Moving on
Towards Better Times...?


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fundamentalism - the World View

The Enlightenment Under Threat
By Richard Layton

"....... The world ... is witnessing an explosion of movements that reject rational inquiry as the best way to explain the world and empirical evidence as the best way to formulate policy. Islamic and Christian fundamentalisms are often portrayed as being on opposite sides in a "cosmic struggle" of good against evil. "But they are the same," says New Scientist.

Fundamentalist religions are driven by a desire to get "back to basics," to turn the clock back to a supposed golden age when their religion was untainted by secular influences. They fervently believe they alone have the truth--usually an overtly literal interpretation of a sacred text--and an equally fervent desire to impose that truth on others. Unlike mainstream religion, they cannot tolerate dissent.

...... George W. Bush has talked openly of running a "faith-based presidency;" and a member of his inner circle has been quoted referring disdainfully to the "reality-based community--that is, people who believe policy should be based on empirical evidence rather than faith. "George Bush was not elected by a majority of voters in the United States. He was appointed by God," according to one senior U.S. politician. Commentator Thomas Frank has argued that by allying itself with evangelical beliefs, the U.S. Republican Party has managed to dupe poor people into voting for economic policies that damage their interests, such as tax cuts for the rich...... "

The whole of this important discussion article can be found here: Humanists of Utah

Considering today's political climate, it's well worth a read.

posted by summersun70 at 12:16 PM

1 comments




This puts religious intolerance into perspective

Why Can't I Own A Canadian?

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The link takes you to an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative.

posted by summersun70 at 12:05 PM

0 comments



Saturday, February 25, 2006

An interesting comparison

When They Make a Film About Iraq What will It Say?

Joan Chittister is talking about the German film 'Downfall'. This is what she says about the film:

"It is a demonstration of what happens to a nation that substitutes idolatry of the leader for responsible citizenship. Little by little, the film unravels before our eyes the downfall of the military system and its loss of integrity and truth."

She then talks Iraq and compares the situation there and its repercussions to the last days of Nazi Germany. These are her closing lines:

".... Maybe we all ought to see the film before it's too late, before our own downfall as a nation in the minds of people across the world is complete. Don't worry that it's in German with English subtitles. The problem is that you may understand this one all too well."

An article well worth a read.

posted by summersun70 at 7:57 PM

0 comments




Bird Flu News with a difference

Here is a refreshing approach to NEWS ABOUT BIRD FLU:

BIRD FLU reached new heights, reminiscent in their rampancy of the likes of Casanova at his peak, today. Following a case in a suspected duck in Szechuan, the world's supply of small chickens has been removed, and all geese are no more. Iran's use of tactical nuclear weapons on a series of eggs on islands in the Persian Gulf has brought praise from the international community. Talk of their welcome back into the international fold is now widely regarded as all right.

In related news, British and American forces have been diverted from Iraq in pursuit of suspected Owl Qaeda operatives.

In unrelated news, Inverness Caledonian Thistle 2-1 Forfar (aet). The ball was sent off just before half-time.

* * *

BIRD FLU INTO a window aha ha ha DELETE BEFORE PUBLICATION thanks - Ed.

* * *

copied from: runandmonkey the ‘News Roundup: February 2006’

posted by summersun70 at 5:06 PM

0 comments



Monday, February 20, 2006

Pioneers or hopeless cases?

Are all of us bloggers pioneers in a ‘new revolution’, challenging the traditional news media?  Or are we just rather sad journalist wanabees, existing within a world of isolation and fragmentation?

Trevor Butterworth thinks the latter:

Conclusion from:

Time for the last post
By Trevor Butterworth: -

“..... yoked, as bloggers are, to the unending cycle of news and the need to post four or five times a day, five days a week, 50 weeks of the year, blogging is the closest literary culture has come to instant obsolescence. No Modern Library edition of the great polemicists of the blogosphere to yellow on the shelf; nothing but a virtual tomb for a billion posts - a choric song of the word-weary bloggers, forlorn mariners forever posting on the slumberless seas of news.”

