The credibility of the young victims was questioned

The Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Northwest (of England), Nazir Afzal, is getting some heat for doing his job.

As the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West, I led the teams that brought the so-called Rochdale Grooming Gang to justice in 2012 for abusing up to 47 girls.

My work saw me go up against not only the offenders, but those who tried to intimidate me for bringing abusers before the courts. They said I had given racists a stick with which to beat minorities – I said our communities should be carrying their own sticks.

Right-wingers went after him too. [Read more...]

Bassam Raies

I saw an angry tweet by Razan Saffour @RazanSpeaks saying a journalist called Bassam Raies was killed by ISIS two weeks ago and there wasn’t a peep about it. So I looked for news and…it’s true, there’s not a peep about it, which means I can’t even tell if it’s true or not. There are a few mentions but they’re all identical and all from either Twitter or random sites that I don’t recognize.

Reporters Without Borders has nothing. The Committee to Protect Journalists has nothing. I think they would have anything if there were anything to have, so…I’m not sure this is a true story. But if it is, I would like to make a peep about it.

Of course that’s Razan Saffour’s point: there’s nothing. So maybe it’s a real story and there’s nothing in English. If so that’s pathetic and shocking.

Another beheading

It’s being reported that IS has beheaded the American journalist Steven Sotloff. NBC says it’s not confirmed yet, but there seems little reason to think that IS would say it had when it hadn’t. It’s not as if its members are hesitant about being brutal bastards. The text of the story (as opposed to the video) states it as fact in any case.

The Islamic militant group ISIS cut off the head of an American journalist in a video made public Tuesday — following through on a threat it made when it beheaded another American two weeks ago and vowed to keep killing unless the United States stopped airstrikes.

The journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff, was beheaded in a video made public by SITE Intel Group, which monitors jihadist organizations. The video surfaced days after Sotloff’s mother pleaded with the leader of ISIS for mercy.

I hope no more parents or other relatives do that. It’s so obvious that they don’t do mercy, and that pleading only makes it more fun for them.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said it condemned the “pure barbarism” in the strongest possible terms.

Sotloff, like Foley, “went to Syria to tell a story,” said Joel Simon, the executive director of CPJ. “They were civilians, not representatives of any government. Their murders are war crimes and those who committed them must be brought to justice swiftly.”

Must, but won’t.

“We will rape your mother and make you watch”

The New York Times reports on Rotherham.

It starts with one victim’s account of how the grooming was done – it started with teenage boys flirting and then older men taking over and closing the doors of the trap.

The rapes started gradually, once a week, then every day: by the war memorial in Clifton Park, in an alley near the bus station, in countless taxis and, once, in an apartment where she was locked naked in a room and had to service half a dozen men lined up outside.

She obliged. How could she not? They knew where she lived. “If you don’t come back, we will rape your mother and make you watch,” they would say.

[Read more...]

He promised to do so

Well this is one possible reason – Maria Berglund at Skepchick Sweden.

Last year D.J, who was booked as a speaker at the European Skeptics Congress in Stockholm, simply didn’t show up. The group that organized the congress were quite surprised, since he hadn’t contacted us for a cancellation. They managed, at the last minute, to throw in another speaker to take his place.

When I got in contact with him, he sounded quite surprised and claimed that he absolutely had cancelled recently. I then asked him to let us know who he had communicated with, and he promised to do so. He didn’t, however, and when I kept asking him for it he kept telling me that he would get back to me about this when he was by his computer. He never did. [Read more...]

Knowingly or unknowingly

Sanal Edamaruku posted a photo of a chilling ad from an Indian newspaper on his Facebook page, with a comment.

Freedom of thought and expression are guaranteed as fundamental rights in Indian Constitution. Promotion of critical inquiry, scientific temper and spirit of reform are fundamental duties.

Resist all attempts to take India back to medieval times. The picture given is an advertisement by Karnataka state government in a prominent Indian newspaper.

Photo: Is India going the Iran way? Criticism of religion or faith can be taken as an offence now. </p>
<p>Freedom of thought and expression are guaranteed as fundamental rights in Indian Constitution. Promotion of critical inquiry, scientific temper and spirit of reform are fundamental duties. </p>
<p>Resist all attempts to take India back to medieval times. The picture given is an advertisement by Karnataka state government in a prominent Indian newspaper. [Read more...]

Terrified of what Zimmy would do

A guest post at Left Foot Forward by “Helen” who tells a story of being groomed at age 16 by her “boyfriend” age 24.

I met Zimmy through Zamir, who I truly believed to be a “friend”, although since friends tend not to take you round to their uncle’s and offer you for sex in exchange for heroin, I can see now that he most definitely was not.

Zimmy was Zamir’s dealer and didn’t hesitate in asking me out, although like “friend”, “out” meant sitting in his Audi smoking a drug I thought was weed but that he later told me was heroin. Being such a good ‘boyfriend’, he also later introduced me to crack.

[Read more...]

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...]