Archive for Freedom

Pat Condell: Updates

The latest few from Pat, missed in my absence:

Hitchens on Humanitarian Intervention

Debates and discussions about humanitarian intervention tend (for good reasons) to be about American intervention. They also tend to share the assumption that the United States can afford, or at any rate has the power, to take or leave the option to get involved. On some occasions, there may seem to be overwhelming moral grounds to quit the sidelines and intervene. On others, the imperatives are less clear-cut. In all instances, nothing exceptional should be contemplated unless it has at least some congruence with the national interest. This interest can be interpreted widely: Is it not to the United States’ advantage that, say, the charter of the United Nations be generally respected? Or the notion can be interpreted narrowly: If the United States had intervened in 1994 in the Francophone central African context of the genocide in Rwanda, then where would it not be asked to intervene?

Full piece at the Foreign Affairs blog, here.

On the Responsible use of Psychoactive Drugs

Brought to you from the excellent people at Erowid, this:

Fundamentals of Responsible Psychoactive Use

* Investigate the health risks and dangers of the specific psychoactive and of the class of drugs to which it belongs.

* Learn about interactions with other recreational drugs, medications, supplements, and activities.
* Review individual health concerns, predispositions, and family health history.

* Choose a source or product carefully to help ensure correct identification and purity
(avoid materials with an unknown source or of unknown quality).

* Know whether the drug is likely to reduce the ability to drive, operate equipment, or pay attention to necessary tasks.

* Take oneself “off duty” from responsibilities that might be interfered with (job, child care, etc.), and arrange for someone else to be “on duty” for such responsibilities.

* Anticipate reasonably foreseeable risks to oneself and others and employ safeguards to minimize those risks.

* Choose an appropriate occasion and location for use.

* Select and measure dosages carefully.

* Begin with a low dose until individual reactions are known and thereafter use the minimum dose necessary to achieve the desired effects: lower doses are safer doses.

* Reflect on and adjust use to minimize physical and mental health problems.

* Note changes in health over time that may be related to use.

* Modify use if it interferes with work or personal goals.

* Check in with peers and family and accept feedback about one’s use.

* Track reactions to specific drugs and dosages in order to avoid repeating mistakes.

* Seek treatment if needed.

* Decide not to use when the time isn’t right, the material is suspect, or the situation is otherwise problematic.

More, here at Cato Unbound

Krauss and Dawkins on Science and Faith

Krauss: You have cogently argued in The God Delusion that religion is bad science. I would argue, however, that this is particularly inappropriate, and in fact falls into the same trap fallen into by those who push Intelligent Design in science classrooms, as well as those who fund Templeton Foundation grants that attempt to foster scientific evidence for God. I have framed this issue in language that hearkens back to Carl Sagan, who said that absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence. Would a world without God necessarily look any different than the world we live in? Most scientists would say no, and thus claim we do not need the God Hypothesis to explain anything about nature. On the other hand one might also ask: Would a world with a God necessarily look any different than the world we live in? People of faith would argue no, and in so doing feel vindicated in their faith. The problem is that both groups are correct, and nothing either can say is likely to influence the other.

Dawkins: I have several times said that a universe with a God would be a very different kind of universe from one without. You have translated this into operational terms, and consequently arrived at the legitimate question of whether the two kinds of universe would look different. Not be different (my question) but look different (your question, where ‘look different’ can presumably mean any difference, detectable in any way by any of our sense organs or scientific instruments). I agree that yours is an important question, and I agree with you that it might be surprisingly hard to detect, by observation or experiment, whether we live in a god-free universe or a god-endowed one. Nevertheless, I still maintain that there is a cogent sense in which a scientist can discuss the question. There still is a sense in which we can have an interesting and illuminating scientific discussion about whether X is the case, even if we can’t demonstrate it one way or the other by observation or experiment. How can I argue this and still claim to be doing science?

Read the whole debate, here.

Latest from Pat Condell

Defragging the Ten Commandments

“Nine Commandments, Seven Commandment Thirteen? Ten! It’s a marketing device!”

“Thy shall keep thy religion to thyself”

Dad, I’m an Atheist

My dad ended telling me that he did not support my views and he will not respect them. I told him that I wasn’t trying to change anyone else’s views. I just want to make mine known. I also said that I don’t expect him to support or respect my views and that I do expect him to try and show me I’m wrong, with which he interrupted, “No. It is not my job to show you you are wrong, and you are. That is the Lord. The Holy Spirit.” He contradicts himself all the time. I then tried to end the conversation by saying that all I needed him to do was love me. He said he does. Then he said, “Nothing you do will make me love you less, nothing you do will make me love you more.” For those of you who don’t know, God says that in the Bible. But he wasn’t quoting it. He actually said it for himself. That seemed a little strange to me.

