Feminists for sharia 1

A Muslim woman of Palestinian descent, Linda Sarsour, was one of the chief organizers of the Women’s March on Washington, January 21, 2017.

Along with Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian woman and convicted terrorist, Rasmea Yousef Odeh, helped organize “A Day Without a Woman” demonstrations on March 8, 2017.

Both demonstrations purported to be for “women’s rights”, though they were more discernibly protests against the Republican administration under President Trump and against the Republican Party. Their mobilization is an aspect of the fierce opposition that the American and international Socialist Left is conducting against the popular choice of capitalism, individualism, and the nation-state – recently proved by voters in the US and Britain.

Linda Sarsour declares herself to be a feminist. Feminists claim Rasmea Odeh as one of their own – indeed, a martyr for their cause.

Principles that the feminist movement claims to stand for are: equality with men, freedom of way-of-life choices, freedom from legal and cultural restraints particular to women, sexual freedom and absolute personal control over their own bodies.

Here are those ideas as (presumably) expressed by feminists:

  • Working to increase equality: Feminist thought links ideas to action, insisting we should push for change toward gender equality and not just talk about it.
  • Expanding human choice: Feminists believe that both men and women should have the freedom to develop their human interests and talents, even if those interests and talents conflict with the status quo. For example, if a woman wants to be a mechanic, she should have the right and opportunity to do so.
  • Eliminating gender stratification: Feminists oppose laws and cultural norms that limit income, educational and job opportunities for women.
  • Ending sexual violence & promoting sexual freedom: Feminists feel that women should have control over their sexuality and reproduction.

Feminism in fact has long since ceased to be a movement for women’s social and political equality with men, and become a sub-group of the international Left. But those principles are widely and generally considered fair and acceptable, so we will for the moment rate feminism according to its best aspirations. Above all feminism is conceived of as a women’s liberation movement.

Now, to come to the point, Linda Sarsour, feminist, urges the adoption of sharia law.

Here, briefly, is how sharia law applies to women*:

• A non-Muslim man who marries a Muslim woman is punishable by death.
• A man can marry an infant girl and consummate the marriage when she is 9 years old.
• Girls’ clitoris should be cut (Muhammad‘s words, Book 41, Kitab Al-Adab, Hadith 5251).
• A woman can have 1 husband, who can have up to 4 wives.
• A man can beat his wife for insubordination.
• A man can unilaterally divorce his wife; a woman needs her husband’s consent to divorce.
• A divorced wife loses custody of all children over 6 years of age or when they exceed it.
• Testimonies of four male [eye-]witnesses are required to prove rape against a woman.
• A woman who has been raped cannot testify in court against her rapist(s).
• A woman’s testimony in court, allowed in property cases, carries ½ the weight of a man’s.
• A female heir inherits half of what a male heir inherits.
• A woman cannot drive a car, as it leads to fitnah (upheaval).
• A woman cannot speak alone to a man who is not her husband or relative.

Linda Sarsour apparently sees no incompatibility – glaringly obvious though it is – between the principles of feminism and the tenets of sharia. (Have any feminists noticed it? It doesn’t seem so.)   

She does, however, say that it is impossible for a woman who supports Israel to be a feminist.

The Washington Free Beacon reports:

Prominent Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, a leader in the feminist movement, said in an interview published Monday that Zionists cannot be feminists. …

It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, “Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement? There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”

In fact, Palestinian women in Israel have equal rights with all other citizens – the same rights citizens have in all the Western liberal democracies. They do not have these rights in Islamic countries.

The actual disabilities of women under sharia law, and in Muslim custom and culture generally, are far greater and more oppressive even than the letter of sharia law demands. It is no exaggeration to say that the status of a woman in traditional Islam is that of a slave. 

Linda Sarsour will not be contradicted by the mainstream media or Democrats because she is seen by the Left as a Palestinian and therefore a victim.

Rasmea Odeh will be excused by the media and Democrats for bombing and murdering, because her victims were Israeli Jews.

The opposition that the American and international Socialist Left is conducting is most successful in the universities, where its activists use brutal physical violence against their perceived enemies, while simultaneously claiming to be intimidated victims needing protection from the speaking of ideas they don’t want to hear. The nearest representatives of their perceived enemies are fellow Jewish students – nearest and so most easily bullied and assaulted. They are picked on as the vulnerable part of the otherwise tough Big Enemy, whose names are: President Trump; the Republican Party; the Constitution; America; the nation-state; individual freedom; Western civilization. 

 

*This summary is from a Christian source. It was the most succinct we could find for our purposes in this article, and we did consult other sources to confirm its accuracy.

Too little CO2 1

Come all ye fellow Climate Skeptics, meet a powerful ally.

And all ye Warmists – try arguing with this “denying” scientist:

At PowerLine, John Hinderaker introduces a scientist who contradicts the legendary “97%”.

Richard Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT.

