NOTICE

I'll be on holiday from 29 August to 15 September, after which I'll resume my regular posting on this blog. If you'd like to republish any of my articles, you are welcome to do so, with a link to the original post on my blog.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Halal Games and Anti-Jihad War Apparatus in Islamized London

HMS Ocean Moored in London for Olympic Games

Jihad Watch has just published my article Halal Games and Anti-Jihad War Apparatus in Islamized London, that I reproduce here:

by Enza Ferreri

London is the most Islamic city to have hosted the Olympic Games ever. There are at least 1 million Muslims thought to live in London, although the figure is likely to be higher.

And these Olympics will be dominated by Islam in more than one way.

London 2012 are the first Games to which every participating country has sent female athletes. Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar had never sent women to the Olympics before. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), under pressure from human rights groups, wanted female athletes from Muslim countries to participate, and threatened Saudi Arabia with a ban in order to achieve that result.

However, the International and the London Olympic Committees had to make many concessions. Behind the conspicuous hijab-wearing women in the Opening Ceremony Athletes’ Parade, and the amazing IOC decision to allow a Saudi woman to compete in hijab against judo rules banning fighters from wearing a head covering on safety grounds, there is much more, hidden from public view.

After the UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission’s request to have Olympic dates changed so that they would not overlap with Ramadan was rejected, the organizers have bent over backwards to accommodate Muslims.

London will make Olympic history by having for the first time an Olympic Village with areas designated for Muslim prayers. A team of Muslim clerics is available to athletes and officials, and there are faith rooms at the rowing and canoe sprint village and the sailing village. All restaurants and dining facilities at the Athletes’ Village will be open 24 hours to allow Muslims to eat in the permitted hours during Ramadan.

Halal meat and meals are available at all times in the athletes’ dining facilities, and are very likely to be served to non-Muslims too outside the Olympic Village.

Ramadan and the Olympics overlapped before, but never once had the Committee changed anything to pander to Muslim participation. Even volunteers have been trained absolutely not to hurt Mohammedan sensitivities, albeit inadvertently, and to answer questions in Islamically correct ways.
Everyone is to be reminded that within the Olympic site food can be eaten before dawn and after dusk.

And, as The Daily Mail reports:
Ramadan is set to add to London’s Olympic traffic woes as thousands of Muslims squeeze into non-Games lanes to worship at the many mosques that surround the Olympic Park.

Every year during the month of August, vast crowds of worshippers descend on east London — one of the most concentrated Muslim communities in the country — for nightly prayer.

Local councillor Abdal Ullah said the influx of people to the area, between central London and Stratford, will play havoc with Games road links and traffic hotpsots.

The district surrounding the Olympic Park is home to more than 250,000 Muslims and almost 100 mosques.
The Olympic Park is in East London, an area which has had more Islamic terror suspects arrested in recent years than any similar-sized area not just in Britain, but in the whole of Europe.

The BBC reported that a senior security services official had told the TV channel that the biggest threat to the Olympics comes from British Muslim extremists, and intelligence services are taking the threat of “a homegrown terror attack” during the Olympics very seriously.

Adding to their concerns, the intelligence official continued, is that for the first time in many years the Games are taking place during Ramadan, so they have to be particularly “sensitive and effective.”

In a video interview, a former extremist explained to the BBC that Muslim terrorists may strike during the sacred month of Ramadan thinking that it will be an opportunity for going to heaven.

Foiling attacks has occupied the police and security services for months, the BBC said, and the threat is very real.

And this leads to another record: the most security-conscious, heavily guarded Olympics. The greatest mobilisation of military and security forces in the UK since the Second World War, with more troops deployed than in the war in Afghanistan, and the most heavily secured event in London”s history, are still more records.

Eleven miles of electric fencing charged with 5,000 volts of electricity and topped with razor wire separating the Olympic site from the rest of London; entrances to major venues guarded by soldiers, and surrounding streets patrolled by police heavily armed with automatic weapons, a rare sight in Britain; one of the Royal Navy’s largest warships docked on the river Thames as a staging post for military helicopters, some carrying snipers and special forces personnel ready to take out dangerous elements; another of the world’s most advanced warships also stationed on the river; 6 missile sites dedicated to intercepting hostile aircraft; surface-to-air missile systems, scanning the skies to down any airborne threats, installed on the roofs of residential buildings; advanced fighter jets patrolling the sky above London; 4 of the most advanced aircraft developed by the European Union enforcing a strict no-fly zone around the city; unmanned drones flying above London to provide surveillance for security forces; helicopters with powerful imaging equipment to identify faces, clothes, even the smallest detail on any suspect individuals; thousands of street cameras feeding data to face-recognition software to spot any known hostile person from the crowds.

Armed FBI, CIA and Interpol officers in their hundreds are in London to help Scotland Yard.
Londoners do not forget the tragic link between Islamic terrorism and these games: London won its bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games on 6th July 2005, the day before the 7/7 bombings.

Welcome to the Halal, Ramadan, Jihad Games.


Photo by UK Ministry of Defence (Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0).

P.S. 7W6XBCCTKP85 = is my unique Technorati code, every blog has a different unique code.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Is There Something Wrong with Human Rights?

The great German philosopher Hegel wrote something that is true as well as poetically beautiful, namely that philosophy is like Minerva's owl, that only takes flight at dusk.

What he meant is that the awareness of a historic period takes place at the end of it.

In history there is a constant shift of power, the dominant orthodoxy changes, and often the oppressed become oppressors and vice versa. And yet generally society, public opinion continue to see things as they used to be in a past age, to believe that today's victims are the same as in a previous historical time and those in power now are those who were in power yesterday, whose power is in fact largely gone.

