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Genesis II Church of Health and Healing #quack #fundie theguardian.com

A group calling itself Genesis II Church of Health and Healing plans to convene at a hotel resort in Washington state on Saturday to promote a “miracle cure” that claims to cure 95% of all diseases in the world by making adults and children, including infants, drink industrial bleach.

The group is inviting members of the public through Facebook to attend what they call their “effective alternative healing” at the Icicle Village Resort in Leavenworth on Saturday morning. The organizer of the event, Tom Merry, has publicized the event on his personal Facebook page by telling people that learning how to consume the bleach “could save your life, or the life of a loved one sent home to die”.

The “church” is asking attendants of the meeting to “donate” $450 each, or $800 per couple, in exchange for receiving membership to the organization as well as packages of the bleach, which they call “sacraments”. The chemical is referred to as MMS, or “miracle mineral solution or supplement”, and participants are promised they will acquire “the knowledge to help heal many people of this world’s terrible diseases”.

In fact, MMS consists of chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleach that is used both on textiles and in the industrial treatment of water. It has been banned in several countries around the world for use as a medical treatment.

In the US, the chemical cannot be sold for human consumption. In 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put out a public warning after it was notified of many injuries to consumers from drinking the fluid, with symptoms that included nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, severe dehydration and one person who had a life-threatening reaction.

The FDA issued the blunt advice: “Consumers who have MMS should stop using it immediately and throw it away.”

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Nigel Farage #conspiracy #wtf #racist #fundie theguardian.com

Nigel Farage under fire over 'antisemitic tropes' on far-right US talkshow

Exclusive: Brexit party leader referred to ‘new world order’ in interviews with Alex Jones

Nigel Farage is facing strong criticism from Jewish organisations and a series of other groups after it emerged he repeatedly took part in interviews with a far-right US talkshow host, during which the Brexit party leader openly discussed conspiracy theories, some of which have been linked to antisemitism.

A Guardian investigation has found Farage has appeared at least six times on the show of Alex Jones, who was sued by bereaved parents after claiming a US school shooting was faked, and was banned permanently from Facebook last week.

Among those expressing alarm at the spread of conspiracy theories is a father whose six-year-old son died in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, and a man whose son died in the London bombings on 7 July 2005, which Jones has claimed were a government plot.

Farage, who led Ukip for many years, quit the party last year because he said he disliked its hard-right, anti-Islam stance under Gerard Batten. However, the website that Jones fronts, Infowars, regularly features anti-Islam stories.

In his various appearances on Jones’s show, Farage discussed themes commonly associated with an antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jewish financiers are behind a plot to replace nation states with a global government.

In the six identified interviews, which date from 2009 to last year, Farage, whose Brexit party is leading polls for the upcoming European elections, repeatedly uses words and phrases such as “globalists” and “new world order”, which regularly feature in antisemitic ideas.

In the interviews, Farage also says:

Members of the annual Bilderberg gathering of political and business leaders are plotting a global government.

The banking and political systems are working “hand in glove” in an attempt to disband nation states.

“Globalists” are trying to engineer a world war as a means to introduce a worldwide government.

Climate change is a “scam” intended to push forward this transnational government.

In the most recent interview, filmed in April last year, Farage said the EU is “the prototype for the new world order”, and “globalists have wanted to have some form of conflict with Russia as an argument for us all to surrender our national sovereignty and give it up to a higher global level”.

In an earlier interview with Jones, who is also banned from Twitter, Farage mentions Bilderberg, saying: “These lunatics genuinely believe that they know what’s best for us, genuinely believe in this concept of global government, and it will be a disaster.”

Later in the same interview, from June 2010, Farage argues Bilderberg members, along with other supposed plotters, could soon start “censoring and maybe ultimately even imprisoning those who challenge them and fight them”.

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: “It is vital that our politicians distance themselves from conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists, including those who trade in antisemitic tropes. We would call on Nigel Farage to repudiate these ideas and to commit not to dignify oddball nasties like Alex Jones with his presence again.”

The Community Security Trust, which monitors antisemitic sentiment, said Jones was “a notorious conspiracy theorist who should be beyond the pale for any mainstream politician”.

A spokesman said: “Furthermore, for Jones’s conspiracy-minded audience, Farage’s references to ‘globalists’ and ‘new world order’ will be taken as familiar codewords for antisemitic conspiracy theories.”

A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said Farage’s close links with Jones and Infowars “demonstrates a serious lack of judgment by Mr Farage and a willingness to tolerate Islamophobia”.

The Labour MP David Lammy said the interviews showed “serious questions should be asked about Farage’s associations and networks”.

He added: “His indulgence in conspiracy theories about a ‘new world order’ should send chills down the spine of all who are aware of how these tropes have been used in the past.”

Graham Foulkes, whose 22-year-old son, David, was among 52 people killed by Islamist attackers on 7 July 2005, said he was aghast at Farage’s decision to be interviewed by Jones so many times.

“It fills you with despair that such a high-profile politician could even consider giving people like that the time of day,” he said. “It’s hard to understand. There can be no rational motivation to speak to people who are, shall we say, in need of help.”

Lenny Pozner, whose six-year-old son, Noah, was the youngest of 26 people shot dead at Sandy Hook, has sued Jones for saying the massacre was faked. In a recent legal deposition, Jones said he had argued this because of “psychosis”.

In a statement to the Guardian, Pozner said: “When people hear stories like mine, where conspiracy theorists or purveyors of fake news are destroying an individual or a family, they often feel sympathy or express their shock or horror over the ways that these people are affecting our lives. But many fail to realise that this behaviour doesn’t simply affect me or other victims of mass-casualty events.

“When people in positions of authority or influence consume, perpetrate, and regurgitate conspiracy theories, they legitimise the lie, they normalise the hate, and build policy that affects every citizen on this planet.”

Farage and the Brexit party were contacted for comment.
April 2018

Jones: “Why is the left allied with radical Islam?”

Farage: “Because they hate Christianity. They deny, absolutely, our Judeo-Christian culture, which if you think about it actually are the roots, completely, of our nations and our civilisation. They deny that. They also want to abolish the nation state – they want to get rid of it. They want to replace it with the globalist project, and the European Union is the prototype for the new world order.”
August 2016

Farage: “If America, as the leader of the western world, once again becomes the leader of the free world, well then I think, basically, we will have done away with the globalists.”
November 2012

Farage: “The fact is that the banking system and politics became hand in glove – one and the same thing. And that’s been a complete disaster. The amazing thing is, we have had elected prime ministers in Greece and Italy removed by the bully boy bureaucrats and replaced by former Goldman Sachs employees. You honestly cannot believe what is going on.”

June 2010

Farage: “You mention yourself the Bilderberg group – these lunatics genuinely believe that they know what’s best for us, genuinely believe in this concept of global government, and it will be a disaster.”
February 2010

Farage: “Yes, it all fits together, doesn’t it? Hand in glove – the big businesses, the bureaucrats, they have the sole right to make laws. It all fits together. They’re all very happy with the world they’re creating.”
December 2009

Farage: “We have a political class across the world that are basically aiming for a form of global governance. If you don’t believe me, look at what’s happening in Copenhagen. Governments are sitting there trying to sign us up to treaties on a very, very questionable concept of global warming caused by C02 emissions.”

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Ramzan Kadyrov #fundie theguardian.com

Chechnya verdict could mark new purge of human rights activists

Lawyers and colleagues say case against Oyub Titiev was fabricated to punish him for his work

A court in Chechnya will deliver a verdict in the trial of a prominent human rights worker on Monday that could mark a new purge of activists from the Russian republic.

Oyub Titiev, the local head of the human rights organisation Memorial, has been accused of marijuana possession, as part of a case that his lawyers say was fabricated to punish him for his work documenting human rights abuses. The prosecution has asked for a sentence of four years in prison.

The case may also mark a new stage in the region’s crackdown on dissent. Chechnya’s strongman leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has said that the government will no longer tolerate human rights activists.

“I officially declare to human rights activists: after the end of the trial, Chechnya will be forbidden territory for them, like it is for terrorists and extremists,” Kadyrov said last August in a speech to local law enforcement broadcast on local television.

Western countries applied sanctions against Kadyrov following revelations about the secret arrest and torture of dozens of gay people in Chechnya in 2017. Three people were reported to have died in the pogrom. Kadyrov framed action against human rights groups as a tit-for-tat move.

“Since I can’t go to Europe and the west, I say: their employees, the ones who call themselves human rights activists, will not have the right to travel in my territory,” he said.

Activists should have legal protections in Chechnya but in the region Kadyrov’s word is law.

For years, Chechnya has been one of the most dangerous regions in Russia for human rights activists and journalists. Natalya Estemirova, a former head of Memorial’s Chechnya branch, was abducted in Grozny, driven out of town and shot to death in 2009. In 2016, masked attackers brutally beat eight journalists and human rights activists traveling into Chechnya, and set fire to their minibus. A week later, Igor Kalyapin, the head of the Committee to Prevent Torture, was attacked in the region’s capital.

The campaign of intimidation has continued during Titiev’s case. One lawyer fled his legal team over threats. An office space and an automobile used by colleagues have been destroyed in arson attacks.

Colleagues have said they expect Titiev to be found guilty. Oleg Orlov, a senior Memorial member, wrote that the case was “fabricated” and was “effectively of a political nature”. Rachel Denber of Human Rights Watch called the case a “show trial”.

The specific reason Titiev was arrested is unclear. Memorial has always been a target for Kadyrov’s anger. The activist had been documenting cases of secret and illegal detentions of Chechens by the security forces, although according to colleagues, not the cases involving the gay purges.

The widespread condemnation of the Chechen leader in recent years, and measures such as the closure of his Instagram account, are said to have angered Kadyrov, who has sought ways to lash out at his critics.

“Kadyrov and top leaders in Chechnya have had human rights activists and investigative journalists in their crosshairs since the anti-gay purge,” Denber said in an interview in Moscow last week.

Titiev, who has worked for Memorial for nearly two decades and lives in Chechnya, was an easy target. In his closing remarks in court last week, he said he knew he would be found guilty.

“How many human rights activists can be murdered or put behind bars?” Titiev said. “When, finally, will the authorities pay attention to this?”

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Pete Hegseth #conspiracy theguardian.com

Donald Trump’s favourite TV show, Fox & Friends, has a reputation for giving airtime to conspiracy theories that benefit the White House agenda. But host Pete Hegseth may now have managed to upset the famously germaphobic president – by revealing that he has not washed his hands in a decade.

The admission came as Hegseth discussed eating day-old pizza that had not been refrigerated. He did not see any issue with eating the pizza, he said, then added that he didn’t think he had washed his hands in 10 years.

“Really,” he said. “I don’t really wash my hands ever.”

Met with laughter, he explained: “I inoculate myself. Germs are not a real thing. I can’t see them, therefore they’re not real.”

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Chinese authorities #fundie theguardian.com

Revealed: 17 Australian residents believed detained in China's Uighur crackdown

Exclusive: Activists urge embassy to ‘tell us if they’re alive or dead’ amid claims of inaction by Canberra

Seventeen Australian residents are believed to be under house arrest, in prison or detained in China’s secretive “re-education” centres in Xinjiang, the Guardian can reveal.

The 17 cases – 15 Australian permanent residents and two on spouse visas – have been collected by Nurgul Sawut, an advocate for Uighurs in Australia, through interviews with their family members.

The individuals are believed to have been detained while on trips to China visiting relatives. Many have children or spouses who are Australian citizens.

It is difficult to confirm their fates, given the secretive nature of the camps, but Sawut believes one of the group is in prison, four are under house arrest, and the remaining 12 are in detention centres.

Advocates for Australia’s 3,000-strong Uighur community are calling on the government in Canberra to secure the release of the detainees. Shadow foreign minister, Penny Wong, has urged the government to investigate.

At the same time, members of Australia’s Uighur population have reported serious harassment by Chinese authorities on Australian soil, including intimidating phone calls and requests to send over personal data, with the threat of reprisals against family if they do not comply.

Penny Wong, Labor’s spokeswoman on foreign affairs, said her party was “particularly concerned” by reports of Uighurs who were Australian residents being detained. She said: “Engagement with China is very important to Australia but, as with any other country, it never means we abandon our values, or our sovereignty.”

In response to a list of questions about the detention of the 17 residents and the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Canberra said: “It is a wish shared by people of all ethnic groups for Xinjiang to maintain enduring social stability, since it serves their fundamental interests. The series of measures implemented in Xinjiang are meant to improve stability, development, solidarity and people’s livelihood, crack down on and prevent ethnic separatist activities and violent and terrorist crimes, safeguard national security, and protect people’s life and property.”

The missing

Dilmurat Tursun, 52, is among those missing. The Australian permanent resident had lived in Sydney since 2011. In 2017 he took a trip to China with his wife, Dilbar Abdurahaman. Once inside the country, family members say their passports were confiscated and pair were unable to return home. In 2018 Tursun disappeared.

He is believed to have been taken into a detention centre. His wife is trapped in China under house arrest and lives in fear that she too will be taken to a camp.

“I feel desperate and a sense of hopelessness,” said Abdurahaman’s sister Zulfiyah Kurash. “The only crime we can think of [that led to his imprisonment] is that he came to Australia and has relatives here.”

Other Uighur Australians have spoken of their difficulty in getting politicians to take their situation seriously.

Jurad Addukerin, 53, from Sydney, visited Canberra with some members of the World Uighur Congress in 2018 to meet MPs, but arrived during one of the Liberal party’s leadership contests.

“I felt they were not very serious about this conversation, they said they were very busy because they were in the middle of this other thing,” Addukerin said. “I hope that since 3 million people are being detained illegally and may be facing genocide … that politicians should do more, should raise their voice about this issue, instead of not doing anything or saying anything.”

‘We cannot live free, even if we live here’

Uighurs in Australia continue to detail harassment by the Chinese authorities.

On Christmas Day, Rashida Abdughupur was at a picnic at Victor Harbour, south of Adelaide, with other members of the Uighur community when she received a video call through the messaging service WeChat. It was the Chinese police, who turned the phone around to show that they had Abdughupur’s mother handcuffed at a police station, she said. They told Abdughupur they would take her mother to the camps unless she gave them information.

Terrified, Abdughupur showed them her driver’s licence, passport, visa and Medicare card, which shows her children’s names.

“After that, the police said don’t ring your mum, they deleted her account, so I don’t know if she’s in the camp or not. I was just sitting there crying, I didn’t know what to say,” she said.

More than a dozen Uighurs in Australia have told the Guardian of intimidation and harassment from the Chinese authorities.

Ali*, 34, received a call from a family member in 2017, who told him she would be sent to the camps unless he sent copies of his children’s birth certificates and passports, as well as where they went to school, where the family lived and where he and his wife worked.

“We cannot live free, even if we are living in Australia,” he said.

Several Uighurs told the Guardian they had received calls purporting to be from the Chinese embassy in Canberra, or a Chinese consulate telling them to come in to collect a parcel or package.

One person received 10 such calls over the course of a month, despite being an Australian citizen with no connection to China except that he was married to a Uighur woman.

Another said he received four calls from a Canberra-based number telling him to come to the embassy, despite being an Australian citizen who had lived in Australia for 15 years.

The Chinese embassy in Canberra said: “The Chinese Embassy in Australia has never made the phone calls you mentioned. Last year, the Chinese embassy, AFP and ACT Police urged members of the Chinese community to be aware of the scam calls targeting Chinese nationals.”

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Indonesian lawmakers #fundie theguardian.com

Indonesia seeks to ban negative 'foreign' influences on music

Artists concerned that draft bill, which follows outcry over K-pop band, will destroy freedom of expression

Hundreds of musicians in Indonesia have lashed out against what they say is a ludicrous draft bill that could “destroy” freedom of expression.

Among the most contentious aspects of the draft is Article 5, which outlaws “negative foreign influences” as well as blasphemous or pornographic content, punishable by imprisonment or a fine.

The article states: “In creating, everyone is prohibited from […] bringing negative influences from foreign cultures or demeaning a human being’s dignity.”

Jerinx, a member of the Indonesian punk-rock band Superman is Dead, is one of 200 musicians who have criticised the proposed legislation.

Writing on his Instagram account, Jerinx said the draft bill would “rape his rights of freedom of expression, and eventually destroy them”.

The Balinese drummer also pointed to what he described as “high-level hypocrisy” from the Indonesian government, given that President Joko Widodo is widely known as a fan of foreign heavy metal bands such as Metallica.

The exact target of the bill is unclear, although there is occasional uproar about the perceived immorality of foreign popstars.

In December a TV ad featuring members of the K-pop all girl band, Blackpink, which showed them wearing miniskirts and short dresses, was pulled after the broadcasting commission said it flouted decency and moral norms. In 2012 Lady Gaga was forced to cancel a sold-out concert in Jakarta after Islamic hardliners threatened to physically stop her from getting off the plane.

Indonesian musician Kartika Jahja said the bill, which “came out of nowhere”, had in recent days united artists from across the country and musical spectrum to form a coalition to reject the bill.

“Everyone is concerned because there are so many problematic chapters inside the draft,” Jahja told the Guardian, “For me personally the first one is the chapter that regulates the content of music, that it cannot contain negative influences from the West and blasphemy and so on. I think that is a very dangerous ground, if that bill is passed, to silence musicians because music is one of the greatest and biggest agitators for various social and political movements in this country.”

The coalition launched a petition against the draft law on change.org on Sunday evening, which by Monday had been signed by more than 65,000 people.

In addition to overlapping with existing copyright and other laws, the draft bill on music further contradicts Indonesia’s 1945 Constitution, which upholds freedom of expression in a democratic state, the petition states.

Designated as a priority bill by the House of Representatives, the draft bill has been widely condemned online, trending on Twitter with the hashtag #TolakRUUPermusikan, which translates as: “reject the draft music law”.

Concerned the bill will “shackle freedom of expression”, a group of Indonesian musicians met with lawmakers to discuss the it last week, calling for comprehensive discussion with artists and industry players and further consideration before the legislation is tabled.

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For Women Scotland #sexist theguardian.com

Scottish feminist group says transgender laws risk women's rights

For Women Scotland says government is ‘sleepwalking’ towards erosion of rights

The Scottish government risks sleepwalking towards a significant erosion of women’s rights, according to a group of feminist activists and academics that held its first public meeting in Edinburgh on Thursday evening to discuss proposed changes to transgender legislation.

The group, For Women Scotland, claims that it has support from MSPs across the political spectrum who share their concern that the SNP government is failing to consider adequately the implications for the rights of women and girls of proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004, such as allowing individuals to change their legal sex by means of self-declaration.

When the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, originally pledged to radically reform gender recognition law for trans people in 2016, she said that the move would be as important in her next parliamentary term as equal marriage was to the last. But the proposals were not included in last autumn’s programme for government, which has been taken as an indication of the concern within the SNP.

The intersectional feminist activists Sisters Uncut Edinburgh organised a protest against the meeting, stating: “While For Women Scot do a sterling job of making transphobia look respectable, their actions and statements do real damage to Scotland’s trans and non-binary community.”

Among the 40-strong protest, Red, a charity worker, said: “Groups like this are selling a very weighted narrative, and obscuring the facts. For example, they say that changes to the GRA will allow trans women into women’s spaces, when actually they were allowed before. They are trying to make it seem an immediate and sudden threat.”

Another protester, Cathy, said: “As a trans woman, I feel this whole event is designed to make transphobia appear respectable, and it’s very disingenuous. If a debate is what these people want, then there needs to be mutual respect.”

Speaking to a largely female audience of about 150 within the meeting venue, Susan Smith, of For Women Scotland, said: “We are concerned that the Scottish government is sleepwalking towards a significant erosion of women’s rights, both in terms of proposals to reform the GRA to allow self-identification and the failure to prevent other organisations running ahead of the law and adopting policies which are in breach of the Equality Act.

“We’re not here to quibble about toilets and we’re not here to create trouble for those who have battled crippling gender dysphoria. We welcome extra provisions for other vulnerable groups that don’t involve dismantling existing rights. If we cannot see sex, then we cannot see sexism, we cannot define sexuality, and it is the most vulnerable women who will suffer from this.”

Thursday’s meeting marked the most public expression in Scotland of increasingly vocal concerns around transgender issues.

The meeting also discussed concerns about guidelines for schools, contained in a document, Supporting Transgender Young People, and written in partnership with LGBT Youth Scotland and Scottish Trans Alliance, which say that schoolchildren should be able to compete in the sports events and use changing rooms and toilets for the gender they identify with.

Another feminist campaign group, Women and Girls in Scotland, published their own children’s rights impact analysis earlier this week. It argues that the guidelines undermine 10 articles of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child.

On Tuesday, a group of 25 academics, activists and former MSPs signed an open letter calling on Sturgeon to commit to carrying out a full equality impact assessment of the proposed reforms to the GRA. It noted: “Many individuals responding to the consultation raised concerns about how the proposals could affect the practical operation of the single-sex protections under the Equality Act 2010.”

Last month, the Guardian reported on concerns amongst data experts that proposed changes to the question about sex, to be asked in Scotland’s next census, risk undermining the reliability of the survey and set a difficult precedent for equalities protection.

