A virus that boggles the mind

gullibilitytest

It seems just about everyone’s going batshit crazy over Ebola right now, but a more sinister virus is the mind virus. Otherwise known as faith.

But faith can move mountains…

Er, no it can’t. Never has, never will. But it can move you to hold strange beliefs. Strange and dangerous beliefs that CAN blow up mountains (or centuries-old statues carved into mountains, at least).

Enough about mountains; here’s where I’m really going with this:

In September I wrote about the Prophet of Death, T.B. Joshua and the collapse of a structure on the site of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, in which more than a 100 people lost their lives. Nearly two months later, the remains of the South Africans who perished in that disaster, have not been repatriated back home.

Yesterday, TB (like the infectious disease) failed to show up at a coroner’s inquest into the cause of the building collapse, but his supporters see nothing wrong with this. One had the gall to say “Bringing The Man of God down to this court is not very comfortable for me.” Many others think that even questioning him is an insult, such is their faith in this fraud.

However there are scores more who still refuse to accept that TB should be held accountable, despite preliminary findings that the structure did not meet construction regulations and was not approved by authorities. They prefer to believe instead in conspiracy theories.

One idiot faithful follower by the name of Moses Onyegu who heads up an organization known as Group of Concerned Students, believes that a C-130 Hercules jet flying over the building dropped explosives onto it, or something similar. Another, Oloja Olanrewaju, who is the secretary-general (yes another one of those militaristic sounding titles so enamoured of despots) of a group called the National Association of Nigerian Students, believes that (wait for it) “shadow stakeholders who benefit indirectly from any crisis,” may be involved.

Yet another, Nasir Lawal, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, and who is the leader of a youth group in southwestern Ondo state, believes that the rag-tag bunch of Islamist degenerates known as Boko Haram have the capability of sending a plane from the jungles thousands of kilometers away, to bomb the building. Their runway in the jungles must apparently be so well hidden, that the Nigerian army has failed to spot it all these years.

The striking thing about the three people mentioned above, is that they all lead youth organizations. If they hold such idiotic beliefs, who knows what bullshit they’re cramming into the heads of their young followers.

People will always have strange beliefs. But when those beliefs are supported by religious conviction, it gets pretty hairy.

Cartoon credit: Skeptics Guide To The Universe.

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

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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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.

persepoliscity

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.

Fuck all prophets

rights

I remember writing something about the conviction and imprisonment of a Pakistani women around two years ago for blasphemy. This disgraceful act of discrimination is not only utterly ridiculous, but is a crime in itself, perpetrated by religious bigots.

Asia Bibi’s appeal against the death sentence has been rejected by the Lahore High Court. You can bet any number of stinking prophets, that the Pakistani judicial system is clearly not impartial, but influenced by the insane ideology of the clerical overlords.

This is an outrage and must be condemned by every rational, thinking person in the world. Pakistan is not the sole violator of human rights in the religious domain; there are many other countries most notably in the Middle East and Africa which also amazingly still treat religious beliefs with more deference than they do human rights.

This just has to stop, and all the Peoples of the world need to do more to bring down the hegemony of religious fundamentalists, and the clergy.

Ideas do not have rights, only people do. Thus religious beliefs do not deserve special consideration; absolutely no ideology does. Blasphemy is therefore the invention of some cowardly bastard, hell-bent on protecting and defending the indefensible.

Photo Credit: The Skeptics Guide To The Universe.

An Apostates Experience

TwitterApostate

I seem to have caught the tail end of a new phenomenon sweeping the world right now -  people who have left or disowned their religions are posting their reasons on Twitter. It’s been tagged as #AnApostatesExperience.

Apostasya defection or revolt is the formal disaffiliation from or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. One who commits apostasy (or who apostatizes) is known as an apostate.

