Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lost Cities of the Ancients: The Dark Lords of Hattusha

For someone who professes an interest in history, what I'm about to admit, I can only do with no small amount of embarrassment. That there existed some 3,000 years ago, a fourth great empire that rivalled Egypt, Babylon and Assyria, and that until an hour ago, I had never even heard of, the Hittite empire of the north eastern Mediterranean.

Equally as fascinating as discovering this lost civilisation, is the story of how successive generations of historians have unravelled the mysterious of this hitherto unknown empire.

More than 3,000 years ago a mysterious and ruthless civilization rose from nothing, created a brutal and unstoppable army and built an empire that rivalled Egypt and Babylon. Yet, just as it was at the height of its powers, the great empire suddenly vanished from history.

This is the story of the formidable Hittites, a civilisation bent on world domination. Their long-lost capital, Hattusha, which disappeared 1,000s of years ago, was recently rediscovered, and archaeologists have unearthed one of the most astonishing and ingenious cities of the ancient world, featuring rings of impenetrable walls, secret tunnels, temples, palaces and a vast pyramid-like structure facing Egypt.

Buried in this lost city is one of the greatest libraries of the ancient world. All the secrets of the mysterious Hittite empire were written in two codes - one a unique form of hieroglyphs. Using these deciphered texts, this film recreates the ancient world of the Hittites, telling the story of what happened to them, and what caused an empire built to last forever to vanish so completely from history. BBC


Uploaded by, and thanks to, allisonpita 65 uploads.

The Federal Bureau of Entrapment Are At It Again

I shouldn't laugh, because if you have been here before, you will know how seriously I take these cases of FBI entrapment, but...

But we have a brown dude living in Pittsburgh, who, when he smells a rat, contacts an British newspaper, the Guardian, and.... oh just read on!

'Taliban sympathiser' arrest prompts new questions about FBI tactics

Khalifah al-Akili emailed the Guardian shortly before his arrest to say he thought he was the target of an 'entrapment' sting
Paul Harris
26 March 2012

Al-Akili said he believed two men he met were FBI informants because of the way they appeared to want to get him to make jihadist statements. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla

The arrest of a Pittsburgh man described as a Taliban sympathiser has sparked allegations that the FBI deployed a notorious confidential informant used in previous controversial stings on suspected Muslim radicals.

Khalifah al-Akili, 34, was arrested in a police raid on his home on March 15. He was later charged with illegally possessing a gun after having previous felony convictions for drug dealing. However, at his court appearance an FBI agent testified that al-Akili had made radical Islamic statements and that police had uncovered unspecified jihadist literature at his home.

But, in a strange twist, al-Akili's arrest came just days after he had sent out an email to friends and local Muslim civil rights groups complaining that he believed he was the target of an FBI "entrapment" sting. That refers to a controversial FBI tactic of using confidential informants – who often have criminal records or are paid large sums of money – to facilitate "fake" terrorist plots for suspects to invent or carry out.

In the email – which was also sent to the Guardian before al-Akili was arrested – he detailed meeting two men he believed were FBI informants because of the way they talked about radical Islam and appeared to want to get him to make jihadist statements. According to his account, one of them, who called himself Saeed Torres, asked him to buy a gun. Al-Aikili said he refused. The other, who was called Mohammed, offered to help him go to Pakistan for possible Islamic radical training. Al-Akili also refused.

In the email al-Akili recounted that he obtained a phone number from Mohammed and put it into Google. The search returned a reference to the case of the Newburgh Four, where an FBI confidential informant called Shahed Hussain helped secure the convictions of four men for attempting to blow up Jewish targets in the Bronx.

Hussain's actions became notorious among civil rights groups due to the incentives he deployed on his targets, who were local black Muslims in the impoverished town of Newburgh. They included offering one suspect $250,000, a car and a free holiday. Al-Akili said he also found a picture of Shahed Hussain on the internet and realised it was the same man as "Mohammed".

Al-Akili concluded his email by saying: "I would like to pursue a legal action against the FBI due to their continuous harassment and attempts to set me up." The Guardian contacted al-Akili by email and on March 14 by phone and al-Akili agreed to talk more to the Guardian about his belief that he was being set up by Hussain. But he was arrested the next day and has been denied bail as a potential threat to the public, keeping him in jail.

Al-Akili's lawyer Mike Healey believes that the FBI may have been monitoring al-Akili's emails, and possibly his phone, and then rushed to arrest him once Hussain had been identified and al-Akili had effectively gone public with his fears.

Healey questioned why the FBI would use Hussain, who has also been widely criticised for his role in another "entrapment" case in Albany, New York, which resulted in the jailing of a local imam and a pizza shop owner. "What are they doing bringing him here? I am amazed they would use someone like that," he said.

Yet, despite being painted in court as a dangerous radical Islamist, the only charges brought against al-Akili were for firing a rifle – which Healey said was owned by a friend – at a local shooting range almost two years ago in June 2010. Al-Akili faces the prospect of a hefty jail sentence if found guilty.

A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment on whether the agency had been using Shahed Hussain as a confidential informant in Pittsburgh. guardian

Blowing Shit Up It's The American Way

To what avail?

U.S. Military Desperate To Be Handed Just One Solid War It Can Knock Out Of The Park
March 28, 2012

ARLINGTON, VA—Reportedly fed up with complicated and protracted operations overseas, top Pentagon officials acknowledged this week they were desperate to be given just one straightforward, no-nonsense military engagement they could really knock out of the park.

"Given all these messy, ambiguous conflicts we've been fighting against enemies you can't even put your finger on, what we could really use right now is a plain old war against a clear-cut bad guy employing conventional tactics and weaponry," said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "No roadside bombs or plainclothes militants hiding out among innocent civilians—just a fair fight where two sides shoot at each other and someone wins. That's it."

"If Congress or our commander in chief could pull a few strings to make that happen, I swear we could totally nail a war like that, no question," Dempsey added. "The sort of thing where you go in, blow up a number of actual tanks and jets, declare victory, plant a flag, and then exit—that's all we're asking for."

Citing the country's long history of winning wars against sovereign nations with actual standing armies, the Pentagon's top brass repeatedly assured reporters they would "completely wipe the floor" with such an opponent if given the chance, and promised they would make America "very, very proud."

Additionally, military leaders said that engaging in such a conflict "would be a huge confidence boost for [them] right now."

"We'd be really grateful if the United States became embroiled in a war requiring us to bomb munitions factories, engage in aerial dogfights, or torpedo battleships," said Marine Corps commandant Gen. James Amos, noting that when it comes to facing actual armies with actual naval and air weaponry, the U.S. is "great at that stuff." "I guarantee it would be an absolute slam dunk for us."

"Come on," the four-star general added, "we really, really need this."

Admitting they "can't even look at a map of the Middle East anymore," members of the Joint Chiefs also said they were still skittish about Southeast Asia and would prefer to "stay as far away as possible" from any situation in which the term "insurgency" might apply.

Additionally, the nation's top generals stressed it was vitally important that any new conflict have a clear standard by which to measure victory, front lines "that are actually lines," and conditions under which dropping bombs actually weakens the enemy instead of rallying more people to its cause and making it stronger.

"While we'd gladly take almost any conventional military confrontation, we'd really prefer to liberate an oppressed citizenry that would be unconditionally happy when we arrived," said Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command. "Ideally, we'd like to avoid that whole mixture of violent loathing toward us as occupiers and utter dependence on us as peacekeepers. That's not really our strong suit."

"I should also point out that it's been a while since we last had a good old-fashioned European war," Mattis continued. "Because that sort of thing might just do the trick for us. We know the area, the culture, and all the languages real well. Give us a war with a nice, dependable Western front, and we could bang that sucker out in our sleep, no problem. Just something to think about."

Pentagon leaders also said they were open to the option of a sovereign nation attacking the United States directly, stating that nothing mobilizes a country or boosts troop morale faster than the defense of one's home soil. In addition, they noted that a war in which America is not seen as the aggressor is "exactly the type of thing we're talking about here."

"Ultimately, we just want a chance to unleash our full land, air, and sea power on actual uniformed soldiers for a change," Army chief of staff Gen. Ray Odierno said. "Believe me, if America let us do that, I've no doubt we could totally lay waste and come home victorious."

As of press time, the Navy had positioned its entire Atlantic fleet along the coast of Portugal and informed the president and Congress it was "ready to go" if given the word. The Onion

Friday, March 30, 2012

400 Afghan Women Jailed for "Moral Crimes"

Why does this sound oh so familiar? Perhaps because it is.

Those poor long suffering Afghani women, and not a bit of hope for the future. What the future holds in store under President Hamid Karzai, for these wretched unfortunates is bad enough, without even considering what life is going to be like under the Taliban when it all goes to hell in a hand basket.

