Associated Press, By Elaine Ganley, June 21
Paris — Its imams preach austere piety, its tenets demand strict separation of sexes — and some of its most radical adherents are heeding the call of jihad. Salafism, an Islamic movement based on a literal reading of the Quran, is on the rise in France, Germany and Britain, security officials say, with Salafis sharply increasing their influence in mosques and on the streets.
The trend worries European authorities, who see Salafism as one of the inspirational forces for young Europeans heading to Syria or Iraq to do battle for the Islamic State group. Experts, however, point out that the vast majority of Salafis are peace-loving.
In Germany, there are currently about 7,000 Salafis in the country — nearly double the 3,800 estimated four years ago, the Interior Ministry said last month. About 100 French mosques are now controlled by Salafis, a small number compared to the more than 2,000 Muslim houses of worship, but more than double the number four years ago, a senior security official told The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. France does not do head-counts by religious practices or origins.
In Britain the numbers are on the rise, too. Seven percent of Britain’s 1,740 mosques are run by Salafis, according to Mehmood Naqshbandi, an expert on Britain’s Muslims and counter-extremism adviser to the British government who keeps a database of the various currents of Islam in Britain. He says those numbers are steadily growing, especially among young people — and that a quarter to half of British Muslims under 30 “accept some parts or all of the Salafi theology.”
TPM, By James Ross Gardner, June 17
We were in the basement, a shirtless Jim Morrison looming on the wall behind me, when Erin Caldwell’s naked foot snaked under her husband Danny’s leg. Her toes, one adorned with a ring, coiled around his thigh and hooked in to nest behind his knee.
Hardly a salacious gesture, not even for a conservative American family like the Caldwells. Except that Danny wants to have sex with men. “Want” isn’t the term he’d use; it’s more like his body desires it. His heart? He insists it belongs to Erin. Yet lately, “Horrible, horrible things have been said. Just a lot of stuff online,” he told me. “That our marriage is a sham. That I’m just sleeping around on the side, and that I’m not really in love with her…they’ve called her ‘a fag hag.’”
Erin flinched at those words. Fag. Hag. Two jagged syllables that seemed to gouge at her chest.
Six weeks earlier, in April of this year, the Caldwells declared their unusual marriage in the form of an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the United States, which they cosigned with 19 other people, nearly all members of the Mormon church. Submitted in advance of the court’s oral arguments, the brief contests the constitutional legalization of gay marriage. Its signees, or amici, all hail from “mixed-orientation” marriages: same-sex-attracted men married to straight women.
The New Yorker, By Maria Konnikova, June 12
On the morning of August 17, 1971, nine young men in the Palo Alto area received visits from local police officers. While their neighbors looked on, the men were arrested for violating Penal Codes 211 and 459 (armed robbery and burglary), searched, handcuffed, and led into the rear of a waiting police car. The cars took them to a Palo Alto police station, where the men were booked, fingerprinted, moved to a holding cell, and blindfolded. Finally, they were transported to the Stanford County Prison—also known as the Stanford University psychology department.
They were willing participants in the Stanford Prison Experiment, one of the most controversial studies in the history of social psychology. (It’s the subject of a new film of the same name—a drama, not a documentary—starring Billy Crudup, of “Almost Famous,” as the lead investigator, Philip Zimbardo.) The study subjects, middle-class college students, had answered a questionnaire about their family backgrounds, physical- and mental-health histories, and social behavior, and had been deemed “normal”; a coin flip divided them into prisoners and guards. According to the lore that’s grown up around the experiment, the guards, with little to no instruction, began humiliating and psychologically abusing the prisoners within twenty-four hours of the study’s start. The prisoners, in turn, became submissive and depersonalized, taking the abuse and saying little in protest. The behavior of all involved was so extreme that the experiment, which was meant to last two weeks, was terminated after six days.
BBC, June 12
A French court has acquitted former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of procuring prostitutes for sex parties in France, Belgium and the US.
Mr Strauss-Kahn stood alongside 13 co-defendants, most of whom were also acquitted of “aggravated pimping”.
He has always denied knowing that some of the women who took part in orgies he attended were prostitutes.
AP, June 10
Vatican City – Pope Francis has created a new Vatican tribunal section to hear cases of bishops accused of failing to protect children from sexually abusive priests, the biggest step the Holy See has taken yet to hold bishops accountable.
For years, the Vatican has been criticized by victims, advocacy groups and others for having failed to ever punish or forcibly remove a bishop who covered up for clergy who raped or molested children. In April, Francis accepted the resignation of a U.S. bishop who had been convicted of failing to report a suspected child abuser, but that wasn’t a forced removal.
The Vatican said Wednesday that Francis had approved proposals made by his sexual abuse advisory board. They create a mechanism by which the Vatican can receive and examine complaints of abuse of office by bishops and adjudicate them.
A special new judicial section will be created inside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “to judge bishops with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors,” a Vatican statement said.
