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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Innocent Priest Wrongly Accused of Sex Abuse Sues His False Accusers

Father Joseph Jiang between the SNAP bullies Barbara Dorris and David Clohessy

Christians forgive, don't fight back, don't retaliate. In this world, in short, they are easy victims, be it of Isis and other violent Muslims in Asia and Africa or of people who try to milk the Church by way of false accusations in our part of the world.

But at least one priest is pushing back.

Xiu Hui "Joseph" Jiang, a 31-year-old Chinese priest who had faced religious persecution in China for his faith, went to America and experienced something similar, albeit presented in a different way.

Not once but twice the St. Louis priest was falsely accused and cleared. He says that the police officers who arrested him didn't investigate the claims, otherwise they wouldn't have arrested him.

In the first case, involving a girl, Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer dismissed the charge of "child endangerment" in November 2013 because Father Jiang had never been alone with the alleged victim, so it was impossible for him to perpetrate the sex abuse of which he had been wildly accused.

In the second case, in April 2014 prosecutors charged Fr. Jiang with two felony counts of first-degree statutory sodomy involving a boy younger than 14.
The archdiocese [of St. Louis] said in a statement issued Friday that the new allegation was reported through the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline by a family who over the past year has been pursuing a claim against the archdiocese related to their child being bullied by other students.

“The family had never claimed that their child was abused by a priest until this week,” the statement said. “Fr. Jiang voluntarily surrendered yesterday at the request of police pending a decision whether charges are going to be brought.”
At the time the archdiocese of St. Louis released this statement:
“During the investigation into the veracity of the abuse allegation, Fr. Joseph Jiang agreed to undergo an independent polygraph examination. According to the report released, the examiners concluded that Fr. Jiang responded truthfully in his steadfast denials of sexual abuse of a minor at any point in his life, both during his interview and polygraph examination.”
Last month prosecutors decided to dismiss the charges, quite likely for lack of any evidence to support them.

Now Father Jiang has resolved that enough is enough and, in a first, he has filed a federal lawsuit against his accusers, members of the St. Louis police department for publicly accusing him of being a child molester and two leaders of the group SNAP, who launched a smear campaign against him through the media.

From The Media Report:
In both 2012 and 2014, Rev. Jiang was publicly accused of abuse charges which received wide media attention with SNAP breathlessly claiming that Jiang was a dangerous child molester on the prowl. Yet even at a glance the accusations against Jiang were clearly bogus.

In his lawsuit, Fr. Jiang sets forth a litany of facts which demonstrate just how crazy one accuser's claims were from the start:
◾The accuser's fourth-grade teacher has stated that it was "virtually impossible" that Fr. Jiang pulled the accuser "out of line" at school and abused him as claimed;
◾"The alleged victim had made previous unfounded allegations of sexual abuse";
◾"[The accuser's] fourth-grade teacher indicated that [the accuser] was a serial exaggerator to the point of being 'delusional'";
◾"[The accuser's] parents had a history of making unfounded claims against the Catholic Church for monetary gain";
◾"[The accuser] has never had any personal acquaintance with Fr. Joseph, and he could not identify Fr. Joseph's name when he made the allegation";
◾"[A parent of the accuser once] physically assaulted the principal of [a Catholic school] by choking him or her";
◾"The accusations were brought by a deeply troubled and unreliable 12-year-old boy at the suggestion of his abusive father."
SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) is a controversial association. Reading its material, you find plenty of cases in which a mere accusation, unsupported or not established to be true, against a Catholic priest is treated as an irrefutable proof of guilt. They don't seem to go by the rule "innocent until proven guilty" but on the contrary "guilty until proven innocent (and even after that)".

Based in St Louis, SNAP refers clients to law firms that have pried no less than 2 billion dollars from the US Catholic Church in settlements and judgements between 1992 and 2010, some of which the law firms return to SNAP in donations. A SNAP director had a salary of $90,000 a few years ago.

The two leaders of SNAP who fiercely attacked Father Jiang in the media are Barbara Dorris and David Clohessy. The latter says that he had repressed his memories of abuse at the hands of a priest.

Indeed, many of the claims against Catholic clergy have been based on "repressed and then recovered memories", although the theory behind them is not accepted by the consensus of scientific psychology, despite being the basis of widespread beliefs and practices of lots of "therapists" in a field which is unregulated and where rarely a professional is accountable for his actions and malpractice, unlike other professionals like doctors.

Memory simply doesn't work like that. Memory is not the faithful taperecorder or mirror of events that most of us believe it to be: it's much more "creative" than that.

World expert on memory, Professor Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, for 30 years has been performing experiments showing that any memory can be easily implanted, making people "remember" with certainty something that never happened.

Many lies have been told especially by the media about the Catholic Church mostly invented sex abuse scandal. The "repressed memories syndrome" is one aspect of that false scenario.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Church Burning and Jewish Settlers in Israel

Published on The Occidental Observer

by Enza Ferreri

Israel’s unfair treatment of Christians continues. At the end of June, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested Greek Orthodox Bishop Atallah Hanna during his peaceful participation in a march protesting the illegal seizure and subsequent sale of Beit al-Baraka hospital, which is part of al-Baraka church, north of Hebron.