I have two previous articles, both featuring the antics of Hamid Karzai, Is This What We Are Fighting For In Afghanistan? (2009) and Afghanistan: State Controlled Women's Shelters A Recipe For Tears (2011) Both articles, harbingers of what is to come, and goes without saying, none of it good for women.

Study: 400 Afghan women jailed for "moral crimes"

March 28, 2012

(AP) KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghanistan's criminal justice system has made little progress in the way it treats women accused of running away or adultery, despite public commitments from the Afghan president to protect women's rights, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

The New York-based group's report on women jailed for so-called "moral crimes" comes as many women's rights activists say they're worried that President Hamid Karzai will abandon promises to protect those rights as he tries to court the Taliban for peace talks. Under the Taliban regime, women were forced to wear body-and-face covering burqas and were not allowed out of the house without a male family member as an escort.

There is no entry in the Afghan penal code for the crime of "running away" and yet hundreds of women have been jailed for fleeing their families or husbands.

In this Jan. 19, 2003 file photo, Zarghona, who is in prison because she left her first husband who abused her and forced her into prostitution, holds her seven-month-old son Balal and looks out through their cell window, at the Kabul Women's Prison in Afghanistan.

Women interviewed by Human Rights Watch often said they were trying to escape abusive husbands or forced marriages. In some cases, those who had left were assumed to have cheated on their husbands, and therefore were jailed for adultery, which is a criminal offense in Afghanistan.

The report said police, prosecutors and judges routinely ignore women's accusations of abuse, arguing even in the face of physical evidence that women are either lying about the abuse or making it seem more severe than it was.

"What's needed first is the political will on behalf of the Afghan government to prosecute violence against women," Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, told reporters in Kabul.

In one case cited, prosecutors declined to file charges against the husband of a woman who went to police with wounds from being stabbed repeatedly with a screwdriver. The prosecutor did not question that her husband had inflicted the wounds, but declined to prosecute him because the injuries had not been life-threatening. The woman, identified as Nilofar M., was then imprisoned for adultery because she told prosecutors she had invited another man to her house.

"Police, with a crime victim sitting in front of them, see a criminal instead," said Heather Barr, the group's Afghanistan researcher and author of the report.

The report is based on interviews in October and November with 58 women and girls in Afghanistan who have been jailed for "moral crimes" — primarily running away from home or adultery. About 400 women are currently in Afghan prisons because of moral crimes, the report said. That's lower than in August 2010, when the U.N. reported that 565 women were in detention in Afghanistan for moral crimes.

But those 400 remain imprisoned despite a numbers of releases by President Hamid Karzai of groups of women accused of moral crimes in recent years. In the most recent such incident, Karzai announced a blanket pardon earlier this month for women who ran away from their parents to make a love match or who chose a different husband than their families wanted. The government says it is working on identifying and releasing these women.

Neither the Interior Ministry, which controls the police and the prisons, nor the attorney general's office responded to calls seeking comment.

A spokesman for the Supreme Court said that men and women are treated equally in Afghanistan's laws and courts.

"The courts of this country hear equally cases of all Afghan citizens, without paying attention to whether they are men or women," spokesman Abdul Wakhil Omery. He said the chief justice had seen the Human Rights Watch report, but did not find specific enough evidence to prove wrongdoing or negligence in any individual cases. CBS

Americans Are Not Safe Anywhere From Police

Americans Are Not Safe Anywhere From Police is actually a header taken from a 2007 article by Paul Craig Roberts. But as we witness more and more police forces that are totally out of control, I don't think there is any danger of such a header becoming redundant any time soon.

As the video progresses, it's quite hard, in spite of hearing similar stuff like this before, to actually get your head round it.

Killed at Home: White Plains, NY Police Called Out on Medical Alert Shoot Dead Black Veteran, 68

As the Trayvon Martin case draws national attention, we look at another fatal shooting of an African-American male that has received far less scrutiny. Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., a 68-year-old African-American Marine veteran, was fatally shot in November by White Plains, NY, police who responded to a false alarm from his medical alert pendant. The officers broke down Chamberlain’s door, tasered him, and then shot him dead. Audio of the entire incident was recorded by the medical alert device in Chamberlain’s apartment. We’re joined by family attorneys and Chamberlain’s son, Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr., who struggles through tears to recount his father’s final moments, including the way police officers mocked his father’s past as a marine. "For them to look at my father that way, (with) no regard for his life, every morning I think about it," he says. Transcript.

Cottage Confessions

Rest Stop Confidential: How I Ended up Having Sex With Men in Bathrooms

Across America, countless men are meeting up for sex in highway bathrooms. I'm one of them. Here's why.
by Conner Habib
March 30, 2012

I was 15 the first time I found out that men have sex in public. On the way to Maine with my mom and stepfather, we pulled off the highway and into a rest area. At the urinal, there was a man next to me. He was tall and homely, and holding himself. He stared at me. I was electrified, but held to that spot; he shook himself at me and I couldn’t move. We would have stayed there forever, but another man came in and saw what was happening and scowled. Time started again and I ran out of the bathroom.

If you’ve ever pulled over to a rest area, you’ve been near men having sex. I’m one of those men, I’ve done it a hundred times; we go into the woods or a truck with tinted windows, in a stall under cold light. It never stops, not for season or time. In the winter, men trudge through snow to be with each other, in the summer, men leave the woods with ticks clinging to their legs. Have you ever stopped at a rest area and found it completely empty? There’s always one man there, in his car, waiting to meet someone new.

This has been going on for a long, long time. The new ways that men meet — endlessly staring into phones, searching on hookup apps like Grindr or sites like Manhunt — haven’t changed the fact that we’re still having sex at rest areas, because they offer something different. For the man who is unsure of his sexuality, or unsure of how to tell others about it, for the man who has a family but feels new desires (or old, hidden ones) unfolding inside of him, the website and the phone apps are just too certain of themselves. They’re for gay men who want to have gay sex. Sex at the rest area, instead, abolishes identity; there’s a sort of freedom there to not be anything – instead, men just meet other men there; men who want the same sort of freedom.

Is it any wonder why people who feel the weight of their identities have been caught having sex at rest areas? Sen. Larry Craig and pop star George Michael were both discovered having sex at them. There is an appeal not just to having sex, but to having anonymous sex — not because you want to hide your identity from the other person; surely the other men recognized George Michael — but to feeling your own identity left behind. And this freedom is open to everyone, even those comfortable with their sexuality.

When I was 21, on the day I got my first car, I drove to a little parking lot off the highway near where I lived: the gravity of memory – of that day when I was 15 — drew me there. Later, on the long drives between college in Massachusetts and home in Pennsylvania, I’d pull over whenever I found a rest stop. When I got there, I would wait. I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t thinking — it seemed like where I should be.

Sometimes men go to rest areas because there’s nowhere else to go. My college town and my hometown were surrounded by thick lines of trees and post-industrial abandoned factories. There was no way to meet anyone, or if there was, it felt forced, somehow. Maybe I could go on dates with a few guys who were out like me, but I didn’t really want to go on dates, so it would’ve been dishonest. The straight students were going to parties and hooking up, making out on the green, having sex in dorms. The gay guys had to do what they could, wherever they could find it. Making out drunkenly with straight also-drunk frat boys, sex in the library with townies, trips to the nearest big city: either do those things or sit with your sexual feelings, like many of us had our entire lives. All that energy and nowhere to put it, no one to share it with.

Someone else would park next to me and look over. There were lots of old men, and younger ones too. There was no signal, just the way we looked at one another. We could tell. I would go into the little bathroom building, like the one in Maine. At the urinals, when the bathroom was mostly empty, we could stand side by side and reach over to each other. Or if not at the urinals, someone would be sitting in the stall next to me, tapping his foot, and I’d get on the cold dirty floor and slide my body halfway underneath the divider or sometimes there’d be a hole in the wall. Go to page two.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rick Santorum You Are Such a Twat

How very Presidential.

If Santorum isn't a raving closet gay, I'll show my arse in Burton's window.

Santorum tells young man not to use pink bowling ball ‘on camera’

By Eric W. Dolan
March 28, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Wednesday told a young man not to use a pink ball at a bowling alley in Wisconsin.

“You’re not gonna use the pink ball. We’re not gonna let you do that. Not on camera,” he said, according to Reuters reporter Sam Youngman.

“Friends don’t let friends use pink balls,” he added.

Santorum was bowling with the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse College Republicans. Wisconsin holds its presidential primary next Tuesday.

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group in the country, blasted Santorum for his comment.

“This is another example of Rick Santorum intentionally making ignorant statements that have a real impact on LGBT people,” said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz. “Whether he’s comparing our marriages to inanimate objects, saying our children would be better off with a parent in prison as opposed to two loving same-sex parents, or calling open military service a ‘tragic social experiment;’ he’s proven that he thinks LGBT people are second-class citizens not worthy of dignity or respect.

