Notes and Comment Blog


Being Charlie

Feb 8th, 2015 12:21 pm | By

Brilliant idea.

In a poignant and powerful response to the horrific attacks on their colleagues in Paris, the world’s top cartoonists have teamed up to produce I am Charlie, a book featuring the top Charlie Hebdo cartoons published around the globe.

All proceeds will go to The Committee to Protect Journalists, the worldwide organization devoted to promoting freedom of the press.

The book, features 86 Charlie Hebdo editorial cartoons created by artists in Europe, the Middle East, The Americas, Australia, and Asia.

Cartoonists represented include Osama and Emad Haljaj from Jordan, Pang Li from China, and Pulitzer prize winning cartoonist Steve Sack from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The book features an introduction from Daryl Cagle, cartoonist and founder of the leading editorial cartoon site politicalcartoons.com. The book is edited and published by Andrew Pillsbury, former head of business development at The New Yorker Magazine’s cartoon division.

Both the physical and electronic versions of the book will be released February 21, the six week anniversary of the attacks.  The ebook retails for $9.99, the physical book retails for $14.99.

Brill iant.

 

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



He’s a genius, she’s abrasive

Feb 8th, 2015 11:17 am | By

Don’t forget, girls and boys, we achieved gender equality in 1972, so ever since then feminism has been nothing but an extremist attempt to monopolize all the good things for women only.

But then how do you explain a discouraging pattern in how women and men are seen and evaluated?

Aviva Shen at Think Progress:

Students tend to think their male professors are “geniuses,” while their female professors are “bossy,” a new interactive chart reveals. Using data from RateMyProfessors.com, a popular forum for griping or raving about classes, Benjamin Schmidt, a Northeastern University professor, was able to clearly map out students’ biases.

The chart breaks down reviews to sort which words are affiliated with each gender and discipline. According to The Upshot, “Men are more likely to be described as a star, knowledgeable, awesome or the best professor. Women are more likely to be described as bossy, disorganized, helpful, annoying or as playing favorites. Nice or rude are also more often used to describe women than men.”

You know…that could be another reason all the putative Stars of the atheoskepto movement are men. It could be partly because men like Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens are seen as geniuses while a woman with the same qualities would be seen as a bossy pain in the ass. It’s not as if women aren’t aware of the general pattern, so it’s pretty likely that women try to adjust their presentation of self accordingly, and it’s also pretty likely that the resulting presentation of self isn’t the kind that makes you a star among atheoskeptics. It’s a double bind, in short. Women are under massive pressure not to come across as geniusbossy, and people who come across as Nicer don’t rise to the top in this particular niche.

Gendered language is one way those biases manifest themselves, and can do significant damage to women’s professional and personal lives. A recent analysis of performance reviews in the tech industry found that women were far more likely to receive criticism from their supervisors. The word “abrasive” was used many times to describe female employees, but never appeared in a review for any of the men.

“Abrasive” is also more likely to be used to describe a female professor on RateMyProfessor…

See? That which is considered “abrasive” and bad in a woman is considered merit in a man, so men get to use those qualities where they’re useful, and women either avoid them or are penalized for using them.

Discouraging, isn’t it.

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



Guest post on the replacement law and the current government

Feb 8th, 2015 10:45 am | By

Originally a comment by Jenora Feuer on Canada gets the right to die.

The government has to write a new law within a year or the law will be struck down.

Of course, that’s part of the problem right there. The same thing happened with some of the prostitution laws a year or so ago… the replacement law pushed through by the current government is pretty much as bad as the old law in all the ways that are important, and the general consensus of the legal community I’ve heard is that it will get knocked over the moment it gets to a Supreme Court challenge. The current group of legislators aren’t the sorts of people I would want trying to make law on an issue like this.

Of course, when the original marriage laws got struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada for being discriminatory, Paul Martin was smart in that he basically pre-ran the proposed new legislation past the Supreme Court first, then came back and put it in front of Parliament. That made it easier to convince some of the fence-sitters, who were more concerned about not having to go through this again than about the actual details of the law. Of course, that isn’t something you can do very often.

Personally, I think this is the sort of thing that is really best done by the legislators… I just don’t trust the current set of legislators. And this is all complicated by the fact that the health system is officially provincial jurisdiction, not federal, and there are limits to just how far the federal government is willing to push on that. (Which is also why, as has been noted before, Canada’s abortion access is such a shoddy patchwork in places.)