You can see that every day when men and whites are discriminated against, yet people still believe that women and blacks are victims of discrimination. Homosexuals are classical oppressed of yesterday who are now - or rather the homosexual activists are - oppressing and persecuting whoever disagrees with them. Their "rights" trump everyone else's, in particular those of Christians, as the clergy of the Church of England who will soon be forced to marry "gays" in church well knows.

Another example of this Hegelian Minerva's owl syndrome comes from a part of the counterjihad movement. Some people in it, like the blog Islam versus Europe, say that human rights are practically responsible for all evils on earth, or at least in the West.

Whether they mean the ethical and political concept of human rights or the way it has been legally applied by - especially international - courts is a little ambiguous - although it has been better specified after my pointing out these ambiguities -, but it does not matter so much from their perspective because they are not in search of theoretical clarifications but of short- or medium-term strategic solutions to the problems caused by mass immigration and Islam in the West, or rather just in Europe. So they happily neglect the question of the validity of the concept because only its space-temporal consequences of here and now are important for them.

Minerva's owl comes into this because the anti-humanrightists (I had to find a shorthand, and this is the best I came up with) rely heavily on Samuel Moyn's book The Last Utopia, which is a classical case of misunderstanding of the historic myopia Hegel highlighted with his metaphor.

Moyn says that the great moral and political achievements of the last couple of centuries, like the abolition of slavery, owe nothing to the principle of human rights because this expression and idea only became popular in the 1970s. This allegedly helps the anti-humanrightists in their argument that nothing good has ever come out of human rights.

Aside from the literality of this approach (was the radio invented only when the term became widely used?), Moyn's fundamental error is that he thinks that historical figures and movements should be aware during their lifetime of their future role in history.

What Moyn says about human rights is true of most other constructs, constantly applied with hindsight to past events. History is a continuous re-interpretation of the past in light of the present. So there is nothing new or exceptional, no conspiracy here.

Specifically, the concepts of rights, natural rights and God-given rights in ethics were established by modern philosophers like Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679), John Locke (1632 - 1704) and the 18th-century Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant, continuing a Christian tradition, so well before the 1970s.

It is no coincidence that suffragettes were calling for women's rights to vote and black leaders for civil rights.

The danger of not having any ethical theoretical foundation and relying just on democracy purely intended as majority rule, as anti-humanrightists advocate, should be obvious when analysing when that approach could take.

If the majority were allowed to rule without any ethical guidance or restraints, you would have nothing to oppose a majority group who decided to enslave and exploit for their own benefit, even in the cruellest and most violent way, a minority group.

One of the problems, these counterjihadists say, is that "rights conflict with one another so someone has to decide on their relative weights".

This is common to all laws. That's why there are judges. It is fallacious to think that this problem is limited to human rights. No law, legal or ethical principle has absolute validity. Even the most basic concepts, like individual freedom, have only relative validity. One person's freedom ends when another person's freedom begins. If a man had absolute individual freedom, he would become a despot, like the tyrants of the past.

So, in the same way as we don't consider the limits to the principle of individual freedom and the balancing act that we need to perform in its application sufficient reason to reject it, neither should the principle of human rights be discarded because "Rights conflict with one another so someone has to decide on their relative weights".

As anyone with even a superficial knowledge of the law will tell you, each law has only a limited scope, and often different laws contradict each other. There is always someone who "has to decide on their relative weights".

In fact, coming back to the issues of immigration and Islam, if there is a problem it is that human rights have not been protected and respected enough, be it those of the native Western populations, or of people dissenting from the politically correct line.

The examples that the anti-humanrightists give as reasons in support of their cause are in fact better viewed as the opposite.

I will explore them in a forthcoming post.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

New Archbishop of Glasgow Under Fire for Comments on Homosexuality

Or rather for telling the truth.
A conservative Catholic just appointed as archbishop of Glasgow has been condemned for appearing to link the death of a Labour MP last year with his homosexuality.

Philip Tartaglia, whose appointment as the next archbishop of Glasgow by Pope Benedict was made public on Tuesday, suggested the premature death of David Cairns, a former minister, was connected to his sexuality, when he spoke at an event this year.

Cairns, himself a former Catholic priest and a widely respected Scotland Office minister, died unexpectedly aged 44 last year from complications from acute pancreatitis, shocking his family, friends and colleagues.

Tartaglia is an outspoken critic of Scottish government proposals, due to be published imminently, to legalise gay marriage and is also tipped as a successor to Cardinal Keith O'Brien as head of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland.

Currently bishop of Paisley, Tartaglia suggested at a conference on religious freedom and equality at Oxford University in April that there may have been hidden or unexplained links between Cairns's premature death and his sexuality.

In response to a question from an audience member about the suicide of a gay author in the US, the bishop said: "If what I have heard is true about the relationship between the physical and mental health of gay men, if it is true, then society is being very quiet about it.

"Recently in Scotland there was a gay Catholic MP who died at the age of 44 or so, and nobody said anything, and why his body should just shut down at that age? Obviously he could have had a disease that would have killed anybody. But you seem to hear so many stories about this kind of thing, but society won't address it."

Tartaglia's remarks were condemned by Cairns's partner, Dermot Kehoe, and Tom Harris, the Labour MP for Glasgow South, blogger and a close friend of Cairns, who became the first former Catholic priest to sit in the Commons after winning Inverclyde in 2001. Harris said the bishop's comments were "ill-informed tripe".

Kehoe, who was Cairns's partner for nearly 15 years, told the Scotsman: "This is genuinely very upsetting and painful for David's family and friends. I can't believe that someone who claims to be a man of God and is seeking to give moral leadership should speak from such a position of ignorance.

"I don't care what his views on gay marriage are, but to bring in my dead partner to justify those views is wrong."

Harris wrote to Tartaglia, describing his remarks as "hurtful and ill-informed" and urged him to reconsider them.

