Sunday, April 24, 2016

Yesterday, Mourn: Why does the death of celebrities affect us so much?

As I'm sure you well know, the formerly living person known as Prince died the other day.  I don't have much to say about him other than I respect him as a musician, someone who still recorded and performed with instruments both in the studio and on stage.  That's becoming an increasing rarity.  Rather, his death and the reaction of many made me ask why we react so strongly to such news.  I know I reacted strongly a few months ago when Rush said, after 40 years of touring, that last year was their last major tour.

Writers don't elicit large reactions from the public when they die.  They tend to produce sporadically and appear publicly only rarely.  Even those who are influential, hugely popular and/or produce large amounts don't engender the same emotional response.  Harper Lee wrote a massively important book with a second released and highly talked about shortly before her death, but there still wasn't a "national mourning".  There wasn't such a response when Carl Sagan or Kurt Vonnegut died, and those three got a lot more attention from the media after their deaths than most writers will.  Even when J. K. Rowling eventually dies, people won't travel by the thousands to her gravesite.

On the other hand musicians and actors are unlike other artists in that there is not just an ongoing body of work but a constant visible presence through the media.  Actors make movies and/or TV series, musicians record albums and perform on tours.  Both do interviews and are photographed, living their lives in parallel with their audience's lives.  We see, listen to and think about them almost daily for decades, sometimes as much as we do our family or friends.

As the audience, we grow up with musicians and actors and identify as much with them personally as with what they do.  We become invested in their lives, for lack of a better word.  They die, bands break up or retire, they lose popularity, they get arrested or imprisoned, etc.   It's not surprising that it affects us when their life's work ends.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Being Forcefed: Why do GMO advocates deny people the right to choose for themselves?

How, exactly, does the choice not to eat GMO in any way prevent GMO advocates from eating it?  It doesn't.  How does people not eating GMO hurt those who want to eat it?  It doesn't.  So why are GMO advocates so intent on denying the choice not to eat GMO to anyone who disagrees with them?  Why do they resort to false arguments and insinuations?

GMO advocates engage in false equivalency, equating those who don't want to eat it to "conspiracy theorists" and anti-vaxxers.  They behave like people who ate "The Stuff".

A more honest analogy is comparing anti-GMO people to vegetarians, and GMO advocates to omnivores who demand that everyone eat meat.  Would you force meat on a vegetarian?  No?  Would you forcefeed pork to a jew or muslim?  No?  Well, if you're not that rude or engaging in dishonest claims about one choice, why would you make it about another?

The issue of whether GMO is safe is irrelevant, and I am not talking about that.  This is about the freedom of individuals to choose what to eat, and GMO advocates want to deny people that choice, disparaging and attacking people for making that choice.  GMO advocates sound and act like Henry Ford: You can eat any food you like, as long as it's GMO. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Money Talks: Tennessee kills its bigoted anti-trans law...for now

US state of Tennessee republican Susan Lynn has withdrawn her hateful anti-trans bathroom law, but not out of any sense of decency.  (She obviously doesn't have any, since she was the one who presented it.)  She withdrew it because her personal bigotry will cost Tennessee US$1.2 billion in school funding, something she would not be able to explain to taxpayers.
Tennessee Lawmaker Kills Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill, Leaving North Carolina All Alone

On Monday, Tennessee Republican Rep. Susan Lynn announced that she will pull her anti-trans bathroom bill, at least until next year.


In a defensive [read: indefensible] press conference, Lynn insisted that she was not responding to the widespread outrage her bill had provoked among major corporations and businesses, as well as from trans students and LGBTQ advocates. Instead, she seemed concerned by the attorney general’s (correct) assertion that the measure would cost the state $1.2 billion in federal education funding, since federal law prohibits public schools from engaging in gender identity discrimination. 
The last part of this story is interesting. 
Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, had also implied that he might veto the bill, noting that he wasn’t “hearing about problems” relating to trans bathroom use.
Is Haslam admitting to reality?  Police across the US have recorded ZERO instances of "transgender predators in bathrooms", though they have recorded countless instances of transgender people being harassed by cisgenders.  If there were even a single instance of transgender people harassing others, the rightwing media would have pounced on it and repeated it incessantly.

Or did Haslam realize what happened in Uganda would happen to his state?  For those who don't remember or don't know, Uganda attempted to put forward a "kill the gays" law which legalized murder.  It was only withdrawn when foreign donors threatened to withhold millions of dollars in foreign aid to the country.