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



“Be careful with Muhammad”

Feb 8th, 2015 10:10 am | By

The Telegraph also reports on the Muslim Action Forum protest – calling it “huge” in the headline but saying it was about a thousand people in the first sentence. A thousand people is a huge protest? In London?

At least 1,000 Muslim protesters gathered outside the gates of Downing Street to protest against the depictions of the Prophet Mohammed in Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine.

The protestors, many of whom were divided into groups of men and women, gathered just yards from the Cenotaph which remembers Britain’s war dead, and blocked half of Whitehall as they demonstated.

It comes weeks after two terrorists attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the Paris-based satirical magazine which had published images of the Prophet Muhammad, killing 12 staff and wounding 11 others.

Three and a half weeks, to be exact. Three weeks after the genuinely huge protest against the murders and for free speech in Paris. Today’s protest is against Charlie Hebdo and for murder.

The meeting was organised by the Muslim Action Forum, which was handing out leaflets about the demonstration on Whitehall.

The leaflet said: “The recent re-publishing of the cartoons, caricatures and depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by Charlie Hebdo magazine and other publishers is a stark reminder that freedom of speech if regularly utilised to insult personalities that others consider sacred.

Oops. Somebody should have proofread that leaflet. Final clause missing. Maybe it was too difficult to think of the right final clause? Let’s see…”a stark reminder that freedom of speech if regularly utilised to insult personalities that others consider sacred…should be punished with mass murder”? Tricky, isn’t it. No wonder it’s missing.

Such actions are deliberating insulting and provoking to Muslims worldwide as British citizens, we believe that these publications will continue to ‘sow the seeds of hatred’ and damage community relations.

Actually no. It’s the murders that do that, it’s protests like this one that do that.

Via Christopher Hope on Twitter

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The abuse factory. That’s why the Kouachi brothers murdered them, is it?

Christopher Hope again -

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“Be careful with Muhammad.” That’s a threat. That’s a valorization of murder and a threat. It’s fascist. Oswald Mosley is long dead but there are fascist demonstrations again in London.

The group also expressed “deep regret” at the Paris terror attacks, which included a massacre at Charlie Hebdo, saying they were a “violation of Islamic law”.

Shaykh Tauqir Ishaq, a senior spokesman for the Forum, said “Perpetual mistakes by extremists, either by cold-blooded killers or uncivilised expressionists, cannot be the way forward for a civilised society.

“The peace-loving majority of people must become vociferous in promoting global civility and responsible debate. At this time of heightened tension and emotion, it is crucial that both sides show restraint to prevent further incidents of this nature occurring.”

Shaykh Noor Siddiqi, another Forum representative, said “The actions of the UK media in not publishing the cartoons is highly appreciated by British Muslims and we hope that this kind of self-restraint and mutual respect will ultimately lead to a harmonious society.”

A harmonious society in which any kind of criticism of or resistance to the prophet of Islam has become impossible. Saudi Arabia, in short.

No thank you.

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



They denounce Charlie Hebdo and everyone connected

Feb 8th, 2015 9:49 am | By

The protest organized by the Muslim Action Forum took place, ITV reports.

Hundreds of Muslims have gathered in Whitehall as part of a demonstration against the recent publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The protest was organised by the Muslim Action Forum. Participants said they were campaigning for global civility and wanted to encourage people to live together harmoniously.

Bullshit. That’s not what they’re campaigning for and it’s not what they want. They’re campaigning for everyone to shut up about the prophet and about Islam. They want to make Islam and everything to do with it a special fenced-off Protected Zone.

ITV quotes their ridiculous petition, which starts off with pleasant noises and ends with shut up shut up shut up.

  • I endorse emphatically the Declaration of Global Civility drafted by the campaigners of Global Civility
  • I call upon the British Parliament to table a debate in both Houses of Parliament to discuss the endorsement of the Declaration of Global Civility
  • I call upon all civilised people and institutions globally to disassociate themselves from any actions that are an affront to global civility
  • I denounce the actions of all those people who are connected with the production of the cartoons of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him, and believe that these actions are an affront to the norms of civilised society.

