Nice guys these Quakers

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Quaker_star

Yesterday I came across an article in a local online newspaper about how a group of Quakers are helping the LGBTQ community flee Uganda’s absurd and outrageous Anti-Homosexuality Act. What’s more, I got to learn a lot about the Quaker community, otherwise known as the Religious Society of Friends (didn’t know that either).

Like the Amish community, Quakers are fervently religious and believe very strongly in non-violence. However whereas The Amish are very conservative and don’t adapt to change, Quakers are pretty liberal and embrace modern technology. Another thing, Quakers don’t have priests or clergymen and eschew religious symbolism, and for that alone this atheist is warming up to them.

But here’s why I think they’re simply awesome: Quakers are involving themselves in a dangerous activity by helping people escape persecution. And they’ve done it before; many times.

Quakers denounced slavery as early as the 1670’s in Barbados. Later they would play a fundamental role in abolishing slavery in the United States. They were also involved in setting up the Underground Railroad in the USA which helped runaway slaves.

It was therefore fitting that the group based in Olympia, Washington, assisting people escape the bigotry and persecution as a result of the draconian law passed by the Ugandan government, decided to call themselves Friends New Underground Railroad (FNUR).

However not everyone likes what they’re doing; even right’s activists and NGO’s within the LGBTQ community have their reservations, but I think it’s just remarkable.

Meanwhile Ugandan activists, and right’s organizations like Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) who incidentally are critical of what FNUR are doing, are petitioning the courts to overturn the anti-gay law. I sincerely hope they’re succesful. The world does not need legislated hatred.

People who create more questions but less satisfaction

allport

 

The scientist, by the very nature of his commitment, creates more and more questions, never fewer. Indeed the measure of our intellectual maturity, one philosopher suggests, is our capacity to feel less and less satisfied with our answers to better problems. – G.W. Allport

Two Hangings

I’ve argued before on this blog that capital punishment is a horrendous practice in a supposedly civilized world, and execution by hanging is pretty nasty. Yet more than 50 countries still execute their citizens through hanging; some, mostly Islamic, do so publicly which leaves me in no doubt as to the mentality of those who enforce it, and those who watch willingly.

There were two reported cases of hangings in the past week – one which turned out well for the accused, and the other which makes me very sad and angry.

Thankgod Ebhos, a Nigerian was freed last week when a court ruled in his favour, after being petitioned by human rights lawyers. After being yanked before the gallows after 18 years on death row, and watching four other prisoners being hanged, Thankgod escaped execution in 2013 after prison officials realised that due to his conviction by a military tribunal, he did not qualify for suspension by ligature. This is probably one of those rare occasions when bureaucratic stupidity, saves lives. Thankfully, the intervention by human rights lawyers prevented him from being shot instead. (Perhaps as an act of appreciation, Thankgod should honour those who saved him by changing his name to Thankhumanrightslawyers).

In the other incident, an execution did sadly occur this weekend and concerns an Iranian women who from all accounts was convicted unfairly of murder, after she killed an intelligence officer for allegedly attempting to rape her. 26-year old Reyhaneh Jabbari  unfortunately found herself at the mercy of the Iranian justice system which is influenced heavily by religious fundamentalism, and is not known for its acts of humanity, but rather as the rubber stamp for the Islamic Republic’s hunger for death and misery.

Human rights activists failed to secure her release or get her sentence commuted. Reyhaneh Jabbari maintained her innocence right to the end and left a moving voice message for her mother. Here is the full text of the message translation translated by Iranian activists.

Dear Sholeh, today I learned that it is now my turn to face Qisas (the Iranian regime’s law of retribution). I am hurt as to why you did not let me know yourself that I have reached the last page of the book of my life. Don’t you think that I should know? You know how ashamed I am that you are sad. Why did you not take the chance for me to kiss your hand and that of dad?