“In this case, he’s advancing tired gender norms by implying a boy should be ashamed or embarrassed to use a certain color bowling ball.” Raw Story

Betty Boop is best remembered for her red-hot jazz baby persona. With a head like a giant peanut, vast mascara'd eyes, too-kissable lips, baby-doll voice, flattened marcelled hair, and mere threads of a dress exposing miles of hot flesh. Listen to her Songs .. the sexiest cartoon character out there! Listen

Man Arrested For Being Pushed

I stopped doing police abuse videos a long time ago, not because they are ubiquitous, which of course they are, but rather because they make me extremely angry. However, I shall on this occasion make an exception, it's not but a minute or two anyway.

I don't think I need to comment further, other than perhaps read the comments at source.

Man arrested for being pushed by a Ft. Collins, Colorado police officer
By Mark Frauenfelder
Tuesday, Mar 27

[Video Link] Do you think any disciplinary action will be taken against this duo? I don't.

Fort Collins police investigating after video shows officer shoving man (Via biotiv)

Seven Ways Citizens Are Using Humor and Creativity to Protest Injustice

The original article is a three page post, but I think the first item captures the essence of the thing. But if you do nothing else, do follow some of the links.

Seven Ways Citizens Are Using Humor and Creativity to Protest Injustice

While not a new concept, creative activism does seem to be having a "moment" right now as activists look for ways to draw attention to the recent attacks on our rights.
By Lauren Kelley
March 25, 2012

The recent spate of right-wing attacks against reproductive rights, the ongoing foreclosure crisis propagated by Wall Street banks, racist police actions that never seem to end - the injustices can seem overwhelming. But rather than give up, activists have been relentlessly fighting back.

There's the Occupy movement fighting economic injustice (among other things), of course, but there are also many other activists fighting for our rights all over the country. Lately, many of those activists have been using creativity, and sometimes humor, to get their message across. While not a new concept, creative activism does seem to be having a "moment" right now as activists look for ways to draw attention to the recent battles happening around the country and the world.

Below are several examples of recent actions that go beyond the traditional protest march. Some of them have made us laugh, while others make us think - but they've all been successful, in that they've grabbed the media's attention and gotten activist messages out to the masses.

Several of the funniest recent actions have been carried out by reproductive health supporters fighting back against the onslaught of right-wing attacks against reproductive rights: Komen for the Cure deciding to defund Planned Parenthood (and then backtracking), Catholic bishops launching an all-out assault on contraception, dozens of Republican-led legislative attempts to undermine Roe v. Wade. As Amanda Marcotte recently told Tracy Clark-Flory in a piece for Salon:

"Things have just gotten to the point of absurdity that you can't react without being absurd yourself." Thanks to recent attacks on even contraception, "ordinary women who often don't pay attention to politics are finally beginning to pay attention," she says. "And I think that means more opportunities to communicate through humor instead of the typical outrage thing. Humor can be very clarifying."

So we'll look at several humorous reproductive rights actions first.

1. Knitting vaginas and uteruses for anti-choice Congresspeople

The Snatchel Project has a simple rallying cry: "Let's make a uterus or VJJ for each male rep in congress!" The point is to send the following message to anti-choice Congresspeople: "Hands off my uterus! Here's one of your own!"

Here are the simple instructions for participation, via the group's website:

1. Knit or crochet a vagina or uterus

2. Print a message to enclose

(see below for a suggested message)

3. Mail it to your male Senator or Congressional Representative

(see the links to the right)

4. We're in the process of arranging hand delivery to congressional offices in Washington, until then, go ahead and mail yours in!

5. Record your items in this spreadsheet so we can track which representatives still need to receive a "gift"!

6. Don't forget to thank your representative if he respects women and supports our rights.

Learn how to knit, follow the patterns, and you too can send your government representatives a message they're unlikely to forget.

2. A sex strike for reproductive rights More

Blog News

It has been quite an upheaval these last few days, switching to a new email, a new PC, and I could say new operating system, but that system, Windows7, has been installed, uninstalled, and now replaced with good old XP.

There are one or two bits to sort out, I notice as I type this, that I have no spell-check operating. But for the main, I'm up and running again. I just need to go into town for a new keyboard, as delightful as my Mac keyboard is to use, scroll lock doesn't function within Windows, and scroll lock is something fundamental to operating two PCs in tandem.

But I must say, now with a four core processor and 8GB of ROM, this thing is rocket powered.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Santorum Would Consider VP Offer From Romney, Man He Daily Derides

File under: Desperate.

Not a principal between the pair of them.

Santorum Would Consider VP Offer From Romney, Man He Daily Derides

If on winning the Republican presidential nomination Mitt Romney needs a vice presidential running mate with the proven ability to use a New York Times correspondent as a rhetorical punching bag, Rick Santorum could be available.

Santorum on Monday told David Brody of CBN News (the Christian Broadcasting Network) he would consider being Mitt Romney's running mate if the frontrunner made the offer.

David Brody: If he for some reason asks you to be the vice presidential candidate on his ticket? I know, after is all said and done. Would you even consider it?

Rick Santorum: Of course. I mean, look. I would do in this race as I always say, this is the most important race in our country's history. I'm going to do everything I can. I'm doing everything I can.

Given how harshly both men have gone after each other, their teaming up seems unlikely. Also, Santorum's willingness to consider, even hypothetically, being Romney's running mate, would seem to raise the question of how seriously voters should take his present criticisms of Romney? NPR

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's Time To Pull The Stumps Ricky Buh Bye

Because you really are, a piss-ant little player.

You have to watch the two minute clip for the full effect.

Not this one, the one at the link.

The “walking dead” phase of the Republican primary is upon us
by Chris Cillizza

This is how primary campaigns end — not with a bang but with a wimper. Or, more accurately, a whine.

Rick Santorum lost his temper with the New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny on Sunday when Zeleny, perhaps the most even-tempered reporter we know, pushed the former Pennsylvania Senator on his remark that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney would be the “worst Republican” to nominate against President Obama .

“Quit distorting my words. It’s bulls---,” Santorum said to Zeleny, insisting that he was referring only to Romney’s health care positioning not to the candidate more broadly.

This is how primary campaigns end — not with a bang but with a wimper. Or, more accurately, a whine.

Rick Santorum lost his temper with the New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny on Sunday when Zeleny, perhaps the most even-tempered reporter we know, pushed the former Pennsylvania Senator on his remark that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney would be the “worst Republican” to nominate against President Obama.

“Quit distorting my words. It’s bulls---,” Santorum said to Zeleny, insisting that he was referring only to Romney’s health care positioning not to the candidate more broadly.

That, of course, is a distinction without a difference. And Santorum knows it.

It’s the latest in a series of head-scratchers from Santorum — make sure to check out his “Are you kidding me?” riff from late last week — and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich over the past week or so, a familiar pattern that typifies the final throes of candidates virtually certain to come up short in the primary. (Gingrich’s latest outburst came on Friday when he called President Obama’s remarks about slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin “disgraceful”.)

“What we’re seeing are signs that the nomination battle is effectively over,” said John Weaver, who served as a senior adviser to the presidential bid of former Utah governor Jon Huntsman. “The lashing out at the media and grasping of straws, as in Newt’s comments about the killing of Trayvon Martin, are indicators we’ve entered the walking dead period.”

The simple fact is that these candidates have been on the road campaigning nonstop for more than a year — and in some cases considerably longer than that.

The only way that Santorum and Gingrich, and Romney for the matter, force themselves out of a bed early every morning and hopscotch across the country in search of more — votes, money, attention — is to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to believe they can make it to that triumphant day when they seize victory.

But, as the thrill of the early votes wears off and the hard reality of the delegate math sets in, the bone-tiredness and frustration of a year (or more) of trying to unsuccessfully convince voters why you are the best choice begins to set in.

Take the 2008 Democratic presidential primary fight between then Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. By the end of February, it became clear that Clinton had fallen hopelessly — or close to it — behind in the delegate chase.

And yet, she kept winning states — giving her and her campaign plenty of justification to stay in the race. (Sound familiar?) Then came an editorial board meeting with the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader (South Dakota) in late May in which Clinton said the following:

“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don’t understand it.”

The Obama team immediately pounced, insisting that Clinton was invoking the assassination for political reasons. The New York Senator was forced to apologize. The whole episode left an unpleasant taste at the end of a campaign — the primary race formally ended on June 6 — that was, by any measure, one of the greatest in modern political history.

Why did it happen? Because Clinton was worn down. She was tired of having to answer question after question about why she hadn’t dropped out of the race yet. She was tired of trying to win an unwinnable race.

That’s the same mindset that seems to have infected Santorum and Gingrich in the wake of the Illinois primary and the endorsement of Romney by former Florida governor Jeb Bush .

