Daily Archives: September 17, 2012

Egyptian pro-Democracy Blogger Arrested

Alber Saber is a pro-democracy blogger in Egypt who also runs a facebook page for atheists. His neighbors found out about this and, of course, mobbed his house. The police arrived on the scene, and of course, they arrested him. He was thrown in jail and, of course, he seems to have been attacked by razor blade wielding prisoners.

Rebecca Watson has started a petition for you to sign to help make the point that the whole world is watching. Please click here and sign the petition.

Free Alber Saber!

Alber Saber is an Egyptian pro-democracy blogger who ran a Facebook page for atheists. When a neighbor discovered Saber’s connection to the page, word spread and on 13 September 2012, an angry mob formed at Saber’s house. The police arrived, and instead of dispersing the mob and arresting those threatening to burn the house down, they arrested Saber and accused him of the crime of insulting Islam.

There are already reports that Saber was attacked with a razor blade while in jail, after guards told his fellow Muslim inmates why he was imprisoned. His family fears for his life.

Across Egypt, radical Muslims are reacting with violence to anti-Islamic and pro-secular ideas. Now more than ever, it is crucial for the government of Egypt to make it clear that they support the free, peaceful expression of all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof). By continuing to detain, abuse, and potentially prosecute Alber Saber, Egypt sends a message to the rest of the world: debate and discussion are dead, and ignorance and intolerance reign.

President Mohamed Morsi promised to be the president of all Egyptians. We want him to prove it. As concerned citizens who value free and open expression, we demand that Egyptian authorities release Alber Saber at once and provide fully for his safety and the safety of all Egyptians who are currently targeted by religious extremists.

Breaking News in the Climate Science World

Michael Mann is reporting this on his facebook page:

Breaking: A victory for science! ATI loses ATI/UVa FOIA case. Judge issues final order. Affirms the university’s right to withhold scholarly communications and finds that the documents & personal emails of mine demanded by ATI were indeed protected as the university had contended.

I am gratified for the hard work and vigorous defense provided by the university to protect scholarly communications and raw materials of scholarship. Fortunately Virginia has a strong exemption in the public records act that protects research and scholarly endeavors. The judge ruled that the exemption under Virginia’s public records protecting information in furtherance of research on scientific and scholarly issues applies to faculty communications in furtherance of their work.

This finding is a potentially important precedent, as ATI and other industry-backed front groups continue to press their attacks on climate scientists through the abuse of public records and FOIA laws and the issuing of frivolous and vexatious demands for internal scholarly deliberations and personal correspondences.

More background on the case is available at climscifoi.blogspot:
http://climscifoi.blogspot.com/2012/08/new-filings-in-atiuva-foia-case.html

I’m sure there will be blog posts and articles and air planes with banners and stuff eventually, but I thought you’d want to know this now.

Does Secular Humanism Have A Political Agenda?

In March, 2012, I attended a conference called Moving Secularism Forward run by the Council for Secular Humanism and the Center for Inquiry. I spoke as part of a panel called Does Secular Humanism Have A Political Agenda? along with Ronald Bailey of Reason.com, Razib Khan of Secular Right, and former Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder. This panel was assembled and moderated by Lauren Becker of the Center for Inquiry. Tom Flynn, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism and editor of Free Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism’s bi-monthly journal liked our session (for good reason, it was great) and asked if we could provide a written version of our remarks for publication in the journal, and the issue with those articles in it has just come out: Continue reading Does Secular Humanism Have A Political Agenda?

A Political Sea Change

Yeah, I’m bringing back the term “Sea Change” which was briefly popular a few years ago, in reference to the perception of party difference, the difference between Democrats and Republicans, in handling foreign policy. Let me say first that it has never been true that the Republicans were better at handling foreign policy than the Democrats. Individual presidents and individual congresses (if that term is appropriate) have varied a lot, and it could be that one party is not better than another. Having said that, I think Democrats have been better over recent decades, more or less. Imagine, if you will, George Bush Jr. in charge instead of JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis. OK, now that you’ve thought about this for a second, throw some cold water on your face and calm down. It didn’t happen, we’re OK. Now, consider the most reviled of the Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter. Count the number of bombs dropped or missiles fired by the Carter-Mondale administration. Zero. Now think about Clinton’s administration. Most people are unaware these days (or even then) of the slug-fest between Al Qaida and the US, and more specifically, really, Osama bin Laden and Bill Clinton. First, there was George HW Bush who let al Qaida operate in the US to the extent that a few weeks into the Clinton Administration, Osama bombe the world trade center. Meanwhile, George HW Bush had pushed us into a sensless occupation on Somalia. Clinton eventually disentangled us from Somalia, undoing the Republican Mistake, and then, Clinton kept Osama on the run for 8 years, forcing him first to move the the Sudan, then out of the Sudan (remember the baby food factory?) and having his navy address on the ground regular attacks from Yemen. Clinton also worked with the international community to contain Saddam, and Clinton basically solved the problems in Eastern Europe working with NATO. When Clinton left the White House, that allowed Al Qaida to operate freely again in the US, and that is when the second World Trade Center attack, and the Pentagon attack happened. Remember back to Reagan, the greatest of the Republican Presidents (according to some). Remember Operation Fury against Granada? Senseless showmanship designed to cover up a major foreign policy blunder is not good statespersonship. And that blunder, the Lebanon excursion, was one of the greatest shorter-term foreign policy blunders of the 20th century. A few years later, Reagan’s administration made up a fake attack on the US and responded by bombing Libya. Stop for a moment and consider the difference between Reagan’s messing around in Libya and what President Obama managed there. Some day we should have a contest to define the most appropriate metaphor to describer that difference, it could be fun.

Eric Ferguson has written a piece that fills us in on the last few years, comparing President Obama with the Republicans, and focusing on September 11th. But not that September 11th, rather, Romney’s Meltdown. Eric makes the point that it is now more than ever plausible to assume that when it comes to foreign policy, Republicans suck and Democrats do pretty well, and more importantly, that public perception is moving in that direction. He provides evidence from polls and from an analysis of Romney’s Meltdown to show that a Sea Change is likely occurring after which the argument that having an “R” next to your name is not equivalent to having an impressive resume on foreign policy. Indeed, it may well indicate the opposite.

…when Romney denounced Obama for expressing sympathy for the attackers who killed someone at our Benghazi consulate (the numbers and identity were then unknown), which Obama didn’t of course, he showed how grotesquely unfit he is to handle foreign policy or international crises. He reinforced the impression he made when he screwed up so much in Britain that a conservative newspaper called him “Mitt the Twit” on its front page, when he said Israel is doing better economically better than the Palestinian territories because of a superior culture and ignored the occupation, and when he publicly criticized the Obama administration for handing a dissident back to China when they were actually negotiating to bring him to the US.

Read Eric’s piece here, and therein you will find links to interesting polls and a recent timeline of events.

The Rape Switch, Again

Stephanie Zvan wrote a post re-addressing a few earlier posts she and I had written a few years ago which caused a firestorm of testosterone drenched reaction from men (and a few women) who somehow had a problem with the political, social, and scientific investigation of wartime rape. (A rape in progress, A rape in progress, Part II, Is there a rape switch?, and When Is a Rapist?) In my view, and those of you who know me will recall that I’ve noted this before, this set of posts was actually the first Internet Event in the current Holy War against women and their allies. Certainly, Elevatorgate was an event unto itself and started its own currents of sewage, but some of those involved in the earlier June Rape Month posts continued and this now three year old event could be viewed as the Boston Massacre as Elevatorgate is the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

My posts were about an idea called the “rape switch.” Continue reading The Rape Switch, Again