Saturday, June 30, 2012

"Conscience Clause" Allows Prison Guard to Confiscate a Rape Victim's Morning After Pill

There's not much a fellow can say, is there?

"Conscience Clause" Allows Prison Guard to Confiscate a Rape Victim's Morning After Pill
By Robin Marty
June 29 2012

We've watched the definition of "conscience clause" be expanded to include everyone from nurses and data entry workers at hospitals to bus drivers refusing to drop off patients at clinics. But now a prison guard refused to allow a rape victim to take the second dose of emergency contraception (which prevents fertilization) claiming it was "against her beliefs." That's a new one.

Via Addicting Info:

A Tampa woman whom we only know as R.W., was raped. She was treated by the rape crisis center, who gave her two emergency contraception pills, one to be taken immediately and one to be taken 12 hours later. When she reported the rape to the police, they uncovered an arrest warrant on R.W. for failure to pay restitution and failure to appear. After she was arrested, a Hillsborough County guard confiscated her second pill, claiming it was against her religious beliefs.

But this is exactly what happens when "conscience" is allowed to trump a woman's rights to avoid pregnancy. R.W. is suing the sheriff's office, and as well she should. This isn't just about women denied access when jailed (Although that in itself is problematic -- should a woman fear reporting a crime because she may be arrested? Not to mention the fact that women who are sexually assaulted while in jail may also be at the whim of a guard or someone in authorityin obtaining access to emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy).

No, this case also brings to light how those who are "in charge" when it comes to dispensing are able to inflict their own moral beliefs onto someone else. In states like Kansas, which seek to expand conscience clauses well beyond health workers, the putative "rights" if those who wield power are being allowed to trump those of the patient in need. AlterNet

Please Don't Mention The War

When a blog author, me, had this to say previously:

When All Else Fails Roll Out Adolf Hitler - Rick Santorum

I've lost count as to how many times I have iterated the header in commenting on this blog. When you are talking bullshit and you have nothing to support your argument, roll out Adolf.

It then leaves little doubt as to why I have picked up on this article posted in the BBC's News Magazine.

Making some excellent points on all manner things, both historical and contemporary, there is little I would disagree with, other than, yes there is always an other than or a but in most everything one reads. And so there should be, critical thought differentiates us as individuals rather than one of the flock, plebeian or religious, the choice matters not.

The author writes:

When I read well-intentioned people talking about the impossibility of assimilating Muslims in my adopted country of France, for instance, I become frightened when I see that they are usually entirely unaware that they are repeating - often idea for idea and sometimes word for word - the themes of the anti-Semitic polemics that set off the Dreyfus affair a century ago.

Yes quite. Don't we already know that Muslims just want to be left alone so they can subjugate their women in peace? The odd Jihad apart that is. When you find Utopia Mister Gopnik, please do let me know.

But that said, the rest of it quite readable.

A Point of View: Don’t mention the war?
by Adam Gopnik
29 June 2012

It's time to stop invoking Hitler and the Nazis in arguments about everything from censorship to birth control - but we should never stop heeding the lessons of World War II, says Adam Gopnik.
Whoops! sorry, wrong photo, here's the one.

It's time to stop invoking Hitler and the Nazis in arguments about everything from censorship to birth control - but we should never stop heeding the lessons of World War II, says Adam Gopnik.

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking about bees, and the Beatles, and babies (at least ones who are babies no longer), and also about books and bad reviews. I am as deep in the Bs as the crew that went hunting for the Snark in Lewis Carroll.

I hope you will forgive me if I turn this week to something, if not more serious, then more obviously sombre, and that is the question of what the memory of World War II ought to mean to people now.

It recedes, its soldiers die, its battles become the occasion for camp fantasy, or Quentin Tarantino movies - the same thing.

Recently, the Economist published a long book review asking just that; what WWII ought to mean to people now?

We know already what it means to publishers and television networks. The publishers love new books about the war's battles, and the cable shows can never get enough Nazis. A German friend once complained to me that educated Westerners often know far more about the German government during those five years of war than they do about all German governments in the 60 years of subsequent peace.

But then, as The Economist wrote: "the sheer magnitude of the human tragedy of [WWII] puts it in a class of its own, and its relative closeness to the present day makes claims on the collective memory that more remote horrors cannot."

Does it, should it, make such claims? Of course, there is a band of American neo-conservatives who insist on seeing every new year as another 1938, with whomever is the monster of the week cast as a Hitler figure.

On the other extreme, there are those who insist that there is, in a sense, nothing to learn from what happened then, because it was so uniquely, horribly evil. There is even a principle, frequently repeated during internet squabbles, and half-jokingly called Godwin's Law (after Mike Godwin, an expert in internet law of the unjoking kind, who first invoked it). It states simply that as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler gets greater. The stupider the argument becomes, the more likely someone is to use the "reductio ad Hitlerium".

Therefore Godwin's law implies - and this is the law-like bit - one should try never to compare anything or anyone current to Nazis, Nazism - or for that matter, to mention 1938, Munich, appeasement or any of the rest of the arsenal of exhausted exemplars. It's a bit like Basil Fawlty's old rule when the German guests come to the hotel: "Whatever you do, don't mention the war!"

And, to an extent, this caution is sane and sound.

The people on the right who invoke "liberal fascism" should be bundled off - with those on the left, who morph Thatcher's or Blair's picture into Himmler's - shut up in a library, and made to read some history.

But I'm always haunted by the simple words of the historian Richard Evans towards the end of his good book, The Third Reich at War, where he said that we should always remember that what happened was not some act of Satan - though Satanic acts took place - but the result of the unleashed power of long latent traditions of militarism, nationalism and the hatred of difference. It was the force of three ever-living things, braided together like hissing, poisonous snakes around a healthy tree.

The danger is that each of these things is not necessarily evil on first appearance, and each seeks a new name in new times.

"There are obvious topics in which the [Nazi] comparison recurs. In discussions about guns and the Second Amendment, for example, gun-control advocates are periodically reminded that Hitler banned personal weapons.

"And birth-control debates are frequently marked by pro-lifers' insistence that abortionists are engaging in mass murder, worse than that of Nazi death camps. And in any newsgroup in which censorship is discussed, someone inevitably raises the spectre of Nazi book-burning.

"I developed Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies: as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

The old distinction between patriotism and nationalism, made many times by many people, has never been more vital to our mental health than it is now - as vital for the health of the country as the distinction between sexual fantasy and pornography is for the health of a marriage. Patriotism, like fantasy, is a kind of sauce, a pleasing irrationalism that is part of what makes us human - and saucy. Nationalism, like pornography, is a kind of narcissistic addiction that devours our humanity.

Patriotism is a love of a place and of the people in a place. As GK Chesterton understood, it becomes more intense the smaller the unit gets, so that it was possible for him to feel more patriotism for Notting Hill than for Britain.

Nationalism is the opposite belief; that your place is better than everyone else's and that people who don't feel this way about it are somehow victimising you.

Recently in America, "exceptionalism" has become the new name for this illness. All nations are exceptional, but some are more exceptional than others, and America is the most exceptional of all. This sounds like a mordant joke, but it is actually what many people in the US believe, and want everyone else to believe, and routinely arraign President Obama for not believing in enough. (As it happens, for good or ill, he does.)

To believe this, it is necessary first of all to be exceptional in never having lived in any other place that thinks itself exceptional.

"History is full of wars that were bloodier than the Second World War. As a proportion of the population, more people were killed during the An Lushan rebellion in 8th Century China, for example, or by the Thirty Years War in 17th Century central Europe.

"But the sheer magnitude of the human tragedy of WWII puts it in a class of its own, and its relative closeness to the present day makes claims on the collective memory that more remote horrors cannot."

Any American lucky enough to grow up in Canada, as I did, which believes itself rightly to be exceptional among the world's nations in its ability to cover an entire continent in common values without the governments ever having once resorted to internal violence. Or else to have lived, as I also have been lucky enough to do, for many years in France, which believes itself to be exceptional among the countries of the world because… well, I haven't time to enumerate all those reasons, though they were nicely summed up in Noel Coward's remark, just after the death of General De Gaulle. Asked what De Gaulle might say to God, Coward said that that depended entirely on how good God's French was.

Exceptionalism, it seems, is the least exceptional thing on earth.

Just as nationalism is the opposite of patriotism, not its extension, so militarism is an emotion opposed to the universal urge to honour soldiers for their courage. Militarism is the belief that the military's mission is moral, or moralistic. That the army can be used to restore the honour of the nation, or to improve our morals, and that a failure to use it to right every imagined affront is a failure of nerve, rather than a counsel of good sense.

