No-platform the pope

Hot news – the pope will address Congress.

Pope Francis will become the first leader of the Catholic church to address the United States Congress.

Francis will stop off in the Capitol on Sept. 24 during his week-long tour of the U.S., and speak to a joint session of Congress. House Speaker John Boehner announced the news in a Thursday morning tweet.

Why. Why will he do that. Why will the pope address Congress.

Why? Why was he invited?

Congress is the government. It’s a secular government. The pope is the head of a religious institution, and a very wicked reactionary woman-hating child-raping lawbreaking religious institution at that. Why invite him to talk to a major branch of government? Why break the long precedent of not inviting popes to address Congress?

This pisses me off. I don’t want our government sucking up to the Catholic church. It does that way too much as it is.

Down with the pope.

Update to add (on Harald’s excellent advice):

Harassment is not the same as trolling

The BBC reports on the Verge’s publication of Costolo’s admission that Twitter sucks at preventing harassment. That’s good, because it puts Costolo and Twitter that much more on the spot. Yes, Twitter, you suck at preventing harassment. Yes, Mr Costolo, Twitter sucks at preventing harassment.

Twitter’s chief executive Dick Costolo has admitted that the company “sucks” when it comes to dealing with abuse and trolling on the service.

[Read more…]

Dogma v rights

Jamila has an autobiographical or miniature memoir-type post which is a must-read.

My mother was a Baptist who converted to Catholicism about the time it came to enroll me in school and to get a parish discount.  I do believe her devotion, but the timing leads me to think that her god’s got wonderful timing.  Except for a 6-8th grade reprieve, ALL of my education up until my final semester in college was at the hands of Catholic schoolteachers. And true to form, they taught me how to question and dissect everything. [Read more…]

Light dawns

Twitter CEO to employees: “We suck at dealing with abuse.”

Why yes, yes you do. What was your first clue?

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is taking personal responsibility for his platform’s chronic problems with harassment and abuse, telling employees that he is embarrassed for the company’s failures and would soon be taking stronger action to eliminate trolls. He said problems with trolls are driving away the company’s users. “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” Costolo wrote in an internal memo obtained by The Verge. “It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.”

[Read more…]

Humanist of the year

Oh, gawd. It just never stops.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

Jeffrey Epstein, a financier who served jail time for procuring an underage girl for prostitution, currently finds himself the focus of lawsuits saying that he arranged for various prominent people to have sex with underage girls. An article by Reuters notes that Epstein has also donated to many colleges and backed the work of various professors. Some researchers and charity officials said that they would not accept any more money from Epstein. But others defended him. “His interest is in interesting people and interesting ideas,” Lawrence Krauss, an Arizona State University physicist, told Reuters. Krauss directs a program on the origins of life — a program that Epstein has supported. Krauss said he would feel cowardly if he turned away from Epstein, given that he doesn’t know anything about the accusations.

Laurence Krauss, eh – the Humanist of the Year. No really: with a capital H and a capital Y. Arizona State University says so. [Read more…]

Maggie really wanted to see snow

At Mother Jones, a doctor writes an open letter to the parent of the unvaccinated child who exposed the doctor’s family to measles.

I assume you love your child just like I love mine. I assume that you are trying to make good choices regarding their care. Please realize that your child does not live in a bubble. When your child gets sick, other children are exposed. My children. Why would you knowingly expose anyone to your sick, unvaccinated child after recently visiting Disneyland? That was a boneheaded move.

Many anti-vaxxers think measles is no big deal – just an ordinary “childhood disease” that causes a little rash and then gets better.

My son, Eli, is 10 months old. He is too young to received the MMR vaccine and thus has no protection. Whether by refusal or because they are too young, exposed unvaccinated children have a 90 percent chance of getting measles.

Fourth, there are children like my Maggie. These are children who can’t be vaccinated. Children who have cancer. Children who are immunocompromised. Children who are truly allergic to a vaccine or part of a vaccine (i.e., anaphylaxis to egg). These children remain at risk. They cannot be protected, except by vaccinating people around them. [Read more…]

Guest post: Last Words on That Departure…

Guest post by Bruce Everett

It’s been a couple of weeks since the posting of a clarification of my reasons for leaving the Humanist Society of South Australia (HSSA). This, in response to public speculation by HSSA member Mark Senior, was a labour that could have been more easily avoided if only the HSSA had kept its members properly informed of policies passed by committee.

Apparently it needs pointing out that I’m not obliged to use private channels with the HSSA when making corrective statements, when HSSA members publicly speculate on my reasons for leaving. As you’d expect, people will complain of improper treatment all the same…

“My current opinion of Bruce has diminished greatly. He acts more like a rightwing witch-hunter than a progressive thinker and spends an inordinate amount of his time looking for fault in others in the progressive movements. [Read more…]

Better taste than the cancelers of Goldsmiths

Here’s the Saturday night entertainment for QED 2015

Posted by QED at 12:00pm on February 2nd 2015

Each year we are delighted to bring an eclectic and varied evening of entertainment for every single one of our QED attendees, and QED 2015 is no exception – with an evening line-up featuring the talents of Kate Smurthwaite, Jay Foreman and Mitch Benn.

Take that, Goldsmiths feminist and comedy societies.

Also University of Manchester Student Union. Go, and sin no more.


Back to the Court of Appeal in Jeddah

Amnesty reports a new fact relating to Raif Badawi –

Raif Badawi was not publicly flogged on Friday 30 January for unclear reasons. Unlike in previous weeks he was not called from his cell and examined by the prison doctor. It is unclear why the routine medical check-up did not take place and or why the flogging was postponed.

Amnesty International also learned that Raif Badawi’s case was referred on 3 February from the Supreme Court back to the Court of Appeal in Jeddah. No further information about the details of this transfer were made available. The Supreme Court could have upheld the conviction and sentence, or it could have called for a retrial by overturning the sentence and conviction or by making observations and recommendations. The Saudi Arabian authorities have not yet made an official statement on the case despite the international outcry.

However as long as the sentence to flogging and prison stands, Raif Badawi remains at risk of flogging and will serve his 10-year prison sentence.

The Supreme Court has sent the case back to the Court of Appeal in Jeddah. It’s impossible to know what that could mean, but…to an outsider it looks like people in Saud-family Arabia passing a hot potato around, trying to figure out how to get out of a mess with the least possible embarrassment to themselves.