International support for persecuted blogger Raif Badawi


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A protest in front of the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Berlin, to demand the release of Saudi Arabian blogger and activist Raif Badawi, who was jailed in 2012 and sentenced to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam. Photograph: Jakob Ratz/Demotix/Corbis

The U.S. State Department

Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 8, 2015

We are greatly concerned by reports that human rights activist Raif Badawi will start facing the inhumane punishment of a 1,000 lashes, in addition to serving a 10-year sentence in prison for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and religion. The United States Government calls on Saudi authorities to cancel this brutal punishment and to review Badawi’s case and sentence. The United States strongly opposes laws, including apostasy laws, that restrict the exercise of these freedoms, and urges all countries to uphold these rights in practice.

In the U.S. (the New York Times)

The decision on Sunday by Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court to uphold a cruel sentence imposed on the blogger Raif Badawi last May by the criminal court in Jeddah is tantamount to sentencing Mr. Badawi to a torturous death for the “crime” of free expression. The criminal court sentenced Mr. Badawi, whose case has invited worldwide condemnation, to 1,000 lashes, 50 to be administered “very harshly,” in public, once a week for 20 weeks. In addition, he is to serve 10 years in prison and pay a fine of 1 million riyals, about $267,000.

There is no further appeal possible in the Saudi courts. At this point, Mr. Badawi’s only hope lies in a pardon from King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

In the UK (Guardian):

You are right to say (Editorial, 8 June) that “Saudi Arabia ought to be treated as a global pariah”, following the decision of its supreme court to uphold the sentence of 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes on Raif Badawi for the crime of expressing the wrong opinions. But there is no sign that this sadistic cruelty is disturbing the close and decades-long friendship between Whitehall and Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is currently the UK’s largest arms export market. It is a nonsense to claim, as ministers do, that this military cooperation is about nothing more than the Saudis’ right to self-defence. The reason we do not arm Iran, Syria or North Korea is that arms sales are inescapably an expression of political support and commitment to regime survival.

It is time the UK government ceased its support for a Saudi state that terrorises its own people and blatantly violates human rights and fundamental freedoms. Arms sales must end, the British ambassador should be recalled, and key regime figures sanctioned internationally.


Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom on Tuesday accused Saudi Arabia of handing a “medieval” punishment to Raif Badawi, the blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, AFP reported.

Last week, Saudi Arabia’s supreme court upheld the sentence against Badawi, who ran a site called Free Saudi Liberals and has been in custody since 2012.

“My opinion is that it’s a medieval sentence. It’s a medieval method that does not have its place in a society that allows a free media and allows people to express their point of view,” Wallstrom was quoted by AFP as having told Swedish Radio.


Social Democrat Gabriel told reporters in Riyadh after his meeting with King Salman that Raif Badawi’s situation was affecting his diplomatic and trade mission to the Gulf powerhouse.
“I think everything we are doing is helping him, but no one – not even the family – thinks that there will be a quick solution,” Gabriel said.

Ahead of the meeting, Gabriel had said he would point out to the king that the severity of Badawi’s punishment of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes is “unfathomable to us and that it will of course strain bilateral ties.” He added that he also called for the release of Badawi’s lawyer, who has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.


The current as well as the former minister of foreign affairs, John Baird, have both condemned the sentencing of Mr Badawi, as have many other Western governments and rights groups. However, the office of Prime Minister Harper has been saying for months that it is “limited in its actions” that Badawi is not a Canadian citizen.

Wealthy Saudis are the primary sponsors of sunni terrorist groups like al Qaeda. The wealthy and the powerful in a country that’s named after one family are, presumably, the same group of people.

They also generously fund our media and our universities. Which shows that they fear public opinion. Hopefully, their fears are justified.

A cartoonist named "Osama" is being threatened …


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For this comic:


An artist named Osama is being threatened for this cartoon

Osama tells me he’s received a torrent of abusive reaction to the cartoon from Muslim readers, but more of a concern are credible death threats from ISIS/ISIL/DAESH members emanating from Jordan and neighboring Syria. Osama writes:

“… but no matter what, those cowards won’t stop me and I still believe that Freedom of thought and expression is a human right. To detain and threaten people for exercising their human rights is the epitome of barbarism. Blasphemy is a crime for those who have weak ideas and corrupt morals.”

This cartoon doesn’t portray Mohammed or criticize him, but that doesn’t matter.

All political issues aside, the main reason to stand up for free speech – If you give bullies like Daesh an inch, they’ll take a mile.

The aliens have always been among us….


