Saudi Arabia Doubles Down on Atheism; New Laws Declares It Equivalent to Terrorism

We’ve seen before how Saudi pundits find it easy to conflate atheism and terrorism, but now it’s official: Saudi Arabia’s new terrorism laws say outright that nonbelievers and others who commit thought crime are the same as violent terrorists.

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New York Circumciser Illegally Shrugs Off Parental Consent for Mouth-to-Penis Suction: ‘I Did What I Had To Do’

I’ve written about metzitzah b’peh circumcisions more than once. The procedure involves the Orthodox-Jewish mohel putting his mouth on the infant’s freshly-circumcised penis and sucking away the blood. Metzitzah b’pehs have resulted in babies ending up with communicable diseases like hepatitis. We know of two cases in which the infant died and others where irreversible brain damage occurred.

In New York, with its Orthodox communities in which these dangerously unhygienic circumcisions are still rife, the city’s heath authorities have done nothing to rein in the practice, other than to require the parents to sign a consent form acknowledging that they’re aware of the risks.

But even that inadequate measure is going too far for some mohels. One of them is Rabbi Avrohom Cohn, 85, the chairman of the American Board of Ritual Circumcision. Cohn is one of the top baby-penis-cutters in the region, and he says he doesn’t need no steenking permission, the Jewish publication The Forward writes:

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Juror in Murder Trial Rejects Insanity Defense Because the Defendant Conversed With God, Not With the Devil

Being judged by a jury of one’s peers is meant to be reassuring for defendants — a counterbalance to a professional judiciary whose possible ivory-tower tendencies may put it out of touch with common Americans.

In practice, because any Tom, Dick, and Harriet can serve on a jury, with almost no regard to their intelligence or their ability to juggle information critically (in fact, such qualities often disqualify citizens from the jury pool), I can think of few things more nerve-wracking than the possible damage that a jury of mediocre thinkers can inflict.

Take the verdict in the David Tarloff case. A Manhattan jury just convicted Tarloff, a man with schizophrenia, of the chillingly brutal murder, in 2008, of Kathryn Faughey, a psychologist. Tarloff’s lawyers had pleaded insanity on behalf of their client. Tarloff, they said,

had a long history of delusions about communicating directly with God. He told doctors who examined him that his plan … had been sanctioned by the lord.

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Why Did the Madonna Statue Glow? Belgium’s Miracle That Isn’t

This could have been a prank. Or a hoax. Whatever it was, Belgium’s glowing Virgin Mary statue, which began setting Catholic passions ablaze in January, isn’t a miracle.

Police had to control crowds in the village of Jalhay, near Liege who were eager to touch the figure. The statue reportedly began to glow in the kitchen of an elderly couple’s home.

Over 500 people visited the house in one day, eager to pay homage to it.

Then scientists took a look and found that the statue had been painted with luminescent paint.

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Jordanian Court Calls Uncovered Women ‘Sluts’ Who Are Unfit to Testify

News from one of our moderate (some would say progressive) Muslim allies: the Sharia Court of Appeal in Amman, Jordan, found that women who don’t cover up are “sluts” whose fairness and honesty is compromised — and who therefore may be excluded from appearing as witnesses.

The court announced late last week that it agreed with one lawyer’s statement — based on a fatwa — that says a woman who does not cover up or wear a hijab is considered a “slut” and shouldn’t be allowed to testify in court.

The country’s Women’s Union released a statement … that describes the court’s decision as discrimination against women and a violation of the Jordanian Constitution, which considers all Jordanian men and women as equals.

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