immigration

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Far Right Brexiteers Annoyed Boris Gave Award to Bristol Police Chief Who Allowed Attack on Colston Statue

The gravel-voiced anonymous individual behind the website ‘We Got a Problem’ got very annoyed yesterday about one of the peeps Johnson decided to reward in the New Years’ honours. ‘We Got a Problem’ is a pro-Brexit, anti-immigrant channel on YouTube. It views non-White immigrants as a serious threat to traditional British citizens and particularly concentrates on reporting crimes committed by people of colour. Such migrants are reviled in some of the crudest possible terms, which also clearly reveal the party political bias of the faceless man behind the website. One of the epithets he uses for them is ‘imported Labour voters’. This nameless individual was upset because Johnson has, apparently, given an award to the Bristol police chief, who resolutely sat back and did nothing to stop BLM protesters pulling down the statue of Edward Colston and throwing it into the docks. He therefore decided to put up a video expressing his considered disapproval yesterday, 6th January 2021. I’m not going to provide a link to his wretched video. If you want to see it, all you need do is look for it on YouTube.

Now I am very definitely not a fan of Black Lives Matter nor the destruction of public property. But the Bristol copper actually had very good reasons not to intervene. ‘We Got A Problem’s’ video contains a clip from an interview the rozzer gave to the Beeb about his inaction. He states that there’s a lot of context around the statue, and that it was of a historical figure that had been causing Black people angst for years. He was disappointed that people would attack it, but it was very symbolic. The protesters were prepared. It had been pre-planned and they had grappling hooks. The police made a tactical decision not protect the statue in case it provoked further disorder. They decided that the safest thing to do was not protect the statue. What they didn’t want was tension. They couldn’t get to the statue, and once it was torn down the cops decided to allow the attack on the statue to go ahead.

‘We Got A Problem’ takes this as an admission of incompetence by the Bristol copper, calling him a ‘cuck’, a term of abuse used by the Alt-Right. The YouTuber is also upset that while the cop got an honour, that hero of Brexiteers everywhere, Nigel Farage, didn’t. As all Brexit has done is created more chaos, and seems set to create more misery, including food and medicine shortages, the further destruction of British industry, especially manufacturing, and massively increased bureaucracy for trade and foreign travel, Farage doesn’t deserve to get one either. But this is lost on the fanatical Brexiteers like ‘We Got A Problem’, who cling desperately to the belief that somehow Brexit is going to lead to a revival of Britain’s fortunes, ending Black and Asian immigration and propelling us back to a position of world leadership.

As for the lack of action taken by the chief of Bristol’s police, I think he made the right decision. The statue the BLM protesters attacked was of the slaver Edward Colston. Colston was a great philanthropist, using some of the money he made from the trade to endow charities and schools here in the city. But understandably many people, especially Blacks, are upset that he should be so honoured with a statue. There have been demands for it to be removed since the 1980s. One Black woman interviewed on Radio 4 said she felt sick walking past it to work in the morning. However, the statue was retained because when Bristolians were asked whether it should be taken down, the majority were against it.

While ‘We Got A Problem’ presents the attack as a riot, in fact the only thing that was attacked was Colston’s statue. None of the other buildings or monuments were touched. Not the statue of MP and founder of modern Conservatism Edmund Burke, not the statue of Neptune or to the city’s sailors nearby, or of Queen Victoria just up the road by College Green. Nor were any of the shops and businesses in the centre attacked, unlike the riots of 2012. This could have changed, and the attack on the statue become a full-scale riot if the police had tried to intervene. The police chief doesn’t mention it, but I also believe one other factor in his decision not to protect the statue was the issue of racism in the police. One of the causes of the St. Paul’s riots in Bristol in 1981 was the feeling by the Black community there that the police were ‘occupying’ the area. It seems to me that the Bristol cop was worried that an attempt by the police to defend the monument would lead to further accusations of racism and a deterioration in their relations with Bristol’s Black community.

It was only one statue that was pulled down. It has been recovered from the docks, and I think is either now on display or awaiting going on display in one of the Bristol’s museums. No-one was hurt and no other property was damaged. I think four of those responsible for the attack have been identified and charged. Mike in one of his pieces about the incident made it clear that they should have been allowed to go free. I think this would be wrong. While you can sympathise with their reasons, it’s still an attack on public property. Allowing one set of vandals to go unpunished would encourage others to make similar attacks, possibly to monuments to figures much less deserving of such treatment. While I don’t think very many people are genuinely upset about the attack on Colston’s statue, attacks on others, such as that of Winston Churchill, may have caused far more outrage. While it was a good tactical decision not to defend the statue when it was attacked, it’s quite right that the attackers should receive some punishment in order to prevent further, far more controversial attacks, from taking place.

