Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Just for fun because it's Halloween

Now, we all know Halloween is actually a religious festival that is almost as commercialized in America as Christmas and Valentine's Day, and well...good for them. The past talk about the infamous Jesus Camp reminded me of a really silly spoof on youtube, called Satan Camp, and I figured Halloween was the perfect time for this spoof as so many fools think All Hallows Eve is something Satanic :) Hopefully this will not be too cheesy and may actually be funny.

Convicted terrorist gets to work on London tube system; Mayor Ken Livingstone says 'no big deal'

London mayor Ken Livingstone (nicknamed 'Red Ken') thinks it is 'no big deal' that a convicted terrorist worked on the London tube system, got security clearance, and worked on tube lines that ran under the Parliament. Hardy har har, no big deal. 7/7 is 'no big deal.' How does this guy get to be mayor again?
Ken Livingstone today defended the right of Abu Hamza’s son to work for a Tube contractor - despite his conviction for terrorism in Yemen. Mohammed Kamel Mostafa, 25, from Wembley, was given a security pass and had access to restricted areas - including tunnels under Parliament - during his time as a labourer at nights and weekends on the Underground. But the Mayor said he doubted the veracity of any conviction from Yemen and said Mostafa had passed Tube security checks. He said it was wrong to restrict his ability to work simply because he was the son of Abu Hamza. Mr Livingstone said: “Has he broken any laws here in Britain? The answer is no. We are happy to have him working for us. “No one can be blamed for what their parents do. All we ask is that they respect the law of the land and do not hurt anyone.”
Hat tip - Little Green Footballs - Link to the Daily Mail Article Um, Kenny boy, in this case, Mostafa was convicted himself in Yemen. This is not even mentioning his connection with an extremist hate mosque that incited murder. It's all okay - let's give him a job working for the London Underground! And while we are at it, let's dance in the forrest with the Jolly Green Giant! Sounds like a great plan to me!

Did Israel use 'enriched uranium' in Lebanon?

I did not think about the silly 'enriched uranium' debate, until Kevin 'informed me' that Israel used 'enriched uranium' in Lebanon. Shlemazl, a nuclear scientist and expert in his field, wonderfully debunked this horrible libel, spread by none other than Robert Fisk. Please go read it! I would write more, but the Shlemazl link is a MUST READ!

Hugh Fitzgerald: They should be mocked out of office

Hugh Fitzgerald wrote a great column on Dhimmi Watch - must read! Here is an excerpt:
It is absurd to think that Muslim hearts and minds can be won. They can be rented, not bought, and rented only for the shortest of periods. Meanwhile, the rent -- that is the further transfer of wealth from the Camp of the Infidels to the Camp of Islam -- only helps to pay for mosques, madrasas, worldwide campaigns of Da'wa, and armies of Western hirelings who conduct public relations and disinformation efforts on behalf of Saudi Arabia, the Arabs and Muslims more generally, and Islam itself. Sixty billion dollars has been given by successive American governments to Egypt. Egypt today has still failed to honor any of its solemn commitments under the Camp David Accords (save for that not to engage in open warfare, a commitment that it keeps for the same reason that Syria does not attack Israel -- because of the likely consequences). Tens of billions have over many decades gone from the American government to Pakistan, a country whose military actively encouraged A. Q. Khan in his theft from Western laboratories of nuclear secrets and his subsequent effort to share those secrets with, inter alios, North Korea and Iran. .... Where is the evidence that more such payments will help, since there is not the slightest evidence that the payment of a disguised Jizyah does anything except encourage Muslim attitudes that this Infidel aid must be given, is given as a duty? And what is even more sinister, the Infidel donors behave as if this is indeed the case -- that they cannot stop such payments for fear of the reaction of the Muslim donees. This is madness from top to bottom. That some in the government think this way, even for a second, shows how little they comprehend of Islam, of its unambiguous tenets and the natural attitudes that flow from them, in any society suffused with Islam. This involves ignorance of so much history -- some 1350 years of it, and over such a wide swath of different territories once held by so many different peoples, all of them conquered and subjugated and forced to endure the status of dhimmi. That lasted up until the last half of the 19th century, when Western power forced a change upon a most reluctant Ottoman Empire. In Muslim countries today, the reversion to persecution of non-Muslims has everywhere led to a great reduction in their numbers -- in the Arab countries (both Jews and Christians have left), and in Pakistan and Bangladesh (where it is primarily Hindus whose percentage of the population has gone down to about a fifth, in Bangladesh, and a tenth, in Pakistan, of what it was at Partition).
Read the whole thing! The money we send these nations is paying for our own destruction. That said, there is one positive development! Pakistan recently bombed a madrasa that doubled as a terrorist training facility for Al-Queda. It seems Pakistan is cooperating with us at the moment...of course, that may be because Musharaff knows his neck is on the line, and faces constant threats of a coup. Protests for this attack have occurred in Pakistan, and to that I say of course they will protest. When a madrasa school that doubles for a terrorist training facility is bombed, terrorists and terror supporters will be rather unhappy. Their unhappiness does not faze me.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Economics of Climate Change: the in depth summary

Earlier, Kevin wrote about a Climate Change report that Nicholas Stern, an economist, prepared. I was skeptical about the findings. I am not going to say that I am not still skeptical, because I am, BUT, the following 27 page summary, linked on the BBC but not written by the BBC, is very damning. The summary of findings I would like to see competing science on this, but the following bio on Nick Stern makes me give stronger credance to the report's findings. Whether or not the report will have any real effect on the world is anyone's guess. Earlier, there was a Pentagon report on global climatic change, and this had zero impact. I am guessing Stern's report will also fall on deaf ears, and that is a shame. At minimum, there needs to be a global initiative to find an alternative energy source. This is not going on. Our governments are woefully negligent. I am not 100% sure about the cause of global climatic change, but I am 100% sure, based on what I now have read, that the Stern report is a very serious report that needs to be thoroughly examined and debated, and NOT thrown under the rug. Something tells me that this report will be forgotten tomorrow, which is a shame.

Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change

The Stern review can now be found on the HM Treasury site in PDF format. This is what Tony Blair had to say "This disaster is not set to happen in some science fiction future many years ahead, but in our lifetime," he said.

"Investment now will pay us back many times in the future, not just environmentally but economically as well."

"For every £1 invested now we can save £5, or possibly more, by acting now.

"We can't wait the five years it took to negotiate Kyoto - we simply don't have the time. We accept we have to go further (than Kyoto)."

More details can be found in this BBC news report. We cannot afford to sit back and do nothing, for short term economic prosperity. Even if the Science is wrong (and i don't think it is, i've sifted through the data on climate change since the 1990's, i am a science nerd) then it is far better to be safer rather than sorry later. Other sources: Skynews report The Times report Guardian Unlimited Washington post report New Scientist report CNN report

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Observations on AJC’s Mission to Israel, September 4 -7, 2006