Maybe Susan Lynn should be appointed ambassador to Uganda and sent their permanently.  I'm sure she would be very happy to live in such a christian-dominated nation.

The IOC Games: South Korea's fascist government rounded up and imprisoned homeless people and pro-democracy activists

An investigative journalist has reported that during the 1980s the South Korean government rounded up and imprisoned homeless and poor people (falsely labelled "vagrants" to dehumanize them) in the years leading up to the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.  During their captivity, these people (men, women and children) were subjected to abuses like beatings, slave labour, starvation, torture, rape and murder.

South Korea was still a US-backed (and armed) fascist government in 1981 when the 1988 Olympic bid was awarded.  That was only a year after the May 27th massacre of as many as 2000 pro-democracy protesters by the military (the government claims only 200-300, the families say differently).  In 1985, the torture and murder of a university student became the rallying point, leaving to the South Korean fascist regime giving up power in 1987.

That means many of the abuses of the homeless and poor continued after South Korea had allegedly become a free country.
South Korea covered up mass abuse, killings of 'vagrants'

In 1975, dictator President Park Chung-hee, father of current President Park Geun-hye, issued a directive to police and local officials to "purify" city streets of vagrants. Police officers, assisted by shop owners, rounded up panhandlers, small-time street merchants selling gum and trinkets, the disabled, lost or unattended children, and dissidents, including a college student who'd been holding anti-government leaflets.
They ended up as prisoners at 36 nationwide facilities. By 1986, the number of inmates had jumped over five years from 8,600 to more than 16,000, according to government documents obtained by AP.

Nearly 4,000 were at Brothers. But about 90 percent of them didn't even meet the government's definition of "vagrant" and therefore shouldn't have been confined there, former prosecutor Kim Yong Won told the AP, based on Brothers' records and interviews compiled before government officials ended his investigation.

Equally appalling, the current South Korean govenment is showing obscene hypocrisy and duplicity.  They have demanded for decades that Japan pay reparations to Korea's "comfort women", women who were forcibly held in brothels and raped by Japanese soldiers during World War II, more than seventy years ago.  And yet now that same South Korean government refuses to investigate and hold accountable those who participated in the imprisonment and abuses of their own citizens less than forty years ago.

One of those responsible was Park Chung-hee, South Korean dictator from 1962-1979, and the father of current South Korean president Park Geun-hye.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Nothing But Net: The UN says 85 percent of global fish are in danger of extinction

This headline and story from Alternet do not surprise me at all, sad to say:
Global Fisheries Are Collapsing—What Happens When There Are No Fish Left?

According to the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization, 85 percent of global fish stocks are "overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion."

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 85 percent of global fish stocks are "overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion."

To see more stories like this, visit "Planet or Profit?"

Yet despite these alarms having been sounded loud and clear, life in the oceans is continuing to deteriorate at an ominously rapid pace.

Fisheries for the most sought-after species of fish have already collapsed.

I lived through the Atlantic Cod Moratorium of the 1990s, when the Canadian government enacted a complete ban on cod fishing for ten years.  Scientists had said just one more year of regular fishing could render the species extinct.  Some Atlantic fishermen and their advocates ignorantly claimed "There have always been enough fish and always will be!" Others said, "If you close the fisheries, how will we make a living?" completely oblivious to the fact that there would have been nothing to catch in a year anyway.  A ten year ban was enough to allow the species to repopulate itself.

Why are the oceans being overfished?  Because of an ever increasing number of humans demanding food to eat.  There are people who claim to be environmentalists and concerned about climate change, claim to be concerned about declining fish and animal species, who STILL think we don't have to do anything to control or address human overpopulation.  There are STILL people who think "Everyone should go vegan!" will solve this problem.

There are people who STILL falsely conflate voluntary birth control with forced euthanasia.  And their response to the messengers is, "If overpopulation is a problem, why don't you kill youself?"

Being Nickel-And-Dimed: The elimination of voters in the US

There are a plethora of news stories from the US that make absolutely no sense to anyone who lives in a functioning democracy.  This is only a partial list of such things:

A twelve year old child being bodyslammed into a floor.
Police threatening violence and arrest without any justification or crime. 
Adults threatened with jail time for loss of a library book.
Usury "fees" that goverments force people to pay before paying fines or tolls.
Nationalizing local incidents that do not merit the effort.
Militarism of civic policing.
Seizure laws that presume guilt until innocence.
Governments steal more private property than criminals do.