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Unknown FBI investigators #racist theguardian.com

Revealed: FBI investigated civil rights group as 'terrorism' threat and viewed KKK as victims

Bureau spied on California activists, citing potential ‘conspiracy’ against the ‘rights’ of neo-Nazis

The FBI opened a “domestic terrorism” investigation into a civil rights group in California, labeling the activists “extremists” after they protested against neo-Nazis in 2016, new documents reveal.

Federal authorities ran a surveillance operation on By Any Means Necessary (Bamn), spying on the leftist group’s movements in an inquiry that came after one of Bamn’s members was stabbed at the white supremacist rally, according to documents obtained by the Guardian. The FBI’s Bamn files reveal:

The FBI investigated Bamn for potential “conspiracy” against the “rights” of the “Ku Klux Klan” and white supremacists.

The FBI considered the KKK as victims and the leftist protesters as potential terror threats, and downplayed the threats of the Klan, writing: “The KKK consisted of members that some perceived to be supportive of a white supremacist agenda.”

The FBI’s monitoring included in-person surveillance, and the agency cited Bamn’s advocacy against “rape and sexual assault” and “police brutality” as evidence in the terrorism inquiry.

The FBI’s 46-page report on Bamn, obtained by the government transparency non-profit Property of the People through a records request, presented an “astonishing” description of the KKK, said Mike German, a former FBI agent and far-right expert who reviewed the documents for the Guardian.

The report ignored “100 years of Klan terrorism that has killed thousands of Americans and continues using violence right up to the present day”, German said. “This description of the KKK should be an embarrassment to FBI leadership.”

Shanta Driver, Bamn’s national chair, criticized the investigation in a statement to the Guardian, saying, “The FBI’s interest in BAMN is part of a long-standing policy ... Starting with their campaign to persecute and slander Dr. Martin Luther King, they have a racist history of targeting peaceful civil rights and anti-racist organizations, while doing nothing to prosecute the racists and fascists who attacked Dr. King and the movement he built.”

The FBI launched its terrorism investigation and surveillance of Bamn after white supremacists armed with knives faced off with hundreds of counter-protesters, including Bamn activists, at a June 2016 neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento. Although numerous neo-Nazis were suspected of stabbing at least seven anti-fascists in the melee, leaving some with life-threatening injuries, the FBI chose to launch a inquiry into the activities of the leftwing protesters.

The documents, though heavily redacted, did not include any conclusions from the FBI that Bamn violated laws or posed a continuing threat. Its members have not faced federal prosecution. The FBI declined to comment on Bamn.

“It’s clear the FBI dropped the investigation having no evidence of wrongdoing. It never should have been opened in the first place,” Driver said.

The 2016 rally was organized by two white supremacist groups: the Traditionalist Worker party (TWP) and an affiliated California entity, the Golden State Skinheads. California law enforcement subsequently worked with the neo-Nazis to identify counter-protesters, pursued charges against stabbing victims and other anti-fascists, and decided not to prosecute any men on the far-right for the stabbings.

The FBI appeared to have adopted a similar approach. In a redacted October 2016 document, the FBI labeled its Bamn investigation a “DT [domestic terrorism] – ANARCHIST EXTREMISM” case. The FBI’s San Francisco office wrote that it was investigating allegations that “members of Bamn attended a Ku Klux Klan rally and assaulted a Nazi supporter”. It summarized the Sacramento incident this way:

In 2016, law enforcement learned that the Ku Klux Klan would be holding a rally at the State Capitol Building … The KKK consisted of members that some perceived to be supportive of a white supremacist agenda. In response, a number of groups mobilized to protest the rally. Flyers were posted asking people to attend in order to shut down the rally.

The KKK and Traditionalist Worker party have similar ideologies but are distinct groups. It’s unclear why the FBI labeled the rally a KKK event.

The FBI’s report also appeared to obfuscate details about the political affiliations of stabbing perpetrators and victims, saying: “Several people were stabbed and hospitalized”. That’s despite the fact that California police investigators reported that neo-Nazis were seen on camera holding knives and fighting with counter-protesters (who suffered severe stab wounds).

The FBI file said its research into Bamn found that the group “lawfully exercised their First Amendment rights by engaging in peaceful protests”, but added that its “members engaged in other activity by refusing to disperse, trespassing in closed buildings, obstructing law enforcement, and shouting during and interrupting public meetings so that the meetings could not continue”.

Bamn has long advocated for racial justice and immigrants’ rights, frequently protesting at public events and organizing rallies.

The FBI report said it was “possible the actions of certain BAMN members may exceed the boundaries of protected activity and could constitute a violation of federal law”.

The “potential violations of federal law”, the FBI said, included “conspiracy against rights” and “riots”. The FBI cited Bamn’s website, which encouraged supporters to protest the KKK, featured slogans like “SMASH FASCISM!” and “NO ‘FREE SPEECH’ FOR FASCISTS!”, and celebrated the “mass, militant demonstration” that “shut down” the neo-Nazi rally. The FBI also included screenshots of Bamn pages that referenced a number of the group’s other advocacy issues, including campaigns against “rape and sexual assault” and “police brutality”.

The FBI files further included mentions of Yvette Felarca, a Bamn member who was stabbed at the rally, but is now facing state charges of assault and rioting. (Her lawyers have argued in court that the police investigators and prosecutors were biased against anti-fascists and worked to protect neo-Nazis).

Driver, who is also Felarca’s attorney, said the FBI should have mentioned that Felarca was “stabbed and bludgeoned by a fascist in Sacramento”. She added: “Instead of finding the person who assaulted anti-racist protesters, the FBI chose to target BAMN, which by their own admission holds demonstrations that are protected by the First Amendment.”

The bureau’s justifications of the investigation and surveillance were disturbing, said Ryan Shapiro, executive director of Property of the People. “The FBI discovered that these protesters once shouted at a meeting and somehow that evidence was mobilized to support a full-fledged terrorism investigation,” he noted.

In November 2016, the FBI engaged in surveillance of a protest outside the Berkeley school district, according to the Bamn files. Due to the redactions, it’s unclear whom the FBI was watching, though the report noted that the FBI observed “several children … sitting outside … with signs next to them”.

The FBI report said its investigation and surveillance were not “intended to associate the protected activity with criminality or a threat to national security, or to infer that such protected activity itself violates federal law”. The report continued:

However, based on known intelligence and/or specific, historical observations, it is possible the protected activity could invite a violent reaction towards the subject individuals or groups, or the activity could be used as a means to target law enforcement. In the event no violent reaction occurs, FBI policy and federal law dictates that no further record be made of the protected activity.

Property of the People’s records requests broadly sought FBI documents on anti-fascists. The FBI did not release additional Bamn records beyond 2016.

The FBI’s insinuation that Bamn’s actions could provoke violence was odd, said German, the former FBI agent, who is now a Brennan Center fellow. He noted that it was white supremacists “who have used this tactic for decades” and said the violent provocations of rightwing groups were well known when he worked on domestic terrorism for the FBI in the 1990s. The Bamn report, he said, gave the “appearance of favoritism toward one of the oldest and most active terrorist groups in history”.

He added that the report should have made clear that the “KKK consists of members who have a bloody history of racial and anti-Semitic violence and intimidation and is known for staging public spectacles for the specific purpose of inciting imminent violence”.

Asked whether the Bamn investigation was ongoing and whether the FBI had opened any equivalent inquiry into the neo-Nazis in California, an FBI spokesperson said the bureau does not confirm or deny the existence of specific investigations. “We cannot initiate an investigation based solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, natural origin, religion, or the exercise of First Amendment rights,” the FBI said in a statement. “The FBI does not and will not police ideology.”

The bureau “investigates activity which may constitute a federal crime or pose a threat to national security”, the statement added.

The Bamn case follows numerous recent controversies surrounding the FBI’s targeting of leftist groups, including a terrorism investigation into Standing Rock activists, surveillance of black activists, and spying on peaceful climate change protesters.

The justice department inspector general previously criticized the FBI for using non-violent civil disobedience and speculation of future crimes to justify terrorism investigations against domestic advocacy groups, German noted, adding that the Bamn files suggest the FBI “seems to have learned nothing from these previous overreaches”.

Even knowing the FBI’s legacy of going after activists, the report was still shocking, said Shapiro.

“A bunch of anti-fascists showed up at a Nazi rally and were attacked by Nazis, and the response form the bureau was to launch a domestic terrorism investigation into the anti-fascists,” he said. “At its core, the FBI is, as it has always been, a political police force that primarily targets the left.”

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Tim Hunt #sexist theguardian.com

A Nobel laureate who said that scientists should work in gender-segregated labs and that the trouble with “girls” is that they cause men to fall in love with them has resigned from his position at University College London (UCL).

Tim Hunt, an English biochemist who admitted that he had a reputation for being a “chauvinist”, had made the comments at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea, where he said: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls … three things happen when they are in the lab … You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry.”

In a statement published on its website UCL said that it could confirm that Hunt had resigned on Wednesday from his position as honorary professor with the UCL Faculty of Life Sciences, “following comments he made about women in science at the World Conference of Science Journalists on 9 June”.

It added: “UCL was the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms to men, and the university believes that this outcome is compatible with our commitment to gender equality.”

Hunt, a 72-year-old who won the 2001 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine, had also said that he was in favour of single-sex labs, adding that he didn’t want to “stand in the way of women”.

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Steve King #racist theguardian.com

Trump ally Steve King: I don't know how 'white supremacist' became offensive term

The Republican congressman says the diverse Democratic party appears to be ‘no country for white men’

A nine-term Republican congressman and close ally of Donald Trump known for making racially provocative statements said in an interview published Thursday that he did not understand why the phrases “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” had “become offensive”.

Congressman Steve King, who has represented his rural Iowa district in Washington since 2003, made the remarks in an interview with the New York Times.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

In the same interview, King expressed a sense of racial alienation at the swearing-in of the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, which includes a record number of women and people of color, as well as the first Muslim American and Native American women elected to Congress.

“You could look over there and think the Democratic party is no country for white men,” King said.

King, who has forged personal alliances with far-right, anti-immigration groups across Europe, has a long track record of making statements widely perceived as racist, although he denies the charge.

“We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” he has tweeted. He has called illegal immigration a “slow-rolling, slow-motion terrorist attack on the United States” and a “slow-motion Holocaust” and tweeted: “Cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.”

King has amassed national political power as a conservative gatekeeper in a state that votes first in the presidential primary process and can give Republican candidates a crucial early boost – or sink a candidacy.

When Trump began visiting Iowa as a candidate, he found an ideological ally, particularly on issues such as immigration.

King has long advocated building a wall on the Mexican border, authored legislation to make English the official language of Iowa and has said of immigrants: “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130lb and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75lb of marijuana across the desert.”

“He may be the world’s most conservative human being,” Trump approvingly said of King at a rally in Iowa before the recent midterm elections. The congressman replied on Twitter: “I do my best to pull President Trump to the right:-)”

But King’s repeated provocations appear to have made him freshly vulnerable to political challengers. He beat a Democratic opponent in his most recent election only narrowly, in a district Trump won by 27 points. A Republican challenger, Randy Feenstra, an assistant majority leader in the state senate, has announced he will take on King in the 2020 primary race, saying King’s “distractions” had robbed Iowans of “a seat at the table”.

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Lu Shaye #fundie theguardian.com

China’s ambassador accuses Canada of ‘white supremacy’ in Huawei CFO arrest

Ambassador Lu Shaye wrote in an op-ed for an Ottawa-based paper that western countries are employing a ‘double standard’

China’s ambassador to Canada has accused the country of “white supremacy” in calling for the release of two Canadians detained in China last month.

The arrests were in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a top Chinese tech executive in Canada.

But Ambassador Lu Shaye said in an op-ed in the Ottawa-based Hill Times on Wednesday that western countries are employing a “double standard” in demanding the immediate release of the Canadians.

“The reason why some people are used to arrogantly adopting double standards is due to western egotism and white supremacy,” Lu wrote.

“What they have been doing is not showing respect for the rule of law, but mocking and trampling the rule of law.”

China detained Canadian ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor on 10 December 2018 on vague allegations of “engaging in activities that endanger the national security” of China.

The arrests came 10 days after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the request of the US, which wants her extradited to face charges that she misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran. A Canadian judge granted Meng bail while she awaits extradition proceedings.

Le wrote that “elites” in Canada are completely dismissing China’s law by demanding the immediate release of the Canadians.

“It seems that, to some people, only Canadian citizens shall be treated in a humanitarian manner and their freedom deemed valuable, while Chinese people do not deserve that,” Lu said.

Lu also wrote that Meng was arrested without violating any Canadian law, suggesting that Canada should never detain someone for extradition.

Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, called Lu’s claims “hogwash”.

“I don’t know what the ambassador was trying to accomplish but his article won’t help China’s cause,” Paris said.

Paris noted Canada is following extradition law while the Canadians were seized in China under suspicious circumstances and China has held them without charge.

Julian Ku, the senior associate dean for academic affairs at Hofstra Law, noted China has still not revealed any specific information about what Kovrig and Spavor are charged with and have not given them a judicial hearing and thus Canada is not wrong with calling the arrests arbitrary.

“I am struck by how brazen they are being by making this appeal,” Ku said. “He says: ‘You are being racist by not respecting our law.’ That’s an easy card to play.”

Lu also seemed to admit detaining the Canadians was in retaliation for the Meng arrest.

“I have recently heard a word repeatedly pronounced by some Canadians: bullying. They said that by arresting two Canadian citizens as retaliation for Canada’s detention of Meng, China was bullying Canada. To those people, China’s self-defence is an offence to Canada,” Lu wrote.

Alex Lawrence, a spokesman for Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, did not address Lu’s claims.

Huawei, whose billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei has long had ties with both the People’s Liberation Army and the Communist party, has faced national security concerns in multiple countries.

Huawei has been banned from involvement in the installation of 5G mobile networks in India, New Zealand and Australia, blocked from making acquisitions in the US and banned from selling phones on military bases by the Pentagon.

But, in his column, Lu dismissed such concerns and instead pointed to monitoring and spying programs carried out by the US National Security Agency and the Five Eyes alliance countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US).

“Something is considered as ‘safeguarding national security’ when it is done by western countries. But it is termed ‘conducting espionage’ when done by China. What’s the logic?” he wrote.

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G. Nageshwar Rao and others #fundie theguardian.com

India outcry after scientists claim ancient Hindus invented stem cell research

The organisers of a major Indian science conference said they were concerned by speakers citing religious texts and ideas at the event

The organisers of a major Indian science conference distanced themselves on Sunday from speakers who used the prestigious event to dismiss Einstein’s discoveries and claim ancient Hindus invented stem cell research.

The Indian Scientific Congress Association expressed “serious concern” as the unorthodox remarks aired by prominent academics at its annual conference attracted condemnation and ridicule.

The distinguished gathering of Indian researchers and scientists, which was held over the weekend, hosts Nobel laureates, but in recent years has seen Hindu faith-based theories edging onto the agenda.

At this year’s congress, the head of a southern Indian university cited an ancient Hindu text as proof that stem cell research was discovered on the subcontinent thousands of years ago.

“We had 100 Kauravas from one mother because of stem cell and test tube technology,” said G. Nageshwar Rao, vice chancellor at Andhra University, referring to a story from the Hindu epic Mahabharata.

Rao, who was addressing school children and scientists at the event, also said a demon king from another centuries-old Hindu epic had two dozen aircraft and a network of landing strips in modern-day Sri Lanka.

“Hindu Lord Vishnu used guided missiles known as ‘Vishnu Chakra’ and chased moving targets,” added the professor of inorganic chemistry.

Event organisers tried to hose down the remarks, saying it was “unfortunate” the prestigious event had been derailed by controversy.

“We don’t subscribe to their views and distance ourselves from their comments. This is unfortunate,” said Premendu P Mathur, general secretary of Indian Scientific Congress Association.

“There is a serious concern about such kind of utterances by responsible people.”

Another speaker, a scientist from a university in southern Tamil Nadu state, also raised eyebrows by questioning the breakthroughs of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.

India is no stranger to prominent figures citing ancient Hindu texts like the Puranas and Vedas as ironclad evidence of the country’s technological prowess.

India’s minister for higher education Satyapal Singh last year said Darwin’s theory of evolution was wrong, and vowed to change the national school curriculum to reflect that.
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The minister hails from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules 17 of India’s 29 states and territories outright or through alliances.

BJP leader and prime minister Narendra Modi in 2015 pointed to Hindu scriptures as proof that plastic surgery existed in ancient India.

Science minister Harsh Vardhan last year said ancient Greeks took credit from India for early mathematical principles and misquoted Stephen Hawking as praising the Vedas for discoveries greater than Einstein’s theory of relativity.

The Breakthrough Science Society, an Indian-based educational charity, said it was “astounded and even horrified” at the remarks made at an academic summit.

“Puranic verses and epics are poetic, enjoyable, contain moral elements and [are] rich in imagination but [are] not scientifically constructed or validated theories,” the group said in a statement Sunday.

“Such a hallowed assembly of scientists has been misused to make false and chauvinistic claims about ancient India.”

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LBukem #sexist theguardian.com

As a 6ft 3 guy, am I no longer allowed to put my arms around any girlfriend I have who is likely to be shorter than me?

Maybe equality now means surgically enhancing women to get over natural differences in height?

What's next, hand holding signifies 'ownership'? Buying a gift signifies ownership? Opening a door signifies ownership?

No wonder men are confused by this ever changing dictatorial thought. The stakes are always stacked in favour of the feminists as they get to decide what is right and wrong. Get it wrong and you're done for.

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SOMuffin #sexist theguardian.com

"Third wave feminists" essentially took the Mysogeny Textbook and inverted it, replacing "man" by "woman" and vice versa. The last thing they want is a world where people feel at ease with each other, consider each other as fellow human beings. The wall separating the genders is for them even more significant than for the moribund male sexists. And any movement across the wall, any act of friendship or complicity or easy-going contact, is for them high treason.

In Latin world (where, historically and today, women thrived more) it is usual for friends meeting to embrace (yes, man-on-man as well). But the role model for Third-Wave feminists is Victorian rigidity and prudishness. They are the worst enemies of female progress this side of religious fundamentalism.

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ionetranq #sexist theguardian.com

[Re. men putting their arm around women's shoulders]

Trust me, it's an annoying form of territorial pissing.

I, and many others, don't trust you. If you think it is always "territorial pissing" then you're miserable and misanthropic. The people viewing it always as such are the ones doing the territorial pissing - feminists marking other women, and how and what they think, as their territory.

You can't speak for all the men who do it, nor the women who they have their arms around. As is obvious from the comments, plenty of men do it affectionately, and many women like it.

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Residents of Tijuana #fundie theguardian.com

Hundreds of residents of the Mexican border city of Tijuana protest the thousands of Central American migrants who have arrived in the hope of starting a new life in the US. On Sunday, local residents waved Mexican flags, sang the national anthem and chanted 'Out! Out!' At one point, police formed a barrier between the Central American migrants and protesting locals. Protesters have called the migrant caravan an 'invasion' and are accusing the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana. They are concerned Mexican taxes might be spent to care for the group as they wait, possibly months, to apply for asylum in the US

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The Trump administration #fundie theguardian.com

Trump administration trying to define transgender out of existence – report

The Trump administration is attempting to strip transgender people of official recognition by creating a narrow definition of gender as being only male or female and unchangeable once determined at birth, the New York Times reported.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has undertaken an effort across several departments to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex, the Times said, citing a government memo.

That definition would be as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals a person is born with, the Times reported.

Such an interpretation would reverse the expansion of transgender rights that took place under President Barack Obama.

It would also set back aspirations for tolerance and equality among the estimated 0.7% of the population that identifies as transgender. Most transgender people live with a profound sense that the gender assigned to them at birth was wrong and transition to the opposite sex. Others live a non-binary or gender-fluid life.

A HHS spokeswoman declined to comment on what she called “allegedly leaked documents” but cited a ruling by a conservative US district judge as a guide to transgender policy.

In Texas in 2016, ruling on a challenge to one aspect of the Affordable Care Act, judge Reed O’Connor found there was no protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

A leading transgender advocate called the government’s reported action a “super aggressive, dismissive, dangerous move”.

“They are saying we don’t exist,” said Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Rights.

The Obama administration enacted regulations and followed court rulings that protected transgender people from discrimination, upsetting religious conservatives.

The Trump administration has sought to ban transgender people from military service and rescinded guidance to public schools recommending that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice.

A draft of the Trump administration memo says gender should be determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable”, the memo says, according to the Times.

Medical science seeking to explain what makes people transgender is in its infancy. Psychiatrists no longer consider being transgender a disorder and several US courts have found the Obama interpretation of protecting transgender people against discrimination to be sound.

But the Trump administration has chosen to abide by the ruling of O’Connor, the Times said.

“The court order remains in full force and effect today and HHS is abiding by it as we continue to review the issue,” Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, said in a statement.

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Li Xiaojun #fundie theguardian.com

China claims Muslim detention camps are education centres

Chinese officials have pushed back against growing criticism of the detention of Muslim minorities in internment camps, claiming authorities are merely providing professional training and education.

Beijing is facing allegations of mass incarceration and repression of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang in China’s north-west. An estimated 1.1 million people have been placed in internment camps, including re-education camps where, according to former detainees and other witnesses, inmates are subjected to intense political indoctrination and abuse.

