a media conspiracy to portray Iran in a bad light.

“This is being used as part of the on-going propaganda against Iran,” he told presenter Matthew Wright yesterday.

“All the papers seem to imply that you get executed in Iran for being gay. That’s not true.”

Yes it is. It’s been documented. For years.

Matthew Wright: His boyfriend was hung though, wasn’t he?

George Galloway: Yes, but nor being gay. For uh, committing sex crimes, uh, against young men.

MW: Right …

GG: I mean, I’m against execution for any reason in any place, but it is important to avoid that propaganda.

Even when it’s true, apparently.

Gay rights group OutRage! has challenged Mr Galloway to provide proof of his assertions.

“We are calling on George Galloway to explain the source of his claim that Mehdi Kazemi’s boyfriend had committed sex crimes and this was the reason he was executed,” said OutRage! spokesperson Brett Lock.

“Neither OutRage! nor any other human rights group has seen any evidence to suggest that Mr Kazemi’s partner was a rapist or sex-abuser.

“Mr Galloway’s claim that gay people are not executed in Iran is refuted by every reputable human rights body, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.”

Well they’re not on Iran’s payroll.


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

Galloway’s nice little earner

Feb 10th, 2015 4:03 pm | By

What else does Galloway do for the betterment of humanity? He rakes in large sums of cash from Russian and Iranian state tv.

George Galloway has earned £65,000 in just six months as a presenter and guest for dubious state-run broadcasters.

The Bradford MP is the highest earner of any MP, raking in the cash for his polemics against the West on the Kremlin-backed Russia Today and from LBP TV, a channel run out of the offices of Press TV which is now banned by Ofcom. Galloway still presents two shows for the channel, whose head was appointed directly by Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, but on an unpaid basis.

Through his television work, Galloway has doubled his income. He earns £67,000 as a Member of Parliament, and he declared £25,600 for work on Russia Today, £21,450 from LBP TV and £18,000 from Arab-focused satellite channel Al-Mayadeen TV between January and April (he has yet to declare for May and June).

A friend on Facebook helpfully informed me a few hours ago that

His declared income is released on the Register of Members Interests each year. Last year he made £75,200 from Russia Today, £108,900 from Iranian TV, £108k from Lebanese TV and £67,060 MP Salary.

Over £290k from DictatorTV – more than four times his salary as an MP.

Back to the Huffington Post article.

Galloway hosts two programmes a month for Al-Mayadeen in Beirut, which is funded by anonymous individuals widely believed to be linked to Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah or to Syria’s Assad family members, though this is denied by the channel. He has his return flights and hotel accommodation paid for.

A spokesman for Galloway told Press Gazette: “He does believe in spreading his message as widely as he can – not just through the prism of Parliament.”

When pressed by his local paper the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, the spokesman described the work as “about two shows a week that take about four or five hours of his time, mainly at weekends.”

The issue isn’t the moonlighting, the issue is the nature of the work.

“Is he not allowed to do other things in his spare time? It is not about the money, he does it to get his message out in different ways,” he said.

It’s not about the money? He’s indifferent to that almost £300k a year? And yet they give it to him and he takes it.

Galloway’s involvement with foreign broadcast media has often attracted criticism. He famously asserted on Channel 5 show, The Wright Stuff in 2008, that the boyfriend of an homosexual Iranian asylum seeker had been killed for sex crimes, rather than because he was gay. Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said at the time that Galloway’s claim was “refuted by every reputable human rights organisation”.

Jeezis, the man is a horror.

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

Galloway crushed London’s only Jewish community radio station

Feb 10th, 2015 3:29 pm | By

In 2008 Galloway succeeded in getting a tiny London podcast shut down by suing.

London’s only Jewish community radio station has been forced to cease broadcasting after losing a High Court libel case brought against it by the Respect MP George Galloway.

Jcom, a non-profit station which broadcast online and to a small area in north-west London, was wound up after it was told to pay the MP damages of £15,000.