The following is my cousin's observations from a recent AJC trip he went on to Israel. He sent this to me, and I think you will enjoy find it very illuminating! ----- The American Jewish Committee’s recent solidarity mission to Israel was an extraordinarily enriching experience. It was hard to tell, superficially at least, that the country was at war only weeks before, subjected to merciless missile attacks that had forced one million people in northern Israel to evacuate their homes. We saw Israel’s vitality everywhere. But the scars of war are not easy to heal, as was apparent when members of our group toured Haifa. (Other members visited Tzfat, Nahariya and other points in northern Israel.) Haifa’s population of 275,000 includes more than 40,000 Arabs, more than half of whom are Christians. The city is known for the good relations that exist among Jews, Christians, and Muslims – and indeed, Haifa has a reputation across Israel as a model in this respect. We toured Beit Hagefen, an educational center that brings youths from different backgrounds together and promotes inter-group understanding. Our host, an Arab Christian, welcomed us warmly and fervently denounced Hezbollah’s leader Nasrallah as a terrorist. We paid a condolence call on an Arab Christian woman whose father had been killed when a Katyusha missile (supplied by Syria) made a direct hit on the building next to her home. The Katyusha is a true terror weapon, used by Hezbollah to target cities and the civilian population. Each missile is packed with ball bearings designed to tear through human flesh. The extent to which the city had been a war front was also brought home to us when we visited the Or Hadash Reform Congregation in a neighborhood high on the slope of Mt. Carmel. What looked like a basement recreation room had been transformed (with the help of an AJC donation) into a modern, well-equipped bomb shelter with an air filtration system to protect against chemical and biological attack. We were told that as many as 100 children had stayed in the shelter each day while Haifa was under fire. In Haifa we also visited Rambam Hospital, the major health-care facility serving the population of northern Israel and best known for its advanced medical research. During the war the Hospital’s entire staff performed vital work around the clock, providing emergency care for wounded soldiers and civilians while not missing a beat in carrying out its regular health-care mission. Doctors, nurses and support personnel saved lives and attended to the needs of the ill and the suffering even as the area around the Hospital came under repeated missile attack. The Hospital itself was fortunate to escape a direct hit. Rambam’s story is one of dedicated and highly skilled people serving humanity irrespective of ethnicity or religion – not only saving life but also advancing life, in the words of AJC Executive Director David Harris, and testifying to the Israeli achievement. To get a view of the security situation, we toured the perimeter of the Gaza border and Chatzerim Air Force base. Yet our mission was filled not only with fact-finding but emotionally moving moments. At dinner on our second evening in Jerusalem we celebrated with IDF soldiers who made aliya from the U.S. on their own and fought in the recent war in Lebanon. The following evening in Haifa we met with the families of abducted soldiers. Moments of exhilaration and anguish followed one another, but if I can speak collectively, most of all we felt inspiration. One of the most valuable aspects of the trip was meeting and getting to know fellow AJC members from around the nation and world. There were some 140 people on the mission, and AJC's staff was simply superb in attending to every detail to ensure each member had an outstanding experience. From our discussions it was quite clear that my fellow members on the mission held views ranging widely across the American political spectrum – from supporters of President Bush to liberal Democrats. Our mission included Protestant ministers, the author Joan Peters and overseas supporters of Israel such as Per Ahlmark, former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden. David Harris stressed three key points: The importance of maintaining bipartisan support for Israel, across party lines (and not injecting partisan politics into the discussion). The need to be proactive in making Israel’s case, since American support can no longer be taken for granted. The continuing (and growing) need to reach out to non-Jews in America, including recent immigrants, on issues of concern to them directly as well as in regard to Israel. More specifically, the need for concerted action was stressed to help secure the release of the abducted soldiers and to exert pressure on the current Iranian government. The journalist Yossi Klein Halevi made a powerful plea for a public campaign “to put Iran in the dock” -- the type of campaign, he noted, AJC does especially well. A more detailed summary follows of our briefings by experts. Their views varied, but the predominant note was clear: Israel is an incredibly resilient society – a democracy seeking peace despite the implacable hostility of its enemies, and a society whose ultimate source of strength is the commitment, resourcefulness and brainpower of its people. Supporting Israel is more important than ever. Notes on the Speakers during AJC’s Solidarity Mission to Israel, Sept. 4 – 7, 2006 As members of AJC’s solidarity mission, we enjoyed access to the highest reaches of Israeli society – a testament to the importance of AJC’s worldwide role in building greater understanding of Israel’s continuing search for peace and security. We met with Prime Minister Olmert and also with other Cabinet and Knesset members, government officials, journalists, and other prominent Israelis to gain insight about external and internal challenges facing Israel. Lebanon Regarding the situation in Lebanon, most speakers said it was too early to assess fully the impact of the recent war. Prime Minister Olmert spoke of two positive results: First, the war had “changed forever” the situation in the south of Lebanon. The Lebanese army was now in the south for the first time in decades, Hezbollah was in hiding, and an embargo on arms shipments to Hezbollah had been declared by the U.N. Second, the world was now more aware of the danger posed by Iran. Prime Minister Olmert acknowledged that the country (including the previous government) had preferred to look the other way as this threat developed. He and others had been misled by hopes that the nation could largely turn its attention to building a “high-tech paradise.” However, Hezbollah’s attack and kidnapping of two soldiers convinced him and the Cabinet that the government needed to face the danger and head it off before it grew even larger. (He feared that if the threat grew, the government might lose its ability to respond in the future.) Several speakers emphasized the justness of the war from an Israeli perspective. The war was not about territory, but about terror: Israel’s moral position was especially strong since it was attacked across an internationally recognized border on Israeli soil, not ‘occupied’ territory, the journalist Yossi Klein Halevi noted. The war was the fight of a democracy against extremist, fundamentalist forces seeking its destruction, added Ari Shavit of the newspaper Ha’Aretz. Ehud Yaari, Chief TV commentator on the Middle East on Israeli TV Channel 2, discussed Iran’s role in the conflict. He estimated that Iran had invested more than $4 billion in Hezbollah in recent years to build a well-equipped force with more than 10,000 missiles – a force deeply embedded in the civilian population and fortified behind a system of bunkers using some 11 million tons of reinforced concrete. Looking on the bright side, he noted that the Arab states had remained effectively out of the conflict, with even the Syrian army maintaining a defensive posture. Reflecting the current debate in Israel, there was sharp disagreement about what the war had accomplished and how it was waged – particularly about whether it was conducted with sufficient vigor. Uri Dromi of the Israeli Democracy Institute stressed the positive, especially the IAF’s success in taking out the Iranian-supplied longer-range rocket launchers in the early days of the war. He tersely commented, “Enough of a defeatist mood!” Others, however, has a much harsher assessment of the Olmert government. Ehud Yaari said the government had waged war in a “confused, half hearted and improvised” way – and had made 11 major changes in military strategy during the 33-day conflict. (Nevertheless, he pointed out that Hezbollah had suffered heavy losses, including its rocket force and about one-third of its fighters.) Giora Eiland, former head of the Israel’s National Security Council, said that the country’s deterrence had been somewhat eroded. Dan Meridor, former minister, stated that while the results of the war remained “an open question,” there was certainly a gap between expectations and results. Israel’s strategic challenge would increasingly be to adjust and adapt rapidly because the pace of change in the world itself had accelerated and would continue to do so. Generals must take care more than ever against the tendency “to fight the last war.” New unconventional threats had emerged from an Iran developing nuclear weapons and from terrorist-guerrilla forces such as Hezbollah. Rather than pitting tank versus tank, the war in Lebanon was asymmetrical, in which Israel’s armed forces had faced a guerrilla force backed by hostile states (i.e., Iran and Syria). Indeed, Hezbollah had acted as a proxy for these states. Iran There was also considerable discussion of the existential threat posed by the current Iranian regime. Giora Eiland estimated that in about six months Iran would complete the R&D phase of its nuclear program. Thus, there is only a limited window for action to prevent the program from becoming a fait accompli. He discussed three broad options – none good or fail-safe – in response to this threat: (1) do nothing; (2) intensify diplomatic efforts to isolate Iran (while also dangling incentives for ending uranium enrichment); (3) taking military action. Several speakers stressed that a nuclear Iran was not an exclusively Israeli problem – and that Israel must take care to speak softly as far as Iran is concerned. On the plus side, it was noted that a consensus exists in the international community that Iran has lied about its nuclear program. This consensus includes Russia, which while moving slowly on Iran, is moving (in a direction broadly compatible with Western policy). Shlomo Aveneri, professor of Political Science emeritus at Hebrew University, concluded that Iran will not give in to sanctions and Europe will not support or take military action. While there is no silver lining in the current situation vis-à-vis Iran, Giora Eiland added that it will take some time (two to three years or longer) before Iran develops an actual nuclear military capability. Sounding a somewhat hopeful note, Dan Meridor noted that previous nuclear threats from Iraq and Libya had been diffused. He also felt that Russia could be brought on board in dealing with Iran through a more finely tuned diplomacy. The Palestinian Conflict Israel’s strategic challenge increasingly comes from enemies (Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas) who define the conflict in religious terms, Dan Meridor observed. Making a similar point, Ehud Yaari noted that the Arab states were increasingly on the sidelines or out of the conflict – a development that offered some comfort. Shalom Harari, an expert on counter-terrorism and former advisor in the Territories, described the chaos, corruption, factionalism and near anarchy in Palestinian areas. In each major city there are as many as 15 to 20 different armed groups and also powerful families with separate forces of their own. President Abbas has little effective power. The massive smuggling of arms and explosives from Egypt into Gaza represents a growing security threat. The Egyptian government is apparently unable (or unwilling) to stop this traffic. Qassam rockets of longer range are being developed – with a range that would enable them to strike targets well inside Israel, including the vital power generating station near Ashkelon. In Ehud Yaari’s view, this threat will have to be countered through military action to create a buffer between Egypt and Gaza. Little optimism was offered regarding the prospects for peace with the Palestinians, at least in the immediate future. Ehud Yaari observed that Palestinians were abandoning the two-state solution, believing that time was on their side. He regarded Hamas’ current interest in a ceasefire as a tactical maneuver to secure international funding. Gidi Grinstein of the Re’ut Institute (a non-governmental think tank) said there is a consensus in Israeli society on ending control over the Palestinians. He felt the best option at the moment would be to work for a Palestinian state within provisional borders next to Israel. A comprehensive peace was not on the horizon. The prime security issue vis-à-vis the Palestinians remained for the moment combating terrorism and keeping it within “manageable proportions” – a goal that was achievable in his view and would enable Israel to keep its high-tech economy humming and keep vital investment dollars flowing. Ran Cohen, member of the Knesset from the Meretz party, was the sole speaker to advocate withdrawal at this time from the territories captured in the 1967 war (including the West Bank and Golan Heights) as the best path to a negotiated peace. Yet all speakers emphasized the importance of maintaining a strong military posture to have any hopes of peace. Weakness would only tempt Israel’s enemies. The Battle for Public Opinion Colonel Miri Eisen, foreign press advisor to the Prime Minister, discussed the challenges of dealing with the international press during the Lebanon war. There were two completely different wars, she said: an international version and an Israeli one. Images of death and destruction in Beirut dominated Western media coverage. The emotional power of images was difficult to counter with words alone (even in cases when pictures were doctored or staged). While the damage to Beirut was concentrated in one area under Hezbollah’s control through precise targeting by the Israeli Air Force, Western media often gave the impression the whole city had been reduced to rubble. Yet Hezbollah’s fighters, weapon transfers and Katyushas remained largely invisible. In a media environment that generally placed Israel on the defensive, Colonel Eisen strove to tell Israel’s human story – so that the pain and suffering of Israelis would not be ignored or minimized. She focused on a number of simple messages: Israel is a democracy. Israel seeks peace. Israel wasn’t simply threatened but intentionally attacked across an international border. Israel maintains strict guidelines to minimize (and avoid if possible) civilian casualties even when fighting terrorist forces that use civilians as human shields. The price of not fighting terrorism is higher than fighting it. While Israel could not afford to let terrorists hide in civilian areas, attention was also drawn to Israel’s self-interest in minimizing civilian casualties – even by issuing warnings of impending attacks. Ari Shavit said that Israel simply does not have the luxury to wage war as great powers do. He quoted Chief Justice Barak (who has recently retired from the bench): ‘Democracies fight with one hand tied behind their back, but that’s why they have the upper hand.’ The Domestic Front Many speakers commented on the public’s resilience in the face of war. “We surprised ourselves,” said Yossi Klein Halevi. Social solidarity and volunteerism, he added, largely made up for the government’s failures in attending to the needs of the civilian population. He was struck by a number of developments during the war: · Ha’Aretz (on the left) advocated an expanded army thrust into Lebanon. · The Kibbutzim showed that they are still a major source of strength. · Tel Aviv lost prestige by not pulling its weight in the war effort. · The Israeli Arab leadership behaved little short of traitorously (heaping blame for the war on the Israeli government and openly praising Hezbollah), even as average Israeli Arab citizens continued to coexist peacefully with their neighbors. · The existential threat from Iran revealed the limitations of the security fence (successful as the fence has been in reducing terror attacks). Ari Shavit observed that the Israeli people showed themselves to be “strong, impressive and moral” during the war, but that the nation’s political leadership fell short. Unilateralism “was now in a coma.” Calling for a fundamental transformation in the society, Shavit called the Zionist project “valuable and unique,” but also suggested it needed updating to meet the needs of contemporary society. He spoke about the importance of a “bonding narrative to give significance to our collective life,” and concluded: “If we’re not willing to sacrifice, we can’t win.” Yona Yahav, the mayor of Haifa, discussed the city’s achievement in forging good relations across ethnic and religious lines. (Perhaps, he mused, this has something to do with the fact that Moses, Jesus, or Mohammed never visited.) Yet the war revealed strains, even though ordinary people recognized they “were in this together.” He had dismissed the Deputy Mayor, an Arab Israeli, who had expressed support for Hezbollah during the war. This was not a freedom of speech issue, Mayor Yahav explained, but one of acting responsibly during wartime – and the Deputy Mayor had done the exact opposite. Education Minister Yuli Tamir underscored the challenges Israel faces in educating the young when one of every three children is born in poverty. Educational achievement varies widely in different segments of the society (with Christian Arabs and secular Israelis generally performing best). The educational challenge is thus also a social one, and is especially daunting with the immigrant Ethiopian population. On the bright side, she noted that the school year had started on time despite the recent war – another sign of Israel’s resilience and a considerable achievement in itself. Gidi Grinstein outlined five challenges confronting Israel’s “dynamic, energetic” society: Existential threats The economic challenge of competing while not being part of an economic bloc The pressures of sustaining development in a small country with an arid climate The challenge of integration within the Jewish world to sustain Jewish values in an Israeli context Relations with the Arab minority Grinstein emphasized the need for structural political changes to fight corruption and weaken the role of small parties (and combat the fragmentation they bring). A key reform would be to give the party that gets the most votes the right to appoint the Prime Minister. This would lessen the bargaining power of lesser parties and encourage voters to cast their ballots for parties with a realistic opportunity to appoint the PM. To ensure its future, Israel must make the most of its strengths – especially in Grinstein’s view, its “technology and brains.” The “moral high ground” would remain important as well for a nation with Israel’s unique mission: Considerable encouragement can be drawn from growing awareness in the society of the importance of Jewish values and heritage – linked to a broad and deep determination to safeguard and promote the Zionist enterprise as the most important Jewish project in nearly two millennia.