“It is not mistreatment,” Li Xiaojun, the director for publicity at the Bureau of Human Rights Affairs of the State Council Information Office, told reporters on Thursday, according to Reuters. “What China is doing is to establish professional training centres – educational centres.”

Li added: “If you do not say it’s the best way, maybe it’s the necessary way to deal with Islamic or religious extremism, because the west has failed in doing so. Look at Belgium, look at Paris, look at some other European countries. You have failed.”

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Daniel Ortega #fundie theguardian.com

Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega has hit out at what he has claimed is a “murderous, coup-mongering satanic sect” behind a three-month uprising against his rule that has left more than 300 dead.

There is growing international consensus that Ortega’s own forces and pro-government militias are responsible for the overwhelming majority of the violence that has gripped Nicaragua since protests erupted in April.

However, during a pro-government rally in Managua on Thursday, Ortega sought to shift blame for the bloodshed on to the “diabolical force” he claimed was part of a US-backed conspiracy to topple him.

“We have to re-establish order in our country,” the former guerrilla told thousands of flag-waving supporters who had assembled in the lakeside Plaza de la Fe to celebrate the 39th anniversary of the 1979 Sandinista victory over the Somoza dictatorship. “The road isn’t war, but peace and dialogue.”

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Fraser Anning #racist theguardian.com

An Australian crossbench senator has invoked the term “the final solution” in an inflammatory speech calling for a plebiscite asking voters whether they want to end all immigration by Muslims and non-English speaking people “from the third world”.

Fraser Anning, formerly of the far-right Pauline Hanson One Nation party, and now a member of the Katter’s Australia party, used his maiden speech in the Senate to call for “a plebiscite to allow the Australian people to decide whether they want wholesale non-English speaking immigrants from the third world, and particularly whether they want any Muslims”.

His comments were widely condemned on Wednesday. Malcolm Turnbull said he condemned “racism” and said Australia was the most successful multicultural society in the world. Cabinet minister Mitch Fifield said the speech was deeply regrettable, telling Nine Network: “I thought we had moved beyond this in the parliament. Australia is a warm and open nation.”

Anning also invoked the white Australia policy, suggesting Australians may want “to return to the predominately European immigration policy of the pre-Whitlam consensus”. The white Australia policy, which restricted non-European immigration, ran from 1901 until it began to be dismantled in the late 1960s.

He said neither the former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam, nor any subsequent government, had asked Australians what kind of immigration they wanted. “What we do need a plebiscite for is to decide who comes here.”

Anning declared on Tuesday the reasons “for ending all further Muslim immigration are both compelling and self-evident”.

“The record of Muslims who have already come to this country in terms of rates of crime, welfare dependency and terrorism are the worst of any migrant and vastly exceed another immigrant group,” he said.

“The majority of Muslims in Australia of working age do not work and exist on welfare. Muslims in New South Wales and Victoria are three times more likely than other groups to be convicted of crimes.”

“We have black African Muslim gangs terrorising Melbourne, we have Isis-sympathising Muslims trying to go overseas to try and fight for Isis and while all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims.

“So why would anyone want to bring more of them here?”

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Dr Simon Gathercole #fundie theguardian.com

(The author repeatedly asserts that the evidence for Jesus is overwhelming and established. Gives no evidence throughout the entire article).

What is the historical evidence that Jesus Christ lived and died?

Today some claim that Jesus is just an idea, rather than a real historical figure, but there is a good deal of written evidence for his existence 2,000 years ago

The historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth is both long-established and widespread. Within a few decades of his supposed lifetime, he is mentioned by Jewish and Roman historians, as well as by dozens of Christian writings. Compare that with, for example, King Arthur, who supposedly lived around AD500. The major historical source for events of that time does not even mention Arthur, and he is first referred to 300 or 400 years after he is supposed to have lived. The evidence for Jesus is not limited to later folklore, as are accounts of Arthur.

What do Christian writings tell us?

The value of this evidence is that it is both early and detailed. The first Christian writings to talk about Jesus are the epistles of St Paul, and scholars agree that the earliest of these letters were written within 25 years of Jesus’s death at the very latest, while the detailed biographical accounts of Jesus in the New Testament gospels date from around 40 years after he died. These all appeared within the lifetimes of numerous eyewitnesses, and provide descriptions that comport with the culture and geography of first-century Palestine. It is also difficult to imagine why Christian writers would invent such a thoroughly Jewish saviour figure in a time and place – under the aegis of the Roman empire – where there was strong suspicion of Judaism.

What did non-Christian authors say about Jesus?

As far as we know, the first author outside the church to mention Jesus is the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who wrote a history of Judaism around AD93. He has two references to Jesus. One of these is controversial because it is thought to be corrupted by Christian scribes (probably turning Josephus’s negative account into a more positive one), but the other is not suspicious – a reference to James, the brother of “Jesus, the so-called Christ”.

About 20 years after Josephus we have the Roman politicians Pliny and Tacitus, who held some of the highest offices of state at the beginning of the second century AD. From Tacitus we learn that Jesus was executed while Pontius Pilate was the Roman prefect in charge of Judaea (AD26-36) and Tiberius was emperor (AD14-37) – reports that fit with the timeframe of the gospels. Pliny contributes the information that, where he was governor in northern Turkey, Christians worshipped Christ as a god. Neither of them liked Christians – Pliny writes of their “pig-headed obstinacy” and Tacitus calls their religion a destructive superstition.

Did ancient writers discuss the existence of Jesus?

Strikingly, there was never any debate in the ancient world about whether Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure. In the earliest literature of the Jewish Rabbis, Jesus was denounced as the illegitimate child of Mary and a sorcerer. Among pagans, the satirist Lucian and philosopher Celsus dismissed Jesus as a scoundrel, but we know of no one in the ancient world who
questioned whether Jesus lived.

How controversial is the existence of Jesus now?

In a recent book, the French philosopher Michel Onfray talks of Jesus as a mere hypothesis, his existence as an idea rather than as a historical figure. About 10 years ago, The Jesus Project was set up in the US; one of its main questions for discussion was that of whether or not Jesus existed. Some authors have even argued that Jesus of Nazareth was doubly non-existent, contending that both Jesus and Nazareth are Christian inventions. It is worth noting, though, that the two mainstream historians who have written most against these hypersceptical arguments are atheists: Maurice Casey (formerly of Nottingham University) and Bart Ehrman (University of North Carolina). They have issued stinging criticisms of the “Jesus-myth” approach, branding it pseudo-scholarship. Nevertheless, a recent survey discovered that 40% of adults in England did not believe that Jesus was a real historical figure.

Is there any archaeological evidence for Jesus?

Part of the popular confusion around the historicity of Jesus may be caused by peculiar archaeological arguments raised in relation to him. Recently there have been claims that Jesus was a great-grandson of Cleopatra, complete with ancient coins allegedly showing Jesus wearing his crown of thorns. In some circles, there is still interest in the Shroud of Turin, supposedly Jesus’s burial shroud. Pope Benedict XVI stated that it was something that “no human artistry was capable of producing” and an “icon of Holy Saturday”.

It is hard to find historians who regard this material as serious archaeological data, however. The documents produced by Christian, Jewish and Roman writers form the most significant evidence.

These abundant historical references leave us with little reasonable doubt that Jesus lived and died. The more interesting question – which goes beyond history and objective fact – is whether Jesus died and lived.

Simon Gathercole is Reader in New Testament Studies at the University of Cambridge.

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Carlos Hualpa and Martín Vizcarra #sexist theguardian.com

Women’s rights activists in Peru have expressed outrage after the country’s president responded to the murder of a woman who was burned to death by a stalker by saying “sometimes that’s how life is”.

Eyvi Agreda died on Friday from infections caused by the attack in April which left 60% of her body covered in second and third-degree burns.

Agreda’s assailant, Carlos Hualpa, doused her with petrol on a bus and set her alight, telling her: “If you aren’t mine then you’ll be nobody’s.” According to her family, he had harassed her for two years, but police had not responded to her complaints.

Late on Friday, Peru’s president Martín Vizcarra offered his sympathies to Agreda’s family and demanded a life sentence for Hualpa – but then provoked widespread fury by adding: “Sometimes that’s how life is and we have to accept it.”

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Jeff Rosenthal #fundie theguardian.com

Welcome to Powder Mountain – a utopian club for the millennial elite

When these young entrepreneurs bought a remote ski resort in Utah, they dreamed of an exclusive, socially conscious community. Is this the future, or Mt Olympus for Generation Me?

by Paul Lewis

Jeff Rosenthal is standing near the top of his snow-covered mountain wearing a fluffy jacket, fingerless gloves and ripped jeans. “It’s surreal, man!” he says, shivering as he surveys the landscape of newly laid roads and half-built homes. “That’s Ken Howery’s house, the co-founder of PayPal. Awesome house!”

He lists the other investors who are turning this remote Utah community into a crucible of “generational ideology, innovation and entrepreneurship”. Richard Branson will have a house here, and so will the world’s most powerful marketing executive, Martin Sorrell. The Hollywood producer Stacey Sher and the actor Sophia Bush will be their neighbours, as will Miguel McKelvey, a co-founder of WeWork, and the renowned technology investor and author of The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss.

The audacious real estate project – branded Powder Mountain – is becoming a mecca for altruistically minded members of the global elite. “The goal will always remain the same,” says Elliott Bisnow, Rosenthal’s business partner: “To be a beacon of inspiration and a light in the world.”

Bisnow, Rosenthal and three friends, all entrepreneurs in their 30s, dreamed up the scheme after spending years running Summit, an exclusive gathering described by insiders as a “Davos for millennials”.

Applicants to Summit are screened and interviewed to ensure they display the correct “psychographic” (or mindset) for the events. It is pitched as an entertaining ideas festival, comparable to TED and Burning Man, featuring speakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Jane Fonda, Peter Thiel and Jeff Bezos. Guests pay $3,000-$8,000 (£2,200-£5,800) for access to three-day flagship events, hosted everywhere from beaches in Tulum, Mexico, to cruise ships in the Caribbean.

Having finessed the art of persuading rich people to pay to join these getaways, the founders convinced their friends to help them buy an entire mountain in Utah, complete with 10,000 acres of some of the best ski terrain in the US.

They bristle at the idea that they’re trying to build a high-altitude utopia for plutocrats, but then casually refer to a segment of their clientele as “the billionaire set” – and don’t hesitate to mention that their mountain happens to be located between towns named Eden and Paradise.

The beautiful surroundings and unique blend of people, Rosenthal believes, will create the “exponential opportunities of the future”. “I have this whole rap with Gertrude Stein, Katharine Graham, De’ Medici, Bauhaus. There’s this rich history of groups coming together, where the whole is more than the sum of the parts, right?” he says. “I think that’s what’s happening here.”

Such hype might seem detached from reality, but it is much in vogue among the technology sector’s new generation of millionaires and billionaires, who seem keen to distance themselves from the selfish excess of their predecessors from 1980s Wall Street. They show less interest in super-yachts or sports cars; instead they speak about spiritual enrichment, connections to nature and purpose. It is against this backdrop that countless Summit-like festivals, retreats and communities have emerged in and around California, promising to help wealthy clients find a better version of themselves.

Further Future, a gathering in the Nevada desert attended by the ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt, which has been described as “Burning Man for the 1%”, promises a culture of “mindful optimism, wonder and exploration”. Scott Kriens, the chairman of the technology multinational Juniper Networks, recently opened a retreat for self-improvement and introspection in a redwood forest near Santa Cruz, California, recognising that, despite its great advances, the internet “did not help people connect to themselves”. And Esalen, an institute perched on a cliff in Big Sur that has been a magnet for a bohemian set searching for spiritual enlightenment for half a century, is now directly courting guilt-laden tech executives. “The CEOs, inside they’re hurting,” the director, Ben Tauber (a former Google product manager), recently said of his clients. “They wonder if they’re doing the right thing for humanity. These are questions we can only answer behind closed doors.”

Summit prides itself on its progressive “content”, with talks about global warming, inequality, racial divisions and the war in Syria, but there is a celebrity draw, with talks such as “Jessica Alba on defying expectations” and “Andre Agassi on scaling change”.

During the February weekend I attend (a smaller retreat on the mountain, which costs around $2,000), there are only three talks, each lasting an hour; the remaining three days are spent skiing, snowshoeing, eating and drinking, relaxing in yoga or spa sessions, or partying in crowded hot tubs.

For all its intellectual bravado, a big appeal of Summit has always been recreational. Food is provided by Michelin-starred chefs, and top musicians are flown in for dance parties; the Summit crowd contains a dedicated contingent of Burning Man aficionados, known as “Burners”, who are adept at adding fuel to the festivities. (Rick Glassman, a comedian flown from LA for a 10-minute set, prompts howls of laughter when he says Summit had taught him that “everyone does mushrooms”.)

[snip]

The story of how Bisnow and his friends – Rosenthal, Ryan Begelman, Jeremy Schwartz and Brett Leve – came to occupy their bubble on a mountaintop in Utah has become something of a legend. It began in 2008, when Bisnow, with the boundless confidence of a 23-year-old businessman, cold-called entrepreneurs he admired and invited them on an all-expenses-paid trip to Utah. Bisnow shouldered the cost of the 19-strong gathering on his credit card, then repeated the trick with another get-together in Mexico, racking up $75,000 in debt. Bisnow and the others quickly coalesced a sort of “mutual aid society” for young, well-connected businessmen, which in the early days included the co-founders of Twitter and Facebook and the real-estate heiress Ivanka Trump.

Soon, Bisnow and his friends were running dozens of closed-door events dedicated to creating “positive impact” – and hosting their flagship conferences on cruise voyages that sailed from Miami to the Bahamas. Those events acquired a reputation as booze cruises for white, male tech bros, so a few years ago Summit decided it was time for a rebrand. They introduced cheaper tickets for women to improve the gender ratio, and abandoned the Caribbean for a more down-to-earth location: Los Angeles. “Not Santa Barbara. Not Beverly Hills,” Rosenthal says. “But downtown LA – where you’re literally in the throes of gentrification and homelessness.”

For years the team worked remotely in Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, New York, Miami and Barcelona. They would combine work with snowboarding in Montana and surfing in Nicaragua. But by late 2011, the friends were approaching 30 and starting to travel less. They were living and working out of a mansion in Malibu and, Rosenthal recalls, hosting “amazing dinners that became pretty culturally significant in LA at that time”.

t was around this time they heard from a Utah-based venture capitalist that Powder Mountain was for sale and hatched a plan to transform their considerable social capital into real estate.

The plan was enacted months later, after a gathering they hosted in Lake Tahoe. They chartered a Boeing 737 and flew about 75 of their wealthier patrons from northern California to a tiny airport in Utah’s Ogden Valley. From there, it was just a short drive to the top of Powder Mountain. They arrived in time for sunset, lit a bonfire in the snow and laid out their vision.

Each investor who helped them buy the mountain would receive a plot of land – and, assuming the plan worked, their money back at a future date. They bought the mountain for $40m in 2013, but it is only in recent months that the wooden shells of the first 26 properties have mushroomed out of the mountainside, along with roads, bridges and ski lifts.

Much to the frustration of some locals, machines have been drilling wells deep into the mountain in search of water. One day there will be 500 homes on the mountain, and a village with coffee shops, juice bars, restaurants, a sound studio and a five-star hotel.

Rosenthal takes me on a driving tour of the mountain, to explain how they plan to create a community that is different from exclusive resorts such as Aspen, Colorado. Restrictions prevent anyone from building a home larger than 4,500 sq ft, and residents must use vetted architects to ensure that their home is “subservient to the land” and in a style that has been called “heritage modernism”.

“None of the architecture should express taste or wealth,” Rosenthal says, nodding to the spot that will become a central promenade. “That is a very walkable main street – we will have soft Italian kerbs.”

I steer the conversation to the subject of how utterly detached from the real world elites seem to have become. “Elitism, the way I would define it, is obtainable,” he replies. “All that stands between you and being elite is your own investment in yourself.”

I tell Rosenthal that I’ve met many people in America who work as hard as him and his friends – harder, in fact – but struggle to make ends meet. He acknowledges that he’s benefited from considerable advantage, but insists we now live in an era in which “the internet is the great equaliser”.

“What are you doing to create the utility for yourself? Are you introducing people so they can collaborate?” he says. Struggling Americans, he adds, might want to “host a dinner. Invite 10 strangers. See what happens.”

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Umar Haque #fundie theguardian.com

A dangerous extremist who attempted to build an army of child jihadists by radicalising pupils has been convicted of a range of terrorist offences. Umar Haque, 25, taught an Islamic studies class despite the fact he had no teaching qualifications and was employed as an administrator. He was allowed to supervise classes of 11- to 14-year-olds on his own, during which he re-enacted attacks on police officers and showed students videos of beheadings.

Police fear Haque attempted to radicalise at least 110 children, some of whom he was in contact with at the Ripple Road mosque in Barking, east London. Thirty-five of those children are receiving long-term support. Haque also worked at the £3,000-a-year Lantern of Knowledge Islamic school, where he was again allowed access alone to children under the pretence of teaching Islamic Studies when he was in fact employed as an administrator.

Jurors were told he attempted to radicalise children at the school but were unable to agree on a count of disseminating a terrorist document which related to his time at the school. Haque was convicted by a jury at the Old Bailey on Friday of a range of offences, including plotting terrorist attacks and collecting information useful for terrorism. He had previously admitted four charges of collecting information useful for terrorism, and one count of disseminating a terrorist document, in relation to his attempts to radicalise children at the mosque. He was acquitted of conspiring to possess firearms.

Two other men, Abuthaher Mamun, 19, and Muhammad Abid, 27, were convicted for their roles in helping him. A fourth defendant, Nadeem Patel, 26, who had previously pleaded guilty to possessing a handgun, was acquitted of plotting with Haque. After he was found guilty, Haque shouted “I want to say something”, but was dragged out of the dock by officers. The judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, said he would be sentenced later.

The schools watchdog, Ofsted, is facing questions over how it was able to rate the Lantern of Knowledge school as “outstanding” after an inspection held at a time when Haque was allegedly preaching hate to the children. In response to the conviction it said that Haque’s activities were a matter of deep regret and said it was “hampered by limitations on our powers” to inspect out-of-school settings. “His plan was to build an army of children,” said commander Dean Haydon, the head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard. “He had shown them graphic terrorist videos of barbarity – beheading videos and serious injuries mostly in terrorist attacks overseas.

“He had instructed children not to say anything in relation to not telling their teachers or their parents. We had a wall of silence. “He tried to prepare the children for martyrdom by making them role-play terrorist attacks in London. Part of that re-enactment including attacking police officers.” Haque was employed at Lantern of Knowledge from September 2015 to September 2016 as an administrator but also carried out duties as a classroom assistant. He allegedly used his laptop in the school to project on to a whiteboard images of guns, knives, beheadings and passports being burned, the court heard.

In late 2016 and early 2017, Haque was involved in the running of evening classes in a madrasa, based in a large marquee attached to the mosque in Ripple Road. He told the boys aged about 12 to 14 he had established contact with Isis and showed them a series of videos projected on to the wall inside the marquee, ensuring the doors were closed. The horrifying images included blood, wounds, and people falling from buildings. In one film, the exhumation of a boy was shown. Haque told the children the child’s body had deteriorated because he had been beaten after death when he was unable to answer questions put to him by angels.

In the madrasa, Haque had the children doing push-ups, races and grappling in order to train them. There were sessions of role-playing during which the children would be divided into the police and attackers. There were demonstrations of how to sever a head. After the Westminster Bridge attack by Khalid Masood last March, Haque used the atrocity as inspiration for the role-playing.

He said he intended to teach the children to drive as they got older so he could carry out multiple attacks across London. He forced them take an oath not to tell their parents, friends or teachers. He aimed to recruit 300 jihadists, it is claimed. The 35 children in long-term support were “paralysed in fear” by Haque, Haydon said. “He threatened them if they were to talk. It doesn’t appear that any of those children raised the alarm.” Six children gave evidence in court. The trial was shown video of a police interview with a child, who said: “He is teaching us terrorism, like how to fight.”

The boy said: “He has been training us, kind of. Apparently fighting is good. If you fight for the sake of Allah, on judgment day when you get judged for your good deeds and bad deeds, fighting is good.” In November 2015, Ofsted inspectors visited the Lantern of Knowledge school, two months after Haque started working there. In their report, they said: “The strong sense of community, harmony and respect within the school reflects the school ethos and aims of leaders and governors to develop well-rounded citizens. “The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils is outstanding. They have an excellent understanding of the world around them and make a positive contribution to their community.”

In April 2016, Haque was stopped at Heathrow airport as he attempted to board a flight to Istanbul – a well-trodden route to Syria for aspiring Isis recruits. As a result of the stop and searches conducted of his phone, in May 2016 he had his passport revoked and police started investigating him. In May, he and three others were arrested and charged with attack planning. Further charges related to attempting to radicalise children were filed a few months later. Haque had a long-term plan to launch terrorist attacks on a wide range of possible targets including the Queen’s Guard, parliament and media organisations.