Their windows of opportunity, which were always open a crack (at best), have now slammed shut. The danger for both men is that they linger in the race so long past the point which they should that they tarnish the (mostly) positive impressions they have left on the Republican electorate in the race. (Kind of like how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just kept playing and playing — and playing.)

“Normally these are signs of a campaign on its last breath, but then again, given that Newt has been touring zoos, and Santorum is talking about how porn affects the brain, it feels like this final last gasp seems to never end,” said Todd Harris, an unaligned Republican media consultant.

We’ve reached the end of the end — or damn close to it — in the Republican race for president. The only question now is when (or if) Santorum and Gingrich recognize it. Video

Monday, March 26, 2012

Japan Will Be Nuclear Free By May

At the risk of sounding a tad cynical; for how long?

Japan's Second-to-Last Nuclear Plant Shuts Down - Nation Will Be Nuclear Free By May
Mat McDermott
March 26, 2012

Another casualty of the Fukushima nuclear disaster: Japan's nuclear power industry as a whole. The Tokyo Electric Power Company has closed the final reactor of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, leaving just one operational facility in the entire country.

This final reactor, on the northern island of Hokkaido and the 54th in Japan, is scheduled to be shut down in May for maintenance and is not expected to be restarted. Only if local support exists to restart the reactor will it come back online, BBC News reports.

Since the Fukushima disaster and resultant nuclear shut down, Japan has faced the problem of avoiding power supply problems during times of peak demand, especially the summer. Last year large companies were ordered to reduce their power consumption by 15%. Older non-nuclear power plants have been temporarily brought back online, with fossil fuel imports rising.

TEPCO's president issued the follow statement to its electricity customers:

As for the electricity supply and demand in the foreseeable future, we expect to maintain stable supply. However, we ask that you continue to make a reasonable effort to save electricity. In addition, while we have been carefully reviewing this summer's electricity supply and demand, the shut down of Unit 6 [the final reactor at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa] will result in a significant reduction in our electricity supply capacity. We will continue to make efforts to maintain stable operations and maintenance of the power facilities in order to secure stable power supply. Treehugger

If I am slow to respond, it's due to teething problems with a new system. Thank you.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

You Tell 'em Mark - Cruddas

ARTIST TAXI DRIVER ‏ @chunkymark

#marr Did Rupert Murdoch order the Cruddas sting To tell Cameron/police to back off #cashforcameron @BBCNews

#marr How much you being paid Andrew? Tory stooge

#marr Looking uncomfortable You fucking stooge

#marr Alleged???? You sickophant #cashforcameron

#marr Tory Govt love in

#marr Goes from Cruddas To several positive Govt stories Actually bugging them up This is apalling

This is criminal 1.50 secs Then #marr says let's move on #cruddas

#marr Where the fuck is the outrage Where is the condemnation They just sold #nhsbill

Wealthy donors trying to by access @BBCNews No you donots Govt offering access for cash #cruddas

Arrest Cruddas Cameron Osborne

Video secretly filmed by the Sunday Times newspaper shows Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas apparently offering access to the prime minister and chancellor for £250,000.

London-based Mr Cruddas was appointed Tory co-treasurer in June 2011 and is the founder of online trading company Currency Management Consultants Ltd.

Tonight the Conservative Party said it would urgently investigate the claims against its top fundraiser. Watch

Costa Concordia Good News Fuel Removal Completed

Costa Concordia: Work to remove fuel completed
24 March 2012

Work to remove fuel from the wreck of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia has been completed, the Italian authorities announced.

More than 2,000 tonnes of fuel and sewage were drained from the ship which capsized after hitting rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio on 13 January.

There had been fears that pristine waters in the area might be polluted.

Thirty people died in the disaster and a further two remain missing, presumed dead.

The ship was carrying 4,200 passengers and crew when its hull was torn open by rocks.

Captain Francesco Schettino faces charges of causing the incident by steering the Costa Concordia too close to the island's shore, charges he denies.

The next stage of the salvage operation will involve cleaning up the sea bed and the area around the ship's hull before work begins to lift the wreck.

The removal of the Costa Concordia itself is expected to take up to a year. BBC

Saturday, March 24, 2012

British Raj 'Victorian Prudery' to Blame for Indian Gay Sex Ban

British Raj 'Victorian Prudery' to Blame for Indian Gay Sex Ban

India's attorney-general has blamed the 'Victorian prudery' of the British Raj for the law which banned homosexual relations.
By Dean Nelson
23 Mar 2012

His comments were made as the Supreme Court finally lifted a ban on gay sex more than 60 years after Indian independence.

India's chief law officer G. E Vahanvati told the court that India had always taken a liberal attitude towards homosexuals and had in fact celebrated their sexuality in temple sculptures and carvings portraying acts of oral and group sex.

"Homosexuals were also free to satisfy their fancies in India whereas in Britain they were widely despised and buggery was a capital crime until 1961," he said, quoting a book on the British Raj.

"Indian society prevalent before the enactment of the [British] Indian Penal Code [in 1860] had a much greater tolerance for homosexuality than its British counterpart, which at this time was under the influence of Victorian morality and values in regard to family and the procreative nature of sex," he argued. more

Dear Bristol

Dear Bristol,

I understand you’ve been complaining that President Obama should be calling you like he did Sandra Fluke anytime now to apologize for people making fun of you and your family. I think you misunderstand what he was calling about. You see, Sandra Fluke, a law student, went to Congress to argue for women’s health. She was attacked and insulted by a sleazy ex-drug addict that was once arrested after coming back from the Dominican Republic with a bottle of Viagra and a bunch of guys (it’s called “sexual tourism” and you have to pay for the sex). Her plea that birth control pills be covered by insurance because of the many vital health benefits, aside from contraception, they provide was earnest and moving. You wouldn’t know that, of course, because you didn’t watch that footage. You got the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh version in which she was having so much sex, the cost of her pills were too expensive to pay on her own. What a slut. Except she wasn’t and only very stupid people think that is what she was arguing for. more

The Burial Of Our Species by Fidel Castro

The Burial Of Our Species

The Roads Leading to Disaster

By Fidel Castro
March 23, 2012

This Reflection could be written today, tomorrow or any other day without the risk of being mistaken. Our species faces new problems. When 20 years ago I stated at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro that a species was in danger of extinction, I had fewer reasons than today for warning about a danger that I was seeing perhaps 100 years away. At that time, a handful of leaders of the most powerful countries were in charge of the world. They applauded my words as a matter of mere courtesy and placidly continued to dig for the burial of our species.

It seemed that on our planet, common sense and order reigned. For a while economic development, backed by technology and science appeared to be the Alpha and Omega of human society.

Today, everything is much clearer. Profound truths have been surfacing. Almost 200 States, supposedly independent, constitute the political organization which in theory has the job of governing the destiny of the world.

Approximately 25,000 nuclear weapons in the hands of allied or enemy forces ready to defend the changing order, by interest or necessity, virtually reduce to zero the rights of billions of people.

I shall not commit the naïveté of assigning the blame to Russia or China for the development of that kind of weaponry, after the monstrous massacre at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ordered by Truman after Roosvelt’s death.

Nor shall I fall prey to the error of denying the Holocaust that signified the deaths of millions of children and adults, men or women, mainly Jews, gypsies, Russians or other nationalities, who were victims of Nazism. For that reason the odious policy of those who deny the Palestinian people their right to exist is repugnant.

Does anyone by chance think that the United States will be capable of acting with the independence that will keep it from the inevitable disaster awaiting it?

In a few weeks, the 40 million dollars President Obama promised to collect for his electoral campaign will only serve to show that the currency of his country is greatly devaluated, and that the US, with its unusual growing public debt drawing close to 20 quadrillion, is living on the money it prints up and not on the money it produces. The rest of the world pays for what they waste.

Nor does anyone believe that the Democratic candidate would be any better or worse than his Republican foes: whether they are called Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum. Light years separate the three characters as important as Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King. It is really unheard-of to observe such a technologically powerful nation and a government so bereft of both ideas and moral values.

Iran has no nuclear weapons. It is being accused of producing enriched uranium that serves as fuel energy or components for medical uses. Whatever one can say, its possession or production is not equivalent to the production of nuclear weapons. Dozens of countries use enriched uranium as an energy source, but this cannot be used in the manufacture of a nuclear weapon without a prior complicated purification process.

However, Israel, with the aid and cooperation of the United States, manufactured nuclear weaponry without informing or accounting to anybody, today not admitting their possession of these weapons, they have hundreds of them. To prevent the development of research in neighbouring Arab countries, they attacked and destroyed reactors in Iraq and Syria. They have also declared their aim of attacking and destroying the production centres for nuclear fuel in Iran.

International politics have been revolving around that crucial topic in that complex and dangerous part of the world, where most of the fuel that moves the world economy is produced and supplied.