They’re denouncing everyone at Charlie Hebdo. That of course includes the editors and cartoonists and staffers murdered on January 7th.

There was also a small counter-demonstration, with people from the EDL and Britain First.

Fanfuckingtastic.

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



Children and Islamic State

Feb 7th, 2015 4:37 pm | By

The “militants” of Islamic State are covering themselves with glory as usual. The New York Times reports that among their current hobbies they like to bury children alive.

Islamic State militants are selling abducted Iraqi children at markets as sex slaves, and killing other youth, including by crucifixion or burying them alive, a United Nations watchdog said on Wednesday.

Iraqi boys aged under 18 are increasingly being used by the militant group as suicide bombers, bomb makers, informants or human shields to protect facilities against U.S.-led air strikes, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said.

In other words they’re being used as tools, machines, insensate objects. That’s what Allah wants, is it?

“We are really deeply concerned at torture and murder of those children, especially those belonging to minorities, but not only from minorities,” committee expert Renate Winter told a news briefing. “The scope of the problem is huge.”

Children from the Yazidi sect or Christian communities, but also Shi’ites and Sunnis, have been victims, she said.

“We have had reports of children, especially children who are mentally challenged, who have been used as suicide bombers, most probably without them even understanding,” Winter told Reuters.

Does God hate children? Does God hate children who are mentally challenged? Does God hate Yazidi and Christian and Shi’ite and Sunni children? Does God hate everyone except Islamic State “militants”?

According to a UN report,

ISIL has committed “systematic sexual violence”, including “the abduction and sexual enslavement of children”, it said.

“Children of minorities have been captured in many places… sold in the market place with tags, price tags on them, they have been sold as slaves,” Winter said, giving no details.

Apparently God  hates minorities.

 

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



Always look on the baby side of rape

Feb 7th, 2015 4:00 pm | By

A West Virginia Republican wants to make sure everyone is aware of the upside to rape. Yes, of course, it’s unpleasant and horrid, but on the other hand, you can get a child out of it. What a payoff! Imagine if you could get a child that easily any other way – say, by getting your teeth cleaned, or waiting for a bus for an extra long time on a cold day. But you can’t. With most unpleasant things you can’t get a child out of it at all. But with rape, you can! How cool is that?

West Virginia Del. Brian Kurcaba (R) made the comments — which were first reported by Charleston Gazette staffer David Gutman — during a public hearing on Thursday. A health committee in the legislature was debating a proposed 20-week abortion ban. Kurcaba was explaining why he opposed a Democratic-sponsored amendment to add an exception for rape victims.

“Obviously rape is awful,” Kurcaba said. “What is beautiful is the child that could come from this.”

So true. There you are, all depressed and angry and out of sorts, having been raped…and then hey golly what do you know it turns out you’re pregnant! From the rape!! Can you imagine the joy, the gratitude, the relief? The blissful anticipation? The eager imaginings? Your little baby, yours and the rapist’s. So so sweet.

This controversy recently played out on the national stage when the U.S. House of Representatives split over the rape exception included in their own version of a 20-week abortion ban.

Last month, the House hoped to approve a 20-week ban on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. That measure included a narrow exception for rape victims that required them to report their assault to the police, even though the majority of rapes are not officially reported.

Was it called the Nugent Exception?

Several female congresswomen raised concerns about the language of the rape provision, and House leaders ended up canceling the vote at the last minute. The thousands of abortion opponents who traveled to the nation’s capital for the annual March for Life — many of whom favor abortion restrictions without any type of rape exception — were upset about the retreat.

West Virginia lawmakers didn’t back down in the same way. On Thursday, the House Health Committee ended up approving the 20-week abortion ban and rejecting the amendment that would have added a rape exception.

West Virginia, home of surprise babies.

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



Kiddy porn

Feb 7th, 2015 12:27 pm | By

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…what? Apparently this is from a kiddy bible.

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You’d think he was offering them cheeseburgers.

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



Nope nope nope

Feb 7th, 2015 12:02 pm | By

Priorities all wrong. Priorities fucked up. Priorities baaaaaaaad.

No. Don’t do that. Instead denounce the torture of Raif Badawi. Denounce the mass murders by Boko Haram. Denounce the massacre in Paris. Denounce the murders of many thousands of Muslims by Islamist fanatics. Denounce cruelty and torture and oppression everywhere. Denounce crimes against the living.

