Blasphemous hair

Barack Obama didn’t say anything about Raif Badawi on his visit to Saud-family Arabia, but Michelle Obama gave them a slight poke in the eye by not wearing a bag over her head.

In Saudi Arabia, that’s unusual: The country is one of the few on Earth where women are expected to cover their heads, and most Saudi women wear niqabs.

Exceptions are made for foreigners, however, and Michelle – who did wear loose clothing that fully covered her arms – appears to have been one of them. In photographs from the official events, other foreign female guests are also shown not wearing headscarves. [Read more…]

Guest post: Oh, no one complained so far

Originally a comment by Ben Finney on Repainting the break room.

If you accept that there weren’t any complaints – and you explicitly do – what is there to excuse?

This is the same defense used by people who act completely surprised when yet another courtroom is found to have exclusive Christian symbolism in it. Oh, no one complained so far, so why would you expect anyone to have done anything about it?!

It’s bullshit for the same reason: The fact that such depictions express the attitude that some people are deserving of unequal treatment by the institution. [Read more…]

Guest post: Now that men are facing the same kinds of hard choices

Originally a comment by Jennifer Phillips on That’s why you have a wife.

Although some encouraging changes (or at least awarenesses, which are necessary precursors to changes) seem to be afoot, this is sadly just ‘the way things are’ in STEM fields. I had both of my kids in graduate school, and I was a freakish anomaly for doing so. Part of it was my unusual financial stability–I was lucky enough to have a gainfully employed partner to supplement my meager grad student stipend–but part of it was that it’s just not done. My first pregnancy was seen by at least some members of my department (and I know this because they openly told me so) as a sign that I wasn’t ‘serious about my career’, that I was just taking up space in a lab and clearly wouldn’t be doing anything meaningful with my PhD (assuming I could find time around all that icky maternal bonding to finish it, that is). My second pregnancy pretty much solidified all that. It was an isolating and occasionally humiliating condition. [Read more…]

Unlikely

Update: the Beeb updated this into the past tense, confirming that he did not mention Raif to his nice new friend King Salman.

The two leaders also discussed the security situation in Yemen as well as stability in the global oil market.

Mr Obama stressed the importance of human rights, US officials added, but did not raise the case of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

The Beeb reports on Obama’s plans for his trip to Riyadh.

US President Barack Obama is heading a large, bipartisan US delegation travelling to Saudi Arabia following the death of King Abdullah.

Large and bipartisan because Saud-family Arabia is such an important “ally,” I suppose.

He is being accompanied by prominent Republican officials, including former Secretaries of State James Baker and Condoleezza Rice.

Saudi Arabia is a key US ally in a region riven by war and rivalries.

Saudi Arabia is also a source of many wars and rivalries.

In an interview with CNN before he left India, Mr Obama suggested he would be unlikely to raise the case of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison last May for “insulting Islam through electronic channels” and “going beyond the realm of obedience”.

Of course he did, and of course he is, because…key US ally.

The doctor wanted to approve the flogging

Terrible news via a public Facebook post by Ensaf Haider.

Important-Urgent: We received information that last Friday ‪#‎RaifBadawi‬ was subjected to a third medical examination to see if he was fit for a second session of lashing!

This surprising/unsettling examination came despite the conclusion of a previous medical check that was done two days earlier which recommended the stopping of any future flogging. #RaifBadawi

Strangely, the doctor conducting the examination wanted to sign the paper and approve the flogging, but due to discussions that took place and the previous medical report, he finally agreed to postpone the flogging for a further medical examination!

As a result, the intentions of the Saudi authorities are not clear and there is a possibility that the flogging of #RaifBadawi may take place again this Friday.

Keep up the pressure.

To help the nation

Mike Huckabee wants to set us all straight about where laws come from. They don’t come from Hoboken. They don’t come from Walmart. They don’t come from Microsoft nor yet from Apple. They come from god, gee oh dee god.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said during an appearance Thursday on a Christian television show that he’s thinking about running for President to help the nation know where laws come from: God.

“We cannot survive as a republic if we do not become, once again, a God-centered nation that understands that our laws do not come from man, they come from God,” he said on the show “Life Today.”

[Read more…]

That’s why you have a wife

To the surprise of no one, it turns out that men who have “traditional” marriages, in which their wives take on all the domestic duties, have more time to devote to their jobs and thus rise higher up the ladder than men who share the domestic duties. Is this true also in STEM fields? Why yes, yes it is. The Washington Post explained last September.

For years, people have been puzzling over why there are so few women in science, technology, engineering and math, and why the university professors who teach the subjects are predominantly men. Is it genetics? Preference? Caregiving responsibilities? An unwelcoming environment?

Turns out, according to a new study released Thursday on men in academic science, it may have a lot to do with the boss. The majority of tenured full professors at some of the most prestigious universities in the country, who have the most power to hire and fire and set the workplace expectation of long hours, are men who have either a full-time spouse at home who handles all caregiving and home duties, or a spouse with a part-time or secondary career who takes primary responsibility for the home.

[Read more…]

A fundamentalist Islamist dictatorship

Max Fisher provides answers to nine basic questions about Saud-family Arabia.

Like, what is it.

Saudi Arabia is a fundamentalist Islamist dictatorship, an ultra-wealthy oil economy, and perhaps the most powerful country in the Middle East. It is a very young country in a very old part of the world. It formed in 1932, when a tribal leader named Abdulaziz al-Saud conquered an area three times the size of Texas and then named it after himself. He and his first generation of sons have ruled Saudi Arabia ever since.

The way that Abdulaziz al-Saud came to conquer and unify this country is crucial for understanding it: by allying with a fiercely conservative group of Islamist fundamentalists known as the Wahhabis.  Saudi Arabia became “the only modern nation-state created by jihad,” as the journalist Steve Coll once put it.

[Read more…]

My identity can beat up your identity

A Swedish tv reporter, Petter Ljunggren, did an investigative report on anti-Semitism in Malmo.

Ljunggren wanted to know what it feels like as a Jew in Malmo, so he put on a kippah and Star of David, and went out to walk the streets.

He was followed by an undercover reporter who filmed everything.

Along the town’s main road, Ljunggren was immediately confronted. One man told him he should leave if he was wearing that ‘Jewish shit’.

Another shouted at him that he’s a Jew-devil. People shouted at ‘dirty Jewish pig’ and “Jewish pigs, we’ll kill you’. In the neighborhoods of Lindängen and Rosengård, he was harassed so much, he considered just leaving.

So that’s horrifying.