Professor Lindzen is a dynamical meteorologist with interests in the broad topics of climate, planetary waves, monsoon meteorology, planetary atmospheres, and hydrodynamic instability. His research involves studies of the role of the tropics in mid-latitude weather and global heat transport, the moisture budget and its role in global change, the origins of ice ages, seasonal effects in atmospheric transport, stratospheric waves, and the observational determination of climate sensitivity. He has made major contributions to the development of the current theory for the Hadley Circulation, which dominates the atmospheric transport of heat and momentum from the tropics to higher latitudes, and has advanced the understanding of the role of small scale gravity waves in producing the reversal of global temperature gradients at the mesopause, and provided accepted explanations for atmospheric tides and the quasi-biennial oscillation of the tropical stratosphere. He pioneered the study of how ozone photochemistry, radiative transfer and dynamics interact with each other. He is currently studying what determines the pole to equator temperature difference, the nonlinear equilibration of baroclinic instability and the contribution of such instabilities to global heat transport. He has also been developing a new approach to air-sea interaction in the tropics, and is actively involved in parameterizing the role of cumulus convection in heating and drying the atmosphere and in generating upper level cirrus clouds. He has developed models for the Earth’s climate with specific concern for the stability of the ice caps, the sensitivity to increases in CO2, the origin of the 100,000 year cycle in glaciation, and the maintenance of regional variations in climate.

Prof. Lindzen is a recipient of the AMS’s Meisinger and Charney Awards, the AGU’s Macelwane Medal, and the Leo Huss Walin Prize. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society. He is a corresponding member of the NAS Committee on Human Rights, and has been a member of the NRC Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate and the Council of the AMS. He has also been a consultant to the Global Modeling and Simulation Group at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (Ph.D., ’64, S.M., ’61, A.B., ’60, Harvard University)

Professor Lindzen recently wrote a letter to President Donald Trump explaining, briefly and cogently, why he and many other scientists are skeptical of the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming theory – which, despite tens of billions of dollars in government subsidies, has failed to generate significant empirical support. The letter was reproduced by the Science and Environmental Policy Project. It has the virtue of being easily read and understood:

For far too long, one body of men, establishment climate scientists, has been permitted to be judges and parties on what the “risks to the Earth system associated with increasing levels of carbon dioxide” really are.

Let me explain in somewhat greater detail why we call for withdrawal from the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change].

The UNFCCC was established twenty-five years ago, to find scientific support for dangers from increasing carbon dioxide. While this has led to generous and rapidly increased support for the field, the purported dangers remain hypothetical, model-based projections. By contrast, the benefits of increasing CO2 and modest warming are clearer than ever, and they are supported by dramatic satellite images of a greening Earth.

  • The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) no longer claims a greater likelihood of significant as opposed to negligible future warming,
  • It has long been acknowledged by the IPCC that climate change prior to the 1960’s could not have been due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Yet, pre-1960 instrumentally observed temperatures show many warming episodes, similar to the one since 1960, for example, from 1915 to 1950, and from 1850 to 1890. None of these could have been caused by an increase in atmospheric CO2,
  • Model projections of warming during recent decades have greatly exceeded what has been observed,
  • The modelling community has openly acknowledged that the ability of existing models to simulate past climates is due to numerous arbitrary tuning adjustments,
  • Observations show no statistically valid trends in flooding or drought, and no meaningful acceleration whatsoever of pre-existing long term sea level rise (about 6 inches per century) worldwide,
  • Current carbon dioxide levels, around 400 parts per million are still very small compared to the averages over geological history, when thousands of parts per million prevailed, and when life flourished on land and in the oceans.

Calls to limit carbon dioxide emissions are even less persuasive today than 25 years ago. Future research should focus on dispassionate, high-quality climate science, not on efforts to prop up an increasingly frayed narrative of “carbon pollution”. Until scientific research is unfettered from the constraints of the policy-driven UNFCCC, the research community will fail in its obligation to the public that pays the bills.

Posted under Climate, Environmentalism, Science by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, March 14, 2017

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Where lunatics rule Islam advances 8

After the Würzburg attack, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere listed 12 counterterrorism measures that had been taken. None of them included securing the border and deporting the flood of migrants. Instead he urged everyone to continue taking in refugees.

Now that is true insanity. 

Germany will almost certainly become, in this century, a Muslim country ruled by sharia law.

We see that this would be a horrible development for many Germans, but we also see a kind of historical justice in it.

Germany destroyed its patriotic, law-abiding, highly-contributing Jewish population in the last century. It was encouraged to do so by Arab leaders such as the “Grand Mufti” of Jerusalem.

Then it found itself underpopulated. Its fertility rate fell below the rate of stability. The German nation was shrinking. To maintain its socialist welfare state, Germany needed more people. So it imported Muslims.

Slowly but surely the indigenous German population will be outnumbered by the immigrant Muslims.

The Muslim population cares not a fig for Germany, despises its system of law, and is to a large extent dependent on welfare while contributing nothing to the economy.

As more Muslims pour in, and their fertility rate remains high, it will not be long before Muslims rule Germany and German law is replaced by Islamic sharia law, which is primitive and cruel, and wholly incompatible with the liberal democracy that Germany has purported to be since its resurrection from total defeat in 1945.

While it can be argued that Germany has earned such a fate, it cannot be good for Europe or the West in general. Germany’s fall will hasten the Islamization of the whole continent – or at least the west of it. And a Muslim Western Europe would mean a serious weakening of the Western world as a whole. Most of the chief allies of the United States would be lost.

And the jihadis would be enormously invigorated by their victory in Europe to pursue their campaign with ever more zeal in the Americas, both by infiltration and by violence.

As  we do not believe in historical inevitability – a Marxist concept  – we have to ask:

Why are the rulers of Germany making this happen?

The answer, it seems, is very simple. They are insane.

And they are not the only madmen in power in the West.

Daniel Greenfield writes at Front Page:

In a Dusseldorf train station, Fatmir, a Muslim refugee from Kosovo, went on the attack with an axe. His victims included several adults and a 13-year-old girl.

