He has a stable of luxury cars and a Beverly Hills mansion

Uh oh – another celebrity star famous guy brought down by multiple accusations of rape.

This one’s a famous star yoga guy.

He has a stable of luxury cars and a Beverly Hills mansion. During trainings for hopeful yoga teachers, he paces a stage in a black Speedo and holds forth on life, sex and the transformative power of his brand of hot yoga.

Not to mention his black Speedo.

But a day of legal reckoning is drawing closer for the guru, Bikram Choudhury. [Read more…]

The Geneva Summit 2

Also at the Geneva Summit today

[T]he 2015 summit’s “Women’s Rights Award” was given to Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, the creator of a Facebook page titled “My Stealthy Freedom,” which shows pictures of Iranian women without hijabs. The page now has nearly 770,000 Facebook likes.

Addressing summit attendees before the awards ceremony, Alinejad said she was forced to wear a headscarf from the time she started going to school, aged seven. She explained that, to her, a headscarf is not just a small issue and it is not “just a piece of cloth,” but a way of quietening her voice and the voices of other Iranian women.

“Every time when I was running or walking in a free country and feeling the wind through my hair it just reminds me that for 35 years I didn’t have this freedom,” the journalist told the assembled activists, adding that her “hair was like a hostage in the hands of the Iranian government.”

During her acceptance speech, Alinejad said that she had ruminated carefully about whether to travel to Switzerland to accept the prize. “For Iranian journalists or for Iranian civil rights activists it is normal to be scared,” she said, adding that being Iranian and talking about human rights “comes with accusations.” However, Alinejad said that she had eventually come to a simple realization: “Whether you speak out or not they’re going to label you.”

And here she is:

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The Geneva Summit

Today’s news from Geneva is that Raif Badawi was given the Geneva Summit’s “Courage Award.” Sally Hayden reports at VICE:

Badawi is the 2015 recipient of the Geneva Summit’s “Courage Award” — sponsored by a coalition of 20 human rights NGOs from around the world.

Dr. Elham Manea, a spokesperson for Badawi, told VICE News that Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, is “delighted” at the news of the award, and that his children “are thrilled that their father is being recognized and also honored with such a prize from such a human rights summit. It means a lot.”

Manea talked to VICE News while on the train to Geneva, where she accepted the award on Badawi’s behalf. Haidar is currently in Canada, where she emigrated with the couple’s children. Manea added, however, that the family understandably remains very concerned about Badawi’s health and safety.

[Read more…]

Kiran’s report

Kiran Opal’s report on the International Conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights last October in London is now available.

A few months ago, I was privileged to participate in, and speak at, an historic conference, the two-day International Conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights held in London, UK on 11th-12th October 2014. At the conference, I got to meet and speak with some of the world’s most interesting activists who work tirelessly to promote human rights and secularism, and I presented a talk on The Human and the Kafir: How Fear of Apostasy Fuels Islamist Power.

Then Atheist Alliance International asked her to write a report on the conference, and with help from Maryam Namazie (who organized it) and Hilary Baxter, she did. [Read more…]

Pick your enemies

Lots of people seem to think Patricia Arquette basically said gay people and people of color should stop fighting for their rights and instead fight for the rights of rich white women.

I don’t think she said that.

Soraya Nadia McDonald at the Washington Post tells the story:

…while the language in Arquette’s acceptance speech may have set off some silent alarms, her follow-up comments backstage proved more incendiary to some. [Read more…]

This is not Akram’s house

This won’t end well. The BBC reports that IS has grabbed up a bunch of Christians in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 90 men, women and children were seized in a series of dawn raids near the town of Tal Tamr.

Some Assyrians managed to escape and made their way east to the largely Kurdish-controlled city of Hassakeh.

The militants have reportedly taken the male captives to nearby Abdul Aziz mountain, while the women are being held in the village of Tal Shamran, where activists say most of those captured came from.

The men will be killed and the women will be enslaved. That’s the purpose of separating them.

Islamic State’s online radio station, al-Bayan, reported on Tuesday that its members had seized “tens of Crusaders”.

Osama Edward of the Sweden-based Assyrian Human Rights Network, who has relatives in the area, told the BBC that his wife’s elderly aunt and her cousin were among the hostages.

“My wife tried to call her cousin’s house and there was somebody who picked up the phone and said: ‘This is not Akram’s house. This is the Islamic State’s house’.”

Allahu akbar.