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Taliban Kill At Least 132 Children in Pakistan School Siege, Burn Female Teacher Alive

In an act of terror reminiscent of the 2004 Beslan massacre and the handiwork of Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Taliban fighters attacked a school in Peshawar, Pakistan today, killing at least 132 pupils and nine teachers, including a female instructor who was alive when the attackers doused her in gasoline and set her alight in front of her class.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban) has claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was in revenge for an anti-terrorist military offensive. Spokesman Muhammad Khorasani said it was “just the trailer” to further attacks.

According to the New York Times,

The militants’ assault started at about 10 a.m., when nine gunmen disguised as paramilitary soldiers climbed the rear wall of the Army Public School and Degree College, a school of about 2,500 pupils, including boys and girls, a senior security official said. …

As Pakistani security forces responded, some of the attackers blew themselves up while others were killed by members of the army’s Special Service Group commando unit.

Desperate parents, meanwhile, rushed to local hospitals or gathered outside the school gates seeking news of their children. One of them, Muhammad Arshad, described his relief after his son Ehsan was rescued army commandos. “I am thankful to God for giving him a second life,” he said.

But at the Combined Military Hospital, the bodies of schoolchildren were lined up on the floor, most of them with single gunshot wounds to the head.


“They burned a teacher in front of the students in a classroom,” [an] unnamed military source told the US TV network. “They literally set the teacher on fire with gasoline and made the kids watch.”


According to a tweet by Omar R. Quraishi, an editor at The Express Tribune who has over 154,000 Twitter followers, “Some of the bodies brought to hospital during the Peshawar school attack have been headless: source.”

One expert on Islamist terror, Ahmed Rashid, said that

… the insurgents had various reasons to attack the school, one of which was to send a message to the supporters of Malala [Yousafzai], who advocates education for women and children. … Rashid also believes the Taliban targeted the school to demoralize the military.

The school, though founded to educate the children of army officers, has many pupils who come from civilian backgrounds.

(Image via Shutterstock)

The Problem of Evil and the Florida Lottery

In your literary wanderings, you may have come across this quote, attributed (perhaps wrongly) to the Greek philosopher Epicurus:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

The Epicurean paradox is an early version of the problem of evil. For thousands of years, people have been asking why an all-powerful deity does nothing to prevent disease, cruelty, and horrible deaths.

Pondering the problem of evil is challenging enough when good people suffer. It’s worse when good people suffer and the perpetrators barely do (or not at all).

And it becomes an exercise in pure frustration when this happens:

Timothy Dale Poole, a convicted sex offender, has won $3 million in the Florida lottery. The 43-year-old was arrested in 1999 and accused of sexual battery on a 9-year-old. He eventually pled guilty to attempted sexual battery in a plea bargain and is currently listed as a sex predator in state records. …

Poole was sentenced to 13 months in jail and 10 years of probation, but was sent to prison for 3 years when he missed his mandatory sex offender counseling sessions.

And now, in a big cosmic joke, he’s receiving a million dollars for each year behind bars. A celestial reward for raping a kid, and other criminality:

The Sentinel said he’s been arrested 12 times on charges that include grand theft and forging a check.

Commented a friend of Poole’s:

“He was flabbergasted. He couldn’t believe it.” … “He’s a very positive person. Very kind. Giving. I think that’s why he won,” Snyder said. “It’s Christmastime, and the dude deserves a break.”

Yes, for Jesus’s birthday, child rapists should get a break. And millions of dollars. It’s only fair.

Meanwhile, the victim is entitled to bupkis.

And while the morbidly obese Poole, who clocks in at 450 pounds, will be able to order any food he pleases for as long as he lives, and as much of it as he likes, this is what the Creator has in store for millions of His other children:

God is a standup guy, isn’t he?

(Bottom image via topnaz)

ISIS Beheadings Are Repugnant — As Are Those Carried Out By Our Pious Saudi “Friends”

Newsweek asks a good question: Why, if Americans are so horrified by the ISIS beheadings, do we collectively shrug about the beheadings carried out by Saudi Arabia, our so-called ally?

Since the beginning of the year, 59 people have had their heads chopped off in the Islamic paradise, in cases that wouldn’t pass judicial muster in a halfway enlightened nation.