See the whole article here: ft.com

And if you agree or do not agree with Trevor Butterworth’s analysis of the importance of ‘the blogosphere’ and want to add your thoughts to the debate, he has a blog here: FTMAGBLOG where you can add your comments (71 already at the time of writing this….)



posted by summersun70 at 4:19 PM

3 comments



Saturday, February 18, 2006

Thoughts on Blair's 'Natural Successor'

I have always had my doubts about Gordon Brown. Anyone who has worked so unceasingly as a part of Blair's dictatorship cannot be a welcome alternative to Blair. So I was pleased to find the article below, which sums up some of my misgivings about the man:

Gordon Brown’s tyranny of security
What life, liberty and politics would be like if he were to become prime minister by Brendan O’Neill

(first posted on 14th February 2006)

All those commentators who bang on about how much more open, honest and real British politics would be under Prime Minister Gordon Brown than it has been under Prime Minister Tony Blair must have got a rude awakening listening to Brown’s speech yesterday.

The chancellor talked about terrorism to the Royal United Services Institute in London, in what some referred to as a ‘seminal [moment] in the Gordon Brown for Prime Minister stakes’ (1). If that is true, then we can expect public life and debate to become even more shallow and staid if he ever gets the top job. Brown wants to go a step further than Blair in ratcheting up fear of an overblown terror threat and reorganising British politics and society around suspicion and security. In short, he plans to apply the accountant’s instinctive caution to life, liberty and politics in the twenty-first century, which is likely to make even the Blair era look like a hotbed of political principle.

..........

.... The only discernible value in Brown’s speech was security. He said the word 61 times. Indeed, he outlined his vision for reorganising the whole of British politics and society around the security agenda......

...... Even Blair has not gone this far in extending the war on terror into every facet of British political life. In Brown’s view, everything from the organisation of the economy to the distribution of social security to the provision of health must be geared around protecting the nation from terrorists; he talks about the role of social security officials in keeping an eye out for individuals using dodgy identities and the role of health officials in being constantly on alert for some terrible act of terror. Under Brown the war on terror would be more than bloody military interventions abroad and clampdowns on liberty at home, as it has been under Blair’s tenure; it would become the organising principle of British society.....

The whole article can be found here: williambowles.info


My Comments:

My main concern is about the way it is being assumed that Brown will simply 'become' Blair's successor, without much thought being given to the democratic process .... of course that process (as far as it ever existed) has been eroded under Blair, so I suppose we should not be unduly surprised if our thoughts on who we would like to be the next Prime Minister are given scant attention.

Or are we all past caring ......?

posted by summersun70 at 5:52 PM

2 comments




Nice future?

Retirement age 'will rise to 85'
By Paul Rincon BBC News science reporter, St Louis

The age of retirement should be raised to 85 by 2050 because of trends in life expectancy, a US biologist has said.

Shripad Tuljapurkar of Stanford University says anti-ageing advances could raise life expectancy by a year each year over the next two decades.

That will put a strain on economies around the world if current retirement ages are maintained, he warned.

He also told a science meeting in St Louis that 50-year or 75-year mortgages may not be unusual in the future……

……"People are going to do things they didn't get round to in their working lives. Current institutions are really not equipped at the moment to deal with such long lives," Dr Tuljapurkar said.

"We are going to have to plan a lot more carefully, which people are not very good at."

The rest of this article is here: bbc.co.uk

My Comments:

Bloody typical!  We get a promise of longevity and in the same breath we get the threat that we will have to work for and pay the money-grabbers for even longer!

Nice future ……

posted by summersun70 at 2:10 AM

0 comments



Friday, February 17, 2006

Justice turned on its head

Hospital discharges Cheney victim

Harry Whittington, the lawyer who was shot by US Vice-President Dick Cheney in a hunting accident, has been discharged from hospital.

He told reporters he bore no ill will and felt "deeply sorry" for the trouble Mr Cheney and his family had faced.

The rest of this article is here: bbc.co.uk

- as said on a BBC TV satire program tonight - "this will be the first ever case of its kind where a lawyer will fail to prosecute"

- but for the victim to apologise to Cheney ..... the mind boggles!

posted by summersun70 at 3:34 PM

3 comments




Invasion of Privacy???