His letter says: "I was privileged to be one of David's closest friends. His friends and family have spent the last year trying to come to terms with his tragic loss from complications arising from acute pancreatitis.

"Your public assertion that David's illness might in some way be connected to his sexuality and lifestyle was not only unsupported by any evidence, but was, I fear, unworthy of your position as a leader in the church."

A spokesman for Tartaglia said: "Responding to a question from an audience member, Bishop Tartaglia agreed that the health risks of same-sex behaviour were largely unreported.

"He mentioned the premature death of a young high-profile gay MP in this context. There was no intention to cause offence and he regrets that anyone may have been upset.

"In the case of the MP concerned, his funeral was conducted in the Catholic church and pastoral support offered to his family and friends." [Emphasis added]

The archbishop was addressing a real problem that the mainstream media don't want to face. Regardless of specific cases, medicine considers anal sex - when is the last time you even heard or read this expression? - to carry more risks than other sexual activities. Even the ultra PC NHS says so.

An additional problem is that many deaths related to AIDS - of which the main way of transmission is from man to man, at least in the West ("In 23 European countries, the new cases of HIV in men who have sex with men rose 86 percent between 2000 and 2006.") - are from diseases resulting from the weakening of the auto-immune system due to AIDS.

Landmark Case: US Government Argues that Islam is Political

Pamela Geller, at Atlas Shrugs, reports about the developments of a landmark case in which she is involved, and which could have momentous consequences for the counterjihad movement not just in the States but everywhere.
What began as a clear first amendment issue has exploded into a landmark case regarding the status of Islam as a political entity. Today the Detroit Transit Authority (SMART), a government entity, argued before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that our "Leaving Islam" ad was political because Islam is political. At least two of the three judges seemed to go along.

If the Court rules against us, it will be ruling that Islam is political and that Sharia is a political program -- something that other government agencies have strenuously denied. If that happens, will Islam and Sharia deserve the protection of a religion?

The case was argued today before 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Raymond Kethledge, John Marshall Rogers and Algenon L. Marbley. Chris Hildebrand, the lawyer for Detroit SMART, began by referring to and based his whole argument on our recent victory over the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority in another First Amendment case about a completely different ad (a pro-Israel ad). Hildebrand argued that the Judge in that case, Paul Engelmayer, had said that that ad was political, and thus that the MTA had to accept it in accord with their guidelines. Hildebrand asserted that our "Leaving Islam?" bus ad, which Detroit SMART rejected, was also political, and thus was rightly rejected by SMART, which (in contrast to the MTA) does not take political ads. His client, said Hildebrand, does not reject ads because they're provocative (as he claimed that ours was), or controversial, but because they're political, and SMART does not and will not take political positions.

Judge Rogers then told him that he had gotten SMART into a "blurry area" to be making a distinction between the political and religious. Hildebrand countered that while the ad may be anti-Islam, anti-Muslim, and anti-Sharia (actually it was designed wholly and solely to offer help to people whose lives were threatened), it was also political. Judge Marbley then pointed out that an imam, who would issue a fatwa (referring to the part of our ad that asked, "Is your family threatening you? Is there a fatwa on your head?") was not an elected official.

Hildebrand then dropped the bomb that has extraordinary implications for the debate about anti-Sharia laws and the status of Islam in the United States: he said that yes, imams have a religious function, but they also "control Sharia law," and Sharia is political. Marbley said that that might be so in Iran, but not in Detroit, where they had a purely religious function. Hildebrand then dug in even deeper, saying that imams in Dearborn deal with Sharia on both a religious and political basis. When Marbley then asked him how our ad was different from one that SMART accepted from an atheist group, calling on people to become atheists, Hildebrand said that it differed because Islam is not only religious, but also a "political series of laws." Marbley then pointed out that the same thing could be said about the Catholic Church, since the Vatican was a political entity, and that could be used to rule out advertising from Catholic groups. Hildebrand then argued that our ad was both religious and political, and that the reference to a fatwa made it primarily political and not religious -- which would only be true if Sharia itself is primarily political and not religious.

Judge Kethledge seemed to go along with this argument, telling our own lawyer, Robert Muise (who ably argued for our side), that Sharia is "arguably" political as well as religious. Judge Rogers then outrageously compared our ad to an ad repeating a vile and disgusting blood libel against the Jews as part of Jewish law (which it most certainly is not, but the death penalty for apostasy most certainly is part of the sharia) -- showing the truth of his and Marbley's admission that they knew next to nothing about Islam (or Jewish law). Clearly they were unaware of Islam's death penalty for apostasy. If they did, they would never have said that our public service ad constituted "scorn and ridicule."

Kethledge clearly had his mind made up already, getting testy with Muise and helping Hildebrand with his case, inviting him when he returned to the stand to explain why our ad -- designed to save lives -- constituted "scorn and ridicule" of Muslims and thus was also disallowed on those grounds according to SMART's guidelines. This entangled SMART in a self-contradiction: Hildebrand said that they didn't disallow our ad because it was "controversial" but also that our ad constituted "scorn and ridicule" -- but none of the judges seemed to notice and certainly no one challenged Hildebrand on this. Hildebrand did not, and could not, explain why our ad constituted scorn and ridicule, and instead simply kept asserting that it did. He did not argue his case persuasively, but with Kethledge and also Rogers so clearly on his side, he had a clear advantage.

If SMART wins, however, the implications for the status of Islam and Sharia as political will be enormous. Incalculable. SMART may end up winning the battle for Sharia in the U.S., but losing the war. [Emphasis added]

How Catholic Monks Made the West Rich

Why is the West richer than other parts of the world? What creates wealth?

The scientific journal Science Nordic reports that a new PhD thesis tries to find an answer to these questions, very topical in times of bailouts and double-dip recessions and very challenging for economists, in Medieval history.