The authorities are blaming his attack on that familiar standby; drug and psychological problems.

As the following account shows, the psychological problems are all on the side of the authorities deliberately choosing not to carry out their obligation to maintain law and order when the offenders are Muslim immigrants. 

There have been quite a few Muslims in Germany boarding the crazy train and trying to ride it all the way to the 72 virgins, dazzling white camels and musk mountains of Islamic paradise.

In July, a Muslim refugee took an axe and assaulted passengers on a train in Würzburg while shouting, “Allahu Akbar”.

Muhammad Riyad, the unaccompanied Afghan minor, had come seeking asylum. He concluded his stay in Germany by slashing and stabbing a family from Hong Kong. His motive was hotly debated.

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann insisted that he wasn’t an ISIS Jihadist. He denied that ISIS had ordered the attack.  Then an ISIS flag was found in his room.

The Interior Minister vowed to follow every lead to determine his motive. To help him out, ISIS released a video of Muhammad brandishing a knife while vowing to “slaughter infidels”.

“They will slaughter you in your own back yard and they will live in your houses and break your rules and take your land. We will target you in every village, every city and every airport Allah Willing,” he ranted.

That was a strongly worded hint. But German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere argued that the attack occupied “a grey area between a crazed rampage and a terrorist act”. 

Poor Muhammad. He had done everything he could. He had the flag. He made a video. He shouted, “Allahu Akbar”. And German authorities remained skeptical that he was really an Islamic terrorist.

What did he have to do? Get a notarized letter to Angela Merkel from the Caliph of ISIS?

A Muslim can put out a video assuring the authorities that he really is a terrorist and they still won’t believe him. Islamic terrorists would more easily conquer Europe than convince European authorities that they really do exist.

Muhammad, it eventually turned out, wasn’t a minor or from Afghanistan. He had lied to improve his odds as a refugee. Uncovered messages showed that his ISIS handler had urged him to use an axe, not a knife. That may have been a reference to previous less successful Muslim knife attacks in Germany.

In May, a knife-wielding attacker shouting, “Allahu Akbar” and “you unbelievers must die” had assaulted passengers at a train station near Munich.

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrman blamed his, “poor mental state” for the attack. The Munich train station attacker’s actions were attributed to drug abuse and psychological problems.

In February, Safia, a Muslim teenager had stabbed a police officer in the back of the neck. The attack took place at the Hanover train station. Safia had done it for ISIS.

After the Würzburg attack, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere listed 12 counterterrorism measures that had been taken. None of them included securing the border and deporting the flood of migrants. Instead he urged everyone to continue taking in refugees.

Now that is true insanity. 

But there appears to be a species of psychological problems unique to Muslims which causes them to head to the nearest train station with an axe or a knife.

A Muslim terrorist went off to the Carcassonne train station in France. He had a machete and a knife. His plan was to kill American and English tourists before going after soldiers and police officers. Even though he was on an Islamist watch list, the authorities blamed psychological problems.

A 19-year-old girl was stabbed as a bus station in Rennes, France, as a “sacrifice” for Ramadan. The perpetrator was promptly sent to a mental institution.  Mohamed Boufarkouch attacked a family in Garde-Colombe with a knife. By way of explanation he shouted, “Allahu Akbar”. This attack, like so many others, was attributed to psychological problems.

Muhammad’s handler had suggested he run over people with a car. But he didn’t want to take the time to learn to drive. But when Muslim non-terrorists don’t come down with a compulsive need to stab people at a train station, they experience a compulsion to run them over.

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, the Islamic terrorist who killed 86 people in France by running them over during the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, had his actions attributed to drug, alcohol and psychological problems. Despite his support for ISIS and ISIS claiming him as one of its own, the media sputtered denials that he was an Islamic terrorist.

The actions of the Muslim terrorist who drove over 11 people in Dijon while shouting, “Allahu Akbar” were also blamed on mental illness. He was frequently described as “confused”. Perhaps he thought that he was supposed to be running over people in some other country.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called him “very unstable”. There’s just something about interior ministers unable and unwilling to see the external reality.

Raouf El-Ayeb, a Muslim Tunisian terrorist, drove a station wagon into soldiers outside a mosque in Valence. He announced that he wanted to kill French soldier and become a martyr. His computer was brimming with Jihadist content, but authorities described him as “confused”.

As hard as it might be to drive in France, Raouf didn’t mistake a bunch of soldiers for a freeway.

Over in Quebec, Martin Couture-Rouleau also became confused. He converted to Islam, took the name Ahmad, and rammed his car into two Canadian soldiers. He died charging police officers with a hunting knife. The media did their best to blame psychological problems and drug use.

Around this time, Obama redirected the FBI to dispatch potential terrorist suspects for psychiatric help. According to the plan’s backers, it would provide an “off ramp” for terrorists.

Unless they get “confused” and run over their psychiatrists.

Why do so many people with drug and psychological problems, who just happen to be Muslim, head to the train station with an axe or a knife? Why aren’t there crowds of Hindus, Buddhists and Jews hacking their way across the commuter train system of Germany? How many times will Europeans listen to the Interior Minister tell them that it was a lone wolf who did some bad LSD and suffers from depression?

But who is really crazy here?

Is it the Muslim terrorist swinging away with an axe at a train station or the authorities that insist that, no matter how many times this exact same thing has happened before, it’s a lone wolf with drug and psychological problems who has no connection to terrorism?