New inquiry urged over Abu Ghraib

Full article can be found at: bbc.co.uk

US civil liberties groups have called for an inquiry into treatment of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib after new images of apparent abuse were shown.

Campaigners say they hope publishing the new images will spur government action against senior officials responsible for policy at the jail.

……..

Australian TV on Wednesday aired previously unseen images of apparent prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in 2003.

The images on SBS TV are thought to be from the same source as those that caused an outcry around the world.

The new images show "homicide, torture and sexual humiliation", SBS said.

……

The BBC's James Coomarasamy in Washington says it seems there is little political or indeed public appetite for a painful wound to be reopened, and the images are getting less prominence in the US media than elsewhere.

A US state department legal adviser said the government felt it was better for the photos not to be released.

John Bellinger said this was "not because there was anything to hide" - but rather "because we felt it was an invasion of the privacy of the people in the pictures"……

……..

My Comments:

I just cannot believe that John Bellinger thinks this is an acceptable explanation!

posted by summersun70 at 1:57 AM

1 comments



Thursday, February 16, 2006

Tracking Our Cash

RFID Tags Already in Euro Notes
By Steve Watson
For: prisonplanet

They told us they were going to do it by 2005 and now they have. Euro bank notes have RFID radio tags in them.If you were listening to the Alex Jones show on Monday 1st March you will have heard Paul Watson report the story that RFID tags have been found in the new US $20 bills. A letter sent to Henry Makow Ph.D. described how two citizens found alarms in shops being triggered by their wallets, curious and wise to the RFID proposals they chose to 'microwave' over $1000 in twenties in a stack. The right eye of Andrew Jackson on the new twenty was uniform in it's burning.

I remembered I had a couple of Euros in my wallet from my last visit to France and decided what the heck, I'll microwave them. After just three seconds the first note exploded into flame and fearing for my microwave's safety I quickly pressed the stop button. A fluke? Maybe, I tried with the second note, a five, again after precisely three seconds the same bright flash of flame.

It was obvious to see where the tags had been as two perfectly round holes could be seen in my notes. I noticed that the holes lay precisely over the metal strip within the notes......

The fact is that my bank notes were tagged. Should I be suprised, well no, they said they were going to do this by_2005

Of course, the official line is that these tags are there "to protect us", they stop counterfeiting and enable security agencies to track illegal money. Why would illegal money come in five or ten Euro notes? Surely your classic suitcase with wads of cash consists of 200s or 500s not fives and tens, you would need a whole truck to transport large amounts.

The truth is where ever we go are being tracked by our governments. RFID is the latest technology to be used in the ever-growing control grid that dictates the way we live our lives. Walmart has recently carried out RFID trials, even though they claim it is only to monitor possible theft of razors! ......

The rest of this article and details of “RFID Tags in New US Notes Explode When You Try to Microwave Them” can be found here: prisonplanet

1984 had nothing on this!

posted by summersun70 at 11:50 AM

0 comments



Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A few facts from the World Processor

Since 1985, due to agricultural engineering advances, the earth has yielded more food than we can possibly consume; yet geopolitical structures continue to leave millions of people dying of starvation.

More than 90% of all nations choose to maintain political prisons for some of their citizens.

The U.S. has recently usurped from Russia the dubious honor of highest rate of incarceration - almost 700…. The number of inmates per 100,000 of the national population

As the capacity for nuclear devastation has increased in range and precision, nuclear missile submarines have been able to patrol their targets from greater and greater distances, leaving only a remote area of the South Pacific free of nuclear submarine traffic.

If all the cars in the world were placed end to end they would circle the globe 72 times.

From: The WorldProcessor



posted by summersun70 at 4:03 PM

0 comments



Tuesday, February 14, 2006

For Euro Sceptics Everywhere

Please check this out:
whathaseuropedone

posted by summersun70 at 5:21 PM

0 comments



Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Truth Behind the UK 'Work Ethic'

Work is no cure for poverty

• The number of people in work is at "record levels" according to the UK government. Meanwhile, official UK figures show 22% of people living in poverty, compared to 13% in 1979.