A month ago Palestine News Network reported:
A delegation from the Presbyterian church as well as international and Israeli activists participated in the march against the sale of Beit al-Baraka, a hospital which provided medical services to Palestinians as part of al-Baraka church services. The sale is illegal under international and canonical law…

Israeli newspaper Haaretz last month leaked details of the seizure of Beit al-Baraka hospital by a Jewish billionaire, the sale having been allegedly made through a fake Norwegian real estate company. Days after publication of this illegal seizure, the sale process halted, however Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, subsequently decided that there was no legal impediment to the sale of the building.
The previous week saw one of the most serious episodes of violence in recent memory against Christians in Israel.

Five teams of firefighters were necessary to put out the flames which at dawn woke up Tabgha, the area on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, where Jesus fed the 5,000 with the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mark 6:30-46) and where Jesus appeared for the fourth time after his resurrection following his Crucifixion (John 21:1-24).

A fire broke out at the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish, built on the site of the miracle, in the middle of the night, “causing extensive damage to the inside and outside of the building, said Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.” A monk and a church volunteer were hospitalised from smoke inhalation.

A spokesman for the fire brigade said that the blaze broke out in several places inside the limestone church, evidence that it was started deliberately.

Hebrew graffiti had been spray-painted in red on a wall outside the church, reading "False gods will be destroyed”, a passage from the Aleinu Leshabeach, a prayer recited by practising Jews at the end of each of the three daily services, suggesting that Jewish zealots were responsible.

So much for the much-vaunted "Judaeo-Christian tradition". These Israeli Jews didn't get the memo.

Police briefly detained 16 young Jewish settlers, all religious Jewish seminary students visiting the Sea of Galilee area from settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. They were freed within hours. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that 10 of those detained were from Yitzhar, which is known as a bastion of extremists and where some residents have been involved in previous hate crimes.

The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish is one of the Holy Land’s most famous Catholic churches and one of the places most visited by pilgrims to the Holy Land, with more than 5,000 people visiting it daily. The church had to be closed for a few days due to the fire damage.

Nahum Weisfish, a Jerusalem rabbi, said the site might have been targeted because it housed a synagogue some 2,000 years ago.

The site is owned by the German Roman Catholic Church, and Berlin's envoy to Israel Andreas Michaelis said he was "shocked" by the incident, adding: "Religious institutions must be as well protected in Israel as they are in Germany and Europe."

That’s exactly the point. If Israel wants to be considered as a Western democracy, it’s no good to argue that Christians in the Jewish state are not butchered and tortured with the degree of barbarity we find in Muslim countries and Muslim-controlled areas. The difference pointed out between Israel and other Middle Eastern nations is true, but the right object of comparison for a country which claims to be part of the West should be Western democracies.

Zionists have to stress how concerned they are about the fate of Christians in the Middle East at the hands of murderous Muslims to keep the Evangelicals supporting their cause. That doesn't stop Israel from secretly helping the worst murderers of Christians: ISIS.

Tabgha had been subjected to a previous attack in April 2014. Father Matthias Karl, a German monk at the church, explained that a group of religious Jewish teenagers had pelted worshippers with stones, destroyed a cross and threw benches into the lake.

In April, vandals smashed gravestones at a Maronite Christian cemetery near Israel's northern border with Lebanon.

In recent years, many mosques and churches have been vandalised in both Israel and the West Bank.

The attacks are often attributed to extremist Jews, particularly from West Bank settlements, but, despite condemnations and promises of crackdown on religiously-inspired hate crime by Israeli politicians, few have been convicted.

The Rabbis for Human Rights group says there have been 43 hate crime attacks on churches, mosques and monasteries in Israel and the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since 2009.

Many of these are so-called "price-tag" attacks, carried out against Israeli security forces as well as Palestinian property, both Muslim and Christian, in reprisal for Israeli government’s action against the Jewish illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The name indicates that these attacks are the price to pay for anti-settlement activity.

The US State Department's 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism included price-tag attacks for the first time. It says: “In August, the Beit Jamal Monastery near Jerusalem was firebombed and spray-painted with the words “death to the Gentiles” and other slogans.”

It quotes UN figures of “399 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage.” It adds that such attacks were “largely unprosecuted according to UN and NGO sources.”

Whenever there is mention of the UN, Zionists reject wholesale every one of its pronouncements or reports because it is "pro-Palestinian". The implication is that it is biased. They often argue that all Muslim countries, through the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), vote as a bloc in the UN, thus skewing the vote results in favour of the Palestinians and against Israel. OIC is a 57-member state organisation representing 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. As the largest Islamic organization in the world, it is quite powerful and the largest voting bloc in the UN.

Could it be that the UN is "pro-Palestinian" because of the right of return that Israel denies that people or the 3/4 of a million illegal settlers in Israel’s occupied territories?