And who is really confused?

The reporters who insist that Muslim terrorists get very confused when driving and don’t realize when they’ve run into a crowd of people … or those foolish enough to believe them?

We don’t suffer from an outbreak of crazy terrorists. The Muslim terrorists know exactly what they’re doing.

It’s the authorities who let them do it, who lie for them and cover up their crimes, who are mad.

Mad – and evil.

Learn to take offense 1

For fun on a Sunday –

nice satire by JP:

Posted under Humor, satire, Videos by Jillian Becker on Sunday, March 12, 2017

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Freedom of Speech 8

The essence of freedom is freedom of speech.

Our civilization depends on it, cannot survive without it.

It was the key that unlocked the genius of classical Greece, where science began, and where Socrates taught us to question everything, always.

It was the intellectual light that began to rise in the seventeenth century, finally dispelling the long darkness of church-dominated Europe; the thousand years when Christian dogma was held to be the truth, the only truth, and people were tortured to death for questioning it.

When Rome made Christianity the official religion of the Empire in 380 C.E., it discarded the wisdom encapsulated in the saying: Ubi dubium ibi libertas: where there is doubt there is freedom.

Freedom of speech is the life of the mind.

We have posted many articles on this supremely important subject, in our own words and quoting the words of others. Put “freedom of speech” into our search slot and you will find them. They are all worth reading.

The point we want to make with this post is that freedom of speech is gravely threatened with suppression – again.

Freedom of speech is the issue above all others that divides political opinion the world over. 

Freedom of speech must be absolute. Any restriction on it is fatal to it.

The Socialist Left – another dark international religion – is ever more passionately against it. Of course it is, because free criticism of it can destroy its power, just as free criticism of the old religions destroyed theirs.

In America it is being suppressed by force in the universities (see here and here and here) and on the streets (see here).

In Europe it has already been largely abandoned, because most of the continent has surrendered to invading Muslim hordes, whose ideology –  an invention of the dark ages – forbids it.

Freedom of speech was all the European Parliament had going for it that was of any use at all. Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), was able to promote his cause far and wide by speaking freely for it within the assembly, from where it was broadcast to the outside world. He also used it to expose the lies and bigotry of the European ruling parties, and the tyrannical nature of the EU itself. But now the European Parliament, an almost totally powerless institution created as window-dressing for the undemocratic European Union, has used what little power it has (just enough to rule itself) to bar any speech its leadership does not like from spreading beyond its hallowed hall.

Judith Bergman writes at Gatestone:

The European Parliament has introduced a new procedural rule, which allows for the chair of a debate to interrupt the live broadcasting of a speaking MEP “in the case of defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior by a Member”. Furthermore, the President of the European Parliament may even “decide to delete from the audiovisual record of the proceedings those parts of a speech by a Member that contain defamatory, racist or xenophobic language“.

No one, however, has bothered to define what constitutes “defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior”. This omission means that the chair of any debate in the European Parliament is free to decide, without any guidelines or objective criteria, whether the statements of MEPs are “defamatory, racist or xenophobic”. The penalty for offenders can apparently reach up to around 9,000 euros.

That’s approximately $9,600 at today’s exchange rate.

“There have been a growing number of cases of politicians saying things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate,” said British EU parliamentarian Richard Corbett, who has defended the new rule. Mr. Corbett, however, does not specify what he considers “beyond the pale”.

Although Richard Corbett is in fact British, it is misleading to describe him exclusively as that. Britain has a long, perhaps the longest, tradition of upholding free speech. Richard Corbett is first and foremost a Socialist. He is the Deputy Secretary General of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, and persistently voluble against British independence from the European Union.

In June 2016, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, addressed the European Parliament in a speech which drew on old anti-Semitic blood libels, such as falsely accusing Israeli rabbis of calling on the Israeli government to poison the water used by Palestinian Arabs. Such a clearly incendiary and anti-Semitic speech was not only allowed in parliament by the sensitive and “anti-racist” parliamentarians; it received a standing ovation. Evidently, wild anti-Semitic blood libels pronounced by Arabs do not constitute “things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate”.

Mahmoud Abbas later admitted that his accusation was false and retracted it.

The European Parliament apparently did not even bother to publicize their new procedural rule; it was only made public by Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper. Voters were, it appears, not supposed to know that they may be cut off from listening to the live broadcasts of the parliamentarians they elected to represent them in the EU, if some chairman of a debate subjectively happened to decide that what was being said was “racist, defamatory or xenophobic”.

The European Parliament is the only popularly elected institution in the EU. Helmut Scholz, from Germany’s left-wing Die Linke party, said that EU lawmakers must be able to express their views about how Europe should work: “You can’t limit or deny this right”. Well, they can express it (but for how long?), except that now no one outside of parliament will hear it.

The rule strikes at the very center of free speech, namely that of elected politicians, which the European Court of Human Rights has deemed in its practice to be specially protected. Members of the European Parliament are people who have been elected to make the voices of their constituents heard inside the institutions of the European Union. …

The rule can only have a chilling effect on freedom of speech in the European Parliament and will likely prove a convenient tool in trying to shut up those parliamentarians who do not follow the politically correct narrative of the EU.

The European Parliament lately seems to be waging war against free speech. At the beginning of March, the body lifted the parliamentary immunity of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. Her crime? Tweeting three images of ISIS executions in 2015. In France, “publishing violent images” constitutes a criminal offense, which can carry a penalty of three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros. By lifting her immunity at the same time that she is running for president of France, the European Parliament is sending the clear signal that publicizing the graphic and horrifying truth of the crimes of ISIS, rather than being received as a warning about what might soon be coming to Europe, instead ought to be punished.