Go Here and read the rest, heartbreakingly real.

No Shit? Creationist in GOP VP Slot!

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and GOP VP Nominee

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and GOP VP Nominee

Pro-life* (i.e. Anti-woman), Anti-Gay rights (i.e. Anti-human rights), Pro-drilling, Creationist whackjob, Sarah Palin** has been picked by John McCain (he of the temper) to be his VP running mate on the GOP 2008 ticket. Please Please Please let Obama win – this is the kind of moron that sets the development of the human race back 200 years.








*Why are GOP-ers so concerned for the rights of the unborn, then once you’re born – you’re on your own? Pre-natal, great. Pre-school, fuck you!

**No relation to Michael, I imagine – far too humourless by the looks of it.

The Thomas Jefferson Papers

A searchable archive of the great man’s work. Including searchable texts of the Declaration of Independencee, The Farm and Garden books.

North Korean Propaganda Posters

The rest can be found here.

Last word on Mahmoud Darwish

From The National

A friend remembers…

In our final phone conversation, Mahmoud Darwish asked my opinion of his last poem, The Dice Player, and I said to him – it was my habit to tease him this way – that he had started writing the way the poets do, and I referred to the great Abbasid poet Abul Alaa al Maarri. In his literary criticism Maarri refers to all the poets by name – until he comes to his contemporary Abu at Tayyib al Mutanabbi, the greatest of all Arab poets, whom he simply calls The Poet, always including the definite article. I could hear Darwish’s laugh coming all the way from America.

When I asked him about the surgery he was about to undergo, he told me the doctor had assured him the risk of death did not exceed one per cent.

Did The Poet believe his doctor, or did he walk to his death rather than wait for it?

No one possesses the answer to this question, for the Poet had the innocence of children, which conceals their slyness. He did not divulge his last secret to anyone. He told his friends that he could no longer bear the time bomb in his chest; this is why he decided to have the operation, despite the advice of the French doctor who, in 1998, performed an equally risky heart surgery on The Poet, a near-death experience that led to a great poem, Mural.

For a decade Darwish lived “in the presence of absence”. He was helpless against his impaired artery, writing his most beautiful collections and verses in preparation for death.

“What will we write when you’re dead?” I asked him. And he told me a story about the assassination of Ghassan Kanafani.

Darwish recalled that he was taken by surprise when the Palestinian poet Kamal Nasser walked angrily into his office at the Palestinian Research Centre in 1972, holding the obituary The Poet had written for Kanafani. Nasser threw the article on the desk and demanded, gently, “What will you write about my death, now that you’ve written everything in this article?”

Less than a year later, when Nasser too was assassinated by Israel, Darwish wrote the poem Palestinian Wedding, in which:

Never will lover reach lover
Except as martyr or fugitive

Harry’s Place: Update

Great News! Harry’s Place is now back online. New DNS being hosted by the good folks at Positive Internet. I haven’t kept up with all this as I’ve been away for a few days, but there is an excellent round-up of events at Modernity Blog.

May I also point you in the direction of this post by Brett at Harry’s Place itself.

A line must be drawn.It cannot possibly get worse than this. The dissemination of literature from a racist, antisemitic, white-supremacist, conspiracy-theorising website in the name of providing insight and/or commentary on Zionism or the policies of the Israeli government is a low point many refused to believe could be reached – though a few have warned that this is where things were headed for some time.

But, having reached this low-point, we have to ask ourselves if it can be allowed to sink any lower.

If those in British Unions who flirt with the far-right can weasel out of this, then they can weasel out of anything. A line must be drawn here. A line must be drawn now.

Do read the rest.

Harry’s Place & Jenna Delich

Harry’s Place appears to have succumbed to the bonkers UK libel laws after posting information relating to Jenna Delich and her circulation of information from notorious Neo-Nazi David Duke’s website.

This is VERY BAD NEWS. Moronic academic sends filth and hate via a professional network (something which she has yet to deny) and UK ISP shits it’s pants when a complaint is made.

Harry’s place is now operating from here – do go and show your support.

UPDATE: As Inna points out in the comments, Jenna Delich has actually admitted using the quote from the article on David Duke’s website. If her plea of ignorance regarding Duke is true that is one thing – but to then copy/paste this quote without fully reading the article she has shown herself to be naive in the ways of the internet; it’s clearly Anti-Semitic as the quotes in the comments below and in The Jerusalem Post report show.