Israel’s Joint Arab List party alliance, in the wake of the latest attack, that against the Church of the Multiplication, called for the immediate dismissal of Israel's police chief, Yohanan Danino, and for Right-wing extremist groups to be declared terrorist organisations. It also accused the government of doing nothing to control extremist Right-wing organisations:
"Netanyahu stands at the head of the incitement system against the Arab public in Israel, and he is guilty of the revenge attacks we witness in the morning news," the party stated. "A so-called price-tag attack is not an act by deviants, but rather an act by calculated, thinking people that are indicative of the existence and repercussions of institutionalized racism and oppression."
Prime Minister Netanyahu has used strong words against the recent unknown vandals, but it’s impossible not to notice that the perpetrators of this kind of crime have almost never been identified, captured and put on trial. Isn’t it a bit strange, in a country which has an impressive and efficient security and police apparatus?

In 2014, just before Pope Francis’ visit to Israel, in Jerusalem both the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Notre Dame Center, the large Christian complex just outside the Old City, were covered with offensive graffiti. Before that, the Franciscan Church near the Last Supper Room, the Dormition Abbey and a nearby Christian cemetery were attacked. In 2012, using methods similar to those employed in Tabghah, the Latrun Trappist Monastery had been attacked. People tried and sentenced? Nil.

With all the best will in the world, it’s a bit hard to see Netanyahu as someone who doggedly pursues Jewish vandals coming from the settlements. That’s because Netanyahu is and has always been the settlements’ number one supporter. When Ariel Sharon decided to withdraw from Gaza in 2004, Netanyahu left his government in protest. In the last twenty years the surface occupied by Israeli settlements in the occupied territories has grown by over 180%, and for at least half of this time Netanyahu has been Prime Minister.

The last act of the previous Netanyahu government, the one that led to the disintegration of the government and early elections, was its approval of the law that defines Israel as the "state of the Jewish nation", potentially discriminating against ethnic and religious minorities.

In short, all of Netanyahu’s political action has been in favour of the settlements policy. He has drawn a growing political support from it. The reality is that today the settlers are those who dictate the political trend in Israel. Their interests influence the agenda of governments. The intransigence of those who hold the front line, even risking their lives, is to be respected. The rest, including arsons, is just a consequence.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Cell Vesicles Coats and Irreducible Complexity

Click on the graphic to enlarge it

Living cells contain vesicles, sacs that transport water and substances like proteins and lipids among different compartments of the cell, including between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the Golgi apparatus, or between the outside and the interior of the cell.

The formation of such trafficking vesicles is among the most fundamental processes taking place in the cell.

A team of scientists of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) at Heidelberg has produced - using low-temperature cryo-electron tomography - the most detailed pictures ever obtained of the coats surrounding transport vesicles, images that have revealed a thus-far unimagined complexity.

This is the first time that a model of a complete assembled vesicle coat has been realised. The study, published in Science earlier this month, contradicts the current “adaptor-and-cage” view of coated vesicle formation.

The way these highly interconnected coats, made of proteins, function has been compared to a self-driving car which, when you walk out of your front door, assembles around you, rises from the ground, takes you to your destination levitating in the air, then disassembles, ready to pick up another passenger. Something very similar does happen in biological cells.

Progress in science constantly shows that life is much more intricated, sophisticated and complex than we suppose.

There are three types of known transport vesicles, each with its specific type of coat which is composed of different proteins and assembles onto a membrane surrounding the vesicle: Clathrin-coated vesicle (CCV), Coat Protein 1 (COPI), Coat Protein 2 (COPII).

While it was believed that the assembled COPI coat was similar to Clathrin and COPII, it was found instead that it is more complicated, having seven proteins coming together simultaneously and forming complexes with triangular symmetry that allow the complex to attach to the vesicle membrane. The "triads" forming the coat are called "coatomers":
[A]ssembled coatomer can adopt different conformations to interact with different numbers of neighbors. By regulating the relative frequencies of different triad patterns in the COPI coat during assembly -- for example, by stabilizing particular coatomer conformations -- the cell would have a mechanism to adapt vesicle size and shape to cargoes of different sizes.[Emphasis added]
Evolution News website comments:
The complexity of these coats, and the accessory proteins that build them, attach them to vesicles and disassemble them, defy unguided evolutionary explanations. They exhibit irreducible complexity; they don't work unless all the protein parts are present simultaneously.
An irreducibly complex mechanism is such that it cannot work unless all its components are present at the same time.

Many machines exhibit this property. But so do many biological mechanisms and organs.

University of Illinois biologist Tom Frazzetta, in his 1975 classic Complex Adaptations in Evolving Populations (Amazon USA) (Amazon UK) , wrote:
When modifying the design of a machine, an engineer is not bound by the need to maintain a real continuity between the first machine and the next modification .. But in evolution, transitions from one type to the next presumably involve a greater continuity by means of a vast number of intermediate types. Not only must the end product - the final machine - be feasible, but so must be all the intermediates. The evolutionary problem is, in a real sense, the gradual improvement of a machine while it is running.
Frazzetta, an expert in functional biomechanics (the study of how animals work) had for many years studied and dissected the skulls of the bolyerine snakes, rare snakes of the Island of Mauritius. These animals, similar to boas, have a unique anatomical specialisation: their upper jaw is made up of two segments joined together and requiring many specialised tendons, bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves and other tissues.