And it discovers that it was the Roman Catholic order of Cistercian Monks that left a long-lasting legacy of cultivation of the virtues which made the West prosperous.
...One of the clues the thesis follows begins in France in 1098, when a breakaway group of monks formed a new monastic order. We’ll get back to that, but first we need to delve a little deeper into the underlying factors of wealth and growth.

Here, the economic literature points to three factors: institutions, culture and geography.

The idea is that some countries have established institutions that form a good breeding ground for education, savings and technological progress – or they have simply been blessed with a culture or a geography that has formed a productive environment.

“We’re still no wiser as to exactly which dimensions of culture, institutions, geography and climate are of importance here,” says Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, of the Department of Economics at the University of Copenhagen, who has just defended her PhD thesis Why are some countries richer than others?

“In my thesis, I look at some of these deep explanatory factors to see if they can help explain the differences in income.”

Economic success may be due to diligence and moderation

The German economist and sociologist Max Weber, widely considered as one of the founders of social science, highlights what he calls ‘The Protestant Ethic’ as being particularly beneficial to capitalist prosperity.

'The Protestant ethic' is basically about working hard, saving money and reinvesting the profits.

In the article "Religious Orders and Growth through Cultural Change in Pre-Industrial England", which forms part of Bentzen’s thesis, she and her research colleagues seek to examine to which degree societies with a culture of diligence and moderation were actually enjoying more economic success even before the Industrial Revolution.

Big differences in the world

Before the Industrial Revolution there were only very small differences in countries' prosperity.

But the revolution brought with it a shift to mechanised production, which resulted in great increases in productivity and efficiency.

With this revolution, it was mainly European countries that saw massive increases in their production output. Today these countries are way ahead of certain other countries in the world.

This difference in the timing of the Industrial Revolution can explain much of the difference between rich and poor countries today, the researchers believe. It is therefore interesting to study factors affecting the timing of the Industrial Revolution.

Population density is an indicator of a society's wealth

To measure a country's economic success today, economists often use the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita – the country's total production performance.

There is, however, no reliable GDP data per capita dating back to before the Industrial Revolution. For that reason, economists often use population density as a measure of a society’s prosperity.

This is because virtually all societies back then lived with an absolute minimum of economic security and survival, which meant that any additional income resulted in more survivors – which resulted in an increased population – while lower income led to fewer survivors.

“So we wanted to study to which degree countries that valued diligence and moderation also had a greater population growth,” she says.

So how do we measure such diligence and moderation?

“The proportion of Protestants in a society might be an indicator of these values, but the problem here is that it wasn’t a coincidence that some countries converted to Protestantism. It could well be that a society which for instance had higher levels of education had a greater tendency to convert to Protestantism, while at the same time achieving greater economic success, despite Protestantism.”

Cistercian monks highlighted as a good example

This prompted the researchers to go as far back as to the point that has previously been identified as a possible origin of The Protestant Ethic: when the Roman Catholic order of Cistercians was founded in France in 1098.

The order was formed by a breakaway group of Benedictines which advocated a stricter obedience to the Rule of Saint Benedict.

To allow as much time as possible for prayer, the Cistercians streamlined their work and minimised their consumption.

“Cistercians were known to be extremely diligent and frugal – the exact virtues that Weber ascribed to Protestantism,” says Bentzen. “Weber himself highlighted the Cistercians as early forerunners of the Protestant Ethic.”

The monks left fundamental values in society

Having looked at statistics covering 40 counties in England, the researchers concluded that regions with many Cistercian monasteries experienced a higher population growth in the period 1377-1801.

What’s even more striking is that the influence that monasteries had on population density was the same before and after 1600.

The fact that all monasteries were closed down during the Reformation in the year 1500 also shows that the monasteries had an influence on society several centuries after being closed down.

So it appears that it wasn’t only the monks’ excellent abilities to e.g. use watermills that have been passed on to posterity. Rather, it was something more inherent and fundamental.

“We are cementing that the monks passed on their cultural values by showing – based on the European Values Study – that European regions with several Cistercian monasteries still to this day value diligence and moderation more than other regions,” says Bentzen.

“Our study of monks shows that societies that had a culture where diligence and moderation were highly valued had an advantage when the Industrial Revolution started. All else being equal, countries with high levels of work ethic will, historically speaking, achieve greater prosperity.”

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

"Britain is Not in Recession", Economist Says

We have already commented on the current discrepancy between the UK's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) figures going down and employment numbers going up.

Today the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published figures showing that the country's economy is doing worse now than when the coalition government came to power in 2010, and that we are in the worst recession since records began over 50 years ago. The UK output shrank by 0.7 per cent between the beginning of April and the end of June. This was much worse than expected.

But some economists dispute the accuracy of these preliminary figures, because they are mostly estimates. There are also, as well as an increase in number of jobs, other figures that go against the ONS numbers: in the North-West of England, for example, exports are up by 8 per cent.

The British Chamber of Commerce's John Longworth says that their and other business surveys and the employment figures all belie what the ONS is saying about the GDP.

Jonathan Davis, economist and wealth manager, claims that governments, both in Britain and abroad, have made the wrong choice: we have had an interest rate too low for too long. Heightening interest rates in the UK and stopping bailing out banks would have a short-term detrimental effect for the economy, causing a lot of pain for a couple of years, he says, but after that, long term, Britain would have much lower living and manufacturing costs and it would be the most attractive nation on earth into which to invest. It would be a short sharp shock to the system, followed by 20 years of growth.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at financial information company Markit, constantly carrying out surveys and talking to businesses, said today on Radio 5 Live:
"Certainly we are much more in line with what the labour market figures are saying. We speak to thousands of companies every month across the broad spectrum of the economy. We also talk to recruitment agencies, we run a monthly survey of those, we talk to marketing people about what their views are for their business. And all of these surveys have painted a reasonable picture of the economy in the first half of the year, and very much in line with what we are seeing in terms of private sector job creation.

