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Global Quickies: Racist Jewelry, Racist Columnist, and Volcanoes

PAKISTAN
“The progressive activist and organizer who ran Pakistan’s first-ever hackathon and led a human rights and a peace-focused nonprofit known as The Second Floor (T2F) was shot dead today by unidentified gunmen in Karachi.”

AUSTRALIA
“Doctors will be given incentive payments so that parents stick to their children’s vaccination schedule, and the one religious exemption to vaccinations will end, as part of a push by the federal government to boost the immunisation rate.”

UK
The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights has blasted Katie Hopkins, a Sun columnist and former Celebrity Big Brother contestant, after she likened migrants to cockroaches. She was also reported to police for inciting racial hatred over the comments.

INDIA
The state of Maharashtra passed a bill adding bulls and bullocks to the previous ban on the slaughter of cows. People selling or possessing beef can be jailed up to 5 years and face fines. This bill affects mostly Muslims and the poor, since beef in India is cheaper than other meats.

SAUDI ARABIA
A halal sex shop is expected to open soon in Mecca. “The owner consulted with an Islamic cleric in Saudi Arabia before receiving permission to sell the halal sex products that would lead to ‘the improvement of the sexual relationship between husband and wife’”.

VENEZUELA
Resistance to antibiotics found in isolated Amazonian tribe.

CHILE
Have you seen the amazing images of the Calbuco volcano eruption? Did you see the UFO? My best guess is that it’s the moon.

ARAB WORLD
Invisible Atheists: The spread of disbelief in the Arab world. An interesting read on the numbers, problems, trends, and hopes of atheists in Muslim countries.

SUDAN
Sudan has overhauled a law that led to rape victims being put on trial for adultery, a crime punishable by jail, flogging or even stoning.”

INDIA
“An Indian jewellery advertisement featuring top Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been withdrawn after criticism that it was “racist” and promoted child slavery. The advertisement shows a black, emaciated child holding a red parasol over the fair, bejewelled actress.”

SOMALIA
“The Somali Islamist movement al-Shabab has for the first time publicly killed a man for ‘insulting the prophet Muhammed’

Featured image: Cabulco volcano eruption

Daniela

Daniela

Born and raised in Mexico City, Daniela has finally decided to abdicate her post as an armchair skeptic and start doing some skeptical activism. She is currently living in Spain after having lived in the US, Brazil and Italy. You can also find her blogging in Spanish at esceptica.org.

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8 Comments

  1. April 26, 2015 at 3:29 pm —

    On the antibiotics article, the article may be about Yanomami, but the photo is definitely not of uncontacted Yanomami.

    On the racist celebrity, ‘cockroaches’ was also what the Hutus called the Tutsis over the radio in the early 90s. Though, of course, my usual complaints about how UNHRC is overrun with states infamous for human rights abuse apply. (One reason Obama picked Keith Harper was to needle UNHRC over that.)

  2. April 27, 2015 at 2:48 pm —

    Also with regard to the antibiotic resistance among the Yanomami, I find it troubling that the researchers seem to assume that the only source of antibiotics is pharmaceuticals. It is entirely possible substances they have access to in their environment have antibiotic properties that the bacteria develop resistance to.

    Also one of the comments on that article where a person said that “Western medicine” is not cultural made me laugh out loud.

    • April 28, 2015 at 9:13 am —

      I’m not a microbiologist, but based on the article it seems to me they did consider various sources of anti-biotics, differentiating between ones found in the Yanomamis’ environment and modern developed drugs: “Dantas’s graduate student Erica Pehrsson cloned bacterial DNA from these samples and tested whether any of their genes could inactivate natural and synthetic antibiotics. They found that the Yanomami gut bacteria had nearly 60 unique genes that could turn on and rally to fend off antibiotics, including a half-dozen genes that could protect the bacteria from synthetic antibiotics. This is particularly troubling, Dantas says, because researchers have thought that it would take bacteria longer to evolve resistance to humanmade antibiotics not found naturally in the soil.”

      As a non-microbiologist I don’t know if they were too conservative in their assumptions about what might occur naturally, but the article doesn’t make it seem they assumed “the only source of antibiotics is pharmaceuticals”.

      • April 29, 2015 at 4:45 pm —

        Right, but the whole point of the article was the shock and surprise that they had developed such resistances “even though these mountain people had never ingested antibiotics or animals raised with drugs.” I am more annoyed by the starting assumptions that drove the research rather than the findings, which seem to point to the fact that gut bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics for any number of reasons aside from overuse of pharmaceutical antibiotics–a point I think is unsurprising given what we know of ethnobotanical practices around the world.

    • April 28, 2015 at 3:53 pm —

      There’s also the idea that the Yanomami are somehow uniquely ‘pristine’. The reality is that more and more archaeologists are simply seeing Indians, both in North and South America (though of course, not all over North and South America) as more ambitious about changing the environment. (Think all the white pioneers who were surprised at how well-suited North America was to human settlement, and credited that to God. No different than creationists crediting how the banana fits in the hand to God.)

      There’s a lot of ethnocentrism that goes into just about any pop article about the Yanomami.

      • April 29, 2015 at 4:50 pm —

        Yes, when I first read it was an “uncontacted tribe” of Yanomami, I was quite skeptical. But I don’t have the time to go looking for more information on that particular group. Based on the research reporting, which has not included the name of the village to protect the identities of the participants, there really is no way to tell. I’ve read things like this before where groups in the Amazon are called “uncontacted” and yet utilize machetes. Just because they do not interact with or take up Western lifestyles does not mean they are uncontacted. In fact, I’d be more willing to bet they were intentionally isolating themselves from outside influence.

    • April 28, 2015 at 3:56 pm —

      And I always chuckle about how medicine (or any technology, for that matter) isn’t a cultural construct. You could say the laws of nature, in this case, the structure of our bodies, isn’t a cultural construct, but learning that structure and applying that knowledge to keep our bodies running is definitely a cultural construct, epistemology and technology, respectively.

      But the real reason I chuckle at it is, Lakota medical ideas did include a primitive form of germ theory.

  3. April 27, 2015 at 5:15 pm —

    And it seems to be typed without a hint of irony. I’m shocked- shocked I say- to see a skeptic so culturally insensitive and unaware.

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