After 9/11, in the US we suffered from a plague of militarism of this kind, again mostly from sagging middle-aged writers who wanted to send someone else's kids to war so that the middle-aged men could feel more manly in the face of a national insult. Militarism is not the soldiers' faith that war can be conducted honourably, but the polemicist's belief that war confers honour.

Hatred of difference - notice I carefully did not say racial hatred, or religious hatred. Hitler hated Jews because of their religion, and because of their race, but he hated them above all because of their otherness.

When I read well-intentioned people talking about the impossibility of assimilating Muslims in my adopted country of France, for instance, I become frightened when I see that they are usually entirely unaware that they are repeating - often idea for idea and sometimes word for word - the themes of the anti-Semitic polemics that set off the Dreyfus affair a century ago. For those writers, too, believed not that Jews were eternally evil, but that Judaism was just too different, too foreign to France, and tied to violence against the nation and its heritage.

And indeed there were Jewish anarchists in Europe, as there are Muslim extremists now. But there was never a Jewish problem in France, any more than there is a Muslim problem now.

This is a question in which after a half-millennium of religious warfare, the results are really all in. If we accept the Enlightenment values of tolerance, coexistence and mutual pursuit of material happiness, things in the long run work out. If we don't, they won't.

So, from now, when we evoke Godwin's Law, as we ought to, I would like to propose Gopnik's Amendment to it. We should never believe that people who differ from us about how we ought to spend public money want to commit genocide or end democracy, and we should stop ourselves from saying so, even in the pixelled heat of internet argument.

But when we see the three serpents of militarism, nationalism and hatred of difference we should never be afraid to call them out, loudly, by name, and remind ourselves and other people, even more loudly still, of exactly what they have made happen in the past.

We should never, in this sense, be afraid to mention the war. We should say, listen: you've heard all this before - but let me tell you again just what happened in the garden the last time someone let the snakes out. It is exactly the kind of lesson that history is supposed to be there to teach us. BBC

Friday, June 29, 2012

Catholic Brother Murdered Thirty Seven Boys

Multiple deaths at boys’ home were no accident

By Robert Chesal
28 June 2012

A Roman Catholic brother administered a deadly overdose of medication to 37 severely handicapped boys at a home for the disabled in the Netherlands 60 years ago, the Dutch public prosecution office has confirmed. On the heels of a castration scandal in the church this spring, a deeply macabre cold case has been solved.

Murder, manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter. Thirty-seven counts. Those are the charges that would have been brought against Brother Andreas if he were still alive and if the statue of limitations had not expired.

The public prosecutor in the Dutch city of Roermond reports that Andreas, who belonged to a congregation called the Brothers of the Holy Joseph, put the permanently bedridden boys to death one by one, shortly after they arrived at the home between 1952 and 1954.

No regrets

The public prosecutor's report, released this morning finally clarifies a sharp spike in deaths during that period at the Saint Joseph's home in the tiny southern hamlet of Heel.

Brother Andreas himself wrote in his memoirs that he had acted with the permission of his brother superior at Saint Joseph's, and in his writings he never expressed any regrets, according to the prosecutor's report.

If the staff medical doctor at the facility in Heel were alive today, he would be charged with forgery for issuing 37 death certificates falsely indicating death by natural causes.

The "Injection Brother"

The report details the worst crimes within Dutch Roman Catholic institutions since the sexual abuse scandal erupted in 2010. It does not specify the actual cause of death of the 37 youngsters, but calls it probable that the boys died of an overdose of medication, either morphine or Phenobarbital.

The statue of limitations for the criminal acts described in the report expired in 1972. The main "suspects" in the case are dead. Brother Andreas, who was known at Saint Joseph's as the "injection brother," died in 1997 and lies buried in Westvleteren, Belgium.

The Dutch public prosecution reports that several other brothers at Saint Joseph's were aware of what Andreas was doing. In 1954, at the very moment that the labor inspectorate was to begin an investigation into abuse allegations, Andreas was moved to another facility.

"Death room"

The spike in deaths in Heel came to light last year when the Deetman Commission, which was investigating sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, found suspicious evidence in the archives of the diocese of Roermond. The commission turned over the case to the public prosecutor’s office.

Amid a public outcry, the prosecutor launched a fact-finding inquiry last May, putting six investigators on the case. It was announced at that time that no criminal prosecutions would be possible.

As the story gripped the country, Nico van Hout, former head nurse at St Joseph's, told investigators from the prosecution office about a conversation he had when he was hired in 1969. An elderly nurse, a monk named Augustinus, took him by the arm to the infirmary and showed him the coffin storage rooms and the "death room."

False death certificates

Augustinus claimed his predecessor had personally killed 20 of the boys "to put them out of their suffering," Van Hout said.

Nico van Hout told the prosecutors he then went to the staff medical doctor at St Joseph's and confronted him with the story. The doctor told him the situation had been "a real headache." When Van Hout asked him what he meant, he said that "you could write 'heart failure' on a few of the death certificates, but you couldn't keep on filling in the same cause of death."

Aside from the deaths by overdose, the prosecution office's report also cited documentation of rampant physical and sexual abuse by the brothers at Saint Joseph's. Less severely disabled boys were slammed against walls, choked, and hit in the face with a ring of keys. At night they were put to work in a makeshift factory in the cellar where they produced light bulbs for Philips.

Widespread cover-up

The Dutch authorities at different levels were aware of the deaths, exploitation of children and other abuses as early as 1954, but none reported them to the police or prosecution service. The prosecutor's report says the facts were covered up by successive directors and management of the Saint Joseph's home, superiors of the Brothers of the Holy Joseph, the state labour and public health inspectors, and the state child protection authority.

The diocese of Roermond, responsible for the village of Heel, was also aware of the deaths and helped to cover them up, even though it was aware of the likelihood of foul play, the public prosecutor's report says. Even by the standards of that day, the prosecution service adds, it was "unacceptable" that the diocese took no further action.

Government cover-up

The labour inspectorate informed the diocese it would not report the deaths to higher authorities "so as not to harm the Catholic cause." Correspondence cited by the prosecution also indicates that the Secretary General of the child protection authority offered to ensure that the justice ministry "would not raise a stink" about the severe physical punishments meted out at Saint Joseph's.

The cover-up even extended to the Dutch government in The Hague. A high-ranking Catholic official at the justice ministry was informed in 1954 of the punishments and child labour taking place at the home. He wrote to the bishop of Roermond that if "a good solution" were found, "the minister would be willing to refrain from taking steps against Saint Joseph's."

The prosecution service informed all of the victims' next of kin of its findings prior to releasing today's report. RNW

Tagged Catholic Church Netherlands

The (US) Photo Galleries of Volker Dierks

Awesome I tell you, awesome, and in the truest meaning of the word.

I stumbled upon the photo galleries of Herr Volker Dierks' travels in America. Check out his posts tagged North America Travels for a remarkable visual feast.

eta: Or simply go to these links, where each thumbnail opens an album. USA 2007 - USA 2008

What I did find unavoidable though, was to consider the supreme irony, that of a single country that boasts both the Grand Canyon and Creationism.

eta: But for something really shameful, please read below the fold.

If ever a turn of phrase needed preserving, it has to be this, uttered by former Colorado River guide, Tom Vail. Not only should it be preserved, it should be etched in stone and given a prominent place in every educational institution throughout America.

Just as the fundamentalists want the Ten Commandments displayed in public buildings, Roy and His Rock, then so should this, as a dire warning to what can happen to reason and understanding, when people get God.

Then I met the Lord. Now, I have "a different view"

For years, as a Colorado River guide I told people how the Grand Canyon was formed over the evolutionary time scale of millions of years. Then I met the Lord. Now, I have "a different view" of the Canyon, which, according to a biblical time scale, can't possibly be more than about a few thousand years old. Come and view the Grand Canyon with 23 creation scientists and theologians from around the world. This 10" X 8", 104 page hard cover book is filled with informative essays and stunning photos, many by Canyon guide Charly Heavenrich. Grand Canyon, a different view will take your breath away, stimulate your imagination and presents the facts about the Grand Canyon from a Biblical perspective. Though educational enough for a home school book, it is equally beautiful as a gift or coffee table book.