Last June, Ofsted made an emergency inspection at the Lantern of Knowledge school in response to concerns about safeguarding children. On this occasion, the inspectors found it had not met regulatory requirements. After an announced inspection in December, Ofsted dramatically reduced all the ratings from “outstanding” to “requires improvement”. The report said: “Leaders do not ensure that training about risk assessments and procedures to support pupils’ welfare are applied consistently enough during some routine activities.” The Charity Commission is investigating the Ripple Road mosque. Ofsted’s chief operating officer, Matthew Coffey, said it was a matter of “deep regret” that Haque was able to work with children.

“Ofsted is committed to protecting children from harm, including radicalisation,” he added. “However, our ability to do so is hampered by limitations on our powers. We have no ability to inspect out-of-school settings, such as madrassas, and we believe greater powers in this area could help keep children safe in the future. “We know the government is keen to address these matters and welcome their commitment to closer working.”

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California Police & members of Traditional Worker's Party #racist theguardian.com

California police investigating a violent white nationalist event worked with white supremacists in an effort to identify counter-protesters and sought the prosecution of activists with “anti-racist” beliefs, court documents show.

The records, which also showed officers expressing sympathy with white supremacists and trying to protect a neo-Nazi organizer’s identity, were included in a court briefing from three anti-fascist activists who were charged with felonies after protesting at a Sacramento rally. The defendants were urging a judge to dismiss their case and accused California police and prosecutors of a “cover-up and collusion with the fascists”.

Defense lawyers said the case at the state capital offers the latest example of US law enforcement appearing to align with neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups while targeting anti-fascist activists and Donald Trump protesters after violent clashes.

...

Some California highway patrol (CHP) investigation records, however, raise questions about the police’s investigative tactics and communication with the TWP (Traditional Worker's Party).

Felarca’s attorneys obtained numerous examples of CHP officers working directly with the TWP, often treating the white nationalist group as victims and the anti-fascists as suspects.

The TWP is “intimately allied with neo-Nazi and other hardline racist organizations” and “advocates for racially pure nations”, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Its leaders have praised Trump, and the group claimed to bring more than 100 people to the Charlottesville white supremacist rally, where a counter-protester was killed.

In one phone call with Doug McCormack, identified by police as the TWP affiliate who acquired the permit for the Sacramento rally, CHP investigator Donovan Ayres warned him that police might have to release his name in response to a public records requests. The officer said he would try to protect McCormack.

“I’m gonna suggest that we hold that or redact your name or something until this gets resolved,” Ayres told McCormack, adding that he didn’t know who had requested records of the permit and noting, “If I did, I would tell you.”

Ayres’s reports noted that McCormack was armed at the rally with a knife.

The officer’s write-up about an African American anti-fascist activist included a photo of him at the hospital after the rally and noted that he had been stabbed in the abdomen, chest and hand.

Ayres, however, treated the protester like a suspect in the investigation. The police investigator recommended the man be charged with 11 offenses, including disturbing the peace, conspiracy, assault, unlawful assembly and wearing a mask to evade police.

As evidence, Ayres provided Facebook photos of the man holding up his fist. The officer wrote that the man’s “Black Power salute” and his “support for anti-racist activism” demonstrated his “intent and motivation to violate the civil rights” of the neo-Nazi group. He was ultimately not charged.

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Johann Hari #fundie theguardian.com

Johann Hari: ‘I was afraid to dismantle the story about depression and anxiety’
In 2011, the writer and author was the subject of accusations of plagiarism that led to the end of his career as a newspaper columnist. His new book, Lost Connections, explores the problems with our understanding of mental health

Johann Hari is a writer and author of several books, and a former columnist for the Independent. His latest book, Lost Connections, explores the causes and cures of depression and anxiety. It argues that the notion of inherent depression has been overstated, and that environmental factors are too often neglected. In 2011, he was the subject of accusations of plagiarism that led to the end of his career as a newspaper columnist.

(Submitter's note: Q&A, with the questions bold)

You started work on the book, you say, because you were puzzled by several mysteries. But did you have an idea of what conclusions you would come to?
I think most of the things that are in the book I had inklings about. For many years I had wanted to find out what causes depression and anxiety and how to really solve them. However, I was afraid that if I dismantled the story that I had about depression and anxiety – even though that story hadn’t worked well for me – I would have no story at all, and it would feel really chaotic, and I would feel really vulnerable. For the 13 years during which I was taking antidepressants, despite some doubts, I did believe in the theory that saw chemicals as the main approach.

As well as taking antidepressants, you’ve seen a therapist for 14 years. How effective has that been?
There are three kinds of causes of depression and they interact. There’s the biological causes, which are real, and can make you more vulnerable to depression, but don’t cause it on their own. There’s environmental causes, which are about how we live together socially. And then there are psychological causes, which are about how we think about the world. Clearly, therapy speaks most to the psychological causes, which are very real. Therapy helped me to think about that aspect of it.

Do you think that therapy has worked for you?
I experienced some quite extreme acts of violence when I was a child, from an adult in my life, when my mother was very ill and my father was in another country. I felt a significant fall in depression once I was eventually able to talk about those experiences with my therapist. Given that we have the evidence that therapy does indeed help with the specific area of the psychological causes of depression, I think it’s fair to assume that, when therapy is done well, it can also help with other forms of depression.

Why do you think it is that doctors hand out so many antidepressants when the wealth of evidence as you present in your book suggests they are largely ineffective?
I wouldn’t want to overstate their ineffectiveness. Between 65 and 80% of people taking antidepressants become depressed again within a year. However, that’s not 100%. Of course some people would have recovered anyway through natural processes. I’m not critical of doctors for this. Part of the problem is that we’ve put the onus for solving these problems on to people who are not in a position to solve them alone. Telling people, as I was told by my doctor, that depression is caused by a problem in your brain is, firstly, untrue and it is also really problematic because it cuts people off from finding the real causes of their depression and anxiety. We’ve been telling ourselves this chemical story for 35 years and every year depression and anxiety gets worse.

Why are depression and anxiety issues on the increase?
The umbrella answer is that human beings have innate psychological needs just as we have physical needs. We need to feel we belong, that we have meaning and purpose, that people value us and that we have autonomy. We also live in a culture that’s not meeting those psychological needs for most people. It does not manifest as full-blown depression and anxiety in most people; for some people it’s just a feeling of unhappiness and a life less fulfilling than it could have been. We’ve built a society that has many great aspects, but it is not a good match for our human nature.

In the book you mention a crisis in your life that was “unequivocally terrible”. Was that when you lost your job at the Independent in 2011 and returned your Orwell prize, after being accused of plagiarism?
Yes, it was that, in combination with someone I love very much having a bad addiction crisis. Just to outline events, because some people won’t know, I did two things that were completely wrong. One is that when I interviewed people I often presented things that had been said to other journalists or had been written in books as if they had been said to me, which was not truthful. The second is that I edited Wikipedia entries regarding other people under a pseudonym and, sometimes, in very nasty ways.

Most people who go through your experience tend to flee from public view. You’ve come back and had success. Has that been a difficult process?
When you fuck up and do several things completely wrong, as I did, it should really hurt. And you should pay a really big price. It did hurt and I did pay a really big price, as is entirely right. The reason I’m reluctant now to go into how that felt for me is because that’s saying to people “see it from my point of view”. However, I don’t think that they should see it from my point of view. I think they should see it from the point of view of those people who were harmed by me: my readers, the people I was nasty about and the people at the Independent that I let down.

Have you apologised to the people who were affected by your Wikipedia tampering?
Yes, I wrote to two of the individuals involved, and I’d rather keep private what was said.

Has what you’ve learned by writing this book helped to alleviate your depression? Are you, for want of a better phrase, a happier person?
Massively, but I want to just caveat that. What this book is not is a simplistic guide saying: “Hey, I did these things, and now you can do them too.” I think that would be quite cruel because I was in this incredibly privileged position. I had money from my previous book, which meant that I could change my life in quite radical ways in order to strip out some of the causes of my depression. Lots of people are not in a position to do that.

A big part of the argument of the book is to say that we need to change our culture so that more of us are free to do the things that I was very fortunate to be able to do. In my own life I’ve been able to devote much less time to seeking status and external achievement and much more to engaging with what I think really matters, the people I love and the causes that I think are important. Before, when I started to feel bad, I would have done something for myself. Now, I can see it’s better to cheer someone else up. That’s had a radical effect on my mental health.

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Johann Hari #fundie theguardian.com

Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?
In this extract from his new book, Johann Hari, who took antidepressants for 13 years, calls for a new approach

In the 1970s, a truth was accidentally discovered about depression – one that was quickly swept aside, because its implications were too inconvenient, and too explosive. American psychiatrists had produced a book that would lay out, in detail, all the symptoms of different mental illnesses, so they could be identified and treated in the same way across the United States. It was called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. In the latest edition, they laid out nine symptoms that a patient has to show to be diagnosed with depression – like, for example, decreased interest in pleasure or persistent low mood. For a doctor to conclude you were depressed, you had to show five of these symptoms over several weeks.

The manual was sent out to doctors across the US and they began to use it to diagnose people. However, after a while they came back to the authors and pointed out something that was bothering them. If they followed this guide, they had to diagnose every grieving person who came to them as depressed and start giving them medical treatment. If you lose someone, it turns out that these symptoms will come to you automatically. So, the doctors wanted to know, are we supposed to start drugging all the bereaved people in America?

The authors conferred, and they decided that there would be a special clause added to the list of symptoms of depression. None of this applies, they said, if you have lost somebody you love in the past year. In that situation, all these symptoms are natural, and not a disorder. It was called “the grief exception”, and it seemed to resolve the problem.

Then, as the years and decades passed, doctors on the frontline started to come back with another question. All over the world, they were being encouraged to tell patients that depression is, in fact, just the result of a spontaneous chemical imbalance in your brain – it is produced by low serotonin, or a natural lack of some other chemical. It’s not caused by your life – it’s caused by your broken brain. Some of the doctors began to ask how this fitted with the grief exception. If you agree that the symptoms of depression are a logical and understandable response to one set of life circumstances – losing a loved one – might they not be an understandable response to other situations? What about if you lose your job? What if you are stuck in a job that you hate for the next 40 years? What about if you are alone and friendless?

"Drug companies would fund huge numbers of studies and then only release the ones that showed success"

The grief exception seemed to have blasted a hole in the claim that the causes of depression are sealed away in your skull. It suggested that there are causes out here, in the world, and they needed to be investigated and solved there. This was a debate that mainstream psychiatry (with some exceptions) did not want to have. So, they responded in a simple way – by whittling away the grief exception. With each new edition of the manual they reduced the period of grief that you were allowed before being labelled mentally ill – down to a few months and then, finally, to nothing at all. Now, if your baby dies at 10am, your doctor can diagnose you with a mental illness at 10.01am and start drugging you straight away.

Dr Joanne Cacciatore, of Arizona State University, became a leading expert on the grief exception after her own baby, Cheyenne, died during childbirth. She had seen many grieving people being told that they were mentally ill for showing distress. She told me this debate reveals a key problem with how we talk about depression, anxiety and other forms of suffering: we don’t, she said, “consider context”. We act like human distress can be assessed solely on a checklist that can be separated out from our lives, and labelled as brain diseases. If we started to take people’s actual lives into account when we treat depression and anxiety, Joanne explained, it would require “an entire system overhaul”. She told me that when “you have a person with extreme human distress, [we need to] stop treating the symptoms. The symptoms are a messenger of a deeper problem. Let’s get to the deeper problem.”

[...]

With each of the nine causes of depression and anxiety I learned about, I kept being taught startling facts and arguments like this that forced me to think differently. Professor John Cacioppo of Chicago University taught me that being acutely lonely is as stressful as being punched in the face by a stranger – and massively increases your risk of depression. Dr Vincent Felitti in San Diego showed me that surviving severe childhood trauma makes you 3,100% more likely to attempt suicide as an adult. Professor Michael Chandler in Vancouver explained to me that if a community feels it has no control over the big decisions affecting it, the suicide rate will shoot up.

This new evidence forces us to seek out a very different kind of solution to our despair crisis. One person in particular helped me to unlock how to think about this. In the early days of the 21st century, a South African psychiatrist named Derek Summerfeld went to Cambodia, at a time when antidepressants were first being introduced there. He began to explain the concept to the doctors he met. They listened patiently and then told him they didn’t need these new antidepressants, because they already had anti-depressants that work. He assumed they were talking about some kind of herbal remedy.

He asked them to explain, and they told him about a rice farmer they knew whose left leg was blown off by a landmine. He was fitted with a new limb, but he felt constantly anxious about the future, and was filled with despair. The doctors sat with him, and talked through his troubles. They realised that even with his new artificial limb, his old job—working in the rice paddies—was leaving him constantly stressed and in physical pain, and that was making him want to just stop living. So they had an idea. They believed that if he became a dairy farmer, he could live differently. So they bought him a cow. In the months and years that followed, his life changed. His depression—which had been profound—went away. “You see, doctor,” they told him, the cow was an “antidepressant”.

To them, finding an antidepressant didn’t mean finding a way to change your brain chemistry. It meant finding a way to solve the problem that was causing the depression in the first place. We can do the same. Some of these solutions are things we can do as individuals, in our private lives. Some require bigger social shifts, which we can only achieve together, as citizens. But all of them require us to change our understanding of what depression and anxiety really are.

This is radical, but it is not, I discovered, a maverick position. In its official statement for World Health Day in 2017, the United Nations reviewed the best evidence and concluded that “the dominant biomedical narrative of depression” is based on “biased and selective use of research outcomes” that “must be abandoned”. We need to move from “focusing on ‘chemical imbalances’”, they said, to focusing more on “power imbalances”.

After I learned all this, and what it means for us all, I started to long for the power to go back in time and speak to my teenage self on the day he was told a story about his depression that was going to send him off in the wrong direction for so many years. I wanted to tell him: “This pain you are feeling is not a pathology. It’s not crazy. It is a signal that your natural psychological needs are not being met. It is a form of grief – for yourself, and for the culture you live in going so wrong. I know how much it hurts. I know how deeply it cuts you. But you need to listen to this signal. We all need to listen to the people around us sending out this signal. It is telling you what is going wrong. It is telling you that you need to be connected in so many deep and stirring ways that you aren’t yet – but you can be, one day.”

If you are depressed and anxious, you are not a machine with malfunctioning parts. You are a human being with unmet needs. The only real way out of our epidemic of despair is for all of us, together, to begin to meet those human needs – for deep connection, to the things that really matter in life.

(Summitter's note: Rebuttal by Steven Novella)

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Satyapal Singh #fundie theguardian.com

Indian education minister dismisses theory of evolution

Scientists condemn Satyapal Singh for saying ‘Darwin’s theory is scientifically wrong’

India’s minister for higher education has been condemned by scientists for demanding the theory of evolution be removed from school curricula because no one “ever saw an ape turning into a human being”.

Satyapal Singh stood by his comments on Monday, saying his ministry was ready to host an international conference where “scientists can come out and say where they stand on the issue”.

“I have a list of around 10 to 15 great scientists of the world who have said there is no evidence to prove that the theory of evolution is correct,” Singh told a crowd at a university in Assam state, adding that Albert Einstein had agreed the theory was “unscientific”.

Singh, who has a postgraduate degree in chemistry from Delhi University, said he was speaking as a “man of science”.

“Darwin’s theory is scientifically wrong,” he said at the weekend. “It needs to change in the school and college curriculum.

“Since man is seen on Earth, he has always been a man. Nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, said they ever saw an ape turning into a human being.”

More than 2,000 Indian scientists have signed a petition in response calling Singh’s remarks simplistic, misleading and lacking in any scientific basis.

“It is factually incorrect to state that the evolutionary principle has been rejected by the scientific community,” the statement said. “On the contrary, every new discovery adds support to Darwin’s insights. There is plentiful and undeniable scientific evidence to the fact that humans and the other great apes and monkeys had a common ancestor.”

Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution nearly 160 years ago, arguing that all species, including humans, evolved over time through a process of natural selection. He argued that humans and apes share a common ancestor who lived more than 7m years ago, an idea frequently misunderstood to be suggesting modern apes turned into human beings.

Ancient Indian scholars are credited with advances in astronomy and mathematics including the invention of the concept of zero, but religious nationalist figures have been accused in recent years of pushing “ideological science”.

That includes claims by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, that myths from the origin texts of Hinduism include evidence of plastic surgery and genetic science.

YS Rajan, a prominent scientist, said in response to Singh’s comments that Hindu texts such as the Rigveda included lines that explicitly embraced knowledge from across the world.

“Nothing in ... Bharatiya samskaar [Indian philosophy] would demand rejection of such theory or for that matter any scientific findings,” he wrote on Facebook.

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LD50 #fundie theguardian.com

Art gallery criticised over neo-Nazi artwork and hosting racist speakers
Artists and campaigners call for closure of the LD50 gallery after accusing it of promoting ‘hate speech not free speech’ but owner criticises protesters

A London art gallery has come under criticism for exhibiting neo-Nazi artwork and hosting openly racist speakers.

This weekend, artists and campaigners will protest calling for the closure of LD50, in Dalston, east London, after accusations the gallery gave a platform to anti-immigrant, Islamophobic and “alt-right” figures and promoted “hate speech not free speech”.

Guests at LD50’s Neoreaction conference last summer included Brett Stevens, the white supremacist whose writing was an inspiration to Oslo far-right terrorist Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people in 2011.

After Breivik’s attack, Stevens wrote: “I am honored to be so mentioned by someone who is clearly far braver than I, no comment on his methods, but he chose to act where many of us write, think and dream.”

Others on the conference programme included anti-immigration activist Peter Brimelow, who runs Vdare, described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as “an anti-immigration hate website” that “regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and antisemites”.

Brimelow’s talk at LD50 was orientated around the threat imposed on “native white Americans” by a “great influx of third world immigration”. He said that while it was socially acceptable for Hispanic and Asian ethnic activists to call for more immigration, the only people who get criticised are whites; described the Black Lives Matter movement as a Democratic party racket purely designed to increase turmoil; and referred to the Jewish faction of the Democratic party vote as problematic.

Gallery owner Lucia Diego said in a statement published on the LD50 website that the programme was intended to create “a dialogue between two different and contrasting ideologies” and that the audience for the conference was “very liberal”.

However, a recording of Brimelow’s talk reveals that members of the audience who contributed to the discussion were predominately sympathetic to his views, agreeing with his statement about the need to remove the “corrupt treacherous elite” in government and one professing support for David Duke, the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and Holocaust denier.

Shut Down LD50 has accused the gallery, which has previously exhibited works by Turner Prize nominees Jake and Dinos Chapman, of curating “one of the most extensive programmes of racist hate speech to take place in London over the past 10 years”. They said the fact that the list of names of the conference speakers had been made public only after the event was finished was telling. “At first in secret, LD50 has acted as a platform for a cross-section of the most virulent advocates of contemporary extreme-right ideology.”

Alongside the conference, the gallery hosted an art exhibition titled Amerika, which explored far-right and Nazi imagery and featured video works of far-right and neoreactive texts being read out by avatars. A pink swastika was graffitied onto the gallery front door last week.

Writing on his ultra-conservative blog, Amerika.org – which is directly linked to on the gallery’s website – Stevens said the neoreaction conference had been held behind a “veil of secrecy to prevent the usual suspects (Leftists and other neurotics) from attacking”.

Last week, in an Facebook exchange with artist Sophie Jung, Diego described the left as “more like a fascist organisation than the real fascists” and indicated her support for Donald Trump, writing: “I’m not even sure if I disagree with the Muslim ban. I see it also as a temporary measure in order for America to get sorted while they transition to another form of government.”

In an open letter, Shut Down LD50 said that it could not “creditably be argued that the talk series was an instance of artistic license or of the free-spirited ‘exploration’ of ideas.

“The fact that the gallerists decided to make the details of their conference public only in late November, after the Trump election victory, is the clearest evidence of conscious purpose”.

Andrew Osborne, a fine art technician at the Royal College of Art, who is among the campaigners, said they would be handing out 2,000 leaflets in the area around the gallery on Saturday to make the public aware of the gallery’s allegiances, adding that the campaign had the backing of businesses neighbouring the gallery. “We believe this is a matter of public safety,” he added.

In her statement, Diego defended the gallery’s programme, writing: “We feel that the exceptionally aggressive, militant and hyperbolic reaction this has provoked vindicates our suspicion that at some point, as a society, we have drifted into a cultural echo chamber.”

She said the reaction of the protesters was proof that anyone who disagreed with the left was “publicly vilified, delegitimated and intimidated with menaces”.

“Our position has always been that the role of art is to provide a vehicle for the free exploration of ideas, even and perhaps especially where these are challenging, controversial or indeed distasteful for some individuals to contemplate.”

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Jens Maier and Beatrix von Storch #racist theguardian.com

Noah Becker, son of the German tennis star Boris Becker, plans to press charges against a deputy from a far-right party who called him a “little half-negro” on Twitter, the Bild newspaper has reported.

The 23-year-old, whose mother, Barbara Becker, is the daughter of an African American man and a German woman, took the decision in consultation with his father.

“I have been retained to quickly take the necessary steps under criminal and civil law against MP Jens Maier on the basis of this clearly racist tweet,” the Becker family lawyer Christian-Oliver Moser told Bild.

Maier, a former judge who was one of nearly 100 members of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party elected to parliament in the September election, had attacked Noah Becker over an interview in which he complained about being seen as the “eternal son” of his famous father.

