Saudi Prince’s Dangerous Policies

Grind for September 8th, 2018
“Zeal will do more than knowledge.” – William Hazlitt

Feeling Buzzed

The Headline

Scientists in Africa to release genetically engineered mosquitoes

The Grind

In a dramatic effort to combat malaria, scientists in Burkina Faso are preparing to release genetically engineered mosquitoes into the wild.

The first swarm, made up entirely of sterile males, will be released later this month.

If locals don’t complain about the modified bugs, researchers plan to release a swarm of “gene drive” mosquitoes engineered to thin the overall population. It will be the first time mankind has ever released a gene drive-modified animal into the wild.

The Details

Releasing the second swarm is risky because scientists can’t be sure the modified bugs won’t produce unforeseen consequences (think Jurassic Park).

And there’s no way to bring the mosquitoes back once they are released.

Either way, the risk seems well worth taking if there is a chance the modified bugs could decrease the prevalence of malaria – which in 2016 was responsible for 445,000 deaths. Most of the victims were children in Africa.

No Joke

The Headline

Saudi Prince bans online humor

The Grind

Make fun of the Saudi government on your Facebook page and you could end up in prison for up to five years.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s government announced Tuesday a new law which criminalizes the production of any online content that “disrupts public order.”

Such content, which includes pornography, material related to drugs and human trafficking, humor directed at the royal family, and any commentary found to “infringe on religious boundaries, social morals, and ethics” is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $180,000.

The Details

The new cyber law is the latest in a series of moves by Prince Salman to silence dissent within the kingdom.

Since his appointment last summer, Salman has been criticized for targeting intellectuals, human rights activists, and clerics for speaking out against the government.

He conducted a shocking corruption purge last November during which he detained ministers, prominent businessmen, and members of the royal family until they reached financial deals with the government.

Saudi officials also announced they would be seeking the death penalty for Sheikh Salman al-Awdah – an Islamist cleric arrested in September 2017 after he refused to publicly support Saudi policies.

The announcement is a “disturbing trend in the Kingdom [that] sends a horrifying message that peaceful dissent and expression may be met with the death penalty,” argues Amnesty International spokeswoman Dana Ahmed.

The UN has described Awdah as a “reformist” who has pushed for greater respect for human rights under Sharia Law.

Did you know… Porn is illegal in Ukraine unless it’s prescribed for medical use.