The goal of the 1%ers in the US is, and always had been, to turn the country into a Plutarchy or dictatorship.  But doing it overnight is unlikely to be accepted without a popular revolt.  The only way to do it is a slow, gradual elimination of the general populace from the voting lists and taking away their rights.  So how can that be done? 

By catapulting the propaganda about "getting tough on crime". 

By redefining minor acts into criminal acts. 

By creating a Soviet-style legal system ("Anything that is not explicitly permitted is forbidden."). 

By criminalizing as many of the population as possible.

By revoking the right to vote from people with criminal records.

With enough laws and enough time, the majority of Americans will no longer have the right to vote.  Only those with wealth and lawyers will have rights. 

The US is turning into a feudal society where the working poor pay taxes while the rich pay none.  The poor can be arrested, jailed or subjected to violence for questioning the hierarchy.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Warning Shot: I'm reminded of what it takes to live in a free country

It's tempting to think of Taiwan being free of danger, considering how safe a place it is to live.  There are low amounts of violent crime (other than low life gangsters and road raging drivers), free speech and a lot of protections and respect for the rights of women and LGBTQIA people, among other things.

Then once in a while, you're reminded of the danger only a plane flight away, one of the most brutal, ruthless, corrupt murderous, militaristic and amoral dictatorships in the world.  And I don't mean the US, that's in the other direction.
Northern Taiwan traffic to be halted in Monday's air defense drill

An annual air defense drill during which people are required to stay indoors and traffic controls are imposed will be held in seven cities and counties in northern Taiwan on Monday, the National Police Agency (NPA) said Saturday.

The Wanan drill will be held in Taipei, New Taipei, Keelung, Taoyuan and Hsinchu cities and Yilan and Hsinchu counties between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. on April 18.

The agency said that during the 30-minute period, those who are at home should shut their doors and windows and turn off the electricity and natural gas lines.

Water Tabled: Peru's ancient genius wasn't limited to the Nazca plains

Many ancient cultures have disappeared without written records to tell their story or preserve their language.  Often, all we have is their works.

It's easy to arrogantly assume that cultures are "less developed" because they never discovered things like the wheel, written language or metalwork.  We need to put aside our arrogance and chauvinism, and realize that human intelligence is intrinsic to all of us.  Invention and discovery is most often a matter or need and cultures sharing of information via trade. 

The ancient Peruvian mystery solved from space

In one of the most arid regions in the world a series of carefully constructed, spiralling holes form lines across the landscape. Known as puquios, their origin has been a puzzle – one that could only be solved from space.

The holes are from the Nasca region of Peru – an area famous for the Nasca lines, several enormous geometric images carved into the landscape; immaculate archaeological evidence of ceremonial burials; and the rapid decline of this once flourishing society.

What adds to the intrigue in the native ancient people of Nasca is how they were able to survive in an area where droughts can last for years at a time. 

The puquios were a “sophisticated hydraulic system constructed to retrieve water from underground aquifers,” says Rosa Lasaponara of the Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis, in Italy. And they transformed this inhospitable region.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Graves Robbed: Corpses of the dead are being violated by the state

A growing number of countries are trying to legalize organ theft, the same sort of organ theft that the PRC dictatorship engages in.  The only difference is that the PRC murders political prisoners to get them, other countries rape the corpses of accident victims.  Such laws disrespect the wishes of individuals and their families, and treat the dead as "property of the state" to be used for profit.  It's vile beyond belief.

I may be an ardent atheist and think religion is twaddle, but I would never disrespect the wishes of the deceased or their families nor do anything without the permission of the living or a will written by the dead.  To anyone who tries to defend legalized organ theft and rape of bodies, answer me this:

Do you oppose mormons "converting" dead jewish people?  Their corpses are not being violated physically, only "spritually", and yet many people will object to conversions because it disrespects the views of the deceased and their families.  So why don't those who object to post-death "conversions" also oppose the forced removal of organs from unwilling people?  It is a physically invasive violation of their bodies done without consent, unlike "conversions" which only happen to tombstones.
Woman fights Russian law on organ removal without consent

When Elena Sablina's daughter Alina was killed in a car crash in Moscow two years ago, she was devastated. One month later, Sablina accidentally discovered from a forensic report that six of her 19-year-old daughter's organs, including her heart and kidneys, had been removed for transplant.