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



A flash mob for Raif

Feb 7th, 2015 11:50 am | By

In Berlin

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



Because it perpetuates terror

Feb 7th, 2015 11:44 am | By

Another Facebook group supporting Raif Badawi.

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



Pretty much what they recommended

Feb 7th, 2015 10:22 am | By

Udo Schuklenk has been working on the Canadian right to die issue for years. He has some first thoughts on the ruling.

Unless you have lived under a rock during these last few years you will know that I spent a significant amount of my time arguing in favour of the decriminalisation of assisted dying in the country, no least in a report of an expert panel the Royal Society of Canada asked me to chair, on end-of-life decision-making in Canada. In addition I wrote a large number of newspaper columns on the issue and gave oodles of TV interviews and what-not to advance that cause.

He and Eric and I met up for lunch at CFI-Ottawa’s Eschaton a couple of years ago. That was memorable.

The SCC came down with this unanimous decision, defining thus who would be able to receive assistance in dying: a ‘competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.’

This is pretty much what we recommended in our report. What I find particularly important about these criteria is that the Justices rejected a threshold requiring that patients must be in a terminal condition, or near the end of life. The current legislation, on this count, in Quebec, will have to be re-written. At the last minute opponents of Quebec’s legislation added this threshold, and, thanks to the SCC decision, it will have to be taken out of Quebec’s legislation again as it would unjustly deprive people of access to assisted dying who are not close to the end of their lives.

Yes. A disease can be intolerable without being close to the end. Knowing there’s an exit door can make it more tolerable. Thank you SCC.

Udo then generously explains how the opponents of assisted dying went wrong.

Turns out, Supreme Court Justices are a bit smarter than DiManno and Kay, who have shown themselves clueless about the issue at hand throughout their years of campaigning in their newspaper columns against assisted dying. The judges looked at the actual evidence and ‘rejected the argument that adoption of a regulatory regime would initiate a descent down a slippery slope into homicide.’

The other vacuous agitprop campaign tool deployed by this camp was their ever-growing concern for ‘the vulnerable’. Given that they didn’t want assisted dying available to anyone, they were careful never to define ‘vulnerable’. Turns out, they and their government ally, the Attorney General, really meant everyone. Vulnerability ceases then to be a useful threshold criterion for anything. The Attorney General eventually said, on the Court record, that ‘every person ispotentially vulnerable.’ The Supreme Court called curtains on this rhetoric, too. It states point blank, ‘We do not agree.’ –

Aggressive lying and fudging of the issues apparently takes you only that far when it comes to Canada’s Supreme Court Justices.

Canada’s. The US’s? Not so applicable.

 

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



Canada gets the right to die

Feb 7th, 2015 9:52 am | By

Big news from Canada via the Beeb

Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that doctors may help patients who have severe and incurable medical conditions to die, overturning a 1993 ban.

In a unanimous decision, the court said the law impinged on Canadians’ rights.

The case was brought by a civil rights group on behalf of two women, Kay Carter and Gloria Taylor, with degenerative diseases. Both have since died.

Wow. Eric MacDonald has been campaigning on this issue for years.

The government has to write a new law within a year or the law will be struck down.

Assisted suicide is legal in several European countries and a few US states.

In Canada is it illegal to counsel, aid or abet a suicide, and the offence carries up to 14 years in prison.

Which is why Eric got a visit from the police after he accompanied his wife Elizabeth to Zurich. They didn’t prosecute him though…but they could have. The worst is, she died earlier than she needed to because she was determined to do it while she still could.

In the ruling, the justices wrote they “did not agree that the existential formulation of the right to life requires an absolute prohibition on assistance in dying, or that individuals cannot ‘waive’ their right to life”.

The court limited doctor-assisted suicide to patients who are consenting adults, who have a incurable but not necessarily terminal disease that causes “enduring and intolerable suffering”.

Wo – that “not necessarily terminal” makes it an even bigger deal. There’s an issue with stipulating that the disease has to be terminal, given that some non-terminal diseases can be such misery.

The justices also argued the total ban on doctor-assisted suicide “deprives some individuals of life, as it has the effect of forcing some individuals to take their own lives prematurely, for fear that they would be incapable of doing so when they reached the point where suffering was intolerable”.