This is a bizarre signal to be sending, especially to the Christian and Yazidi victims of ISIS, who are still largely ignored by the European Union. European parliamentarians, evidently, are too sensitive to deal with the graphic murders of defenseless people in the Middle East, and are more concerned with ensuring the prosecution of the messengers, such as Marine Le Pen.

So, political correctness … has not only taken over the media and academia; elected MEPs are now also supposed to toe the politically correct line, or literally be cut off. …

Where does this clearly totalitarian impulse stop and who will stop it?

Perhaps the rebel nationalist movements in Europe will resist the anti-free speech campaign by winning the next state elections, encouraged as they are by the victory of Donald Trump’s patriotic movement in America.

But it is certain that the battle between the Socialist and Muslim dogmatists on the one side and the defenders of free speech on the other will be long and hard.

Is health care a human right? 2

Ben Shapiro argues that it is not.

We agree with him.

But we would simply argue that one cannot have a right to something if the provision of it forces obligations on others.

Posted under Health, Videos by Jillian Becker on Friday, March 10, 2017

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Giordano Bruno, atheist 8

Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) was a Dominican monk who  fled from his monastery in Naples at the age of thirty-six, wandered through Italy and France, lived for a few years in England – and having repudiated Christianity, embraced the Epicureanism of classical Greece.

The Epicureans, who taught that life was to be enjoyed, were essentially atheist, but were careful not to deny that gods exist in case some intolerant authority punished them for holding and expressing such an opinion. They dared to assert that yes, there were gods of course, but they lived very far away from the human world, occupied themselves with nothing but their own pleasure, and took no notice whatsoever of what humans did, thought, felt, or believed.

When Giordano Bruno was fifty-two, and foolishly chose to express his opinions where the long arm of the Inquisition could reach him, the intolerant Catholic Church burnt him to death for doing so.

This is from The Swerve, by Stephen Greenblatt*:

[Giordano Bruno] found it thrilling to realize that the world has no limits in either space or time, that the grandest things are made of the smallest, that atoms, the building blocks of all that exists, link the one and the infinite. “The world is fine as it is,” he wrote, sweeping away as if they were so many cobwebs innumerable sermons on anguish, guilt, and repentance. … And his philosophical  cheerfulness extended to his everyday life. He was, a Florentine contemporary observed, “a delightful companion at the table, much given to the Epicurean life.” …

Bruno found the militant Protestantism he encountered in England and elsewhere as bigoted and narrow-minded as the Counter-Reformation Catholicism from which he had fled. … What he prized was the courage to stand up for the truth against the belligerent idiots who were always prepared to shout down what they could not understand. That courage he found preeminently in the astronomer Copernicus …

Copernicus’s assertion that the earth was not the fixed point at the center of the universe [as all the Christian churches maintained it was] but a planet in orbit round the sun was still, when Bruno championed it, a scandalous idea, anathema both to the Church and to the academic establishment. And Bruno managed to push the scandal of Copernicanism still further: there was no center to the universe at all, he argued, neither earth nor sun. Instead, he wrote, quoting [the Epicurean poet] Lucretius, there were multiple worlds, where the seeds of things, in their infinite numbers, would certainly combine to form other races of men, other creatures. Each of the fixed stars observed in the sky is a sun, scattered through limitless space. Many of these are accompanied by satellites that revolve around them as the earth revolves around the sun. The universe is not all about us, about our behavior and our destiny; we are only a tiny piece of something inconceivably larger. …

These were extremely dangerous views, every one of them. …

Bruno, however, could not remain silent. “By the light of his senses and reason,” he wrote about himself, “he opened those cloisters of truth which it is possible for us to open with the key of most diligent inquiry, he laid bare covered and veiled nature, gave eyes to the moles and light to the blind . . . he loosed the tongues of the dumb  who could not and dared not express their entangled opinions.”  …

[I]n 1591 he made a  fateful decision to return to Italy, to what seemed to him the safety of famously independent Padua and Venice. The safety proved illusory: denounced by his patron to the Inquisition, Bruno was arrested in Venice and then extradited to Rome, where he was imprisoned in a cell of the Holy Office near St. Peter’s Basilica.

Bruno’s interrogation and trial lasted for eight years, much of his time spent endlessly replying to charges of heresy, reiterating his philosophical vision, rebutting wild accusations, and drawing on his prodigious memory to delineate his precise beliefs again and again. Finally threatened with torture, he denied the right of the inquisitors to dictate what was heresy and what was orthodox belief. That challenge was the last straw. The Holy Office acknowledged no limits to its supreme jurisdiction – no limits of territory, and, apart form the pope and the cardinals, no limits of person. It claimed the right to judge, and, if necessary, persecute anyone, anywhere. It was the final arbiter of orthodoxy.

And its orthodoxy was, by its own definition, the truth.

