Posts Tagged ‘ FTB ’

The desire that social groups be organized into a hierarchy

Jan 6th, 2015 4:41 pm | By

From Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, chapter 8, Inner Demons, section on dominance:

The psychologists Jim Sidanius and Felicia Pratto have proposed that people, to varying degrees, harbor a motive they call social dominance, though a more intuitive term is tribalism: the desire that social groups be organized into a hierarchy, generally with one’s own group dominant over the others.¹ A social dominance orientation, they show, inclines people to a sweeping array of opinions and values, including patriotism, racism, fate, karma, caste, national destiny, militarism, toughness on crime, and defensiveness of existing arrangements of authority and inequality. An orientation away from social dominance, in contrast, inclines people to humanism, socialism, feminism, universal rights, progressivism, and the

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Which he has called “unsubstantiated”

Jan 6th, 2015 3:44 pm | By

Some of Bill Cosby’s accusers are fighting back.

Two women who have accused Bill Cosby of historical sex offences have joined a defamation action against the star.

The original case was filed in December by Tamara Green, who has accused Cosby of assaulting her in the 1970s.

The two new plaintiffs are Therese Serignese and Linda Traitz.

The women claim the comedian publicly called them liars through statements issued by his representatives. Cosby is facing a series of accusations, which he has called “unsubstantiated”.

The women’s lawyer, Joseph Cammarata, said the civil action allows them to have their allegations heard now criminal statutes of limitation have expired.

Ms Green, who first spoke out regarding her allegations in 2005,

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Into the secular tent

Jan 6th, 2015 12:55 pm | By

From a conversation Chris Stedman had with Phil Zuckerman about the rise in “nones” in the US and whether or not the pugnacity of people like Dawkins and Bill Maher is the chief cause:

CS: What are some of the most important things nontheists can do right now to support the growing number of nonreligious Americans? What should we prioritize?

PZ: In my opinion, the best thing atheists can do right now is to make the world a better place. That means fighting inequality, racism, sexism, homophobia, religious fundamentalism, and global warming. When life is hard—when people face suffering—religion tends to be strong; it offers comfort in the face of life’s troubles. But when life is more manageable and secure,

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Toot not thine own charitable horn

Jan 6th, 2015 12:16 pm | By

Alistair McBay suggests that charity work should be done because it’s a good thing to do, not as a way to justify arbitrary privileges.

Recently some Christian leaders in Scotland angered at secularists challenging their privileges have responded by pointing out the National Secular Society and other secular groups don’t run care homes, or operate food banks, or run adoption agencies. Secularists have been the target of this ill-informed sniping from both the Free Church of Scotland and the Church of Scotland, and Anglican and Catholic leaders have made similar attacks in the past.

It’s a familiar trope. “You rage-bloggers aren’t out there bagging up groceries for war refugees so shut up!” You can plug in any terms you … Read the rest

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In Oslo

Jan 6th, 2015 11:08 am | By

There’s an event in Oslo at the end of this month that looks extraordinary, and it seems to be somewhat under-publicized. It’s called World Woman, and the list of speakers and performers is jaw-dropping in its richness and geographic breadth. It’s organized by Deeyah Khan’s group Fuuse.

Deeyah says it will be a mehfil:

“When I was growing up, I experienced the warmth and vitality of a great South Asian cultural institution – the mehfil – a spirited, informal gathering in an intimate, salon-style setting. In these hospitable mehfils, the guests listened to music and poetry, held impassioned discussions about the significant issues affecting the world and, most importantly, celebrated and connected with each other. I remember them

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Jan 5th, 2015 6:16 pm | By

Let’s have something beneficent for the end of the day. (Well, end of the blogging day where I am. It’s morning in other places.) NPR tells us of a woman who climbed the corporate ladder and then hopped off it to do something helpful.

When Srirupa Dasgupta came to the U.S. from India to attend college in the mid-1980s, she was determined to work in high-tech, not the restaurant industry. But today, she owns a small restaurant and catering service in Lancaster, Pa., and employs primarily refugees who might have trouble finding work elsewhere.

She did work in high tech, but then she got tired of it. She was being an executive coach, and then

in 2008 she heard Nobel

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The monarchy and the media

Jan 5th, 2015 3:04 pm | By

For more from the Annals of Inappropriate Royal Influence, we get the BBC deciding to postpone its new documentary on Charles Windsor’s efforts to spin the press, after some royal lawyers oozed up to them in the canteen and leaned heavily on their shoulders. Jessica Elgot reports in the HuffPo UK:

According to the Radio Times, the documentary, presented by former Panorama editor Steve Hewlett, was pulled from the 9pm slot on Sunday’s schedule after lawyers “known to represent senior members of the royal family” had made contact.