Though educational enough for a home school book What more do you need to be told about home schooling than that little gem? If you only watch one clip, watch the first one. All You Ever Wanted To Know About Child Abuse

And to the powers that be at the Grand Canyon National Park Service, those that allowed this travesty of a book to go on sale in the park's tourist shop, I would sack the fucking lot of you. It would be, Oi! you, get your kit packed and fuck right off, you're fucking sacked.

Reams of stuff here on Vail's book and the Grand Canyon National Park Service.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Eugenics or Murder in the Dutch Catholic Church? Castration Certainly

Eugenics or murder? The article hints at a third motive, mercy killing. But having reported recently on the horrors that have been perpetrated on children by the Dutch Catholic Church, I'm having none of it. Continued after the fold.

Catholic monk responsible for dozens of deaths
25 June 2012

One man is responsible for the deaths of dozens of boys at the Saint Joseph mental institution in the province of Limburg, according to an investigation conducted by the local newspaper De Limburger.

Between 1952 and 1954, the mortality rate at Saint Joseph’s was alarmingly high. According to De Limburger, prosecutors will soon release the findings of their investigation into one of the most serious cases of abuse within a Catholic institution. The newspaper writes that a man called Brother Andreas, who is already deceased, was responsible for the deaths of the severely handicapped boys.

It is apparently unclear if Brother Andreas, also known as Brother Death, killed the boys or if they died because of neglect. It is also unclear whether Brother Andreas was motivated to spare the boys their suffering. RNW

Below is an introduction and link to a fifteen minute report on 'all things Dutch' for want of a better expression. The program begins with a report of forcible castrations committed on boys by the Dutch Catholic Church in the Fifties.

eta These were healthy boys that were subject to these atrocities, and for reasons most foul. I didn't want to give the impression that it was the mentally subnormal that had undergone these operations.

If these horrific goings on are new to you, you may first wish to read about these, and other abuses, that I cover in three previous posts under the tag, Catholic church Netherlands.

The horror of the abuse described in the report, is but nearly matched by the horror of the excuses given by the then, Dutch authorities of the day.

Church castrations
Over the past year, the Dutch have been shocked by evidence of child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. It appears that the abuse was widespread and that church officials conspired to cover it up. New evidence has now emerged that a number of young men were forcibly castrated after they complained about being abused.

Paying for testimony?
Peter la Serpe, the key witness in the Amsterdam liquidation case, will allegedly be paid 1.4 million euros as part of his witness protection agreement with the Ministry of Justice. The Dutch news organisation NOS says it has documents that lay out the details of that agreement. It's the latest twist in the prosecution of the suspects in a series of mob-style executions in Amsterdam between 1991 and 2005. La Serpe was allegedly a hitman who had a hand in at least one of the murders. Peter la Serpe's attorney has filed a complaint against the prosecution for the leak of the information to NOS. The Justice Ministry, meanwhile, has denied that La Serpe is being paid for his testimony.

The Dutch 30-hour work week
Dutch employees work the least number of hours in Europe. The European average is 37.5 hours a week; the Dutch only work 30.6 hours. Even though worker productivity in the Netherlands is very high, the European Union says it would be good for the Dutch economy if people worked longer hours. So why do the Dutch work so little?

President Obama's transsexual former nanny
A Dutch reporter has visited the nanny who took care of a young Barack Obama and his family when they lived in Indonesia in the 1960s. After the Obama family left the country, Mr Turdi became "Miss Evie", wearing dresses and make-up and working in the sex industry. (Don't tell the Republicans) Link

More Louisiana Lunacy: A Special Report From Loch Ness

Well maybe not exactly Loch Ness, but it is from Scotland.

This is similar report on the story I covered under the title, Louisiana Vying For Title America's Most Stupid State? only this time the report comes from this side of the pond. I'll wager they are still rolling about in Scotland.

Updated with this priceless graphic, borrowed from William Hamby who is also running this story.

How American fundamentalist schools are using Nessie to disprove evolution
Rachel Loxton
24 June 2012

IT sounds like a plot dreamed up by the creators of Southpark, but it's all true: schoolchildren in Louisiana are to be taught that the Loch Ness monster is real in a bid by religious educators to disprove Darwin's theory of evolution.

Thousands of children in the southern state will receive publicly-funded vouchers for the next school year to attend private schools where Scotland's most famous mythological beast will be taught as a real living creature.

These private schools follow a fundamentalist curriculum including the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) programme to teach controversial religious beliefs aimed at disproving evolution and proving creationism.

One tenet has it that if it can be proved that dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time as man then Darwinism is fatally flawed.

Critics have damned the content of the course books, calling them "bizarre" and accusing them of promoting radical religious and political ideologies.

The textbooks in the series are alleged to teach young earth creationism; are hostile towards other religions and other sectors of Christianity, including Roman Catholicism; and present a biased version of history that is often factually incorrect.

One ACE textbook – Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc – reads: "Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the 'Loch Ness Monster' in Scotland? 'Nessie' for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur."

Another claim taught is that a Japanese whaling boat once caught a dinosaur. It's unclear if the movie Godzilla was the inspiration for this lesson.

Jonny Scaramanga, 27, who went through the ACE programme as a child, but now campaigns against Christian fundamentalism, said the Nessie claim was presented as "evidence that evolution couldn't have happened. The reason for that is they're saying if Noah's flood only happened 4000 years ago, which they believe literally happened, then possibly a sea monster survived.

"If it was millions of years ago then that would be ridiculous. That's their logic. It's a common thing among creationists to believe in sea monsters."

Private religious schools, including the Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, Louisiana, which follows the ACE curriculum, have already been cleared to receive the state voucher money transferred from public school funding, thanks to a bill pushed through by state Governor Bobby Jindal.

Boston-based researcher and writer Bruce Wilson, who specialises in the American political religious right, compares the curriculum to Islamic fundamentalist teaching.

"They are being brought up to believe that they're at war with secular society. The only valid government would be a Christian fundamentalist government. Obviously some comparisons could be made to Islamic Fundamentalists in schools.

"One of these texts from Bob Jones University Press claims that dinosaurs were fire-breathing dragons. It has little to do with science as we currently understand. It's more like medieval scholasticism."

Wilson believes that such teaching is going on in at least 13 American states.

"There's a lot of public funding going to private schools, probably around 200,000 pupils are receiving this education," he And the majority of parents now home schooling their kids are Christian fundamentalists too. I don't believe they should be publicly funded, I don't believe the schools who use these texts should be publicly funded."

Daniel Govender, managing director of Christian Education Europe, which is part of ACE, said the organisation would not comment to the press on what is contained in the texts.

Of course, the Scottish tourist industry might well reap a dividend from the craziness of the American education system. Nessie expert Tony Drummond, who leads tours as part of Cruise Loch Ness, has a few words of advice to the US schools in question: come to the loch and try to find the monster.

"They need to come and investigate the loch for themselves," says the 47-year-old. "We've got some hi-tech equipment. They could come out on the boat and do a whole chunk of the loch.

"We do get regular sonar contacts which are pretty much unexplainable. More research has to be done, but it's not way along the realms of possibility."

But he's not convinced that the legend of the Loch Ness Monster is being taught the right way. "That's Christian propaganda," he says. "And ridiculous."

Textbooks of some state-funded Christian schools praise the Ku Klux Klan.

The violent, racist organisation, which still exists in the US, advocates white supremacy, white nationalism and anti-immigration.

One excerpt from Bob Jones University Press American history textbook has been reported as saying: "the [Ku Klux] Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross ... In some communities it achieved a certain respectability as it worked with politicians."

Other views taught include claims that being gay is a learned behaviour.

It isn't just America where the bizarre Christian Nessie myth is being taught as a reality. The UK has similar religious schools but they do not receive cash from the state. Nevertheless, the Evangelical Christian curriculum they follow has been approved by UK Government agency, the National Recognition Information Centre (Naric) which guides universities and employers on the validity of different qualifications.

Naric judged the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) as officially comparable to qualifications offered by the Cambridge International exam board.

It is estimated around 2000 pupils study at more than 50 private Christian schools in Britain for the certificates as well as several home-educated students.

The courses are based around the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) programme, which originated in Texas in the 1970s.

Pupils study a range of subjects, including science and English, but spend half their studies learning from Bible-influenced US textbooks.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Illegal Everything in the US, by John Stossel: A Review

On the same day that I published the post below this one, Mayor Bloomberg Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics, a post where I had this to say: I don't think I know of any other country in the world that legislates about every aspect that governs citizens lives. I later stumbled upon the featured video, which I can only describe as the perfect foil for the post.