The Country That Invites New Immigrants to Dinner

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/01/2021 - 7:00pm in

Breaking bread

A program to break down barriers between natives and newcomers in the Czech Republic has brought together some 1,676 families.

Started in 2004 by a film producer who fled to the Czech Republic from war-torn Sarajevo, Next Door Family brings together immigrants and Czech natives for casual conversation over a leisurely meal. In its first year, 200 families participated, half of them Czech and half of them foreign. To ensure compatibility, participants are matched based on traits like age, language and hobbies. A migrant “assistant” shares in the meal and facilitates the conversation. 

The fact that so many of the participants continue to stay in touch afterward speaks to the program’s success. According to a study, 65 percent of the participants meet up at least once later on, and some 47 percent are still in touch over a decade later. As word of the effort has spread, the organizers have received requests from around the world asking them to bring the model to other countries. It has since been implemented in Belgium, Slovakia, Malta, Hungary, Italy and Spain, to name a few. And they recently heard from a family in Texas who wants to use it to bring Americans and Mexicans closer together.

Read more at The Local

Any special skills?

Of course, it’s not just in the Czech Republic where immigrants can have trouble gaining a foothold. The example of the taxi driver who used to be a surgeon is often used to illustrate the difficult task of transferring foreign credentials to the U.S. Tulsa is pursuing a fix for this problem with a program called Flourish Tulsa, which creates career pathways for internationally trained immigrants and refugees.

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There are approximately two million college-educated immigrants in the U.S. working in low-skill jobs. Flourish Tulsa helps these folks put their foreign certifications to use in the American workforce. If a direct transfer of their credentials isn’t possible, Flourish Tulsa can help them reapply their skills in fields like education, engineering or mental health — professions that the initiative says many immigrants are qualified for. “We are trying to reduce the number of years it takes individuals to build a career in the U.S., as well as the trial and error that costs them time, effort, and financial resources,” said one organizer. 

Read more at Next City

Keep on greenin’ on

We recently told you about 112 good things that happened in 2020. This week, Grist is offering six more. For instance: 2020 was the year that major universities like Georgetown, Brown, Oxford and Cornell divested from fossil fuels. New York State’s $266 billion pension fund laid out a solid plan to do the same.

solarA solar powered house at Cornell University. Credit: Department of Energy

Meanwhile, green energy continued its upward surge, with renewable power generation outpacing coal on many days of the year. In the U.S. alone, wind power alone has doubled in capacity since four years ago. And across the world, cities, countries, companies and utilities made commitments to achieving carbon neutrality over the next several decades — promises that Grist has vowed to follow up on to make sure they’re sticking to them.

Read more at Grist

The post The Country That Invites New Immigrants to Dinner appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Migration as a Claim for Reparations

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 07/12/2020 - 11:00pm in

Photo Credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock In October 2016, Hussein and I met over coffee at a Tunisian pastry shop in the north...

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Anti-Semitism, Colonialism and Zionism

I’m not surprised that the Blairites and ultra-Zionist fanatics wanted to purge Tony Greenstein from the Labour party, as they have done with so many other entirely decent people. Greenstein is, like Moshe Machover, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and Jackie Walker, an anti-Zionist Jew. Which means he’s a danger to the British political and media establishment, which wishes to define British Jewry exclusively in terms of support for Israel. Or rather more narrowly, support for the current viciously racist Israeli administration. Left-wing Zionists, who also believe that the Palestinians should be treated decently and with dignity, have also suffered anti-Semitic vilification and abuse if they dare to protest against Netanyahu’s government. Jews like Greenstein, Machover, Walker and Wimborne-Idrissi are a threat to this, because they show that support for Israel is not a necessary or integral part of Jewish identity. Indeed, as David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group has pointed out, Zionism was until recent decades very much a minority position among European Jews.

But Tony Greenstein has also argued very powerfully on his blog that Zionism has also been a real threat to Jews. In his view, it is an internalisation of gentile anti-Semitism, with which it has collaborated, including in the mass murder of Jews, such as in the Holocaust, by real anti-Semites. And he has supported this with a wealth of quotes from Zionism’s founders and leaders, like Theodor Herzl and David Ben-Gurion. Here are a few more I found about Zionism’s relationship to anti-Semitism and colonialism in an article Greenstein put up on the 3rd November 2020, about a Zoom conversation he and Machover were due to have the next day about Zionism, and whether it was inevitable ‘it would create an apartheid monstrosity in Palestine’.

One is from Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi party’s ideologue and author of The Myth of the 20th Century. In 1919 he wrote

‘Zionism must be vigorously supported in order to encourage a significant number of German Jews to leave for Palestine or other destinations [Francis Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, p.25].