The selective elimination of Iran’s most eminent scientists by Israel and their NATO allies has become a practice that motivates hatred and feelings of revenge.

The Israeli government has openly stated its objective to attack the plant manufacturing Iran’s enriched uranium, and the government of the United States has invested billions of dollars to manufacture a bomb for that purpose.

On March 16, 2012, Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunningham published an article revealing that “A top US Air Force General has described the largest conventional bomb – the re-invented bunkers of 13.6 tones – as ‘fantastic’ for a military attack on Iran.

“Such an eloquent comment on the massive killer-artefact took place in the same week that President Barack Obama appeared to warn against ‘easy words’ on the Persian Gulf War.”

“…Herbert Carlisle, deputy chief of staff for US Air Force operations […] added that probably the bomb would be used in any attack on Iran ordered by Washington.

“The MOP, also referred to as ‘The Mother of All Bombs’, is designed to drill through 60 metres of concrete before it detonates its massive bomb. It is believed to be the largest conventional weapon, non-nuclear, in the US arsenal.”

“The Pentagon is planning a process of wide destruction of Iran’s infrastructure and massive civilian victims through the combined use of tactical nuclear bombs and monstrous conventional bombs with mushroom-shaped clouds, including the MOABs and the larger GBU-57A/B or Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) that exceeds the MOAB in destructive capacity.

“The MOP is described as ‘a powerful new bomb that aims straight at subterranean Iranian and North Korean nuclear facilities. The giant bomb –longer than 11 persons shoulder to shoulder, or more than 6 metres from end to end’.”

I ask the reader to excuse me for this complicated military jargon.

As one can see, such calculations arise from the supposition that the Iranian combatants, numbering millions of men and women well-known for their religious zeal and their fighting traditions, surrender without firing a shot.

In recent days, the Iranians have seen how US soldiers occupying Afghanistan, in just three weeks, urinated on the corpses of killed Afghans, burned copies of the Koran and murdered more than 15 defenceless citizens.

Let us imagine US forces launching monstrous bombs on industrial institutions, capable of penetrating through 60 metres of concrete. Never has such an undertaking ever been conceived.

Not one word more is needed to understand the gravity of such a policy. In that way, our species will be inexorably led towards disaster. If we do not learn how to understand, we shall never learn how to survive.

As for me, I harbour not the slightest doubt that the United States is about to commit and lead the world towards the greatest mistake in its history.

Fidel Castro Ruz - March 21, 2012 ICH

Friday, March 23, 2012

$92 Million a Year Religious Scam and Still The Bitches Fall Out

Which kind of endorses the old adage, there's one born every day, or in this case, a lot more than one. All the same, it's hard to believe that there are that many schmucks in the world.

But are they any worse than the Catholic Church selling indulgences? There again, even the Catholic Church moved on from that little scam.

A fool and his money . . . . .

Lavish spending of America's first family of televangelism revealed in bitter legal feud

America's "first family" of televangelism is being torn apart in a bitter legal feud which includes allegations of lavish spending on private jets, mansions and a $100,000 motor home for their pet dogs.
By Nick Allen
23 Mar 2012

Paul Crouch, 77, and his wife Jan Crouch, 73, run the Trinity Broadcasting Network which delivers the Christian message to every continent except Antarctica 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It bills itself as "the world's largest religious network and America's most watched faith channel".

The network broadcasts prosperity gospel programming, which promises that believers will be materially rewarded, and raked in $92 million in donations in 2010.

During a recent Praise-A-Thon one preacher asked viewers to shout "Fear not" three times, count down from 10, and then rush to the phone with donations.

The couple's granddaughter Brittany Koper, 26, has now filed court papers claiming she was sacked after discovering "illegal financial schemes" adding up to tens of millions of dollars.

Mrs Koper claims she was made to turn over her house, life insurance policy, car, furniture and jewellery to the organisation as "an act of Christian contrition" when she complained about alleged financial misdeeds.

A legal claim from another relative, Joseph McVeigh, alleged that TBN obtained a $50 million Global Express luxury jet through a "sham loan", owned an $8 million Hawker jet for Jan Crouch's personal use, and had 13 homes for the Crouch family's use across the United States. He claimed a $100,000 recreational vehicle was for the use of Jan Crouch's dogs.

The legal claims are offering a rare window into the secretive world of the sprawling religious empire, which the Crouches founded in 1973 with fellow televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. The Bakkers left two years later to start their own ministry.

TBN shows Christian-themed news, documentaries, films, talk shows and sermons. It owns seven other television networks and has more than 18,000 television and cable affiliates.

In addition to its headquarters in Orange County, California, it has an estate outside Nashville called Trinity Music City USA, and a Christian amusement park in Florida called Holy Land Experience.

Last year Mrs Koper's father, Paul Crouch Jr, resigned abruptly as vice president of the network. Mrs Koper took over as chief financial officer in July.

She claims to have found that directors, members of her own family, were acting illegally. She sent a memo to the board but was sacked within days, according to her lawyer Tymothy MacLeod.

Mrs Koper claims her husband, also a TBN official, was sued by a debt collection company which had been registered by a TBN lawyer one day earlier. He was accused of embezzling $1 million from TBN, an accusation Mrs Koper claims was retaliation for her whistleblowing. The suit was dismissed.

Colby M May, a lawyer for TBN, rejected suggestions of family turmoil and financial wrongdoing. He claimed Mrs Koper and her husband had stolen from the network and that the legal claims were a "tabloid filing" and "utterly and completely contrived".

He said: "They're attempting to create a diversion and to create as much public spectacle as they can in the vain hope that this will all get resolved, and that's simply not going to happen."

He said the Crouches travel by private jet because they have received "scores of death threats, more than the president of the United States."

Their ministry keeps large amounts of cash in reserve because incurring debt goes against the Biblical instruction to "owe no man any thing," he said.

He added: "The answer is, there is no fire there. They pay as they go and, every now and then, one of the things that they pay as they go on is the acquisition of a broadcast facility, and that's a multi-million dollar transaction." Telegraph

Brittany Koper with her grandparents Janice Crouch (far left) and Paul Crouch Sr (right) at her wedding

Something a Little Different: Solar power Car Race Australia

Of special interest to Brits might be the terrifying outback ordeal link, and there is also a Dutch interest in the race.

Watching the video however, I couldn't help but think how hot it must have been sat in that perspex bubble. I had a similar experience during my one and only shot at gliding, hot as hell it was.

World Solar Challenge: The Musical

Oz heliowheels race for your viewing pleasure
By Lester Haines
27th January 2012

Video Last October, we at El Reg's Special Projects Bureau jetted off to Oz in pursuit of the World Solar Challenge – a gruelling 3,000km test of the planet's most advanced solar cars.

It took us a while to recover from the terrifying Outback ordeal – five days of hellish survival which saw us deprived of the most basic human needs, including a decent net connection and professional skin-moisturising products.

Suffice it to say, the subsequent therapy paid off, and we've finally put together a video overview of the event, which we hope gives a flavour of what the WSC's all about.

Btw, it's not really a musical, but we threw a few bars into the mix to give the vid a bit more va-va-voom. Enjoy: The Register

Arizona: More Madness on Women's Reproductive Rights

It's not the greatest bit of writing I have come across, so I will just paste the insane part of the article.

How do these people get elected?

AZ Legislator Wants to Make Women Watch an Abortion Before Having One -- Fight Back By Showing Her Your Bodily Functions

Terri Proud, Arizona legislator: Personally I’d like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a “surgical procedure”. If it’s not a life it shouldn’t matter, if it doesn’t harm a woman then she shouldn’t care, and don’t we want more transparency and education in the medical profession anyway? We demand it everywhere else.

Until the dead child can tell me that she/he does not feel any pain – I have no intentions of clearing the conscience of the living – I will be voting YES. more

What did I just say, how do these people get elected? Stroll on! here's another one, perhaps it's just a coincidence that she too is from Arizona.

And while we are doing batshit crazy, have a bit of our William. And if you can figure out what on earth he's talking about, you're a better man than I Gunga Din.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Martial Law USA by Executive Order

And by any name you fancy. The whole country is out of control, why not Democracy itself?

None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free.

Martial Law by Executive Order
Jim Garrison

President Obama's National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order of March 16 does to the country as a whole what the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act did to the Constitution in particular -- completely eviscerates any due process or judicial oversight for any action by the Government deemed in the interest of "national security." Like the NDAA, the new Executive Order puts the government completely above the law, which, in a democracy, is never supposed to happen. The United States is essentially now under martial law without the exigencies of a national emergency.

Even as the 2012 NDAA was rooted in the Patriot Act and the various executive orders and Congressional bills that ensued to broaden executive power in the "war on terror," so the new Executive Order is rooted in the Defense Production Act of 1950 which gave the Government powers to mobilize national resources in the event of national emergencies, except now virtually every aspect of American life falls under ultimate unchallengeable government control, to be exercised by the president and his secretaries at their discretion.