Apostasy is not necessarily confined to the abandonment of the worship of deities; it could also apply to political beliefs or any form of ideology or ideological belief. While all these forms of disaffiliation is extremely desirable and to be commended, religious apostasy seems to cause the most consternation, with certain faiths (well one in particular) disturbingly outlawing such a practice, on pain of death in some parts of the world.

When I visited the #AnApostatesExperience Twitter page, I realised that most if not all the posts were in reference to Islam. That’s not surprising because when you hear the term apostate, it’s usually with reference to the Islamic faith. People of other faiths have been leaving entirely or converting to other religions for thousands of years, and it does not so much as raise an eyebrow (these days at any rate).

I abandoned my faith many years ago, and ever since have been abandoning one form of belief or the other as evidence surfaces to prove what a load of claptrap it was. I have never been threatened with death; ridiculed and questioned yes, but there was never a hint of a threat. Why does this have to be the case with religion? Why do the apologists for religion demand special attention?

Religion thrives on fear, and that is probably the worst of its many failings. Hence I encourage all my fellow apostates to abandon without fear but with pride.

Prophet Joshua’s Highrise for Profit

T B Joshua is called The Prophet and Man of God. But only by the desperate, the credulous and those who stand to benefit from his massive fraud scheme.

The organization Joshua heads know as Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan), can not be regarded as anything but a very lucrative racket that preys on the questionable beliefs of ordinary people. And it’s based in Nigeria which is arguably synonymous with fraud.

Last week a guesthouse on the Scoan property collapsed, killing over 100 worshippers, 84 of whom were South Africans. It is alleged that the building collapsed because additional floors were being added without reinforcing the foundations. The allegation appears to be credible especially since, Joshua has gone to great lengths to claim that the building was sabotaged by his enemies. This week his television network took out a full-page advertisement in a Lagos daily newspaper asking for an investigation that would “bring to book all those involved in the obvious terror attack (on) the church aimed at not only embarrassing and discrediting prophet T.B. Joshua… but the entire nation of Nigeria.”

The fraudster prophet claimed that a plane flying overhead had something to do with the collapse, with some reports stating that Joshua specifically mentioned Boko Haram, an Islamist organization that is terrorizing certain parts of Nigeria, being involved. He even released a CCTV surveillance video which supposedly shows planes flying at low altitude over the building around the time of the collapse.

scoan

A fellow skeptic pointed out last week that the Lagos airport is just a few kilometers away from the church complex, which seems to indicate that airplane activity over the building would be quite normal. This makes a mockery of the claim that an aircraft caused the building to collapse, since it is becoming clear after rescue operations, that the addition of floors to the structure was not done in the prescribed manner. Further, it is unlikely that the savages known as Boko Haram could have access to aircraft, being well-known as a guerilla “army” more adept at slaughtering innocent civilians around the jungles on terra firma.

What is disconcerting is the absolute lack of outrage from the Nigerian government. T B Joshua it would appear is well-connected. It would not be surprising is the announced investigation clears him of all responsibility. It would be yet another blight (in an amazingly long list) on religion if he is not found culpable, not to mention an insult to those who lost their lives in this tragedy.

Muggy

lennymaysay:

The musings of Argentum Vulgaris. Check it out!

Originally posted on Life is but a Labyrinth:

GHWYes, it’s muggy. Not hot, but very humid. I am sitting here in my underpants….

Oh shit, you didn’t read the warning, did you!

…sweating at 8am.

And the day promises to get hotter.

Last night, I had pizza for supper. I had planned a full meal, but after late class and a later beer, I decided that pizza was less time and effort.

breakfastSo, breakfast this morning, I took the advice of Foul Bachelor Frog (see Tuesday’s posts on Nether Region of the Earth III) and had a ready prepared snack in the fridge.

Although, I did make it more breakfasty by spreading cream cheese on it.

Quite yummy.

In my younger days we didn’t have pizza like today. There were no Pizza Huts or pizzas in the supermarkets, so we didn’t have the same advantages of today’s youths where cold pizza competes with cornflakes as a breakfast…

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