Mr Galloway sued the station after one of its presenters played a spoof character based on the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, and implied he was anti-Semitic. It was also ordered to pay Mr Galloway’s court costs, thought to be £5,000. Mr Galloway said that the judgment had “categorically crushed the slur of anti-Semitism”.

Well, it crushed Jcom, at least.

During a broadcast in November, a presenter who called himself “Georgie Galloway”, the station’s “Middle East correspondent”, used the catchphrase, “kill the Jews, kill the Jews”. The station immediately sacked the presenter, Richard Malach, saying he was “young and inexperienced” and had made an error of judgment while attempting to present an edgy programme. It also issued an apology on its website and offered Mr Galloway the opportunity to appear on the station, which had a very small audience. Only 36 people were listening online at the time of the offending show.

The programme was also broadcast over the radio to an area in north-west London with a three-mile radius.

But Mr Galloway said he pursued the case as the station’s apology “fell short of the categorical retraction of the imputation of anti-Semitism that I insisted upon”.

Jeremy Silverstone, the head of Jcom, said he was disappointed that the case had led to the downfall of the capital’s only Jewish radio station.

But at least the world was shown to a certainty that George Galloway is absolutely not in any way the tiniest bit anti-Semitic.

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

A swing and a miss?

Feb 10th, 2015 3:07 pm | By

It’s not easy tracking down Galloway’s libel suit history.

In May 2009 he announced plans to sue Canada’s immigration minister Jason Kenney for not letting him drop in on Canada.

British antiwar MP George Galloway, who was denied entry into Canada in March, announced Friday he plans to sue Immigration Minister Jason Kenney over suggestions he supports terrorism.

The defamation notice, the first step in commencing a defamation action, was also served on senior members of two Jewish organizations as well as a top Kenney aide.

Galloway alleges the respondents made more than a dozen statements that were widely published in Canada and abroad but were false and damaged his reputation.

A source who asked not to be named said Galloway considered statements from Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber to be the most egregious because they were “so outrageous and so extreme.”

Among other things, Farber had said Galloway did not have the right “to raise funds for terrorist causes” in Canada.

The notice gave the respondents three days to apologize or retract their statements, or Galloway will issue a statement of claim next month, said Toronto lawyer Nicole Chrolavicius, who is acting for the politician.

The notice also names Jewish congress co-president Sylvain Abitbol and Frank Dimant of B’Nai Brith Canada, who said in March that “individuals who glorify terrorism” deserve to be denied entry to Canada.

Next month, The Star said, but in fact it was April 2011, a month short of two years later, when he proceeded with the suit:

OTTAWA – Outspoken former British MP George Galloway has made good on his threat to sue Canada’s immigration minister over an attempt to ban him from entering the country for a Canadian speaking tour.

A statement of claim filed Tuesday alleges Jason Kenney and his assistant Alykhan Velshi abused the power of their offices by banning Galloway from Canada in March 2009.

The statement of claim, which seeks $1.5 million in damages, also alleges that Kenney and Velshi defamed Galloway in British newspapers.

He did proceed, but I can’t find the outcome. Wikipedia doesn’t say.

I suppose it’s more likely to be findable if it succeeded than if it failed, so maybe not finding it=it failed. But I don’t know.

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

Galloway’s suits

Feb 10th, 2015 1:06 pm | By

Galloway tweeted that he has sued for libel at least 20 times and that he’s won every time he has sued. (He ignored repeated questions about how many times he has silenced people by threatening to sue.)

The BBC reported one win in December 2004, against the Telegraph.

MP George Galloway has won £150,000 in libel damages from the Daily Telegraph over claims he received money from Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.

The Glasgow Kelvin MP had denied ever seeking or receiving money from Saddam Hussein’s government, which he said he had long opposed.

The newspaper said it was in the public interest to publish the claims, based on documents found in Baghdad.

It’s a curious thing – I’ve found other headlines about his filing of suits, but not about his winning any. Maybe I haven’t dug deep enough yet.