The 2012 NDAA deemed the United States a "battlefield," as Senator Lindsey Graham put it, and gave the president and his agents the right to seize and arrest any U.S. citizen, detain them indefinitely without charge or trial, and do so only on suspicion, without any judicial oversight or due process. The new Executive Order states that the president and his secretaries have the authority to commandeer all U.S. domestic resources, including food and water, as well as seize all energy and transportation infrastructure inside the borders of the United States. The Government can also forcibly draft U.S. citizens into the military and force U.S. citizens to fulfill "labor requirements" for the purposes of "national defense." There is not even any Congressional oversight allowed, only briefings.

How very Soviet Union.

In the NDAA, only the president had the authority to abrogate legitimate freedoms of U.S. citizens. What is extraordinary in the new Executive Order is that this supreme power is designated through the president to the secretaries that run the Government itself:

• The Secretary of Defense has power over all water resources;

• The Secretary of Commerce has power over all material services and facilities, including construction materials;

• The Secretary of Transportation has power over all forms of civilian transportation;

• The Secretary of Agriculture has power over food resources and facilities, livestock plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment;

• The Secretary of Health and Human Services has power over all health resources;

• The Secretary of Energy has power over all forms of energy.

The Executive Order even stipulates that in the event of conflict between the secretaries in using these powers, the president will determine the resolution through his national security team.

The 2012 NDAA gave the Government the right to abrogate any due process against a U.S. citizen. The new Executive Order gives the government, through the Secretary of Labor, the right to proactively mobilize U.S. citizens for "labor" as the government deems necessary and to coordinate with the Secretary of Defense to maintain data to coordinate the nation's work needs in relation to national defense.

What is extraordinary about the Executive Order is that, like the NDAA, this can all be done in peacetime without any national emergency to justify it. The language of the Order does not state that all these extraordinary measures will be done in the event of "national security" or a "national emergency." They can simply be done for "purposes of national defense," clearly a broader remit that allows the government to do what it wants, when it wants, how it wants, to whomever it wants, all without any judicial restraint or due process. As Orwell famously said in 1984, "War is peace. Peace is war." This is now the reality on the ground in America.

Finally, the 2012 NDAA was hurried through the House and Senate almost like a covert op with minimal public attention or debate. It was then signed by the president at 9:00 PM on New Year's Eve while virtually nobody was paying attention to much other than the approaching new year. This new Executive Order was written and signed in complete secret and then quietly released by the White House on its website without comment. All this was done under a president who studied constitutional law at Harvard.

It is hard to know what to say in the face of such egregious disregard for the integrity of what America has stood and fought for since its founding. It is hard in part because none of us thought such encroachments would ever happen here, certainly not under the watch of a "progressive" like Obama.

At one level, the prospect for war with Iran is probably an immediate justification. But the comprehensiveness of the Executive Order, like that of the 2012 NDAA, speaks to something much deeper, more sinister. I would suggest that this Order, like the NDAA, has been in the works for some time and is simply the next step in the logic of the "global war on terror." Our political elites have come to consider democracy an impediment to effective governance and they are slowly and painstakingly creating all the democratic legalities necessary to abridge our democratic rights with impunity, all to ensure our "security." Of such measures do republics fall and by such measures tyrants emerge.

The only thing that really remains is the occasion to test the new rules of the game. Perhaps that will be war with Iran, perhaps some contrived emergency, or perhaps, as long as the public and media remain asleep, no occasion will be necessary at all. It will just slowly happen of its own accord and we, like the frog in the pot of slowly boiling water, will just sit there and be consumed by our own turpitude. HuffPo

No Charges, No Trial, No Lawyer, No Jury: Straight to Execution

The new American justice system for U.S. citizens. Big post

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Politicians Who Flaunt Their Ignorance: Who Would Rally Against Reason: Richard Dawkins

A great little piece.

“I don’t trust educated intellectuals, élitists who know more than I do. I’d prefer to vote for somebody like me, rather than somebody who is actually qualified to be president.”

What other than this mentality accounts for the popularity of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum--politicians who flaunt their ignorance as a vote-winning virtue?

Who would rally against reason?
By Richard Dawkins

March 24th is a landmark date for Washington, D.C. Thousands will converge on the world’s leading capital city to celebrate the crowning human virtue of reason.

How have we come to the point where reason needs a rally to defend it? To base your life on reason means to base it on evidence and logic. Evidence is the only way we know to discover what’s true about the real world. Logic is how we deduce the consequences that follow from evidence. Who could be against either? Alas, plenty of people, which is why we need the Reason Rally.

Reason, as played out in the grand cooperative enterprise called science, makes me proud of Homo sapiens. Sapiens literally means ‘wise,’ but we have deserved the accolade only since we crawled from the swamp of primitive superstition and supernatural gullibility and embraced reason, logic, science and evidence-based truth.

We now know the age of our universe (13-14 billion years), the age of the Earth (4-5 billion years), what we and all other objects are made of (atoms), where we come from (evolved from other species), why all species are so well adapted to their environments (natural selection of their DNA). We know why we have night and day (Earth spins like a top), why we have winter and summer (Earth is tilted), what is the maximum speed at which anything can travel (two thirds of a billion mph). We know what the sun is (one star among billions in the Milky Way galaxy), we know what the Milky Way is (one galaxy among billions in our universe). We understand what causes smallpox (a virus, which we have eradicated), polio (a virus, which we have nearly eradicated), malaria (a protozoan, still here but we’re working on it), syphilis, tuberculosis, gangrene, cholera (bacteria and we know how to kill them). We have built planes that can cross the Atlantic in hours, rockets that safely land men on the moon and robot vehicles on Mars, and might one day save our planet by diverting a meteor of the kind that - we now understand - killed the dinosaurs. Thanks to evidence-based reason we are blessedly liberated from ancient fears of ghosts and devils, evil spirits and djinns, magic spells and witches’ curses.

Who then would rally against reason? The following statements will sound all too familiar.

1. “I don’t trust educated intellectuals, élitists who know more than I do. I’d prefer to vote for somebody like me, rather than somebody who is actually qualified to be president.”

What other than this mentality accounts for the popularity of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum--politicians who flaunt their ignorance as a vote-winning virtue? You want your airline pilot to be educated in aeronautics and navigation. You want your surgeon to be learned in anatomy. Yet when you vote for a president to lead a great country, you prefer to choose somebody who is ignorant and proud of it, someone you’d enjoy having a drink with, rather than somebody qualified for high office? If you are such a voter, you will not join the Reason Rally.

2. “Rather than have them learn modern science, I’d prefer my children to study a book written in 800 BC by unidentifed authors whose knowledge and qualifications were of their time. If I can’t trust the school to shield them from science, I’ll home-school them instead.”

Such a parent will not enjoy the Reason Rally. In 2008, at a conference of American science educators in Atlanta, Georgia, one teacher reported that students “burst into tears” when told they would be studying evolution. Another teacher described how students repeatedly screamed, “No!” when he began talking about evolution in class. If you are such a student, the Reason Rally is not for you - unless you take the precaution of stopping up your ears lest a word of unwelcome truth might penetrate.

3. “When I am faced with a mystery, with something I don’t understand, I don’t interrogate science for a solution, but jump to the conclusion that it must be supernatural and has no solution.”

This has been the lamentable but understandable first recourse of humanity for most of our history. We have grown out of it only during the past few centuries. Many people have never grown out of it, and if you are one of those the Reason Rally may have no appeal for you.

That is the fourth time in this essay I have said something like: “the Reason Rally is not for you.” But let me end on a more positive note. Even if you are unaccustomed to living by reason, if you are one of those, perhaps, who actively distrust reason, why not give it a try? Cast aside the prejudices of upbringing and habit, and come along anyway. If you come with open ears and open curiosity you will learn something, will probably be entertained and may even change your mind. And that, you will find, is a liberating and refreshing experience.

A hundred years from now, there should be no need for a Reason Rally. Meanwhile, unfortunately, the need is all around us and may become increasingly apparent in this election year. Please come to Washington and stand up for reason, science and truth. WaPo

She Sparkled

Toward The Sound of Bullshit US Marines Latest Propaganda Clip

I can see it now, this will be the number one clip playing at every NASCAR race this year.

Where do we sign up solja boy? Fuck me! you couldn't make this shit up.

And even though I'm in danger of wearing it out, what better vehicle could there be for upping my 'America in one picture' graphic.