This characteristic allows the bolyerine snakes to bend the front half of their divided upper jaw backwards when attacking a prey, resulting in a wider opening of the mouth.

How could this system of interconnected tendons, ligaments, muscles, bones and nerves have evolved gradually, as neo-Darwinism contends? It's an all-or-nothing situation.

No intermediate condition could have worked and consented the viability of this species.

As evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould put it in "The Return of Hopeful Monsters": “How can a jawbone be half broken?”

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

After Chattanooga, Franklin Graham Says: "Shut Borders to Muslims"

Chattanooga killer Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez

On 16 July 2015 Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, a Muslim man, opened fire at two different military centres six miles apart (the first a military recruitment station and the second a Navy and Marines reserve facility) in Chattanooga, Tennessee, wounding two service members and a police officer and killing four other service members immediately. One of the wounded servicemen died from his injuries two days later. The gunman was killed by police at the site of the second shooting.

The killer was a 24-year-old Muslim immigrant from Kuwait granted US citizenship, a college graduate with a degree in electrical engineering.

The authorities' head scratching in search of a motive for the killing is slightly ridiculous, if the situation were not tragic.

Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez is dead now but has left vital clues in a blog he ran on his Islamic beliefs. The blog has only two posts, both posted just three days before his horrific crime. The Daily Mail reports:
The first post was entitled 'A Prison Called Dunya,' Abdulazeez refers to prisoner who is told he would be given a test that would either take him out of his earthly prison - or send him into a more restrictive environment.

According to the website [The Daily Beast], he wrote: 'I would imagine that any sane person would devote their time to mastering the information on the study guide and stay patient with their studies, only giving time for the other things around to keep themselves focused on passing the exam.

He added: 'This life is that test, designed to separate the inhabitants of Paradise from the inhabitants of Hellfire.'

The second post is called 'Understanding Islam: The Story of the Three Blind Men.' It suggests Abdulazeez felt his fellow Muslims had a 'certain understanding of Islam and keep a tunnel vision of what we think Islam is.
He also wrote:
Brothers and sisters don't be fooled by your desires, this life is short and bitter and the opportunity to submit to Allah may pass you by.
As measures of terrorism prevention, six different governors of US states have authorised their respective National Guard soldiers to be armed for both deterrence and self-protection, while the Pentagon recommends "closing the blinds" ("that won't stop bullets, but may help cut down on the air conditioning bill", is The Examiner's sarcastic comment) and other "new security measures" such as increased surveillance.

These are not real, effective preventative measures, and nobody genuinely believes they are.

Much more sense makes what the American evangelist Franklin Graham proposed on his Facebook page, namely completely closing the US borders to Islam:
Four innocent Marines (United States Marine Corps) killed and three others wounded in ‪#‎Chattanooga‬ yesterday including a policeman and another Marine--all by a radical Muslim whose family was allowed to immigrate to this country from Kuwait. We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled. Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized--and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad. During World War 2, we didn't allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now? Do you agree? Let your Congressman know that we've got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates. Pray for the men and women who serve this nation in uniform, that God would protect them.
Islam divides the world into two parts: Dar al-Islam (Arabic for "house of Islam") and Dar al-Harb (in Arabic, "house of war"). The latter is the whole part of the world where Islam has not yet triumphed and Islamic law is not in force. For Islam, there must be war initiated by Muslims against all those peoples and in all those countries who have not yet submitted to Islam until they have done so.

What about all those peaceful and law-abiding Muslims living in the West? They cannot do anything to stop their extreme co-religionists, who not only are more determined but also have the Quran and Islamic jurisprudence on their side.

As Theodore Dalrymple put it, a minority can have much more power than a majority, on which it can exercise tyranny:
[A] handful of fanatics can easily have a much more significant social effect than a large number of peaceful citizens. There is more to fear in one terrorist than to celebrate in 99 well-integrated immigrants.
Yes, and there are many more reasons to stop Muslim immigration than to allow it.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Organ-on-a-Chip Breakthrough to Replace Lab Animals

Human 'Lung-On-a-Chip'

Researchers are developing miniature models of human organs on plastic chips, which will replace lab animals. Big pharmaceutical companies have started using these in vitro systems in drug development.

The science journal Nature reported that earlier this month at the Organ-on-a-Chip World Congress in Boston, Massachusetts, Big Pharma showed great and immediate interest in the latest advances in miniature model organs exhibited there that respond to drugs and diseases in the same way as do human organs such as the heart and liver:
“We’re surprised at how rapidly the technology has come along,” says Dashyant Dhanak, global head of discovery sciences at Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey, which announced last month that it would use a thrombosis-on-chip model from Massachusetts biotechnology firm Emulate to test whether experimental and already approved drugs could cause blood clots.
As New Scientist explains:
With the help of a 3D printer mini human organs can come in all shapes and sizes. In this video, a cluster of tiny hearts – shown on the right – beat in sync, and another pulsing heart is fused with a spherical, darker-coloured liver.

Developed by Anthony Atala and his team at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the mini-organs represent the first step in developing an entire human body on a chip.

