Profiling Hassidic punk rockers, Yiddish street performers, African-American Jewish activists and more, Punk Jews explores an emerging movement of provocateurs and committed Jews who are asking, each in his or her own way, what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century.
3 Oct 2015
The British Earth and Aerial Mysteries Society (BEAMS) has released a bizarre 109-page report, following a "special investigation" into the former MoD Defence Evaluation and Research Agency site now run by specialist defence, security and aerospace developer Qinetiq. BEAMS claims Farnborough has had high UFO sighting and alien abduction activity for years and thinks this might be connected to the alleged secret base.
The group is convinced there is as much underground as above and what goes on there involves aliens, UFOs, intergalactic defence and futuristic flight development. Their bizarre theory is based upon cryptic alien symbols they have "discovered" within the site, alleged intelligence service whistleblower testimonies, and the responses from psychic researchers, the report claims. The BEAMS website says it was set up in 1991 as as a non profit-making studies group into the paranormal.
30 Sep 2015
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors and high profile supporters help define the difference between the terms "refugee" and "migrant". These words are being splashed across media headlines because of the ongoing European Refugee Crisis. The film features actors Cate Blanchett, Colin Firth, David Morrissey, Douglas Booth, Kristin Davis, John Abraham and Patrick Stewart, singers Barbara Hendricks and Rokia Traore, writer Neil Gaiman, model Helena Christensen and comedian/tv host Craig Ferguson.
29 Sep 2015
DARPA responded to a request from Fusion that “brain-neural interfaces” have not yet been implanted in soldiers, though test devices have been implanted in the brains of volunteers already undergoing brain surgery. We’ve changed the headline to reflect that implantation of chips in soldiers’ brains has not happened yet.
For decades, DARPA, the secretive research arm of the Department of Defense, has dreamed of turning soldiers into cyborgs. And now it’s finally happening. The agency has funded projects that involve implanting chips into soldiers’ brains that could one day enhance performance on the battlefield and repair traumatized brains once the fog of war has lifted.
“Of the 2.5 million Americans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 300,000 of them came home with traumatic brain injury,” journalist Annie Jacobsen told NPR. “DARPA initiated a series of programs to help cognitive functioning, to repair some of this damage. And those programs center around putting brain chips inside the tissue of the brain.”
28 Sep 2015
Visitors to a London exhibition celebrating freedom of expression this week found plenty of familiar taboo-busting work, from Jamie McCartney’s The Great Wall of Vagina, a nine-metre long cast featuring the genitals of 400 women, to Kubra Khademi’s video of an eight-minute walk she made through Kabul in Afganistan, dressed in lushly contoured body armour. But they will have looked in vain for one work detailed in the catalogue by an artist known only as Mimsy.
Isis Threaten Sylvania is a series of seven satirical light box tableaux featuring the children’s toys Sylvanian Families. It was removed from the Passion for Freedom exhibition at the Mall galleries after police raised concerns about the “potentially inflammatory content” of the work, informing the organisers that, if they went ahead with their plans to display it, they would have to pay £36,000 for security for the six-day show.
In Isis Threaten Sylvania, rabbits, mice and hedgehogs go about their daily life, sunning themselves on a beach, drinking at a beer festival or simply watching television, while the menacing figures of armed jihadis lurk in the background. “Far away, in the land of Sylvania, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, mice and all woodland animals have overcome their differences to live in harmonious peace and tranquility. Until Now,” reads the catalogue note. “MICE-IS, a fundamentalist Islamic terror group, are threatening to dominate Sylvania, and annihilate every species that does not submit to their hardline version of sharia law.”
Shadi Petosky, a American transgender woman, took to social media earlier this week to divulge the horrifying details of harassment she faced by TSA agents at the Orlando airport. But this deeply upsetting narrative is not unique to Petosky, according to Jen Richards, a transgender woman who spoke with HuffPost Live on Thursday.
Richards, a writer and activist who is also friends with Petosky, told host Josh Zepps that she felt "empathetic horror" for her friend and described her own similarly "mortifying" experience at the Chicago Midway Airport in 2013. She said she was repeatedly asked to go through the body screener by an "apologetic" TSA agent who pointed out an "anomaly" over her genitals. Richards tried to explain the situation but said she was eventually detained in an entirely different part of the airport for a full body search.
27 Sep 2015
Billie JD Porter reveals what it's really like to grow up in China, where respect for state and elders is being drilled into the next generation. If you don't fit in, you are often seen as a failure. She visits a special bootcamp where kids are sent to be 'fixed' by their parents, and she discovers that many there are gaming addicts. As she explores China's glamorous gaming world, she asks what China's obsession with gaming really says about pressure and individual freedom in the world's most populated nation.
On Sunday, millions of people around the world will enjoy the sight of a “blood moon”, as a lunar eclipse combined with a “supermoon” combines to make our natural satellite appear red in colour. Sales are emergency-preparedness retailers ahead of a combination of a lunar eclipse and a supermoon, but church says not to get carried away. Observers might not enjoy themselves quite so much, however, if certain prophecies turn out to be true and the phenomenon heralds the beginning of the apocalypse.