Bingo. Exactly. That’s why Eric’s wife Elizabeth insisted on going to Zurich prematurely. The reality of the Oregon and Washington laws has been that fewer people than expected get doctor-assisted suicide: once it’s available, the urgency goes away.

This issue may be like abortion in the US: it may be better to have it decided by legislators than by courts. Then again it may be like segregation: it may be better to have the high court firmly strike down the underlying principle.

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



Depicting Mohammed

Feb 6th, 2015 5:36 pm | By

Muhammed Syed explains about it.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuYaMhRGrtM

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



Oslo, Jordan, Sesame Street

Feb 6th, 2015 5:17 pm | By

Via the Humanistisk Ungdom page (Norway’s Humanist Youth) – a sizable collection of people on a cold snowy day protest in front of the Saudi embassy in Oslo.

A Google translatation with some adaptations –

For the fifth time we stand together with Amnesty International outside the Saudi embassy and demonstrate for Raif Badawi .

He is sentenced to prison and 1,000 lashes – for a blog post.

This time, we were suddenly chased 10 meters away from the embassy, behind a hedge, entirely without justification or explanation of who gave the order.

We didn’t give up though, and continued to shout: #Free Raif Badawi! #Stop the flogging!

Go there to see a 9 second video of them doing it, with a pan from them to the embassy.

In Jordan -

Via Sons of Sesame Street

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



Guest post: To make sure the girls in category 2 don’t end up in category 3

Feb 6th, 2015 3:41 pm | By

Originally a comment by Anne Fenwick on FGM in the US.

It is frustrating that neither society nor the statistics seem good at separating 1) women who arrive as immigrants having undergone FGM in their previous countries; 2) their daughters who may be considered at risk; 3) those daughters who actually undergo FGM in a western country or ‘on vacation’. I’m glad this article seemed to get the problem – though I do wonder about their choice of age range, I think we would use a different one in the UK.

What seems to be important is that the arrival of a large number of women in category 1 is going to necessitate a response. In the first place, they’re going to have specific health care needs which the country isn’t used to meeting. I do wonder how that’s going to work out in the US (not that the UK has distinguished itself recently, or anything). It frustrates me when people complain about the necessity of dealing with this as though it was a terrible imposition. That strikes me as practically victim-blaming.

Then there’s the information campaign to make sure the girls in category 2 don’t end up in category 3. That’s very important, because the next stage should be a last resort, after every effort has been expended here. And lastly, the criminal justice stage for people who do put girls into category 3. I just wish people would stop mentally jumping through the first two stages as though they didn’t exist.

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



But never in the face

Feb 6th, 2015 1:03 pm | By

Pope sweety says it’s ok for adults to hit children, provided it’s done with dignity.

Pope Francis has backed parents who smack their children, providing the child’s “dignity” is maintained.

He made the remarks during his weekly general audience at the Vatican, which was devoted to the role of fathers in the family.

How does an adult hit a child while maintaining the child’s dignity? Is it that the adult doesn’t abort the child in the process?

The Pope said: “One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say ‘I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them.’

“How beautiful,” he added. “He knows the sense of dignity. He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.”

Oh that is beautiful. It’s simply gorgeous. He hits them on their gleaming little buttocks, so as not to humiliate them.

Pope sweety is still a pope.

 

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



FGM in the US

Feb 6th, 2015 12:18 pm | By

Nina Strochlic at the Daily Beast reports that FGM numbers in the US have skyrocketed despite strong federal and state laws against it.

In 1997, the CDC estimated that 168,000 girls and women were at risk or had undergone FGM—at the time of the last national census in 1990. A few years later, in 2000, the African Women’s Center upped the number at 227,000.

But according to estimates released on Friday, there currently are around 507,000 girls living in the U.S. who are either at risk of being cut or who have already been cut. That’s more than triple the figure from the very first nationwide count.

These are estimates, not counts.

This fresh data comes from a new report issued Friday by the nonprofit Population Reference Bureau, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. It was culled from the U.S. Census’ 2013 American Community Survey. The PRB then crunched the numbers from immigration communities and compared them with the prevalence of FGM in the countries where those people hail from. Working under the assumption that first- or second-generation Americans either have experienced FGM or will at the same rate as their homeland counterparts, the PRB narrowed the focus to teens from 15 to 19, presumably most at risk, and women up to 49, a percentage of whom already have undergone the procedure. New York City and Washington, D.C. have the highest concentration, with more than 50,000 girls at risk in each city. Minneapolis, with its large Somali population, is third.