He also quotes Sir Samuel Montagu, MP for Whitechapel from 1885-1900, and the only member of Balfour’s cabinet to oppose the infamous Declaration in support of a Jewish state in Palestine. Montagu said of Zionism

 ‘Is it not… a suspicious fact that those who have no love for the Jews, and those who are pronounced anti-Semites, all seem to  welcome the Zionist proposals and aspiration.?’[Sir Samuel Montagu, The Dangers of Zionism]

The Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, in his book 10 Myths about Israel, also points out that, far from being a pro-Jewish stance, Zionism in the 19th and early 20th centuries was associated with anti-Semitism. So much so that one German nobleman, whom Herzl approached for support in the 1920s, told him that he had previously not come forward to add his support because he didn’t want people to think that he was a Jew-hater.

Contemporary supporters of Israel deny that it’s a colonial state. For them it is simply the return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland. But Herzl explicitly described his project of creating a Jewish state as colonial in a letter to that arch-imperialist, Cecil Rhodes:

“You are being invited to help make history…it doesn’t involve Africa, but a piece of Asia Minor; not Englishmen but Jews… How, then, do I happen to turn to you since this is an out-of-the-way matter for you? How indeed? Because it is something colonial… I want you … to put the stamp of your authority on the Zionist plan and to make the following declaration to a few people who swear by you: I, Rhodes have examined this plan and found it correct and practicable. It is a plan full of culture, excellent for the group of people for whom it is directly designed, and quite good for England, for Greater Britain….”

As for the danger Zionism has presented to Jews. Rudolf Vrba, one of only four people to have escaped from Auschwitz, believed that Zionism had actively assisted the Nazis’ horrific campaign of extermination:

“The Zionist movement of Europe played a very important role in the mass extermination of Jews. Indeed, I believe that without the cooperation of Zionists it would have been a much more difficult task….”

See: Tony Greenstein’s Blog: ZIONISM – What it is and Why it is Important? Zoom Meeting with Moshe Machover and Tony Greenstein (azvsas.blogspot.com)

In another post published on the 10th October 2020 attacking the SOAS’s head of Jewish studies, Professor Heszer for her piece in the Jewish Chronicle denying Israel’s colonialist origins, there are a few more revealing quotations. One of these is from a letter from William Stanley Shaw, the head of the British Brothers’ League, an anti-Semitic organisation set up to oppose eastern European Jewish immigration, to the Jewish Chronicle in 1901

“I am a firm believer in the Zionist movement, which the British Brothers League will do much incidentally to foster. The return of the Jews to Palestine is one of the most striking signs of the times…. All students of prophecy are watching the manifold signs of the times with almost breathless interest.”

As for Balfour, he was a racist, who refused to give the vote to Black South Africans because they weren’t the equal of Whites, and who told Chaim Weizmann that he also shared the ‘anti-Semitic postulates’ of Wagner’s widow, Cosima. What is astonishing is that Weizmann assured him that the Zionists also shared these views saying that he had

pointed out that we, too… had drawn attention to the fact that Germans of the Mosaic persuasion were an undesirable and demoralizing phenomenon…’ [Leonard Stein, The Balfour Declaration p.154].

If SOAS Cares For Its Reputation It Should Send Racist Professor Heszer, Head of the Jewish Studies Centre, on an Unpaid Vacation to learn what Zionism means for the Palestinians – Tony Greenstein

I think the emphasis in these quotes is Greenstein’s, rather than in the original text.

These quotes clearly show that the criticisms of Israel and the Zionist movement by people like Tony Greenstein and the others are historically justified, as is their opposition against Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians. These views do not make anyone an anti-Semite. My own preferred view is that anti-Semitism is simply hatred of Jews as Jews, and that no state or ideology should be beyond debate and criticism. This includes Israel and Zionism. The Jews have a history of debate, and there have always been a wide range of views about the nature of Judaism. I’ve come across the adage, ‘Two Jews, three opinions’. British Jewry is also diverse with a range of differing views on Israel. But this debate is being shut down and a form of sectarianism promoted instead, which tries to present the British Jewish community as consisting almost solely of the United Synagogue and its institutions, the Board of Deputies and the Chief Rabbinate. As Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi has pointed out in her video with Double Down News, ‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’, this is very much what anti-Semites and racists have done to their victims: present them as a monolithic community.

It is disgusting and reprehensible that all of British Jewry is not represented in this debate by the political and media establishment, and that people, who hold entirely reasonable opinions critical of Israel are being vilified, harassed and purged as the very things they are not, racists and anti-Semites. The Labour party should be a place where issues like Zionism and the maltreatment of the Palestinians can be reasonably discussed and differing viewpoints held.