But after having watched the thing, and in spite of it being a Fox News presentation, and in spite even more, it being presented in a typical American, whiny voiced, hi-lo manner more suited to addressing children or fucking idiots, it still has a certain, must watch, appeal about it.

I suppose the three most recognisable areas of this forty five minute film, are three traits or characteristics that go hand-in-glove with each other, an interdependent little eco-system, so typically American, they being of course, hypocrisy, the abuse of power and moral crusading.

The hypocrisy becomes immediately apparent as the program gets under way. The time money and resources expended on protecting people from kids selling lemonade, folk selling unpasteurised milk, or lobster tails in plastic bags as opposed to 40Lb boxes, (guns drawn in both the later cases and eight years in the slammer for the lobsterman) would be all very well if only half of those resources went into protecting people from fracking or mountain-top removal. (See below) Both activities constituting a crime against nature, let alone the poor schmucks whose lives are effectively destroyed by such goings on. But as you are probably aware, the only protection going on around these activities, is that of protecting Big Energy by modern day Pinkertons, the cops.

The second item on the agenda, that of police, not just abusing their power, but of being totally out of control, is dealt with quite adequately in the program. Let's face it, we have become almost blasé about cops abusing their power. Blasé I suppose, as long as your not on the receiving end of such activities. As one housewife described a cop; 'high on his own power' or as we would describe it in this country, 'pissed with power.' It rolling off the tongue somewhat easier. As long as you understand that is, that 'pissed' is more commonly used to describe someone who is drunk, rather than pissed, as in pissed off.

Ever America, ever the moral crusader, who, just like the cops protecting the world from kids selling lemonade, want to protect everybody from drugs, soft or hard, and to protect (legal) sex workers from themselves by locking them all up. In fact as you watch two such crusaders, prosecutors in fact, you can almost feel them bristling with (their own) morality.

Incidentally, and I know it will be of interest to some, but Portugal got a few minutes mention over their recent and successful decision to legalise all drugs, soft or hard.

Illegal Everything in the US, by John Stossel

This Fox News documentary shows how crazy the law system in the US became and how police is abusing its’ power. Kids are not allowed to sell lemonade, Taxi drivers get kicked out of the market by regulations implemented through the help of lobbyists, small stores selling natural raw milk get invaded by police squads, hunters can not shoot a dear and sell the meat to their neighbours, housewives get arrested for filming policemen from their own backyard and many more silly laws exist and make it difficult for people in the USA to be really living legal or living their live as freely at is was written down in the constitution many years ago. Now prisons in the US are full of people who broke silly laws, with politicians like Obama in power, that smoked marijuana themselves and didn’t got punished for it at all.

In actual fact, these two short clips are of far more import than the above.

Mayor Bloomberg Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics

Video update below: Illegal Everything in the US, by John Stossel Which given the theme of this post, could be described I suppose, as pennies from heaven. I have upped it sight unseen, so I shall watch it raw on this page.

Update: See review.

The more I report on America, the more I realise that what I am sadly lacking is a post tag "Talibanesque." And not just for the misogyny displayed by the likes of Bloomberg, but America as a whole, I don't think I know of any other country in the world that legislates about every aspect that governs citizens lives.

Home of the brave, land of the free! goddamnit, I don't think there is any behavioural trait that doesn't somehow fall into the category of an arrestable offence. Be it city ordnances that govern every aspect of home ownership, no plant shall over 12-inches tall, (or we will come and rip up your garden) to looking at a cop in the wrong way.*

But in the case of Bloomberg's New York, things go from the sublime to the, gor fucking blimey! You can't smoke here, you can't smoke there, you can't even smoke on a goddamn beach for Christ's sake. All fourteen miles of them.

But if you are a woman, watch out, Bloomberg has a special place in his heart for all you Satan's gateways. You are not a responsible modern woman if you carry condoms in your purse, you are automatically a hooker, and you will be arrested as such.

But of this latest bit of nonsense, I don't think I need to say an awful lot about it, you can taste the misogyny and the power play, but ladies, just don't find yourself stuck in the wrong part of town and looking for a cab, because seemingly, if you ain't dressed like a nun, there's a very good chance you'll be walking. On your own.

*A 'friend of a friend' story told to me recently. British couple rent a holiday apartment somewhere in Florida. The first day/night yer man goes to the convenience store to purchase a few basics. There's a cruiser sat outside with two cops in it. As you do with all things new culturally, you look at them. The next thing yer man knows, he's slammed into a wall with a gun stuck in his ear, to the cry of "what you fucking looking at"?

Do You Look Like a Prostitute? (Whatever That Means): It Might Mean No Taxi Cabs

Throughout history, laws that are supposed to "protect" women have pushed prostitutes to the margins of cities and the social order itself.
By Melissa Gira Grant
June 22, 2012

We're told that being a prostitute will mark a woman for life. Yet after several millennia of practice, lawmakers and social reformers still struggle to identify what a sex worker looks like.

You know,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said (in a June 15 appearance on WOR's perfectly named "The John Gambling Show") when asked what might go wrong with a bill that could penalize taxi drivers who knowingly transport people in the sex trade, “if I were a young lady and I dressed in a ‘sporty way’ -- or however you want to phrase it, and there's nothing wrong with that -- I would not want somebody thinking that I’m a prostitute.”

Has Mayor Stop-and-Frisk given pause on an issue of criminal profiling? Even the reliably hooker-baiting New York Post came out swinging against the bill, citing a protest held by women bartenders, who “aren't hookers – they just look like they can be!” concerned that cab drivers would leave them stranded for fear of getting stung.

The intention of this bill, according to proponents like New York City Council Speaker (and mayoral hopeful) Christine Quinn, is to make it undesirable for taxi and livery drivers in the city to risk any involvement in what they call “sex trafficking.” But the bill doesn't actually say that: it hits taxi and livery drivers with a $10,000 fine and the revocation of their license if they “knowingly allow” their vehicle to be “used for the purpose of promoting prostitution.”

Attorneys at the Sex Workers Project (SWP) have argued that language like “promoting prostitution” is too vague. “It could include anyone who knowingly aids another person to commit prostitution and anyone who receives money from someone else, knowing it came from prostitution,” SWP co-director Sienna Baskin said in testimony to the city council. No matter what the bill's intentions, cab drivers could end up passing up fares from sex workers – or people they think might be sex workers.

Bloomberg is overstating the issue a bit: no matter how they are dressed, it's unlikely his daughters would be profiled as prostitutes. But he's not wrong: there's simply no way taxi drivers can tell if the woman riding in their backseat is doing sex work, and whether or not she has been compelled or forced to, just by picking her up as a fare.

Putting such a law into practice in a culture that harbors intense myths and fears about what a “prostitute” looks like only ends up perpetuating dated and sexist notions of how women ought to conduct themselves in public, which in turn can put women in danger. In this regard, 21st-century anti-prostitution politics are not so different from their counterpart a century ago. There might be one difference: while today's anti-prostitution advocates will at least cop to it not being easy to tell if someone is a sex worker just by looking at them, that doesn't actually stop them from trying.

Not all that long ago, any unaccompanied woman on an American street could be considered a prostitute. At the turn of the last century, the phrase “public woman” was still synonymous with a woman in the sex trade, based on the notion that women's work was to be confined within the home, and besides, wasn't really work. The low-wage jobs available to working-class and some immigrant women took them outside the domestic sphere, and offered them a measure of freedom, and for the first time, their own money. That mobility, as much as their growing financial independence, made those young women suspect in the eyes of social reformers.

As Elizabeth Alice Clement documents in her book Love For Sale, these working young women of the Progressive Era faced intense scrutiny from social reformers, for how they made their money and how they spent it. The social welfare reformer Jane Addams warned that girls who took jobs in department stores might be especially likely to become prostitutes. “It is perhaps in the department store more than anywhere else,” Addams wrote in her 1912 treatise A New Conscience and An Ancient Evil, “that every possible weakness in a girl is detected and traded upon. It is not surprising that so many of these young, inexperienced girls are either deceived or yield to temptation in spite of the efforts made to protect them.”

Addams' remedy to such a threat? Educating young women and their caretakers on how essential it is that they must remain chaste. Women, in Addams' estimation, could bring about a world in which they not fear being “despoiled” if they abstain not just from sex but from public amusements – rather than fighting to ensure their right to work and take up space in the public sphere without fear of rape or violence.

