Nigeria Sentences Woman to Death for Having Sex

A woman, Safiya Hussaini, was recently sentenced to death in the Nigerian state of Sokoto — which is one of a growing number of Nigerian states to adopt an Islamic law code. Here crime? She had premarital sex. Not surprisingly, Hussaini alleged sexual partner was acquitted by the same court.

Last year, a teenaged girl in Nigeria was sentenced to 180 lashes for having sex. The sentence was later reduced to a “mere” 100 lashes which were administered in January 2001.

Hussaini appealed her conviction, and it has been temporarily stayed. She claims that the man who was acquitted of having sex with her in fact repeatedly. Under the strict Islamic law in place in Sokoto, since Hussaini was the only witness to the alleged crime, her testimony was essentially meaningless.


Woman’s stoning delayed by Sharia Court. European Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, December 4, 2001.

Arafat’s Time Is Up

I think Steven Den Beste is right when he says that Yasser Arafat is now in a no win situation and Arafat will be lucky if he survives to see 2003. And the main reason I think Arafat is doomed is that the Israelis no longer find him useful (in fact, pushing the Palestinians to a point where they kill Arafat may be the best outcome Israel can hope for at the moment).

There have always been hardliners in Israel who wanted to kill Arafat outright, but at least in recent years the government has ruled out attempts on Arafat’s life, largely on the grounds that a) the alternatives to Arafat are even worse and b) killing Arafat would likely result in a total war between Israel and the Palestinians, possibly involving other Middle Eastern countries.

Neither of those conditions hold anymore. Arafat may be on the moderate end of the Palestinian political spectrum, but he no longer can keep the extremists in line. The Israelis now have a situation where Hamas or some other group carries out a suicide bombing and commentators around the world rush to say that Arafat’s not responsible because he can’t possibly control every terrorist within the Palestinian Authority. Exactly.

Second, if Israel is not already in a state of total war, it is increasingly obvious that it will be in such a state very soon. Every time a suicide bomb goes off in an Israeli mall, there’s one more bit of evidence that the Oslo accords were a horrible mistake. Using means both covert and overt, I suspect that the Israelis are going to begin the process of undoing that agreement.

How — by backing Arafat into a corner where he cannot survive. As Den Beste notes, if Arafat gives in to Israeli and American demands and actually starts an earnest crackdown on Palestinian terrorism, his days are numbered. On the other hand, if he doesn’t, he provides cover for continued Israeli incursions into territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority, which also helps hasten his end.

So what’s the best way out for Israel? Palestinian hardliners finally get angered enough at Arafat and successfully assassinate him. After a couple of additional terrorist attacks, Israel declares it has had enough and sends in its military to renew the occupation and deal with the terrorists in its own way. Sure it will receive international condemnation, but it will be much more blunted with the Palestinian Authority devolving into chaos.

The only real obstacle to this scenario would be U.S. objections. At some point, however, the Israelis might just realize that American politicians are more than ready to urge Israel to “restrain” itself right into non-existence as a viable political entity (in fact, you have to think that many Israeli politicians likely think their single biggest mistake was ever becoming so excessively dependent on U.S. aid, which constrains their range of action. Sure Egypt is constrained in much the same way, but it doesn’t face the same sort of problems that Israel does).

Don’t Be Underwhelmed by Ginger

A lot of people are apparently underwhelmed by confirmation that Dean Kamen’s “Ginger” (now named Segway) turns out to be a glorified scooter. Steven Den Beste has a comparison between Kamen’s invention and already available mopeds (which, as he notes, are the real competitors to Segway). It’s hard to imagine much of a serious consumer market for Kamen’s invention.

On the other hand, this is the beauty of capitalism — let private entrepreneuers put up their own money and take on the risks (and potential rewards) for harebrained schemes. Who knows — Segway mania might sweep the country.

I doubt it, but I’m still excited by the product because if details about it are accurate, even if this particular product doesn’t succeed, there’s a lot of fascinating engineering here that will likely find its way into other inventions. My prediction is that Segway consumer sales go nowhere and the company turns to using its patents to assist other companies in implementing their technology (one thing that immediately comes to mind is putting some padding on these suckers, and creating a combination laser tag/bumper cars attraction).

Barry Horne's Final Act on the Public Stage

Apparently Barry Horne wanted his funeral to be just another platform for the animal rights movement, and it was — though the message bystanders took away from the proceedings may have differed somewhat from what Horne intended.

Wearing his favorite football shirt (a sport that revolves around leather ball the last time I checked), about 300 animal rights activists gathered to see Horne buried in a Northampton cemetary. His body was carried in a cardboard coffin and the ceremonies conducted by a pagan priestess.

Although numerous animal rights activists, including other convicted terrorists, were in attendance, neither Horne’s ex-wife nor his son made an appearance. After the pagan ceremony, the funeral featured several speakers denouncing the British government’s stands on animal research and a call for others to continue the work that Horne started.