To stop this and demand absolute support for Israel is an attack on democracy, free speech, and proper historical debate. It is unacceptable, just as it is unacceptable that decent anti-racists, both Jewish and gentile, should be purged for holding these views.

Simon Sideways on Israel as Rogue Nuclear State

Despite styling himself ‘Reverend’, I very much doubt that Simon Sideways is a man of the cloth. He’s a right-wing youtuber, who vlogs about immigration, feminism, Islam and the coronavirus lockdown, all of which he opposes. I don’t share his views about these subjects. But in this short video below, he makes some very disturbing points about Israel. The video’s just over five minutes long, and it’s his thoughts about the assassination yesterday of the Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsin Fakhrizadeh. Sideways believes that it’s the work of the Israeli secret service, Mossad, and goes on to discuss their probably responsibility for a virus that attacked the Iranian nuclear programme a decade or so ago.

The virus was originally developed by the Americans, and was intended to disrupt the computer systems controlling the operation of the centrifuges used in nuclear research. The Israelis, however, decided that the virus wasn’t sufficiently destructive, so they took it over and altered it before unleashing it on the Iranians. It didn’t just affect Iran, however. It spread around the world causing havoc in all the computer systems it infected, including our NHS. When the Americans then confronted the Israelis with the chaos they caused, the Israelis just shrugged it off.

Sideways states very clearly that the Israelis do exactly what they want, to whom they want, with a complete disregard for the consequences because they will always defend themselves by accusing their critics of anti-Semitism. America can break one international law in a year, and there’s a global outcry. Israel, however, will break fifty, and there’s no criticism, because everyone’s afraid of being called anti-Semitic.

This cavalier disregard for the immense harm done by them also extends to the country’s nuclear policy. This is the ‘Samson Option’, named after the Old Testament hero. This policy states that in the event of a nuclear attack by another country, Israel will launch its nuclear weapons indiscriminately at the other countries around the world, including Europe. The point of the strategy is to turn Israel into a ‘mad dog’ so that no other nation dares attack it. There is an article about the strategy on Wikipedia, which provides a number of quotes from journalists, military historians and senior Israeli officers about the strategy. It was to be used in the event of a second holocaust, with nuclear missiles targeting Europe, Russia and Islam’s holy places.

See: Samson Option – Wikipedia

Here’s the video.

Mossad Murder inc at it agai. in Iran – YouTube

I remember the virus attack on Iran’s nuclear programme. If I recall correctly, it disabled an underground nuclear testing centre and killed 22 scientists. I also remember the crisis a few years ago caused by a virus infecting the NHS computers. I don’t know whether this was the same virus, but I really wouldn’t like to rule it out. He isn’t quite right about Israel escaping without criticism from the global community for its actions. The UN has issued any number of condemnations of Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians, which are very definitely in violation of international law. It’s just that Israel takes zero notice of them, and they aren’t enforced with sanctions. And they almost certainly won’t be, so long as Israel has the support of America, Britain and the European Community.

Sideways is right when he says that Israel responds to criticism by calling its accuser an anti-Semite. We’ve seen that in the Israel lobby’s smears against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour party, very many of whom were self-respecting Jews. Israel has been caught several times spying against friendly countries, another violation of international law. When Thatcher caught them doing so, she threatened to throw the Israeli spies out of the country. The Israelis duly issued an apology and amended their behaviour. They were caught doing the same under Blair and then under Cameron or Tweezer. I can’t remember which. Zero action was taken, and the Israelis got away with it.

They’ve also killed innocent people when they’ve tried assassinating Palestinian terrorists. And when I was growing up I remember how the rozzers in either Switzerland or Sweden nabbed a party of these clowns. The Israeli spies were trying to snatch a Palestinian terrorist, who was living in a block of flats. They decided the grab needed to be done in darkness, so turned off the block’s fuse box. Which plunged the entire block into darkness. Then Sweden’s or Switzerland’s finest turned up and grabbed them in turn.

This all shows that the Israeli security services are a bunch of out of control, murderous clowns. And the Samson Option shows that the Arabs and Muslims are right: it isn’t Iran that’s a rogue state. It’s the US and Israel. In his book America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy, Blum cites a Zogby poll of global, or at least Middle Eastern opinion, about whether Iran would be a threat if it had nuclear weapons. Most of those polled believed that Iran wouldn’t, and that it had a right to nuclear weapons.