"I was shocked that organs were taken from my child without my permission," Sablina told The Associated Press. Yet all of that was legal. Russian law explicitly allows doctors to take organs from deceased patients without informing their families.

"(Doctors) just came with a briefcase and took what they wanted," said Sablina, who said she would not have agreed to the donation even if asked. "Who gave them the right?" More than a dozen countries in Europe, including Russia, have a "presumed consent" donation system, where, in an attempt to boost the number of available organs, the government assumes people will be donors unless they specifically opt out. Others, like England, require people or their relatives to provide permission before anything can be taken.

This isn't medicine, it's grave robbing and sadistic violations of corpses.  Organ donation should be opt in only.

Toilet Stall: What is the rightwing obsession with trans people and bathrooms?

I would really like the republiclowns who write these anti-transgender hate laws to answer some simple questions about trying to criminalize transgender people in bathrooms.

1) Many transgender women (myself included) are heterosexual and attracted to men.  How are we a "threat to women and girls" in a women's washroom?

2) Many transgender men are heterosexual and attracted to women.  How are they a "threat to men and boys" in a men's washroom?

3) How are lesbian transgender women a "threat" in women's washrooms while cisgender lesbian women are not?

4) How are gay transgender men a "threat" in men's washrooms while cisgender gay men are not?

5) re: 3 and 4, Is it the rightwing's intent to first criminalize and ostracize transgender people to later justify re-targeting cisgender gay and lesbian people for discrimination and hate in society?

Considering that there is not a single instance in the US of transgender women preying on women and girls in toilets (and none of trans men doing it either), one really has to question the motivation of those who want these laws. 

And considering the history or "family values" republicans who have affairs and rape children (e.g. Robert Bentley, Jack Ryan, Mark Foley, Mark Sanford, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Dennis Hastert, Scott Desjarlais, David Vitter, Chris Lee, Michael Duvall, Carly Fiorina, John Ensign, Vito Fossella, David Petraeus, Bill Young, etc., ad nauseum), the motivation is most likely misdirection.  The easiest way to avoid mention of their own actions is to pander to hateful bigots who are predisposed to believing lies.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ignorance Speaks: Steve Jobs displays his ignorance

I ran across a news item from 2010, and the ignorance, arrogance and ineptitude of Steve Jobs are clearly on display.  Small wonder he built a cult of personality around himself, he believed he was infallible.
Apple accused of 'discrimination' over iPhone 4

Apple has been accused of ''discrimination'' over the design of their iPhone 4 – amid claims that left handers find it more difficult to use.

[T] there have been complaints an antenna in the lower left corner can become masked when held by a left-handed owner, causing a drop in signal strength.

The glitch emerged in the form of videos of users demonstrating the fault on technology blogs within hours of the new iPhone going on sale in the US.

Apple boss Steve Jobs defended the gadget and declared: "Just avoid holding it in that way."

Translated: "I don't care if you are left handed, use it right handed.  Poor design by Apple's engineers are your problem, not mine."

I was never an Apple fanatic fanboy, so I never paid any attention to stories about it.  But if I ever needed an excuse not to use their overpriced and underpowered products, this is one.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hysteria Repeats: Like father, like son of a...

In February 2016, Justin Trudeau signed a law that falsely equates boycotts of Israel to be "anti-Semitism" and attempts to silence reporting of Israel's actions.  In doing so, he has proven he is his father's son, both overreacting and reacting with callous bigotry and denying human rights and free speech.

From 1963 to 1970, the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ, or in English, Quebec Liberation Front) was a political terrorist group active in Canada.  They engaged in various acts of terrorism across the province such as bombing railway lines, the home of Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau, and bombing government buildings.  Their most well known acts were the kidnappings of British trade commissioner James Richard Cross and Quebec vice premier Pierre Laporte in October 1970, now referred to as the October Crisis.  (Cross was eventually released, but Laporte was murdered soon after being kidnapped.)

Then Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau enacted the War Measures Act, which was normally used only in wartime to do things like imprison Canadians of Japanese descent (and confiscate their wealth and property, for which they were never reimbursed) This effectively turned Canada into a police state, giving the RCMP the authority to arrest people without charge and deny them access to lawyers or trials if they spoke or displayed any sympathies towards the FLQ.  Claims of torture by the RCMP were made but never proven (i.e. whitewashed by internal "investigation", not by independent eyes).

