Last chance for Troy Davis

The state of Georgia is planning to execute a man for murder tomorrow, on the basis of a very shaky case in which most of the witnesses have recanted their testimony, and who have said the police pressured them into their initial accusations. I can’t make any judgments on whether he is guilty or innocent — the case has not been made strongly enough to justify an irrevocable and terminal decision. That is why it is criminally wrong for the state to kill him for this crime.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is about to commit an injustice. Write or fax them at (404) 651-8502 now.

You can also send a message through Amnesty International. It’s a disgrace that our country is about to do something as horrific as what we condemn Islamic regimes for doing — a barbaric punishment on the most tenuous grounds.

(via RDF)

(Also on Sb)

Fairness and reason can be opposed by a poll

I’m impressed. The principal at Edgewater Primary School, Julie Tombs, ended the tradition of reciting the Lord’s Prayer at assemblies after receiving some complaints, and she did it for good principled reasons.

…at this school we have students from a range of backgrounds and it is important to consider all views and not promote one set of religious beliefs and practices over another.

Exactly right! This is a simple decision that schools should not be in the business of promoting sectarian religion. But of course, even in Australia the facts can’t be allowed to stand, so opposition must be gathered in the guise of a democratic poll. And so far, the Australians are disappointing me.

Should the Lord’s Prayer be banned from WA schools?

Yes 26.92%

No 54.78%

In state schools only 10.96%
I don’t care 7.34%

People who read Pharyngula might have a different perspective on this issue. Maybe you should make your views known.

Calling all Swedes

I made an error, too, because I can’t read Swedish. The blog listed below is someone else explaining Khalid’s situation; Khalid’s blog is here, and it’s in English!

Your country is about to make a major mistake! They are preparing to deport Khalid and his family — his wife and three children — back to Pakistan, their native country. One problem: he’s one of those noisy blogging atheists, and while I can appreciate that they’re an annoying, obnoxious lot, kicking him out of Sweden means he’ll be sent to Pakistan. Sweden is refusing his request for asylum, which basically means that he’s being given a death sentence. It doesn’t mean that the Pakistani government will have him directly executed; they have a subtler plan. Under the laws there, any good Muslim who kills an apostate faces no punishment.

I don’t know who to contact, and the information I was sent provided no recommendations for how to address this looming problem (we only have a few days to act). If anyone has any idea about who we should be howling at, let me know in comments or email, and I’ll add it to this post.

I think his money is safe

A professor at the University of Minnesota, Steven Miles, is offering a $1000 reward for the name and release of the medical records of the person Michele Bachmann says became mentally retarded after getting the HPV vaccine. I’d like to see that, too.

One unexpected consequence of Bachmann’s accusation: Rick Perry is now defending science.

Perry himself has weighed in. “You heard the same arguments about giving our children protections from some of the childhood diseases, and they were, autism was part of that,” he told NBC News. “Now we’ve subsequently found out that was generated and not true.”

I guess Rick Perry just lost Jenny McCarthy’s vote.

Next debate, I’d like to see Bachmann promote creationism and pooh-pooh global climate change, just for the unusual spectacle of seeing Republicans rushing to puncture her claims by citing real science.

Michele Bachmann: pseudo-scientist and anti-vaxxer

There was another Republican debate (I skipped it; there are limits to the horrors I can endure), and apparently, many people think Michele Bachmann trumped Rick Perry by jumping on his ‘liberal’ endorsement of using the HPV vaccine to prevent cancers in women. Bachmann ranted about the federal government forcing innocent little girls to get mental retardation injections, and the teabaggers loved it. They loved it almost as much as they loved Rick Perry’s record of executions.

Orac rips her apart. It’s great fun, and informative, too.

As I’ve pointed out time and time again, Gardasil is incredibly safe by any measure. Also by any measure, it’s been very heavily tested and monitored. Of course, there is no evidence at all that the HPV vaccine can cause mental retardation. I’ve also pointed out how the vast majority of the reports of adverse reactions after the HPV vaccine made to the VAERS database were almost certainly not due to Gardasil and have castigated Medscape, of all publications, for buying into anti-vaccine myths about Gardasil. Meanwhile the American Academy of Pediatrics immediately issued a press release to correct Michelle Bachmann’s false statements about Gardasil. What Bachmann is peddling is pure pseudoscience. I suppose I shouldn’t be in the least bit surprised, given how gullible she is when it comes to science in general and how much she allows ideology to trump science.

Once again, the Republicans step forward as the anti-human, anti-science, anti-health party.

(Also on Sb)

Must-see TV!

Wow. Bangladesh has imposed new restrictions on what can be shown on television. These rules will certainly make for compelling viewing.