• 47% of employees have wages that, on their own, are insufficient to avoid poverty. 42% of employees rely on means other than their own wages to avoid poverty.

• In the 1970s and 1980s, around 4% of low-paid employees lived in poverty. Currently, 14% of low-paid employees live in poverty. (5% of all employees now live in poverty).

• Since the early 1970s GDP (national income) has doubled, but in real terms (ie allowing for inflation) the bottom 10% of jobs pay less now than in 1970. The minimum wage would have to be around £6.50 per hour to bring low-pay up to the 1970 level.

(Sources: Government DWP press release, Nov 2004; poverty.org.uk; Joseph Rowntree Foundation study, Nov 2004; Guardian, 14 Jun 2002)

Published at: anxietyculture.com


posted by summersun70 at 7:32 PM

0 comments




Problems with Gmail

In case you were thinking that the massive space offered by Gmail is a good thing:

Gmail-is-too-creepy

Image hosting by Photobucket

posted by summersun70 at 3:22 PM

0 comments




With friends like that ....

Cheney accidentally shoots fellow hunter

Reported on: CNN at 22.58 GMT


“WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets.

Harry Whittington, a millionaire attorney from Austin, was "alert and doing fine" in a Corpus Christi hospital Sunday after he was shot by Cheney on a ranch in south Texas, said Katharine Armstrong, the property's owner.

……

Armstrong said Cheney is a longtime friend who comes to the ranch to hunt about once a year and is "a very safe sportsman." ……. “


And if that’s what he does to friends ……….

posted by summersun70 at 3:05 PM

0 comments



Saturday, February 11, 2006

Talking of 'them' watching 'us' ......

WORKPLACE SURVEILLANCE
On the job, you're never alone

Many companies monitor their workers' online activities, along with their phone conversations

By ALISON GRANT  For: chron.com

“Whether they know it or not, employees are rarely alone on the job.

“Businesses are deploying a battery of high-tech gadgets to keep track of employees in office cubicles, factories and hospitals and on the road.

“Nine out of 10 companies engage in workplace surveillance — above all, monitoring computer use — according to a 2005 survey.

"Employees should go to work assuming that Big Brother is going to read over their electronic shoulder when they're sitting at the computer," said Nancy Flynn, executive director of the ePolicy Institute in Columbus, Ohio….

......

…According to the survey, one aspect of workers' online lives is still relatively private: Only a fraction of the businesses said they scrutinized workers' personal blogs.

But workplace specialists say companies ignore blogs at their peril.

They can be a source of leaks about products or sensitive merger talks and of unfounded rumors that damage a company's reputation and bottom line.
And there are indications blogs are getting a look. A former Delta flight attendant, Ellen Simonetti, has sued the airline, saying she was fired after posting pictures of herself in a Delta uniform on her blog.

There's even slang now to describe being booted from a job for blogging about an employer — dooced. The term comes from a Salt Lake City woman who was fired from her Web design job for writing about her work and colleagues on her blog, Dooce.com ........

The rest of the article is here: WorkplaceSurveillance

My Comments:

I think most of us realise by now that our internet activities are being monitored at work, but we all seem more and more inclined to just put up with it.  Why?

Are we all that dummed down?


posted by summersun70 at 7:32 PM

0 comments



Thursday, February 09, 2006

Watched from all angles

US plans massive data sweep

From: ChristianScienceMonitor February 09, 2006

By Mark Clayton

“ The US government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity.

“The system - parts of which are operational, parts of which are still under development - is already credited with helping to foil some plots. It is the federal government's latest attempt to use broad data-collection and powerful analysis in the fight against terrorism. But by delving deeply into the digital minutiae of American life, the program is also raising concerns that the government is intruding too deeply into citizens' privacy.

"We don't realize that, as we live our lives and make little choices, like buying groceries, buying on Amazon, Googling, we're leaving traces everywhere," says Lee Tien, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "We have an attitude that no one will connect all those dots. But these programs are about connecting those dots - analyzing and aggregating them - in a way that we haven't thought about. It's one of the underlying fundamental issues we have yet to come to grips with."