Little Trudeau's anti-BDS law is as morally repugnant and unethical.  It whitewashes war crimes and human rights violations of Israel (e.g. collective punishment of innocent civilians, the reporting of murders and illegal executions, illegal prisons where people are tortured and have no legal protections, the denial of food, water and medicine to civilian populations) and makes talking about and reporting such acts a crime.

No matter what each did or does to prop up their own image (i.e. national medicare or claiming to be a feminist), nothing is going to erase the taint of their unethical acts.  Like father, like son of a....

Honesty Speaks: Steve Miller's rightful and unsurprising rant

On April 9, Steve Miller of the Steve Miller Band was inducted into the "Rock And Roll Hall of Fame" (which it is anything but).  In his acceptance speech he took the RRHOF organizers to take for their disrespect of women and groups in music history, including his contemporaries from the 1960s (Miller released his first record in 1967).
""To the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I encourage you to keep expanding your vision, to be more inclusive of women.
Miller also took the entire RRHOF to task:
The whole process needs to be changed from the top to the bottom.  [...]  When they told me I was inducted, they told me 'you can have two tickets — one for your wife and one for yourself. Want another one? It's $10,000, sorry that's the way it goes.'  I said 'I'm playing here, what about my band, what about their wives?'"

Backstage, Miller took his disgust even further:
"No, we're not going to wrap this one up — I'm going to wrap you up... [...] You go sit down over there and learn something. [The show was close to] not happening because of the way the artists are being treated right now."

Anyone who has been familiar with Miller's career knows that he has been very outspoken on corruption, corporatism, politics and social issues, and his speech and comments are no surprise.

What is also no surprise was the mealy-mouthed and issue-avoiding response of those running the RRHOF to the facts in Miller's words.
"Rock and roll can ignite many opinions. It's what makes it so great. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was honoured to induct Steve Miller tonight and congratulates him."

Rush was inducted in 2013.  Each member gave a speech, the last being Alex Lifeson whose words (or rather, word) was utterly hilarious.

After the ceremony, an alleged response by Jann Wenner started making the rounds:
I'm not immune to the blogosphere.  I understand that Alex was trying to make a statement, and that being rebellious is very rock and roll, etc., but that still doesn't make his brazen performance any more acceptable or appropriate.  And honestly, this does not bode well for other progressive rock groups if this is the kind of reaction we're going to receive after finally giving these bands a chance.  Even though I can't imagine Jon Anderson, or Ian Anderson for that matter, giving us the slap in the face that we just received, I for one am not about to find out.  We'll continue to reserve nominations for worthwhile rock and roll bands like Chic, Randy Newman, Abba, The Beastie Boys, etc. - you know REAL rock and roll!

And finally, it wasn't just Alex Lifeson that was disrespectful, but the fans.  I understand being enthusiastic about your favorite band, as hard as it is for me to imagine that Rush could be anyone's favorite band with their shrieking banshee wail vocals and nerdy dungeons and dragons songs, but that doesn't mean they had to scream and scream and ruin the night for the other worthy inductees.

The response was a fake, but given the self-serving hypocrisy and attitudes of Wenner and others like him, it was widely believed he was capable of such pettiness, and for good reason.

Wenner and his ilk showed in their response to Steve Miller that they are that petty.  And Miller showed once again his lifelong awareness and concern for others.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Liars and Bigots Colour: Whites More Likely Than Blacks to Use Drugs

In the least surprising news of the day, the same US government that made it policy to prevent black people from home ownership and wealth accumulation also intentionally targeted those least likely to use drugs with the most incarceration by race.
Stereotype Shattered as New Study Finds White Youth Are More Likely Than Blacks to Abuse Hard Drugs

By now we can all agree that the real target of Reagan’s enduring war on drugs was never drugs, it was African Americans. But if rising incarceration rates among black youth or the utter failure to curtail drug use is not enough proof, perhaps a new study from Northwestern University on racial differences among drug users will do the trick.


Researchers interviewed the participants in the study up to nine times through the course of their 20s. In that time, findings revealed that the odds of non-Hispanic white youths using cocaine were 30 times higher than African Americans. Hispanic participants trailed slightly behind, showing 20 times the odds of cocaine use compared to their African-American brethren.

Monday, April 4, 2016

They Gave Up: Call them "Desperation Bombers", not "Suicide Bombers"

Many people object to the term "Suicide Bomber" for those who engage in violence that cause their own deaths.  (If they aren't suicide attacks, what were the Japanese kamikaze attacks in World War II?)  Some have tried to use the term "Homicide Bomber", but that is a more apt term for those who kill and commit mass murder from a distance, like bomber pilots or drone operators.