“It seems the little half-negro simply got too little attention – that’s the only explanation for his behaviour,” said the tweet posted from Maier’s account on Tuesday.

It has since been deleted and Maier told Bild that one of his staff members had written it. It was the second time in a week that AfD deputies had stirred outrage on social media.

On Tuesday German police filed a complaint against Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of the party’s parliamentary group, over a tweet on New Year’s Eve which they say violated laws against incitement to hate.

Von Storch had criticised Cologne police for sending a new year’s greeting in Arabic on Twitter.

“What the hell is going on with this country? Why is an official police site … tweeting in Arabic?” she wrote. “Did you mean to placate the barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men?”

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Anonymous Brexiteers #fundie theguardian.com

Anna Soubry, one of the 11 Conservative MPs who defied government whips this week when the government suffered its first Commons defeat over Brexit, has received multiple messages saying she should be hanged as a traitor.

Messages received by Soubry’s office – usually seen first by her parliamentary staff – also feature abuse, with one Facebook message saying: “Go hang yourself slag.”

It follows death threats to Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general, who drew up the amendment to the EU withdrawal bill that passed on Wednesday by 309 votes to 305, ensuring MPs must have a final vote on any Brexit deal.

The rebellion prompted a scathing response by some newspapers. The Daily Mail said 11 “self-consumed malcontents” had betrayed their leader, party and 17.4 million Brexit voters.

On Twitter, a post by Soubry defending herself against the Mail’s attack prompted a reply: “You and these traitors should be hung in public.”

Another Twitter user posted a link to a separate Daily Mail article that claimed Soubry and other rebels had celebrated their success with champagne, something the MP has vehemently denied.

A reply to this tweet compared Soubry to William Joyce, known as Lord Haw Haw, who was hanged after the second world war for his wartime radio broadcasts from Nazi Germany. It ended: “Traitor Anna Soubry deserves to stand trial for the same crime.”

Other tweets called for the Queen to seek treason charges against Soubry so she could be hanged, while another said: “Back in the day you would have walked through traitors gate and been beheaded in the tower of London, you are the true definition of a traitor.”

Emails sent to Soubry’s office, and seen by the Guardian, took similar lines.

One, from a man in Tonbridge, Kent – about 150 miles from Soubry’s Broxtow constituency – read: “You deserve to be HUNG for your attack on our democracy yesterday. WE VOTED OUT! OUT! OUT!” The writer, who gave his full address and telephone number, ended the email: “MAY YOU BURN IN HELL FOR ETERNITY.”

Another rebel Tory MP, Sarah Wollaston, also said that she had been threatened.

Soubry told the Guardian her main worry was for her staff: “As with all members of parliament they have access to my emails, they take the phone calls. So they have to read all this stuff. I think people forget it’s the parliamentary staff who feel even more intimidated than members of parliament.”

The media had “fuelled a lot of this”, Soubry argued: “The words in certain newspapers are replicated – so ‘mutineer’ is then in an email saying: ‘We all know what happens to mutineers, let’s see you hanging from a lamppost or a tree.’

“I got an email from somebody yesterday saying: ‘In the past, traitors were taken out and shot.’ It’s appalling. I’m sure some of these people, if they took a step back, would actually be appalled themselves. But they are being whipped up into a frenzy by certain sections of the media that have frankly lost the plot.”

While the abuse came from a tiny minority of people, Soubry said, it seemed indicative of deep divisions in the country that were not being addressed.

“It’s the job of government to do everything they can to bring people together, and it’s the responsibility of everybody in public life to build a more tolerant society,” she said.

The idea perpetuated in some newspapers that she and other Tory rebels were seeking to overturn Brexit was nonsense, Soubry said.

“I said I will honour the result of the referendum, so I voted to trigger article 50. So, I accept we are leaving the European Union, even though the result was close. My argument now is how do we get the best deal, and I want parliament, finally, to be involved in getting the best deal for our country. Why does that make me a traitor?”

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Extreme vegans and David Dewey #fundie theguardian.com

Feet away from the butchers carving pork loins and beef shanks, the owners of a California meat shop have installed a peculiar sign in their window: “ATTENTION: Animals’ lives are their right. Killing them is violent and unjust, no matter how it’s done.” The odd poster seeming to discourage customers from buying their meats is the result of a months-long dispute between the owners of the Local Butcher Shop – which sells “locally sourced, sustainably raised” meat – and animal rights activists who have staged more than a dozen loud and gruesome protests outside the family-owned business in Berkeley.

With the placement of the sign, written by the activist group Direct Action Everywhere, the vegan protesters have agreed to cease their weekly rallies outside the shop, which sometimes involved nearly nude protesters dripping in fake blood and wrapped in plastic, along with recordings of pigs screaming inside a slaughterhouse.

The 15in-by-15in sign began receiving international attention this week after the activists declared victory, following four months of protests and counter-protests among liberals in the northern California college city widely known for the 1960s free speech movement and anti-war hippies. The anti-meat activists have claimed that the sign is a groundbreaking win and are now promising to target other independent merchants with similar tactics that they hope will spread across the US.

“To be threatened and forced to abide by their beliefs just makes me sad,” said co-owner Monica Rocchino as she sat outside the shop on Wednesday afternoon while customers nearby munched on the sandwich of the day. “Their tactics are really extremist … This is ethical extortion.” Rocchino and her husband, Aaron, opened the shop in 2011, promoting meats in line with a California food culture that values fresh and ethical produce.

Matt Johnson, a Direct Action Everywhere organizer, said that he and his group “challenge places that do put this ‘humane’ marketing out there. People are paying a lot more for these dead animals … They have some notion that these animals are being treated well.”

The group argues that there is no ethical way to kill animals for food and are campaigning to make Berkeley the first “city free of violence toward animals” – meaning banning the sale of meat. The Rocchinos, who partner with local farmers and offer butchery classes, reached out to the activists to find a resolution. Direct Action Everywhere leaders eventually said they would end the protests if the shop agreed to become a “vegan butcher” that did not sell any meat, or if they canceled classes.

Unwilling to sacrifice their entire business, the owners later agreed to a third option: a sign condemning the killing of animals. The activists made two additional concessions: the sign could be three inches smaller than they originally proposed and the shop could place it in a slightly less prominent storefront window. But they said they reserved the right to two protests a year, and that the agreement was “temporary”.

“We want businesses and our culture to face the truth about violence against animals,” said Paul Darwin Picklesimer, an activist who negotiated the agreement, adding: “We do feel that animals are people. We don’t feel that only humans are people, but of course it’s not universally accepted.” The attack on the Berkeley shop and threats of similar protests have sparked backlash across the state.

“I don’t understand why activists would pick on a mom-and-pop shop supporting the most humane farmers, rather than the animal factories and meatpackers responsible for brutality on an unimaginably greater scale,” said Michael Pollan, the well-known American food writer and a University of California, Berkeley professor, in an email. “Unless you believe the complete abolition of meat-eating is a realistic goal, attacking this sector of the animal economy … strikes me as misguided.”

There is a McDonald’s a few blocks away, he added. David Dewey, president of the California Association of Meat Processors, blamed cartoons for making children believe that animals have emotions and feelings. He added: “This is the order of things, even in the wild. Fish eat other fish. Birds eat other birds … That’s just the way the world circles.”

Johnson said the sign was meant to stigmatize meat-eating in the way tobacco warnings discouraged smoking. “Our vision of the world is a world in which every animal has a right to live happy, safe and free as humans by and large do,” he said.

Asked about the rights of humans who aren’t safe and free, such as prisoners, Johnson said: “It’s a form of deflection. It’s a way of not thinking about the issue at hand.”

“I feel like anybody coming here already knows where their meat comes from,” said Ariel Lay, 28, who decided to visit the shop for the first time after reading about the controversy. “They are not going to look at the sign and say, ‘Oh, I had no idea!’” In between bites of her roast beef sandwich, she added, “The whole, ‘We are not going to stop until Berkeley is a vegan city’ thing rubbed me the wrong way. You’re not going to tell me what to eat.”

Richard Healey, a 74-year-old not-for-profit consultant, who works next door to the shop and buys lunch there twice a week, said he suspected people wouldn’t read the poster and that regular customers would continue to be drawn to the delicious meats. “I didn’t even know it was there until someone pointed it out,” he said, adding, “These people make great sandwiches. I think about it and my mouth waters.”

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Kevin Johnson #fundie theguardian.com

People usually laugh when I tell them I am a convicted terrorist. I try not to open with that – it seems a little bit forward. First, I explain how my friend Tyler and I entered a fur farm in the dead of night. I describe the unspeakable suffering we found there. I tell people how Tyler and I opened every single cage and released 2,000 mink to save their lives. And once they have the context, I segue into the terrorism thing.

Now that I have been out of prison for more than a year, I can be a bit more lighthearted about it. But the seventh circuit court of appeals doesn’t see the humor. Last Wednesday, the court upheld the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, the federal statute that put me away for three years and that my lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights have been trying to challenge for nearly a decade.

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a piece of designer legislation written and paid for by the agriculture and pharmaceutical industries. It federalizes non-violent property crime and punishes it as terrorism – but only when the perpetrators are motivated by the belief that animals deserve to live free from violence. The court explicitly stated that the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act did not apply to four Fresno, California, teenagers who sneaked into a Foster Farms facility and bludgeoned 900 chickens to death with a golf club because “they killed the chickens for no reason”.

Put succinctly, I am a terrorist not because of what I did, but because the government dislikes why I did it. I remember organizing my first protest, outside of the circus, in 2005. I was 19 years old. My friend and I argued with the police about whether our group could stand on a courtyard by the Staples Center and whether we could use megaphones. We asserted our rights, and we were successful.

That same year, the FBI declared animal rights activists to be the nation’s “number one domestic terrorism threat”. A year later, Congress passed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Suddenly, I found myself being followed as I drove to work. My parents and siblings were harassed. My home was raided by the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Three times. We no longer argued with the police about where we could chant and hold our signs. The police brandished assault rifles, and we did as they said. Then, when we were done, they openly followed us back to our cars to photograph our license plates. While the rest of the nation took no notice, simply organizing a protest became a frightening prospect if you were an animal rights activist.

In this atmosphere, more and more of my friends stopped speaking out for animals. Countless times I heard people say they were scared of being placed on a list. More than once, someone told me they had canceled their subscriptions to animal-related magazines. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act achieved its intended outcome. When the distinguishing feature of a “terrorist” is simply an ethical concern for animals, such concerns become marginalized, and voicing them becomes dangerous. What remains is silence.

Now I watch as the rhetoric honed and the precedents established against animal rights activists are expanded to cover an increasingly broad swath of dissent. In Donald Trump’s America, states across the country are introducing legislation designed to bully and deter protesters. Some of these proposed laws include five-year prison sentences for protesters who block traffic.

Lawmakers in Arizona seek to charge protest groups as organized criminals, and seize their assets. In Oregon, a statute would automatically expel students who violate protest laws. Missouri wants to criminalize the use of costumes during protests. And, following the horrors of Charlottesville, lawmakers in half a dozen states have introduced legislation to indemnify drivers who run over protesters, as if the drivers were the ones in need of protection.

This is not how a free society operates. Our rights are meaningless if the government intimidates us out of using them. But as Wednesday’s decision makes clear, the judiciary will not protect us from such abuse. The court has legitimized the government’s use of the word “terrorism” to describe nearly any activity of which it disapproves – and emboldened lawmakers around the country who are beginning to do just that. It is evident that our leaders consider our speech and assembly a threat to their unencumbered exercise of power. Now, more than ever, we must show them that they are right.

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Unknown Islamic schools #fundie theguardian.com

At least 10 Islamic schools in England are still segregating boys and girls in co-educational schools, while others are likely to be separating the genders for certain activities, despite a recent court ruling outlawing the practice. Details emerged in an appeal court judgment on Tuesday, which turned down an attempt by the Association of Muslim Schools (AMS) to join a legal action to seek leave to appeal to the supreme court for a review of the segregation ruling.

The request followed a judgment last month when three court of appeal judges found that Al-Hijrah Islamic school in Birmingham had caused unlawful discrimination by formally segregating girls and boys from the age of nine. The court heard that boys and girls were taught in different classrooms and were made to use separate corridors and play areas. The segregation policy also applied to clubs and school trips.

The judgment overturned an earlier high court ruling which found that Ofsted inspectors were wrong to penalise the school on the basis of an “erroneous” view that the segregation amounted to discrimination. In its successful appeal, Ofsted argued that the school had breached the 2010 Equalities Act. The AMS, which represents 133 Muslim faith schools including Al-Hijrah, said 10 of its members and probably other non-members still had formal segregation policies in place, while other schools segregated children for particular activities. Other faith schools were also likely to be implicated, it said.

The written judgment said the AMS chairman, Ashfaque Alichowdhury, told the court the association’s role was to ensure member schools complied with their legal obligations and acted in a way that was consistent with Islamic teachings and practices. “The court of appeal’s judgment may have created a conflict between these two fundamental requirements which compromises the association’s ability to fulfil what it understands are its purposes,” Alichowdhury said.

“The judgment also puts the segregating schools at immediate risk of challenge from statutory bodies and other interested parties. Clearly where there is a conflict, the schools and the association must obey the law. However, the association believes that this is an important issue and would welcome a review of the court of appeal decision by the supreme court.” The AMS also said the ruling had created uncertainty over future Ofsted inspections at affected schools, and complained of a lack of guidance from Ofsted or the Department for Education over segregation.

An Ofsted spokesperson said on Tuesday that any school potentially affected by the judgment could seek legal advice if required.

“In each case, the school’s individual circumstances would need to be assessed. And the DfE, as the registration body for schools, will support it to make any necessary changes. “We are discussing the implications of the judgment, and what they mean for future inspections, with the DfE.”

Refusing the AMS application to join the legal action, the judges said Al-Hijrah school, which was the subject and claimant in the proceedings, accepted the decision and was working with the council to implement it. “The school does not encourage or support the desire of AMS to obtain permission to appeal in order to overturn the decision.”

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"Mad" Mike Hughes #conspiracy theguardian.com

Science is littered with tales of visionaries who paid for pioneering research to prove their theories, and this weekend “Mad” Mike Hughes is hoping to join them. He plans to launch a homemade rocket in California as part of a bid to eventually prove that the Earth is flat.

Hughes has spent $20,000 (£15,000) building the steam-powered rocket in his spare time, and will be livestreaming the launch over the internet. The self-described daredevil says he switched his focus to rockets after twice breaking his back doing stunt jumps in cars.

“I don’t believe in science,” declared the 61-year-old. “I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air. But that’s not science, that’s just a formula.”

The rocket, which Hughes aims to reach an altitude of 1,800ft (550 metres) over California, will be launched from the back of a converted motorhome purchased from Craigslist. It is sponsored by a flat Earth research group, and Hughes plans a subsequent trip to try and observe the flatness of the Earth for himself.

Speaking about the risks of the flight, Hughes said: “It’s scary as hell, but none of us are getting out of this world alive.”

Hughes’ website describes him as “the only man to design, build and launch himself in a rocket” – he previously flew in his own rocket in 2014, as this footage shows.

Hughes has stated that once he lands at the weekend, he intends to announce that he is running for the governorship of California.

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Unnamed Lazio fans #racist theguardian.com

The Italian football federation (FICG) has announced plans to read out a passage from Anne Frank’s diary before matches this week in response to acts of antisemitism by Lazio fans.

During Sunday’s league game against Cagliari, supporters of the club defaced their Stadio Olimpico home in Rome with antisemitic graffiti and stickers showing images of Frank, the teenager who was killed at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945, wearing a jersey of their rivals Roma. Their actions have been widely condemned, with Lazio’s president, Claudio Lotito paying a visit to Rome’s main synagogue on Tuesday to lay a wreath to remember victims of the Holocaust.

He also promised a new education campaign culminating in an annual trip to Auschwitz with 200 young fans at a club which has a history of antisemitic behaviour, including a Lazio banner in the city derby nearly 20 years ago aimed at Roma supporters that read: “Auschwitz Is Your Homeland; The Ovens Are Your Homes.”

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Neto de Moura and Maria Luisa Arantes #fundie theguardian.com

Women’s rights activists have called for protests after a Portuguese appeal court upheld a light sentence for two men who attacked a woman with a nail-spiked club, on the grounds they may have been driven to it by her adultery – an offence punishable with death in the Bible.

Judges Neto de Moura and Maria Luisa Arantes rejected the prosecutors’ appeal to toughen the suspended sentence and fine, saying the “depressive state” of the two defendants – the woman’s former husband and her former lover – was a mitigating factor.

“We read in the Bible that an adulteress should be punished with death,” the judges in the Porto court of appeal wrote. They also referenced the “symbolic sentences” given to men who murdered adulterous wives in the late 19th century in Portugal.

“These references are merely intended to stress that the society has always strongly condemned adultery by a woman and therefore sees the violence by a betrayed, humiliated man with some understanding,” they wrote in their 11 October verdict.

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David Irving #racist theguardian.com

Sixteen years after an English court discredited his work and the judge called him “antisemitic and racist”, the historian David Irving claims he is inspiring a new generation of “Holocaust sceptics”. On the eve of a major new Bafta-nominated film about the trial, Irving, who has dismissed what happened at Auschwitz concentration camp during the second world war as “Disneyland”, says that a whole new generation of young people have discovered his work via the internet and social media.

“Interest in my work has risen exponentially in the last two or three years. And it’s mostly young people. I’m getting messages from 14, 15, 16-year-olds in America. They find me on YouTube. There are 220 of my lectures on YouTube, I believe, and these young people tell me how they’ve stayed up all night watching them. “They get in touch because they want to find out the truth about Hitler and the second world war. They ask all sorts of questions. I’m getting up to 300 to 400 emails a day. And I answer them all. I build a relationship with them.”

Irving v Penguin Books Ltd was one of the most infamous libel trials of the past 20 years. An American historian, Deborah Lipstadt, had accused him in her book, Denying the Holocaust,and Irving, then a somewhat respected if maverick historian, sued her and her publisher. The film, Denial, with a script by David Hare, is released at the end of this month and stars Rachel Weisz as Lipstadt and Timothy Spall as Irving. It depicts how Lipstadt’s legal team fought the case.

James Libson, a junior solicitor in the case and now a senior partner at Mishcon de Reya, said that the verdict seemed “momentous at the time”. Lipstadt won, with the judge concluding that Irving was an antisemitic, racist Holocaust denier. He was forced to declare bankruptcy and his scholarly reputation was shattered. “We really thought the verdict marked a line in the sand,” says Libson. “That it marked Holocaust denial as a done subject. We’d proven it, conclusively, in a court of law.

“We naively thought that the internet would help that. All the material from the case was published online and we thought that would provide sufficient answer to anyone who could possibly doubt it. Whereas, of course, the internet has actually done the opposite.

“I wasn’t aware until recently of how Holocaust denial has now taken off online again to such an extent. I was really excited to watch the trailer for the film and I couldn’t believe the number of absolutely vile comments beneath it – about the holohoax and so on, more than 4,000 of them. It’s incredibly disturbing. It’s actually way worse now than even Irving was because they’re so abusive.”

Libson was assisting Anthony Julius in the case – another Mishcon lawyer who had made his name representing Princess Diana in her divorce. Irving lost the case – and another that he brought against the Observer over a review by Gita Sereny – but speaking from his home in the Scottish Highlands, a 40-room mansion near Nairn provided by an anonymous benefactor, he says that history has “vindicated” him.

“History evolves. The truth about the Holocaust is gradually coming out. And this is thanks to the internet. It’s how this new generation finds me. There’s a general belief among people out there that they are being misled. The people I’ve called the traditional enemy [Irving’s term for Jews] are very worried about this phenomenon. They don’t have a handle on it.

“Newspapers are dying. And the internet is suddenly there. And they don’t have an answer for it. It’s like some ugly weed they don’t know how to deal with. Eventually they will hack it down but by then it may be too late.”

Google, which owns YouTube, has come under pressure for disseminating hate speech about Jews and promoting Holocaust denial after the Observer revealed that its top results for searches around the Holocaust were directing people to denial sites. After weeks of pressure, Google agreed to make changes to its algorithm, but they are far from comprehensive. Google auto-complete still suggests the Holocaust is a “lie” and a “hoax” and still directs to neo-Nazi websites such as Stormfront, where Irving is considered an authority on the subject. He also has a presence on Facebook, where his page has gathered more than 7,000 likes.

Lipstadt said the idea that Irving had been vindicated by history was “preposterous”. “There was nothing, zilch, in the historical claims that he made. We proved that. But this is the world we are living in. Where facts don’t matter any more … and it’s absolutely terrifying.

“I’ve no idea of knowing if his claims about his newfound popularity are true or not but you’d have to be living under a rock not to see that this proliferation of racism and antisemitism is being disseminated by the internet. “This has nothing to do with freedom of speech. It’s about truth and lies.”

Irving, however, says that he is speaking to people who have lost trust in mainstream sources of information. “It’s all to do with this phenomenon of people not trusting what they are told by their governments and newspapers. They seek around to find someone who provides some remedy to this. And they find me. “I am part of the remedy. It’s not just that I’m selling huge amounts of books around the world. One of the big changes of the last two years is the amount I’m getting in donations.