The hearts were created by reprogramming human skin cells into heart cells, which were then clumped together in a cell culture. A 3D printer was then used to give them the desired shape and size – in this case, a diameter of 0.25 millimetres.
Organs-on-chips are more realistic – and more reliable for drug discovery and testing – models of the human body than both human cell cultures and the very expensive lab animals, that belonging to other species frequently give dangerously misleading results.

Although any new drug must first be tested in healthy humans for safety, says James Hickman, a bioengineer at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, using an in vitro organ might help to eliminate or shorten this step.

The chips could also help companies to pinpoint the dose of a drug that is both effective and safe, says Matthew Wagoner, a drug-safety scientist at AstraZeneca in Waltham, Massachusetts. If regulators accept such data, the method might eventually allow companies to skip the portion of a clinical trial that tests a wide range of drug doses on patients.

The scaled-down organs mimic the function of the real life-size organs. The next step, in order to reproduce the complexity of a human body, is to integrate these different model organs and systems together and reproduce a whole organ system, to test new treatments and drugs or examine the effects of chemicals and viruses.
[M]any pharmaceutical companies say that organs-on-chips are now sufficiently advanced to justify investment in their use and refinement. “We think it’s important to be involved,” says Michelle Browner, senior director of platform innovation at Johnson & Johnson. Only that way can the technology be developed in line with what the company needs, she says.
Government regulators are also participating. In autumn the US National Center on Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) will organise a meeting of drug companies, scientists and regulators on the Organ-on-a-Chip’s use. And NCATS is financing 11 research teams, each of which working on a different organ or system that, when developed, will be connected to form a whole ‘body-on-a-chip’.

UK Minimum Wage Rise Will Hurt the Poorest

UK job seekers queueing outside a Job Centre

The UK government has just increased the national minimum wage, as part of the new Budget.

The idea that governments can change the way markets operate is entirely illusory.

With this rise in what has been re-branded as the "National Living Wage", what will happen?

If a worker A's skills don't have enough value for an employer B to pay A the minimum wage the government forces him to pay, B will not hire A. And this outcome will be repeated with many other employers, so A - who might have been recruited before this restrictive measure was introduced - will end up unemployed.

Raising the minimum wage means that the competition for jobs will be harder, and all those job-seekers who were barely employable at the previous wages but don't possess the qualities that justify the higher cost now required for their work will simply be left out of the economy without any prospect for employment.

Another consequence of the new minimum wage will be that employers and companies of all kinds will pass on the increased expenditure for their workforce to their customers by increasing their prices.

In the end, this will make the cost of living higher, which results in the reduction of real income, including wages and salaries.

What will be clear once again is that the market cannot be forced into a straitjacket.

The right way for a worker or job seeker to get a higher salary is different. He should make himself more valuable, more worthy of being hired at a greater cost for his employer by studying hard, getting sought-after skills, refining his talents and working hard. In short, by making himself useful to his boss or company to such a point that his use compensates for or is even greater than his cost.

This is a real, genuine, economically sound method to increment wages, one that applies and plays along the laws of economics rather than trying to fight them and go against them.

A government's diktat, instead, is an artificial method, and as such it backfires.

There are no shortcuts in the economy, no free lunch in business.

Countries with command economies learnt this lesson the hardest way, by impoverishing themselves and their peoples. But even in the so-called capitalist, or free-market economies, when governments succumb to the temptation to meddle with the marketplace, they practically introduce small elements of socialism, which unbalance the market and cause grave damage to the very people they pretend to help.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Is Using Food Banks a Sign of Real Poverty?

Food bank

Food banks are very much in the news in Britain, with figures showing that over one million people in the country are using them, while organisations and campaigners ask for more funds for the purpose.

To cater for the persons using them, lots of food banks are all over the UK, run by churches and voluntary groups, providing food for people who are said to struggle to make ends meet.

After all the indigestion (pun unintended) of talk about food banks during the last campaign for the election of the UK Parliament in May, I wished to find out more about these monsters, the symbol of Conservative "austerity" policy.

I may seem unkind, but my prediction was that food banks would be frequented by fat people who wanted to save their money to spend it on fags and booze, and sometimes drugs.

After all, the food problem that most people - and especially those belonging to lower social classes - have is a problem of eating too much, not too little.

Wasn't I right!

Most photos of food banks only show those who work for them and not the people who use them, and the reason for this is that, when you do see the food bank clients, many look clearly fat, and even obese.

Ah, but that demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that they are poor, as fatness and obesity are, in our society, the hallmark of poverty.

Columnist Brendan O'Neill wrote a rather scathing article on the subject some time ago, that created controversy. Entitled "What's fuelling the food-bank frenzy? The hunger for publicity of anti-poverty activists", it started:
Something about the food-bank frenzy doesn't add up. Reading the Dickens-tinged coverage of food banks, of which there are now 400, you could be forgiven for thinking that Britain has done a timewarp back to the Victorian era of emaciated urchins begging for scraps of bread on foggy bridges. Britons are "hungrier than ever", says the Independent. "Starving Britain", says one newspaper headline. There is clearly enormous "destitution, hardship and hunger" in Britain, says Oxfam. Even the International Red Cross has got involved, promising to help tackle Britain's "food poverty". What next – a charity single along the lines of "Do They Know It's Christmas?", only aimed at getting emergency food to allegedly starving Brits rather than actually starving Africans?
We're going back in time to Dickens and in space to starving Africa. But we still have an obesity crisis, especially among the "poor".