A better term for those who kill themselves would be Desperation Bombers. They are people who no longer have concern for their own lives and living, who are willing to die for their cause because they have nothing else. The willingness of those who kill themselves for terrorist groups is no different than the willingness of soldiers to follow orders and die in combat. The only difference is their motivation.

People who have chronic and incurable conditions (e.g. terminal cancer, MS, ALS, etc.) sometimes choose to commit suicide because their quality of life is declining and will never improve. They have lost optimism and hope, choosing to end their own suffering. It is not a sign of mental illness.

The same is true of the kidnapped torture victims at Guantanamo Bay who attempt or commit suicide. It’s not a political statement or mental illness (though it is a sign of mental and physical abuse). And it’s definitely not an attempt to kill Americans since the victims have no resources nor the ability to cause harm. Their suicides are acts of desperation to end their suffering, the only means they have left.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of young Palestinians choosing to become bombers, and the reason is a lack of a future. Israel and its military intentionally bomb schools, demolish homes, cut off Palestine economically, kill people indiscriminately with no accountability, cut off access to water, food, medicine and other necessities. Desperation and lack of hope makes it easy for Hamas to recruit. It’s not because Palestinians are inherently violent. Jobs and futures are a scarce commodity in Palestine.
Who Are the New Hamas Recruits in Gaza?
Many of 15,000 applicants have no interest in police work or in politics – they just are looking for jobs.

When the Hamas rulers in the Gaza Strip announced recently plans to hire about 1,000 new policemen, 15,000 applied.

Only a few of those reporting for fitness tests one recent afternoon expressed an interest in police work or said they belonged to the Islamic militant group. Most just wanted a job.

Plagued by poverty for decades, Gaza’s private sector has been all but wiped out by nearly four years of closed borders and last year’s devastating Israeli offensive. In the meantime, Hamas has solidified its grip, making it Gaza’s second largest employer.
The same applies to young muslims in the Middle East (Iraq, Syria, etc.) and Europe (e.g. France, Belgium, England). Poverty, racism, high rates of unemployment and a lack of opportunities among young populations makes it easy for extremists to find recruits. When there is no future and nothing to live for, it’s easy to convince someone to die for a cause.

What Motivates the Suicide Bombers?
Study of a comprehensive database gives a surprising answer
In September 2007 when American forces raided an Iraqi insurgent camp in the desert town of Singar near the Syrian border they discovered biographies of more than seven hundred foreign fighters. The Americans were surprised to find that 137 were Libyans and 52 of them were from a small Libyan town of Darnah. The reason why so many of Darnah’s young men had gone to Iraq for suicide missions was not the global jihadi ideology, but an explosive mix of desperation, pride, anger, sense of powerlessness….
Neither increased policing, military presense, spying nor tracking people will stop extremist terrorism in Europe. Those will only exacerbate the situation. The answer is including minority communities in society and giving them work and educational opportunities, giving them a future. When people see themselves welcomed and included in society, they will have no reason to listen to, support or join extremists.

When they have a reason to live, they won’t be willing to die as desperation bombers.

Religion Kills: Man murders his own son for being gay, likely also his wife

Once again religious bigotry rears its ugly head.
Christian father 'shot his son dead for being gay' and 'stabbed to death his wife' at their LA home

An LA father shot and killed his son in an act of premeditated murder because of the youth's sexual orientation, prosecutors alleged Friday.

Shehada Khalil Issa, 69, was arrested Tuesday after police arrived at his North Hills home to find the bodies of his son Amir, 29, and his wife, who has not been named, dead.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office claimed that Issa had threatened to kill his son in the past because of his sexual orientation.

It makes a change for a media outlet to openly mention the murderer's religion as a motivation for the crime (or crimes, since he likely also murdered his wife).  Too often they pretend religions they like are unrelated to the crime (e.g. Dylann Roof) unless they are engaging in fear mongering.

Money Corrupts: Mossack and the Cossack

The illegal and unethical financial practices of white collar criminals worldwide have been exposed by one brave individual who has chosen anonymity for the person's own safety.  The person has learnt the lessons of Edward Snowden.  In the eyes of the corrupt, telling the truth is the criminal act.  In the eyes of those who want everyone to abide by the same rule of law, the person is a hero.