Climate change – The Economic costs of doing nothing.

A report by Sir Nicholas Stern (former chief economist at the world bank) is being issued tomorrow about the economic costs of climate change. In the report Sir Stern paints a bleak picture of what will happen if we do nothing to tackle climate change in economic terms. However we can do something to protect the future of the world economy. Huge amounts of money will have to be spent on tackling climate change.

The points that have leaked from the report so far are as follows:

  • Emissions would need to by cut by 3 quarters of GDP by 2050, to stabilize carbon levels to 500-550 parts per million compared to todays level which is around 430 parts per million.

  • The Power sector will need to be decarbonized by 60% to 70%.

  • Deforestation would have to be stopped as it causes 18% of global emissions.

  • Transport emissions will also need to be cut by a large amount.

  • Around 1% of global GDP by 2050 will have to be spent to pay for these changes.

  • Growth will be hit by spending 1% of GDP on tackling climate change.

  • If we carry on as business per usual it would lead to a loss of up to 5% of global per capita consumption, which we will not recover from.

  • If we do nothing at all to tackle climate change then we could see a reduction of consumption per head of up to 20%.

Stern says that if we spend 1% of GDP tackling climate change then we could be richer by 20% :-Stern says that if you take the present value (the value in today's money) of the benefits over the coming years of taking action to stabilize greenhouse gases by 2050, then deduct the costs, you end up with a "profit" of $2.5 trillion (£1.32 trillion). “ There are two models through which emission cuts can be obtained by:

  1. Taxation

  2. Rationing the amount of carbon that business and individuals can make and create a carbon trading market where by companies can sell off excess carbon to other companies.

Governments will have to change behavioral patterns through regulation on things like energy efficiency in buildings etc. Though the poorer nations will suffer more than the developed world which is why richer nations should take on the lions share of cutting emissions, which would be around 60% to 80%. It is a moral obligation that we as people of developed nations have to take on. As we have caused most of the carbon emissions that have lead to climate change.

So there is now an economic reason to tackle Climate change. It will cause a lot of short term pain but the benefits outweigh the pain.

Source: BBC News website. Note: This may not make a whole lot of sense, as it has been a long time since i've had to deal with units of GDP (like 10 years).

Here is the BBC's guide to climate change.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Australia's shame

Now, a recent comment by a fanatical imam has probably caused a lot of controversy and well, rightfully so. Sheikh Taj Aldin has the audacity to compare women to meat, which is bad enough, but to excuse rape?? In the US Army the maximum penalty for rape is death. Unfortunately we cannot use a cigar cutter to cut off a rapist's dick, so the degenerate will bleed to death, but that is exactly what a rapist deserves. Also, rape is not about sexual arousal, as Aldin seems to imply. It is about power, and it is betrayal, the worst act one can commit. A woman trusts humanity that she will be able to leave her house and not be attacked by thugs, and by raping her, you have betrayed that trust. On a date, a man forces himself on a woman, he has betrayed the trust she had in him to agree to a date, and in marriage, this violent act violates a trust wife has in husband as well as the trust of the marriage covenant itself. Never is rape permissible. If a woman walks down the streets naked, that is no excuse to assault her. Grab a videocam if you want, but that's it. Even if she presses herself against a guy, that still isn't an excuse. As far as I am concerned she has to initiate a request for sex, before it's consensual. Now that is an extreme example, but the message should be clear that unless a woman ties an unwilling man down and pounces on him, rape is NEVER the woman's fault. Now, Mechanical Crowds presents an appalling picture of what went on in Cairo. Regardless of causes, the actions are completely unacceptable. I grew up with a pretty strict view of sex, but I was also raised to respect women. I am also fairly lusty and repressed despite a sense of chivalry, but I know right from wrong, and rape is always wrong. In fact it is one of the worst if not the worst thing you can do to another human being. Savages who harass and attack women for being there should simply be castrated. Those who commit rape should be executed. I am not calling any group of people savage, but only those who act in such a repulsive manner.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Welcome post

Greetings, I am Thomas Forsyth, aka Green Baron, and I have been a frequent commenter at Culture for All, and I have now been given this great honor to be a blogger here as well. I am truly honored, but was looking for something to blog about, and now I have it. With my background in Economics, I found an interesting article by Economist Thomas Sowell, about free speech and how people are selective about it. Here is the article. Any thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Variations between the two?

New Jersey okays equal rights to gay couples

YAAAAY to New Jersey! In essence, New Jersey's Supreme Court stated that gay people must be given civil union rights, or gay marriage. In either case, their rights will be equal to marriage. This is excellent news for gay people of New Jersey and gay people of New York, who now have a neighboring state to move to (if they wish) where they will have equal rights. "The issue is not about the transformation of the traditional definition of marriage, but about the unequal dispensation of benefits and privileges to one of two similarly situated classes of people," the court said in its 4-3 ruling." That is how I see the gay marriage debate. It is not about redefining marriage, but rather about equality, pure and simple. And today, equality won out. Good on New Jersey!