What kind of poor can they be, if they have too much food? Enter the "new poor", who have too much rather than too little.

Yes, goes the answer, but it's not quantity but quality that makes poverty these days. So, the "poor" eat the wrong stuff.

Why not open "healthy food banks", then? That's an idea. For, you see, it's difficult to believe that large numbers of people in Britain are actually starving because unable to spare 25p (pence, pennies) for a can of baked beans and 40p for a loaf of sliced bread from Tesco or other supermarket chains.

In fact for a long time the complaint has been that food was too cheap. Food poverty = inability to have a healthy diet.

The problem here, which creates so much confusion, is semantic: the word "poverty" has been redefined for ideological and political reasons and that makes the term almost useless, at least in the affluent Western world.

The real meaning of the word "poverty", in the genuine sense of not having what one objectively needs, has now been restricted to the expression "absolute poverty", while "relative poverty" is what is applied to people who generally are not poor at all, but are poor only compared to the society's average. Therefore, if they live in a rich society, it simply means that they are not as wealthy as they would like to be, not enough to "keep up with the Joneses".

Worst Ever Migrant Crisis as 10 Million British Holidaymakers Head for Calais

Calais migrants breaking into lorries

Published on The Latest News

by Enza Ferreri

It won’t surprise people who have long been aware that unregulated, unrestricted immigration from the Third World to Western countries, far from being the much-trumpeted solution to global poverty or – according to what source you’re hearing – the panacea for rich, ageing countries in need of new workforce, is in fact the recipe for cultural and social chaos.

UK newspapers are announcing that British holidaymakers must prepare for the “worst ever Calais migrant crisis” this summer, and that one Calais immigrant every three minutes is caught trying to sneak into Britain illegally.

While police reported a spike in the number of illegal immigrants found in the UK in the wake of the Calais crisis, it’s been discovered that migrants evade “100 per cent” of government's security checks on lorries at the UK border.

I don’t want to dazzle you with statistics and superlatives, but there’s more to come: the illegal immigrants caught at the UK border more than doubled last year; 11,300 stowaways were captured in France in a three-week period from June 21; during June and the first week of July Kent Police found 405 illegal immigrants who had reached the UK hiding in vehicles or trains (81 a week on average), compared with just 26 (one a week) during the first five months of this year; 35,000 illegal immigrants were discovered trying to breach security measures at Calais to reach Britain in the last six months; the UK government’s existing security budget for the Calais migrant crisis is £12 million, on top of which a new secure zone in the port, announced yesterday by Theresa May, will cost £1.4 million; over a three-week period during French ferry workers’ strikes, numbers rocketed to at least 540 a day (23 an hour) attempting to break through fences or stow away in lorries.
Finally, the chief constable of Kent warned there has been an 80-fold increase in the number of illegal immigrants actually reaching British soil, adding that the French government should put more resources on the ground: if not the police, then the military.

It’s not an excessive request. Richard Burnett, head of the Road Haulage Association, said that British lorry drivers face “civil war” conditions as they try to pass through Calais.

20-strong gangs of migrants are threatening drivers with bars and knives, and in one case with a gun. The French ferry workers’ strike caused miles-long queues, giving migrants opportunities to break into the stationary lorries trapped in the endless queues. And dock workers have threatened further industrial action over the summer.

There are now 5,000 migrants who have set up camp near the port in Calais, up from 3,000 last month and around 600 at the beginning of the year. That increase is continuing apace.

As if this were not enough, the school holidays start this weekend, and 10 million British people heading for Europe will go through the port of Calais. The Foreign Office has warned holidaymakers to “keep vehicle doors locked in slow moving traffic and secure your vehicle when unattended”.

Eurotunnel fears migrants could now start targeting ordinary vehicles as well. And the slower the traffic, the more opportunity for migrants to jump on to vehicles. It’s already happened that car owners found illegal immigrants hidden in their vehicles.

Meanwhile, the British government unrealistically tried to reassure the public that chaotic scenes in Calais would not lead to a flood of illegal immigrants on this side of the Channel.

Is that likely? Illegal immigrants have found an easy way to get in and, even if arrested, they can claim asylum and remain in the UK indefinitely.

Home Secretary Theresa May promised the creation of a new migrant-exclusion zone at the port of Calais for UK-bound lorries, providing a secure waiting area for 230 vehicles, “removing them from the open road where they can become targets for migrants attempting to board their vehicles."

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, for once was right when he warned that this measure was “not going to solve the problem” because hundreds more migrants are arriving at Calais every week. He said: “The migrants do not see a fence and say, ‘Oh, here is a fence’. They try to get into the vehicles before they get into the fenced area. The problem is just moved somewhere else.”