"Employment is not just rising, it's actually surging. In the 3 months to April we saw one of the largest increases in private sector jobs that we've ever seen. The services actually saw a record, even manufacturing added 38,000 jobs, which doesn't sound a lot but this was the largest increase since the late 1995. And these are not all jobs in London for the Olympics, they are not all part-time jobs. There's a really robust picture out there. We don't think that the country is in recession."
Williamson adds that these GDP numbers do come with a big health warning, even the ONS that compiles them laces their release with warnings about them. The ONS is under huge pressure to come up with early estimates from the Bank of England and the government who want some insight into what's going on: this release, for instance, contains no information about what happened in June, which is only made up of estimates. It's a very incomplete picture they've got.

Asked if he thinks that the Bank of England might react by cutting rates, he replies that it might do but what's becoming increasingly apparent is that central banks have very limited scope to boost the economy.

The fundamental problem is low confidence, to which headlines on double-dip recession contribute. Measures boosting a supply of credit are very good but what we really need alongside them is an increase in the demand for credit. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls' proposed solution of cutting VAT is not going to help either, he thinks, because, rather than boosting spending, we need a much more fundamental growth strategy, so that businesses will see there is scope for them to see increased demand for their goods and services and they'll invest in jobs and machinery.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Intolerant Secularists

People like Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion (Amazon USA) , (Amazon UK) , and Christopher Hitchens, who wrote God Is Not Great (Amazon USA) , (Amazon UK) , et al, when attacking “religion”, play on various ambiguities. They create ambiguities in their choice of terms and then these ambiguities are convenient for them.

The first instance of ambiguity is the use of the term “religion”. It puts together all sorts of people and doctrines which may have very little in common.

To give an analogy, the flat earth theory is undoubtedly a theory of physics. It says something about the earth and, by extension, is a cosmology theory because the universe in which a flat earth exists would be a different universe from ours. It is scientific because it can be tested and disproved, as indeed it has.

Now, if I wanted to criticize scientific physics, I could bundle together the flat earth theory with Newton’s classical mechanics and Einstein’s relativity theory, and say about the former things which are obviously not true about the two latter.

When Dawkins and company attack “religion”, they bundle together Muslim suicide bombers (who are among the most hated figures of our times) with Catholic and other Christian missionaries who risk disease to help the poor in African and other Third World countries.

But, from their viewpoint, it’s a good ploy. If you are not interested in truth and intellectual honesty but only in scoring points (political and non), you can use generic terms which are obviously ambiguous and create confusion by mixing “il sacro e il profano” (“chalk and cheese”). Then, by attacking the obviously bad, you have achieved the effect of also attacking the obvioulsy good in the process. And if you’re good at it, it can be as in a magic trick: nobody noticed where the card, or in this case the truth, disappeared or indeed if it did disapper at all.

Men of science like Dawkins should know that, as in science different theories redefine the concepts they use (Newtonian time and space are not the same as Einsteinian time and space), so in religion the same is true: different doctrines have different concepts of God, and they may have very little in common.

In short, you cannot criticize “religion” meaningfully, especially by extending bad aspects of terrible religions to other religions which are fundamentally good.

Another ambiguity that they employ is when they say “religion is declining in the West” or something to that effect. In that case, what they mean is clearly “Christianity” and not “religion”, given that other religions professed by ethnic minorities who live in the West do not show sign of decline.

Here they got it wrong again. Christianity still permeates Western life and way of thinking profoundly. We are all Christian, as Oriana Fallaci says. I am an atheist Christian as she is, and I’m borrowing her expression because I think it explains well the condition of our “secular” societies too.

These, and we ourselves, have been shaped by two millennia of Christian thinking, luckily. An article by John Gray on secular fundamentalists in The Guardian seems to agree with this when he says that Dawkins & co. are really expressions of the Christian background from which they derive (and he does not even defend Christianity, he just attacks Dawkins and his gang). He believes that the very idea of history as progress is Christian.

I don’t know where we would be without this profound Christian influence. Britain, which is perhaps the least Christian country in Western Europe (perhaps in the West) has also some of the greatest drugs and alcohol problems, highest level of teenager pregnancy, highest rate of illegitimate births, biggest problem of an underclass, highest crime rate, highest level of debt among the population, highest spread of obesity.

This is where abandoning our Christian roots would lead: forgetting self-discipline and only thinking of immediate self-gratification have these effects. Which is also part of the reason why, whereas it may be possible for an individual to be atheist, I don’t think that it is apossible for a society to be atheist.

When Dawkins and people of his ilk say something like “hey, look, we are a secular society now and we are fine” or something similar, they systematically forget, overlook or disregard the many, profound, pervasive ways in which many centuries of Christianity have influenced our society and still do. I can see it in myself, how my Christian upbringing still has a (mostly beneficial) effect on me.

Where the intolerant secularists also got it wrong is in putting science and religion against each other. They think that they are incompatible, whereas in fact they occupy different domains, and there is no conflict or contradiction. In fact, you may say that the problems arise when one of them tries to occupy the other’s territory, and attributes to itself a role and capability which it does not possess.

Dawkins is a good case in point. When he writes as a modern evolutionary and genetic theorist and as a zoologist, he is fine and indeed very interesting. When he writes as a self-proclaimed philosopher and a “religion basher”, he writes nonsense.

Something similar happens to science when it usurps a role which is not its own. Dawkins is a good metaphor for this arrogance and its consequences: when he tries to attributes to both himself and science a role which they do not have and a power which they do not possess, they get it all wrong. Basically, biology is his profession, and philosophy of religion is his fun activity, his hobby. I would call him a religion basher by hobby. He definitely should stick to his profession, because he is rubbish at his hobby.