The Saudi legal system is based on Islam’s Sharia law. Some countries that use Sharia possess a penal code, but Saudi Arabia does not.

This is what awaits the condemned.

If you are a prisoner in Riyadh, the capital, you might be taken to the ocher-colored Deera Square, which has acquired a macabre sobriquet: Chop Chop Square. Before you arrive, police and security forces will have prepared the area. It may have been cordoned off to keep curious spectators at a distance, but they will congregate nonetheless.

You will be led to the center of the square, on the bare earth. According to one of Saudi Arabia’s state executioners, Mohammed Saad al-Beshi, who was interviewed in the Saudi newspaper Arab News in June 2003, your energy is likely to fade at this point, from sheer exhaustion and fear. You will not fight for your life, nor protest against your restraints.

Also because usually there’s Valium or another sedative coursing through your system — a pill that the regime touts as a kind offering to calm the convict’s nerves, but which is also to the executioner’s benefit: less chance of fear, panic, and writhing.


The Saudi flag and the national Saudi coat of arms. Note that they both feature swords. Rest assured, however, that that iconography is entirely incidental to the Saudis’ peaceful faith.


The executioner — always a man — is not allowed to talk to his victim. He reads your charge and some verses from the Quran. You are blindfolded, which is extremely important, and not for humanitarian reasons. If, when the sword is coming down, you turn in fearful anticipation, things could get messy. The blade might not sever with a single chop, or the executioner could miss his mark. The blood won’t be neatly caught by the plastic bags, and the head might not be so easy to scoop up…

Even in death, you are not liberated. Your murder is meant to be a sign to the people in the crowd that Saudi Arabia does not tolerate dissent. A loudspeaker announces your crime. Your body may be taken away to be buried immediately. But if you were accused of banditry or drug smuggling, like seven Yemenis who were beheaded last year, your corpse will also be crucified.

Mohammed Saad al-Beshi’s most productive day so far was when he beheaded seven prisoners. He told Arab News, “It doesn’t matter to me: Two, four, 10 — as long as I’m doing God’s will, it doesn’t matter how many people I execute.”

Al-Beshi started his trade in Jeddah in 1988, but many of the beheaders [there is currently a shortage of them] come from a long line of executioners, an occupation passed from generation to generation, like a cherished heirloom.

They’re nothing if not versatile.

In Saudi Arabia, at least, the executioner isn’t limited to separating bodies from heads. He also cuts off other body parts — hands, legs — depending on the crime.

Newsweek notes that the most recent beheading victim was convicted of — no joke — sorcery. Some Saudi prisoners are put to death for political dissent.

Also, last year a Saudi defendant who’d caused another man to become paralyzed was ordered to undergo the same fate, reportedly by having the executioner sever his spinal cord.

Through it all, the silence from the West is deafening.

George W. Bush, for one, made it clear that he would rather hold hands with the Saudi King — and repeatedly kiss him, see the video below — than ask the despot to stop the head-chopping barbarity. That attitude continues: Last month, Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Saudi Arabia to strategize about ways to stop the human-rights violations perpetrated by ISIS. As expected, Kerry gave the Saudi executions a free pass, never raising the subject.

In New York, Man From Ivory Coast Allegedly Sodomized His Wife, Then Cut Her Genitals

A bizarre and disturbing story, via Opposing Views:

Moussa Diarra, 48, an African native, wanted to have anal intercourse with his 24-year-old wife. When she refused, he forcibly sodomized her before attempting to circumcise the woman around 9 p.m. Sept. 14 at his Manhattan apartment, the New York Post reports.

The victim called police about a week after the assault. Diarra, who is a native of the Ivory Coast, where male and female circumcision is widespread, was arrested on Sept. 23, according to court records.

There are African countries, such as Nigeria, whose Christian populations engage in female genital mutilation (FGM) on a scale equal to or greater than Muslims perform FGM in their families and communities. That’s not the case in Ivory Coast, where, a U.S. State Department report says,

The practice is prevalent among Muslim women, and is also deeply rooted in traditional Animist initiation rites in western, central and northern Cote d’Ivoire.

The practice on village women is strongly linked to the survival of local secret societies and mask-cults at the heart of village spiritual life. The clitoris is thought to possess power and its removal during initiation gives that power to the village spirits and traditional spiritual leaders or masks, without which the spirits/masks and the entire village would die.

