21 September 2018
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Swiss police seize IT data from Fifa headquarters

fifaFifa has handed over computer data to the Swiss authorities investigating the World Cup bids for 2018 and 2022.

The information was seized at the Zurich headquarters of world football's governing body from offices which included that of its president Sepp Blatter, the BBC understands. Read more...

INDIA: Invitation to Parallel Event at the UN Human Rights Council

un india‘Extrajudicial Executions in India’

Parallel Event: UN Human Rights Council 29th Session
Friday, 19 June 2015, 15:30 - 17:00
Room XXV, Palais des Nations

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An Open Letter of Appreciation to Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury of Bangladesh

ahrc logoI am writing this short letter to express my appreciation with regard to the statement reported in the media; you have been quoted to have said, “you [referring to tribunal judges] misused your power”. Read more...

White House evacuated after second Washington DC security threat in 24 hours

white houseThe White House was evacuated after a second Washington DC security threat in less than 24 hours.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest's daily briefing was interrupted when secret service agents burst in and ordered the room evacuated. Read more...

New research: 49% have no religion, Anglican Church collapse continues, Islam increases ten-fold since 1983

NSSNew findings by the National Centre for Social Research have confirmed the long-term collapse in affiliation with the Church of England and the huge increase in non-belief.
Strikingly, the research also found that there had been a ten-fold increase in those identifying with Islam in the past 32 years. In 1983, Islam represented around half a percentage point of Britain's population but in 2014 it had reached 5%, the research found.
"The proportion of people saying that they are Anglican has fallen quite dramatically in the last ten years, coinciding with a rise in people saying they are not religious," NatCen noted.
The percentage of non-religious people has increased from 31% in 1983, to 49% in 2014. Conversely, the share belonging to the Church of England has fallen from 40% to 17% over the same time period.
This means that by-far the single largest group of people is the non-religious. Based on estimates from the Office of National Statistics, there are 24.7 million non-believers in the UK. The next single-highest group is Anglicans on 8.6 million. However, according to the NatCen figures, the "nones" have outnumbered Anglicans since at least 1994- when there were over 2 million more non-believers.
The picture is different for non-Anglican Christians however. Roman Catholics have dropped by only 2 percentage points, from 10% of the population in 1983 to 8% last year.
Immigration is thought to be propping up numbers of non-Anglican Christians. Naomi Jones, Head of Social Attitudes at NatCen Social research explained, "Members of other Christian and non-Christian religions have remained relatively constant and even increased.
"The numbers of Catholic and non-Christian people in Britain may have been supplemented by migrants with strong religious beliefs.
"We know from recent NatCen research that people are less likely than in previous years to see being Christian as an important component of being British. Therefore, fewer British people may feel that the Church of England is an important part of their identity nowadays."
NSS spokesperson Stephen Evans commented on the research, "new findings emerge almost every month confirming just how irreligious UK society is. This obviously strengthens the case for a secular UK. At the very least it goes to show how nonsensical it is to speak of the UK as a 'Christian country'- as NatCen point out.
"The collapse in affiliation with the Church of England continues to make its role as an Established church untenable and wrong. It would be better for both church and state if they parted company."
Other research, surveys and polling have found similarly high levels of non-belief. In April 2015, the National Secular Society criticised the Prime Minister for his claim that the UK was "still a Christian country" after polling from YouGov found that 62% of Britons said they were not religious.

-http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2015/06/new-research--49-percent-have-no-religion-anglican-church-collapse-continues-islam-increases-ten-fold-since-1983

China ship capsize: 7 dead, 430 still missing

china capsizeSeven people were confirmed dead and at least 430 remained missing today, following the capsizing of a cruise ship in Asia's longest river Yangtze in central China as more than 4,000 rescue workers race against time to find survivors amid rough weather conditions. Read more...

