– Ras al-Khaimah, the northernmost of the UAE’s seven emirates, has banned “revealing” swimwear such as two-piece bikinis from its beaches after complaints from Muslim locals.
– A French publisher and photographer are under investigation for photos of Kate Middleton sunbathing in France last year that were published in the magazine Closer. (France has very strict privacy laws that often trump freedom of the press.)
– A British court has sentenced two men to suspended prison sentences for posting photos online purporting to show convicted child killers Jon Venables and Robert Thompson as adults, in violation of a world-wide injunction on publishing any information or photos that claim to reveal their new identities. (Like France, the U.K. also has very strict privacy laws that often trample on freedom of the press.)
– Lebanese censors have banned an award-winning Lebanese film from the country’s theaters because it was partly shot in Israel using Israeli actors. Apparently Lebanon wants to replace Iran as the world’s number one hater of Israel.
– Rumors of a relationship between a Muslim female college student and a Coptic Christian man set off anti-Christian violence in a rural Egyptian town, with Muslims surrounding and attacking a Coptic Christian church, resulting in at least five Christian deaths. Goddammit, why can’t people just fucking get along?
– In Tunisia, hundreds of Jews have gathered for an annual celebration at Africa’s oldest synagogue. Surprisingly, local Muslims seem to be not only okay with it, but actually supportive of it. As one Muslim participant explained: “We are here to send a message of peace and tolerance embracing everyone.” See, Egypt, this is how you do it.
– Two ancient statues of nude men have been pulled from a Greek art exhibit in the gulf nation of Qatar after local authorities insisted on covering the statues’ genitals to “avoid scandalising female visitors.” So someone wanted to suppress David’s doodle?
– An Israeli court has ruled that police were wrong to arrest a group of women for wearing prayer shawls at Jerusalem’s Western Wall earlier this month. (According to Orthodox Jewish tradition, although women may pray at the wall, they may not wear prayer shawls or read aloud from the Torah.) The same group of women now plans to challenge the ban on reading from the Torah.
– The Swansea area of Wales is experiencing a measles outbreak. This may have something to do with the fact that a decade ago Andrew Wakefield convinced a bunch of people there that MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccines were causing autism in children, after which vaccination rates declined and infections increased. Gee, who could’ve seen that coming?
– Have you ever heard someone say that different types of alcoholic drinks get them drunk in different ways? It turns out that they may be imagining it after all: According to science, alcohol is alcohol whether it comes from a bottle of Pinot Noir or a can of Mich Golden Light.
– Five Indonesian teen girls have been accused of blasphemy and suspended from school after posting a video online in which they alternate between saying prayers and dancing to a Maroon 5 song. The girls’ headmaster reported the video to the police, and the girls could face juvenile detention. (If they were adults they would be facing up to five years in prison under Indonesia’s strict blasphemy laws.)
– A Tacoma, Wash. judge has ordered police to return seized marijuana to a man who was arrested last year for possession but whose charges were dismissed after the state voted to legalize small amounts of recreational marijuana last fall.
– Speaking of marijuana, some Colorado lawmakers want to repeal marijuana legalization in the state.
– Australian obstetricians want to prohibit expectant couples from knowing the sex of the fetus in order to prevent sex-based abortions. (I don’t understand how anyone can be pro-choice and yet want to prohibit sex-selective abortions. If abortion is really a woman’s choice, then the reason she gives for wanting the procedure is irrelevant.)
– And finally, 5 Ridiculous Myths Everyone Believes About the Wild West.