The highlight had to be animal rights activist Keith Mann who urged other activists not to be afraid. “We are going to lose more people They are going to kill us. The fight starts now.” This from a man who spent 7 years in jail for firebombing a farm. Who exactly is trying to kill who?

In case anybody missed that point, animal rights activist John Curtis said that, “Animal rights is a war. We are at war for the animals. We need to make sacrifices for the animals, too.”

Quite correct, and medical researchers, farmers and others are trying to defend themselves in this war from an animal rights movement that idolizes arsonists like Horne and Mann out of a twisted conception of compassion.


Animal rights activist buried. John Vidal, The Guardian (London), November 17, 2001.

Animal rights activist saluted as a martyr. Oliver Wright, The Times (London), November 17, 2001.

Does Jean Barnes Even Read Her Press Releases?

In October 2001, Jean Barnes of In Defense of Animals released a couple of press releases related to the Yerkes Primate Center at Emory University that were as bizarre as they were absurd.

On October 5, Barnes sent out a press release screaming “Busted: Homophobe at Yerkes . . .” Barnes accused Yerkes researcher Kim Wallen of “see[ing] tran-sexuals and homosexuals as ill” and added that “Fred Phelps would be pleased.” What is the source of such remarks? Barnes has conducted research into gender assignment in primates, rats, and other species, including research into the role that exposure to testosterone and testosterone antagonists plays in the socialization and development of non-human primates. According to Barnes, then, merely studying gender assignment is homophobic.

On October 11, Barnes sent out an other press release blaring that “Coca-Cola Wants Distance from Emory University’s Failed Animal Experiments,” in which she claimed that “The Coca-Cola Company is apparently attempting to distance itself form the demonstrated cruel and useless experiments currently being conducted at Emory University and Emory’s Yerkes Primate Center.”

Barnes’ argument in this case was hilarious. Apparently Barnes and others sent inquiries to The Coca-Cola Company asking them to stop supporting the Yerkes Primate Center. Coca-Coal sent back a form reply saying,

Thank you for contacting the Coca-Cola Company.

You had express your concerns regarding the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center. We have researched our donations and do not have any records of making any direct contribution to their research efforts.

Barnes still can’t get her through her head that there is a difference between setting up a $5 billion endowment for Emory University — which Coca-Cola has done — and giving money directly to the Yerkes Primate Facility. Barnes might pick an Emory University student at random — say John Doe — and then write a letter to Coca-Cola demanding to know why they are financially supporting John Doe’s education!


Coca-Cola Wants Distance from Emory University’s Failed Animal Experiments. Jean Barnes, Press Release, In Defense of Animals, October 11, 2001.

Busted: Homophobe at Yerkes . . . Jean Barnes, Press Release, In Defense of Animals, October 5, 2001.

Paying Crack Addicts Not to Have Children

Is it ethical for private citizens to pay drug-addicted men and women not to have children? That’s the issue raised by Barbara Harris, whose group pays women $200 if they agree to either be sterilized or use a form of long-term birth control such as Depo Provera. Since Harris started Children Requiring A Caring Kommunity (CRACK), the organization’s Project Prevention has found 560 addicts willing to accept her deal.

Harris will speak at the 28th annual conference of the Association for Behavior Analysis in Ontario, Toronto, in May 2002, and her scheduled talk isn’t going over well with folks who consider what she does analogous to eugenics efforts (according to The National Post, parts of Canada were covered by a law granting the state the right to sterilize some people until 1972).

Harris defended her tactics to the National Post saying, “There’s really no reason a drug addict or an alcoholic should get pregnant. And if we can prevent that from happening by offering them $200, then it’s the best $200 that could be spent.”

Critics, however, raise two major objections — that the practice is racially biased and that addicts cannot consent to sterilization.

The Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy’s Eugene Oscapella told the Post, “If she’s going after crack addicted babies, then she’s going after minorities, plain and simple.” In fact, though, so far the group has had 267 white clients take the $200 compared to 190 black clients.

The claim that drug addicts can’t consent to this is a bit odd. Dr. Peter SElby tells the Post that, “The real issue for people with a medical disability was whether they could appreciate what they were consenting to. It’s the same here, because the drug addiction entices them [crack addicts] to get it done.”

But if a person is so addicted to drugs that he or she cannot consent to long term birth control or sterilization, how can such a person possibly consent to potentially becoming a parent? The consent issue seems to raise a lot more problems than it solves (if a drug addict cannot consent to Depo Provera for money, could the same addict consent to drug treatment for money?)

Michel Perron adds a note of caution, noting that targeting crack addicts may be necessary since the jury is still out on the effect of crack addiction on fetal development. That is certainly true, but even if crack proves not to be all that harmful to the fetus, a crack addict is unlikely to prove to be an ideal parent. As Professor Arthur Schafer of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba told the Post, “I think it’s legitimate to say to drug addicts, if you have babies they are going to pay a terrible price when they’re born and when they grow up and have you as a parent.”


Advocate of sterilizing addicts coming to Toronto. Odile Nelson, National Post, November 15, 2001.