Sunday will be the fourth appearance of a blood moon over the last two years, in what is known as a tetrad series. The last time was in 1982; the next will be in 2033. If some religious leaders are to be believed, none of us will live to enjoy that next blood moon. Most such leaders are of groups on the fringes of organised belief, although this week leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints felt moved to reassure those among its followers who are worried.
Irvin Baxter runs Endtime Ministries in Plano, Texas. He posts regular YouTube videos speculating over whether this series of blood moons could signal the end of the world. “Some prophecy teachers are declaring boldly that this tetrad just ahead signals that something is getting ready to happen, which will change the world forever,” Baxter said on his website.
25 Sep 2015
It’s difficult to know where to begin on this one. Conspiracy theorist, radio host and talking throat-polyp Alex Jones recorded a video in which he dressed up like a psychotic clown — complete with bloody gloves, a lab coat and a rubber clown mask that made his already shredded voice sound even less understandable.
Apparently, he was reacting to Salon‘s recent publishing of an article written by a Tennessee-based writer named Todd Nickerson, who confessed to being a pedophile. Nickerson’s article describes how he’s never acted upon his sexual attraction to children and how his pedophilia was likely a consequence of being molested in his front yard when he was 7-years-old.
Full disclosure: I’m also a contributor to Salon, but regardless, I can’t criticize Salon‘s decision to run the article. While I think Nickerson and others like him are vile and unforgivable, he has every right to express his opinion, and I seriously doubt many, if any, readers were stirred to sympathize with someone who very well could act upon his urges, making him even worse. The horrendousness of pedophilia is obvious, so I won’t even bother ranting about it. Would I have run the article? I doubt it. But best case, if it offers enough insight into the mind of a pedophile that allows us to better identify and prevent child molestation, then publishing it was absolutely the right thing to do. Critics of Salon need to explain how this is a bad thing.
There are millions of people who listen to Jones and hang onto his every word. His business model is to exploit, for notoriety and treasure, the paranoia of his audience. And this might be the craziest example of that model so far.
24 Sep 2015
On the site of former Nazi concentration camp Dachau, outbuildings that used to belong to the complex's herb garden are now being used to house refugees. Once a place of fear and death, children can now be seen playing on the site where inmates were forced to spend hours toiling in the cold and rain to cultivate plants intended for use in medicine.
"The buildings belonged to the former plantation, to the herb garden, which was one of the worst labour detachments of Dachau concentration camp, where especially Jewish and religious prisoners were working in order to make the soil arable and to plant medicinal herbs. It was one of the worst labour detachments because the work was mostly outside, and the death rate was immense. And as such it was a place of death and terror," head of Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site Gabriele Hammermann said.
The garden complex does not belong to the official memorial site, but is being used by the city authorities to house the homeless and asylum seekers whose applications have been recognised, giving them a home to start their new lives in Germany.
What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery?
Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand spent three years collecting real-life stories from 2,000 women and men in 60 countries. Working with a dedicated team of translators, journalists and cameramen, Yann captures deeply personal and emotional accounts of topics that unite us all; struggles with poverty, war, homophobia, and the future of our planet mixed with moments of love and happiness.
21 Sep 2015
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr's name is well-known in eastern Saudi Arabia, the hotbed of the country's Shia minority and the scene of a burgeoning protest movement. Ali, 21, is the nephew of Shia cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, who was jailed and sentenced to death for his fiery speeches against Saudi Arabia's ruling House of Saud dynasty, which has controlled the Arabian Peninsula since the 1930s. Sheikh al-Nimr was detained and then sentenced to death on terrorism charges as well as "waging war on God" for his speech during anti-government protests in Qatif, a city that saw massive street protests followed by a bloody crackdown by the Saudi authorities in the wake of the Arab Spring.
Most of the 2.7 million Shia in Saudi Arabia live in al-Ahsa and al-Qatif districts in the country's eastern province, which also contains the bulk of the kingdom's oil. Ruled by a Sunni monarchy and under a strict interpretation of Islam, Wahabbism, Shia are often portrayed as heretics or agents of Riyadh's major rival, Iran. Ali Mohammed al-Nimr faces death by beheading and crucifixion for alleged participation in anti-government protests Facebook
It was revealed this week that Ali's appeal against the death penalty has been denied and he will be put to death by the Saudi authorities, first beheaded and then his body strapped to a cross and left to rot.
Ali was arrested in 2012 when he was 17 years old for taking part in a protest. According to anti-death penalty charity Reprieve, Ali was tortured and forced to sign a confession in 2012 and after two years he was sentenced to death in May 2014. During his "trial", Ali raised the claims of torture but no investigation took place and the court used the confession to sentence him, the charity claims. He was convicted under a range of charges, from the most seemingly innocuous to the gravely serious. As well as being accused of being part of a terrorist organisation, carrying weapons and targeting security patrols with Molotov cocktails, Ali was also charged with encouraging others to protest using his BlackBerry and explaining to others how to give first aid, Reprieve claimed in a statement on 17 September.