Are Jews secretly trying to elliminate Christianity from this nation?

Mr. Smarterthanyou said the following in a comment section on Jesus Camp and I think it deserves a closer inquiry: There is an effort by many jews to supress Christianity, and in large part, it has been successful. Abraham Foxman of the ADL recently complained that fundimentalists were trying to "Christianize" the US. Well guess what buddy, we are a Christian nation. But the ADL, and the overwhelmingly jewish ACLU and "Americans for the separation of church and state" have been very successful at removing 10 commandment monuments (yes, I know Jews value this also), crosses on public land, public prayers, and even Christmas trees, nativity scenes and even Christmas cards hung on walls in schools and workplaces and gov't buildings. Seems this 1% is having a huge effect, and are pissing off a bunch of Christians. off topic, but did Jews and Jewish organizations attack Christianity in 1920's, 1930's Germany? I've always wondered how so many people in Europe could have supported the Holocost. Perhaps the feeling that their religion and culture were under constant, and effective attack by Jews was part of it? I know I feel that way, and most people in the US feel that way about these organizations, although most don't see it as religious, yet. Let's examine what Mr. Smarterthanyou was saying in greater detail... off topic, but did Jews and Jewish organizations attack Christianity in 1920's, 1930's Germany? I've always wondered how so many people in Europe could have supported the Holocost. Perhaps the feeling that their religion and culture were under constant, and effective attack by Jews was part of it? I know I feel that way, and most people in the US feel that way about these organizations, although most don't see it as religious, yet. Given he earlier advocated the total annhiliation of all Palestinians, I would have to assume that by this statement, he was saying that he could see a justification for the Holocaust, because Jews were "attacking Christianity" in Europe. That point of view is appalling and also ridiculously untrue. Let's examine the other totally outlandish and utterly unsupported statement that he made... However, Yes, there is an effort by many jews to supress Christianity, and in large part, it has been successful. He 'proved' this by saying... Well guess what buddy, we are a Christian nation. But the ADL, and the overwhelmingly jewish ACLU and "Americans for the separation of church and state" have been very successful at removing 10 commandment monuments (yes, I know Jews value this also), crosses on public land, public prayers, and even Christmas trees, nativity scenes and even Christmas cards hung on walls in schools and workplaces and gov't buildings. Let's look at each and every example of the 'proof' that Jews are suppressing Christianity... a) 10 commandment monuments - last I checked this is a Jewish as well as Christian belief. Moreover, a monument is not a religion. Whether or not a monument exists has nothing to do with whether or not Christianity is allowed to be practiced. The placement or lack thereof of a monument on public land does not affect anyone's ability to worship Christianity as they please. Hence, this is NOT 'suppressing Christianity' in any way. Moreover, Ten commandments are NOT barred on public lands. It is okay if it is part of a general religious display. (rather than seen by itself) See: Van Orden v. Perry. Given the Ten Commandments have not been barred from public lands (see the Supreme Court decision) then this drive to ban the Ten Commandments (which is not even only Christian, but is also Jewish) from public lands has not been 'successful.' Next example: b) Crosses on public land. Well, first of all, there is a little thing called the FIRST AMENDMENT. Our Founding Fathers were Deists, and not religious Christians. A cross on a public land signifies an association that the nation has with Christianity, when in fact this is a religiously pluralistic nation. Furthermore, the placement or lack thereof of a cross on a public land has nothing to do with your ability to worship Christianity. Of course, you could be an idol worshipper and need the cross to worship. But if you are, you most certainly are going against the very tenants of Christianity. c) public prayers: Again, we are not a CHRISTIAN nation. We are a nation with a Christian heritage that is religiously pluralistic. Public prayer moves towards establishing an official religion, and is against the first amendment. But moreover, last I checked, you are not forbidden from praying in private. This is not evidence of suppression of Christianity. d) Christmas trees: Sorry buddy, but you are wrong. Christmas trees are allowed across the nation on public ground. e) nativity scenes: Again, you are somewhat wrong about the nativity scene. Allegheny County v. ACLU held that a creche scene with the words 'Glory to God in the Highest' staged by itself on public grounds is an impermissable establishment of religion. But the Supreme Court did not say all creches on public property is illegal. f) Christmas cards: That is totally legal. You are going to have to cite a court case to back up this wild accusation that Christmas cards cannot be displayed. I want to add that the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State stand againt all religions being tied with the government. The Allegheny case I earlier cited was in fact litigated by the ACLU, this supposedly 'Jewish' organization that you are so opposed to. This was a two part case, whereby the ACLU was against the public display of a creche and a menorah. In fact, the ACLU has gone after public displays of ALL religions. They also back the cases of freedom of religion - and will represent Christians, Jews, and Muslims in their drive towards freedom of religion. Mr. Smarterthanyou has not proven one iota of a supposed 'Christian bias' by these organizations. Not one iota. He has also not proven that America is a Christian nation. Yes, America is primarily Christian. But it is NOT a nation RULED by Christianity. THAT IS WHAT MAKES IT GREAT! And most illogically of all, he was saying that somehow the ACLU/ADL/etc have been 'very successful' in their attempt to drive Christianity from the nation. Well, how exactly have they been successful if this nation is 95% Christian? This sounds like they have not exactly suppressed Christianity. What is a better measure of 'success' or 'failure' than the numbers of Christians in this nation? And given Christianity is on the RISE in this nation, I would say that if you defined the ACLU's goal as suppressing Christianity, then they have been incredibly UNsuccessful in that goal. One final point. Mr. Smarterthanyou brought up the ADL/ACLU/Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and said three completely untrue statements about these organizations. He simultaneously said that these organizations are opposed to all forms of Christianity (as opposed to other religions), that they have been successful in their goal of driving Christianity from the nation, AND that they are Jewish organizations that represent Jews in any way. The ACLU is an organization of secularists from all persuasions. My problem with it is that they often pick stupid, senseless, and symbolic cases that only serve to anger people, and do not further any real goal. They also will defend freedom of ALL religions, including Islamists and Neonazis. (most famously in the National Socialist Party v. Skokie) This case gave the right for Neonazis to march through a heavily Jewish neighborhood where many Holocaust survivors lived. The ACLU took up this case on 'freedom of religion' and 'right of assembly' grounds. I don't exactly see how this, one of the ACLU's most famous cases, advances Judaism in any way at all. So yes, I have a problem with the ACLU. But to claim that they have some sort of agenda of driving Christianity from the nation and that they have an anti-Christian bias (as opposed to other religions) is flat out untrue. Go to their website. Look at the cases they have taken up. You will see they FREQUENTLY take up cases on behalf of Christians seeking freedom of religion. Do your homework prior to making these wild accusations. Let's look at the board of directors on the ACLU. The Executive Director of the ACLU is Anthony Romero - a Hispanic, and not a Jew! In fact, most of the board are not even Jewish! Are Jews disproportionately driven to the ACLU/Americans United for the Seperation of Church and State? Yes. Do those organizations have some sort of secret Jewish cabal running them? Absolutely no. Implying otherwise, and that somehow Jews are secretly running this country, is one of the oldest forms of anti-semitism in the book. Moreover, these organizations are in no way representatives of the greater Jewish American community. There is absolutely no Jewish 'conspiracy' to drive Christianity into the ground. The cases Mr. Smarterthanyou cited are either totally made up or flat out do not prove anything. This country, in any case, is not a 'Christian' nation, and last I checked, there was no religious test for office. Next time wild and baseless claims are being hurled about, why not do a little research of the most basic of facts?

YNet Pimps for PLO Terrorist and Holocaust Denier

Turning to the Palestinian arena, Ganor said that "the Palestinians are now at the stage of shaping their self-identities," a process he described as ultimately "positive." They are torn between "terrorism and violence against Israel, definitely the concept used by Yasser Arafat under the Oslo accords," as well as today's "Islamic radical terrorist organizations," and the "alternative option, which is actually being represented by (PA President Mahmoud Abbas) Abu Mazen," based on the idea that "terrorism and violence will never fulfill the Palestinian national interest (Interest in wiping out Israel -ed)."
IMO: The PLO is our greatest danger, worse than Hezbollah and Hamas combined. Abu Mazen is a champion of deception; his method is to walk us into the ovens. The hope for a future peace remains hollow until these genocidal terrorist networks are eliminated.

Polo. Small but tough.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

George Galloway is a terrorist, a traitor, and a total moron

After watching the following two videos of Galloway, I felt like puking all over my computer screen. He literally told a crowd of Muslims at an 'Al Quds' rally to take up arms as terrorists against his very country. He told a crowd of Muslims to attack Israel. He praised Hizballah. He told more people to join Hizballah. He also proceeded to lie about some former Palestinian 'nationhood' that supposedly Israel the 'terrorist state' 'stole' again and again...and again. This is a MP in the UK. The man should be tried for treason and jailed. Part I Part II Hat tip - Infidel Bloggers But of course, Galloway is not just a terrorist. He is a stupid, shameless, and moronic terrorist. The following two clips shows just how stupid and shameless Galloway actually is: Galloway on Al Jazeera saying that Bush and Blair have a Clinton/Lewinsky relationship, and then later shamelessly lapping up food like a cat on TV, in a position looking like he was pleasuring her on national TV: Galloway doing the 'robot' on Big Brother: The man is a total and utter embarrassment as a MP and sickens me just as a human being. The fact that he shares the same valuable air that I breathe is enough to make me physically ill. Watching videos one and two, I was reminded of Adolph Hitler. Galloway has the same hate in his eyes, and even the same tone of voice when he speaks. He also is advocating a genocide of Jews, just like Hitler. The fact that he is a hero of the world left is simply terrifying.

