Recent Pew report on American religiosity finds Seattle has largest atheist proportion of the major U.S. metro areas.
  • According to the study, 10% of Seattle residents identify as atheist.
  • 52% of Seattleites identify as Christian (23% evangelical, 10% mainline).
  • 22% identified as “nothing in particular.”

More on this story at the Seattle Sun Times.

News

Colombia passes new hate crime law building in tougher punishments for gender-based violence against women.
  • The bill–passed with 104-3 in favor–targets violence of a physical, psychological, or sexual nature.
  • Those convicted could now face up to 50 years in jail.
  • The bill was named for Rosa Elvira Cely, a woman whose brutal attack, rape, and murder in a Bogota park spurred mass protests in 2012.

Presidential adviser for women’s equality Martha Ordonez said that in Colombia a woman was the victim of a violent act on average every 13 minutes, and that every four days one was killed by her partner.

More on this story at BBC.

(Image Credit: Getty Images, via BBC)

News

Masaai women in Kenya find opportunity for themselves and their villages through the solar energy industry.
  • The Women and Entrepreneurship in Renewable Energy Project (WEREP) trains local women to install solar energy products.
  • Communities benefit from easier electricity access, decreases in energy costs, and environmental and livestock protection in a country that sees 68% of its population disconnected from electrical grids.
  • With the market penetration of solar energy having risen from 0 to 20% since 2006, clean energy advocates are hopeful that these women will help market and spread the products throughout their communities.

“Our community customs do not allow women to own any property…But now women here own the solar technology, and it is something we are very happy about.”

More on this story at Reuters.

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Ugandan LGBT activist remains skeptical of the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions against Uganda for its anti-homosexuality laws.
  • The U.S. imposed sanctions ranging from financial divestment to visa restrictions a year ago.
  • Celebrated activist Pepe Onziema shares that conditions on the ground have changed little: fear still permeates his daily life as the threat of violence follows him wherever he goes.
  • Activists have filed suit against Scott Lively, the American pastor widely viewed as having contributed to the creation of Uganda’s anti-gay laws.

“Le gouvernement est devenu encore plus arrogant à notre égard…Cela signifie que le but recherché par les sanctions n’a pas été atteint, surtout pour la communauté LGBT. Cela a peut-être permis un meilleur dialogue entre les gouvernements, mais pour nous sur le terrain, nous en avons subi les conséquences.”

Translation: “The government has become more arrogant with regard to us…That means that the goal sought by sanctions hasn’t been achieved, above all for the LGBT community.  That has perhaps allowed for a better dialogue between the [U.S. and Ugandan] governments, but for us on the ground, we have suffered the consequences of it.”

More on this story at RFI (in French).

(Image Credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for GLAAD/AFP, via RFI)

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Satori Interactive, a tech company founded and led by two black sisters, wins Black Enterprise‘s Family Business of the Year award.
  • The sisters, both computer science graduates, founded the company in 2004 in an industry that still struggles with diversity in both gender and race.
  • The 2013 U.S. Census Report revealed that only 25% of STEM employees in 2011 were women and only 6% African-Americans, despite the latter graduating with computer science degrees from elite universities  at twice that rate.
  • Satori Interactive provides business-to-business services focusing on user experience research and consulting.

“Our father would tell us, ‘If you’re good at what you do, people respect you and they welcome your suggestions and feedback. Nobody can take your knowledge away from you.’”

More on this story at The Root.

(Image Credit: Ashley Zimmerman, via The Root)

News

Hungarian PM dismisses multicultural society as something from which Hungary must be spared.
  • Viktor Orban denounces “mass-scale” intermingling of different faiths.
  • He has been outspoken in his opposition to the EU’s response to the Mediterranean migration crisis.

“Multiculturalism means the coexistence of Islam, Asian religions and Christianity. We will do everything to spare Hungary from that.”

More on this story at Reuters.

The first refugees arrive in Cambodia as part of Australia’s controversial program resettling asylum seekers from its offshore detention center.
  • Political opposition leaders and human rights advocates criticize the government’s harsh stance against refugees and their resettlement in an under-resourced country with a poor rights records.
  • Australia has offered Cambodia A$40 million as part of the resettlement deal.
  • Despite cash incentives, few refugees have taken up the Australian government on its offer.

More on this story at Reuters.

More than 150,000 gathered in Buenos Aires to protest femicide and other violence against women under the campaign #NiUnaMenos.
  • Celebrities, journalists, and politicians joined the massive crowd gathered outside Argentina’s Congress.
  • Readings and storytelling gave voice to the suffering of many women in a country that has seen gender-based violence on the increase over the last decade.
  • Similar demonstrations were held in neighboring Uruguay and Chile.