The world allowed me to live for 19 years. That ominous night it was I that should have been killed. My body would have been thrown in some corner of the city, and after a few days, the police would have taken you to the coroner’s office to identify my body and there you would also learn that I had been raped as well. The murderer would have never been found since we don’t have their wealth and their power. Then you would have continued your life suffering and ashamed, and a few years later you would have died of this suffering and that would have been that.

However, with that cursed blow the story changed. My body was not thrown aside, but into the grave of Evin Prison and its solitary wards, and now the grave-like prison of Shahr-e Ray. But give in to the fate and don’t complain. You know better that death is not the end of life.

You taught me that one comes to this world to gain an experience and learn a lesson and with each birth a responsibility is put on one’s shoulder. I learned that sometimes one has to fight. I do remember when you told me that the carriage man protested the man who was flogging me, but the flogger hit the lash on his head and face that ultimately led to his death. You told me that for creating a value one should persevere even if one dies.

You taught us that as we go to school one should be a lady in face of the quarrels and complaints. Do you remember how much you underlined the way we behave? Your experience was incorrect. When this incident happened, my teachings did not help me. Being presented in court made me appear as a cold-blooded murderer and a ruthless criminal. I shed no tears. I did not beg. I did not cry my head off since I trusted the law.

But I was charged with being indifferent in face of a crime. You see, I didn’t even kill the mosquitoes and I threw away the cockroaches by taking them by their antennas. Now I have become a premeditated murderer. My treatment of the animals was interpreted as being inclined to be a boy and the judge didn’t even trouble himself to look at the fact that at the time of the incident I had long and polished nails.

How optimistic was he who expected justice from the judges! He never questioned the fact that my hands are not coarse like those of a sportswoman, especially a boxer. And this country that you planted its love in me never wanted me and no one supported me when under the blows of the interrogator I was crying out and I was hearing the most vulgar terms. When I shed the last sign of beauty from myself by shaving my hair I was rewarded: 11 days in solitary.

Dear Sholeh, don’t cry for what you are hearing. On the first day that in the police office an old unmarried agent hurt me for my nails I understood that beauty is not looked for in this era. The beauty of looks, beauty of thoughts and wishes, a beautiful handwriting, beauty of the eyes and vision, and even beauty of a nice voice.
My dear mother, my ideology has changed and you are not responsible for it. My words are unending and I gave it all to someone so that when I am executed without your presence and knowledge, it would be given to you. I left you much handwritten material as my heritage.

However, before my death I want something from you, that you have to provide for me with all your might and in any way that you can. In fact this is the only thing I want from this world, this country and you. I know you need time for this. Therefore, I am telling you part of my will sooner. Please don’t cry and listen. I want you to go to the court and tell them my request. I cannot write such a letter from inside the prison that would be approved by the head of prison; so once again you have to suffer because of me. It is the only thing that if even you beg for it I would not become upset although I have told you many times not to beg to save me from being executed.

My kind mother, dear Sholeh, the one more dear to me than my life, I don’t want to rot under the soil. I don’t want my eye or my young heart to turn into dust. Beg so that it is arranged that as soon as I am hanged my heart, kidney, eye, bones and anything that can be transplanted be taken away from my body and given to someone who needs them as a gift. I don’t want the recipient know my name, buy me a bouquet, or even pray for me. I am telling you from the bottom of my heart that I don’t want to have a grave for you to come and mourn there and suffer. I don’t want you to wear black clothing for me. Do your best to forget my difficult days. Give me to the wind to take away.

The world did not love us. It did not want my fate. And now I am giving in to it and embrace the death. Because in the court of God I will charge the inspectors, I will charge inspector Shamlou, I will charge judge, and the judges of country’s Supreme Court that beat me up when I was awake and did not refrain from harassing me. In the court of the creator I will charge Dr. Farvandi, I will charge Qassem Shabani and all those that out of ignorance or with their lies wronged me and trampled on my rights and didn’t pay heed to the fact that sometimes what appears as reality is different from it.

Dear soft-hearted Sholeh, in the other world it is you and me who are the accusers and others who are the accused. Let’s see what God wants. I wanted to embrace you until I die. I love you.