So basically what the PRB is reporting is an increase in immigration from countries where FGM is prevalent, with a reasonable guess that many girls in those families will have had or are likely to have FGM. Maybe the guess is a little too pessimistic – maybe more immigrants than they think are dropping that particular home custom.

(Speaking of immigration…I was in a bargain grocery store a few days ago, in a suburb of Seattle with a high immigrant population. A girl of about 10, with I assume her father, asked me about a bottle of yellow liquid in her hand – “What’s this?” They looked perhaps Somali. I looked at it and said “It’s for cleaning” at the same time she added, “Is it for cooking?” Alarmed by her question, I gestured at the shelves and said “This whole area is for cleaning stuff, definitely don’t eat it.” She nodded and I bumbled off, then a minute later it dawned on me – yellow liquid – they’re looking for cooking oil. So I tried to find them again to show them where the food items were, but I couldn’t. It haunted me a bit. I’d be pretty at sea trying to find cooking oil in a store where all the labels were in Arabic or Bengali. Then again the daughter is there and there were lots of people around to ask.) (I hope she gets her reward, and is allowed to keep her junk intact.)

If this data seems ambiguous—“may have undergone” or “at risk of undergoing”—that’s because it is. Getting solid numbers on how frequently FGM is actually practiced in the U.S. has been virtually impossible. There is little information on what actually goes on in these insular immigrant communities, and with felony charges facing anyone who admits to orchestrating the cutting, it seems unlikely that many people would answer surveys truthfully.

Which of course is one reason some people oppose criminalization. It’s complicated.

The people most in the know—local teachers and healthcare providers—must be involved to paint an accurate picture of FGM in the United States. They’re also the ones with the best footing to stanch the practice.

Post fliers in those bargain grocery stores – and the nearby check-cashing places and quick loan shark places and the like.

Estimating according to country isn’t very accurate, because rates can vary hugely within countries.

This is why activists are pushing government agencies to create a bottom-up approach to information gathering, so that the federal level can better evaluate on-the-ground needs.

Sharing these numbers with residents of these immigrant communities also could be a first step to quashing the practice. The communities may not even be aware that the practice in many of their home countries actually is on the decline, says Feldman-Jacobs. From Benin to Iraq, from Liberia to the Central African Republic, the rate of FGM has dropped by as much as half among young girls in the past 20 years.

It’s actually a hopeful story, overall.

Part of the impetus behind the federal effort is a 25-year-old activist named Jaha Dukureh, who, along with advocacy group Equality Now, filed a petition last May asking the government to carry out a new study. Her story, as it was told to me at the time, and an examination of the underground FGM crisis in America, can be found here.

Good job, Daily Beast.

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



We’ve got leverage

Feb 6th, 2015 11:11 am | By

The New Statesman said something interesting in a piece on January 15th on why protesting the flogging of Raif matters.

Under recent Saudi law, anything from “calling for atheist thought” to “inciting protests” or organizing petitions is now punishable as an act of terrorism.

Despite the crackdown at home, however, Saudi Arabia is angling to present itself as a supporter of free expression abroad.

Oh is it. Is it really.

Not that we didn’t know that – what else were they doing turning up in Paris on January 11th? What else were they doing joining that protest march?

But still. Having it spelled out is clarifying. If the Staggers is right about that, then that’s how we have leverage. If those evil bastards really are angling to present themselves as not 100% evil bastards – then they’ll have to act like not 100% evil bastards, won’t they. Then our yelling and shouting is going to trouble them, isn’t it.

Good.

Expect more yelling and shouting, Saudi dictators.

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



Another Friday

Feb 6th, 2015 10:25 am | By

For the fourth week, the Saudis have refrained from hitting Raif Badawi with a stick 50 times.

Saudi Arabia has again delayed a planned flogging of a blogger, according to a report from Amnesty International.

The Twitter account of the organization’s press office said Raif Badawi was spared a flogging today for reasons not yet known.

Not being able to get away with it without a lot of yelling and shouting, would be one big reason. The embassies would prefer a quiet life.

Via the Austrian Greens

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