The prospect of a nuclear armed Iran was worrying a few years ago, when Ahmedinejad was president. Ahmedinejad was extremely religious and belonged to a group of Twelver Shia – the country’s major branch of Islam – who believed that the return of the 12th Imam was imminent. The Shi’a believe that leadership of the Islamic community after Mohammed rightly belonged with a line of divinely inspired rulers – the Imams – beginning with Mohammed’s son-in-law, Ali. There are different sects, and Twelver Shia are so-called because, unlike some others, they believe that there were 12 Imams, the last of whom vanished after he went to a well in the 9th century AD. They believe he will return in the last days, when there will be a battle between Islam and the forces of evil. Ahmedinejad’s presidency was frightening because there was a fear that he would launch some kind of war in order to fulfil this prophecy.

But the Iranian president wasn’t the only leader whose apocalyptic beliefs were a possible threat to the world. Ronald Reagan and various members of his cabinet and military advisers also believed that the End was near as right-wing fundamentalist Christians. There was thus also concern that he would launch a nuclear war against Russia, here representing the forces of the Antichrist, to bring about the end.

Well, Ahmedinijad and Reagan have been and gone. I don’t believe that the Iranians have a nuclear weapons programme, as I explained in a post I put up about the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist yesterday. I also think that the Iranians were genuine when they said they were willing to negotiate and reach a deal with America. The refusal to cooperate, in my opinion, comes from the Americans, who really want regime change.

Not that the Iranians are angels in their turn. The regime is a brutal, repressive theocracy and they have been responsible for terrorist attacks against opposition groups. There’s a report on one such attack by the Iranian security services on an Iranian opposition group in Europe in today’s I. It’s just that it now looks to me that Iran isn’t, and has never been, a nuclear threat.

It looks to me like the real nuclear threat and rogue state is Israel. And the Iranians have more to fear from an invasion from America and Israel, than America and Israel have from Iran.

History Debunked Tears to Shreds the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Simon Webb, the man behind the YouTube channel History Debunked seems to me to be a man of the right. The channel’s devoted to refuting fake history, but much of the myths it debunks are false claims made in the name of anti-racism by Black activists. He also believes that there are racial differences in intelligence, with Blacks on average less intelligent than Whites, and Whites also on average less bright than Asians. In other words, the Bell Curve stuff that has been loudly denounced and refuted over the past decade or so. That said, his videos are always based on solid fact and well argued, and I don’t believe that he is personally racist. Indeed, he has put up a video about home schooling, in which he states very clearly that not only has he done it himself, but he is also helping and giving advice to a group of Black British parents, who wish to do it.

In this video History Debunked takes on the infamous Tsarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Webb states that he’s doing this after some of his previous videos were taken down by YouTube, or he was warned that they may be taken down because of their controversial content. But this video is not only historically right, no-one should be able to accuse him of racism or hate speech because of it. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a notorious anti-Semitic forgery, which is at the heart of the various stupid conspiracy theories about the Jews secretly trying to take over the world through controlling the media, banks, business and so on. It was concocted in the very early 20th century by the Russian monk, Nilus, for the Tsar’s secret police, the Okhrana, in order to make Nicholas II persecute the Jews even more harshly. As Nicholas II believed in the Blood Libel, the myth that Jews murder Christians to use their blood in the matzo bread at Passover, it’s hard to see how Nicholas could be even more anti-Semitic. Especially as his attempts to prosecute one Jewish man, Beilis, for this, was worrying his ministers who viewed it as a serious embarrassment to the autocracy.

In the video, Webb shows how the Protocols was based on an earlier book, a Dialogue between Machiavelli and Montesquieu in Hell. This was an attack on the government of Napoleon III of France, who French liberals feared was trying to take over and control everything, including the press and business. He illustrates this through pointing to some of the metaphors that Nilus took from the earlier book. The Dialogue describes Napoleon as having a hundred arms, like the Hindu god Vishnu, each arm extended into some part of society. And here it appears again in the Protocols, which describes the Jewish conspiracy as like the Hindu deity with hundreds of arms extending through society.

Apart from the Dialogue, Nilus also plagiarised Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland Herzl was the founder of modern Zionism, and the Altneuland was his attempt to depict and popularise a Jewish state. In my view, Zionism has caused immense suffering and conflict in the Middle East, and led to the persecution and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians. I’d say they were entirely justified in despising Herzl’s book. But it isn’t about a global conspiracy or a programme for the mass enslavement of non-Jews, as the Protocols purports to be.

Webb jokes that if there is a Jewish conspiracy as the Protocols claims, then it can’t be much of one if they’ve had to take their ideas from a satire published decades earlier about Napoleon III, and Herzl’s Altneuland. He also states that the other daft conspiracy theories about Jews are ultimately based on the Protocols. One of these is the Kalergi Plan. From what little I know of it, the Kalergi Plan is supposed to be a secret plot by a cabal of European leaders to import non-Whites into the continent and the west in order to destroy the White race. Yep, it’s another permutation of that heap of bilge.

