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Atheist Richard Dawkins hammered for accusing Ahmed Mohamed of wanting to be arrested

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The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins found himself at the centre of controversy on Sunday when he questioned the motives of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old boy who was arrested and detained in Texas when a teacher thought a clock he had made was a bomb.

Related: Ahmed Mohamed is tired, excited to meet Obama – and wants his clock back

Dawkins did not dispute that Mohamed should not have been arrested, but questioned whether the boy had truly “invented” the clock, as has been reported. He tweeted : “If this is true, what was his motive? Whether or not he wanted the police to arrest him, they shouldn’t have done so[.]”

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Mohamed, whose parents are from Sudan, was arrested, handcuffed and questioned by five police officers at MacArthur high school in Irvine on Monday. He was then suspended for three days.

He told MSNBC he was not allowed to call his parents and was accused of carrying a hoax bomb. He said: “I felt like I was a criminal, I felt like I was a terrorist. I felt like all the names I was called.”

He added: “In middle school I was called a terrorist, called a bomb maker, just because of my race.”

In a controversy that largely played itself out on Twitter, Mohamed then received overtures from Silicon Valley tech companies , support from Hillary Clinton and an invitation to the White House from President Obama.

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On Friday, Mohamed spoke to the Guardian. Such national attention was “worth it, once you realize what you’re fighting for”, he said, adding that that fight was “not just for Muslims … but for anybody who has been through this”.

Dawkins, the author of books including the groundbreaking The Selfish Gene, the bestselling The God Delusion and the memoir A Sense of Wonder, is a leading critic of religious belief and an advocate of “rational thought”.

On Sunday, the emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford said he was simply looking for the truth of the Texas schoolboy’s story.

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In a tweet, the scientist linked to a YouTube video entitled Ahmed Mohammed [sic] Clock is a FRAUD”, in which user Thomas Talbot alleges Mohamed’s clock “is in fact not an invention. The ‘clock’ is a commercial bedside alarm clock removed from its casing”.

In his tweet , Dawkins said: “If this is true, what was his motive? Whether or not he wanted the police to arrest him, they shouldn’t have done so.” His next tweet said of the video: “This man seems to know what he’s talking about.”

Subsequent tweets, issued against a growing storm of online protest, said: “Assembling clock from bought components is fine. Taking clock out of its case to make it look as if he built it is not fine. Which is true?

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“Yes, there are other reasons why a boy might take a clock out of its casing & pretend he’d made it. Trying to impress teachers, for instance[.]”

Linking to an artvoice.com blogpost entitled Reverse Engineering Ahmed Mohamed’s clock… and Ourselves, Dawkins tweeted : “If the reassembled components did something more than the original clock, that’s creative. If not, it looks like hoax.”

Dawkins eventually retreated. He devoted tweets to questioning police motives and tweeted a reference to the new leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party: “Sorry if I go a bit over the top in my passion for truth. Not just over a boy’s alleged ‘invention’ but also media lies about J[eremy] Corbyn.”

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In an answer to a Twitter user who wrote : “I think you too frequently confuse ‘truth’ with ‘obsessive and unnecessary dedication to accuracy’”, Dawkins wrote : “That could well be true, in which case I apologise. I guess I’m a bit sensitive about being among the many fooled.

He subsequently retweeted President Obama’s White House invitation.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015


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2020 Election

Cory Booker planning to suspend his campaign if his fundraising does not improve: report

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On Saturday, NBC News reported that Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has released a campaign memo indicating he will exit the Democratic presidential primary if he is unable to raise millions of dollars within days.

"Without a fundraising surge to close out this quarter, we do not see a legitimate long-term path forward," wrote campaign manager Addisu Demissie in the memo to staff ersand supporters. "The next 10 days will determine whether Cory Booker can stay in this race."

The memo added that it is likely that only four candidates presently have enough money to stay in the race for the long haul. These candidates are likely former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who report the largest fundraising hauls.

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Trump snarls at press for pursuing Ukraine phone call complaint instead of reporting on debunked Biden story

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Donald Trump lashed out at the media for pursuing the story of a suppressed inspector general's report that he may have made an illegal promise to the president of Ukraine, saying they should be investigating former Vice President Joe Biden instead.

Taking to Twitter, the president wrote: "The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, want to stay as far away as possible from the Joe Biden demand that the Ukrainian Government fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son, or they won’t get a very large amount of U.S. money, so they fabricate a..... story about me and a perfectly fine and routine conversation I had with the new President of the Ukraine. Nothing was said that was in any way wrong, but Biden’s demand, on the other hand, was a complete and total disaster. The Fake News knows this but doesn’t want to report!"

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The new Rambo movie is essentially a MAGA fever dream of bigotry

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"Rambo: Last Blood," the latest in the long-running franchise about a traumatized war veteran (Sylvester Stallone) turned on-demand badass, is less an escapist action movie and more a dramatized manifestation of the most notorious sentences from Donald Trump's presidential campaign announcement speech: "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." Even for a series that has always been shaped by a right wing worldview, the only reason for this latest sequel to exist — besides generating profits from die-hard Stallone fans — is to validate MAGA-world bigotries about Mexicans.This article first appeared in Salon.

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