“The core of this effort is a little-known system called Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic Enhancement (ADVISE). Only a few public documents mention it. ADVISE is a research and development program within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), part of its three-year-old "Threat and Vulnerability, Testing and Assessment" portfolio. The TVTA received nearly $50 million in federal funding this year.
……

“What sets ADVISE apart is its scope. It would collect a vast array of corporate and public online information - from financial records to CNN news stories - and cross-reference it against US intelligence and law-enforcement records. The system would then store it as "entities" - linked data about people, places, things, organizations, and events, according to a report summarizing a 2004 DHS conference in Alexandria, Va.

…… But ADVISE and related DHS technologies aim to do much more, according to Joseph Kielman, manager of the TVTA portfolio. The key is not merely to identify terrorists, or sift for key words, but to identify critical patterns in data that illumine their motives and intentions, he wrote in a presentation at a November conference in Richland, Wash…….

…. the scope of ADVISE - its stage of development, cost, and most other details - is so obscure that critics say it poses a major privacy challenge…..

For the rest of this article see: csmonitor

As the headline says: “Will it go too far?”

Of course it will …..


posted by summersun70 at 2:50 PM

0 comments




More evidence of deceit

I am a couple of days late posting this, but I feel it is not too late to give a mention to:

New set of minutes exposes the deceit of Bush and Blair
From:  DowningStreetMemos-blog  Tuesday, February 07, 2006

“The parade of embarrassing leaks from Britain continues with revelations about another set of minutes. This time, however, the leaked document strikes unusually close to home. The minutes come from the meeting in the White House on January 31, 2003 between George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Six close aides also attended the meeting. I will call these the 'White House Minutes'.

……..

“The Guardian newspaper also published a report ……... In these minutes, "Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme." In response, Blair said that he was "solidly" behind the plan to invade.

“In other words, while the U.S. and U.K. continued to ask the U.N. to pass a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, and before countries such as France put their foot down, Bush and Blair had decided the will of the U.N. was irrelevant. While weapons inspections (which they'd pressed urgently for) were on-going, Bush and Blair had decided that the facts the inspections turned up were irrelevant. Before Blair asked Parliament to authorize the invasion of Iraq, Blair had decided that the will of Parliament was irrelevant. While they were stating in public that they were seeking a peaceful resolution to their confrontation with Iraq, and that Hussein could avoid war by making concessions, Bush and Blair had already decided upon an invasion………”

The full article and links are at: http://downingstreetmemo.com/blog.html

No surprises, but these facts still need publishing just to show the extent of the deceit carried out by ‘our leaders’.


posted by summersun70 at 4:32 AM

0 comments



Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It was only a matter of time ....

The End of the Internet

"The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online.

......

"Under the plans they are considering, all of us -- from content providers to individual users -- would pay more to surf online, stream videos or even send e-mail. Industry planners are mulling new subscription plans that would further limit the online experience, establishing "platinum," "gold" and "silver" levels of Internet access that would set limits on the number of downloads, media streams or even e-mail messages that could be sent or received ........."

From: Alternet

All I can say is that I am surprised it has taken this long ..... doesn't make it right though ....

posted by summersun70 at 1:09 PM

0 comments



Thursday, February 02, 2006

What 'Free Speech' really means

…….. It would seem that the West’s beloved freedom of speech, the ideal that many would like to believe separates them from the rest of the world, is used by the mainstream media as a justification to promote the ruling ideology of the West and little else. They are ‘free’ to publish whatever they like, so long as it espouses the ascendancy of the West and its corporate agenda.

……..

My Comments:

The statement above comes from an excellent article : “Why ‘freedom of expression’ defence is questionable in the Muslim dispute with a Danish publication”. Published at global-research .

It reminds us that rhetoric on ‘democracy’ and ‘free speech’ is often just that – rhetoric.  In a World where ‘freedom’  and ‘free speech’ is decided by money and power it is naïve in the extreme to argue that “everyone has the right to express their opinion” without considering the consequences.





posted by summersun70 at 6:46 PM

0 comments



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