We have to be careful that science does not overstep its domain and role, because many bad things may easily follow from this.

Positivism was a 19th century philosophy which overstressed the power and importance of science. The French positivist sociologist August Comte thought that humanity goes through three stages: "the Theological, or fictitious; the Metaphysical, or abstract; and the Scientific, or positive."

Gray's article does not mention him but mentions the anthropologist James George Frazer instead, who slightly altered and popularized Comte’s theories His three stages are: primitive magic; religion; and science.

All this leads to scientism, the belief that the scientific method can be applied to everything and that science is the most authoritative and valuable learning activity to the exclusion of other viewpoints.

We can easily give too much power to science, as the case of animal experimentation clearly and tragically shows. Most people in the West probably are morally, instinctively opposed to vivisection, but they just accept it because “scientists say that it’s necessary” without even trying to question whether that statement by scientists is true or not.

Technocracy, government by scientists and technical experts, is just as bad as any other form of control by an elite.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Increasing Attacks on Christianity in Europe

I'm afraid that Raymond Ibrahim might in the not-so-distant future have more work to do when compiling his monthly statistics of persecution of Christians.

European countries may have to be added to his list.

Persecution of Christians in Europe takes mainly two forms. The first is the age-old type that we already know from what happens in Asia and Africa as Muslim (mostly illegal) immigrants spread across the globe.

The second is the brand-new, "liberal" kind, deriving from European elites' efforts to marginalize Christianity in its own historical home.

I'll focus in this post on a few examples of the increasing number of physical attacks on churches, Christian festivals, other symbols of Christianity and even Christian people throughout Europe. It must be noted that destroying crosses is a well-documented Islam's tradition.

In a cemetery in Pausa, Saxony, Germany, a 2-meter-tall statue of Jesus Christ was beheaded and the head smashed to pieces. Pastor Frank Pierel reported that such attacks take place rather frequently in his area.

In Strunjan, Slovenia, the "artist" Dean Verzel and others set fire to a votive cross erected by local seamen in the year 1600, replicating the gesture he had performed 10 years before in 2002 and for which he had been acquitted. Repeating an often-heard justification for all sorts of anti-Christian garbage, "it's nothing against Christianity", he said, "it's a 'work of art'".

In the cemetery of Canohès, France, four Christian graves were vandalized and covered with anti-Christian slogans.

In Bologna, Italy, a Moroccan student approached the faithful attending the procession of Corpus Domini and shouted "You're all a flock of sheep, you'll go to hell!" He was charged with offending people and a religious faith.

In Clouzeaux, France, the Church of the Bon Pasteur was set fire to in broad daylight. The fire was lit in three different places and caused immense damage. The altar was totally destroyed, electrical wires pulled out of the wall, crucifixes, pews, chairs, panels, chandeliers toppled and broken, holy water fonts, extremely precious vestments, and many other religious objects completely ruined. Apparently it was three local children, aged 14, 13 and 12, who caused damage of 50,000-70,000 euros.

Still in France, three men entered the Church of Cruseilles on Holy Saturday and set fire to leaflets, prayer and hymn books. The cloth covering an altar was also burned and the main altar damaged.

More cemetery vandalism in France, in Sussargues, where graves were covered with anti-Christian writings and crucifixes were turned upside down, and church vandalism in Paris.

In Duisburg, Germany, churches were attacked over the New Year with stones, firecrackers, rockets, causing tens of thousands of euros' worth of damage. The congregants said that this was not the first time.

The main server of the Catholic Church in France was hijacked by a Muslim Algerian hacker who took control of a total of 475 French websites, many Catholic, the content of which he replaced with the message "No God But Allah and Mohammed is Messenger Of Allah".

This tops it all. In Nimes, France, people who had attended a Catholic festival were leaving in cars and buses when young Arab-Muslims from the neighboring estate started to throw stones at their vehicles coming from the sanctuary. The event organisers were forced to arrange a diversion to a different route to protect the occupants of the vehicles from the savage attacks, which continued.

In Nice, France, the traditional, annual Catholic procession for the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, celebrated throughout the Catholic world on August 15 but by the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption in Nice on August 14 evening, is now under police protection. During the last procession the entire route, 400 meters long, was lined by police. Who the faithful need protection from can be guessed when we know that Nice has a large Muslim population, who has been holding its prayers every Friday for years, illegally occupying public streets with impunity.

To remain in Nice, one of its churches received the dubious honor of being adorned with a huge Algerian flag on the front, covering the words "Saint Peter".

Watch this video translated by Islam versus Europe (IVE) about the many attacks committed against churches and cemeteries all over France in the first half of 2011 but prepare to be upset.

In Milbertshofen, Munich, Germany, a Catholic church has been the object of a continuous aggressive campaign for more than a year, with services disrupted, walls smeared, holy water receptacles filled with urine. Things have been set on fire, and tiles torn down from the roof; consequently it rained inside, with risk of damage to the almost 500-year-old tableau. The culprits are the neighborhood's youths and even children, almost entirely from a migrant background. A local social worker says that the youths are becoming more radical and the attacks are increasingly religiously motivated. (This video was also translated by IVE)

Another video shows St Calogero Church in Agrigento, Sicily, Italy, after Ales Halid, a drunken immigrant from Ghana already known to the police for other crimes, entered the church shouting in Arabic and smashed a small black statue of the saint against a wall. The man was so agitated that it took four police officers to restrain him before arrest. Two officers got injured and Halid also damaged the police car.