Iran and Hezbollah charged over 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Argentina

The Argentines have charged Iran in directing Hezbollah into attacking a Jewish centre in 1994. I doubt any of the Iranian officals implicated in the plan will actually face justice. BBC News Article I guess Red won't be that suprised over this. The Iranian regime needs to change and Hezbollah need to be disbanded. A difficult task but one that can be done if Iran fails in gaining a nuclear weapon.

Total misrepresentation on Eteraz's blog!

Earlier, I wrote about my horror at a court decision that said a Christian woman would be able to get a driver's license without having her picture taken, because she was against 'graven images.' I found out about this case on Eteraz's blog. You would think, based on what was written on the blog, that the court case was a recent one. Nope. After scouring the net for the case (not easy, given how there was no link to the decision on Eteraz's blog), I finally found the court decision. You can read it yourself. Quaring v. Peterson, 728 F.2d 1121 (8th Cir. 1984). That is right. This was decided in 1984. Let's examine 1984, shall we? This was three years before even a report came out that the WTC was a target for terrorist attacks. It was nine years prior to the 1993 bombing. It was 17 1/2 years prior to September 11, 2001. In short, this case was decided before terrorism was a concern, and the need for photo IDs was so especially significant. 1984 was also a year that computers were still not that widespread. Identity theft was only in the very beginning stages. Credit card fraud was still in its infancy. In short, all of the very real security needs for a photo ID driver's license were basically nonexistent in 1984. As such, the court case has since been distinguished and is not followed anymore. Eteraz would lead you to believe otherwise, that somehow this is a case of bigotry towards Muslims, as courts won't allow the veil, but will allow Christians to not have photo IDs. This is a complete misrepresentation of reality.

Reaffirming the Culture for All values

Hey all,

I just want to reaffirm the values that Culture for All stands for, because I think that it does sometimes get muddied. (Maybe in part because I write so passionately and often in a stream of consciousness.)

This blog stands most of all for the notion that we are all living in one world and all deserve a place on this place called Earth. Be you Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist, you ALL deserve to share this planet. As such, we stands firmly against those who wish genocide upon any other group.

Thus, this blog stands against the Kahane Jews, Woodsboro Baptist Christians (and people of their ilk), Fundamentalist Muslims and their supporters, and right wing Hindus who wish to kill all Muslims.

In examining each of the genocidal sects of the major religions, it is quite clear that only the Muslim world has such strong support and funding for genocide. Every other genocidal group is marginalized and despised by the wider religious communities. It is clear that Muslims are being brainwashed to support genocide, one only needs to look at the textbooks and media in Muslim schools and Saudi funded madrassas around the world to confirm this problem.

That does not mean every Muslim is bad or Islam is somehow rotten to the core. I believe that in many ways these Muslims who are being brainwashed across the world are in fact victims of child abuse and oppressive regimes. It is a tragedy to teach children to hate, wish death, and not value life.

I also do not believe that Islam is peaceful to the core, as I explained earlier. I do not believe that ANY religion is inherently peaceful, least of all the "Big Three" monotheistic faiths. Islam has a bloody history, but so does Christianity, and bibical Judaism. That said, I do believe that Islam can be peaceful, and I know there are peaceful Muslims out there. I want it to be clear that I believe a peaceful Islam requires a radical reinterpretation of the Quran, as there are very clearly non-peaceful verses spread all over the Quran. A whole new set of hadiths is likely necessary. But this is not impossible, and in fact Christianity had a reformation that radically transformed the Christian faith. I fail to see why a reformation is impossible for Muslims. In fact, Reza Aslan believes that a reformation is going on as we speak, in his book No God But God. I recently purchased this book, and I will give my review of it after I read it.

So, in short, as an atheist, I think that the religious tenets of all religions are wrong, however, there is something to be learned from the history and culture of all religions.

I welcome all people of all faiths to post on this blog, bearing in mind that this blog is fervantly anti-genocide, and hence fervantly pro-Israel and anti-Islamofascist, Christofascist, etc. Furthermore, while this blog stands for cultural pluralism and acceptance, it does not accept those who support terrorism or genocide. Anyone who believes we should accept intolerent ideologies stands wholly against TRUE acceptance and the core values this blog espouses.

The big question whose answer remains shrouded in a mystery is how to combat such religious fascism without sacrificing core values of freedom, pluralism, and democracy. Is it possible to win the war against those who wish to destroy us without destroying a part of ourselves in the process?

I say that it is possible to win the war without destroying ourselves. It takes encouring thinking. I believe that those who think and reason will be able to change the course of the world. If nothing else, just think of the story of Scheherezade.

- Written by Red Tulips

Update by Steven on 02 June 2008: This article is approximately 20 months old and reflects the views of the author at the time of writing.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lesbian pimping

So, I went to a party on Saturday. At the party I met some interesting people. Two of them were incredibly odd and make for a very funny story I want to share with you all. (it's also a great break from this heavy public policy) Person A was a very desperate man. He was a 30 year old guy with a ponytail, and had his arm around me. This made me uncomfortable. I was with a group of people, and we sat around a table discussing the sort of person that was our ideal mates. I said the following: "I want a smart, interesting, funny, warm, charismatic, and just plain kind person who I feel the most incredible kinship with." Person A replied (with his arm around me, and quite seriously): "I just want to fuck anything that moves." In response, revolted, I shrinked away from him, horrified, and the guy sitting on the other side of me wondered if this meant that he wanted to have sex with cockroaches. Person B was a soft spoken lesbian. She desperately was hitting on me, and my friend. Sadly, we both are not lesbians. I didn't think much of her, except that she was kind of awkward, until tonight. She left a message on my phone that was a mumbled mess about wanting to "hang out with me," and then ending with "Yeah Red Tulips, it's my birthday on Friday. I was wondering if you could get me a date for my birthday." Um...I just met this girl! What does she think I am! A lesbian pimp or something? I mean, does she think I somehow have access to so many lesbian friends I could just call one up and say "There's a this girl I barely know who is desperate. Want to have sex with her?" Does she think I am the Heidi Fleiss for lesbians? What's up with this? Is there something in the water in NYC? How do I meet such creepy people?


I am a great fan of Aussie Dave's work over at Israellycool, his humour always brings a smile to my face from the the new-age Zionist weapons such as the Zionist Bannana of DeathTM and Zionist DraculatorTM, beauties like the Protest awards, to reporting on what the wonderful "peacekeeping" UNIFIL forces are doing. He can turn a very serious and possibly depressing piece of news and make it entertainment. That is talent, and that is why I love to read his blog.

But he is even better than that - yes really. Dave's articles are mind numbingly clear when it comes to important issues - and if you have not read Israellycool before I invite you to read this important post titled: "Disproportionate Response"
UN peacekeeping chief French Major General Alain Pelligrini on how UNIFIL may deal with Hizbullah terrorists on the way to attack, or even in the midst of attacking, Israel:
Contrary to Israeli hopes that the new multinational force in Lebanon will engage and disarm Hizbullah, the beefed up UNIFIL will not immediately open fire on Hizbullah guerrillas if they are on their way to an attack or even in the midst of an attack on Israel, the commander of the UN peacekeeping force, Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini, told The Jerusalem Post Thursday in an exclusive interview.

While the new rules of engagement set by the UN allowed the new UNIFIL force to open fire in order to implement resolution 1701, Pellegrini said he would not automatically order his troops to open fire on Hizbullah guerrillas if they were spotted on their way to the Blue Line to attack Israel. The job of the new multinational force, he said, was to assist the Lebanese army and not to disarm or engage Hizbullah or even to prevent its attacks.

According to UN Security Council resolution 1701
(Link -ed), UNIFIL was in Lebanon to "assist the Lebanese army," Pellegrini said, and "to inform them and advise them how they can do their job."

"We first will observe and then inform the Lebanese army," he said. "If we see something dangerous we will inform the Lebanese army and it will decide whether it will act independently or consider having a joint reaction together with us."
UN peacekeeping chief French Major General Alain Pelligrini on how UNIFIL may deal with IAF flights over Lebanon:
UN peacekeeping chief in Lebanon French Major General Alain Pelligrini said on Thursday that should diplomatic efforts fail to stop Israeli flights over Lebanon, force might be considered in the future.

His comments came as the son of slain former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri urged French President Jacques Chirac on Thursday to help stop the Israel Air Force's overflights.

Pellegrini calledd the overflights "violations [of UN resolution 1701] because you have a foreign jet crossing first the Blue Line and entering the national Lebanese airspace."