Before an audience of spectators, Bruno was forced to his knees and sentenced as “an impenitent, pernicious and obstinate heretic”. …

On February 17, 1600, the defrocked Dominican, his head shaved, was mounted on a donkey and led out to the stake that had been erected in the Campo dei Fiori. He had steadfastly refused to repent during the innumerable hours in which he had been harangued by teams of friars, and he refused to repent or simply to fall silent now at the end. His words are unrecorded, but they must have unnerved the authorities, since the ordered his tongue be bridled. They meant it literally: according to one account, a pin was driven into his cheek, through his tongue, and out the other side; another pin sealed his lips., forming a cross. When a crucifix was held up to his face, he turned his head away. The fire was lit and did its work. After he was burned alive, his remaining bones were broke into pieces and his ashes – the tiny particles that would, he believed, reenter the great, joyous, eternal circulation of matter – were scattered.

Thus did the religion of love.

As far as the Catholic Church was concerned, the science of the universe was settled.

 

*The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt, W. W. Norton & Company, New York and London, 2011.  Our quotations come from pages 233, 237-241.

Posted under Atheism by Jillian Becker on Thursday, March 9, 2017

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Are you being surveilled though your TV screen? 9

Your Samsung Smart TVs may have been turned into a CIA listening device, according to documents published by WikiLeaks yesterday.

Infowars reports:

The attack, which seems to require physical access to the TV and an infected USB drive, enables a “Fake-Off mode” that allows the microphone to be accessed remotely even after the TV has been seemingly turned off. The malware also suppresses the TV’s LED lights, removing any suspicion that the device is still active.

Weeping Angel can also reportedly extract usernames, passwords and Wi-Fi keys – allowing access to the target’s network and other connected devices.

“The tool appears to be under active development,” security researcher Matthew Hickey told Forbes. “The capabilities it boasts cannot currently capture video, according to the leaked docs. But that is a goal of the project. It can record audio but it does not stream it in real-time to the CIA. Instead it copies it off the TV as files.”

The malware called “Weeping Angel” is said to have been developed by the CIA about three years ago in collaboration with Britain’s internal spy agency MI5.

Hickey also stated that Weeping Angel may be neutralized if the target updates their TV’s firmware since the malware is designed specifically for versions below 1118. …

[But] the CIA can also use a feature known as “prevent updates” to stop a device from removing the malware. While a factory reset code can bring the TV back to its original state, most users are unlikely to closely monitor their firmware version.

Security researchers have long warned about vulnerabilities with not only Samsung TVs but with IoT (Internet of Things) devices in general.

In a 2012 Wired article, entitled, CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher, then-CIA Director David Petraeus heralded emerging technologies in relation to espionage. “‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus said, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”

As reported by Infowars in 2012, security firm ReVuln discovered similar issues that allowed a Samsung TV’s microphone and camera to be accessed.

“It could give an attacker the ability to access any file available on the remote device, as well as external devices (such as USB drives) connected to the TV,” Security Ledger reported at the time. “And, in an Orwellian twist, the hole could be used to access cameras and microphones attached to the Smart TVs, giving remote attacker the ability to spy on those viewing a compromised set.”

While the vast majority of smart TV users are not going to have their devices physically targeted by CIA, Samsung has admitted in its own terms of service that a user’s personal conversations can be recorded and transmitted to third parties – creating a larger attack surface for the private data.

“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition,” the policy stated.

An “Orwellian twist?” This story is pure Orwell. Spying on private lives by the state through TV screens as such was prophesied  in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four: 

[Winston Smith] thought of the telescreen with its never-sleeping ear. They could spy upon you night and day, but if you kept our head you could still outwit them. With all their cleverness they had never mastered the secret of finding out what another human being was thinking.

Winston Smith discovers he is wrong about that. His thoughts get not only found out but changed, by torture and terror, to those the state – “Big Brother” – wants him to have. Remember the horrifying last words of the novel?

He loved Big Brother.

Who has allowed America to become a Big Brother’s state? Whose idea was it? Why?

And what are Americans going to do about it?

Where’s the outrage?

Posted under Leftism, News, Treason, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, March 8, 2017

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Raising a mercenary army of racists on public funds 6

Honors program at one university pays students to take “white privilege” and BLM courses

That is the headline of this article – a factual report with critical comment – at Liberty Unyielding:

The question that naturally arises is whether these students would take the courses if they weren’t bribed to do so, although knowing today’s campus climate, the answer is probably an emphatic yes.

An honors program at a public university gives students a scholarship and early course signup and lets them use laptops if they take classes on subjects like “white privilege” and Black Lives Matter [BLM], which both have community engagement components.

Sam Houston State University in Texas (SHSU) offers a scholarship of up to $2,800 to students who take these courses or others as part of its Elliott T. Bowers Honors College. Students who gain admission into the Honors College can sign up for courses earlier than their non-Honors peers, obtain access to a special computer center, and “automatically receive the Bowers Scholarship upon acceptance into the college”. The Honors students also graduate with distinction and gain usage of cameras, video cameras, and laptops for their class projects.

As SHSU is a taxpayer-funded public school, Americans of all colors, ethnicities, and political persuasions are financing this subversive course.

Subversive and racist:

Understanding Whiteness: Historic and Contemporary Viewpoints on Privilege,” asks SHSU Honors students “how might white people better understand white privilege and their potential role in dismantling systemic racism?” and requires students to “engage in personal self-reflection” and “educate others about white privilege through action research projects and community engagement initiatives.”

“Systemic racism” is treated as an established fact. The implication is that contempt for black people is mystically inherent in all white people because they are white, in the same way that Christians believe “original sin” is mystically inherent in all human beings because they are human.

The seminar examines “white privilege” from modern and historical perspectives — e.g., “the social construction of whiteness” — as well as “key historic events and movements advancing white privilege (eugenics, global colonization, holocaust).”