John Keefe of Eurotunnel commented: “We have never seen numbers like this before and we have not in the past seen the degree of organisation that goes with the numbers either. It is an absolutely unprecedented situation in international transport.” He raised doubts about the potential impact of the announcement of a new secure area, saying: "As soon as you remove one opportunity, the organised criminals managing the migrant attacks are moving to the next weak spot."

He added that many of those arrested were repeat offenders, as French police release them after each arrest, so it’s regularly the same people coming back again and again and again, sometimes several times in a night. It’s the 5,000 population simply rotating around.

It’s not just a question of numbers, though. Who are these illegal immigrants whose very first act in coming to Britain is the perpetration of a crime? What kind of people are going to live among us, in our streets?

If we look at those who are smuggled on boats across the Mediterranean into Italy, from where they travel all over Europe, we see the Muslim migrants who in April threw 12 Christians overboard to their deaths because, when asking God for help when their dinghy suffered a puncture, these Christians refused to pray to Allah.

Among the migrants are the terrorists and militants that the Islamic State controlling the Libyan coast on the other side of the Mediterranean smuggles into Europe.

And, judging from the behaviour of three Sudanese men who arrived at a Holiday Inn hotel in Flore, Northants, on Wednesday asking to claim asylum, they don’t appear to be very bright either.

While police talk about more personnel, sniffer dog teams, extra fences, Steven Woolfe, UKIP's migration spokesman, said in response to the Home Secretary’s statement in the House of Commons: “At last the government seems to be waking up to the crisis in the Port of Calais that is affecting not only food imports into the UK but also major road arteries in Kent and beyond.”

But, he continued:

“the government needs to negotiate with the French authorities a scheme to ensure the immediate return of illegals to France when they are found on UK Lorries coming from there once in the UK. This one prioritised step will send the word out to those waiting to make their attempts in Jungle camps in Calais that even if you make it to the UK your illegal efforts will not be rewarded. In addition the UK government should not accept any political asylum cases of those who illegally enter the UK from Calais as those cases should have been dealt with in France or in the first European country in which they landed.

“The people of the UK want timely action not mere words. The Home Secretary has taken far too long to recognise this worsening crisis in one of the most important entry points to the UK and is now offering so-called solutions which will make little difference to attempts to enter our country illegally.”
To the depressing figures of this whole disaster we have to add £1 billion, the annual cost of loads of products being written off because of contamination fears when migrants hide on lorries. Full loads are being destroyed.

As an apt conclusion, a British lorry driver in Calais said: “I question whether it is worth doing this job.”

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Atheist Tweets with No Arguments but Lots of Intimidation

Miracles of atheism

I knew that Twitter can be a great medium for harassment, but I had not experienced it until last night.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a tweet to an article about Peter Hitchens, who converted to Christianity after being for a great part of his life an atheist full of The Rage Against God (Amazon USA) , (Amazon UK) that is the title of his autobiographic book on the subject.

I am reading this book, which is fascinating as it shows that he was not just a nonbeliever, but one who hated God and Christianity with a vengeance. His brother Christopher, who died of cancer a few years ago, remained until his death a well-known militant atheist of the same ilk as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.

A Twitter user going by the self-congratulatory misnomer of OpenMind replied to me: "[H]e [Peter Hitchens] was always a theist... claims he was atheist but 1. He was an angry theist 2. He claims to be fearful of being judged."

An exchange ensued, of which I'll spare you the details, but the crux of the matter, the gist of the dispute, is that OpenMind doesn't think it possible to be angry with something you don't believe in.

It seems very obvious that you can be angry at something you don't believe in. Even if an entity or object is not real for you, you can project on the concept you have of it characteristics that exist in real life and that you hate.

I understand that atheists generally haven't studied philosophy, but they also seem to be refractory to learning it, as I tried to explain this to OpenMind in vain.

There is a distinction to be made between the concept of something and its reality. You may very well have not only thoughts but also emotions of various types (including anger) towards something you imagine, visualise, conceptualise or think of, without necessarily believing that the object of your conceptualisation is real.

Many people, in watching horror films, experience genuine fear of the monsters which are characters depicted in the movie, although they don't believe that those monsters exist in reality.

To be quite honest, I wouldn't think that this is very difficult to grasp. It's high-school-level philosophy. But apparently it was difficult, for OpenMind and the pack of fellow atheists whom he unleashed on me and who bombarded me with tweets, all repeating the same pseudo-argument, until I was forced to block them. Twitter could be an all too easy means of harassment without this redeeming feature.

These atheist Twitter users were clearly trying to cause me aggravation and (albeit unsuccessfully) to scare me into never expressing criticisms of atheism again.

Another "reason", if we can call it that way, why, according to OpenMind, Peter Hitchens (who set fire to his Bible) could not have been an atheist is that "atheists tend not to burn books, even the bible or the quran."

The qualifier "tend to" renders such a pseudo-reason meaningless, because it leaves the door open to atheists doing it, sometimes.

Both this and the other motive explained above (an atheist cannot have anger for God) are self-serving, ad hoc definitions of the term "atheist", chosen arbitrarily to fit into a predetermined mould that can only contain good traits and positive qualities.