Here’s History Debunked thoroughly refuting the Protocols.

An old French political satire which has, indirectly, had an immense effect upon the world – YouTube

The Protocols are notorious as a forgery, but have been massively influential in spreading real Fascism and Jew-hatred. They inspired many of the Fascist movements that arose after the First World War. At least one of the British papers serialised them, until they saw sense and realized that they were a forgery. Then they published criticisms and refutations. However, even when readers of the wretched book have had it shown to them that they’re a forgery, such is their power that some of them continue to believe that they’re ‘symbolically true’.

The Protocols have been responsible for some of the most horrific anti-Semitic persecution and violence. And unfortunately they’re still being published. Apparently you can’t pick up copies on street corner kiosks in Putin’s Russia, and they were turned into a major television series on Egyptian TV. Way back in the 1990s a branch of Waterstone’s in this country stocked them because they were cited by various UFO conspiracy theorists that Reptoid aliens really were running the world or some such nonsense. One of these books claimed that the ‘Jews’ referred to in the Protocols were really the Illuminati of much contemporary American conspiracy theorising. No, the authors of the Protocols meant to attack the Jews, and whether someone chooses to believe that it’s really about the Illuminati or not, the Protocols are still vile, dangerous, murderous rubbish.

There’s a large body of literature debunking the Protocols. One of the classics is Norman Cohn’s Warrant for Genocide. And this video is also an excellent short but acute refutation of them.

UK hostile environment immigration policy condemned

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/11/2020 - 9:59pm in

The UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission has just published a report into the Windrush scandal. The report shows that policy makers ignored warnings about the likely impacts of the “hostile environment” policy on groups such as the Windrush generation. As a result of the policy, many people who had difficulty in proving their right to reside in the UK, often because the Home Office imposed a ludicrous evidential burden on them, lost their jobs, their homes, were denied access to vital health care, were detained in prison-like immigration detention centres or were deported and excluded from a country they had lived in all their lives.

The report makes grim reading, but what emerges clearly from it is that ministers and their civil servants, seeking to display a “get tough” message on immigration, were not disposed to listen to the people telling them about how things would turn out. They were already set on the policy and were going to stick to it whatever. Critics were to be ignored and rebutted and the UK government were not interested in finding evidence that would get in the way. Legal duties to promote equality and non-discrimination were not seen as goals that ought to inform policy but, at best, as obstacles to circumvented.

After the Windrush scandal broke in 2018, thanks to the work of activists and journalists, including Amelia Gentleman who wrote an excellent book about this, the Home Office pledged to put things right. But the compensation scheme for victims that the Home Office was forced to put in place has paid out a pittance to a very few of the victims, and a senior civil servant has resigned suggesting that racism is an important part of the explanation. Almost weekly new absurdities come to light, such as the case of a man who the Home Office illegally excluded from the country who has now applied for British citizenship, which the Home Office is denying him on the basis that he spent too long out of the country.

The British press, with the exception of the Guardian, has given little prominence to this story. Another report from the EHCR into anti-semitism in the Labour Party was all over the front pages, but one into the impact of immigration policy on the lives of thousands of people is, well, not. Too late to affect this report but ominously for the future, the UK government has now appointed David Goodhart, a prominent advocate of the hostile environment (who now says he was always against “abuses”), as one of the commissioners for the EHRC. As US Republicans have learnt from the experience of the Supreme Court, the answer to the problem of referees giving decisions against you is to appoint new, more pliant, referees.

A 17th Century Anglican Plea for Religious Toleration

Jeremy Taylor was the chaplain of King Charles I and the rector of Uppingham. After the royalists were defeated in the British Civil War, he fled to Carmarthenshire in Wales, where he wrote his book arguing for religious freedom, The Liberty of Prophesying. After the Restoration he was appointed bishop of Down and Connor. He was also the author of a number of devotional works and sermons, but it’s his defence of religious freedom that I find particularly interesting. He said ‘they were excellent words which St. Ambrose said in attestation of this great truth, that the civil authority has no right to interdict the liberty of speaking, nor the sacerdotal to prevent speaking what you think.’

See the article on him in John Bowker, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (Oxford: OUP 1997) 958.