Eugenics is almost universally regarded as immoral.

Nations of various human colors have been colonizing foreign territories for millennia. At present, Islam is colonizing Europe.

Holocaust? As an example of “white privilege”?  Presumably the privilege of the white Germans. But weren’t the European Jews who were massacred also white?

The Black Lives Matter Honors College seminar is taught by associate professor Ervin Malakaj, who co-chairs SHSU’s Diversity Committee for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Ervin Malakaj is an associate professor of German at SHSU.

“The Black Lives Matter movement has called on Americans to address the racial violence, mass incarceration, and dehumanizing social policies directed at African Americans,” reads the seminar description.

The implication there is that “racial violence” is a carried out only or mainly by whites on blacks. That is not true.

Go here to read a superbly well-researched article by Heather Mac Donald on The Myth of Criminal-Justice Racism, in which she demolishes false allegations of “mass incarceration” and racial inequity. “The most poisonous claim in the dominant narrative is that our criminal justice system is a product and a source of racial inequity,” she writes.

What “dehumanizing social policies directed at African Americans” are there?

The course seems to be intended to indoctrinate students with lies calculated to rouse distress and indignation.

Whose idea was it to pay people to be aggrieved and enraged?

And worse. To take action –  which is surely implied by the phrase “community engagement”:

The BLM course is part of SHSU’s Academic Community Engagement (ACE) program, which blends teaching with community engagement.

Are there no intelligent, rational, well-informed, pro-American sages in the universities objecting to proposals for degree courses that stoke racial hostility and potentially encourage violence? If there are, they must be a very small and ineffectual minority. Tenured teachers would not risk their jobs by making a public fuss about this inculcation of racist ideology into generations of  Americans.

Posted under Commentary, education, Race, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, March 7, 2017

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President Trump out-maneuvers the liars and cheats 1

President Trump has beautifully, elegantly, brilliantly finessed his enemies.

By taking the New York Times at its word that his communications were intercepted last year, Trump has forced the NYT either to take responsibility for exposing Obama’s scandalous activity, or to say that it was lying.

According to Andrew McCarthy (see our post immediately below, Now, President Trump, hit back), the Obama administration sought and eventually obtained FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) authorization to conduct the wire-tapping.

For what purposes can such FISA authorization be obtained?  And by whom?

From Wikipedia:

The President may authorize, through the Attorney General, electronic surveillance without a court order for the period of one year, provided that it is only to acquire foreign intelligence information, that it is solely directed at communications or property controlled exclusively by foreign powers, that there is no substantial likelihood that it will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party, and that it be conducted only in accordance with defined minimization procedures.

The code defines “foreign intelligence information” to mean information necessary to protect the United States against actual or potential grave attack, sabotage or international terrorism.

“Foreign powers” means a foreign government, any faction of a foreign nation not substantially composed of U.S. persons, and any entity directed or controlled by a foreign government. The definition also includes groups engaged in international terrorism and foreign political organizations. The sections of FISA authorizing electronic surveillance and physical searches without a court order specifically exclude their application to groups engaged in international terrorism.

A “U.S. person” includes citizens, lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens, and corporations incorporated in the United States.

“Minimization procedures” is defined to mean procedures that minimize the acquisition of information concerning United States persons, allow the retention of information that is evidence of a crime, and require a court order be obtained in order to retain communication involving a United States person for longer than 72 hours.

The Attorney General is required to make a certification of these conditions under seal to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and report on their compliance to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Under the FISA act, anyone who engages in electronic surveillance except as authorized by statute is subject to both criminal penalties and civil liabilities.

So if the New York Times was correct, President Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, authorized electronic surveillance of communication devices in Donald Trump’s offices, on the grounds that her Department of Justice had provable grounds for suspicion that Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for the presidency, was one side of a conspiracy to mount “grave attack, sabotage, or international terrorism” against the United States – even though there was “substantial likelihood” that by doing so she would “acquire the contents of … communication(s) to which a United States person” – Donald Trump personally or an associate of his – was a party”.

If that’s what she did, she broke the law.

If she gathered any information from FISA-authorized wire-tapping,  and retained it for more than an allowed 72 hours, or disseminated it to persons who illegally leaked it to the media, she broke the law.

If any of this happened, then there was a deep-laid plot by the Obama administration to destroy Donald Trump’s reputation and wreck his presidency should he be elected.

But then again, maybe the wire-tapping never happened, in which case the New York Times was lying – not at all an implausible probability.

Matthew Vadum writes at Front Page:

President Donald Trump caused a media firestorm by claiming over the weekend that then-President Obama wire-tapped telephones at Trump Tower in Manhattan during the final leg of last year’s election campaign.

Seeing the writing on the wall, tainted FBI Director James Comey promptly and publicly urged the Department of Justice to reject Trump’s claims. Although it is an attempt at a cover-up, it is an admirably transparent one.

Now the outlines of a Watergate-like conspiracy are emerging in which a sitting Democrat president apparently used the apparatus of the state to spy on a Republican presidential candidate. Watergate differed in that President Nixon didn’t get involved in the plot against the Democratic National Committee until later as an accomplice after the fact. Here Obama likely masterminded, or oversaw someone like the diabolical Benghazi cover-up artist Ben Rhodes, masterminding the whole thing.

Throughout his agonizingly long presidency, Obama serially abused his powers as the nation’s Chief Executive to undermine his political opponents. It might be said that every day of his presidency he committed at least one impeachable offense.