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The aliens have always been among us, observing us in the same way we would watch an anthill. With the use of phase-shifting and manipulation of light, they hid beyond our limited vision with ease.

When the mass of ash from Calubco volcano settled on the unsuspecting Jovian Archeology Grad student, it was our first hint that we were not alone –

Via Humanoide Formado Por el Volcan Cabulco chile▬Humanoid Formed By the Volcano chile 22/04/2015 – YouTube.

Why is Prep so popular?


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Lilly Pulitzer Knew a Secret to Women's Clothing: Dresses Are Practical – The Atlantic.


Pulitzer’s marketing materials try to associate her clothes with the Palm Beach good life. “Life’s a party,” declares. “Dress like it.” Lilly Pulitzer stores have a beach-party atmosphere, with pink wallpaper and scallop-shell-framed mirrors and cheery staff eager to help you look your best.

But what’s drawn me back to her clothes so many times over the years isn’t their fabulousness, but rather how easy they are to wear. The cords and cardigan have kept their color and shape despite years of regular machine washing. Even more practical have been the dresses. Most of the dresses I’ve bought from Lilly Pulitzer have a comfortable, roomy fit and a flattering A-line style. They’re lightweight and brightly colored—perfect for keeping cool (and hiding sweat) on a warm day. Her clothing’s usefulness makes sense considering her start in the clothing business. As her Associated Press obituary explains, she was drawn to bold prints not because they were fashionable, but because they were practical…





Karl reMarks: Sound like an expert with these phrases about Middle East politics.

We have collected these phrases in the form of a handy guide below. Note that if used properly, you can even go on to become a certain moustached celebrated columnist allowed to pontificate on the region with very little knowledge to go on.

‘It’s all about the oil’

This is the mother of all phrases about Middle East politics. It is one of the most effective phrases in the context of Middle Eastern geopolitics and one that can explain everything. It has even been used to explain Saudi Arabia’s 8-0 defeat at the hands of Germany in the 2002 World Cup and the backlash against Haifa Wehbe’s latest video clip.

‘It’s all about the oil’ is best used along with a patronising phrase such as, ‘you’re so naïve, it’s all about the oil’, or ‘don’t believe everything you read in books, it’s all about the oil’. Generally it’s better to use it about countries that actually have oil reserves, but in case you’re stuck and you’re discussing a country that doesn’t have oil, you can claim that ‘an American expedition found a large reserve of oil in Lebanon in 1917 but kept the information secret.’


Drugs that activate brain stem cells may reverse multiple sclerosis

An artist’s representation of the study. Scientists found that certain drugs were able to promote remyelination in mouse models of multiple sclerosis. Image courtesy of Case Western Reserve University; Illustrator: Megan Kern

Drugs that activate brain stem cells may reverse multiple sclerosis:

Dr. Tesar’s team found that two compounds in particular, miconazole (an antifungal) and clobetasol (a steroid), stimulated mouse and human OPCs into generating myelin-producing cells.

Next, they examined whether the drugs, when injected into a mouse model of multiple sclerosis, could improve re-myelination. They found that both drugs were effective in activating OPCs to enhance myelination and reverse paralysis. As a result, almost all of the animals regained the use of their hind limbs. They also found that the drugs acted through two very different molecular mechanisms.

“The ability to activate white matter cells in the brain, as shown in this study, opens up an exciting new avenue of therapy development for myelin disorders such as multiple sclerosis,” said Ursula Utz, Ph.D., program director at the NINDS.


When the landscape tries to eat you….


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WATCH: A bystander in eastern Russia captures footage of a slow-moving landslide toppling trees and power lines.

A guy was walking along a road, minding his own business when the landscape rumbled, rose up and began to eat surrounding trees and powerlines. If he hadn’t had the presence of mind to run, it might have eaten him.

Via National Geographic:

Like watching a slow-motion disaster, a video that’s going viral this week shows a dramatic landslide in eastern Russia gradually swallowing up a road and railway, knocking down trees and power lines, and dragging heavy equipment.

No one was hurt in the creeping landslide, or earthflow, coal industry representative Larissa Beresneva told local Russian media. The disaster happened on April 1 near Novokuznetsk, east of the Ural Mountains. (Learn more about the impacts of coal.)

The region is an active coal mining area and the massive slide seems to have occurred as a result of a collapse of the waste material, or overburden, from the Taldinskoye coal mine, Beresneva said. Russian authorities are investigating.

The relatively slow-moving slide was filmed by a bystander as it spilled over a road between Novokuznetsk and Bolshaya Talda, knocking over trees and a transmission line.

See the video….


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