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

The next step

Feb 10th, 2015 12:25 pm | By

So today George Galloway bullied a journalist for saying something about him that he didn’t like.

George Galloway @georgegalloway
I have begun legal proceedings against Hadley Freeman of the Guardian on her defamatory comments about me. No- one should repeat them.

Now #libelGalloway is happening.

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

Defying the federal court order again

Feb 10th, 2015 11:06 am | By

Americans United for Separation of Church and State give us this helpful graphic showing the Alabama counties that are defying the federal court order to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Roy Moore should be kicked out of office a second time.

The defiant counties are in blue.

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

Ludicrous George

Feb 10th, 2015 10:53 am | By

The Guardian reported last Friday that George Galloway is angry at the BBC.

George Galloway has hit out at the BBC following his appearance on Question Time, saying he was set up and that David Dimbleby privately apologised to him afterwards.

The controversy centred around a question that one audience member asked about a rise in antisemitism in the UK.

But the question also included a reference to the MP for Bradford West bearing some responsibility for this rise, an inclusion he said that had not been agreed beforehand.

So what? He’s an MP – he’s expected to field questions, isn’t he? Isn’t that part of the job?

The anti-war politician said the host David Dimbleby later apologised to him for this, but it represented what he said was a set-up within the BBC.

The anti-war politician? That’s his sobriquet? But he’s not an anti-war politician; he’s not opposed to all wars or war as such.

Galloway said:

“To accuse a parliamentarian of 27 years of being responsible for a spike in antisemitism is totally ludicrous.”

??? Why on earth? A parliamentarian is well placed to cause a spike in attitude, better placed than most people. What’s ludicrous about saying so?

Fellow panel member and Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland also did not escape the Respect party MP’s ire, as he said he had stoked the fires and for that he would never forgive him.

“There was not a single Muslim person in the audience even though there are 50,000 Muslims in the borough,” he said.

“Jonathan Freedland was the prosecutor-in-chief, he lit the touch paper and then smugly retired and for that I will never forgive him.

“Any antisemitic attack of any kind is utterly despicable but there are at least ten times the number of attacks on mosques. Mr Freedland claimed there had been 1,000 attacks on Jews but there have actually been 84.

“The impression was given that people are roaming around the UK looking for Jews to attack but far more people are walking around Britain looking for Muslims.”

Freedland said: “I certainly did not set out to prosecute George Galloway. I simply pointed out that he has in the past inflamed an already tense issue by making wild, unfounded accusations – a point he did not address. I too was disappointed at the way some in the audience behaved. As some viewers saw, I wanted them to respect George Galloway’s right to make his case.

“I did not ‘smugly retire’: I wanted to speak again but was not given that chance. If I had, I would have repeated my long-standing condemnation of Islamophobia and objected to some of the attitudes voiced by members of the audience. On the numbers, the Community Security Trust report showed more than 1168 antisemitic incidents last year, the highest ever figure. Still, Jews and Muslims are not in competition over who is hated most: that’s not a competition anyone would want to win.”

More spotlight for George.

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

Demonstrating their love

Feb 9th, 2015 4:37 pm | By

The Twitter account @GlobalCivility has a lot of tweets about that terrible “global civility” protest in Downing Street yesterday. I followed Raquel’s example and asked if they’d be protesting things like the flogging of Raif and Boko Haram massacres and mobs killing alleged “blasphemers” in Pakistan. It took them maybe 10 seconds to block me.


Global Civility @GlobalCivility · Feb 8
Demonstrating our love

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All men in the first; all women in the second. Civility.

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There they are. Not petitioning Saudi Arabia to stop torturing a liberal blogger, but petitioning all of us to shut up about their prophet. If they represent their prophet, then he’s a horror.