I’m very much aware that throughout Christian history there has been very little freedom of religion and conscience, and that the Anglican church’s toleration of Dissenters was very limited until the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts in the 19th century. Until then Protestant nonconformists were excluded from the grammar schools, universities and government, and could only hold their services five miles away from towns. Atheism and Roman Catholicism were illegal again until the 19th century. But it was clergymen like Taylor and his fellows in the Nonconformist churches, like the Quaker William Penn and a number of Presbyterian ministers, who laid the foundations for the British and American tradition of religious tolerance. The most famous of the works calling for religious freedom from this period is Milton’s Areopagitica.

Despite the passage of the centuries, their message is still acutely relevant. Many countries still don’t have freedom of conscious or religious liberty in the 20th century. The Communists attempted to destroy religious and viciously persecuted people of faith, while the Nazis, apart from trying to exterminate the Jews, also sent their other religious opponents, especially Jehovah’s Witnesses, to the concentration camps.

We have recently seen a French teacher murdered for showing schoolchildren the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohammed in a class about free speech, and mass demonstrations against France for permitting the cartoons in Muslim countries. To many people, their calls for legislation against such disrespect seem like demands for Muslim blasphemy laws. Christians and members of other religious minorities, such as Shia and Ahmadiyya Muslims have been murdered in Pakistan as well as orthodox Sunni Muslims because of supposed blasphemy. This is banned in Pakistan and punishable with the death penalty. The only permitted religion in Saudi Arabia is Wahhabi Islam, and a few years ago the Saudis declared that atheism was terrorism. This was just atheist unbelief itself, regardless of any act of genuine terror, such as killing people or destroying property.

I’m sympathetic to Muslims regarding the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. I don’t like the way Christianity and Christ are mocked by certain sections of the media and the entertainment business either. I’ve also heard the argument that Charlie Hebdo is a nasty rag. It’s not left-wing, but right, apparently, and its targets also include Roman Catholicism and immigrants.

But there’s a greater principle of free speech and the sanctity of human life here. All religions and ideologies, including atheism, should be up for debate, with people free to choose as they will. They’re fundamental human rights, the violation of which either leads or is part of tyranny.

Orange Cone Headaches: Construction in an Overpopulated, Pro-Growth World

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/11/2020 - 7:28am in

By Karen I. Shragg

Spotting a “Road Work Ahead” sign is enough to make any driver groan or nervously clutch her steering wheel. These warnings are meant to ensure people’s safety, yet they often also come with a myriad of traffic problems: congestion, noise, car wrecks, etc. In cities especially, orange cones are littered everywhere, causing copious delays and all for the sake of further “improvement” projects.

road work ahead (overpopulation)

Warning: these signs are inescapable in cities all across the USA. (Image: CC BY-SA 3.0, Credit: josefstuefer)

While infrastructure repair is an ongoing necessity, these endless construction headaches are symptomatic of something deeper: A fruitless scramble to accommodate our growing numbers. More people means more cement. More cement means more traffic, more pollution, and higher demands on our resources. We build out and up with total disregard for the impact on our quality of life, the survival of wildlife, and the sustainability of our water resources.

Cities throughout the USA are strangled with construction because city managers are encouraged by their councils to welcome developers into their neighborhoods. They still believe in the antiquated narrative that growth equals progress, but the truth is the complete opposite. More and more people fuel the now common vistas of sky cranes and bulldozers that are an integral part of city growth in the USA.

The Worn-Out Lies of “Open-Road” Projects

Taxpayers are consistently promised an ever-elusive “open-road” freedom when construction projects are completed. City councilmen and women trust their transportation engineers with all of their fancy graphs and charts that traffic bottlenecks will be resolved. They’re never able to fulfill their promises, and the weight of responsibility doesn’t fall on the engineers, either. Population growth hurts even the best transportation projects. This leaves us with traffic headaches, huge price tags, and no congestion relief in sight. It costs approximately 4 million dollars per mile to go from four to six lanes of highway. Taxpayers pay the bill, and the only results are poor air quality and more room for traffic jams.

Traffic jam

Some traffic jam to go with your morning news. (Image: CC BY 4.0, Credit: Abbas Shariati)

Road closures have become so prevalent that Departments of Transportation across the country have websites permanently dedicated to detours due to road construction. Local news stations also report on traffic—not just once, but multiple times daily. We accept that traffic is unavoidable, so we make do by planning trips ahead and traveling before peak times.

It’s common sense: Road construction takes time. City populations are growing rapidly. By the time one construction project is completed, more cars are squeezed onto the road and city councils are calling for another project. Yet instead of questioning this endless cycle, city councils continue to accommodate growth by introducing or updating urban development and traffic control plans every few years.

Construction woes are particularly frustrating in the Southwest where population is growing the fastest. In the Midwest, though, it’s much the same story. In my own hometown, the Twin Cities of Minnesota, the construction of Minnesota Highway 62 took four years of orange cone headaches to complete. Yet traffic was still horrible by the end of the project, and now it’s far worse!