“It used to be small amounts, and they still come in, but people are now giving me very large sums indeed – five-figure sums. I now drive a Rolls-Royce. A beautiful car. Though money is completely unimportant to me.”

His new fans, he says, are the same people who in the US are supporting Donald Trump, who he believes will make a good president and “has his heart in the right place”. Though, he says, he is also impressed by the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. “The Labour party is tearing itself apart with these allegations about antisemitism,” he says, “but Corbyn seems like a very fine man. Maybe it’s because he’s near my age, but I’m impressed by him.”

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Tony Abbott #fundie theguardian.com

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has suggested climate change is “probably doing good” in a speech in London in which he likened policies to combat it to “primitive people once killing goats to appease the volcano gods” .

Abbott delivered the annual lecture to the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a climate sceptic thinktank on Monday evening. The Guardian and several other media outlets were blocked from attending the event but a copy of the speech was later circulated.

Abbott told the group the ostracisation of those who did not accept climate science was “the spirit of the Inquisition, the thought-police down the ages”. He also reprised his 2009 assertion that the “so-called settled science of climate change” was “absolute crap”.

Measures to deal with climate change, which Abbott said would damage the economy, were likened to “primitive people once killing goats to appease the volcano gods”.

“At least so far,” he said, “it’s climate change policy that’s doing harm. Climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm.”

“There’s the evidence that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide – which is a plant food after all – are actually greening the planet and helping to lift agricultural yields. In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heatwaves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.”

When he was prime minister, Abbott said he took the issue of climate change “very seriously”. But since he was deposed as prime minister by his Liberal party colleague and bête noire Malcolm Turnbull in 2015, Abbott has returned to many hardline views he had tempered as leader.

He told the GWPF Australia needed “evidence-based policy rather than policy-based evidence” and took aim at a 2013 study that showed that 97% of scientists agree humans are driving climate change, “as if scientific truth is determined by votes rather than facts”.

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Morrissey #conspiracy theguardian.com

Morrissey has once again stirred up controversy by declaring his belief that the Ukip leadership election was rigged to ensure an anti-Islam activist did not win.

The singer made the comments during a live appearance on BBC 6 Music to promote his new album Low in High School.

Morrissey told the audience: “I was very surprised the other day – it was very interesting to me – to see Anne Marie Waters become the head of Ukip. Oh no, sorry she didn’t – the voting was rigged. Sorry, I forgot.”

It was hard to tell whether the former Smiths frontman was joking or simply attempting to be controversial. However, after his comments were met by silence from the audience, he added: “You didn’t get it, did you? You obviously don’t read the news.”

Waters was one of the most polarising candidates who stood to be Ukip leader, but despite being a frontrunner lost out to the outsider Henry Bolton.

Waters has been outspoken in her Islamophobia, calling the religion “evil”, and set up a far-right organisation, Pegida UK, with the former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson in 2016 to counter what it called “the Islamisation of our countries”. She was deselected from running in Ukip’s previous leadership election. Many Ukip members and MEPs threatened to leave the party if she was elected leader.

Waters finished second, with 2,755 votes to Bolton’s 3,874.

In 2013 Morrissey said he almost voted Ukip out of respect for Nigel Farage’s views on Europe. He said the Brexit referendum result “was magnificent, but it is not accepted by the BBC or Sky News because they object to a public that cannot be hypnotised by BBC or Sky nonsense”.

This was followed by an interview with an Australian news organisation where he said: “Liberal educators such as George Galloway and Nigel Farage are loathed by the BBC because both men respect equal freedom for all people, and they are not remotely intimidated by the BBC.”

Morrissey’s deep mistrust of news organisations inspired his new single, Spent the Day in Bed, in which he says the news “contrives to frighten you / to make you feel small and alone / to make you feel that your mind isn’t your own”.

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answerthis #racist theguardian.com

The left have become so puritan and uptight they lost the hearts and minds battle that was once their stock in trade. They have one joke with one punchline that even they don't laugh at any more.

The fact is the right, alt-right and even the far right is a far more welcoming place than the angry, moralising, doxing left. They need a new act.

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Saad al-Hijri #sexist theguardian.com

A Saudi cleric who said women should not drive because their brains shrink to a quarter the size of a man’s when they go shopping has been banned from preaching.

Saad al-Hijri, head of fatwas (legal opinions) in Saudi Arabia’s Assir governorate, was suspended from all religious activity after advising against allowing women to drive in a speech that contained comments “diminishing human value”, a spokesman for the governor of Asir province said.

Women remain banned from driving in Saudi Arabia despite ambitious government targets to increase their public role, especially in the workforce.

The ultra-conservative kingdom has some of the world’s tightest restrictions for women. They are also bound by law to wear long robes and a headscarf and require the consent of a male guardian for most legal actions, including study, travel and other activities.

In a video this week, Hijri asked what the traffic department would do it if it discovered a man with only half a brain. “Would it give him a licence or not? It would not. So how can it give it to a woman when she has only half?” he said.

“If she goes to the market she loses another half. What is left? A quarter ... We demand the traffic department check because she is not suitable to drive and she has only a quarter.”

The comments sparked outrage on social media, which is hugely popular in the kingdom.

Twitter users shared the video, many criticising it and making jokes about his remarks, under the Arabic hashtag “Al-Hijri-women-quarter-brain”.

The hashtag was used 119,000 times in just 24 hours.

Some users posted pictures of Saudi female scientists and academics in response and questioned Hijri’s own intellectual capacities.

But there were many others who supported the cleric, and the hashtag “Al-Hijri is with the woman, not against her” was used on 20,000 tweets in the same time period.

Hijri’s suspension, ordered by the provincial governor, was aimed at preventing the spread of views that spark controversy and do not serve the national interest, the provincial spokesman said.

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Valerie Sinason and Dr Fleur Fisher #conspiracy theguardian.com

At 9.02am Richard Felstead answered the phone; by 9.03am he was breathless with crying. It was the coroner's assistant in Battersea with the news that his sister, Carole, had died two weeks earlier. "I'm sorry it's taken so long to notify you," she said. "Carole's next of kin told us there was no family. But a letter was found – from you."

Two minutes later, the phone rang again. A different caller, with a strange voice, said, "I know you're not one of the ones that harmed Carole."

"Who are you?" said Richard.

"I'm Carole's next of kin."

"What's your name?"

"That's not important."

"How did Carole die?"

"She had a very difficult childhood."

"What? No she didn't."

"The cremation's tomorrow. People have taken time off work. It's very important it goes ahead."

Richard reacted furiously. The phone went dead.

The brothers gathered at their parents' Stockport home: Richard, David, Anthony and Kevin, whose principal memory of the morning of 14 July 2005 is his mother, "Finished. On the floor. Drained. Shattered. Gone." They began talking. Who was the mysterious caller who claimed to be Carole's "next of kin"? Why did she talk of a "difficult childhood" when Carole was happy and popular? She had a successful nursing career down in London. How could she die at just 41? Why had it taken two weeks to be informed? How could there be a funeral tomorrow?

Joseph, their father, stood up. "I'll put a stop to it."

"You can't stop a funeral, Dad!" said Kevin.

Joseph phoned the coroner's assistant. She brusquely informed him that, now the family had been discovered, the funeral would be halted. She mentioned a "life assessment", written by Carole. "It's very upsetting," she said. It was six pages, typed. It said: "My parents were abusive in every way imaginable - sexually, physically and emotionally. At three years of age, my mother smothered my sister. She sat me on top of her body and set the house on fire."

Joseph was astonished. "Had she been ill?" he said. "Had she been sectioned?"

The coroner's assistant replied: "Yes."

Over the coming weeks there came more questions. They were told the nameless "next of kin" had emptied Carole's flat and driven off in her car. Officials kept mentioning a "psychiatrist friend" who accompanied Carole to medical appointments. Joseph was speaking to a police inspector when something occurred to him. "This psychiatrist and this next of kin," he said. "Are they the same person?"

"That's right," said the inspector. "Dr Fleur Fisher."

The Felsteads' search for answers to the many mysteries surrounding Carole's decline is now in its sixth year. Endless letters and FOI requests, alongside hours of legal research and long nights on the internet, have resulted in the collection of hundreds of documents and the generation of yet more questions: angry ones about individuals they believe to have been malign presences in her life; strange ones about startling and little-known corners of human psychology; sad ones about the life and death of the kind and sparky woman they still miss every day.

When I tell them I'd like to write about Carole, they pass me the telephone number, discovered in Carole's phone records, of the woman whose role in the tale is, they're convinced, both sinister and central: that of the "next of kin", Dr Fleur Fisher.

"I'm not sure I want to talk about this," Fisher tells me. "You'll have to let me think about it. That family – they're bloody terrifying."

"You're frightened of them?"

"They're frightening people. And the things they've been saying," she says, adding confusingly: "I'm not a therapist!" She rings off, warning me darkly: "Tread carefully."

The house in which Carole grew up has mauve and dark-red rooms that are shadow-struck and decorated with golden candlestick holders, old family portraits and statues of dogs, birds and deer. Today Joseph sits glowering in the lounge, his patriarch's hands gripping his armchair. Kevin – a softer presence – informs me that Richard's at work, and Anthony's too distraught to speak. Their mother, Joan, passed away last year. David's here, though, friendly yet possessed of an anxious, wiry tension. Over the coming hours, he'll answer questions with flumes of facts and furious analysis, fossicking in boxes for the relevant document to illustrate his point.

For these men, Carole's life is as much a mystery as her death. She had been a friendly, bolshy and academically successful teenager, who loved watching M*A*S*H and wearing the tartan shorts beloved of her favourite band, the Bay City Rollers. She was popular at school and had a noted instinct for caring, going out of her way to play with Michael, the neighbour with Down's syndrome, and paying regular visits to a lonely old man down the road known as Mr Partridge. At 15 she got a weekend job in a home for the disabled. At 21 she qualified as a nurse at Stockport College and rented a nearby flat, making frequent visits back home to borrow milk and money, and sunbathe in the garden. And then, in the mid-1980s, there began a silent drift away from the family.

(...)

In 1986 they discovered Carole had moved to Macclesfield. She'd still send Christmas cards and ring occasionally, assuring them her career was going well. But by 1992 she had moved to London and changed her name from Carol Felstead to Carole Myers. They had to accept that Carole, for some reason, had chosen to stay away.

After her death they discovered Carole had become mentally ill. Her medical records revealed self-harm, alcohol abuse and stretches in psychiatric wards. She'd frequently been suicidal.

They felt shattered about the claims she'd made in her life assessment – and confused. She said she'd been abused by Joseph and his wife, who were the high priest and priestess of a satanic cult, and that during her teens she'd had six children – some fathered by Joseph – that she'd been forced to kill. She also said she had an implant in her eye that would explode if she spoke of the satanists, and that a friend she'd confided in was murdered in front of her.

Carole's charges were easily proven to be false. The sister, whose murder she'd apparently witnessed, actually died of heart problems two years before Carole was born. The house fire, too, predated Carole's birth. And yet, to the Felsteads' disbelief, it seemed the mental-health professionals rarely challenged these impossible horrors. Worse, they'd concluded that Carole's psychological problems came as a result of this fictitious abuse.

But the family is pointing the finger straight back at the clinicians. They believe the blame for Carole's psychological downfall lies with credulous, satanist-obsessed therapists who went along with her claims that she'd been sexually menaced. After all, they point out, it's happened before – most famously in Orkney in 1991, when nine children were forcibly removed from their homes following interviews by social workers led by an individual who was subsequently accused of being "fixated on finding satanic abuse".

I ask the Felsteads when the first mention of mental-health problems appear in Carole's medical records. In August 1985, it turns out, she received therapy for insomnia and nightmares related to "family abuse". Soon afterwards a 1986 letter mentions further "psycho-sexual counselling" by someone whose name sends a cold stun of recognition through me. It's her: the next of kin; the woman who baffled me by abruptly – perhaps defensively – announcing: "I'm not a therapist!" It's Dr Fisher.

Arriving back in London I'm in no doubt that Carole's abuse claims were untrue. But is it really possible, as the Felsteads insist, for a person to have memories "implanted" by a therapist? Professor Elizabeth Loftus, of the University of California, certainly believes so. In one famous study she sought to examine the process by which a therapist can generate a memory of an event simply by suggesting it. Loftus told 24 adults to write detailed descriptions of four childhood events supplied earlier on by a family member. Unbeknown to them, one of those events never actually happened.

(...)

The concept of repressed memories itself is, according to psychologist Chris French of the University of London, highly questionable. "There's a divide on this in psychology," he says. "But these 'recovery' methods are also used in the context of alien abduction accounts. If you're going to accept recovered memories of abuse, you should also accept the alien claims."

While chatting with French, I mention a psychotherapist who saw Carole called Valerie Sinason. Unexpectedly he lets out a guttural, melancholy groan.

"Oh Gooooodddd," he says.

If the Felsteads are right, Carole is likely to have had some form of recovered-memory therapy in the mid-80s – roughly the time her behaviour began to sour. But the only person I know who might be able to answer this question of whether she did is Dr Fisher. Since our last chat, she's vanished. She's changed her mobile number and has ignored several emails.

Instead I arrange an interview with Valerie Sinason who, according to the records, saw Carole for psychotherapy biweekly for eight months in 1992. I want to know if she'll fit the description Professor Loftus gave of the therapists she's come across in legal cases who have involved false memory – that of a highly credulous believer in satanic abuse who has a tendency to believe ritual damage in patients.

Sinason insists she doesn't use recovered-memory techniques. "I'm an analytic therapist," she says. "The idea of that is someone showing, through their behaviour, that all sorts of things might have happened to them." Signs that a patient has suffered satanically include flinching at green or purple objects, the colours of the high priest and priestess's robes. "And if someone shudders when they enter a room, you know it's not ordinary incest."

Another warning, she says, is the patient saying: "I don't know." "What they really mean is: 'I can't bear to say.'" A patient who "overpraises" their family is also suspicious. "The more insecure you are, the more you praise. 'Oh my family was wonderful! I can't remember any of it!'"

In the medical records, Sinason noted that Carole was her first chronic sadistic-abuse patient. Today, when I ask about her first patient, Sinason describes the arrival of two medical professionals – a nurse and a psychologist – one of whom was limping.

"I just had that nasty feeling," she says. "It's her, and she's been hurt by them."

Soon, we get to the actual satanism. Sinason talks of a popular ritual in which a child is stitched inside the belly of a dying animal before being 'reborn to satan'. During other celebrations, "people eat faeces, menstrual blood, semen, urine. There's cannibalism." Some groups have doctors performing abortions. "They give the foetus to the mother and she's made to kill the baby."

"And the cannibalism – that's foetuses?" I clarify.

"Foetuses and bits of bodies. The foetuses are raw. And handed round like communion. On one major festival, the babies are barbecued. I can still remember one survivor saying how easy it is to pull apart the ribs on a baby. But adults are tougher to eat."

She describes large gatherings in woodlands and castles, with huge cloths being laid out. "That's normally when there's a sacrifice," she notes, "and because the rapes are happening all over the place. There's a small amount of cannon fodder in terms of runaways, drug addicts, prostitutes and tramps that are used. There's sex with animals. Horses, dogs, goats. Being hanged upside down. In the woods, on a tree."

(...)

Dr Fisher lives in Plymouth, and is a former head of ethics at the British Medical Association. She speaks with the all the authority that such a position suggests. Sometimes confident, sometimes wary, sometimes maudlin and resigned, she actually has good reason to fear the Felsteads. After discovering she'd taken Carole's possessions, they reported her to the GMC and the police. Neither found sufficient evidence to act against her.

Fisher admits she had no legal claim to be Carole's "next of kin", but denies the Felsteads' accusations that she stole her property. She emptied the flat, she says, because the property managers were demanding it. As she cleared up, she found the letter from Richard. "Honourably, I gave it to the police," she says. "Otherwise the family would never have known. Never, never, never!" The clearout happened on 7 July 2005, a date, of course, that became known as 7/7. The terrorist explosions crippled the public transport network, which is why she needed to take Carole's car to get home. It was soon returned to London.

I ask why she phoned Richard on the day the Felsteads were informed of the death. She did so, she says, because the coroner mentioned how crushed he'd sounded. "Concern for somebody else's distress sometimes overcomes you," she says. "I was foolish. Unwise."

Ironically, it was her discovery of Richard's letter that led to the funeral's cancellation. Was she upset when she heard it had been halted? "You can't even imagine," she says. "I just screamed and screamed."

Finally, we get to the question of whether Carole's memories of satanic abuse were recovered. Initially Fisher refuses to speak about Carole. "I have a duty of confidentiality, even after a patient has died. I was never her psychiatrist or psychotherapist or anything like that." She raises her voice. "I'm not a psychotherapist, for God's sake!"

"According to her medical notes, she saw you for counselling," I say.

"No."

"I have the letter here, dated 27 November 1986, that says: 'She required to see Dr Fisher for psychosexual counselling.'" There's a silence. "Psychosexual is the wrong term," she says.

"What's the correct term?"

"Uh, I really don't know. People come and tell you things that have happened to them."

"Things like abuse?"

Was she ever worried that Carole had lapsed into fantasy? "Never," she says.

By 1997, I tell her, Carole was claiming a government minister had raped her with a claw hammer in Conservative Central Office. "That's not something I knew about," she says. "It may have been fantasy. I couldn't say. In general she was a common-sense woman."

"Are you aware of any evidence that any of Carole's claims actually happened?"

"I never looked for any evidence."

"Then what made you believe her?"

"She's not the only patient I've had who told the same kinds of stories."

"About ritual abuse?"

"It turned out to be that, yes. The people didn't remember at first. They weren't aware. They were memories they'd had a long time and they just came out."

Finally, I seek advice from Dr Trevor Turner, a consultant psychiatrist at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London. A former vice president of the Royal College of Psychiatry, Turner is an expert in schizophrenia. I wanted to speak with Turner because I've heard that delusions and paranoias like the ones Carole suffered are a common facet of the condition.

Turner confirms this, adding: "Another thing that's a part of the schizophrenic illness syndrome is the idea that your body has been interfered with," he tells me. Carole's slow withdrawal from the family, it turns out, is also typical. "If you're thinking things are being done to you, you blame those around you," he says. "Families of people who have got schizophrenia are commonly accused of things by the patient."

Assuming that Carole was suffering from schizophrenia, I wonder what effect it might have had on her, having therapists validate her darkest delusions. What would it be like for a paranoid psychotic to have it confirmed that, yes, there really are satanists out there, trying to get you? "Absolutely terrifying," he says. "It's highly likely it would make it worse."

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Russian consumer watchdog and Russian news outlets #conspiracy theguardian.com

Russia’s state consumer watchdog has warned that fidget spinners could be harmfully addictive, after state TV said the toys could make people susceptible to the messages of the political opposition.

The watchdog said it had noted “the aggressive promotion of so-called spinners around children and teenagers” and was aware of concern from parents and teachers.

It said it would ask scientists to “study the effects of the influence of spinners on children’s health, including possible negative consequences”.

The announcement, accompanied by warnings not to buy spinners on the street and to check them for chemical smells, came after fearmongering over the toys on state television.

A show called Virus on Rossiya 24 television on 12 July called spinners an “instrument for zombifying” and a “form of hypnosis”.

Spinners “often have a negative effect on the psyche and make a person susceptible to manipulation”, the presenter warned.

“Possibly it is not by chance that they have started selling spinners” at opposition rallies, he added.

The Life News pro-Kremlin news site on Tuesday ran a feature on “Seven tragedies that happened to children because of spinners”, including a six-year-old boy who got one stuck on his finger.

The move to check spinners prompted plenty of ridicule.

“How would you check this? Make 1,000 children play with 1,000 spinners for 1,000 hours and then make them write a test?” wrote the video blogger and comedian Yury Khovansky on Twitter.

The toys first became popular in the US this spring before hitting Europe. They have been banned at some schools in the US, France and Britain.

Donald Trump’s son Barron was photographed playing with one last month as he descended the steps of Air Force One.

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German far-left rioteers, Andreas Beuth #fundie theguardian.com

Extra police sent to Hamburg as G20 protest violence escalates
Demonstrators set fire to cars and throw rocks at shop windows in Altona district as world leaders meet in nearby Messehalle

Overnight clashes between anti-capitalist protesters and police continued into the first day of the G20 summit in Hamburg as dozens of cars were set aflame and shop windows smashed around the city while world leaders met at the Messehalle conference centre.

Masked protesters in black clothes used flares to set fire to at least 20 cars and pelted rocks at the windows of banks and smaller shops as they made their way through the Altona district and along the Elbchaussee road along the river at about 7.30 am on Friday morning.

Police forces around Germany dispatched reinforcements to help 15,000 police already deployed to the northern port city for the summit as violence escalated.

On Friday morning, many shops and cafes in the area, including a local Ikea, boarded up their windows in anticipation of further rioting.

Other protest groups marched peacefully through Hamburg’s harbour area and historic centre, blocking access routes for delegates and envoys travelling in and out of the conference centre where leaders including Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel gathered on Friday morning.

Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, was reportedly stopped from attending an event in the G20’s supporting programme by the protests. “Police has not given us security clearance to leave the guest house,” Trump’s spokesperson told German press agency dpa.

A planned visit for leaders’ partners to a climate research centre was scrapped and replaced with a presentation by climate scientists at a luxury Hamburg hotel.