Obama used the IRS to target conservative and Tea Party nonprofits, along with Catholic, Jewish, and pro-Israel organizations. He brazenly lied about it, too. His Justice Department surreptitiously obtained telephone records for more than 100 reporters. … Books have been written about his corruption and many more such volumes will follow. …

A spokesman for Obama, who now lives in former Bill Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart’s walled mansion with Valerie Jarrett on Washington’s Embassy Row so he can pursue his unprecedented, taxpayer-subsidized post-presidential war against Trump, denied Obama ordered that Trump Tower be wiretapped.

“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” according to a carefully-worded statement. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

Of course, as others quickly pointed out, the denial is misdirection.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy wrote yesterday that the denial “seems disingenuous on several levels”. When a warrant is obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), “it is technically the FISA court that ‘orders’ surveillance”. Moreover, under the law, “it is the Justice Department, not the White House, that represents the government in proceedings before the FISA court”. 

McCarthy wrote presciently on Jan. 11: “The idea that FISA could be used against political enemies always seemed far-fetched. Now it might not be.”

Besides, Obama and his gang have generally been smart enough to hide their tracks when carrying out political dirty tricks. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, FBI, CIA, and NSA, aren’t headquartered in the White House. Obama could wage war against Trump by creating multiple layers of plausible deniability. That’s what a community organizer from Chicago does.

Predictably, former Obama speechwriter [Ben] Rhodes went on Twitter to lie. Replying to a Trump tweet, the Iranian mullahs’ best friend wrote, cheekily, that, “No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.” …

Most mainstream journalists were loath over the past eight years to call the exhaustively documented and at times bald-faced lies and misdeeds of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, and HHS Secretary Sebelius. It would seem uncovering government corruption is only a journalist’s duty when a Republican resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. …

Let’s recount what former British Member of Parliament Louise Mensch reported at Heat Street on Nov. 7, the day before the U.S. election.

Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.

Contrary to earlier reporting in the New York Times, which cited FBI sources as saying that the agency did not believe that the private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower which was connected to a Russian bank had any nefarious purpose, the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server. The first request, which, sources say, named Trump, was denied back in June, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October after evidence was presented of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank. While the Times story speaks of metadata, sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons.

The FBI agents who talked to the New York Times, and rubbished the ground-breaking stories of Slate (Franklin Foer) and Mother Jones (David Corn) may not have known about the FISA warrant, sources say, because the counter-intelligence and criminal sides of the FBI often work independently of each other employing the principle of ‘compartmentalization’.

… We already knew that days before Trump’s inauguration, it was reported that Obama green-lighted a disturbing relaxation of the rules regulating the National Security Agency’s ability to circulate globally intercepted personal communications among the other 16 intelligence agencies, some of which are more politicized than the NSA, before applying important longstanding privacy-protection protocols. Before the policy was altered, the NSA [had] screened out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information before passing intercepted communications along to other agencies like the CIA or the FBI’s intelligence units.

Put another way, 17 days before President Trump was sworn in, NSA was unleashed against his embryonic administration, newly empowered to share raw intelligence gathered from telephone calls and emails that go through network switches outside the country, as well as messages between people outside the U.S. that go through domestic network switches.

WikiLeaks offered a refresher course in Obama’s treachery on Twitter Sunday, noting that “Obama has a history of tapping & hacking his friends and rivals”, and providing plenty of examples. …

And despite the growing mass media hysteria, there is still no publicly available evidence the Trump campaign somehow colluded with the Russian government last year. Sources in newspaper articles are never identified.

There is not a scintilla of proof of improper conduct.

All we have is the alleged say-so of faceless CIA spooks whose motives are questionable, to put it charitably.

Tom Shattuck writes at the Boston Herald:

In what has already been a historically bad year for Democrats, it just may be that they’re about to lose again to Donald Trump, this time in a high-stakes game of Russian roulette.

The Dems’ Putin smear was supposed to paint President Trump as a friend of the tyrant and beneficiary of Russian meddling in the election. Instead, it is the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party, former President Barack Obama, who may take the fall.

Snooping on a presidential candidate is serious business.

The Democrats want you to think this is a crazy conspiracy theory for an unhinged tweeting president.

But Obama has a rich legacy of using the federal government as a political weapon and it would be foolish to think he suddenly started restraining himself, when he was never held to account by either the media or Democrats in power.

Remember, Obama’s Justice Department secretly subpoenaed the private phone records of Associated Press editors and reporters. It was pure spying.

Fox News reporter James Rosen and his family were wiretapped.

Former CBS news reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was hacked by the government.

Add to these incidents the harassment of conservative organizations by Obama’s IRS, and the mercenary nature of the Obama administration reveals itself.

We’re told Obama administration officials went to the FISA Court twice last year for warrants to conduct electronic surveillance on candidate Trump. Why?

The DNC leaks show that DNC staffers were formulating “Russia” attacks on Trump as far back as last April, with one email between two committee members reading “the pro-Russia stuff ties in pretty well to idea that Trump is too friendly with Putin/weak on Russia”.

Then there is the infamous “dossier” — anonymous reports that Trump campaign members were speaking to Russian officials with some frequency last year and the existence of wiretapped audio. …

The left wants to play the Russia game and President Trump should oblige.

There should be an immediate investigation, and we’ll see where the espionage trail leads. 

President Trump has requested the congressional intelligence committees “to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016”.

Barack Obama and Loretta Lynch would be foolish not to be afraid.

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