"If the diplomatic means should not be enough, maybe it could be considered other ways, we never know," he added.

When asked if that meant in the future UN troops might consider preventing the overflights by force, Pellegrini replied, "it could be. It could be."

"l think that it could be considered, and it will depend on new rules of engagement drafted and decided [at UN headquarters]," he said.
Let's make it simple:

ActionPossible UNIFIL Response
Hizbullah attack IsraelObserve...and then inform Lebanese army
IAF planes fly over LebanonShoot down planes
See what I mean. ;)

Moral relativism, explored.

This post was inspired by Bint Alshamsa's first comment on the CultureForAll article titled: "Do the Palestinians deserve a state to call their own?". This response is guided by her comment, however it is not personal and no offence is intended. This is an exploration of moral relativism. If I have made any mistakes please point them out for me, thanks. Introduction: Morality and Philosophy Moral relativism is a philosophy that rejects moral truths and instead adopts the concept that morality is relative to the person. If you are brought up thinking that to murder the weak and innocent is fun (I will call this the Immoral Environment) - it is a perfectly moral thing to do. Moral absolutism dictates that regardless of the circumstances there are moral truths and any relative circumstances that individuals may have should be ignored. According to this theory if a person is brought up in the Immoral Environment but takes the step up and perhaps assaults someone instead of murdering them, their actions would still be immoral in comparison to those of a person who was brought up with high moral standards and does not assult anyone. Judaism is different, according to the Rabbi I spoke to last Wednesday Judaism stands between absolute and relative morality. Using the example above, if this hypothetical person thinks it is fun to murder the innocent, it is understandable due to the circumstances. If he/she actually acts on these ideas and murders an innocent child it would still be wrong. The Rabbi continued to explain that we all have different "moral levels". That said, we all have a duty to improve our own moral level. There is no point in looking at someone on a lower moral level and thinking "wow, I am so much better than them" and being satisfied. It means nothing. It's just as meaningful if Roger Federer played me at tennis and won. So what?! He is at a different level to me. We all have to improve at our own level. Remember this scenario again: # Person A is brought up in the Immoral Environment but takes the step up and assaults someone instead of murdering them. # Person B was brought up with high moral standards but does not make any effort to improve further. Even though Person A is still doing wrong (assault), the actual act of improving morally is a great Mitzvah and is better than if he stayed at his natural level like person B did. So Judaism sits somewhere in the middle, or depending on how you look at it, Judaism sits at both places at once! Moral Relativism Bint stands at the moral relativism side of the spectrum.
"Who should be allowed to decide what a group needs to do or be in order to have a state of their own? In other words, whose standards should matter most?"
Aka. Freedom loving people have no right to say that a genocidal terrorist group leading a dangerous indoctrinated population should not have a country to run. Our ideals are no more moral than theirs.
"It's rather patronizing for an outsider to assume that they can possibly know what a groups 'real interests' are or should be. If I were to say that Jews should only be given a state if they are willing to conform with what the non-Jews think they should do, it would be equally ridiculous as non-Palestinians claiming that their conditions should be met before Palestinian statehood is recognized."
Bint attempts to make us understand that there is no moral truth. Who are we to say that a genocidal terrorist group linked to the Nazis is morally wrong. They think we are morally wrong! In Bint's world we just have our own perceptions of morality and the only thing that is wrong is for us to impose our ethnocentric ideas of morality on another culture. It is wrong for me to say that a culture which indoctrinates its youth with hate is immoral. It is wrong for us to say that the PLO's goal of genocide is immoral - all these ideas are, according to Bint's moral relativism, equal. Who are we to judge? This is bordering on insanity.
"Let's say we did decide to only give states to those societies where there is no hatred and only love and where the population has apologized for whatever wrongs any of their members might have engaged in."
Clearly, being human, this is impossible.
"Do you realize what that would mean for Israel? Even more importantly, do you know what that would mean for every single nation on this earth?"
What is Bint asking here exactly? Well, she is saying that what would it mean for the world if every nation was perfect. If there was "no hatred and only love and where the population has apologized for whatever wrongs any of their members might have engaged in." I would call that a Utopia myself. This is a straw man, as Wikipedia describes it:
A straw man argument is a logical fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "set up a straw man" or "set up a straw-man argument" is to create a position that is easy to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent. A straw-man argument can be a successful rhetorical technique (that is, it may succeed in persuading people) but it is in fact misleading, because the opponent's actual argument has not been refuted. Its name is derived from the practice of using straw men in combat training. In such training, a scarecrow is made in the image of the enemy with the single intent of attacking it.
So right now Bint wants us to the image of a Utopian world in our minds:
"There isn't a single nation that has fulfilled the pre-requisites [sic] that you are proposing."
And here we have the rest of the straw-man argument. There was no proposal of creating a nation where everything is perfect. The only concept of creating a nation with "no hatred and only love and where the population has apologized for whatever wrongs any of their members might have engaged in" was created entirely by Bint. We were proposing a nation that does not support genocidal ambitions or indoctrinate its youth from point blank. The Utopia world that nobody was talking about was created simply to be destroyed in an effort to create an argument - but it doesn't work. It is not logical.
"If you're going to talk about who has committed sins, then which religion's definition of sin should we use?"
(You don't even need to stop at "which religion". Some of the most moral people I know are agnostic. You do not need to be taught religion to know the difference between right and wrong.) This is more moral relativism, but Bint has a very good point which can never be answered. Trying to answer this question puts the reader in an impossible position by forcing them to personally decide what is the correct moral code. Naturally whatever decision you make it will alienate millions of people who have a different perception to morality than you have. Is it fair for you to dictate what is moral and what is immoral? Do you have the guts to say your perception of morality is right and they have it wrong? Does that make you a Bigot? Nobody can properly answer this question - and it is not supposed to be answered. It is supposed to make you think. "Perhaps there are no moral truths and it is all a matter of opinion. If it is all a matter of opinion what right do I have to say that people who have aspirations for genocide should not have a state. That might be moral after all."
Bint To Red: "Even if you do choose to believe in a particular deity--which is perfectly acceptable to me, even though it would mean that you were no longer an atheist--your ideas about what sins someone should apologize for are just irrational because they may not share your same preferred deity and the sin-list that goes with it."
Bint's moral relativism can be extended to the insane. Maybe our opinion that genocide is wrong is irrational because Adolph Hitler may not agree with it. With this philosophy we will be going around in circles until we die - and that is exactly why the Islamic Fascists love the so-called left so much. The "left" has lost it's morality and can justify the unjustifiable. This philosophy will also be the death of our civilisation because it will excuse murderers and weakens our resolve to defend ourselves against a people who would not tolerate this kind of thinking. Moral relativism is an affront to law - it impedes our ability to protect basic freedoms because we put ourselves into a position where we have no right to tell someone else that what they are doing is wrong, regardless of what it is they are doing. Bint thinks this is intelligent, the consequences prove this philosophy is most unwise.
"Unless you can convince the rest of the world to believe in your deity-of-choice, then there is no reason why others must make these apologies for behaviors that you think of as sins."
Let me re-write that for you: "Unless you can convince the rest of the world to believe that genocide is wrong, then there is no reason why others must make these apologies for behaviours that you think of as sins." Here is the philosophy of moral relativism in its purest form.
"You see, arguments break down whenever you try to mix logic with religious views."
Bint views this loophole of morality to be logical. But is it logical? Let's read it again: I wrote: "Unless you can convince the rest of the world to believe that genocide is wrong, then there is no reason why others must make these apologies for behaviours that you think of as sins." You can come to your own conclusions. What I will add is that regardless of how logical it is, this philosophy is blind and dangerous.
"You see, arguments break down whenever you try to mix logic with religious views."
Bint suggests that she is completely logical, and logic is better than religion. This is her victory. You can't win because whatever you do she will draw you back into the relative moral loophole until you take the bait and say that your moral values are right and anyone who disagrees with you is wrong, essentially humiliating yourself in the process. Personally I see this entire philosophy as humiliating for Bint. I see her attempts to justify genocide as being immoral because genocide is wrong. No ifs no buts no conditions. Moral relativism is what Bint believes in, with it she can twist and turn morality like a game to lead us into a world where one can never say anything is wrong. A world where someone can morally punch you in the face for no reason at all.
"Trying to fight religion with religion doesn't work because you'll never be able to convince everyone to adopt one single belief system. As long as others have their own preferred religion, they will base their actions on what's right in their belief system and not what's right in yours."
Bint is Atheist. She can't prove there is no God but she "believes" there is no God - that is why Atheism is like a religion. In contrast Agnostics tend to be more mellow, they just don't care if there is a God or not because they feel that it will not make a difference to their lives. Being Atheist, Bint naturally believes and asserts that all moral law is man-made. Who is one person to claim that their manufactured morality is superior to that of someone else's design. We are all equal after all. As it is impossible to convince everyone of any set moral truths Bint concludes that there are no set moral truths. In essence, if you can not convince everybody that genocide is wrong, it is not wrong - so would you please stop imposing your bigoted ethnocentric views of morality onto another culture. Epilogue I don't know if "epilogue" is the right word to use here, but it will do! All this moral relativism reminds me a little of Stephen Colbert's "Wikiality" with a slight twist. The relativism may be there - so is the insanity. The difference in the form relativism that Bint advocates is that there is no popularity contest. Even if 99% of the world say that genocide is wrong, her philosophy dictates that they are just being ethnocentric. Updates I may update this article with examples of Moral Relativism in the news; and perhaps link to any other articles that I post on this subject at CultureForAll (or elsewhere).
  1. Charles at Little Green Footballs posted a Reuters article titled: "Egyptians who enslaved girl, 10, get U.S. prison":
    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two Egyptian nationals who pleaded guilty to enslaving a 10-year-old Egyptian girl at their Southern California home, making her work long hours serving their family of seven, were sentenced on Monday to prison terms. [...] "The young victim in this case was subject to inhumane conditions that included both physical and verbal abuse," U.S. Attorney Debra Yang said in a written statement. "As a result of recent changes in federal law she has been granted a visa that will allow her to stay and hopefully prosper in the United States," Yang said. In pleading guilty in June the defendants admitted bringing the girl to the United States from Egypt in 2000 when she was 10 under an arrangement with her parents, confiscating her passport and forcing her to work 16 hours a day as a domestic servant. The girl was required to assist the couple's youngest children in getting ready for school, to prepare and serve food, clean the home, do laundry and work in the yard, according to court papers. She was not allowed to attend school and was told she would be arrested if she was spotted alone outside their home. The couple each admitted to slapping the girl at least once to get her to work, the court papers said. Authorities did not say how her plight came to light.
    Charles: Egyptian Slavery in Southern California. But really, who are we to judge their culture?
  2. I recently read an Aish.com article on Athiesm which states:
    One who sees only random forces behind why we humans find ourselves here can have no reason to believe in objective categories of good and evil. I took pains to stress that I was not contending that atheists are bad people, and certainly not that religious people are necessarily good. I was not judging anyone, rather stating a self-evident philosophical truism: If our perception that some deeds are good and others are not is but a quirk of natural selection, none of us need feel any commitment to morality or ethics.
  3. Here is another Little Green Footballs post on the University of California:
    The University of California Irvine has been the subject of many posts at LGF, because the school plays host to one of the most unabashedly radical Muslim Student Union groups in the US. And now the anti-Jewish incitement has reached such a fever pitch that on the weekend of October 8, a student housing building was defaced with swastikas. What? You didn’t hear about it on the news? Apparently, deranged expressions of antisemitism on California campuses are not really news any more. In response to this event, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Manuel Gomez held a meeting and demonstrated exactly why UC Irvine has degenerated into a pit of hatred:
    Some of the Jewish students at the meeting revealed that they and others had been subject to verbal and physical intimidation at the hands of MSU members, and that they had previously reported these claims to campus security. In light of this, some students asked that Drake place restrictions on where MSU events are held, saying that if their events were held in classrooms as opposed to public spaces, their effect would not be as broad. However, Chancellor Drake told Jewish students at the meeting that he cannot restrict any club, that it would be “violation of law to prohibit certain speech.” Gomez emphasized that though hate speech may be present, he would not seek to curtail it, as “one person’s hate speech is another person’s education.”