"Now we have to understand what drove this man to act in such an ugly manner" the video says, but it inadvertently hints at an answer when it adds that the attack took place "during the festivities dedicated to the Monaco Turco [Turkish Monk, a reference to St Calogero] worshipped by the people of Agrigento, saint who has been acclaimed by Bishop Montenegro as a model of integration among peoples." Maybe Halid did not want "integration", and particularly objected to a Turkish Christian monk called "the black saint".

Notice that none of the Italian media reporting this called the man "Muslim". This is the usual media line, which the president of France's National Council of Muslim Faith for some reason thought in need of being reinforced when last week he asked journalists that, in case of aggressions, the religion of neither victim nor aggressor should be mentioned.

In the cemetery of Belleville-sur-Meuse, France, the bronze statue of Christ carrying the cross was broken and fifteen graves were desecrated.

In Burgos, Spain, the two statues of St Peter and St Lawrence of the 13th-century Gothic church of San Esteban were beheaded. Police were puzzled by this attack against a place of worship, which is also an architecture jewel and an important cultural and historical heritage. The main hypothesis was that it was an act of vandalism because, if it had been a robbery, the thieves would not have damaged the statues. The church's parish priest said this was "the first time" an attack on San Esteban had ever occurred in its 8 centuries of existence.

A few years ago, 57-year-old Canon Michael Ainsworth was beaten up in his own east London churchyard by three Muslim youths who caused him serious injuries. The attacks on vicars or churches were so frequent in that parish with a large Bangladeshi Muslim population that they prompted Melanie Phillips to write: "Indeed, there appear to have been many attacks by Muslims who are clearly intent on turning east London into a no-go area for Christians".

The Telegraph wrote: "A survey of London clergy by National Churchwatch, which provides personal safety advice, found that nearly half said they had been attacked in the previous 12 months. The organisation suggested that vicars should consider taking off their dog collars when they are on their own."

The two facts that France has the lion's share of these less than edifying episodes and that, with 7.5 per cent of its population being Muslim, has the highest percentage of Muslims among Western European countries seem to go hand in hand rather well.

I could go on but you've got the idea of the current trend. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Illegal Immigration is a Crime

In all the debate about immigration, one thing often forgotten is that violation of national borders, i.e. illegal immigration, is in most countries an offense, and even more a criminal offense.

There are two types of offences: civil and criminal. The difference between them is that the former is a wrong perpetrated against a private, be it an individual, company, organization or party, so it is the victim's responsibility to seek redress for the wrong done to them. It usually, but not necessarily, concerns money.

The latter is a wrong perpetrated against society as a whole, and therefore criminal offences are prosecuted by the state or government, rather than by individuals.

Although there is overlapping in the sense that the same behaviours can give rise to both a criminal and a civil offence, and sometimes both kinds of legal actions can be pursued, this is an important distinction.

In Western countries generally, illegal immigration is a criminal offense.

Illegal immigrants violate the immigration laws and sovereignty of a country.

The fact that the punishment for illegal immigration is not enforced does not make it any less serious; it just makes its non-enforcers more irresponsible towards the society and the people they are supposed to protect against this crime.

In fact, giving amnesty to those who have violated immigration laws, as the UK Liberal Democrats had put in their manifesto before the 2010 General Election, would reward criminal behaviour and violate a fundamental principle of civil justice, i.e. that no-one should be allowed to profit from wrongdoing, a case of which is entering a country illegally.

In addition, it would obviously send the wrong message to all the would-be immigrants and act as a magnet for even more of them.

Economic Optimism at the Horizon

The UK's unemployment figures have decreased, but the economy is not recovering. How is it possible?

The country's unemployment rate has gone down for the fourth consecutive month.

The UK economy, at the same time, measured in terms of output and GDP (Gross Domestic Product), has been flat for two years now, and the International Monetary Fund forecasts no or little growth for this and next years.

Economists scratch their heads. These figures "defy the laws of economic gravity", claimed Gerwyn Davies of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Several theories have been proposed to explain this dichotomy and apparent paradox.

But I personally find the Royal Bank of Scotland's economist Ross Walker's explanation an interesting one, although I can't say if it's correct or not. He
says the employment numbers – which are perhaps easier to measure than economic output – at the very least ‘present a challenge to notions of technical recession’.

Markit's Chris Williamson, though warning things are about to change, agrees. 'I think employment has been on the increase simply because the economy has been growing faster, and not in recession, than the oRBSfficial GDP data suggest.'
I heard Walker on the BBC Radio 5 Live say something that seemed to point to the greater reliability of employment figures than economic output, for the reason he mention here: that they are easier to measure.

So, according to this logic, if these two indicators point in conflicting directions it's the unemployment numbers that should be believed.

And here he makes other observations:
For a long time we've argued the most important figure is the employment number, which doesn't seem to get much attention for reasons I've never understood and so it's pretty solid. It begs the question if the economy is in recession, why we are creating 180,000 new jobs.

We've had sizeable public sector layoffs and they've been a bit more frontloaded than had been expected when the fiscal consolidation began but we still seem to have reasonably robust private sector employment.

Some of it is part time, but overall it's a little better than expected. The wage figures are obviously still very soft but I think the combination of stronger employment growth and larger than expected falls in inflation are doing more to restore real incomes. They're offsetting the effects of the fairly anaemic nominal income growth.
Official figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed that in June the UK's inflation rate fell to 2.4% as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, while the Retail Prices Index, which includes housing costs, fell to 2.8%.

This is the third month in a row that the annual rate of CPI has fallen, and it is now at its lowest since November 2009, which means that UK prices are increasing at their slowest rate since the end of 2009.

The BBC says:
The rate of inflation, which indicates how fast prices are rising compared with a year earlier, is slowing due to lower food, fuel and clothing prices...

The thing having the biggest effect on household budgets is the fall in fuel prices, said Neil Saunders, a retail analyst at Conlumino.