With the agitation of Addams and other reformers of her time, laws against prostitution and “white slavery” swept the states. While some reformers meant for the laws to allow them to separate “innocent” victims from those “fallen women” who chose prostitution, the result was the closure of red-light districts in American cities, including raids on businesses that allowed prostitutes to patronize them and rooming houses that allowed prostitutes to live and work there.

All this was done in the name of “protecting” women, and yet prostitutes found themselves out in the cold, or pushed to work for managers who could act as go-betweens with customers and landlords, protecting the prostitutes from being known as prostitutes or discriminated against. The laws that were supposed to protect them ended up pushing prostitutes to the margins of cities and the social order itself.

Such attitudes – vintage victim-blaming or slut-shaming, meant to “save women” from themselves – shifted only slightly at the dawn of women's liberation and the sexual revolution.

When a young San Franciscan named Margot St. James was arrested and charged with prostitution in 1962, she attempted to defend herself to the judge, saying, “Your honor, I've never turned a trick in my life.” According to St. James, the judge replied that he knew she must be a prostitute because “anyone who knows the language is obviously a professional." St. James concluded, “My crime was I knew too much to be a nice girl.”

It was only after this encounter with the law that St. James became a prostitute, going on to found one of the first organizations in the United States to organize for sex workers' rights, COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics). By the 1970s, COYOTE had succeeded in getting the National Organization for Women to adopt the decriminalization of prostitution as a policy platform.

Even as some corners of the feminist movement reconsidered prostitution laws and the damage done, a national backlash was on against gains made by the women's and gay liberation movements. City governments moved to “clean up” neighborhoods that mixed porn theaters and gay bars with entertainment and tourism, like Boston's Combat Zone and New York's Times Square.

In 1976, New York state passed a law criminalizing “loitering for the purposes of prostitution.” How were cops to identify “intent” to commit prostitution? In reality, the law gave them the power to stop and question women walking in neighborhoods known for prostitution, or for “looking like” a prostitute in a neighborhood she “shouldn't” be in. In a report evaluating the law a few years after its passage, New York Women in Criminal Justice argued that the anti-loitering statute violated the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution, as it was overwhelmingly used to target women.

Loitering-with-intent charges are still brought against women today, and against women of color and trans women far more often than white women and cisgender women. Women also rarely fight these charges, as St. James did. The rise of “anti-prostitution zones” in cities like Washington, DC means that women can face arrest simply for entering one of these areas, declared at the discretion of the police. In practice, cops rely on racial and gender profiling in enforcement, a feminized version of “stop and frisk.”

You could be forgiven for mistaking 2012 for 1912. Jane Addams' philosophy is still alive, too, only with a pseudo-feminist twist. In a training for Georgia law enforcement offered by the anti-prostitution campaign “A Future, Not A Past” (AFNAP), they suggest ways that cops can identify young women in the sex trade. A few of the warning signs? “Inappropriate dress, including oversized clothing or overtly sexy clothing.” “Poor personal hygiene.” “Older boyfriend.” Acting “angry” and “tearful.” They also warn parents of daughters to be wary of “rumors among students regarding sexual activity – which your child may not necessarily deny.”

They say they just want to give cops and parents tools to help girls. But stoking fears that their daughters could be victims of trafficking if they're having sex, or expressing completely average feelings for a teenager? Likewise, instructing cops that it's okay to profile young women based on their dress, in order to stop and question them? Groups like AFNAP don't call it searching girls for evidence of “shame” or “ruin” anymore. Now they call it “empowerment.”

A hundred years of incoherent law has delivered us to a point in history where prostitution is as illegal as it ever has been, and yet politicians demand more laws against it. Contemporary anti-prostitution activists claim more women than ever before are trapped in what they have begun to call “modern-day slavery,” and yet, these advocates tell us they are hard to find. Yet neither prong of the anti-prostitution cause seems to consider how these laws against sex work drive its invisibility, and can turn any woman deemed to be doing the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time into a suspect or a criminal. Alternet

Artwork Karl Geitl

Friday, June 22, 2012

History is the Enemy as 'Brilliant' Psy-ops Become the News by John Pilger

History is the Enemy as 'Brilliant' Psy-ops Become the News

By John Pilger
June 21, 2012

The Vietnam photograph has been in my library for an age, but I could hardly believe my "luck" when I came across the Iraqi photo in the recent past.

Arriving in a village in southern Vietnam, I caught sight of two children who bore witness to the longest war of the 20th century. Their terrible deformities were familiar. All along the Mekong river, where the forests were petrified and silent, small human mutations lived as best they could.

Today, at the Tu Du paediatrics hospital in Saigon, a former operating theatre is known as the "collection room" and, unofficially, as the "room of horrors". It has shelves of large bottles containing grotesque foetuses. During its invasion of Vietnam, the United States sprayed a defoliant herbicide on vegetation and villages to deny "cover to the enemy". This was Agent Orange, which contained dioxin, poisons of such power that they cause foetal death, miscarriage, chromosomal damage and cancer.

In 1970, a US Senate report revealed that "the US has dumped [on South Vietnam] a quantity of toxic chemical amounting to six pounds per head of population, including woman and children". The code-name for this weapon of mass destruction, Operation Hades, was changed to the friendlier Operation Ranch Hand. Today, an estimated 4.8 million victims of Agent Orange are children.

Len Aldis, secretary of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, recently returned from Vietnam with a letter for the International Olympic Committee from the Vietnam Women's Union. The union's president, Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, described "the severe congenital deformities [caused by Agent Orange] from generation to generation". She asked the IOC to reconsider its decision to accept sponsorship of the London Olympics from the Dow Chemical Corporation, which was one of the companies that manufactured the poison and has refused to compensate its victims.

Aldis hand-delivered the letter to the office of Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee. He has had no reply. When Amnesty International pointed out that in 2001 Dow Chemical acquired "the company responsible for the Bhopal gas leak [in India in 1984] which killed 7,000 to 10,000 people immediately and 15,000 in the following twenty years", David Cameron described Dow as a "reputable company". Cheers, then, as the TV cameras pan across the £7 million decorative wrap that sheathes the Olympic stadium: the product of a 10-year "deal" between the IOC and such a reputable destroyer.

History is buried with the dead and deformed of Vietnam and Bhopal. And history is the new enemy. On 28 May, President Obama launched a campaign to falsify the history of the war in Vietnam. To Obama, there was no Agent Orange, no free fire zones, no turkey shoots, no cover-ups of massacres, no rampant racism, no suicides (as many Americans took their own lives as died in the war), no defeat by a resistance army drawn from an impoverished society. It was, said Mr. Hopey Changey, "one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of [US] military history".

The following day, the New York Times published a long article documenting how Obama personally selects the victims of his drone attacks across the world. He does this on "terror Tuesdays" when he browses through mug shots on a "kill list", some of them teenagers, including "a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years". Many are unknown or simply of military age. Guided by "pilots" sitting in front of computer screens in Las Vegas, the drones fire Hellfire missiles that suck the air out of lungs and blow people to bits. Last September, Obama killed a US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, purely on the basis of hearsay that he was inciting terrorism. "This one is easy," he is quoted by aides as saying as he signed the man's death warrant. On 6 June, a drone killed 18 people in a village in Afghanistan, including women, children and the elderly who were celebrating a wedding.

The New York Times article was not a leak or an expose. It was a piece of PR designed by the Obama administration to show what a tough guy the 'commander-in-chief' can be in an election year. If re-elected, Brand Obama will continue serving the wealthy, pursuing truth-tellers, threatening countries, spreading computer viruses and murdering people every Tuesday.

The threats against Syria, co-ordinated in Washington and London, scale new peaks of hypocrisy. Contrary to the raw propaganda presented as news, the investigative journalism of the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung identifies those responsible for the massacre in Houla as the 'rebels' backed by Obama and Cameron. The paper's sources include the rebels themselves. This has not been completely ignored in Britain. Writing in his personal blog, ever so quietly, Jon Williams, the BBC world news editor, effectively dishes his own 'coverage', citing western officials who describe the 'psy-ops' operation against Syria as 'brilliant'. As brilliant as the destruction of Libya, and Iraq, and Afghanistan.

And as brilliant as the psy-ops of the Guardian's latest promotion of Alastair Campbell, the chief collaborator of Tony Blair in the criminal invasion of Iraq. In his "diaries", Campbell tries to splash Iraqi blood on the demon Murdoch. There is plenty to drench them all. But recognition that the respectable, liberal, Blair-fawning media was a vital accessory to such an epic crime is omitted and remains a singular test of intellectual and moral honesty in Britain.