Manalaa.net calls for Muslims to join the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizballah

Remember Alaa? This was the blogger from Manalaa.net who was jailed earlier this year for his participation in a protest. There was a worldwide effort to get him freed from jail, many of them pro-Israeli bloggers. Sandmonkey summarized what happened on his blog. I noted some time later that, after using Google translator on Alaa's blog, I discovered him to be an anti-Israel blogger, filled with hatred and bile. The depths that Alaa has sunk to continue to surprise even me. I just happened to peruse his site, and I saw that he posted something on the Muslim Brotherhood's English translation site. It is an article in glowing support of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizballah. Go read it yourself. Alaa cannot claim to be anything but an Islamist. Here is an excerpt from what he wrote:

Whenever someone tries to convince me that the Brotherhood is no good, that as a secularist and a leftist I should consider them my enemies instead of my comrades; I think of two adventures that the Brotherhood youth shared with other political powers in Egypt; one is the Free Student Union and the second is the judges solidarity protests. These two adventures are an example of when creativity, energy, daring and sense of adventure in us the youth of Egypt, were coupled with the courage and compassionate support of the not so young Egyptians who are a bit more experienced in political work came together and united us all in beautiful acts of resistance and made me feel as proud and optimistic as I felt when I first heard the news about HizbAlla h's adventure.These two adventures are an example of when creativity, energy, daring and sense of adventure in us the youth of Egypt, were coupled with the courage and compassionate support of the not so young Egyptians who are a bit more experienced in political work came together and united us all in beautiful acts of resistance and made me feel as proud and optimistic as I felt when I first heard the news about HizbAllah's adventure.

I guess what I'm trying to say is albeit very clumsily let's take a leaf from HizbAllah and go on more adventures together.

This is just a disgusting call to arms. The man is urging people to be terrorists. In that sense, he is a terrorist himself. He does not just hate Israel. He is actively calling on people to join genocidal organizations dedicated to the destruction of all Jews. And this is a man that the blogosphere - many of them Israelis - spent so many months trying to get out of jail. Revolting.

And now for something completely different

As requested by Red Tulips a Harry Potter related theory: The Gleam of Triumph the hinge of the series ?

I’ve been wondering about that gleam of triumph for quite sometime.

First of all lets consider what Harry’s blood contains, traces of his mother’s sacrifice, which protected Harry from Voldemort’s killing curse and which made it backfire on the Dark Lord. I have read many different theories over the years on the various Harry Potter fan sites and editorials on mugglenet, some of which went along the lines of Dumbledore being evil.

Now, armed with the knowledge of the prophecy and what the power the dark lord knows not, I have formulated a rather bizarre cheese cauldron worthy theory, in which Dumbledore is not evil, but in which the gleam of triumph was yet another piece to the puzzle of how Harry may cause Voldemort’s final downfall.

We learn from Dumbledore in the Horcruxes chapter of the half blood prince, many interesting facts about Harry. That he is just as pure of heart as he was when he was 11 and looked into the mirror of erised and saw not immortality and riches, but the only way to thwart Lord Voldemort.

Canon evidence quote 1: ‘You are protected, in short, by your ability to love. Said Dumbledore loudly. ‘The only protection that can possibly work against the lure of power like Voldemorts! In spite of all the temptation you have endured, all the suffering, you remain pure of heart, just as pure as you were at the age of eleven, when you stared into a mirror that reflected your heart’s desire, and it showed you only the way to thwart Lord Voldemort, and not immortality and riches. Harry, have you any idea how few wizards could have seen what you saw in that mirror? Voldemort should have known then what he was dealing with, but he did not!’ Pages 477-478, chapter 23, the half blood prince, UK edition

Dumbledore goes on to say that because Harry’s soul is untarnished and whole it has incomparable power over what is left of Lord Voldemort’s mutilated soul.

Canon evidence quote 2: ‘But he knows it now. You have flitted into Lord Voldemort’s mind without damage to yourself, but he cannot possess you without enduring mortal agony, as he discovered in the Ministry. I do not think he understands why, Harry, but he was in such a hurry to mutilate his own soul, he never paused to understand the incomparable power of a soul that is untarnished and whole.’ page 478, chapter 23, The half blood prince, UK edition

We also learn that Harry’s power over Voldemort is just love (see quote 1). Perhaps one of the uniquely deadly weapons Voldemort handed Harry when the curse backfired.

Now if we take a look at Harry’s soul and his power to love where can it lead us? Back to the end of the order of the phoenix and Voldemort’s failed possession attempt on Harry.

Canon evidence quote 3: ‘If death is nothing, Dumbledore, kill the boy…’ Let the pain stop, thought Harry … let him kill us … end it, Dumbledore … death is nothing compared to this … And I’ll see Sirius again … And as Harry’s heart filled with emotion, the creature’s coils loosened, the pain was gone; Page 720, chapter 36, The Order of the phoenix - UK edition

We learn from Dumbledore in the lost prophecy chapter that Harry was saved from possession not because he could not close his mind, but because he opened up his heart about Sirius Black.

canon evidence quote 4: ‘In the end, it mattered not that you could not close your mind. It was your heart that saved you.’ Page 743, Chapter 37, Order of the Phoenix - UK edition

Fast forward to the Horcruxes chapter in the half blood prince and we learn from Dumbledore that Voldemort cannot possess Harry without enduring mortal agony, whereas Harry can flit in and out of Voldemort’s mind with little damage to himself.

The question i ask myself is why does Voldemort feel this mortal agony and Harry is undamaged?

Part of the answer is that Harry’s soul has incomparable power over what is left of Voldemort’s soul which is beyond repair, so perhaps that causes Voldemort’s soul to weaken.

The other part of the answer i think is to do with Harry’s ability to love.