Panama Papers: Mossack Fonseca leak reveals elite's tax havens

Eleven million documents were leaked from one of the world's most secretive companies, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

They show how Mossack Fonseca has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and avoid tax.


Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), said the documents covered day-to-day business at Mossack Fonseca over the past 40 years.

"I think the leak will prove to be probably the biggest blow the offshore world has ever taken because of the extent of the documents," he added.
One wealthy client, US millionaire and life coach Marianna Olszewski, was offered fake ownership records to hide money from the authorities. This is in direct breach of international regulations designed to stop money-laundering and tax evasion..

The question now becomes, will politicians save their own necks and stop protecting the corrupt by seizing assets and forcing people to pay taxes?  Or will they prove they are the puppets of such corruption, prove that they need to be overthrown by popular revolt?

Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption

Millions of documents show heads of state, criminals and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens

  • Files reveal the offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials from around the world
  • Current and former world leaders in the data include prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the president of Ukraine, and the king of Saudi Arabia
  • More than 214,000 offshore entities appear in the leak, connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories
  • Major banks have driven the creation of hard-to-trace companies in offshore havens

Saturday, April 2, 2016

This Amuses: Power Puff Yourself

The Cartoon Network has created a site where you can custom build your own Power Puff Girl (or turn yourself into one). C'est tres amusant.

I have wasted an hour or so building and downloading a few.  Beware that it's addicting.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Terrorists interrogate: Again, the religious display their lack of originality

"Questions for christians to ask atheists" is a list that has been making the rounds on the internet for years or perhaps decades.  Periodically, some theist finds it and ignorantly assumes that no one has ever posed the questions to atheists before.  It's like a child seeing a classic movie from the 1930s and assuming no one has ever watched it other than themselves.  The theist also ignorantly assumes that atheists can't answer the questions because the theist can't answer them without saying "godidit".

Other atheists have been answering them, so I'll throw my hat in the ring and take my turn.

1. How Did You Become an Atheist?

I always was an atheist.  I never believed the godswallop (*) despite my cultist parents' attempts to forcibly indoctrinate me.  They could never explain the contrdictions and inconsistencies in their cult when I was a child, so why would I believe as a better educated adult?

godswallop (n.) theistic statements that make no sense; religious belief

2. What happens when we die?

Nothing.  We die.  There is no "afterlife".  The religious may ignorantly fear non-existince, but once you get over your self-importance, you put more effort into living and enjoy life more.

3. What if you’re wrong? And there is a heaven? And there is a HELL!

Prove such mythical places exist before making the claim.  I don't believe in the fairy tales of the buybull because there is no evidence.  The Iliad and the Odyssey are more relevant as fables.

4. Without God, where do you get your morality from?

If you can only act morally because your religion threatens you with eternal suffering,  then you are a danger to society and should be locked up.  I don't need to the threat of a mythical being to make me act morally. I do it by choice because it's the right thing to do.

5. If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?

Theists regularly use religion to do what they want, including murder and rape.  "My god wants me to do this!" is the religious justification for mass murder, rape, racism, sexism, bigotry, child molestation, theft, and other acts.  My reward for ethical behaviour is building a civilized society I get to live in.

6. If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?

The purpose of life is to survive and propagate.  Any other "meaning" is something a person chooses to put into life, and I choose to help make other people's lives better.  If you need a religion to tell you what to do, you lead a very sad and empty life.

7. Where did the universe come from?

The Big Bang.  If you deny that the Big Bang happened, you're not educated enough to be ask questions.  If you were never taught the theory or told it was false, then you received an inferior education.

8. What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?

Come with me to a hospital morgue and bring a three day old decapitated corpse back to life.  If your mythical god can't do it, then it doesn't exist.  This is your claim, so put up or shut up.  Demonstrate, don't remonstrate.  Don't babble about miracles if you won't perform them on command.

As for people who claim to speak with supernatural beings, hearing voices is an auditory hallucination and may be associated with a mental health problem.

9. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?

Those three are irrelevant to my life, unlike pedophile priests, the Ku Klux Klan and the Jim Jones cult who are directly relevant to yours.  You unquestioningly follow leaders and do their bidding no matter how unethical.  I think for myself and choose my own actions.  Only I speak for myself.

10. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?

Every society has a religion because fearful and ignorant people couldn't explain the world, or because an oppressive invader imposed religion upon them.  Religion only propagates through ignorance and the use the force and violence.