Well, no wonder. Highway 62 was completed in 2010, and the metro population of the Twin Cities grew by 9.3 percent between 2010 and 2018. What happens in a city with limited mass-transit choices? Thousands of residents are forced to drive, of course, erasing the “open-road” promises of highway improvements.

Cost overruns and delays due to weather events are also incredibly common in road construction projects, and yet they are readily accepted as business as usual. This whole merry-go-round of building roads to accommodate growth remains virtually unchallenged by citizens and politicians who accept these failures as a part of “progress.”

Growth is the Wrong Medicine for Progress

Progress is supposed to make things better. High rise-developers make promises that their projects will be key to a better future for all. In turn, city councilors offer TIF (tax increment financing), which allows governments to invest in public infrastructure and pay at a later date—as much as 25 years away! There is no full-cost accounting of such developments. The projects are meant to line the pockets of city councilors who perpetuate the myth that they are helping their city’s vitality. What these councilors don’t account for is a dense population, which creates more traffic and crime and less of a sense of community among residents.

Furthermore, the construction of high-rise apartments threatens our environment and resources. Densely populated areas light up the night sky with light pollution, destroying the chance to see stars. Hundreds of residents in high-rise buildings put a concentrated demand on water for showers, cooking, and laundry.

All of these developments require fossil fuels and raw materials. The earth is a limited place, and developers treat these materials as if they can be extracted for forever. For instance, sand would appear to be an unlimited resource. However, due to our ever-growing population’s need for glass and concrete, sand is being extracted at a faster rate than it is renewed. The problem also lies in the type of sand being used: Marine sand is too full of salt, and desert sand is packed with crystals, making it poor for creating concrete. Therefore, all sand used in the making of glass and concrete must be mined.

Sand mining

Most people don’t consider the resources needed for construction, such as sand. (Image: CC0, Credit: RitaE)

To break the cycle of growth, we must first accept the limits of the earth’s resources and that development pollutes our life-giving biosphere. This is particularly true in the developed world, which is hooked on growth, much like an addict is hooked on drugs. The benefits of growth, like illicit drugs, are temporary and always end up creating more damage in the long run.

For example, the world has added over 5.5 billion people in the last century and continues to add over 80 million per year. The US population just hit 330 million in 2020 and is still growing by over one million per year. So, why aren’t more people concerned by these numbers? For one, more growth means more profit. Politicians and business leaders equate a growing economy to the “progress of mankind,” when in reality, the only thing it advances is their positions of power.

Another problem is that the conflict between economic growth and environmental protection is ignored by the media, and even by most environmental groups. If the conversation doesn’t start there, it’s not going to get far.

Catastrophic mortality rates can ultimately be depended upon to take care of the overpopulation problem, but in ways no one wants to experience. It is lazy and evil to allow nature to take such a course for us. It’s not inevitable, either.

Warning: Paradigm Shift Ahead

Accommodating GDP growth in our hyper-capitalist, overpopulated world is like putting out a welcome mat for cancer, or thinking we can get around it with chemotherapy and radiation. Breaking free from the grip of growth is much easier said than done, but it all begins with changing our worldview. We’ve been led to believe that growth is our salvation, when clearly it is just the opposite.

Thankfully there are activists and NGO’s dedicated to clarifying this. Aligned with CASSE principles, for example, is the Overpopulation Project, which in turn lists 37 national and international groups that are dedicated to working on the critical issue of population growth. These organizations have given plenty of thought about what to prioritize. Should the focus be on total fertility rate? Do we need to tighten our immigration policies? Is it wiser to start by amending the Employment Act? Taken together, one thing is clear: These organizations amount to advancing the steady state economy as the sustainable alternative to growth.

I propose that each of these organizations and efforts have their merits; we should appreciate them all. Meanwhile, we need to start seeing the orange-coned construction zones for what they really are. They represent not only short-term headaches but long-term migraines. The only cure is a detour from the highway of growth.

Let the warning signs read: Paradigm Shift Ahead!

 

Dr. Karen I. Shragg is a retired nature center director, author, and overpopulation activist. She runs her own environmental consulting LLC in Bloomington Minnesota.

The post Orange Cone Headaches: Construction in an Overpopulated, Pro-Growth World appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.


Here are 277 policies that Biden can enact on day one – without Congress

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/11/2020 - 5:11am in

Biden's transition task forces proposed new legislation to achieve its goals straight out of the gqte. We found 277 policies that are clearly within the executive branch’s power to immediately pursue, at least in part. Continue reading

The post Here are 277 policies that Biden can enact on day one – without Congress appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

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