Reyhaneh

Success

lifestyle

Here’ some mundane crap to get your week off to some great success or the other.

At age 4 success is not peeing in your pants.
At age 12 success is having friends.
At age 16 success is having a driver’s license.
At age 20 success is having sex.
At age 35 success is having money.
At age 50 success is having money.
At age 60 success is having sex.
At age 70 success is having a driver’s license.
At age 75 success is having friends.
At age 80 success is not peeing in your pants.

Someone said it; don’t know who…

Rwanda’s Leading Murderer

lennymaysay:

One has to wonder who Africa’s leading murderer is (or was). Or (shudder!) is he (or she) still in the making? Will this person be a politician or dictator as is the norm? Or will he (or she) be the lunatic leader of a contemptible organization inspired by religious zealotry, like Boko Haram or Al-Shabaab?

Originally posted on The Nahmias Cipher Report:

Jessamy Nichols, Africa Correspondent
Last Modified: 01:40 a.m. EST, 26 October 2014

Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Photo by Ildephonse Habimana wa Murayi

Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Photo by Ildephonse Habimana wa Murayi

KIGALI, Rwanda -Ever since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the international community has been slow to criticize Rwanda’s new government and slow to intervene in matters there. This hesitancy to get involved is rooted back to their fear of being to blame for another outbreak of civil war, or worse, genocide. Despite having dirty hands from not stepping in to prevent or stop the genocide, they’re fearful of further worsening their guilt by interposing in Rwandan affairs and having a role in any resurgence of violence.

This pattern in the past two decades has created the perfect scenario for Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame. By the end of the genocide, he was viewed as an international hero for easing the chaos and in essence, helping to end the genocide. For…

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Covered By Cheese

So you like funny guys who cover popular songs… or is that popular guys who cover funny songs. Whatever!

Off course you know some, if not all of the songs covered by Weird Al Jankovic. Maybe you’ve actually heard him sing. Yeah, he’s okay. But me, I like this guy (no, not in that way).

Watch Richard Cheese and his band Lounge Against The Machine, cover the fabulous Cypress Hill hit Insane In The Brain.

Insane, right?

Absolutely Not!

beliefs

Perhaps it hasn’t escaped your attention that those demanding respect for their beliefs invariably hold dear the most ignorant, infantile, dubious, repulsive, fundamentalist, misogynistic, odious and  homophobic ideologies.

So who’s to say which beliefs are good and which bad? Haha! You got me there! I really don’t know for certain, until I have subjected your belief to critical examination. What I do know, is that if you demand that I accept and respect your belief, then it’s a sure sign that it is dodgy at the very least.

This where I see your demand and raise you another: I demand that every belief (be it religious, political, social, cultural or whatever) be subject to skeptical scrutiny.

So there!

Dissing the President

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Quite a number of people in South Africa consider the President to be an idiot. However no matter how many people think it, it does not necessarily make it true.

Here is the truth:

Jacob Zuma visits a primary school and sits in on one of the classes, which is in the middle of a discussion on words and their meaning. The teacher asks Mr. Zuma if he would like to lead the discussion of the word “tragedy.”

So, the infamous leader asks the class for an example of a ‘Tragedy.’
One little boy stands up and offers: “If my best friend, who
lives on a farm, is playing in the field and a runaway tractor comes along and knocks him dead, that would be a tragedy.

“That’s wrong,” Zuma shouts. “That would be considered an accident.”

A little girl raises her hand: “If a school bus carrying 50 children drove over a cliff, killing everyone inside, that would be a tragedy.”

“You are completely incorrect,” shouts the philanderer. “That would be what we would consider a great loss.” The room goes silent.

No other children volunteer. Zuma searches the room. “Isn’t there someone here who can give me an example of a tragedy?”

Finally at the back of the room a small boy raises his hand. In a quiet voice he says: “If a plane carrying the President were struck by a missile and blown to smithereens, that would be a tragedy.”