Petrol prices fell by 4.3 pence per litre on the month, to £1.33 a litre on average. Diesel was down 4.7p to an average of £1.39.

"This has benefited most households although, in our view, it will take time for this to drive tangible changes in behaviour in terms of shopping and spending habits," he said.

Mr Saunders pointed out that wages were still rising more slowly than prices, meaning a continued squeeze on finances.

"However, if inflation continues to drop back at this pace, wage settlements will outstrip inflationary growth by the fourth quarter meaning we will see a return to growth in real disposable income," he said.

Overall, alcohol and transport costs were down by 0.5%.

Food prices were 0.1% lower.
And, if we really want to be optimistic, there is another good sign at the horizon: petrol prices are predicted to drop:
... we expect a global growth in oil production "from 93 million barrels per day today to 110 million barrels per day by 2020", an increase of almost 20 percent, the largest increase in a single decade since the 1980s...

The other obvious happy consequence that is plausible and legitimate to predict is the reduction, and even collapse, in oil prices, similarly to what happened in the 1980s. Then that oil price decrease was a powerful factor driving economic recovery and growth. It may indeed happen again.

For millions of people in Britain fuel prices are the biggest household bill concern, it will be a great relief if car petrol and other fuel prices go down.

120,000 Families Cost Taxpayers £9 billion

A year of research commissioned by Louise Casey, British Prime Minister David Cameron's adviser on dysfunctional or "troubled families", has found that Britain's 120,000 problem "families" are costing taxpayers £9 billion in benefits - almost as much as the London Olympic Games.

Notice that I don't put the inverted commas around the word "problem", as is usual practice, but around "families". Because we don't know what kind of "families" these are and indeed we don't know what the word "family" means any more.
Children from "troubled families" need practical help to avoid becoming locked in a cycle of abuse and welfare dependency, according to a Government report.

David Cameron's adviser Louise Casey has been tasked with turning around the lives of the 120,000 most dysfunctional families by 2015.

In her initial report on the challenge the Government faces, compiled after interviewing a dozen families, she painted a grim picture of generational dysfunction.

She found that violence was endemic in many households and there were "entrenched cycles of suffering problems and causing problems" which poisons whole social networks.

Ms Casey discovered experiences such as domestic and sexual abuse, teenage pregnancies, police call-outs and educational failure are often passed down the generations.

"The prevalence of child sexual and physical abuse and sometimes child rape was striking and shocking," the report said.

"It became clear that, in many of these families, the abuse of children by in many cases parents, siblings, half-siblings and extended family and friends was a factor in their dysfunction.

"Some discussed it as if as it was almost expected and just a part of what they had experienced in life. Children often had not been protected by their parents.

"In many of the families, the sexual abuse repeated itself in the next generation... There were also incidents where families talked about incest."

Other common themes included people having children very young, and large numbers of them - often with different partners.

The report backed tackling the inter-linked issues of a whole family, rather than dealing with single problems or single individuals within a household.

Ms Casey said: "I am not making excuses for any family failing to send their kids to school or causing trouble in their community.

"However, unless we really understand what it is about these families that means they behave in this way, we can't start to turn their lives around."

She added: "It is clearer than ever to me now that we cannot go on allowing troubled families to fail their children.

"None of the parents I spoke to wanted their children to repeat a life of chaos and trouble, but often they couldn't see how to put things right by themselves - they needed practical and persistent help to do so."

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said the report provided a real insight into the families' dysfunctional lives.

The Government has promised to pay upper-tier local authorities up to £4,000 per eligible family for reducing truancy, youth crime and anti-social behaviour, or putting parents back into work.

The programme's £448m three-year budget, which applies to England, is drawn from seven departments in a bid to join up local services.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

USA: TSA Backed Illegals Flight Training at Illegal-Owned School

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has approved flight training for 25 illegal foreign nationals at a Boston-area flight school owned by yet another illegal foreigner, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

If I remember correctly (I've checked and I do), that was what preceded and prepared 9/11. Hijacker-pilot and ringleader Mohamed Atta and other attackers had received training to fly planes in America, as well as elsewhere.

Were they illegals? Yes, apparently at least 11 of them had overstayed their authorized period of admission.

And this agency is called Transportation "Security" Administration. Do people ever learn?

From Newsmax:
... Eight of the attendees had entered the United States illegally, while 17 had overstayed their visas, according to a GAO audit, CNSNews.com reports. Six of the illegals obtained pilot’s licenses.

The discovery of the flight school issues began when local police — not federal authorities — stopped the school’s owner on a traffic violation and then were able to determine that he was an illegal alien, according to CNSNews.

The identities of the owner or the students were not disclosed in the GAO report, presented at a congressional hearing Wednesday into security lapses at the nation’s 935 accredited flight schools.

The report also found that some foreigners had completed flight training without a full background check and that some U.S. citizens considered a terrorist threat and banned from flying on passenger airplanes did learn to fly.

U.S. citizens are screened against terrorism databases only after flight training, when they apply for a pilot's license. More than 550 U.S. citizens are on the no-fly list, a database kept by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, according to The Seattle Times

After the Sept. 11 attacks — when al-Qaida terrorists who had attended flight schools in Florida, Arizona, and Minnesota hijacked and crashed commercial jetliners — security checks were added for people coming to the United States to enroll in flight schools, The Times reported.

But those checks were never extended to U.S. citizens despite growing concerns in recent years about “homegrown” terrorists launching attacks on U.S. soil.

According to the 911 Commission Report, four of the Sept. 11 hijackers who entered the United States with legal visas had overstayed their authorized period of admission, CNSNews reported.

U.S. flight schools are generally less expensive and more rigorous than those in other countries, and often enroll a large number of foreign students each year. About 30 percent of students enrolled in flight classes in the U.S. are foreign nationals, The Times reports.