Attempts to eradicate the practice, or even to transform it from a physical to a symbolic act, are perceived as threatening to “assassinate the people” of the village.

More about what exactly took place in the Diarra household, and why, should come out at trial. The suspect is scheduled to appear in court on October 27. He faces charges of forcible sex act, aggravated sexual assault by compulsion, attempted assault with intent to disfigure or dismember, and assault with intent to cause physical injury with a weapon.

He maintains that the allegations are false, and says he doesn’t know who cut his wife.

Freedom From Atheism Foundation Trolls Atheists By Falsely Accusing Them of Trolling

Lying for Jesus, anyone?

Here‘s a roundup of two studies about Internet trolling, courtesy of Live Science:

“Trolls” — people who intentionally incite discord in online communities — may have a lot in common with real-life sadists, new research suggests. In two studies conducted online, researchers examined personality traits and the online commenting styles of 1,215 people. The investigators found that Internet trolls tended to have personality traits related to sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism — a term used by psychologists to describe a person’s tendency to deceive and manipulate others for personal gain. The link between trolling and sadism was the strongest out of all three traits, the researchers said.

So what could explain the links between trolling and sadism? Simply put, some people seem to enjoy being argumentative and purposefully disruptive, according to the researchers. “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others,” the researchers, from the University of Manitoba in Canada, wrote in the study. “Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground.”

There are no apparent data that show that the ultra-religious do more trolling than the moderately religious, or vice versa — or that the non-religious like trolling better than believers. Neither atheism nor theism/deism are mentioned at all in the piece, because religious feeling, or the absence of it, wasn’t a focus of the studies.

But here‘s how the Freedom From Atheism Foundation spun the Live Science article.

Atheists who spend their time trolling religious facebook pages, comments sections, etc. were found to have personality traits related to sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism. Perhaps its time for these atheists to realize that they have a problem that needs to be fixed.

Note that the FFAF even changed the headline (“Atheist Behind the Screen: the ‘Internet Troll’ Personality”) — maliciously replacing the word ‘Sadist’ with ‘Atheist’ and passing that new title off as the Live Science original.

If that isn’t trolling (and bearing false witness to boot), I don’t know what is.


P.S. A little potpourri of the responses:

(Top image via Shutterstock)

Muslims and Hindus Riot in India Over a Jokey Facebook Picture

As they’ve often done since at least the eighth century, Mo fans and Shiva supporters have been violently clashing in India:

The police have made hundreds of arrests in the past several days in an attempt to stop religious riots in the Indian city of Vadodara, in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat. So far, the violence has been confined to stabbings and the torching of around a dozen vehicles, D.J. Patel, a senior police official in Vadodara, said on Monday.

“We have deployed a large enough number of police to control any situation,” he said. He said none of the injuries were serious. The clashes began last week, after a Hindu man posted an image to his Facebook account showing the face of a Hindu goddess superimposed on a stone venerated by Muslims, Mr. Patel said.

Maybe there are two religions of peace? God help us.

(Image via Shutterstock)

Oklahoma Muslim Tries to Convert Co-Workers, Gets Fired; Then It’s Time For a Beheading

Alton Nolen, the Muslim ex-con accused of an ex-colleague’s brutal beheading in Moore, Oklahoma on Thursday, identified strongly with the violent ways of his extremist foreign brethren.

In March, Nolen took to his Facebook page, where he calls himself Jah’Keem Yisrael, and posted an image of a beheading by Islamic fundies, captioned with a verse from the Qur’an:

I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off of them.


That same day, he added a photo of a protest sign reading

Islam will Dominate the World: Freedom can go to hell.

Another public missive of Nolen’s featured a picture of the burning World Trade Center in New York City, along with the observation that

Everything God says don’t do Amerika does.

By that, Nolen clarified, he meant the consumption of alcohol and bacon, the legalization of same-sex-marriage, and the availability of sex toys — among multiple other complaints.

Nolen/Yisrael made a habit of signing all his status updates with “****InfoFromAMuslim****.” Over the last half a year, he sometimes posted photos of himself in prayer, frequenting the Oklahoma City mosque.