Don't be fooled by Afghanistan massacre: US Marines are saints says new army video

After the massacre of 16 civilians in Afghanistan, the US Army has released a new video to restore the true image of US marines as dedicated servants of humanity opposing tyranny and injustice.
By Robin Beste
Stop the War Coalition
17 March 2012

Within days of a US marine massacring 16 civilians in Afghanistan, the United States Marine Corps released this sensitive 60-second video, titled Toward the Sound of Chaos, to help remove any misunderstanding about the mission of US marines in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

In the words of the film's commentary:

"Where chaos looms, the Few emerge. Marines move toward the sounds of tyranny, injustice and despair—with the courage and resolve to silence them. By ending conflict, instilling order and helping those who can't help themselves, Marines face down the threats of our time."

To which Marine Staff Sgt. Kody Lindsey adds:

"When you show this video in towns where marines aren't stationed, it puts a positive image of the Marine Corps. Not only do we protect and defend the nation, we also protect and defend those who can't defend themselves."

Of course, the dead Afghans who were filmed in January 2012 urinating on the bodies of Afghans they had just killed, aren't around to appreciate the humanitarian principles of the US Marines.

But the video will help the Afghan people avoid getting the wrong impression from the pictures in February 2012 of US marines posing in front of a flag displaying the logo of the notorious Nazi SS.

And seeing the video will correct any negative views there are of the night raids, often carried out by marines, that terrorise on average 40 families each night -- countering, it is hoped, a NATO report which concluded, “The escalation in raids has taken the battlefield more directly into Afghan homes, sparking tremendous backlash among the Afghan population.”

The video won't only be welcome in Afghanistan, but also by the people of Iraq, many of whom may have a completely false image of the US Marines and their mission "to help those who can't help themselves".

Like the people of Fallujah, where in April 2004 US marines -- no doubt implementing their commitment to "ending conflict, instilling order" -- participated in the slaughter of 2000 Iraqis, including hundreds of women and children, the injuring of thousands more and the driving of hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Or like the survivors of the 24 civilians slaughtered in Haditha in November 2005 -- once again many of them women and children. The video will help clear up the reasons why only one of the marines responsible for this atrocity was ever brought to trial and he was only found guilty of "negligent dereliction of duty", receiving a rank reduction and pay cut but avoiding jail time.

Toward the Sound of Chaos is a welcome antidote to the rash of articles and comments suggesting that US soldiers are systematically savage who bring nothing but mass murder and destruction everywhere they are deployed across the globe.

It will restore the true image of US marines as dedicated servants of humanity "moving toward the sounds of tyranny, injustice and despair—with the courage and resolve to silence them".

However, if you're an Iraqi, Afghan, Yemeni, Somali, or Pakistani civilian who is not convinced by this message, your answer to the question which ends the film, "Which way would you run?", will be -- the other way, and quickly.

Good eh? I prefer Bill Hicks' version myself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Joseph Ratzinger Paedophile Protector J'accuse The Shocking Story of Dutch Clerical Abuse

I ran one of the stories featured here a little earlier today, so of the words I wrote previously, I shall avail myself now. See: Time for the truth about Catholic sex abuse in the Netherlands.

Firstly though, a third party description regarding the work carried out by Dutch journalists, Joep Dohmen and Robert Chesal in exposing the horrific goings on in the Dutch Catholic Church.

A short report then follows; both men receiving Journalists of the year awards, and after that, the horror stories.

- - - - -

Church of child abuse

by Marcel Van Silfhout
March 20, 2012

The stories that reached the newspapers are painful and tragic

The scandal was first revealed in Ireland. Then more scams surfaced in the United States and Australia, followed by Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and The Netherlands. The Vatican might hope for an end to the sweeping devastating scandals about child sex abuse at countless Catholic institutions. But realists will say: “its just the beginning”. All eyes were on Pope Benedict XVI what would he say in his Easter message. Would he say sorry at least? He didn’t.

As said, Holland wasn’t the first and only country to disclose the existence of a wide range of paedophile priests, monks, fathers and teachers in the past decades. But the number of scandals in this little country is still impressive.

It all started with the excellent investigative reporting done by Joep Dohmen (NRC-Handelsblad) and Robert Chesal (RNW-Radio Netherlands Wordwide) late February. Since their publications of child sex abuse in a monastery and a boarding school of the so-called ´Salesianer Order´ there hasn’t been a day without new revelations. Meanwhile, Dohmen and Chesal received hundreds of new complaints about various cases of abuse in Catholic schools and seminaries. They counted at least 137 Catholic fathers and monks involved in the offences. As a result, the Dutch Catholic Church has started an investigation.

The stories that reached the papers are confronting, painful and tragic. Many men, aged between 45 and 80, for the first time in their lives, cried out loud, disclosing the traumatic incidents when they were young, innocent, vulnerable and defenceless. As boys they were sent to these schools by their parents who had full trust in the holy Catholic Church, its institutions and its devoted priests.

The boys, sometimes girls, didn’t dare to complain. And if they did, nobody believed them. Parents even became angry with them when they tried to speak out. The detailed descriptions of sex abuse in these stories could only be summarised by the adequate word that former Archbishop and cardinal Ratzinger used just one week before his election to the papacy in 2005. He referred to priests who abused their position as ´filth´.

More important, most of the cases of child abuse are criminal, a clear matter of violating the law. But due to the fact that it happened mainly in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s makes it impossible to bring them to justice. In Holland, punishments of 8 to 12 year are given, but crimes such as these can only be prosecuted within 12 to 20 years.

As a result, the Dutch government has decided to extend the time period to take up child abuse cases to an unlimited period. There is reason to do so: Child abuse belongs to the highest ranks of criminal offences. One has to read some of the many detailed stories. All the victims have suffered psychological damage of highest degree throughout their lives. Though some of them have reached the age of 80 years, they still suffer from nightmares, shame, depression and total distrust. The scale of the scandals might be astonishing and the list of dramatic consequences is beyond imagination.

Nevertheless, the Dutch Archbishop Johannes Simonis has managed to get Holland into stupefaction once more. In the famous late-night talk show Pauw And Witteman, Simonis said: ´Wir habben es nicht Gewusst,´´ (we didn’t know) a phrase that is used in Holland as the famous understatement made by Germans when they tried to explain their failure to prevent atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. Simonis excused himself the other day for using this notorious phrase, but of course these same words apply to his boss, the German Pope Benedictus XVI. He did know.

According to the authoritative Süddeutsche Zeitung, former Cardinal Ratzinger was fully aware of a paedophile priest ´Brother H´ who should have got therapy, but later on continued his activities of child sex abuse. The New York Times also accused Benedictus of failing to act over an American priest who molested up to 200 deaf children between 1950 and 1974.

In an editorial, the Dutch quality newspaper NRC Handelsblad is clear about the almost impossible position of the pope. “The net is closing around Pope Benedict XVI´ and ´he has become part of the problem.” A few weeks ago the Dutch emeritus professor Hans Küng wrote in the same paper that it was Cardinal Ratzinger´s office at the Vatican that demanded the exclusive authorisation of all cases concerning rampant child sex abuse in order to keep those events discreet. In other words, it was the Vatican policy executed by Ratzinger personally to keep it all secret.

The Vatican is still defending its vision that most of the cases are old, known and cleared. Catholic spokesman speaks about ´incidents.´ But it is clear in Holland, Germany, the United States, Australia, Austria and Switzerland that the scandals aren’t incidents. They are structural phenomena.

On Palm Sunday, Pope Benedictus XVI didn’t mention the child sex abuse scandals, but he did say: “God gives the one who believes the courage to withstand intimidation by rumours made in common opinion.” If this is all that he had to say at Easter, it is clear that the Vatican once more brings us callousness and arrogance, instead of the necessary apologies, transparency and investigations. Just another ´wir habben es nicht gewust´ (we didn´t know) won´t work.

(Marcel van Silfhout is an investigative reporter working for public Dutch Television). Oman Tribune
- - - - -

Robert Chesal and Joep Dohmen honoured as Journalist of the Year

27 January 2011

Recognition for the work of journalists, and recognition for the thousands of victims of church sex abuse. This is how Radio Netherlands Worldwide reporter Robert Chesal characterised the 2010 Journalist of the Year Award. Robert Chesal and his colleague Joep Dohmen from the newspaper NRC Handelsblad received the award from the hands of Culture Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt.

Joep Dohmen, Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt, Robert Chesal

The annual prize is awarded by the editorial staff of the Journalists’ magazine Villamedia Magazine. Robert Chesal and Joep Dohmen were honoured for their series of publications on sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church; publications preceded by months of investigative journalism.

One revelation after another

Reports about church sex abuse had surfaced years earlier in Ireland, the United States and Germany, but everything remained quiet in the Netherlands, until Robert Chesal called up Joep Dohmen following an interview about abuse at a boarding school. Robert put the right journalistic question: “Was this man’s report an incident or symptomatic of a much wider problem?” Their collaboration led to a stream of publications featuring one revelation after another and eventually gave rise to the creation of the Deetman Commission which was charged with investigation the reports. Radio Netherlands Worldwide

- - - - -

This is the text I previously employed to introduce the post below under the header:

Peadophile Priests Prime Ministers Politicians and Police

Not a story about the UK, if from reading the header, that is what you were expecting, but more details surrounding the previous shocking expose, Forced Child Castrations Reportedly Found in Roman Catholic Care.

