1. DANA SUMMERS Copyright 2014 Tribune Media Services

      The week’s best editorial cartoons


    • Let me be clear: I’m all in favor of treating animals decently, with special sensitivity to their pain and suffering. By all means, let’s pass stricter regulation of factory farming and laboratory experimentation.

      But the basis of these reforms should not be any quality we presume the animals themselves possess. It should grow out of an expansion of the sphere of human concern and sympathy, along the lines of the old aristocratic ideal of noblesse oblige — the notion that one’s superiority obliges one to act nobly toward commoners. In other words, we should treat animals decently not because they’re just like human beings, but rather because they’re not.

      — Damon Linker, in No, Animals don’t have rights

    • Yesterday, Google Maps released a crowdsourced view of North Korea, which before was just white space.

      The big grey blob you see here? That’s Hwasong Gulag, a 212-square mile concentration camp. It houses 10,000 people, and reportedly, no one has ever escaped. 


    • Wrenching new photos from Iran appear to show a thief having four of his fingers severed by a “finger-chopping machine.” The court-ordered public amputation reportedly took place on Jan. 24 in  the southern Iranian city of Shiraz after the 29-year-old man was convicted of burglary and adultery. In the photos, the prisoner is blindfolded and surrounded by three masked officials who hold his hand under the device. His face shows no pain, indicating that perhaps he was drugged before the procedure. 

      Iran’s brutal new ‘finger-chopping machine’ 

      Photo: AP Photo/Mohsen Tavarro


    • At least a dozen young Iraqis have been stoned to death in recent weeks in an apparent campaign by Shiite Muslim religious extremists to punish youths sporting Western-style “emo” clothes and haircuts. Though the government is not directly implicated, the violence began after the Interior Ministry issued a statement branding the country’s growing “emo” subculture as subversive, and vowing to eliminate it.

      • Who exactly is being targeted?
        Human rights activists say the victims — including those killed, and others merely beaten as a warning — are young gay men, or teenagers who dress in the “emo” style. Emo — short for “emotional hardcore” — is a genre of music and an aesthetic that originated in the U.S. punk scene of the 1980s. In fashion terms, it typically translates to tight T-shirts, skinny jeans, and long side-swept black hair. In Iraq, the term is used more loosely to describe “a uniquely Iraqi collage of hipster, punk, emo, and goth fashions,” says Jack Healy in The New York Times. The look has grown in popularity as war faded and Iraqis began enjoying greater social freedoms. 
      • Why are these “emo” kids being singled out?
        The stonings began after the Interior Ministry branded the “phenomenon of emo” as Satanic last month. The ministry said the rebellious fashion statements, which include dark clothes and skull-print T-shirts, are symbols of the devil, and it dispatched its Social Police to go into Baghdad schools to investigate “the emo” and “eliminate them.” Shiite extremists, who conflate emo style with being gay, which they forbid, began posting flyers warning the “emo” youth to “stop being gay, or face deadly consequences.” The flyers included a hit list with the names or nicknames of 33 people, along with their home addresses.

      More on these brutal killings, which have young people living in fear


    • Britian’s Conservative government is taking a “tough love” approach to foreign aid, threatening to withhold millions of dollars to countries that persecute gays and lesbians. The southern African nation of Malawi has already had its payments sliced by about $30 million, after it sentenced a gay couple to 14 months of hard labor for holding an engagement party. Fellow “anti-gay” countries Uganda and Ghana could lose millions, too. “I want Britain to be a global beacon for reform,” says Prime Minister David Cameron. Is this a good use of foreign aid?


    • He spends 23 hours a day alone, is denied exercise, and is being pumped full of antidepressants, according to an in-depth piece in Salon.