Family believed son possessed by a demon — so they killed him

❝ A jury has been selected in the trial of a family accused of killing a vulnerable young man, believing he was ‘possessed by a demon’.

❝ Parents Josephine, 55, and Kenneth Ife, 64, and their five sons are accused of the manslaughter of 26-year-old Kennedy Ife.

Kennedy died after suffering a cardiac arrest at the family home in Lancaster Avenue, Barnet, north London, where he was allegedly restrained in 2016.

❝ Judge Anthony Leonard QC told potential jurors…‘The defendants are all members of one family. The parents and children of the person who died was either their son or their brother…‘The issue in this case is that the 26-year-old man who died fell ill and the family did not seek medical help for him because through their religious beliefs they thought he was possessed by a demon.

‘He was restrained and no medical help was given to him.

It would be a laughing matter – if it was a laughing matter.

Anti-vaccination nutballs are a plague unto all

❝ An outbreak of measles four years ago at Disneyland focused attention on a growing health menace — the refusal of parents to vaccinate their children. The threat has gone international. The World Health Organization has just named the anti-vaccination movement among the 10 biggest global health crises…

❝ The “vaccine-hesitant” — the WHO’s politer term — often wave ignorant junk-science claims that vaccines can cause autism. This dangerous lie gained traction in a 1998 article published in the prestigious British journal The Lancet. It turned out that lawyers suing vaccine-makers were funding the author, Andrew Wakefield. Britain subsequently stripped Wakefield of the right to practice medicine.

❝ In this country, 18 states still allow “nonmedical exemptions” for vaccinating children based on a philosophical belief. Requests for such exemptions are rising in 12 of them.

New York state is seeing its most troubling measles outbreak in decades. Almost all the cases occur among ultra-Orthodox Jews, whose insular communities have been ripe for anti-vaccine propagandists. William Handler, an Orthodox rabbi in Brooklyn, told Vox that parents who “placate the gods of vaccination” are engaging in “child sacrifice…”

Once vaccination levels fall below 95 percent, epidemiologists explain, there aren’t enough people to hold the disease in check. And measles is highly contagious. The virus floats in the air and can live on surfaces for hours.

Scientifically-illiterate Americans have a perfect right to infect their families with preventable diseases in a number of states. Introducing contagion – of course – which especially threatens so many others whose circumstances are limited by income and age.

The Standoff at Sabarimala


Click to enlargeAFP/Getty Images

❝ In India, they tell us that women can be anything we wish. We can be fighter-jet pilots, corporate CEOs, paratroopers, athletes — and, of course, prime minister. (We never get tired of reminding Americans of this, since the United States is still waiting for its first female head of state.)

But God forbid we dare to argue that, in 2019, menstruation should not bar us from praying at a temple. What sort of global power can the world’s largest democracy aspire to be when our monthly period is still used to make women feel like polluted pariahs who must be kept at a distance? Is this not repugnant modern-day untouchability?

❝ Last week, a 620-kilometer “women’s wall” made up of an estimated 5 million protesters drew global attention to the shame unfolding at the Sabarimala shrine in the southern Indian state of Kerala. For more than two months, there have been violent protests and riots over the entry of women at Sabarimala. According to mythology, Lord Ayyappa, the deity at the 800-year-old temple, was a bachelor god who took a vow of celibacy and set clear rules for the pilgrimage to seek his blessings. And thus, by custom, women in their reproductive years must keep away.

The women’s wall is a fight for what agitators are calling “renaissance values.” Mobilized by the left-wing government in Kerala, the women, with their arms outstretched in determined defiance, occupied all the national highways across the state to protest the brazen discrimination at the temple. It may well have been the largest single gathering of women in the world.

RTFA. Don’t tell me how India is going to surpass China as the leading economic force in Asia. Please.

As long as spooky religious ideology holds political sway in a nation in the modern era, that nation is guaranteeing minor status for itself on the world stage. Start that way – or convert – and you are done for unless government and law resume normal service with justice for all.

LGBT and your parents’ hangups keep ’em away? These moms will show.

❝ Four years ago, when Sara Cunningham came home from a pride festival in Oklahoma City, she was covered head to toe in glitter. She had spent the day offering free mom hugs or high-fives (“Not everybody’s a hugger,” she says) to passersby, and the love and joy she felt was palpable.

Unfortunately, so was something else.

❝ “That day, I went home with real horror stories,” she says. “I was broken from hearing from the community — kids who had been living out of their cars, kids who had been kicked out of their churches or homes for just for identifying as LGBT.”

Cunningham’s son is gay, and her experience at that festival led her and other ally mothers to form what is now “Free Mom Hugs,” a nonprofit organization that offers mother-like support to LGBT youth.

RTFA. Folks who feel love and decency towards all is critical to family and community. The kind of stuff mainstream religious folk – even many conservatives – believed when I was a kid. Not the religions and Trumpublicans that get all the headlines, nowadays.