This past Tuesday, two days before went on his rampage, he wrote what appears to be a religious tirade against masturbation:


Nolen had recently been fired from the Vaughan Foods plant in Oklahoma where he met his two female victims, including Colleen Hufford, whose head he severed. His former co-workers said that during his employment, he’d been trying to convert everyone to Islam, but it’s unclear if that was the reason for his dismissal.

His second victim, Traci Johnson, whom he was stabbing and slashing when he was shot by the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Mark Vaughan, is said to be in stable condition and is expected to survive. The same is true for the beheader himself.

Sufi Holy Man Arrested For Killing Volunteer He Failed to Bring Back to Life During ‘Miracle’

Pakistan’s Express Tribune reports that in Mubarakabad, Punjab, a pir (Sufi master) named Muhammad Sabir was so convinced he could perform miracles, he asked for a volunteer he could murder. Not to worry, Sabir told his followers: after killing his victim, he would reanimate the dead man and make him as good as new.

He announced that he could breathe life back into a dead man. The pir gave the condition that the victim must be married and have children.

I mean, who doesn’t like a high-stakes bet, amirite?

When told of this amazing opportunity, 40-year-old Muhammad Niaz, described as “a daily wage worker and father of six children,” decided to give it a go.

On Wednesday, Niaz was placed on a table in a square and his hands and legs were bound. [A] police spokesman said Sabir then sliced his throat as people looked on. Meanwhile, an anonymous caller informed the police about ‘the miracle.’ By the time police reached [the scene], Niaz had died. Witnesses said Sabir uttered some words to bring him back to life. They said when he realized his ‘miracle’ had not worked, he tried to flee. He was detained by the villagers and handed over to the police.

Detained? Arrested? But, but… freedom of religion! Sanctity and inviolability of deeply-held beliefs!

The villagers may have found sufficient reason to nab the Sufi superman, but the victim’s sister seems to think that the mystic is one misunderstood genius, writes the Express Tribune.

Samina, sister of the victim, [said] that her brother had sacrificed himself for the spiritual leader. “Why should I mourn when I know that my brother is in heaven?” she said. “He will be rewarded for his services for the spiritual leader in [the] afterlife.” She said her brother had volunteered for the miracle and that the pir should not have been arrested.

It’s worth remembering that Sufism is purportedly the inward-looking, mystical, non-violent version of Islam, described here as a journey “towards the Truth, by means of love and devotion… towards the perfection which all are truly seeking.”

I guess we can quibble about the exact definitions of love, truth, and especially perfection.

Blood Flows Over ‘Un-Islamic’ Cosmetics Shops

In Afghanistan,

…an Islamic council … issued a fatwa last month ordering the immediate closure of all cosmetic shops in Deh Salah. The hard-line clerics argued that the sale of cosmetics was “un-Islamic” and the presence of the shops promoted adultery.

One of the enforcers of the decree has now been shot dead.

‘Stop Mocking Our Faith,’ Says Reader Who Believes in the Man in the Moon

I received an irate request today from a man who believes that the geography of the moon is proof that Gohar Shahi is Islam’s messiah. “Stop making a mockery out of people’s faith,” he demanded.


Good point. I’ll make that gentleman — and all people of faith — a deal: I’ll stop mocking you if you stop beclowning yourselves by spouting such deliciously mockable poppycock.

How to Deal With an Uppity Spouse (Special Islam Version)

Mr. Islam, a migrant worker in the United Arab Emirates, didn’t approve of his wife’s attempts to get an education:

A jealous husband is facing life in prison after chopping off his wife’s fingers because she began studying for a degree without his permission.

Rafiqul Islam, 30, blindfolded his wife Hawa Akhter, 21, and taped her mouth, telling her he was going to give her a surprise present.

Instead he made her hold out her hand and cut off all five fingers. One of his relatives then threw Ms Akhter’s fingers in the dustbin to ensure doctors could not reattach them.


The attack is the latest in a series of acts targeting educated women in the Muslim-majority country.

In June, an unemployed man gouged out the eyes of his wife, an assistant professor at Dhaka University, apparently because he could not stand her pursuing higher studies at a Canadian university.

[Thanks to Daniel G. for the link. Photo via the Daily Mail.]