There are no beds here

A BBC story on the trial of four would-be mujahideen helps to back up what I always think about these projects: a lot of it is about adventure and spectacle and attention-seeking and thrills, more than it’s really about theocracy or sharia. The theocracy is a kind of excuse or shortcut-reason.

These four dudes went off to Pakistan for what they thought would be glam exciting dangerous training, and turned out to be a nightmare camping trip from hell. They lasted two days.

Conditions were, according to Ishaaq Hussain’s account, primitive. They slept on bare ground in sleeping bags, with a hole in the ground for a loo.

What little food they could get was a far cry from Mum’s home cooking or the tasty takeaways of Sparkhill and Sparkbrook. [Read more…]

Mandatory hope in mandatory Jesus

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center is filing suit against a Mississippi high school that forced all students to attend a lecture on “finding hope in Jesus.”

(Washington, DC, April 25, 2013) —The American Humanist Association’s legal center filed a lawsuit at 2:30 p.m. ET yesterday against Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi, challenging the school’s recent mandatory student assemblies that presented a Christian message as a violation of the separation of church and state.

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center learned from Northwest Rankin High School students that a mandatory assembly was held during school hours on April 9 where a representative of the Pinelake Baptist Church spoke of finding “hope” in “Jesus Christ.” [Read more…]

Dressed in a grey top

Maureen mentioned that England actually prosecutes internet harassment, and linked to a current example.

A self-confessed British internet “troll” has admitted threatening to kill 200 people at a US school by posting menacing comments on a memorial Facebook page.

Thousands of pupils stayed away from the school in Warren county, Tennessee, after Reece Elliott, 24, of Fossway, South Shields, South Tyneside, left terrifying messages under an assumed name.

Oh yes? Whiners. Divas*. Professional Victims. Sisterhood of the Oppressed. Don’t they know trolling is just trolling and all you have to do about trolling is Not Feed It? [Read more…]

Making a difference

The BBC has graphics illustrating the rise in measles outbreaks in England and Wales. It’s scary.

Measles is back and causing outbreaks in England and Wales.

It is a nasty and potentially fatal disease. It is also one of the most infectious viruses around.

Before vaccination there were hundreds of thousands of cases in epidemic years, but the disease was effectively eradicated in the UK after the MMR vaccine was introduced.

However, in 2012 there were more than 2,000 cases of measles in England and Wales – the highest figures for two decades. [Read more…]

“Sisters” to the back

Australian universities are doing it too – allowing Islamist groups to tell women to sit at the back of the room.

THE University of Melbourne has declined to condemn gender segregation at public events held by Islamic organisations at its Parkville campus…

On April 13, a lecture entitled “Islamic rulings on Jihad in Syria & why great scholars’ silence” (sic) was held in the university’s Copland Theatre by Islamic education organisation Hikmah Way.

At the entrance to the lecture, attended by The Australian, signs directed “sisters” to the back of the theatre, and “brothers” to the front. Asked whether seating was segregated, a male attendee said: “It usually is here, yeah.”… [Read more…]

Is he a friend of Joe Arpaio’s?

Well there had to be one somewhere, right? Or several. It stands to reason. But anyway, there he is – the college kid who calls himself a “street preacher” and did a little impromptu “street preaching” at the University of Arizona where he is a junior; the message of his sermon was that women deserve rape. The Arizona Daily Wildcat reports.

A student holding a sign that read “You deserve rape” ignited outrage across campus Tuesday, on the same day of a sexual assault awareness event, but administrators declined requests to remove him or his sign. [Read more…]

A win

Good news about libel reform, at least. It’s been agreed by Parliament and once the queen says ok it will become the Defamation Act 2013.

The Libel Reform Campaign has comments from a lot of relevant people.

Tracey Brown, Director, Sense About Science said: “A campaign of small organisations, thousands of individuals and good parliamentarians has achieved changes that were denied to citizens  and publishers for a century. We didn’t have resources but we had the weight of mounting injustice and the pressure from citizens to talk freely about their society, evidence, culture and the behaviour of powerful people within it. [Read more…]