“Fantastic!” exclaims Zuma. “You are absolutely right. Can you tell me why that would be a tragedy?”

“Well,” says the boy, “because it sure as hell wouldn’t be a great loss and it probably wouldn’t be an accident either!”

Adapted from Board of Wisdom.

Gobble! Gobble!

dejapoo

The President is well-known for gobbling up taxpayers money for his personal benefit, but a Sunday newspaper called him a chicken yesterday and for good reason too.

Jacob Zuma was labeled South Africa’s Number One Coward for refusing to answer questions in Parliament simply because it’s getting much tougher to defend the indefensible. Scandal seems to follow him around like a mosquito on steroids.

To make matters worse, his spokes-idiot Zizi Kodwa defended him by saying “The president can’t go to parliament when that parliament is a circus.” People have been calling the ANC-run parliament a circus for years, and it’s pretty darn hilarious that they agree.

If it was at all possible to take things from worse to rock bottom, you can count on Zuma to comply. At a Press luncheon over the weekend, Zuma asked if it was unfair for him to squander spend nearly a quarter of a billion rands on sprucing up personal residence at taxpayers expense when an airport was constructed nearby former apartheid era President P.W. Botha’s  home for his apparent exclusive use.

Not only was the comparison disingenuous, the dufus failed to realise that defending his wastage by comparing it to another cretin’s wastage, was the worst possible thing to do. This self-serving clod, never misses an opportunity to remind the sheeple how terrible the apartheid era sins were, while never missing a chance to repeat them himself.

While credulous voters continue to abide this disgraceful specimen, it will be gobble, gobble, until the country is properly ruined.

Don’t send me back to Iran

Having managed to recently finish reading the graphic novel Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (I’m not a fan of graphic novels, I must confess), I became quite fascinated with the rich history of Iran, previously known as Persia. At its peak, the Persian Empire first under Cyrus the Elder and then Darius the Great, was the largest empire in history.

Having survived invasions by the Greeks, Arabs, Turks and Mongols in its 6000-year history, it could have still been a great country, after having lost Empire status. But it all came apart in 1979 with the Iranian Revolution when it became an Islamic Republic. The events leading up to and after is described quite poignantly from a personal perspective by Satrapi in Persepolis, which incidentally was made into a film which I  enjoyed more than the novel.

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Persepolis (Wikimedia Commons)

If it had survived, the City of Persepolis which was built by Darius the Great, could easily have been one of the Seven Wonders of the World, displacing one of the incumbents. Who would not want to live in a country hosting such a great city?

Extract: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Extract: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Far too many people it would seem. Marjane herself was coerced into leaving by her parents while still quite young, after having witnessed and being subjected to the horrors of war with Iraq and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism after the Iranian Revolution. While she did return briefly after a few years studying in Europe, she eventually left permanently for France.

And another…

Ramin Forghani is an Iranian who has been studying for the last two years for his Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering in Glasgow, Scotland. While there he founded the Iranian Atheists Association, became the vice chairman of the Scottish Secular Society, and is the chairman of Ex-Muslims Scotland. Yes, another magnificent apostate!

Extract: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Extract: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Ramin is appealing his rejection by the Court of Session for asylum. He feels, quite justifiably that his life is at risk if he is returned to Iran. He cites the case of Soheil Arabi who was sentenced to death for the grossly unjust law of blasphemy in Iran. And just last month the BBC reported that six Iranians were sentenced to a year in prison and 91 lashes for (wait for it!) dancing with the opposite sex who were not wearing headscarves, to Pharrell Williams’ song Happy.

WTF!

I’m no fan of pop music and listening to Pharrell Williams should be punishable. Six lashes would have been quite adequate (just kidding), but unless you’re gay, who the fuck do you dance with? And this bullshit about mandated scarf wearing is just plain outrageous. Modern Iran is definitely not a place to be.

I sincerely wish that the powers that be, grant Ramin Forghani his wish to remain in Scotland. Seriously, bigoted Iran does not deserve such an outstanding citizen.