Hamburg police spokesperson Sven Jahn said that a group of around 60 masked protesters attacked three police vehicles with molotov cocktails, and that a flare fired at a police helicopter only narrowly missed its target.

Authorities claimed 160 police officers had been injured. At least 15 people were arrested and dozens more held for questioning. Organisers of Thursday evening’s “Welcome to Hell” march said three protesters had been seriously injured and one person remained in a critical condition, while several others had sustained lighter injuries during the skirmishes.

Andreas Beuth, a lawyer who had co-organised the march at a riverside plaza used for Hamburg’s weekly fish market, accused police of knowingly risked an escalation of the volatile situation in the city with heavy-handed tactics.

Contrary to police claims, Beuth said protesters had complied with orders to remove their masks when hundreds of officers used water cannon and teargas to disperse the crowds. “The escalation was clearly started by the police,” said Beuth at a press conference inside the stadium of local football club FC St Pauli on Friday morning.

A number of journalists working for leftwing German newspapers reported on Friday that their press accreditation had been withdrawn from them without an explanation.

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HanAssholeSolo #racist theguardian.com

On Sunday, Donald Trump caused outrage with a tweet that appeared to contain a repurposed post by a Reddit user: a gif showing the president wrestling to the ground a figure with a CNN logo for a head.

[...]

“Holy shit!!” HanAssholeSolo wrote at 11.11am. “I wake up and have my morning coffee and who retweets my shitpost but the MAGA EMPORER [sic] himself!!! I am honored!!”

Three hours earlier, HanAssholeSolo had been taking part in a discussion on the “Reddit pics” section of the website. Another user had posted a photo of a banner which said: “Totally failed at life? Then why not blame a foreigner.”
HanAssholeSolo wrote: “In America it’s blame the white person.”

On Monday, the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In the face of condemnation from Republicans, Democrats and free press groups, Trump has not commented on his Sunday tweet.

HanAssholeSolo also did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The user appeared to have deleted a series of posts after Trump tweeted the CNN video, but screengrabs collected by Quartz and other outlets showed a series of disturbing remarks.

HanAssholeSolo has repeatedly railed against the perceived mistreatment of white people and denigrated other races using shocking and abusive language.

In May the user took part in a discussion, which appears to have been deleted, and described someone as a “nigger” before asking: “Explain to me why a weekend doesn’t go by where 80 of you fucking moon crickets aren’t shooting each other down in Shitcago [Chicago]? Why you dumb fucking nignogs can’t attend a rap concert without someone being shot up?”

He went on to make further offensive remarks about black people in the same thread.

In reply to another poster, he wrote: “500,000 dead Muslims is a good start. Kill the rest and I’ll be impressed. Good keep up the good work until the last Islamic piece of shit is wiped from the planet.”

In other posts, HanAssholeSolo used the terms “goatfucker”, “faggot” and “retard”. On 13 June, he posted an image showing dozens of CNN hosts and employees, each with a star of David attached and with the caption: “Something strange about CNN … can’t quite put my finger on it.”

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Hindu "cow protectors", Narendra Modi, Gulab Chand Kataria #fundie theguardian.com

A Muslim man has died in western India after he was attacked by hundreds of Hindu cow protection vigilantes, the latest attack in a spate of mob killings in the name of the revered animal.
Police said on Wednesday that Pehlu Khan, 55, had died in hospital two days after a group attacked his cattle truck on a road in Alwar in the desert state of Rajasthan.
Gangs of “cow protectors” have been implicated in killing at least 10 people in the past two years as the welfare of the animal has become an increasingly charged issue in Indian politics.
Cows are revered by most of India’s majority Hindu community and beef consumption is permitted in only eight of the country’s 29 states and territories.
Alwar’s police chief, Rahul Prakash, told Agence France-Presse at least six others were injured in the attack, but they had now been discharged from hospital.
Police posted a 5,000-rupee (£62) reward to help identify the attackers and have listed more than 200 people as suspects in the murder case.
“We are yet to receive the postmortem report, but [the victim] had multiple rib fractures,” Prakash said.
Khan was driving in a convoy of six cattle transport trucks and returning to his home state of Haryana when the mob intercepted his vehicle.
Video of the attack was broadcast on Indian television, showing the men being beaten with iron rods and sticks.
Cow protection has been a trigger for sectarian violence throughout modern Indian history and its resurgence since 2015 has been linked to an increasingly assertive Hindu nationalist movement.
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, won office in 2014 pledging to ban beef across India, and calls to declare the cow India’s national animal have grown since his election.
Illustrating the careful path some Indian politicians walk in discussing the violence, the Rajasthan home minister said on Wednesday the vigilantes had “done a good job by protecting cows from smuggling”.
“But they have violated the law by beating people brutally,” Gulab Chand Kataria said.
Police are regularly accused of working alongside cow-protection vigilantes and one state, Haryana, announced plans last year to license some of the groups.

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Sabo #fundie theguardian.com

The guerrilla art movement is usually associated with leftwing politics. Banksy targets capitalism, consumerism and inequality. Blek le Rat, the father of stencil graffiti, depicts oppression and resistance.

Shepard Fairey gilded Barack Obama’s rise with the iconic “Hope” poster and now highlights the scapegoating of Muslims and the corporatisation of US politics.

In the Trump era, the right, however, has its own guerrilla artist: Sabo, a former US marine who works from an apartment-cum-studio in Los Angeles beneath a sign that says “Fuck Tibet”. Another says “Fuck peace”.

Under cover of darkness, he peppers public spaces in LA with images and slogans targeting liberals, whom he associates with “pot-smoking lazy bums” hostile to western values. He puts the same images and slogans on posters, T-shirts and pins which he sells from his website and at Republican party gatherings across the US.

“I think leftism is a mental disorder,” Sabo, 49, said in an interview at his home. “I truly believe I’m fighting the good fight.”

[...]

He has decorated his home with samples of his work: a framed toilet seat with Barack Obama’s face and mouth; a life-sized poster of Bernie Sanders with Soviet tattoos and diaper “full of free shit”; a billboard-style portrait of Hillary Clinton as a maniacal queen.

Another billboard declares that “Black lives are just matter”, accompanied by a Planned Parenthood logo and an abortion-themed punchline: “We’ve killed more blacks than the klan.”

[...]

The left, he said, has mastered cultural and political “dark arts” and “weaponised” Hollywood, the FBI, the IRS, universities and other institutions to promote a nefarious agenda.

He claimed Islam was taking over Europe and espoused debunked conspiracy theories: Obama is a Muslim who sought to undermine America, and senior Democrats literally worship the devil and run pedophile rings. “I truly believe Hillary is demonic.”

Challenged for evidence, Sabo cited leaked emails, which online conspiracy theorists claimed proved the accusations. “I’m a fan of logic and reason.”

The fan of logic and reason also lamented America’s polarisation. “The whole climate is sick right now.” Asked if his work contributed to that sickness, Sabo shook his head. “The left are the ones who dehumanise.”

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Alvi Karimov and the Chechen authorities #fundie theguardian.com

Authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya have launched an anti-gay campaign that has led to authorities rounding up dozens of men suspected of being homosexual, according to the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and human rights activists.

The newspaper’s report, by an author regarded as a leading authority on Chechnya, claimed that more than 100 people had been detained and three men killed in the roundup. It claimed that among those detained were well-known local television personalities and religious figures.

Alvi Karimov, spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, described the report as “absolute lies and disinformation”, basing his denial on the claim that there were no gay people in Chechnya. “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic,” he told Interfax news agency.

“If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”

A spokesman for the region’s interior ministry told the Russian newspaper RBC that the report was “an April fool’s joke”.

However, Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, Russia project director for the International Crisis Group, told the Guardian she had been receiving worrying information about the issue from various sources over the past 10 days. “I have heard about it happening in Grozny [the Chechen capital], outside Grozny, and among people of very different ages and professions,” she said.

The extreme taboo nature of the subject meant that much of the information was arriving second or third hand, and as yet there are no fully verifiable cases, she added. “It’s next to impossible to get information from the victims or their families, but the number of signals I’m receiving from different people makes it hard not to believe detentions and violence are indeed happening.”

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lasmontanas #fundie theguardian.com

[Commenting under " Developing world leaders pay respects to Castro, their champion during cold war"]

Couldn't care less. We are up against fascism and need all the allies we can get. Castro was more then welcome in the good cause. Smashing fascists like Trump and May and Farage and Le Pen is what the future is about. No prisoners taken.

The US national character was mercilessly and finally exposed for all the world to see in the recent election. Not even a dog will now pay them the tribute of one red cent. Bogey has had his day. As Graham Greene so accurately realised long ago, the American claim to stand for freedom is utterly bogus. No sale.

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Catholic Church and Irish State #fundie theguardian.com

It is true, as survivors said it was. Under a small patch of grass by a playground in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland, the bodies of the children who died in the local Mother and Baby home lie in unmarked graves. The Mother and Baby homes of Ireland – the last of which closed in 1996 – were run like punishment hostels for unmarried pregnant women. Their children were taken for adoption, fostering or the horror of the industrial schools, or they died in their thousands, of malnutrition and neglect. In some cases the bodies were used for dissection in medical schools.

This was veiled until two years ago when an amateur historian, Catherine Corless, learnt that 796 children had died at Tuam between 1925 and 1961; but where, she asked, were the graves? An inquiry was established and has now partially excavated the Tuam site. (The home has been replaced with a housing estate. Hence the ghoulish – and preposterous – playground.) Remains of children aged from those prematurely born to three years old have been found; Corless, then, is vindicated.

You might say that, for survivors, stonewalled and ignored by the Irish state and Catholic church for decades, denied their birth records and medical histories – essentially, their identities – and thwarted in their attempts to find their families, this is a victory.

[...]

The inquiry will deal with the 35,000 inmates and children of the nine homes, and a small number of associated institutions operated by various religious orders on behalf of the state – plus a few county homes. Some of these orders – such as the Sisters of Bon Secours and the order of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary – are still active, and thriving; the Bon Secours, for example, is wealthy enough to hire a public relations consultant who, two years ago, denied the existence of the burial pit at Tuam. But there is a second web of institutions that also removed children from their mothers. These included private nursing homes, public hospitals and so-called holding centres and orphanages for children who were not orphans; or, if they were, the state had made them so.

Other children were taken from private homes, or by small adoption agencies and societies. One – the Catholic Rescue and Protection Society – operated in the UK under the auspices of a Dublin priest. Its job was to return fleeing pregnant women to Ireland, and the homes. One woman made this journey at full term. If you seek evidence of the physical welfare of these women and their children, look only to her testimony, and the burial pits.

[...]

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Natavha Bouchart #racist theguardian.com

[There's more in the article, but I wanted to keep this concise]

The mayor of Calais has banned the distribution of food to migrants as part of a campaign to prevent the establishment of a new refugee camp as hundreds of people return to the port three months after the original one was demolished.

Natacha Bouchart, from the centre-right Les Républicains party, said she would implement policies “to prevent the distribution of meals to migrants”, and legal documents setting out the restrictions were put up in the vicinity of the camp on Thursday. Officials have already obstructed attempts by local charities to open showers for teenage migrants in the town.

Food distribution volunteers said they had been forced to do so in secret because of a heightened police presence. Refugee charities said they would ignore the ban but were taking legal advice.

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Colonel Fawaz al-Maiman, various Twitter users #fundie theguardian.com

Saudi police have arrested a young woman who tweeted a picture of herself outdoors without the body-length robes and head scarf that women in the kingdom are required to wear.

A woman identified as Malak al-Shehri posted a picture of herself on Twitter in a jacket and multi-colored dress last month after announcing that she would leave her house without her abaya, a long loose-fitting robe, and headscarf.

The tweet caused a backlash with many calling for Shehri – whose first name means angel, which was also her moniker online – to be executed with the hashtag “We demand the arrest of the rebel Angel Shehri.”

The picture posted on the downtown Riyadh street of al-Tahliya, led to someone filing a complaint with the religious police, and eventually to the woman’s arrest, according to the local Arabic-language Al-Sharq newspaper.

A police spokesman told the newspaper that Shehri, who is in her 20s, was taken to prison and he also accused her of “speaking openly about prohibited relations with (non-related) men”.

“Police officers have detained a girl who had removed her abaya on al-Tahliya street, implementing a challenge she announced on social media several days ago,” the newspaper quoted Colonel Fawaz al-Maiman as saying.

Police spokesman Maiman reportedly said in a statement that they had acted inline with their duty to monitor “violations of general morals”.

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Donald Trump #fundie theguardian.com

US refugee ban: Trump decried for 'stomping on' American values

Donald Trump is facing strong criticism from aid organisations after ending his first week as president with a ban on all Syrian refugees entering the US and a halt on arrivals from a string of predominantly Muslim countries.

The president signed an executive order to stop all refugee arrivals for four months – and Syrian arrivals indefinitely – on Friday, hours after meeting the British prime minister, Theresa May, and reportedly reaffirming his commitment to Nato.

The move, which he described as “extreme vetting” intended to “keep terrorists out”, was more severe than expected. It will amount to a de facto ban on Muslims traveling to the US from parts of the Middle East and north Africa by prioritising refugee claims “on the basis of religious-based persecution”.

The order has already reportedly blocked people from flying into US airports or clearing customs after arriving in the country. The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee said people who had landed after the order was enacted at 4.30pm had been blocked and told they had to return to their point of origin.

Named the Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, the order places a 90-day block on entry to the US from citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia. It is unclear whether the measure would apply to citizens of those countries on trips abroad who already have permission to live and work in the US.

The order also caps the total number of refugees entering the US in 2017 to 50,000, less than half the previous year’s figure of 117,000.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) called on the Trump administration to continue offering asylum to people fleeing war and persecution, saying its resettlement programme was vital.

“The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater and the US resettlement programme is one of the most important in the world,” the Geneva-based agencies said in a joint statement.

They said the US’s acceptance of refugees had offered a double benefit, “first by rescuing some of the most vulnerable people in the world and second by enabling them to enrich their new societies”.

Chuck Schumer, Democratic leader in the Senate, said: “Tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight as a grand tradition of America, welcoming immigrants, that has existed since America was founded, has been stomped upon.

“Taking in immigrants and refugees is not only humanitarian but has also boosted our economy and created jobs decade after decade. This is one of the most backward and nasty executive orders that the president has issued.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations announced it would be filing a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the order “because its apparent purpose and underlying motive is to ban people of the Islamic faith from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States”.

“There is no evidence that refugees – the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation – are a threat to national security,” said Lena F Masri, the council’s litigation director. “This is an order that is based on bigotry, not reality.”

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani campaigner for girls’ education who survived an attempted murder by the Taliban when she was 15, said she was “heartbroken” that America was “turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants – the people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life”.

She added: “I am heartbroken that Syrian refugee children, who have suffered through six years of war by no fault of their own, are singled out for discrimination.”

Madeline Albright, the former US secretary of state, said: “There is no fine print on the Statue of Liberty. America must remain open to people of all faiths and backgrounds.”

She was referring the inscription of the iconic New York landmark: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

[...]

As well as halting Syrian arrivals indefinitely, the president’s order suspends the admittance of all refugees to the US for 120 days. In Syria alone, the nearly six-year war under Bashar al-Assad’s regime has led to more than 500,000 civilian deaths and displaced an estimated 11 million Syrians.

Although Trump administration officials continue to insist the president’s actions are not targeted at any one faith, the text of the order made explicit that, when the 120-day suspension ended, the US government would prioritize religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries.

It states: “Upon the resumption of USRAP [US Refugee Admissions Program] admissions, the secretary of state, in consultation with the secretary of homeland security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”

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Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority #fundie theguardian.com

A man groomed online and sexually abused by a string of older men when he was 13 has been denied compensation because the agency that handles claims says he “consented” to the assaults.

Peter, who is now 19, was abused by 21 men, two of them teachers, who all acted independently. They were found guilty of charges including sexual activity with a child, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, and meeting a child after sexual grooming.

A judge who presided over most of the cases made it clear that Peter was not to blame, describing the actions of one perpetrator as vile and depraved.

But the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, the government agency that makes financial awards to victims of violent crime, has refused Peter compensation on the grounds that he “willingly” met the men after registering on websites for over 18s, had not been manipulated and “consented in fact” to the sexual contact. Human rights organisation Liberty is appealing the ruling.

Peter (not his real name), who needed psychiatric help for five years following the abuse, told the Guardian he was shocked and distressed by CICA’s decision.

“I was a child being manipulated and used. After years of people telling me the men were in the wrong and I was a victim, having a government-linked agency telling me it was all consensual was very, very upsetting,” he said.

“I can’t believe we’re actually having to fight them on this. I felt like they were saying, ‘you did this to yourself, so why should we help you?’”

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Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians #fundie theguardian.com

A veteran group of squatters has occupied an empty £15m central London property purchased by a Russian oligarch in 2014 and opened it as a homeless shelter.

The extensive, five-storey Grade ll-listed Eaton Square property was bought by Andrey Goncharenko, a little-known oligarch who has bought a number of luxury properties in London in recent years.

The squatters – Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians, known as ANAL – said they entered the building through an open window on 23 January and have accommodated about 25 homeless people so far, many of whom had been sleeping rough around Victoria station.

Tom Fox, 23, one of the squatters, said: “It is criminal that there are so many homeless people and at the same time so many empty buildings. Our occupation is highlighting this injustice.”

[...]

“We have squatted many other high-profile buildings in central London in the past,” said Fox. “Admiralty Arch, Mayfair and Pall Mall. There are so many empty buildings like this one in central London.”

[...]

A banner above the front door reads ‘USA ANTI-GOVERNMENT IN EXILE’, and a black flag displays the words ‘Antifaschistische Aktion’, a European anti-fascist network.

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anonymous train conductor, Ichibazushi restaurant chefs #fundie theguardian.com

Japanese train conductor blames foreign tourists for overcrowding

Rail company reprimands conductor who made announcement blaming foreigners for inconveniencing Japanese passengers

A railway company in Japan has reprimanded a conductor who blamed the large number of foreign tourists on a crowded train for inconveniencing Japanese passengers.

The outburst will have done little to help Japan’s attempts to become a more welcoming destination for foreign visitors as it prepares to host the 2019 rugby World Cup and the Tokyo Olympics a year later.

Japan’s successful pitch for the 2020 Games made much of the country’s reputation for omotenashi– traditional hospitality and service.

But there was precious little omotenashi on display when the conductor addressed passengers on a Nankai Electric Railway express train bound for Kansai international airport near Osaka on Monday morning.

“There are many foreign passengers on board today … this has caused serious congestion and is causing inconvenience to Japanese passengers,” said the conductor, a man in his 40s.

A Japanese passenger reported the incident to a station attendant at the airport, questioning whether the conductor’s wording was acceptable.

The conductor, who has not been named, later defended his choice of words: “I heard a male Japanese passenger at [another station] yelling: ‘All these foreigners are a nuisance,’” the Mainichi Shimbun quoted him as saying.

“I made the announcement to avert trouble and had no intention of discriminating [against foreign passengers],” he said.

A Nankai Electric spokesman told the newspaper that the firm had previously received complaints about foreign visitors with large suitcases, but added: “Whether people are Japanese or non-Japanese, the fact remains that they are our passengers. Language that sets them apart [from other passengers] is inappropriate.”

The incident follows an accusation by South Korean tourists that a sushi restaurant in Osaka deliberately smeared their orders with eye-watering quantities of wasabi, a pungent condiment that should be used sparingly.

The restaurant chain Ichibazushi apologised but denied accusations of racism, saying its chefs had decided to use excessive amounts of wasabi after other foreign diners had previously requested larger dollops for added piquancy.

“Because many of our overseas customers frequently order extra amounts of pickled ginger and wasabi, we gave them more without checking first,” the chain’s management said. “The result was unpleasant for some guests who aren’t fans of wasabi.”

It was not clear how many such incidents – labelled “wasabi terrorism” on social media – had occurred, but some disgruntled diners posted photos of sushi containing twice as much wasabi as usual.

Whether or not the incidents resulted from misunderstandings, the potential for friction between visitors and local people is likely to increase as Japan gains popularity as a tourist destination.

A record 2.05 million people visited the country in August, according to the Japan Tourism Agency, including 677,000 from China, 458,900 from South Korea and 333,200 from Taiwan.

Japan’s government hopes to double the number of foreign visitors to 40 million in 2020, and expects a tourism windfall of 8tn yen (£63bn).

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Rodrigo Duterte #fundie theguardian.com

Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines president, appears to have compared himself to Hitler, saying he would be “happy to slaughter” millions of drug addicts in his bloody war on crime.

During a press conference in his home city of Davao, the former prosecutor told reporters that he had been compared to a “cousin of Hitler” by his critics.

“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have...,” he said, pausing and pointing to himself.

“Hitler massacred three million Jews ... there’s three million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

More than six million Jews were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators before and during the second world war, according to historians.

Duterte has spent his first three months in office running a campaign to kill all involved in the rampant drugs trade, including alleged addicts, causing outrage from rights groups and foreign governments.

More than 3,500 alleged drug dealers and addicts have been killed, about a third of them in police operations but the majority by armed vigilante militias. Duterte has publicly encouraged civilians to kill addicts and said he will not prosecute police for extrajudicial executions.

