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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Links - 15th March 2015

Hamas Focuses on Rebuilding Tunnels as Gazans Suffer - "The project, which resumed weeks after the battles in Gaza subsided at the end of August, employs hundreds of skilled Palestinian workers and numerous transport vehicles, such as trucks and tractors, and heavy machinery. As a result, the work, which is supposed to be secret, is exposed for almost everyone in Gaza to see. Some people speak about it in broad terms on social media. Gaza residents have noted that the areas near the Israeli border, in the south and north of Gaza, are teeming with trucks moving earth. Hamas has declared the areas of the work off-limits and has posted movement members to stand watch... The rampant tunnel reconstruction is not only indicative of the military wing’s conduct, but also of the warped priorities of a movement that started out as a welfare organization. The military wing has risen against its founders. Operation Protective Edge inflicted immense damage on Gaza, resulting in more than 2,200 fatalities, thousands of wounded and unprecedented devastation to houses and infrastructure. A quarter of the population is homeless. Still today, thousands of families whose homes were destroyed live in public buildings. Discussion of Gaza’s rehabilitation and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' role in making it happen has remained mere talk. Once again, Hamas is investing the scant resources it can get its hands on in preparing for the next war. From talks I have had with Hamas activists in the past, they do not consider their armament and organizational activities offensive preparations, but rather defensive actions, against Israel’s aggression. Even if one accepted this argument at face value, it is hard to understand why the movement, recently declared by Egypt a terrorist organization, isn't engaged in some soul-searching instead of adopting a business-as-usual approach while making jihad against Israel its top priority."

France upholds the ban on paternity tests - "French men are forbidden by law to attempt to find out whether the child they are paying for is in fact their child or not... Paternity fraud is one of the very few crimes that indeed has a sex. Violence doesn’t have a sex. Rape doesn’t have a sex. Heck, not even breast cancer has a sex. But paternity fraud is a crime of deceit that has a sex – and it’s the female sex. It’s an offense committed solely by women against men and children. And it’s an offense that is not only legal almost everywhere, but actively encouraged by the French state by putting men who seek the truth in jail and making them pay huge fines (15,000 euros is earned by the average Frenchman in 4 to 7 months)."

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Perfect Response When Asked About Women On The Supreme Court - "The 81-year-old Supreme Court justice, who has attained somewhat of a cult following for her stance on gender equality, told a gathering of law students Wednesday that people often ask her when she thinks there will be enough women on the court. "And my answer is when there are nine," she said, as if the question even needed to be asked."
"Gender equality": when there're no more men left

Genes make for a life of success - "Genes play a greater role in forming character traits than was previously thought, new research suggests. A study of more than 800 sets of twins found that genetics were more influential in shaping key traits than a person’s home environment and surroundings."

How to Make Breakfast With Your Vagina - "She knew enough about the chemistry of the vagina to think that eating a batch of yogurt made from her ladyjuices would be good for her"

Women's prison mass jail break after inmates in dominatrix gear handcuff male guards expecting 'mass orgy' - "The women reportedly drugged the prison guards by giving them spiked whisky after convincing them to take part in an orgy, according to investigators. Inmates then left the prison through the main doors, even taking with them guns and munitions they had taken from prison caches."

Could we stop the anti-vaxxers if we said measles contains gluten?

Good science = Poor English? - "WHAT is the difference between a bird and a lion? If your answer is "the bird has feathers but the lion does not", your answer would have been marked as incorrect for the Primary 3 science paper. The correct answer prescribed by the teacher was: "The bird has feathers but the lion does not have feathers"... I wrote to clarify this with my child's school. The head of department for science replied to say that there was no mistake; it was what was expected in the marking scheme for primary level science - to ensure that the answer was absolutely clear. Is there rigidity in the teaching of science? It would certainly appear so (that there is rigidity in the teaching of science)."

Why Ex-Muslims Pig Out - "In my research on Islamic apostasy, I found that pig meat has a special place in the hearts and minds of former Muslims. For many, the consumption of pig meat was a crucial point in their passage out of Islam. It signified the death of the old Muslim self and the re-birth of the new, non-believing self. Just as having sex for the first time is an established ritual for entry into adulthood, eating pig meat is an important ritual that many ex-Muslims perform to mark their embrace of unbelief."

Vladimir Putin suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, Pentagon report claims - "The study from 2008, which was based only on videos of Putin, claimed that the Russian president’s mother had a stroke whilst pregnant with him that left lasting damage. As a result his "neurological development was significantly interrupted in infancy," the report says. Putin’s authoritarian style and obsession with "extreme control" is a way of overcompensating for his condition, the researchers concluded"

Surprise! Here's What's Actually In Your Supplements - "four out of five of the most popular herbal supplements sold at those major retailers contained precisely zero of the ingredients listed on their labels. Instead, the products, which are typically used as alternative medicine treatments, were found to contain cheap fillers such as rice, a common house plant called dracaena and (weirdly) asparagus. The unlisted ingredients also included substances like pine and wheat, which could be potentially harmful for people with food allergies."

