Jeremy Bender | Business Insider | Yahoo News | November 20, 2015
ISIS is dedicating resources to infiltrating other anti-Assad regime groups throughout Syria in order to better expand its “caliphate,” according to a defector from the group that The Daily Beast’s Michael Weiss interviewed in Istanbul, Turkey.
ISIS relies on sewing fear and committing brutal acts of violence in order to maintain its territorial control. The group’s brutality also has a propaganda value, and helps attract foreign recruits.
But the defector, who goes by the pseudonym Abu Khaled and was a member of the militant group’s internal security services, told Weiss that ISIS doesn’t always take such a confrontational approach to some of the forces opposed to it. Abu Khaled said that the Islamic State is dedicating money and manpower to co-opting rebel groups throughout Syria — including ones that have billed themselves as secular or moderate.
LONDON — A 21-year-old transgender woman was found dead at a men’s prison in Leeds after she had told friends she would kill herself if she was sent there.
Vicky Thompson, who was assigned male at birth, but had identified as female since her mid-teens, was pronounced dead last Friday after being found unresponsive at Armley prison in Leeds. West Yorkshire police said her death wasn’t being treated as suspicious but an investigation has been launched.
The death follows another incidence of a transgender woman prisoner being placed in a men’s prison. Tara Hudson, 26, from Bath, was transferred to a women’s prison last month after more than 140,000 people signed petitions calling for the move.
As Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, a strong supporter of same-sex marriage, said recently, reform of the Marriage Act should not be “a Trojan horse for legally enforced anti-religious secularism”. That danger is evident in the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission’s finding that Australia’s Catholic bishops have a case to answer for “humiliating” gay, lesbian and transgender Australians by distributing a booklet on marriage.
The complainant, transgender Greens candidate Martine Delaney, has asked for the matter be conciliated rather than sent to an immediate hearing. The row is not about homosexuality or same-sex marriage. A finding against Hobart’s Archbishop Julian Porteous and his colleagues would be a blow against free speech.
The booklet, Don’t Mess With Marriage, has been disseminated to Catholics in all states. It is moderate and respectful in tone. In opposing same-sex marriage — which church leaders and others are entitled to do in a free democracy — it raises broader issues about religious freedom and conscience. The booklet cites examples from around the world of clergy, tertiary colleges, schools and businesses that have been prosecuted, fined or threatened with closure for not accommodating same-sex couples.
As a supporter of individual choice, The Australian does not oppose same-sex marriage in principle. But major issues have to be resolved if it is to create a more inclusive society while maintaining freedom of religion. These, as Paul Kelly wrote in July, are: Must churches employ spouses in same-sex marriages? Must religious agencies place children for adoption with same-sex couples? Will church schools be penalised for teaching their beliefs, contradicting the state view? Could church bodies lose tax breaks and other support for not complying?
Such questions have been largely overlooked. But the Tasmanian case has shown potential pitfalls. Balancing the rights of same-sex couples to marry with freedom of religion and freedom of speech is a challenge legislators need to address before Australians vote in a plebiscite.
Officials in Hong Kong have decided to leave same-sex couples off next year’s census – arguing that some will be too afraid to disclose their relationship in front of family members and that no data is better than inaccurate data on the make up of Hong Kong’s population.
Hong Kong’s Census and Statistics Department (CSD) recorded that there were 7,495 people living in a same-sex household that were not blood relatives in 2011.
However in the 2016 census people will still only be able to record their relationship status as ‘never been married, [heterosexually] married, widowed, divorced or separated.’
CSD deputy commissioner Stephen Leung said the decision not to record same-sex relations was made in consultation with government departments and social welfare organizations.
Gay and bisexual men will now receive the HPV vaccine in the UK.
The UK government has announced that men who have sex with men aged up to 45 will be able to receive the vaccine at GUM clinics.
Currently, only girls receive the vaccine in schools.
For the past few years, there have been calls for boys to also receive the vaccine to ensure they are protected from HPV-related conditions. On the other side of the argument, there are those that have said boys are already protected as they will not get the virus from girls.
But then, under these rules, men who have sex with men are not protected.
In light of the latest terrorist attacks in Paris, we take a look back at an interview with CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who singled out Saudi Arabia for its role in creating radical extremism in the Middle East.
During the September interview with Mint Press News, Kiriakou—the 2015 winner of the PEN Center’s “First Amendment Award”—explains that the United States’ relationship with the House of Saud started with Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943, who declared at the time that the defense of Saudi Arabia was vital for the defense of the United States. A deal was struck in which Saudi Arabia gave the U.S. control of its airspace and access to its oil fields. In return, the Saudi government gained control over the oil market and access to U.S. military hardware, Kiriakou explains.
Since the deal was made, Saudi Arabia has been behind the rise of radical groups such as Islamic State, Kiriakou says.