These atheists remind me of those homosexual activists who define "homosexuality" in such a way as to include in the definition only sexual attraction for adults and never for children. In this way, the "argument" becomes circular: a homosexual, by definition, can never be a paedophile.

Ah, if reality could be so easily manipulated as are words in the hands of liars!

Friday, 10 July 2015

Suspected Black Lives Matter Supporter Arrested for Murdering White Woman

Kenneth Dale Clark

A black man who, according to a tweet, is a Black Lives Matter supporter was arrested on Sunday for stabbing to death a white woman in Lansing, Michigan.

His name is Kenneth Dale Clark, and is 64 years old, the victim is 53-year-old Regina Marie Christensen.

Clark has been arraigned and is facing one count of homicide: open murder, which is a felony.

Clark was arrested at the scene. He and Christensen knew each other, although the nature of their relationship was unclear.

Who Decides and on What Basis that a Law Is Unjust and Must Be Disobeyed?

A child needs a mother and a father

The great Catholic author Patrick Buchanan has penned a brilliant article, in which he wonders whether an era of civil disobedience is coming to America, "where court orders are defied and laws ignored in the name of conscience and a higher law", similar to what happened in the 1960s, but with the rebellion this time coming from the Right.

The same people who were applauding and making heroes of the civil disobeyers when these upheld principles dear to the Left are now vilifying and demonising the current-day civil disobeyers who, following their conscience, act according to principles supported by the Right.

He starts with the following example:
The Oklahoma Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, has ordered a monument of the Ten Commandments removed from the Capitol.

Calling the Commandments "religious in nature and an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths," the court said the monument must go.

Gov. Mary Fallin has refused. And Oklahoma lawmakers instead have filed legislation to let voters cut out of their constitution the specific article the justices invoked. Some legislators want the justices impeached. [All emphases added]
Buchanan then reminds us that U.S. Supreme Court decisions have been defied, and those who defied them have been lionised by modernity, taking us through American history:
Thomas Jefferson freed all imprisoned under the sedition act, including those convicted in court trials presided over by Supreme Court justices. Jefferson then declared the law dead.

Some Americans want to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, who, defying the Dred Scott decision and fugitive slave acts, led slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

New England abolitionists backed the anti-slavery fanatic John Brown, who conducted the raid on Harpers Ferry that got him hanged but helped to precipitate a Civil War. That war was fought over whether 11 Southern states had the same right to break free of Mr. Lincoln's Union as the 13 colonies did to break free of George III's England.

Millions of Americans, with untroubled consciences, defied the Volstead Act, imbibed alcohol and brought an end to Prohibition.

In the civil rights era, defying laws mandating segregation and ignoring court orders banning demonstrations became badges of honor.

Rosa Parks is a heroine because she refused to give up her seat on a Birmingham bus, despite the laws segregating public transit that relegated blacks to the "back of the bus."

In "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Dr. King, defending civil disobedience, cited Augustine—"an unjust law is no law at all"—and Aquinas who defined an unjust law as "a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law."

Said King, "one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."
But this statement, rather than solving a moral issue, begs the ethical question: what is an "unjust law"?
If, for example, one believes that abortion is the killing of an unborn child and same-sex marriage is an abomination that violates "eternal law and natural law," [the very same words used by one of the Fathers of the Church, Saint Thomas Aquinas, that King invoked] do those who believe this not have a moral right if not a "moral responsibility to disobey such laws"?

Rosa Parks is celebrated. But the pizza lady who said her Christian beliefs would not permit her to cater a same-sex wedding was declared a bigot. And the LGBT crowd, crowing over its Supreme Court triumph, is writing legislation to make it a violation of federal civil rights law for that lady to refuse to cater that wedding.

But are people who celebrate the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village as the Mount Sinai moment of their movement really standing on solid ground to demand that we all respect the Obergefell decision as holy writ?

And if cities, states or Congress enact laws that make it a crime not to rent to homosexuals, or to refuse services at celebrations of their unions, would not dissenting Christians stand on the same moral ground as Dr. King if they disobeyed those laws?

Already, some businesses have refused to comply with the Obamacare mandate to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to their employees. Priests and pastors are going to refuse to perform same-sex marriages. Churches and chapels will refuse to host them. Christian colleges and universities will deny married-couple facilities to homosexuals.

Laws will be passed to outlaw such practices as discrimination, and those laws, which the Christians believe violate eternal law and natural law, will, as Dr. King instructed, be disobeyed.

And the removal of tax exemptions will then be on the table.

If a family disagreed as broadly as we Americans do on issues so fundamental as right and wrong, good and evil, the family would fall apart, the couple would divorce, and the children would go their separate ways.

Something like that is happening in the country.

A secession of the heart has already taken place in America, and a secession, not of states, but of people from one another, caused by divisions on social, moral, cultural, and political views and values, is taking place.

America is disuniting
, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote 25 years ago.

And for those who, when young, rejected the views, values and laws of Eisenhower's America, what makes them think that dissenting Americans in this post-Christian and anti-Christian era will accept their laws, beliefs, values?

Why should they?
[All emphases added]