Asra Q. Nomani: Meet the honor brigade, an organized campaign to silence debate on Islam - "in the past decade, such attempts at censorship have become more common. This is largely because of the rising power and influence of the "ghairat brigade," an honor corps that tries to silence debate on extremist ideology in order to protect the image of Islam. It meets even sound critiques with hideous, disproportionate responses. The campaign began, at least in its modern form, 10 years ago in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, when the Organization of Islamic Cooperation -- a mini-United Nations comprising the world's 56 countries with large Muslim populations, plus the Palestinian Authority -- tasked then-Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu with combating Islamophobia and projecting the "true values of Islam"... It's made up of politicians, diplomats, writers, academics, bloggers and activists... Alongside the honor brigade's official channel, a community of self-styled blasphemy police -- from anonymous blogs such as and to a large and disparate cast of social-media activists -- arose and began trying to control the debate on Islam. This wider corps throws the label of "Islamophobe" on pundits, journalists and others who dare to talk about extremist ideology in the religion. Their targets are as large as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and as small as me The official and unofficial channels work in tandem, harassing, threatening and battling introspective Muslims and non-Muslims everywhere. They bank on an important truth: Islam, as practiced from Malaysia to Morocco, is a shame-based, patriarchal culture that values honor and face-saving from the family to the public square... Charlie Hebdo is not the only evidence that, to self-appointed defenders of the faith, a call to kill the message can very easily become a plan to kill the messenger. In January 2011, a security officer for the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, assassinated him after Taseer defended a Christian woman accused of blasphemy. In court, supporters laid flowers on the shoulders of the assassin in approval. Murderers like him would be much harder to radicalize in a climate that welcomed debate about Islam rather than seeking revenge on its critics... Observant members of the flock are culturally conditioned to avoid shaming Islam, so publicly citing them for that sin often has the desired effect. Non-Muslims, meanwhile, are wary of being labeled "Islamophobic" bigots. So attacks against both groups succeed in quashing civil discourse"

Stormtrooper armour saves charity walker Scott Loxley from deadly snake - "It may not be much good against blaster bolts or inconveniently low doorframes, but stormtrooper armour can apparently stop a snake bite. Australian Scott Loxley, who is walking around the country dressed as a stormtrooper to raise money for a Melbourne children’s hospital, accidentally tested the armour as he was marching out of Yalboroo in north Queensland on his way to Mackay on Wednesday."

Nature and Origin of “Squirting” in Female Sexuality - "The present data based on ultrasonographic bladder monitoring and biochemical analyses indicate that squirting is essentially the involuntary emission of urine during sexual activity, although a marginal contribution of prostatic secretions to the emitted fluid often exists"

Apple's iPad turns 5: Has it lived up to Steve Jobs' 2010 keynote? - "Is an iPad “far better” than a smartphone for reading or doing email on the go? It may have been when it was released. But smartphones have come a long way. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and their Android equivalents are now convenient enough for most mobile computing tasks that there’s no need to carry around a tablet as well. Is an iPad “far better” than a laptop for watching a movie or browsing the Web on your couch? Not if you have a MacBook Air, or a Chromebook for that matter. And it’s clunkier than either of those when it comes to things like email that require the use of a keypad. To slightly twist Jobs’ jab at netbooks, iPads today aren’t “far better” than other categories of devices at anything—they’re mostly just bigger smartphones... In general, tablets are nice for doing things while you’re also doing other things, which is why they’ve also found important niches in the workplace. They’re also great for entertaining kids who can’t be trusted with something as important as your phone or laptop. But two other companies have actually pushed tablets further in these directions than Apple has. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is better optimized for work. And Amazon’s Fire HD Kids’ Edition, with its low price, thick rubber case, and lifetime “no-questions-asked” return policy, is the smarter choice for a children's toy. And yet, five years on, the fundamental question that greeted the iPad on its arrival—do people really need a third type of computer?—has not melted away. If anything, the convergence between laptops and smartphones has made it more relevant than ever. That helps explain why iPad sales have plateaued, rather than continuing to ascend to the stratospheric levels of the iPhone"

Cumberbatch controversy is ridiculous, says Selma star David Oyelowo - "David Oyelowo has defended fellow British actor and friend, Benedict Cumberbatch, for using the term "coloured" during an interview... "To attack him for a term, as opposed to what he was actually saying, I think is very disingenuous and is indicative of the age we live in where people are looking for sound bites as opposed to substance"... Oyelowo suggested there needed to be more diversity among people with the power to finance and get films made. "Excellence is the best weapon against prejudice. I intend to be part of the solution and not the problem. "You've just got to keep on banging out good performances."

Egypt Condemns Western Outrage at Fatal Shooting of Protester - - "Egypt’s Foreign Ministry expressed dismay on Tuesday that the killing of a female activist in Cairo, which occurred as riot police used force to disperse a peaceful protest, had drawn widespread condemnation from the West... The Foreign Ministry statement released Tuesday suggested that Western reports focusing more on the shooting of Ms. Sabbagh than on the clashes were “unbalanced.” Such “reviews” of the weekend’s violence, the ministry said, “failed to convey the reality, choosing to turn a blind eye to acts of killing, burning and horror conducted by supporters of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group,” which the authorities blamed for protests on Sunday, the fourth anniversary of the start of the 2011 uprising."
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