“Un grito colectivo que no cesó en la plaza y siguió retumbando en las calles…Un grito colectivo que se charlará en las casas y volverá a las redes sociales para que el tema no se apague hasta que el basta sea una realidad.”

Translation: “A collective cry that didn’t cease in the plaza and kept resounding in the streets…A collective cry that will be chatted about in homes and will go back to social media so that the point does not fade until ‘enough’ is a reality.”

More on this story at La Nación (in Spanish).

(Image Credit: La Nación)

Former Quebec premier and separatist leader Jacques Parizeau dies at 84.
  • As premier, he organized the second referendum on Quebec’s secession from Canada, which was narrowly defeated in 1995.
  • His speech condemning ethnic voters as having contributed to the defeat outraged many, and he resigned the following day.
  • In addition to his separatist campaign, his legacy includes his commitment to pay equity and contributions to the nationalization of Quebec’s hydroelectric system.

More on this story at The New York Times.

(Image Credit: Reuters, via The New York Times)

U.S. extends temporary protected status of Somalis in the country.
  • The status is in effect from September 18 through March 17, 2017.
  • With the Somali Civil War still ongoing, some Somalis seek asylum in the U.S. through illegal border-crossing from Mexico to the U.S.

More on this story at Shabelle News.

East Melbourne clinic takes case against the Melbourne City Council to Victoria’s supreme court, alleging failure to exercise jurisdiction over anti-abortion protesters harassing its patients.
  • The fertility clinic claims protesters attempted to impede women’s access to the clinic, which provides other health services like pap smears and fertility testing.
  • Legal questions hinge on the definition of “nuisance” and whether the Council exercised its power to ensure the protection of women seeking the clinic’s services from it.
  • The ruling could have broad impact on council’s interpretation of the state’s Public Health and Wellbeing Act, which could expand councils’ response to protesters statewide.

“Women attending the clinic had the right to access healthcare without harassment, fear or intimidation.”

More on this story at The Guardian.

Ethiopian Israelis continue anti-racism demonstrations in Tel Aviv.
  • The protests continue a month after the incendiary event involving two Israeli police officers assaulting an Ethiopian IDF soldier.
  • Wednesday’s rally involved roughly 200 protesters and a heavy police presence, with two arrests but no violence despite police warnings.

More on this story at Al Jazeera.

(Image Credit: AFP, via Al Jazeera)

Brazil accepts nearly 2,000 Syrian refugees, the second most in the Americas.
  • Brazil adopted measures to ease refugee entry nearly two years ago, according to its National Committee for Refugees.
  • Families find their livelihoods wiped away upon arrival, though NGOs and beneficence organizations help ease the transition through informal markets and language and professional courses.

“It was very difficult to leave our country, mostly because of our tradition…We chose Brazil because we heard that there is no prejudice here. It is a wonderful land that has received us very well.”

More on this Associated Press story at ABC News.

Guardian investigation finds nearly two-thirds of unarmed individuals killed by police or in police custody in 2015 have been minorities.
  • The Counted, The Guardian‘s new interactive database tracking police killings in the U.S., reports that almost 1 in 3 black people killed by police were unarmed, while 1 in 4 Hispanics/Latinos were.
  • The database details a state-by-state breakdown of total and per-capita, gender, race/ethnicity, armed status, and by-cause fatality numbers, as well as a searchable list of those killed.
  • Advocates for police reform laud the investigation as a step towards awareness-building and accountability.

“The public need to know what is happening and be made more informed. With them being more informed they would be able to react differently, in a positive way, to make changes, to make sure some of these things don’t happen again.”

More on this story at The Guardian.

(Image Credit: Guardian Design, via The Guardian)

Tony Blair, former U.K. PM, appointed head of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation.
  • Within the Council’s mission to combat antisemitism, xenophobia, and racism across Europe, Blair hopes in particular to counter the increase in anti-Semitic sentiment.
  • Blair notes that such sentiment tends to increase during times of economic slowdown, as was the case in the periods preceding both World Wars.
  • Blair hopes to push for strong counterextremist measures, including more aggressive responses to hate speech and expanded educational programs to promote tolerance.

“It is our firm belief that it is not religion or faith per se that causes or foments conflict. It is the abuse of religion, which then becomes a mask behind which those bent on death and destruction all too often hide. The real issues are far more complex and demand greater tolerance, understanding and legislative powers to achieve a solution.”

More on this story at The Guardian.

(Image Credit: Chris Jackson/PA, via The Guardian)