How much longer must we subject ourselves to such an "invisible government"? This term for insidious propaganda, first used by Edward Bernays the nephew of Sigmund Freud and inventor of modern public relations, has never been more apt. "False reality" requires historical amnesia, lying by omission and the transfer of significance to the insignificant. In this way, political systems promising security and social justice have been replaced by piracy, "austerity" and "perpetual war": an extremism dedicated to the overthrow of democracy. Applied to an individual, this would identify a psychopath. Why do we accept it?
Related: The Lesson For Today: Cant and Hypocrisy And though it is a post of my own, I feel it brings it home far more than John Pilger's article. Particularly if you open the links.

Transcript: Julian Assange's First Interview from Ecuadorian Embassy

Transcript: Julian Assange's First Interview from Ecuadorian Embassy
by m_ceter

Julian Assange interview on ABC Radio National Breakfast, 21 June 2012. This is his first interview conducted since he applied for political asylum in Ecuador. At the time of this interview, Mr Assange had been at the Ecuadorian Embassy for three days. Full Audio is avialable at the ABC Radio website.

Fran Kelly: And let's head straight to Britain where Julian Assange is about to spend his third night holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, as he awaits a decision on his bid for political asylum. The 40 year old Australian walked into the Embassy on Tuesday in a dramatic bid to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over sexual assault allegations. Even if he's granted asylum in Ecuador, British police say they will arrest him as soon as he steps foot outside the embassy, accusing him of being in breach of his bail conditions. Julian Assange joins us now live from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Julian, welcome back to RN Breakfast.

Julian Assange: G'day, Fran. Good to be with you.

Fran Kelly: Julian Assange, why did you walk into the Ecuadorian Embassy?

Julian Assange: Well, I just noticed in your promo, Fran, you said 'dramatic bid to do something about Swedish'...

Fran Kelly: To avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning?

Julian Assange: Yeah, and that's... I don't know where you get that from. We've never said that's the case, and that's simply not the case. The issue is about a very serious matter in the United States and an announcement was made by the Swedes and the Swedish Government that I would be detained, without charge, in Sweden, immediately on extradition. They tried to cancel the 14 days that I had here to apply to appeal the matter at the European Court of Human Rights. So my opportunity to exercise my asylum rights in the United States was at an end. And this is not a matter of onwards extradition from Sweden to the United States. The situation here for me in the UK is extremely, has been extremely precarious. And the refusal by the Swedish prosecutor has led to a technical... the refusal by the Swedish prosecutor to come to the UK for the past 18 months, despite that being absolutely normal procedure, and the refusal of her to explain it in any matter whatsoever to the British court, has kept me trapped in the United Kingdom while the United States has prepared a case against me. We now have intelligence, public record, that the FBI file in its case preparation now runs to 48,135 pages.

Fran Kelly: Okay, let's break this down a bit just in the name of complete accuracy, Julian. Yes, I did say that you had sought political asylum in Ecuador to avoid extradition. What you're saying is, you did it because the Swedish Government had made an attempt to truncate your curtailed freedom as it already is there in the UK, but you are not prepared to go to Sweden under the terms that you believe you would be held in there. Is that what you're saying?

Julian Assange: That's right. My ability to exercise an asylum right would be at an end, and even to exercise rights of appeal, would be at an effective end because the Swedes announced publicly that they would detain me, in prison, without charge, while they continued their so-called investigation, without charge. So we had heard that the Ecuadorians were sympathetic in relation to my struggles and the stuggles of the organization with the United States. And the ability to exercise that option was at an effective end and we had the surprise news that the Crown Prosecution Service here suddenly objected to the 14 days we were meant to have to file an EU appeal and were asking for zero.

Fran Kelly: Okay, I'll come back to those bigger issues, but just in the short term people, I think, are very interested in what indications you're getting from the Ecuadorians there in terms of the success of this application for political asylum.

Julian Assange: Well the Ecuadorian people have been quite supportive; I saw the Ecuadorian Ambassador in Australia was making supportive comments. Ecuador, back in 2010, suggested that perhaps I should come to Ecuador and be given residency. So they are sympathetic over a long period of time. So we hope the asylum application will be viewed favorably. Now it's a matter of gathering alleged sort-of extensive evidence about what has been happening in the U.S. and submitting that with a formal request for asylum. There's Ecuadorians on the outside of the Embassy, together with Londoners, protesting in the street, demanding that Ecuador accept the asylum application.

Fran Kelly: Have you gotten any indication of the timing of this?

Julian Assange: We have no indication of the timing.

Fran Kelly: When this happened, it took a lot of people by surprise, including many of your own supporters, and for some people, I believe, it made you look more guilty, it made you look like you're on the run, desperate to avoid questions about those sexual assault allegations.

Julian Assange: Well, this Swedish prosecutor, if the intent is really to proceed with the technical requirements of this case, she is perfectly entitled to come to Embassy, the Ecuadorians have said she could come to the Embassy, she could pick up the telephone, like she could've picked up the telephone for the past 18 months, if that's really what she is interested in.

Fran Kelly: And did you have legal advice suggesting you seek asylum in another country, including Ecuador?

Julian Assange: I spoke to several lawyers about the situation. In relation to sureties and other supporters, because of the sort-of legal requirements there, for their own protection I was not able to speak to them before I have to.

Fran Kelly: So you're position is that you don't believe that the evidence suggests that the Swedes are really interested in having you there for questioning, because they could come to Britain to question you, and that's been your position all along. So you're more concerned, as you say, with what's been happening in the U.S. What makes you so worried about the Americans, because repeatedly the Americans are saying they are not interested in extraditing you?

Julian Assange: Well, they are being very, very careful with their words, Fran. They now have a 48,135 page FBI file, there's official statements made in court in the prosecution of Bradley Manning, the next date which is on Monday, saying the founders and managers of WikiLeaks are among the subjects of the grand jury proceedings, which has now been going since 2010. Their careful statements reflect that the Department of Justice is not able to formally confirm or deny the existence of the grand jury, a policy with all grand juries. But there are subpoenas everywhere, there are witnesses who have come out on public record about how they've been dragged into the grand jury, we have received subpoenas, the subpoenas mention my name, in the past months two people have been detained at U.S. airports by U.S. officials and interrogated by the FBI, asked questions about me and my organization, asked to become informers - one of those has gone on the public record, he's a prominent free speech activist of France, Jérémie Zimmermann - and the other, Smári McCarthy, who has worked with me in Iceland. This is a hot, ongoing, active investigation. And as of two weeks ago.

Fran Kelly: It's a quarter past six on Breakfast, our guest this morning is Julian Assange. He's currently inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he arrived three days ago now seeking political asylum. In terms of the public record, the Australian Government says they've received no indication that the U.S. would seek your extradition from Sweden if you were to go there. Can I just play you - we spoke to the Attorney-General Nicola Roxon about this yesterday - let's have a listen.

Nicola Roxon (recording): We have, I've made clear that I've made representations... [Kelly: And the answer was?] Let me tell your listeners who those have been made to - because it's not just the Ambassador - the Minister for Homeland Security, the Deputy to Attorney-General in the U.S.; we have from all of those conversations no indication that they are about to take action, and we have also said that we don't believe, now having taken advice from the federal police, that we have any evidence of Mr Assange having committed any offence that would breach an Australian law.

Fran Kelly: So that's the Attorney-General Nicola Roxon speaking to us yesterday, no indication that the Americans are about to take legal action. That doesn't reassure you? And is that what the Australian Government is telling you?

Julian Assange: But they are taking legal action. There have been nine prosecutors working this case, the evidence is everywhere, they've been issuing subpoenas to our ISPs, to the people I've been meeting, etc. It's a matter of public record. They are taking legal action. They've taken action against Twitter. We've been fighting a legal case in the public record in relation to the Twitter subpoenas for over a year now; it involves the ACLU, etc, etc. So they're playing word games here. The games that they're playing is that the grand jury needs to conclude. On the conclusion of the grand jury process, they... The grand jury is a device, a judicial device, if you like - it does not seem to be part of the executive - and so they can say they are not about to extradite, because the grand jury has not yet concluded. On the conclusion of the grand jury, the Department of Justice will take the indictments of the grand jury and pursue the matter. They are certainly spending vast amounts of resources; I mean, just today it was discovered that a contract put out by the Department of Justice for one to two million dollars to maintain the WikiLeaks computer systems that the Department of Justice is running - one to two million dollars contracted to MANTEC as a matter of public record, just discovered today.

