Press release from JREF

Los Angeles Office Closed

In order to achieve cost-savings and greater efficiency, the Los Angeles office of the JREF has closed effective September 1, 2014. All operations have been moved to Falls Church, Virginia.

DJ Grothe is no longer with the JREF. James Randi has taken over as acting President.

This restructuring is part of an enhanced educational agenda aimed at inspiring an investigative spirit in a new generation of critical thinkers by engaging children and their parents, as well as educators and the general public, in how to think about the many extraordinary claims we hear every day.

Contact the JREF at:
James Randi Educational Foundation
2941 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 105
Falls Church, VA 22042
[email protected]

The permanency of such violation is a bitter thing

Roxane Gay at Comment is Free on the misogyny underlying this trick of stealing and publishing photos of women.

What these people are doing is reminding women that, no matter who they are, they are still women. They are forever vulnerable.

The racy images of these nubile bodies are the biggest story on the internet, and every site that refuses to reprint the images has already left itself absolved while leaving a prurient trail of breadcrumbs. The permanency of such violation is a bitter thing. These leaked images are instantly widely available and they always will be. The images will be downloaded and viewed and shared. These women’s lives and their private choices will be dissected. They are women, so they must be judged. [Read more...]

Mother of three

Hadley Freeman in the Guardian on the fun new trend of stealing photos of women to publish on the internet.

I think we know that the biggest fashion trend, really, for women – now and always – is no clothes at all: it’s having stolen naked photos of yourself leaked all over the internet. It’s like the story of the emperor’s new clothes all over again, if the emperor was harassed by sex pests and thieves and humiliated on an international level.

How strange it is to be a woman, in a world where everyone seems to be obsessed with what you do with your vagina: who are you letting into it, what children are you expelling from it, whether you’re trying to stop having children come out of it, who are you offering it up to. The older I get, the more I marvel at this vaginal obsession. [Read more...]

Advice

The Mirror has an appropriately angry piece about how women can avoid what happened to Jennifer Lawrence. (It’s by someone who goes by “Fleet Street Fox”…)

A total of 101 female celebrities are thought to have been targeted by someone who hacked the Apple photo storage service iCloud and published them in return for money.

In an extra layer of creepy weirdness, actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead said the photos taken with her husband years earlier had been deleted – so iCloud had kept a copy, and the hacker had to hunt for it.

There are no leaked photos of naked male celebrities.

It’s more fun to do it to people who won’t enjoy it, FSF says. [Read more...]

Ukpabio sues BHA and WHRIN

Helen Ukpabio is suing the British Humanist Association and the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network for £500,000,000.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) and Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN) are being sued by the wealthy evangelical preacher and ‘witch hunter’ Helen Ukpabio who has dubbed herself a ‘Lady Apostle’. Mrs Ukpabio claims to have expertise in identifying children and adults who are possessed with witchcraft spirits and in how they can be ‘delivered’ from those spirits. Her lawyers have informed the BHA and WHRIN that she is launching a legal case against them due to their criticism of her teachings and methods.

[Read more...]

Harm rising to the level of persecution

Well this is huge.

In a ruling that advocates described as a historic victory for Central American refugees, a federal immigration board said Tuesday that a married woman fleeing domestic violence in Guatemala, where authorities could not or would not protect her, can seek political asylum in the United States.

A woman who has been brutally beaten by her husband, who tried to prevent her from leaving, has suffered “harm rising to the level of persecution,” said the Board of Immigration Appeals, which oversees the Justice Department‘s immigration courts.

[Read more...]

You don’t mean to say they were naked!

Another nice thing – a bunch of women have had naked pictures of themselves stolen and posted online. Punishing women for existing just never gets old, does it.

A hacker has reportedly obtained nude photos of a slew of female celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence.

The anonymous source, according to The Hollywood Gossip, has 60 images of the 24-year-old The Hunger Games star in various states of undress and has posted them on an online bulletin board. The photos of Lawrence, some of which are topless, have since appeared on photo sharing site Imgur.

Because obviously women have no right to be left alone, because they’re women – they’re public property. [Read more...]

For the sake of abstract future benefits

I’m reading a piece by Paul Bloom in the Boston Review arguing that empathy is a bad thing. I say it in the present tense because I haven’t finished yet; I stopped to argue with something he said, before finishing the whole thing, because I feel like it. If I were reading it offline I would do the same thing in a notebook. (So it will probably turn out that he answers the question, but I want to say anyway.)

Most people see the benefits of empathy as akin to the evils of racism: too obvious to require justification. I think this is a mistake. I have argued elsewhere that certain features of empathy make it a poor guide to social policy. Empathy is biased; we are more prone to feel empathy for attractive people and for those who look like us or share our ethnic or national background. And empathy is narrow; it connects us to particular individuals, real or imagined, but is insensitive to numerical differences and statistical data. [Read more...]

Talented mediocrity

Will Self says Orwell was a talented mediocrity.

The curious thing is that while during the post-war period we’ve had many political leaders, we’ve got by with just a single Supreme Mediocrity – George Orwell.

I don’t doubt characterising Orwell as a talented mediocrity will put noses out of joint. Not Orwell, surely! Orwell the tireless campaigner for social justice and economic equality; Orwell the prophetic voice, crying out in the wartime wilderness against the dangers of totalitarianism and the rise of the surveillance state; Orwell, who nobly took up arms in the cause of Spanish democracy, then, equally nobly, exposed the cause’s subversion by Soviet realpolitik; Orwell, who lived in saintly penury and preached the solid virtues of homespun Englishness; Orwell, who died prematurely, his last gift to the people he so admired being a list of suspected Soviet agents he sent to MI5.

Orwell who wrote decent, readable, but far from brilliant prose. Yes, that Orwell. [Read more...]