Reinventing The Royals is described on the corporation’s website as a “two-part series about the twenty-year battle between the monarchy and the media – the first family and the fourth

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Guest post: They were exactly who you think they were

Jan 5th, 2015 2:21 pm | By

Originally a comment by Donal O’Keeffe on They tried to out-Catholic each other.

As the author of the original article in,, I should add that the column was written in the context of Ireland’s latest – but unlikely to be its last – “right-to-life” horror story. This time the very meaning of life and the very meaning of death were twisted and reduced to the stuff of nightmares as doctors, fearing prosecution for murder, denied a brain-dead pregnant woman a natural death.

(Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Editor of the Irish Independent, covered that story in some depth here:

The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution was foisted on supine politicians in 1983 and voted for … Read the rest

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You never see intelligence and Charles Windsor in the same room

Jan 5th, 2015 11:43 am | By

Nick Cohen is fed up with Charles Windsor’s meddling. He starts by pointing out that however dull the current queen may be, she does have the virtue of not meddling with the government.

The palace and the politicians expect a smooth succession to the reign of Charles III, even though he is a man who has spent his life demonstrating how woefully unqualified he is to be a constitutional king. A small measure of his failure lies in the BBC’s decision to postpone and possibly ban Reinventing the Royals, which it was due to be shown tonight. I can just about understand why Prince Charles wanted to stop a documentary about the PR tactics he employed to recover

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The Sovereign Magical Charismatic Throne

Jan 5th, 2015 11:13 am | By

Parliament issued information about the absolute exemption for the royals which we commoners are allowed to read and share.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000, as amended, includes an exemption for
communications with The Queen, other members of the Royal Family and the Royal
Household, and the awarding of Honours by the Crown (section 37). Certain information
relating to the Sovereign and to the heir and second in line to the Throne is absolutely
exempt from the Act, whereas information relating to other members of the Royal Family and
the Royal Household is subject to the public interest test.

So Brenda and Choss and William are all absolutely exempt. They can plot with Boko Haram if they want to and … Read the rest

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This amendment gives Charles the green light

Jan 5th, 2015 10:44 am | By

That piece in the Independent about special exemptions for the royals from the FOIA was four years old, but it’s all the more newsworthy because the exemptions are now part of the law, so I’ve been looking into the matter.

Index on Censorship covered it in March 2011, a couple of months after the Indy article.

There was some strengthening of the royals’ exemption in 2010.

But full FoI exemption for the Royal Family was sealed by the current government. On 16 January 2011, just a week after the Ministry of Justice trumpeted to extend the scope of FoI for increased transparency of public affairs, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke announced his commencement order to bring Royal Family exemption into

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More secrecy for the royals

Jan 4th, 2015 4:56 pm | By

Update: this story is 4 years old; see comment @ 21. It’s still relevant though.

Here’s a bit of news that is surprising and also very disgusting. The UK royals are going to get a special helping of secrecy in a new amendment to their Freedom of Information act.

The Royal Family is to be granted absolute protection from public scrutiny in a controversial legal reform designed to draw a veil of secrecy over the affairs of the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William.

Letters, emails and documents relating to the monarch, her heir and the second in line to the throne will no longer be disclosed even if they are in the public interest.

Sweeping changes to the Freedom

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Allah’s Will

Jan 4th, 2015 3:57 pm | By

The Ex-Muslims Forum on Twitter points out a murderous little Q&A from the Luton Islamic Centre in which the A is yes indeed apostates must be killed.

Q: Many Muslim groups in the US, like CAIR, MAS, MPAC, said that since there is no
compulsion in Islam, how can the Afghan government execute the apostate… your website
said that the apostate should be executed, this is not from Islam only, but in Christian times
(pre-Islam)… And… what about a person who might have left Islam and then came back, and
died Muslim…if s/he had been killed the first time, s/he would not have had the chance to
return to Islam… of course ultimately who dies as Muslim is Allah’s Will…and

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Gun deaths? What gun deaths?

Jan 4th, 2015 3:23 pm | By

That toddler who found the gun in his mother’s handbag at Walmart and killed her with it – how often do accidents of that kind happen?

No one knows, David Graham at the Atlantic tells us.