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

They want that vaccine

Feb 9th, 2015 4:22 pm | By

This is awesome. A pro-vax social justice campaign with inspiring art behind it. Ironic that the article is at the Huffington Post, but anyway…

Beloved portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz often captures celebrity subjects before her noted lens, having snapped cultural icons ranging from John Lennon and Yoko Ono to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

Her most recent photograph, however, depicts a different sort of notable figures, those linked to the development of several life-saving vaccines. The image is part of the vaccination awareness campaign “The Art of Saving a Life (ASAL),” which, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, commissioned creative works from artists, writers and musicians, exhibiting the many ways vaccines have positively impacted [helped people in recent] history.

They help children grow up with parents, for one thing.

“The places where we tend to work, the demand for vaccines is huge,” Dr. Orin Levine, director of the vaccine-delivery program at the Gates Foundation, told The Wall Street Journal.

“If you go to the parts of Africa that are prone to these huge epidemics of bacterial meningitis that come in waves every three to five years, and wipe out people — normally healthy people [are] dead in two days. If you go to those types of villages, they’re not worried about the things that U.S. actresses are worried about. They’re worried about meningitis. They want that vaccine. They stand in 100-degree temperatures for hours in line to get them and their families vaccinated.”


Sophie Blackall Reaching Children Everywhere

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

For crying out loud, there is no controversy

Feb 9th, 2015 4:06 pm | By

On the Media did a great segment on anti-vax this week. You should listen to it to get Bob Garfield’s biting tone, but I want to hit the highlights anyway.

CLIP:  “The measles outbreak spreads to a fifth bay area county. One local pediatrician accuses vaccination opponents of undermining a basic survival concept…

BOB: Yes they did, which is why this outbreak was literally inevitable. The Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine had essentially eradicated those childhood diseases in the United States, but when parents began to stop vaccinating their kids, they were creating not just potential patients, but vectors, spreading the disease to the vulnerable. Such as the babies, pre-vaccination age, infected this week in a Chicago day care center.

And why, and how? Wakefield’s scheme to fill his pockets, and the media’s habit of pretending everything is a “controversy.”

The nightmare began in 1998 when a British con-man named Dr. Andrew Wakefield faked results and published an article in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet fraudulently claiming a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. It was a lie, which the journal should have figured out long before finally retracting the article 12 years later.

See what he did there? He said it was a lie. Not a controversy, not a debate; a lie.

By then, the bogus linkage had already spawned a movement of heartbroken parents struggling to understand what — or who — was to blame for their childrens’ afflictions. Trading as it was on the counterfeit currency of pseudoscience, that movement first languished as a relatively obscure internet subculture — until it was given vast exposure and lethal credibility by…. the media. The likes of Larry King and Oprah simply could not resist the apparent controversy, combined with the celebrity of the anti-vaccinators’ sexpot spokesperson, Jenny McCarthy.

So now diseases that had been eradicated in this country are storming back – pertussis and measles.

CLIP:  The US measles outbreak and the vaccine controversy; parents, doctors, even politicians weighing in…on both sides.

CLIP:   First on the rundown, the escalating numbers of measles cases and the growing debate over vaccinations. It’s turning into a full-fledged political firestorm.

CLIP:   As the measles outbreak spreads to fourteen states across the country, the debate over vaccinations intensifies.

BOB: Those clips  aren’t from 1998. They are from this week.  For crying out loud,  there is no controversy. There is no debate. Cynical politicians like Rand Paul and Chris Christie may pander all they want to frightened moms and the tinfoil-hat crowd–just as 49 US Senators can deny man’s role in climate change. But there is no rational basis for their beliefs. They are simply wrong — and when the media frame such idiocy as one side of a debate, they are not only legitimizing ignorance and demagoguery, they are threatening the lives of children.

That was a treat to listen to.

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

So diverse

Feb 9th, 2015 3:30 pm | By

Raquel Saraswati posted some photos from that “shut up” protest in London yesterday, along with some (cough) skeptical comments.

Raquel E Saraswati @RaquelEvita 21 hours ago
That awkward moment when these guys in London used freedom of speech to protest against freedom of speech today.