Evil is a word I seldom use, the main reason being, the way the word has been hi-jacked by the religious, giving a single word the status of an entity in its own right; evil, like the Devil, lurking in some dark corner as it were.

But there is evil here, not in the form of some supernatural demon, but like evil the world over, evil in the only form it takes, the only form it has, man alone. And nothing so evil as man cloaked in the garb of all evils, the apparel of religion. And in this particular case, worn by those of the Catholic Church.

And let not one of you, for the love of what ever fictional entity you may pray to, have the affront to tell me, ''but this isn't true Catholicism'' because it is. This cult of perversion and pederasty is every bit true of Catholicism as intolerance, misogyny, and the cult of death, is Islam.

The paedophile will never stop abusing children, if only in his fantasies. The wife beater, for all his contrition and promises after the act, will never stop beating his wife, and the priesthood will never stop physically and sexually abusing children. It is what they are, it is their being, their fundamental make up, it is as unalterable as their DNA.

And unimaginable as it might seem, there are those that carry even more guilt than those that perpetrated these horrific acts on children, those that let it happen decade after decade, the Joseph Ratzinger's of this world.

- - - - -

Time for the truth about Catholic sex abuse in the Netherlands

19 March 2012

The revelation that a number of minors who were abused in Dutch Roman Catholic institutions were also forcibly castrated has shocked the Netherlands. It casts grave doubt upon the recent findings of a commission set up to look into abuse in the church. RNW's Robert Chesal, who first brought the sex abuse scandal to light, argues that only parliament can be trusted to investigate further.

We now know that former Dutch cabinet minister Wim Deetman did not meet the expectations he raised when he chaired the commission of inquiry into sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church. He did not get to the bottom of the abuse scandal or reveal all of the horrors that took place behind church doors in the Netherlands. More

- - - - -

Forced castrations reportedly found in Roman Catholic care
17 March 2012

Underage sexual abuse victims were castrated in Dutch Roman Catholic psychiatric wards in the 1950s, according to the Rotterdam-based newspaper NRC Handelsblad.

Castration was performed on young men who were thought to be homosexual, but also as a means of punishing those who blew the whistle on abusers, the paper quotes sources as saying.

NRC discovered proof of the forced castration of one young man and strong evidence that at least ten other abuse victims were subjected to the removal of their testicles. The proof includes court documents, medical records, letters from lawyers and private correspondence.

According to the paper, the practice was reported in 2010 to the Deetman Commission which completed its investigation of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church last December. The commission, led by former cabinet minister Wim Deetman of the Christian Democrat party (CDA), made no mention of the castration of abuse victims in its final report. More

- - - - -

Covering the Catholic sex abuse cover-up
16 December 2011

Roman Catholic bishops in the Netherlands protected sexual abusers and covered up their crimes, according to a major new report released today. The church-installed Deetman Commission says there were up to 20,000 victims of abuse between the end of World War II and 1981.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide journalist Robert Chesal - together with NRC Handelsblad's Joep Dohmen - brought to light the abuse that led to a national scandal. Robert Chesal looks back at how the story unfolded.

You could say that 2010 was the year when the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal went viral. Until February of that year, abuse of youngsters by Catholic clergy was primarily seen as a problem in Ireland and the United States.

German scandal
But that month, as northern Europe lay buried in snow, a simmering problem began to reach boiling point. Reports from a Catholic boarding school run by Jesuits in the German capital Berlin spoke first of a few, then of a dozen, and then of over a hundred victims of abuse by priests.

One of those reports reached me at the RNW newsroom in mid-February. That same day I read that Pope Benedict XVI had ordered the entire Irish bishops' conference to appear at the Vatican, where they would receive a dressing down for failing to tackle abuse in their dioceses. I decided to investigate what, if anything, had happened in the Netherlands. More and the bigger picture.

- - - - -

"Catholic church knew about sexual abuse in 1958"

30 November 2011

A Dutch current affairs programme has uncovered evidence that in 1958 the Netherlands’ Catholic Church hierarchy was told that children were being physically and sexually abused in its institutions.
The evidence is contained in a letter found in the archives of the Catholic child protection services. The letter was written by a judge who warned the board of the child protection services that clerics were sexually abusing children.

The board took action and sent various letters to the boards of institutions to warn them. The confidential letters mentioned a black list of abusers. But the church hierarchy failed to take steps to stop the abuse. End

- - - - -

Dutch bishop faces new abuse allegations

15 November 2011

The Dutch police have been asked via Interpol to investigate new sex abuse allegations against retired Dutch bishop 'Cor S.' Radio Netherlands Worldwide has learned this from conversations with the sex crimes division of the Irish national police. In the Netherlands, both the police and prosecution service deny having received the request.

Cor S. (full name withheld) is one of six Roman Catholic priests who face allegations from Emmanuel Shikuku, a former seminary student from Kenya. All six are members of the Mill Hill Missionaries, a society based in Maidenhead, England which has told Radio Netherlands that all the allegations are untrue.

Altar boy
Mr Shikuku, now 42, has told the Irish sex crimes police he was the victim of a long series of rapes, coercive sexual contact and other forms of abuse by Mill Hill priests starting in the late 1970s. Four of the alleged perpetrators are Dutch and two are believed to be British. More

- - - - -

Abuse in Dutch Catholic care: more evidence
24 September 2011

Serious abuses went on unreported for years in Dutch Roman Catholic homes for the mentally disabled. They included sex offences, castration, secret medical experiments and possibly murder. One Catholic brother was banished to Africa for doing unethical brain research. Radio Netherlands Worldwide tracked him down.

Until recent years, most abuses in Dutch institutional care were kept out of the public eye. One exception was a scandal in 1978 involving medical experiments at 'Huize Assisië’, a Roman Catholic boarding school for mentally handicapped boys in the southern town of Udenhout.

Brain x-rays

The home's medical doctor and a Catholic nurse known as Brother Dionysius performed spinal taps on approximately 180 patients, including minors. They injected fluid and air into the patients' brains in order to take x-rays of the cerebral cortex. These were used for brain research which was quietly being carried out. After the injections, the patients suffered nausea and headaches for days. Their parents were neither asked for permission nor notified of the procedures. More and quite shocking.

- - - - -

Abuse victims urge ICC to prosecute the pope
13 September 2011

Victims of sexual abuse by the clergy have asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to prosecute Pope Benedict XVI and other leading Vatican officials for crimes against humanity. A worldwide network of victims accuses the pontiff and three cardinals of aiding and abetting wide-scale rape and sexual violence against children by priests. Fat chance! more

- - - - -

High child death rate in 1950s mental institution investigated

17 August 2011

The Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the cases of 34 mentally disabled youngsters who died whilst in the care of Roman Catholic clergy at the St Joseph care home in the southern province of Limburg at the beginning of the 1950s.

However, it has now also come to light that 40 girls at another Catholic home in the same town, Heel, also died in the period 1952 - 1954. In the case of these deaths, at the St Anna home for mentally disabled women, the girls were all aged 12 or younger, whilst the boys who died at St Joseph's were between 11 and 18. More

- - - - -

There are in fact, five pages of this stuff, page two can be found here, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, personally, I've had enough.

A choice of two videos below, both highlighting the Vatican's complicity in protecting priests at all costs and the total disregard in which it held the child victims of clerical sexual abuse.

And one last word, dripping with irony as it does, Rick Santorum's recent cheap politicking regarding euthanasia in the Netherlands. (See Rick Santorum tag)

It would appear that euthanasia has been practiced in the Netherlands, eugenics certainly have, and we know by whose hand, that of the Catholic Church.

Rick Santorum is a Catholic. And like every other subject that Ricky has an opinion on, he also has an opinion on paedophilia in the Catholic Church: Santorum Hypocrisy Writ Large: Church Paedophilia a 'Basic Homosexual Relationship'

Perhaps one or two of you might like to give Ricky a tweet regarding this post.

Mick Peelo looks at some internal Vatican letters that appear to paint a picture of Vatican obstructionism towards investigations into clerical sexual abuse.

Sex Crimes and the Vatican is a documentary film by Colm O'Gorman, who was raped by a Catholic priest in the diocese of Ferns in County Wexford in Ireland when he was 14 years old. Father Sean Fortune was charged with 66 counts of sexual, indecent assault and another serious sexual offence relating to eight boys but he committed suicide on the eve of his trial. Colm started an investigation with the BBC in March 2002 which led to the resignation of Dr Brendan Comiskey, the bishop leading the Ferns Diocese. Colm then pushed for a government inquiry which led to the Ferns Report.

Big tip of the hat, Dutch reader, Maren.