Reasons to move to Sweden #694

The Swedish government have now followed through on plans to clamp down hard on the teaching of religious education in its Schools. It has now changed the law to ensure that Creationism and Intelligent Design are not taught at all and that proselytizing for any particular faith in RE classes has now become illegal. They have not gone as far as the Minister for Integration had planned, which was to ban outright “Faith Schools” – but this is still a good victory for sense. Now, if only we could get good old USA to look at this legislation!

Latest from Pat Condell

Edger

About

Edger presents hard-hitting and reasoned news, views, and event promotion on issues pertaining to secularism, atheism, science, humanism, and the cosmos, and actively promotes and celebrates international freethought activism. Written in a youthful tone, but mature in content, Edger is sure to be a driving force in the new intellectual enlightenment.

Mission

To create an outlet for prominent young freethought leaders to express their views and get them heard. Blogs are becoming very commonplace, and alone many blogs fail, but together, with the proper direction and an engaging and professional site, these blogging leaders can come together to make an impact far beyond what they could have achieved on their own.

Example:

Congratulations on your acceptance to the International School of Highly Emotive Knee-Jerk Reactionary Hissy Fits and welcome to your first seminar, Criticizing Atheism 101! Today we will be talking about the most successful, tried-and-occasionally-true techniques for criticizing the “New Atheism” as deployed by such renowned reactionary hissy fit-throwers as David Berlinski, Scott Hahn, Alistair McGrath, and others! All of the important information for this course has been compiled below into a list of seven key points, which can easily be adapted for any critic of atheism to use in his or her particular tempter tantrum…

Go!

Olympic News

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports, rips Jacques Rogge and new hole.

Jacques Rogge is so bought, so compromised, the president of the IOC doesn’t have the courage to criticize China for telling a decade of lies to land itself these Olympic Games.

All the promises made to get these Games — on Tibet, Darfur, pollution, worker safety, freedom of expression, dissident rights — turned out to be phony, perhaps as phony as the Chinese gymnasts’ birthdates Rogge was way too slow to investigate.

One of the most powerful men in sports turned the world away from his complicity. Instead, he has flexed his muscles by unloading on a powerless sprinter from a small island nation.

Rogge’s ripping of Usain Bolt’s supposed showboating in two of the most electrifying gold-medal performances of these Games has to be one of the most ill-timed and gutless acts in the modern history of the Olympics

Brilliant stuff. Do read the rest.

Activists Get 10 Day Jail Sentences

An update to this post of mine. It appears from reports that the activists in question have been given a ten day administrative detention by Chinese Police.

Also:

A Tibetan nun named Sonam Yungzom is reported to have been shot while shouting slogans in Kardze town, eastern Tibet (now part of Sichuan province) on August 10th. One source says she yelled out: “There are no human rights in China, there is brutal oppression in Tibet, still the Olympics go on in China.” She was hit by five to six bullets and then her body was thrown in a vehicle and taken away.

Via SFT

And these images are from Boing Boing:

Nice to see our PM has been sucking up to the Chinese Government:

“The 2008 Beijing Olympics have set a new standard for the Olympic Games, which we in London in 2012 will seek to follow,” he said.

Contemptible.

Democratiya

The latest – Summer 2008 – edition is now online, here.

Re-education through Labour (Chinese Style)

Wu Dianyuan & Wang Xiuying

Wu Dianyuan & Wang Xiuying

The two women, both in their late 70s, have never spoken out against China’s authoritarian government. Both walk with the help of a cane, and Ms. Wang is blind in one eye. Their grievance, receiving insufficient compensation when their homes were seized for redevelopment, is perhaps the most common complaint among Chinese displaced during the country’s long streak of fast economic growth.

But the Beijing police still sentenced the two women to an extrajudicial term of “re-education through labor” this week for applying to hold a legal protest in a designated area in Beijing, where officials promised that Chinese could hold demonstrations during the Olympic Games.

They became the most recent examples of people punished for submitting applications to protest. A few would-be demonstrators have simply disappeared, at least for the duration of the Games, squelching already diminished hopes that the influx of foreigners and the prestige of holding the Games would push China’s leaders to relax their tight grip on political expression.

“Can you imagine two old ladies in their 70s being re-educated through labor?” asked Li Xuehui, Ms. Wu’s son, who said the police told the two women that their sentence might remain in suspension if they stayed at home and stopped asking for permission to protest.

From the New York Times.

What complete Bastards. This is the real face of the Olympics – but with all the flag-waving, fireworks and pretty boys & (fake!)girls, you lot seem to have forgotten about it.

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