3 Jul 2015
The Church of Scientology, which the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard founded in 1952, has experienced more than its share of criticism along the way. But criticism has escalated in recent years, from Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear (aired on HBO earlier this year, watch here) to books by ex-members such as Jenna Miscavige Hill’s Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape in 2013 and Blown for Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology in 2009. All of these works paint a disturbing picture of the organization, which has been accused of everything from forced child labour to coercive mind control to breaking up families.
Screenwriter/director Paul Haggis, who is known for his work in Million Dollar Baby, Crash and other Hollywood films, spent more than half his life in the Church of Scientology. But in 2009, Haggis (who is now 62), left the cult after 35 years because of its homophobic ways. That year, the cult’s San Diego branch came out in support of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage in California. Haggis, who has two lesbian daughters, refused to keep quiet. In an open letter to Scientologist official Tommy Davis explaining his reasons for leaving, Haggis asserted that he could not be a part of a group that would “support a bill that strips a group of its civil rights.” Haggis was also quite critical of “disconnection,” a practice in which Scientologists are encouraged to discontinue all contact with relatives and friends who are deemed hostile to the cult.
Up to 300,000 Spanish babies were stolen from their parents and sold for adoption over a period of five decades, a new investigation reveals. The children were trafficked by a secret network of doctors, nurses, priests and nuns in a widespread practice that began during General Franco’s dictatorship and continued until the early Nineties.
Hundreds of families who had babies taken from Spanish hospitals are now battling for an official government investigation into the scandal.
Several mothers say they were told their first-born children had died during or soon after they gave birth. But the women, often young and unmarried, were told they could not see the body of the infant or attend their burial.
In reality, the babies were sold to childless couples whose devout beliefs and financial security meant that they were seen as more appropriate parents. Official documents were forged so the adoptive parents’ names were on the infants’ birth certificates.
2 Jul 2015
The conflict in Syria is pushing an ever increasing number of children into exploitation in the labour market, a new report revealed.
Children in the country were now contributing to the family income in more than three quarters of surveyed households, according the report released by Save the Children and UNICEF. Thursday's report (PDF) also showed that close to half of all Syrian refugee children in neighbouring Jordan were now the joint or sole family breadwinners in surveyed households.
In Lebanon, children as young as six years old are reportedly working, the report said. "As families become increasingly desperate, children are working primarily for their survival. Whether in Syria or neighbouring countries, they are becoming main economic players," Roger Hearn, regional Director for Save the Children in the Middle East and Eurasia, said.
1 Jul 2015
Some of the most curious costumes worn along the parade route belonged to protesters. Behind a barricade, a group of men wore the fringed Jewish prayer garment known as the tzitzit and held up anti-gay signs bearing the logo of a group calling itself the Jewish Political Action Committee. “Judaism prohibits homosexuality,” one sign read.
But the men were not Jewish. They were Mexican laborers, protesting because they were paid to protest, said one of the men, who would not give his name. Heshie Freed, a member of the political action committee, an Orthodox Jewish group based in Brooklyn, said that the men were supplementary troops, filling in for the Jewish students who would normally be called upon to demonstrate.
“The rabbis said that the yeshiva boys shouldn’t come out for this because of what they would see at the parade,” Mr. Freed said.
30 Jun 2015
29 Jun 2015
Pope Francis has requested to chew coca leaves during his forthcoming visit to Bolivia, according to Bolivian Culture Minister Marko Machicao.
Coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine, has been used in the Andes for thousands of years to combat altitude sickness and as a mild stimulant. Mr Machicao said the government offered the Pope coca tea and the pontiff had "specifically requested" to chew coca. Coca leaves were declared an illegal substance under the 1961 UN convention on narcotic drugs. But the growing of coca leaves for religious and medicinal purposes is legal and licensed in Bolivia.
The Vatican has not yet commented. The Pope travels to Bolivia on 8 July.
28 Jun 2015
It’s with the heaviest of hearts and unbearable sadness that we must inform you of the passing of our dear friend and Yes co-founder, Chris Squire. Chris peacefully passed away last night in Phoenix Arizona.
"The Fish" was Chris Squire's nickname. He earned it primarily due to his very long baths he would take, back when several members lived in the same flat and had to share the bathroom.
For the entirety of Yes’ existence, Chris was the band’s linchpin and, in so many ways, the glue that held it together over all these years. Because of his phenomenal bass-playing prowess, Chris influenced countless bassists around the world, including many of today’s well-known artists. Chris was also a fantastic songwriter, having written and co-written much of Yes’ most endearing music, as well as his solo album, Fish Out of Water.
A man trolling the violently homophobic Islamic State at a London gay pride event got extra troll points Saturday for duping CNN.
CNN reporter Lucy Pawle was at the event when she stumbled upon that man, who to her bewilderment, everyone seemed to be ignoring. Turns out his fake “ISIS flag” was made up of images of dildos, Mediaite discovered.
Pawle tells CNN anchors that she was leaving work when she happened upon the annual London Gay Pride festival. She was shocked to see a man dressed in black and white carrying what she called “a very bad mimicry” but a “very clear attempt to mimic the ISIS flag.”
26 Jun 2015
Gunmen killed at least 37 people at a beachfront Tunisian hotel on Friday, the same day terrorists lashed out brutally in France and bombed a mosque in Kuwait.
Tunisia's health ministry reported those deaths as well as 36 injuries in and around the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba in the coastal Tunisian city of Sousse, according to the state-run TAP news agency. There were three attackers -- one of whom was killed, one arrested and one escaped -- Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui told reporters.
Tunisia's nightmare came on the same day as at least two deadly terrorist attack in other countries.
One person was beheaded and two injured at a gas factory near Lyon in south-eastern France, according to French President Francois Hollande. And ISIS has claimed responsibility for an apparent bomb blast at the Shiite-affiliated Al-Sadiq mosque in Kuwait's capital during Friday prayers, leaving at least 25 dead and more than 200 injured.
25 Jun 2015
“Jurassic World” was an instant box office hit when it opened in theaters two weeks ago. But now, moviegoers are noticing details that aren’t sitting well with some people. The uproar started when moviegoers began complaining about one of the dinosaur species in the movie called Pakisaurus.