Fran Kelly: So, you're clearly agitated, understandably, if you believe that the U.S. is preparing this extradition treaty for you. Therefore, your future is very much up in the air, you're waiting to hear whether the Ecuadorian Government will give you protection. Do you feel cornered? Because the British police are saying if you set foot outside that Embassy, you will be arrested.

Julian Assange: Well, there's, I think, an important question is why aren't I in the Australian Embassy?

Fran Kelly: Why didn't you seek protection in the Australian Embassy?

Julian Assange: Because, Nicola Roxon, after very reasonable requests made by my lawyer Jennifer Robinson to her in a half an hour meeting, and following reasonable requests by one of the most celebrated human rights lawyers who represents me here in the UK, Gareth Pierce, asking them to ask for very simple conditions of the Swedes - such as that if I was imprisoned in the United States and I could serve my sentence in Australia – refused any of those requests, refused to consult in any extradition to the United States, refused to be involved in any of those discussions, refused to ask that the Swedes come and solve this matter by simply coming and speaking to me in the UK, etc. So this is has been an effective declaration of abandonment; there is not a single matter of concern under which the Australian Government, as represented by the Attorney-General, would ask other governments to be reasonable or just in this case.

Fran Kelly: Again, I put that to the Attorney-General yesterday. Do you want to hear her - let's hear her response.

Nicola Roxon (recording): I totally reject that he has been abandoned by the Government. We've offered support to him through consular services, we've made representations to the British Government, to the Swedish Government, to the U.S. Government.

Fran Kelly: That's what the Attorney-General said yesterday in terms of... and the Government has also said that you have received as much or more consular support as anybody else has in matters like this.

Julian Assange: There is no matter like this at all, everyone knows that. But y'know, maybe that's up until this recent case in Libya, maybe that's true even. The Australian Government simply does not support it's people. There's a journalist, Austin Mackell, who's trapped in Egypt and he also has exactly the same complaints I have. These are empty words. When you hear this word "consular assistance" - I haven't met with anyone from the Australian High Commission since December 2010. What are they talking about?

Fran Kelly: So you've had no consular contact with the Australian High Commission since 2010?

Julian Assange: Well, they send SMS messages, 'Does Mr Assange have any concerns?' But we know what this is for: this is so they can just tick off a box. And yes, we formally put our concerns to the Attorney-General and the response was dismissal in every single area.

Fran Kelly: And have you formally put to the Australian Government, ask them to seek reassurances from the U.S. about any plans to extradite you and what those answers are?

Julian Assange: Yes, we have formally put requests to Nicola Roxon and DFAT to ask that the United States... I can't remember the exact request, but for instance for the prisoner transfer arrangement and so on. And she rejected this in every single area. In relation to the sort-of clever rhetoric that's being used at the moment, when they say that there is not... we have not received evidence from the United States that they plan to extradite - of course not. At the moment the matter is before the grand jury and until it comes out of the grand jury there will be no such evidence afforded. And you look at other questions of Gillard, for example, where the follow-up question... Sorry, sorry, to the Foreign Minister - 'Is there any indication, any evidence from the U.S. that they will try to extradite Mr Assange' and the Foreign Minister says, 'Oh no, no, of course not'. Follow-up question, 'Have you asked for any evidence?' - no!

Fran Kelly: So, Julian Assange, let's go to what's next for you. If Ecuador doesn't grant you asylum, what's Plan B?

Julian Assange: Well, we're in the position to draw attention to what it happening. Y'know, the Department of Justice in the United States has been playing a little game, and that little game is they refuse to confirm or deny the existence of a grand jury. And as a result, the press goes, 'Oh well, they don't confirm it, and therefore we can't really write about it'. That's not true; there's public record everywhere, there's multiple witnesses everywhere, there's testimony in military courts about the existence of what is happening in these 48,000 pages, and that the founders and managers of WikiLeaks are amongst the subjects. So, we hope what I am doing now will draw attention to the underlying issues. In a case where the truth in on your side, what is most against you is lack of scrutiny. So, y'know, I welcome the lack of scrutiny - welcome the scrutiny. People should go to and they can read about some of these issues. Good journalists in Australia, such as Phillip Dorling who's been heroic in exploration of the FOI traffic between Australia and the U.S., are also showing that there are serious issues here, and they are being hidden through slimy rhetoric coming out of the U.S. Ambassador to Australia, by Gillard, and by the Foreign Minister. And that really needs to stop.

Fran Kelly: Is scrutiny really what you're after here, rather than a life and a future in Ecuador? What if you're granted political asylum? Are you ready for a life in Ecuador? And also, back to that original question, do you think you'd ever make it there given what the British Metropolitan Police are threatening: to apprehend you if you stepped foot outside the embassy?

Julian Assange: Well, a life in Ecuador, I mean these are friendly generous people, is much better than a life behind bars in the United States under SAMS restrictions which are Guantanamo Bay-like restrictions, which they routinely apply to people accused of espionage. You can't speak, can't communicate, because I might communicate some password or something. And this is a routine matter that is applied in these sorts of cases.

Fran Kelly: And in terms of a life in Ecuador, amongst more than friendly people - no doubt they are - but Ecuador's justice system and record on free speech has been criticized by Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Boarders, Amnesty International... You know, it seems ironic, really, that you, the founder of WikiLeaks, would be seeking protection in a country which is criticized as limiting free speech.

Julian Assange: Well, it's free speech issues are certainly no worse than ones in the UK. I mean, this is the country with hundreds of gag orders, so let's keep things in perspective. I mean, I would enjoy campaigning for the rights of journalists in Ecuador.

Fran Kelly: Do you think you'd have the freedom to do that? I mean, Human Rights Watch says journalists get locked up for doing that.

Julian Assange: Well, look. Human Rights Watch is based in New York. Ecuador has an issue with Chevron, which is a U.S. company, and so on. There's been a lot of tussles between the U.S. and Ecuador which is one of the reasons why Ecuador, I presume, would be happy to grant me asylum because they understand the difficulties when you square off with the United States.

Fran Kelly: Julian Assange, thank you very much for joining us on Breakfast.

Julian Assange: Thank you, Fran. B-bye.

Fran Kelly: Julian Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks. He's currently taken refuge, sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he's made an application for political asylum, and he's still waiting, as we heard, for that decision by Ecuador. And as he does, the world watches. wlcentral

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Democracy Now: Julian Assange Seeks Asylum in Ecuador in Attempt to Avoid Extradition to U.S.

An interesting few minutes.

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks Seeks Asylum in Ecuador in Attempt to Avoid Extradition to U.S.

From the transcript, Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and attorney for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks:

MICHAEL RATNER: Well, I was completely surprised by it. In fact, I got a tweet from—or, no, a text message from you, Amy, that said, "Michael, Julian Assange has gone into the Ecuadorian embassy." So that really surprised me.

On the other hand, if you look at what he was facing, I had—I’ve been really very upset and nervous for, really, since he lost the decision in the High Court of England on the 14th of June, because here’s his situation. He’s about to be extradited now to Sweden. Sweden does not have bail. Now, these are on allegations of sex charges—allegations, no charges—and they’re to interrogate Julian Assange. But despite that, he would have been in prison in Sweden. At that point, our view is that there was a substantial chance that the U.S. would ask for his extradition to the United States. So here you have him walking the streets in London—sure, under bail conditions; going to a jail in Sweden, where he’s in prison, almost an incommunicado prison; U.S. files extradition; he remains in prison; and the next thing that happens is whatever time it takes him to fight the extradition in Sweden, he’s taken to the United States. There’s no chance then to make political asylum application any longer. In addition, once he comes to the United States—we just hold up Bradley Manning as example one of what will happen to Julian Assange: a underground cell, essentially abuse, torture, no ability to communicate with anybody, facing certainly good chance of a life sentence, with a possibility, of course, of one of these charges being a death penalty charge. More Transcript

Julian Assange's Right to Asylum by Glenn Greenwald

Thank you Glenn Greenwald.

Julian Assange's right to asylum

Given the travesty that is American justice, WikiLeaks' founder is entitled to seek asylum and well-advised to fear extradition
by Glenn Greenwald
20 June 2012

If one asks current or former WikiLeaks associates what their greatest fear is, almost none cites prosecution by their own country. Most trust their own nation's justice system to recognize that they have committed no crime. The primary fear is being turned over to the US. That is the crucial context for understanding Julian Assange's 16-month fight to avoid extradition to Sweden, a fight that led him to seek asylum, Tuesday, in the London Embassy of Ecuador.