There aren’t reliable statistics on gun incidents involving kids.

Because…it doesn’t matter? We forgot? There’s no money in the budget for that? We’re going to do it next year?

…it’s unclear how often children accidentally shoot people. The Washington Post looked into the question earlier in 2014, after a 9-year-old at a shooting range in Arizona lost control of an Uzi and killed her instructor. Mark Berman found that no agency could give him a clear answer on the matter. While there are

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They learned that the call was probably a hoax

Jan 4th, 2015 12:37 pm | By

But don’t forget, online harassment is no big deal.

Casey Parks at OregonLive reports:

A prank call sent a large number of Portland police officers to a Southwest Portland home late Friday night.

Central Precinct officers responded to a home in the 11200 block of Southwest Capitol Highway around midnight after receiving reports that an armed man was holding residents hostage inside.

As officers were developing a plan to contact residents, they learned that the call was probably a hoax.

They later confirmed that everyone inside the home was safe.

A Twitter user who goes by Grace Lynn says the hoax, called a “swatting,” was intended for her. A forum on the website 8chan described the plan to “swat”

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Grammar blasphemy

Jan 4th, 2015 12:04 pm | By

Now that Dave has drawn my attention to that Salon article saying please stop spelling “God” as “god” I feel like telling the author, Richard Eskow, my reason for disliking the automatic “God” as opposed to “god.”

Please, please, stop writing “god” in lowercase form.

I get it. You don’t believe in a supreme being. That’s fine with me. What anybody believes or doesn’t believe is their call. You may believe that the world would be a better place without organized religion. Having seen organized religion in action, I’m inclined to say you may be right. You may believe that even private, reflective, personal religion is harmful, although I don’t see that myself.

Notice he didn’t say “You don’t believe … Read the rest

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Guest post by David Richards: Sunday School

Jan 4th, 2015 11:35 am | By

This pendantic hypocrite is correct about grammar rules, but totally wrong about capitalizing the word god when we are talking about his god in particular, and about how we should all just acknowledge that Christians are always right. And completely wrong about why I write “god” in lower case. I will tell you why:

His god already has a name. It’s YHWH, or Yahweh or Jehovah. That is a proper name, and I generally capitalize proper names. I don’t usually capitalize my own name, but that is a page out of e.e. cummings, and another story. So, if smartass wants his deity capitalized, I have no objection if he uses that particular god’s proper name.

However, I do object that … Read the rest

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Town by town, base by base

Jan 4th, 2015 10:59 am | By

Boko Haram has taken over a whole town and a military base in Borno. That’s bad.

The BBC reports:

Boko Haram has seized a town and key multinational military base in north-eastern Nigeria, officials and eyewitnesses say.

A senator in Borno state said troops had abandoned the base in the town of Baga after it was attacked on Saturday.

Residents of Baga, who fled by boat to neighbouring Chad, said many people had been killed and the town set ablaze.

Baga, scene of a Nigerian army massacre in 2013, was the last town in the Borno North area under government control.

So a part of Nigeria is now in the hands of Boko Haram. That’s bad.

Maina Maaji Lawan,

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Keep New York fascism-free

Jan 4th, 2015 10:14 am | By

Great – the New York cops are still flirting with fascism by making a great show of their opposition to civilian control of the police department. Apparently they want cops to answer only to other cops, and for everyone else to simply obey the armed police force.

Hundreds of police officers have turned their backs on the mayor of New York at the funeral of the second of two officers shot dead last month.

Wenjian Liu, a son of Chinese migrants, was killed with his partner Rafael Ramos on 20 December by a gunman with a grievance against the police.

Speakers lined up to pay tribute at the service in a Brooklyn funeral home.

In the street outside, hundreds

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Pay $8000, get locked in the hold while the crew jumps ship

Jan 3rd, 2015 6:02 pm | By

More on that ship full of refugees abandoned in the Mediterranean the other day – specifically, the cheerful news that the traffickers made 3 million bucks on the deal.

Police in Italy believe traffickers made some $3m (£1.9m; €2.5m) from 359 illegal migrants found abandoned on a cargo ship in the Mediterranean.

The Ezadeen was towed into the Italian port of Corigliano Calabro after being found by coast guards on Friday.

Most of those aboard appear to be Syrians, in the second such case involving a freighter this week.

You know – people fleeing for their lives from a deadly war and a murderous government.

The police chief of Cosenza province, Luigi Liguori, said each migrant had paid between $4,000

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