Voldemort does not understand love and he could not touch Harry at the end of the first book, because he was protected by his mother’s sacrifice which was borne out of love for Harry. This is the blood that Voldemort used to regenerate his body and come back from whatever he was after his first fall from power. He is able to touch Harry without feeling any pain. But now i think when Voldemort possessed Harry at the end of the order of the phoenix, his assumption that using Harry’s blood would make him invincible is in reality yet another one of Voldemort’s miscalculations.

When Harry opened up his heart about Sirius i believe that not only did Harry’s soul cause Voldemort to feel mortal agony, the blood he shares with Harry, was influenced by that surge of love Harry had. This activated the latent protection Lilly Potter provided to protect Harry from Voldemort. So, in essence Harry can influence the blood that is circulating in Voldemort’s body to an extent that could possibly kill Lord Voldemort.

Hence, the gleam of triumph might have been Dumbledore seeing another piece of the puzzle of how to finish Lord Voldemort off falling into place. Nothing sinister, just another weapon in Harry’s deadly arsenal of talents and gifts that will help him bring about Voldemort’s final downfall.

Now this method of loving Voldemort to death would only work under a few conditions: 1. Voldemort’s Horcruxes would first have to be destroyed 2. Harry would have to allow himself to be possessed by Voldemort or force his way into Voldemort’s mind. 3. Harry would have to hold Harry in this deadly embrace until one of them dies.

As to the question of Harry being a horcrux, i think this theory would most likely still work. In essence Harry would have to use his connection via the scar to enter Voldemort’s mind, and then with his ability to love kill the last two remaining pieces of Voldemort’s soul. Without killing himself in the process. But it could work.

However i did say this is probably a cheese cauldron worthy theory. I’m probably not even barking up the right tree. But it all seems to fit into the grand scheme of things in relations to Dumbledore’s Gleam of triumph being the hinge on which the series is balanced on.

Security risks

I am against the burka (aka niqab, based on who you talk to) and believe it should be taken off when the wearer enters an airplane or other secure location, for very real security reasons. I also believe that passport photos and driver's licenses need a photo on there for identification reasons - and hence the burka/niqab should be taken off in those instances. That said, recently the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Christian woman who does not believe in being photographed (something about 'graven images') could have a driver's license without a photograph. Go read Eteraz's post about this. The reasoning of the 8th circuit is pure insanity. Free exercise of religion does not give the religious person the right to subvert a law that is nonreligious in character with a substantial secular purpose. Those who say that women in burkas should have to take off the burka when going through an airport or taking a passport photo have no case if they support the Christian woman's arguments. Both arguments are insane and both lines of reasoning are insane. This is Christofascism personified. When Christofascists behave in this manner, I start to lose the ability to distinguish them from Islamofascists. Just sad, sad, sad.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Chomksy in a nutshell

This sums up Chomsky's record better than I could. Anyone who still gives this man any credibility has a screw loose or two! Hat tip: Jason EDIT: I edited the cartoon - hopefully it can be seen now.

Why do anti-America people flock to America?

Big Pharoah recently analyzed a strange phenomenom. He asks: Why do anti-America people flock to America? He wrote this post in regards to the recent attempt of Muslim Brotherhood officials to speak at NYU, and the denial of their visa to this country. (GOOD, finally the US is doing something right!) He wondered why, if these people hate America so much and call it the Great Satan, do they want to go to the Great Satan? He answered this question by saying that America's greatness is so great, it is even greater than the hatred these people have for it. I respectfully disagree. I believe that these people go to this country for one of two reasons: a) for economic opportunity (ie, they love MONEY more than they hate this country); and/or b) because they wish to become fifth columners within this country, and bring this country down. It is that simple. Money and fifth columnness. This is why we MUST deny the entrance visas to this country for Muslim Brotherhood officials! Being in this country will not transform these people and make them less radical. They are only moving here for the money and/or to bring this country down from the inside. I am not saying that all Muslims think this way. But Muslim Brotherhood officials? Yeah, that is exactly their intention! And it is why we MUST crack down on immigration. The Muslim Brotherhood officials have no desire to go to Israel, because they are not allowed entry into Israel! However, if they COULD, I am sure they WOULD attempt to emigrate to Israel for exactly the same reasons they try to emigrate to the United States, namely, money or fifth column desires. The emigration into America has nothing to do with the greatness of America. It only has to do with the opportunity to do so, which we MUST shut down.

Jesus Camp

There is a controversial movie currently out in theaters, called Jesus Camp. This movie depicts the indoctrination of born again Christians at a summer camp, in this case run by Becky Fischer and her ministry, Kids in Minstry International. I have not seen this movie, but I have read about what it depicts. Namely, the film depicts the total indoctrination and brainwashing of Christian children. In this film, you see children chanting "Righteous judges!" (re: overturning Roe v. Wade) You see children praying for George W. Bush. You see home schooled kids talk about science revisionism. You see the normal gay bashing, sexuality bashing, etc. My take on this movement is the following... My minimum threshold for religious movements I do not fear is that the religious movement should not advocate head chopping. If said religious movement does not advocate head chopping, then I will not be in as active fear that I am about head chopping faiths. However sick and twisted the children are in the Jesus Camp movie, they do not advocate head chopping. As such, they do not earn the sort of scorn that I hold for the Islamofascists. That said, they are also working against what it takes to fight the Islamofascists. If we hope to win the battle against Islamofascism, we have to outsmart them, and use every weapon in our arsenal. As such, the biggest threat that the Christonutjob movement is to America today is the way in which it is anti-thought and anti-science. If we hope to defeat Islamofascism, the only way we will accomplish this is by cutting the dependence we have on Arab oil. That is the only way. We are literally funding our own destruction when we pay for oil as we do. Now, yes, there is of course the environmental concern about how oil causes global warming. But the oft-ignored problem is that we are funding our own destruction when we buy the black gold. We need to rally the best and brightest from our generation to figure out an alternative fuel source, and the anti-science and anti-thought teachings of evangelicals directly works against this. I have other thoughts about the Jesus Camp kids. I actually am so disgusted with the way Americans are taught lies in the classroom (about Israel, the US), that a part of me trusts Evangelicals to have the gumption to fight the Islamofascists more than I trust fellow atheists/secularists. This is a sad state of affairs. While the Jesus Campers are being brainwashed, the secularists in this country (and the world) are being brainwashed as well, but it is a different sort of brainwashing - it is the sort of brainwashing against this country and Israel that led to the Rachel Corrie phenomenom. I view Rachel Corrie as emblematic of all that is wrong with the secular education that is taught in this country. In short, secularists as well as Jesusists are being taught a web of lies in school! Finally, even if I trust the Jesusists to have the gumption to fight the Islamofascists more than I trust most secularists, I also rue the notion of having to become the United States of Saudi Arabia in order to fight Islamofascism. It would be bitter irony if this is the only way we can fight them. I also do not believe this to be so. I believe that a complete revamping of the American education system is necessary, from top to bottom. Examples of how secularists are themselves indoctrinated to believe lies is found in the website Students for Academic Freedom. I do not view the Jesusists are presenting a great alternative to Islamofascism. They present an alternative which contains no gay rights, Christianity merged with the State, a lack of belief in science, censorship of 'licentious' material, and of course no abortion rights and lack of access to contraceptives. This is not a state I want to live in! Secularists, we have to get our act together and present a united front against Islamofascism, which, if it were to win, would allow the Jesusists to be dhimmis, and would annhiliate us all! We are truly the #1 threat to Islamofascism, because we THINK! The Jesusists may have the gumption to fight Islamofascists, but they in fact share the common goal of creating a religious state! The fact that there are groups such as Queers for Palestine is an abomination! Let's get our act together so that the world is not faced with the choice of Jesusism or Islamofascism. There must be a third choice! Secularism and freedom of thought is necessary to win the war against Islamofascism, but it is also necessary to create a real alternative to the United States of Saudi Arabia. EDIT: I want to summarize my opinion. I view the Jesusists as frightening in what they are advocating and their non-thought. I do not believe this is the way to win the war against Islamofascism, and even if it is, it would be a sad world to live in if we have to appease the Jesusists to win. However, I simply do not trust the secuarlists to fight Islamofascism, and I believe that while secularism is a pro-thought and pro-rationality line perspective, it has been taken over by those who are themselves anti-thought and anti-rationality. They are not true secularists and in fact have sullied secularism by their association with it. These people have a religion of sorts of their own, a twisted and illogical attachment to the religion of anti-Americanism, anti-Israelism, and anti-thought in general. In order to win the war against Islamofascism, we must take back secularism from the grip of these non-thinkers! We must go back to the secularism of the Enlightenment! These secularists claim to believe in freedom of speech, but will squash real thought in the classroom. They pretend to be enlightened while they are doing everything they can to promote Islamofascism. They are Rachel Corrie-izing the youths of the world! And thus, those who value thought and freedom face a battle on three fronts: a) Fighting against Islamofascism; b) Fighting against the Jesusization of this country; c) Fighting the anti-thought and pro-terrorism secularists within our own ranks! We cannot forget how important (C) is. If we hope to live in a world that values truth, justice, and the American way, we have to continually be aware of how important it is to fight those who claim to be spreading truth and justice while in truth they are spreading lies and hatred. This is the mission that all true secularists face today.