Creationism blocked in Scottish science classes

creationismCreationism blocked in Scottish science classes
The Scottish education minister has stated that creationism should not be taught in science classes in publicly-funded Scottish schools.
Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages, said that creationism is not a "scientific principle" and "it should therefore not be taught as part of science lessons."
The announcement came after a statement by the Holyrood Parliament, following a petition and campaign by the Scottish Secular Society urging the Scottish Government to tackle the issue, after cases emerged of Christian fundamentalists handing out creationist literature in schools.
NSS spokesperson for Scotland Alastair McBay commented: "Scottish secularists have done a superb job in tackling this issue in the face of predictable opposition from religious interests. The degree of infiltration in Scotland's schools, particularly non-denominational ones, by Christian fundamentalists, means that we must all remain vigilant as these people take no notice of Government edicts and will continue to teach such nonsense under a flag of freedom of religious expression. Creationist beliefs may be a topic for religious education classes, but they have no place in the science classroom."
The Scottish Secular Society's petition had called on the Scottish Parliament to "urge the Scottish Government to issue official guidance to bar the presentation in Scottish publicly funded schools of separate creation and of Young Earth doctrines as viable alternatives to the established science of evolution, common descent, and deep time."
The Scottish Government had previously not explicitly stated that the teaching of creationism as a valid scientific theory was prohibited, but has now done so.
The Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland said that the debate was "an extraordinary waste of parliamentary time."
In January 2015, a motion was put forward by two MSPs which called for Scottish children to be made "aware" of creationist teaching. One of the supporters of the motion, John Mason MSP, tweeted: "I think science is better sticking to what exists. How and why things came about is probably better not included in science."
In England, the Department for Education has previously stated that teaching creationism as scientific fact is "wrong" and that schools are not permitted to teach creationism instead of valid and thoroughly evidenced scientific theories.
The DfE says it will not accept any academy or free school proposal which plans to teach creationism in the science curriculum.

-http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2015/05/creationism-blocked-in-scottish-science-classes

NSS calls for investigation of Orthodox Jewish schools after driving ban on mothers

stamfordhillThe National Secular Society has called on the Department for Education to investigate two independent Orthodox Jewish schools following demands that pupils be barred from school if dropped off by mothers after a driving 'driving ban' was imposed on women by school leaders.
A religious ruling from rabbinic leaders of the Orthodox Jewish Belz sect says allowing women to drive violates "the traditional rules of modesty in our camp."
Belz sect members run two large schools in north London, Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass, which educates 444 boys and Beis Malka, which is attended by 135 girls. Both schools are rated 'good' by Ofsted.
The Jewish Chronicle has revealed that a letter sent out last week by the sect's leaders insists that as of August students would not be allowed to enter school if their mothers drove them there.
According to the letter, the increasing numbers of mothers who drive has led to "great resentment among parents of pupils in our institutions".
Stephen Pollard, editor of The Jewish Chronicle, said he found the ban "repellent" and said the call to prevent children from attending the schools if their mothers drive them would have "profound implications".
Commenting on the reports, National Secular Society campaigns manager, Stephen Evans, said: "We trust the DfE will ensure that no child is ostracised or has their education disrupted on the basis of a misogynistic diktat handed down by religious leaders.
"We have written to the DfE asking it to investigate whether these schools are being run by fit and proper persons, whether they are in breach of Independent School Standards by undermining the fundamental value of individual liberty and whether any discrimination has occurred contrary to Equality Act 2010."
Dina Brawer, UK Ambassador of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, told London's Evening Standard: "Blocking women from driving portrays this very patriarchal society where traditional values are upheld, but they are facing a changing world and they are reacting with an almost extremism.
"They see any role that women take outside the home space as a bit of a problem and somehow it's really hard for them to see women being independent and doing things on their own."
It is not the first time that Orthodox Jewish schools in Stamford Hill have caused controversy. In 2014 The National Secular Society uncovered evidence of the publicly funded Yesodey Hatorah girls' secondary school censoring exam paper questions on human reproduction and evolution. NSS campaigning led to the exam regulator Ofqual banning redaction of exam questions, a practice that had previously been tolerated on grounds of 'religious sensitivity'. The controversy raised questions over whether some faith schools are compromising children's education by shielding them from key scientific concepts.
Earlier this year, the NSS raised concerns over the growing number of children being 'educated' in unauthorised religious schools, some of which are run by the Charedi community in Stamford Hill.
UPDATE
In a statement released to the National Secular Society, Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan said:
"This is completely unacceptable in modern Britain. If schools do not actively promote the principle of respect for other people they are breaching the independent school standards. Where we are made aware of such breaches we will investigate and take any necessary action to address the situation."

-http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2015/05/orthodox-jewish-schools-face-investigation-following-driving-ban-on-mothers

India Heat Wave Death Toll Tops 2,000

droutThe death toll from the blistering heat wave in India exceeded 2,000 on Sunday as weather officials said the sweltering conditions would persist for another four or five days. Read more...

Japan Earthquake: Large But Very Deep Temblor Strikes Offshore

japan earth quakeTwelve people suffered minor injuries and businesses returned to normal Sunday after a powerful earthquake near remote Japanese islands shook most of the country the previous night, but it was well beneath the earth's surface and did not trigger a tsunami. Read more...

Four killed in foiled Saudi mosque blast

saudi clashFour people were killed when a car exploded near a mosque in Saudi Arabia’s eastern city of Dammam, on Friday, the Saudi Press Agency reported, adding that militants failed in their bid to hit the mosque after secuirty officials foiled the attack.
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