Canon law already does provide sanctions for bishops who are negligent in their duties, but the Vatican was never known to have meted out punishment for a bishop who covered up for an abuser.
Now, with these proposals, “the process is defined,” Lombardi said.
I’ve come to think of the Duggars as America’s favorite Muslim family. Not just any Muslim family; a very conservative Muslim family, operating under traditional, strict, patriarchal control. I thought of this last night while watching Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar spin their way out of any responsibility for their son’s sexual crimes against four of his sisters plus one girl who was a friend of the family visiting them on their set – oops, I mean their Arkansas home where they live and film 19 Kids and Counting. Last night’s interview was with Megyn Kelly on Fox News, which proved to be a very congenial environment for conservative, beleaguered Christians like the Duggars. I’ll discuss at the end of this article all the striking parallels between the Duggars and a typical, conservative Muslim family, but first let’s see what they had to say on Fox News. The interview was scheduled to be all about their son Josh Duggar and his admitted sexual molestation of four of his sisters plus one neighboring girl. The youngest victim was age 5, Joy-Anna Duggar.
New York Times, By Danny Hakim & Douglas Dalby, May 23
Dublin — Ireland has become the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by a popular vote, sweeping aside the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church in a resounding victory Saturday for the gay rights movement and placing the country at the vanguard of social change.
With ballots from 34 out of the 43 voting areas counted, the vote was almost two to one in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. All but one of the districts that were counted voted yes, and it appeared to be statistically impossible for opposition votes to overcome the ayes.
Turnout was large — more than 60 percent of the 3.2 million people eligible to vote cast ballots. Government officials, advocates and even those who had argued against the measure said that the outcome was a resounding endorsement of the constitutional amendment.
Irish Times: Marriage Referendum
Irish Times: Marriage Referendum Results
Irish Times: Ireland becomes first country to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote
Gawker, By Sam Biddle, May 15
The affluent denizens of Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood received a fun treat this week when they looked up at the corner of Peachtree and East Paces Ferry: a famous internet man’s giant, ruddy, gaping spread asshole, displayed on an enormous digital billboard.
The billboard above is one of the thousands of YESCO digital billboards installed across the country. Naturally, it comes with an internet connection. The setup is exactly as insecure as you’d imagine: many of these electronic billboards are completely unprotected, dangling on the public internet without a password or any kind of firewall. This means it’s pretty simple to change the image displayed from a new AT&T offer to, say, Goatse.
The appearance of this unexpected mammoth human asshole alarmed Buckhead residents so much that at least one called 911, WSB-TV reports:
“There’s an electronic billboard that is flashing a naked man,” one woman said in the 911 call. “It’s not actually an emergency; it’s just totally disgusting.” Police say the billboard’s owner temporarily cut power to the billboard.
But what is there to really investigate? The billboard was easy to mess with; the owners basically left the door unlocked and wide open. Not only was this a case of incompetence, but gross negligence: security researcher Dan Tentler tweeted yesterday that he’d tried to warn this very same sign company that their software is easily penetrable by anyone with a computer and net connection and was told they were “not interested.”
Related, Gawker: Finding Goatse: The Mystery Man Behind the Most Disturbing Internet Meme in History, April 10, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle, By Steve Rubenstein, May 6
Father Junipero Serra, who has been inching closer to sainthood for decades, received official approval from the Vatican on Wednesday, to the delight of his supporters, who regard him as a legendary spiritual leader, and the dismay of many American Indians, who say he represents the worst abuses of the colonial period.
Serra fans in San Francisco were ecstatic when, half a world away, a Vatican panel signed off on Pope Francis’ desire, announced in January, to canonize Serra in a special Mass during the pope’s visit to Washington, D.C., in September.
“Somebody pinch me,” said Andrew Galvan, a native Ohlone and the curator of the Mission Dolores museum. “I never thought I’d live to see it. I’m the happiest Indian in California.”
Raw Story, By Travis Gettys, April 24
A Koch-backed think tank plans to send climate change deniers to Rome in hopes of convincing Pope Francis not to support United Nations action on the environment.
The libertarian Heartland Institute — perhaps best known for working alongside cigarette manufacturers to question the dangers of second-hand smoke — will host a workshop featuring two “real scientists” Tuesday in Rome ahead of a Vatican summit on the environment, although the group neglected to identify its scientists.
Pope Francis plans to issue an encyclical letter this summer that will address environmental issues, and very likely climate change — which could make the issue a moral and religious concern for Christians worldwide.
“The Holy Father is being misled by ‘experts’ at the United Nations who have proven unworthy of his trust,” said Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute. “Humans are not causing a climate crisis on God’s Green Earth – in fact, they are fulfilling their Biblical duty to protect and use it for the benefit of humanity. Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place, he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate.”
Via Wonkette: Koch Brothers Explain Bible To Pope. Thanks, Koch Brothers!