[1] Private television channels cannot run direct publicity in favor of any political party [publicity in favor of ruling party is allowed],

[2] Misleading information cannot be incorporated in any talk shows [it stops the participants of the talk shows from delivering any comment criticizing the ruling party or its activities],

[3] National ideology or characters cannot be criticized,

[4] The father of the nation [Sheikh Mujibur Rahman] cannot be criticized in any of the programs [any of his mistakes during his governance cannot be anymore mentioned in any of the programs],

[5] No individual can be criticized in the programs [this has been initiated as a number of ministers in the ruling government became subject of harsh criticism following their severe failures],

[6] No criticism will be allowed on national ideologies and goals [this law will stop the television channels from scrutinizing and criticizing any of the decisions or policies adopted by the ruling party],

[7] No defense and government information can be leaked in any of the programs on television channels [this was initiated because a number of private television channels are exposing many of the hidden actions as well as corruptions inside ministries],

[8] No program can be aired which would provoke deterioration of law and order situation [this law will stop broadcasting news and contents related to general strikes and demonstration programs of the political opponents of the ruling party. This law has been incorporated to stop the television channels from exposing corruption as well as brutality of the law enforcing agencies in the country. Especially the ruling party turned uncomfortable when the private television channels exposed the physical assault of an opposition member of the Parliament, who was mercilessly beaten by some police officers. It was disclosed by the private television channels that, those police officers were leaders of the student front of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League, during their student life. Television programs containing investigative reports on murder in custody of opposition leader and lawyer Moinuddin Ahmed [M U Ahmed] also caused anger in the minds of the ruling party leaders],

[9] No program can be broadcast against any friendly nation [this will stop Bangladeshi channels to broadcast programs criticizing Palestine, Iran and many other nations, with which Bangladesh maintains ‘friendly’ relations,

[10] Programs related to trafficking in women, forced prostitution, rape etc will be barred from broadcast under the new law. This law will also stop broadcasting investigative reports on such issues.

[11] Broadcasting ‘kiss scene’ shall be banned under the new law [this will stop all foreign television channels, especially the movie channels from being connected to Bangladeshi cable television network],

[12] No program or content on mutiny or demonstration can be broadcast on television channels [this will stop the private television channels from showing any of the contents related to massacre inside the Bangladesh Riffles Headquarters],

[13] Programs exposing the activities of criminals as well as their modus-operandi cannot be shown on any television channel,

[14] The private television channels shall be ‘bound’ to broadcast speeches of the Head of the State, Head of the government [Prime Minister], public announcements, press notes as well as any ‘program of national interest’. This law will compel the television channels in continuing to broadcast programs containing political agendas of the ruling party.

I could make a much shorter set of laws that would be much simpler.

  • Only say nice things about the ruling party.

  • No criticism of anything!

  • NO KISSING!

It’s the opposite of what I imagine PharyngulaTV would be like — that would consist of many hours of people blowing raspberries at the Chief Poopyhead, nonstop, vicious criticism of everything (even the stuff we like!), and explicit sex 24 hours a day. I’d watch it. It would be much more interesting than the snoozefest on Bangladeshi TV.

(via Butterflies and Wheels.)

Our disgrace

I just saw @ThatKevinSmith’s Red State. It was the perfect movie to watch on 9/11: full of violence, sanctimonious religion, and terror in the name of anti-terrorism. It’s such an American movie. If you really want to feel the grim despair of living in God’s own America, this is the movie to see — a painful vision of our nightmare.

That’s really how I feel: we have been marching backwards since 9/11, throwing away our civil liberties, lashing out at the world with violence, as if that will solve anything. For contrast, read this description of what Martin Luther King did for the country. He inspired people to stand up for their rights, and got African Americans to unite and demand respect.

At this point, I would like to remind everyone exactly what Martin Luther King did, and it wasn’t that he “marched” or gave a great speech.

My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.”

Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about.

But this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished. Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches.

He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.

It was a great stride forward for black people. Yet when you look at the last ten years, what do we see? The opposite. The country rushing to embrace fear. There’s nothing to honor today. Americans should see this as a day of shame, not because we were attacked, but for how we responded afterwards — we left courage behind and became a nation of bullies and cowards.

And that’s all I have to say about 9/11.

Prayer is only part of Rick Perry’s strategy

He’s not just a do-nothing governor who sits around with his hands in his lap begging an invisible man to save Texas. He does stuff, too. Like cut fire department funding by 75 percent. You know, reducing funding to the volunteer fire departments that have to battle the catastrophic wildfires breaking out in the state.

But then, how could he possibly know that if God didn’t bring rain, the plains might dry out and become more flammable? That’s like science, or cause-and-effect, or somethin’.

World of Class Warfare

I think this is the most brilliant segment Jon Stewart has ever done — I watched the whole thing with the most peculiar mixed feelings of rising incredulity, desperate laughter, and freakin’ rage, and you should experience those feelings, too. If you haven’t already, watch The World of Class Warfare Part I and Part II. He nails it: the injustices of the Republican party, and the smug, blithe evil of Fox News pundits scurrying to find solutions in taxing the poor more.

I’m in awe. It’s the perfect combination of the comedy genius of Stewart and the obliging straight men and women at Fox and the GOP happily setting up the jokes for him. If only there weren’t so much to joke about…

Also, if only the Democratic Party could seize the gift given to them.