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.@GlobalCivility blocked me after I suggested demos against lashing of #RaifBadawi + against gender based violence.


Alex ‏@Alexdurrant7 21 hours ago
@RaquelEvita Wow, very diverse crowd there…

Raquel E Saraswati @RaquelEvita
@Alexdurrant7 some of the men are shouting and some are merely scowling. So diverse!

Ha! That’s a good one.

Raquel E Saraswati @RaquelEvita 2 hours ago
So the London march was also segregated by gender. #hijabdesk

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Global civility indeed.

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

Humanism requires feminism

Feb 9th, 2015 3:06 pm | By

More from Greg Epstein on the Harvard Humanist of the Year award to Anita Sarkeesian.

Greg Epstein @gregmepstein 23 hours ago
Loved hosting @femfreq, our @HarvardHumanist of 2014 awardee. Humanism requires feminism; feminism=good f/all genders

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So sad for the harassers. Streisand effect. If they hadn’t harassed her…

…well we’ll never know now.

Greg Epstein @gregmepstein 23 hours ago
.@femfreq’s message was so reasonable, so dare-I-say moderate, the controversy is sad. It must be said far, wide: humanism requires feminism

Proud of 100+ men who attended today’s event, joined others in 3 standing ovations. Hope it becomes known: @humanisthub, you meet good guys

As opposed to raging misogynist shits. Yes that does make a difference.

Greg Epstein @gregmepstein 23 hours ago
.@D4M10N Blocking people who tweet insensitive, ugly language at me isn’t about thin/thick skin. It’s to say: our community is a safe space.

.@GRIMACHU ‘I’m not sexist BUT Humanism makes feminism redundant’? No. It IS sexist to deny women’s history, reality. Strong men see this.

And “non-sexist” men who feel so entitled to call a strong woman “fraud” or “liar” if you dislike her success? Blocked. #Notinourcommunity

.@femfreq You spoke powerfully; your message is vital to the humanist community. All of us @HarvardHumanist thank you

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

Behold the door

Feb 9th, 2015 2:19 pm | By

The ever-useful clarification:


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

Enhancing public safety

Feb 9th, 2015 12:48 pm | By

The Wiltshire police explained that all they were doing was making an assessment of community tensions for the purpose of stamping them out. That’s all. Kindly meant. No harm done. Clear off out of it.

Wiltshire Police has now confirmed that an officer did visit a local shop in Corsham to request the names of those who had purchased the copies of the magazine and issued an apology “to the members of the public who may be affected by this”.

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “Following the terrorism incident in Paris, France on 7 January 2015, Wiltshire Police undertook an assessment of community tensions across the county.

Ah yes, that’ll be the problem. When British Authority undertakes an assessment of community tensions, it always does so with an eye to telling everyone to shut entirely up about Islam and its prophet. That seems to be all it can think of to do. If Hitler came back they’d tell everyone to shut up about Nazism, so they would.

“As part of this work, local sector policing teams were asked to be mindful of business premises, in particular newsagents who may be distributing the Charlie Hebdo magazine and to consider that these shops may be vulnerable.

“There was no specific threat nationally and nothing to suggest newsagents in particular would be vulnerable.

“A police officer visited a local shop and post office in Corsham to make an assessment of community tensions and, if appropriate, encourage the newsagent’s owner to be vigilant.

“During this conversation the officer requested information about subscribers to the Charlie Hebdo magazine.”

For what possible purpose other than harassing them in some way?

“Wiltshire Police would like to apologise to the members of public who may be affected by this. Information relating to this specific incident has been permanently and securely disposed of.

“Wiltshire Police are confident that the police officer’s intention was purely around enhancing public safety and ensuring that the newsagent was advised appropriately.”

Right, enhancing public safety by telling everyone to forget all about Charlie Hebdo. There’s no other reason to ask about it.

What a shower.

Updating to share Gnu atheism’s commentary –

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