Weekly news and blog roundup: The bleeding obvious

What’s fuelling Africa’s anti-homosexuality movement? Did doomsday occur last week as predicted? Was The Hills actually reality television? Whether you’re in need of a lesson in the bleeding obvious or you think you know it all already, you’re sure to learn something from this week’s roundup.

Dispatches: Africa’s Last Taboo

Completely devastating but equally compelling, Africa’s Last Taboo examines African attitudes towards homosexuality and the government policies they inform. The program opens with a hook: stay tuned to find out what’s driving the African anti-homosexuality movement. I don’t want to give away the ending, but I’m sure one guess is all you’ll need anyway.

Watch Dispatches: Africa’s Last Taboo here. (This video is unfortunately available in the UK).

Church members sue after doomsday fails to occur

Two former church members are suing their ex-pastor and his associates for conning them out of a combined $1.4m by lying about a doomsday that never came. I’m not sure how Australian church Agape Ministries claimed it would put their money to use – first-class tickets to the pearly gates perhaps? In any event, here’s where the line between giggles and sh*ts gets blurred:

Ms Baligod said she believed many other people wanted to come forward with civil claims, but were scared. “A lot of them have been threatened by insiders, with death threats as I understand it,” she said.

Read the ABC news coverage here.

[Via Planet Atheism]

Australian antivax group slammed for “misleading and inaccurate information”

And now, some good news for Australia: An Australian government investigation has called antivax group Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) out on their manipulative and dishonest peddling of misinformation. The report found that AVN, who claim not to be antivax, cherry-pick data and even invent sheer lies to steer anyone who’ll listen away from dreaded, life-saving vaccines. Unfortunately there is no real punishment in store for AVN, but they will now have to include on their website a prominent disclaimer stating their antivax position.

Read more here.

Watch Australian news program Lateline’s coverage here.

[Article via Discover Blogs | Bad Astronomy]

[Video via Sean the Blogonaut]

‘Forbidden Art’ show organisers convicted of “fuelling religious hatred”

The organisers of a 2006 Russian exhibition called ‘Forbidden Art’, which featured works considered ‘too outrageous to show elsewhere’, have been found guilty of fuelling religious hatred. Although the works included depictions of Jesus as Mickey Mouse and Lenin, organisers say it was not their intention to offend, but rather to draw attention to censorship issues.

The organisers were sentenced with heavy fines, which disappointed many Russian Orthodox believers, who had hoped for a prison sentence. Also disappointed was a group of artists, who felt the verdict was an infringement on free speech and expressed their outrage with fitting creativity – by releasing thousands of cockroaches in the court building.

Read the Moscow Times’ news coverage here.

Watch Russia Today’s news coverage here.

[Via Atheist Media Blog]

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe: Episode 260

There’s no real reason for my including this particular episode of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe in this week’s roundup, but I so rarely get around to listening to them and every time I do I’m reminded of how great they are.  So if you’re new to The Guide, you’re in for a treat; if like me you rarely listen to them, let this one remind you why you should do more often; or if you’re so hooked you can recite them all word for word, as you were.

Listen to the latest episode of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe here.

Topics of discussion include: fin to limb evolution; Pat Boone on the laws of physics; ice patch archaeology; Steven Barratt sued; your questions and emails; flag worship; and science or fiction?.

[Via The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe]

The Age of the Genome: Episode 4

Richard Dawkins’ Radio 4 program The Age of the Genome has reached its fourth and final episode and I’ve neglected to tell you about it, so if you haven’t found it by other means I’m afraid you’ve got some catching up to do.

In episode four, Dawkins talks to Craig Venter – who recently unveiled the world’s first self-replicating species whose parent is a computer – and other leading scientists about the potential powers of genome science in the future. What could be better?

Listen to all episodes of The Age of the Genome here.

French lawmakers vote to ban burqa in public

Women in France could be fined or required to attend citizenship classes for wearing full-length veils in public if a new bill is passed. This week the lower house of parliament approved the bill by an overwhelming majority of 335 to 1, but it must still be vetted by the Constitutional Council and approved by the Senate in September.

Whatever your thoughts on that, you can’t disagree with the section of the bill that would impose a €30,000 fine and a one-year prison sentence on anyone who forces another person to cover their face.

Opponents of the bill see it as a violation of the rights to freedom of expression and religion. Proponents consider it vital for furthering women’s rights and maintaining the country’s reputation for fashion.

Read Reuters’ news coverage here.

Woman on ‘Wife Swap’ makes her surrogate family train for 2012

Last week’s episode of Wife Swap USA brought reality television into the realms of fantasy as a crazed woman had her surrogate family train for the 2012 apocalypse. The filmmakers can’t have believed their luck; you know you’ve hit comedy gold when the cameras are rolling and you’ve got a fully-grown man fitting a life-jacket onto a dog.

Read io9’s blog post and watch a clip from the show, here.

[Via Skepchick]

‘Everybody Draw Muhammad Day’ cartoonist put on execution list

A terror preacher linked to the botched Times Square bombing has put the creator of ‘Everybody Draw Muhammad Day’ on an execution hit list. Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki wrote in Inspire, a new English-language Al Qaeda magazine aimed at recruiting westerners, that “the medicine prescribed by the Messenger of Allah is the execution of those involved”. Awlaki also damned eight other cartoonists, journalists and authors for their involvement with the ‘blasphemous cartoons’.

Read NY Daily News’ coverage here.

[Via Skepchick]

‘The Hills’ finale: Fake set emerges as Kristin Cavallari and Brody Jenner say goodbye

Who’d’ve thought it? The Hills – that emotional rollercoaster tracking the day-to-day lives of glamorous guys and girls, managing to neatly tie up each episode’s storyline after half an hour – is faked. As the show’s finale closed the cameras pulled out to reveal a Hollywood set and the fans rushed to Twitter in search of shoulders to cry on. Don’t worry guys, you can always rely on the integrity of Laguna Beach.

Read NY Daily News’ coverage here.


Please feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to reply as quickly as possible. Until next time, take care of yourself, and each other.

If you come across something that you think our readers would enjoy, send a tip my way at will [at] skeptic [dot] org [dot] uk.

July 16, 2010 at 10:26 am | Blog Round-up | Comments Off on Weekly news and blog roundup: The bleeding obvious