The evidence that the US seeks to prosecute and extradite Assange is substantial. There is no question that the Obama justice department has convened an active grand jury to investigate whether WikiLeaks violated the draconian Espionage Act of 1917. Key senators from President Obama's party, including Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, have publicly called for his prosecution under that statute. A leaked email from the security firm Stratfor – hardly a dispositive source, but still probative – indicated that a sealed indictment has already been obtained against him. Prominent American figures in both parties have demanded Assange's lifelong imprisonment, called him a terrorist, and even advocated his assassination.

For several reasons, Assange has long feared that the US would be able to coerce Sweden into handing him over far more easily than if he were in Britain. For one, smaller countries such as Sweden are generally more susceptible to American pressure and bullying.

For another, that country has a disturbing history of lawlessly handing over suspects to the US. A 2006 UN ruling found Sweden in violation of the global ban on torture for helping the CIA render two suspected terrorists to Egypt, where they were brutally tortured (both individuals, asylum-seekers in Sweden, were ultimately found to be innocent of any connection to terrorism and received a monetary settlement from the Swedish government).

Perhaps most disturbingly of all, Swedish law permits extreme levels of secrecy in judicial proceedings and oppressive pre-trial conditions, enabling any Swedish-US transactions concerning Assange to be conducted beyond public scrutiny. Ironically, even the US State Department condemned Sweden's "restrictive conditions for prisoners held in pretrial custody", including severe restrictions on their communications with the outside world.

Assange's fear of ending up in the clutches of the US is plainly rational and well-grounded. One need only look at the treatment over the last decade of foreign nationals accused of harming American national security to know that's true; such individuals are still routinely imprisoned for lengthy periods without any charges or due process. Or consider the treatment of Bradley Manning, accused of leaking to WikiLeaks: a formal UN investigation found that his pre-trial conditions of severe solitary confinement were "cruel, inhuman and degrading", and he now faces capital charges of aiding al-Qaida. The Obama administration's unprecedented obsession with persecuting whistleblowers and preventing transparency – what even generally supportive, liberal magazines call "Obama's war on whistleblowers" – makes those concerns all the more valid.

No responsible person should have formed a judgment one way or the other as to whether Assange is guilty of anything in Sweden. He has not even been charged, let alone tried or convicted, of sexual assault, and he is entitled to a presumption of innocence. The accusations made against him are serious ones, and deserve to be taken seriously and accorded a fair and legal resolution.

But the WikiLeaks founder, like everyone else, is fully entitled to invoke all of his legal rights, and it's profoundly reckless and irresponsible to suggest, as some have, that he has done anything wrong by doing so. Seeking asylum on the grounds of claimed human rights violations is a longstanding and well-recognized right in international law. It is unseemly, at best, to insist that he forego his rights in order to herd him as quickly as possible to Sweden.

Assange is not a fugitive and has not fled. Everyone knows where he is. If Ecuador rejects his asylum request, he will be right back in the hands of British authorities, who will presumably extradite him to Sweden without delay. At every step of the process, he has adhered to, rather than violated, the rule of law. His asylum request of yesterday is no exception.

Julian Assange has sparked intense personal animosity, especially in media circles – a revealing irony, given that he has helped to bring about more transparency and generated more newsworthy scoops than all media outlets combined over the last several years. That animosity often leads media commentators to toss aside their professed beliefs and principles out of an eagerness to see him shamed or punished.

But ego clashes and media personality conflicts are pitifully trivial when weighed against what is at stake in this case: both for Assange personally and for the greater cause of transparency. If he's guilty of any crimes in Sweden, he should be held to account. But until then, he has every right to invoke the legal protections available to everyone else. Even more so, as a foreign national accused of harming US national security, he has every reason to want to avoid ending up in the travesty known as the American judicial system. Gruniad

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Louisiana Vying For Title America's Most Stupid State?

I know it will have a bit of a job on knocking Texas of the puerile pedestal, but it won't be for the want of trying.

I found the presentation of the article featured a bit scrappy, so I was in two minds whether to run with it or not. But the sheer audacity of the claims, of these people who are going to be in charge educating kids, couldn't I suppose, be ignored. And it is in the main, only those claims that you will find posted below. To read the article proper, you will have to follow the link.

But there was something else about the article I recognised, something I had made mention of in the past. Only on that occasion it involved the full blown theocratic state of Iran, unlike America of course, that is still at the wannabe stage.

Mind you, what it was that drew my attention, is far from uncommon when the jesoids are trying to make their case for the outlandish theories that they espouse. "Some scientists believe" or words to that effect, litter their arguments like confetti at a wedding. They never seem to produce these scientists, but that's by the by. Unless less of course it's the likes of Arnold Mendez. (Texas)

But returning to Iran for the moment, I had this to say earlier in the year:

Iran Warns World of Coming Great Event

Well I don't know what you will make of this. I found it a bizarre bit of reading, and should you agree; just wait till you see the video.

I know we are two different cultures, but until I watched the video, I never knew just how different. Polar opposites doesn't even come close.

The video is a half hour long, but I just couldn't stop watching the thing. But what does it say for its target audience? A flock, and I mean a flock, a flock of adult children who can't be in possession of a critical thought between the lot of 'em.

As a piece of propaganda, it's unlike anything else I have ever seen. You might notice a recurring get out of jail card throughout. ''Some scholars believe'' then add whatever it is you want say.

And if you think the jesoids of America have got it bad for the second coming, again, you ain't seen nuthin yet. Article Do watch, I beg you.

There are links in the article proper, to a couple of clips that physically show the publications that these absurdities are taken from. Just in case you have trouble believing what you are about read. You know how it is I'm sure.

The Loch Ness Monster Is Real; The KKK Is Good: The Shocking Content of Publicly Paid for Christian School Textbooks

Thousands of Louisiana students will receive state voucher money, transferred from public school funding, to attend private religious schools. What will they learn there?
By Bruce Wilson
June 18, 2012

This 2012-2013 school year, thanks to a bill pushed through by governor Bobby Jindal, thousands of students in Louisiana will receive state voucher money, transferred from public school funding, to attend private religious schools, some of which teach from a Christian curriculum that suggests the Loch Ness Monster disproves evolution and states that the alleged creature, which has never been demonstrated to even exist, has been tracked by submarine and is probably a plesiosaur. The curriculum also claims that a Japanese fishing boat caught a dinosaur.


Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence.

Have you heard of the `Loch Ness Monster' in Scotland? `Nessie,' for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.

Could a fish have developed into a dinosaur? As astonishing as it may seem, many evolutionists theorize that fish evolved into amphibians and amphibians into reptiles. This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis. No transitional fossils have been or ever will be discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals. Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsmen fashioned them all."

Extract from Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc. (1995)

Is the text still in use today? The answer is yes, according to U.K. critic Jonny Scaramanga, who was raised on the ACE curriculum and now runs a blog titled "Leaving Fundamentalism: Examining Christian Fundamentalism in The UK".


Some scientists speculate
that Noah took small or baby dinosaurs on the Ark.... are dinosaurs still alive today? With some recent photographs and testimonies of those who claimed to have seen one, scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence...


- Science Proves Homosexuality is a Learned Behavior

- The Second Law of Thermodynamics Disproves Evolution

- No Transitional Fossils Exist

- Humans and Dinosaurs Co-Existed

- Evolution Has Been Disproved

- A Japanese Whaling Boat Found a Dinosaur

- Solar Fusion is a Myth


- Only ten percent of Africans can read or write, because Christian mission schools have been shut down by communists.

- "the [Ku Klux] Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross... In some communities it achieved a certain respectability as it worked with politicians."

- "God used the 'Trail of Tears' to bring many Indians to Christ."

- It "cannot be shown scientifically that that man-made pollutants will one day drastically reduce the depth of the atmosphere's ozone layer."

- "God has provided certain 'checks and balances' in creation to prevent many of the global upsets that have been predicted by environmentalists."

- the Great Depression was exaggerated by propagandists, including John Steinbeck, to advance a socialist agenda.

- "Unions have always been plagued by socialists and anarchists who use laborers to destroy the free-enterprise system that hardworking Americans have created."

- Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential win was due to an imaginary economic crisis created by the media.

- "The greatest struggle of all time, the Battle of Armageddon, will occur in the Middle East when Christ returns to set up his kingdom on earth." Article proper.