The Welcome Cat


Click to enlargePHOTO: Guilhem Vellut

❝ In the Tokyo suburb of Setagaya, there is a quiet park home to the Gōtoku-ji “Welcome Cat” Temple

The temple is covered in thousands of Maneki Neko, with more being added on a daily basis. While it’s an arresting visual, the alter is essentially a retirement home for the sculptures. After the waving cat has helped its owners’ wishes come true, tradition dictates it’s then returned to the temple for a much-needed rest.

Cultural quaintness includes cultural luck. But, the intent is positive even if the quantum mechanics can’t be relied upon.

Trump violates court order

❝ The Trump administration may be violating federal court orders that found it had unlawfully canceled a federal program to prevent teen pregnancies and shifted that funding to efforts focused primarily on abstinence, Senate Democrats said in a new letter obtained by NBC News…

“By attempting to direct funding in accordance with ideological goals, rather than towards the development of evidence-based practices, the Trump-Pence Administration is undoing years of progress towards supporting adolescent sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing,..”

❝ Earlier this year, federal courts ruled five times against the administration’s termination of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, an annual $101 million effort created under the Obama administration with bipartisan support in Congress to help teenagers avoid unwanted pregnancies. Later, courts in New York and Oregon found that redirecting the funds to abstinence programs that are not “proven effective through rigorous evaluation” is “unlawful.”

Ignorance is generally sufficient excuse for religious nutters to ignore science and reason. Still, I wonder if reflection during whatever practice governs their prayers might encourage memories of honesty. A habit long absent from the Trump world. Supposedly an important part of Christianity American Style.

Our ancestors had lots of missing fingers

❝ Did most Stone Age people have all their fingers? According to the paintings they left behind, many of them did not. Plenty of cave paintings depict hands with missing fingers, and a trio of researchers believes they know why: those people had their fingers deliberately amputated. Right now it’s still a guess, but the researchers believe future evidence will help illuminate a strange and fascinating practice from our distant ancestors.

❝ …Starting around 50,000 years ago—a period that scientists refer to as the “Upper Paleolithic”—they started leaving behind all kinds of art and artifacts for modern scientists to discover.

Among those artifacts are cave paintings, where they recorded details of their lives for posterity. While the most well-known paintings feature pictures of bison or scenes of hunting, by far the most common artworks are simple hand paintings or tracings. Stone Age people left imprints of their hands on cave walls all over the world, and for some reason, a lot of those imprints are missing fingers.

RTFA for logical theorizing, assumptions based on existing knowledge and data. Parallels in not-so-modern religious codes are inevitable.

Christian Crusaders own Trump’s Health and Human Services Dept


Rolling Stone/Brian Stauffer

❝ It was dusk on a Friday in March 2017, and the women’s health clinic in San Antonio was mostly deserted, except for a nurse finishing some end-of-the-week paperwork, when the phone rang. The man on the other end of the line introduced himself as Dr. Meyerstein with the Office of Refugee Resettlement in Washington, D.C., the agency charged with the temporary care of children apprehended while crossing the border alone…

❝ Meyerstein was a civil servant who had worked for ORR’s unaccompanied-minor program since the Obama administration, but depositions and internal documents show he was acting on orders from a tight group of pro-life crusaders recently installed in the top ranks of ORR’s parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services: Maggie Wynne, counselor to the secretary of HHS; Matt Bowman, a lawyer in their Office of the General Counsel; and Scott Lloyd, the man recently tapped to helm ORR…

❝ The girl, meanwhile, remained unaware of any of it. Staff members at her shelter had been told to withhold her second set of pills, but no one mentioned that her pregnancy — and, with it, the contours of the rest of her life — was being debated by a handful of bureaucrats based in a beige, Brutalist office building 1,600 miles away.

She’d already requested a medical abortion and had taken the first course of medication.

❝ ORR director Lloyd…believes every abortion should be subject to his personal authorization.

RTFA to learn about religious rules imposed by the fake president and his flunky crusaders. Women’s individual rights are now shoved back to the 19th Century and biblical decision-making.

Happy Holiday Season from the Flying Spaghetti Monster

❝ It’s that time of year again. Many will be celebrating Christmas, some Hanukkah, some Kwanzaa, whatever. Pastafarians will be celebrating our holiday, named “Holiday“. And it’s not a specific date so much as it is the Holiday season, itself…

❝ …I would like to point out how much Pastafarianism has spread in a remarkably short amount of time. A few years ago, you’d be wished a “Merry Christmas” by everyone. Now, by our schools, businesses, goverment, on tv – everywhere – what do you hear? We’re not offered the Christian greeting “Merry Christmas“, but instead a happy “Holiday” season. Holiday, is of course OUR Pastafarian holiday, and it’s amazing to see how it’s been accepted, embraced even, by so many people.

Har!

Ignorant parents prefer plagues over modern science

❝ North Carolina is reporting the worst chickenpox outbreak since a vaccine for it was introduced more than 20 years ago. Ground zero for the outbreak is the Asheville Waldorf School, where 36 children have come down with chickenpox.

❝ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that “the percentage of children under 2 years old who haven’t received any vaccinations has quadrupled since 2001,” according to the Washington Post. Many of the parents who refuse to vaccinate their children do so under a religious beliefs exemption…”

Otherwise known as the “stupid” exemption – designed to benefit opportunist politicians seeking the votes of ignoranus parents.