“You know my victims. I would like (them) to be all criminals to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition,” he said during the press conference early on Friday.

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Pres. Rodrigo Duterte #fundie theguardian.com

Barack Obama has cancelled a meeting with the president of the Philippines after Rodrigo Duterte appeared to call him a “son of a whore”.

The move followed a warning from Duterte to the US president to keep off the subject of extrajudicial killings in his country’s brutal drug war when they were due to meet on Tuesday at a regional summit in Laos. Duterte told a press conference that Obama “must be respectful”.

The firebrand president was answering a reporter’s question about how he intended to explain the extrajudicial killings to Obama, before boarding a plane to Laos for the Association of South-east Asian Nations summit.

“You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum,” Duterte was quoted by as saying by Agence-France Presse. “We will be wallowing in the mud like pigs if you do that to me.”

When his comments reached the Obama camp, the US president initially said he was asking his staff to find out whether holding the meeting as scheduled would be useful.

“What I’ve instructed my team to do is to talk to their Philippine counterparts to find out, is if this in fact a time where we can have some constructive, productive conversations,” Obama said at a news conference at the end of a G20 summit in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.

“Obviously the Filipino people are some of our closest friends and allies and the Philippines is a treaty ally of ours. But I always want to make sure that if I’m having a meeting that it’s actually productive and we’re getting something done.”

But hours later the decision was made to cancel, a White House spokesman said. Instead, Obama will meet with South Korean president Park Geun-hye.

Duterte has faced condemnation from human rights campaigners, diplomats and the UN for inciting a war on drugs that, according to official figures published on Sunday, has led to 2,400 deaths in just two months.

The defiant Philippine leader has responded to critics with a string of outbursts, including labelling the US ambassador to Manila a “gay son of a whore”, telling the Catholic church “don’t fuck with me”, and accusing the UN of issuing “shitting” statements about his anti-drugs policies.

Obama joins a long list of people whose mothers’ purity have been called into question by Duterte, including Pope Francis, Philippine bishops and a murdered journalist, as well as the drugs traffickers who are the main targets of his domestic law and order policies.

He took office in June after winning a landslide on promises to sort out drug crime in the country, and told crowds on the day of his inauguration: “If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.”

During his campaign, he said 100,000 people would die in his crackdown, with so many dead bodies dumped in Manila Bay that fish there would grow fat from feeding on them.

The call has led to what critics say amounts to open season on suspected drug criminals on the streets of Manila and other major cities, with thousands killed by vigilantes and police, who invariably claim to have fired back in self-defence.

In June, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, condemned Duterte’s apparent support for extrajudicial killings, saying they were “illegal and a breach of fundamental rights and freedoms”. Duterte replied by calling the UN “stupid” and threatening to withdraw the Philippines from the supranational body.

Asked about the possible consequences of his comments, he said: “What is ... repercussions? I don’t give a shit to them.”

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Black_Sun #fundie theguardian.com

“Is Islam incompatible with democracy?”."

Of course not which is why freedom loving liberals living in Western Secular Liberal Democracies don't want Islam or anything to do with it anymore than they would Nazism.

Democracy also allows people the right to be Nazis, Fascists or Communists but it doesn't mean that the rest of us have to put up with them or shouldn't fight them with absolutely everything we have.

BTW, there is no such thing as Islamophobia - a phobia is an irrational fear and there is nothing remotely irrational in fearing the idiot ideology and demented Dark Age dogma of feeble-minded fascists who want to live in a Totalitarian Theocracy.

The real question is what are the overwhelming majority of freedom loving people in a secular liberal democracy who are non-Muslim going to do about about Islam.

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Len McCluskey #conspiracy theguardian.com

Intelligence services posing as Jeremy Corbyn supporters could be behind the abuse and intimidation of MPs on social media in an attempt to “stir up trouble” for the Labour leader, the Unite boss Len McCluskey has suggested.

Speaking to the Guardian, the general secretary of the UK’s largest trade union and one of Corbyn’s strongest supporters said he thought “dark practices” would ultimately be uncovered by the 30-year rule, under which classified documents are released into the public domain three decades after being written.

Asked if he believed the online abuse of Corbyn’s critics was posted by people trying to discredit his supporters, McCluskey said: “Of course, of course. Do people believe for one second that the security forces are not involved in dark practices?

“I have been around long enough … the type of stuff that we ultimately find out about, about who was involved in who, the 30-year rule.

“We found out just a couple of years ago that the chair of my union then, the Transport and General Workers Union, was an MI5 informant at the time that there was a strike taking place that I personally as a worker was involved in. [In] 1972, I was on strike for six weeks. And 30 years later it comes out that the chair of my union at that time was an MI5 informant.”

Asked again if he believed that classified documents would eventually reveal the involvement of security forces in Corbyn’s leadership difficulties, McCluskey said: “Well I tell you what, anybody who thinks that that isn’t happening doesn’t live in the same world that I live in.

“Do you think that there’s not all kinds of rightwingers who are not secretly able to disguise themselves and stir up trouble? I find it amazing if people think that isn’t happening.”

McCluskey said he believed that MPs and others who had spoken of death threats and intimidation were exaggerating the extent of those threats.

“There’s a hysteria being whipped up,” he said. “A few people say things they shouldn’t and then it’s blown up out of all proportion, to suit the imagery that the Labour party has somehow become a cesspit, and suddenly it’s a crisis.”

McCluskey said he condemned the threats, but he was unsure what politicians could do to stop it. “God knows how you can control social media,” he said. “I know the more vicious elements hide their identities, and all these horrible things like [the Labour MP for Wigan] Lisa Nandy’s baby being threatened are despicable.

“They’re nothing to do with me. And they’re nothing to do with what I believe in. But how can you control them? Who are they?”

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SillySillyBoy #fundie theguardian.com

This is rubbish. The VAST majority of the violence is being directed from the left and towards Trumpers. Anyone who denies that is either lying or relies entirely on heavily biased progressive media.

For today's hysterical attempt to paint Donald Trump as worse than, like, literally Hitler: Newsflash: school children bully each other in playground, this never happen before Trump go nominated.

The bigger issue is the brainwashing of an entire generation to the point where any complaint or criticism about any foreigner is automatically labelled "Hitler/Nazi/Racist" and dismissed as immoral to even talk about.

There is nothing illegitimate about Americans being concerned with millions of illegal immigrants coming into their country from Mexico. Just like there's nothing illegitimate about uncontrolled immigration being a huge issue in the Brexit debate.

You are absolutely right. This is the progressive media propaganda machine at its worse. The thing is, it's game over for them and they don't realise. These words "Nazi", "racist", "xenophobe" are losing their power because they've been overused to silence debate for far too long. Young people are starting to laugh at these terms, starting to make jokes about them just to trigger the neurotic progressive thought police. They've lost control of the Narrative and we are seeing the final desperate throws before the left sinks into despair (or possibly reacts with their traditional mass violence).

Why do the left never include Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot in these lists? The left's 20th century body count is far higher. A recent survey found half of young people in Britain don't recognise Stalin's name, but nearly everyone knows Hitler. That's what decades of the left's complete control over education gives you: redwash.

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micktravis1968 #fundie theguardian.com

Meanwhile, in the real world, the general public can see perfectly well that: a) Donald Trump represents a right-wing populist insurgency that is the inevitable consequence of the wholesale selling-out of the people by the liberal and social-democratic left, such that Trump now conceivably represents a credible lesser evil than Mrs Clinton. b) Israel is a vicious racist state that makes apartheid South Africa look like Disneyland; criticism of Israel and Zionism is a progressive duty, and has nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Semitism. c) Vladimir Putin is a sensible, pragmatic leader - who, thankfully, has a much cooler head and clearer worldview than the nut-cases running Western policy in Washington and Westminster. d) Jeremy Corbyn is a nice, mild-mannered, ethically-committed gentleman who, whatever one thinks of his policies, goes about politics in a far more dignified way than the pro-corporate Cameronite/Blairite clique and their stenographers in the mainstream media. e) The European Union is a corrupt undemocratic organisation whose main roles are to facilitate the continued US economic/political domination of Europe, maintain the transfer of wealth from the people of Europe to the pockets of European big business leaders, and preserve a vast, useless, parasitic bureaucracy whose chief purpose is to provide career politicians like the Kinnocks with highly paid jobs for life.

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wetnap #conspiracy theguardian.com

Social Justice Warriors are not a tiny subset of writers. They infest all the major media venues, all the major forums and even reddit. Mass production of slanted articles has been seen and noted by the likes of youtuber Internet Aristocrat, its not surprise that all those sites came out with their "gamer is dead" articles on the same day. All these sites suppress information, enact mass bans on commenters for making them look bad by criticising them with the truth, and even on reddit, a moderator who had personal contact with Zoe Quinn just mass deleted tens of thousands of comments sight unseen. Its level of abuse of power which is hard to stomach, and its not a small subset, its almost all the major venues, and the rest who are even slightly stand offish on the issue still give their ideas credence, even weak support is support. And of course this is once again amplified by the main stream media, which sources its news about gaming and such issues from the corrupt gaming media.

You see, even when "journalists" try to appear fair by ceding a little ground they aren't. There is no middle ground against the truth. There is only truth. When accusations against gamers are made without any substantive evidence, they should be called on it. Instead we see just tacit acknowledgement that this is just a presumed fact. But its not.

Just some back of the envelope calculations/logic tells you this. How many gamers are there in the US alone? Industry figures say 200 million+, now discount half as women, and you have 100 million. How many supposed threats against Anita? I doubt it was anything more than double digits, if that(her claims are dubious). I'll give you 100 threats for the sake of argument. Whats 100 threats out of 100 million? Its 0.000001%
So we see "journalists" lecturing all gamers over 0.000001% of the population. Ask yourself, how many African Americans are felons? Its 7.7% based on felony disenfranchisement numbers, and yet, we don't start off every conversation involving a black person with a lecture about crime do we? It would be labeled for what it was, bigotry of the highest order, insulting, patronizing and just not something to be tolerated. Yet we see "journalists" lecturing gamers over the supposed behavior of 0.000001% of the population, its simply intolerable.

Anyways youtubers who have covered this entire issue better

Internet Aristocrat
Thunderf00t
JordanOwen42
Dangerous Analysis
Sargon of Akkad
Investig8tiveJoournalism
Gaming Anarchist
The Fantastic Skeptic
Aurini
Karen Straughan -Honey badger radio
Anyone who wants to see what's not being covered...those are a good watch.

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Georgian rioters #fundie theguardian.com

A vegan cafe in the centre of Tbilisi was shocked to find itself the subject of far-right ire after a group arrived and threw meat on patrons’ plates, leading to a public brawl.

Customers said a group entered the cafe wearing sausages around their necks and carrying slabs of meat on skewers, before attacking customers and staff.

Witnesses described the attackers as “far-right extremists”, and said the clash spilled onto the street outside after the attackers were asked to leave. Minor injuries were reported but the perpetrators fled before police arrived.

A statement issued on Facebook by the Kiwi Cafe on Monday described the incident as “an anti-vegan provocative action” accusing the attackers of being “neo-Nazis” who support “fascist ideas”.

According to the statement, the attackers “pulled out grilled meat, sausages, and fish and started eating them and throwing them at us... they were just trying to provoke our friends and disrespect us.”

The statement also alleged that memberes of group had come to the neighbourhood a month earlier and asked a nearby shopkeeper whether foreigners or members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community frequented the cafe.

Launched a year ago, the cafe has become a popular meeting place for foreigners and had been showing English-language episodes of the animated sci-fi sitcom Rick And Morty when the violence broke out.

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BradBenson #conspiracy theguardian.com

[Spain's ambassador to Venezuela recalled in diplomatic spat after Spain calls for release of political prisoners in Venezuela]

Yes, unfortunately, Spain now has a right wing government that is denying rights to its populace, restricting free speech and limiting demonstrations. I'm not surprised that Maduro wouldn't want any more scumbag Fascists in his country than those that are already there. He did deport a bunch of US AID and CIA Thugs last week though. Were any of your co-workers in the group?

Gradually, Maduro will rid himself of all the scum if he wants his government to survive. He will and it will. Not only that, the Bolivarian Movement will continue to grow and spread.

As for your list, there is only one country on that list that matters and that is the US. We determine the foreign policy for the UK and Colombia in all matters that concern us. Canada now has it's own Fascist Government and we've addressed Spain above.

So what we have is the US, two of its prime surrogates and two other quasi-Fascist States that are supporting the US efforts to undermine Venezuela. That makes sense. If Netanyahu and Obama got along better, Israel would be withdrawing their ambassador too!

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Bobby Ray Simmons Jr #conspiracy theguardian.com

Bobby Ray Simmons Jr, better known as BoB, American rapper and music producer, believes that the Earth is flat, according to recent tweets from his account.

The rapper – who has released hits Nothin’ on You, Airplanes and Magic – posted dozens of tweets, presenting a variety of arguments as to why modern science is wrong.

“A lot of people are turned off by the phrase ‘flat earth’ ... but there’s no way u can see all the evidence and not know... grow up,” he tweeted.

He argued that if the Earth were indeed curved, evidence of that would be apparent when looking at the horizon in the distance and distant cities would be hidden from view because of curvature.

“No matter how high in elevation you are... the horizon is always eye level ... sorry cadets... I didn’t wanna believe it either,” the rapper tweeted.

He shut down any and all attempts from followers to question his evidence, turning their questions about his theories back on them. When one user asked how no edge of the Earth had been discovered, if it were indeed flat, BoB responded: “Have u been to the edge ? or is that what your science book told you”?

“Well, at least ppl are better at insulting me than they are at thinking,” the rapper added.

[...]

BoB assured his followers that if they simply did the research, they too would come to the same conclusion that he had.

“Don’t believe what I say, research what I say,” he tweeted.

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Communist Party of China #fundie theguardian.com

China bans depictions of gay people on television

The Chinese government has banned all depictions of gay people on television, as part of a cultural crackdown on “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content”.

Chinese censors have released new regulations for content that “exaggerates the dark side of society” and now deem homosexuality, extramarital affairs, one night stands and underage relationships as illegal on screen.

Last week the Chinese government pulled a popular drama, Addicted, from being streamed on Chinese websites as it follows two men in gay relationships, causing uproar among the show’s millions of viewers.

The government said the show contravened the new guidelines, which state that “No television drama shall show abnormal sexual relationships and behaviours, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on.”

The ban also extends to smoking, drinking, adultery, sexually suggestive clothing, even reincarnation. China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television told television producers it would constantly monitor TV channels to ensure the new rules were strictly adhered to.

The clampdown follows an increase in cultural censorship in China since Xi Jinping came to power in November 2012. In December 2014, censors stopped a TV show, The Empress of China, from being broadcast because the actors showed too much cleavage. The show only returned to screens once the breasts had been blurred out.

In September 2015, a documentary about young gay Chinese called Mama Rainbow was taken down from all Chinese websites.

The new regulations have angered gay activists in China, who have fought for two decades to overcome the substantial stigma in their country against homosexuality. It was only decriminalised in 1997 and was only taken off the official list of mental illnesses in 2001.

In November, one Chinese campaigner took the government to court over its description of homosexuality as a “psychological disorder” in textbooks.

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Oxford University Labour Club members #racist theguardian.com

The news that the Oxford University Labour Club co-chair has resigned due to claims of antisemitism within the club may have been shocking to some. To Jewish students at Oxford, it was not. The student left produces the most aggressive and virulent propagators of antisemitism on campus.

Alex Chalmers’ resignation statement was clear, emphasising that: “A large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews.” The Oxford University Jewish Society noted that it was “not the first time that it has had to deal with antisemitic incidents within the student left and it will not be the last”. The Labour MP John Mann, chair of the all-party parliamentary group against antisemitism, has called for the party to sever all ties with the club.

Following Chalmers’ resignation, further allegations have appeared. Other OULC members, including past executive officers, approached Oxford University Jewish Society with a list of antisemitic incidents they had recorded. One OULC member argued that Hamas was justified in its killing of Jewish civilians and claimed all Jews were legitimate targets. A committee member stated that all Jews should be expected to publicly denounce Zionism and the state of Israel, and that we should not associate with any Jew who fails to do so. It has been alleged that another OULC member organised a group of students to harass a Jewish student and to shout “filthy Zionist” whenever they saw her.

This type of rhetoric is not confined to OULC. Leftwing student leaders have rallied against “any Rothschild” and “Zios” in their Facebook statuses. One of Oxford’s online political forums removed members with Jewish sounding surnames from the group. In another group, a member called for Jews to pack their bags and leave the Middle East. One notable far-left student politician said, “I don’t like being smeared as antisemitic, but I don’t bleed from it either.”

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ID1597567 #conspiracy theguardian.com

Because we all know this is about getting Assange to the USA What is the saying the bigger the lie the easier it is too get people to accept.I for one am insulted that we are expected to take this outrages lie seriously when we all know this is 101 gov. tactic to get someone.What about the raping by UN troops of little african boys.Stop tell to tell me black is white.

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jeremycorbynsupport #fundie theguardian.com

[This comment appears under a review of a television show about travel by rail]

Benjamin Creme says speaking on behalf of Maitreya and the Masters says that the only reason we have not had any nuclear attacks on a human population since 1945 in Japan is that the UFO beings have several times prevented such launches, which I find quite plausible, as it seems unlikely the sort of incompetents and despots we have had in power all around the world for the intervening 71 years since WWII would not have launched a nuclear strike by now.

Of course I am well aware a lot of the public does not believe genuine ET UFO craft and beings are here, though a lot now does (over 50% in some polls), but many ex-military and civil aviation people have sworn on oath to their genuine UFO experiences, such as in the Full Disclosure Project Video on YouTube, and I would be very interested to see someone like Mr Portillo do a serious investigation into the UFO issue, because I have seen the UFOs myself, as have millions of others worldwide, and it's time the public knew the truth that apparently various government or military already know - that we are very definitely not alone in this solar system, and that has massive (and benevolent) implications for all people on our planet.

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Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh #fundie theguardian.com

Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti has ruled that chess is forbidden in Islam, saying it encourages gambling and is a waste of time.

Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh was answering a question on a television show in which he issues fatwas in response to viewers’ queries on everyday religious matters.

He said chess was “included under gambling” and was “a waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players”.

Sheikh justified the ruling by referring to the verse in the Qur’an banning “intoxicants, gambling, idolatry and divination”. It is not clear when the fatwa was delivered.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s supreme Shia religious authority, has previously issued rulings forbidding chess.

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Unnamed South Korean family #fundie theguardian.com

German police have arrested five members of a South Korean family suspected of beating to death a 41-year-old woman in a religious exorcism ritual in a hotel room.

The relatives allegedly believed that the woman, also South Korean, was “possessed by demons” and tied her to a bed, gagged and severely beat her for two hours with the goal of “driving out the devil”, prosecutors said.

“I have never seen anything like it,” said Nadja Niesen, chief prosecutor of the city of Frankfurt.

The body was found Saturday in a hotel room where the five suspects – a 44-year-old woman, her 21-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter, and two boys aged 15, one of whom was the victim’s son – were arrested on suspicion of murder.

The cause of death was “suffocation due to massive chest compression and trauma to the neck”. Officials said the woman’s killers used “severe violence” against her, beating her chest and stomach while gagging her with a towel and then a cloth-covered coat hanger.

The national news agency DPA reported that the family were of unknown religious affiliation and had arrived in the city around six weeks earlier.

The investigation led police to discover a second suspected victim alive in the garage of a house the group had rented in the town of Sulzbach. The female relative was badly injured, had hypothermia and was dehydrated.

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ICUASUCME #conspiracy theguardian.com

Emwazi and Bin Laden may have had embarassing things to say about their acquaintances in western intelligence services. That's why they prefer to kill em. We must force transparency of these unelected 'National Security' wonks for a chance to solve this. Terrorism is a useful distraction from the daily robbery of the super rich. Why else insist on a bombing policy as if it's a new thing that we've just got to get down to now. Fourteen years of testing this in practice has led to a massive increase in terrorism. We must surely now get down to the business of doing exactly as we have been doing. Exasperatingly stupid. Follow the money - who benefits!

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xGxxVx #racist theguardian.com

(Camera women filmed attacking refugees)

I doubt you'd see the same outcry if she tackled an armed robber on the street.

Has the media has spun this story to the point that we don't even see these people as criminals anymore!?
worrying

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Various German xenophobes #racist theguardian.com

Angela Merkel warns against intolerance towards refugees

Chancellor dismisses ‘traitor’ jibes from far-right hecklers at Saxony refugee shelter and thanks Germans trying to help asylum seekers

The German chancellor’s visit to the Heidenau refugee centre, greeted, above, by a placard reading “traitor of the people” came a day after Berlin said it had eased some asylum rules.

Angela Merkel was met by a barrage of whistles, boos and calls of traitor when she visited an emergency asylum seeker and refugee centre near Dresden. She insisted that hatred towards refugees would not be tolerated.

About 50 protesters had gathered outside the disused DIY store turned reception centre in Heidenau, Saxony, as the German chancellor, on Wednesday, made her first visit to a refugee shelter. Her visit reportedly followed criticism that she had failed to openly condemn recent violence against the large numbers of refugees arriving in Germany.

In a protest organised on social media by far-right groups car horns were blown to try to block out her words. Merkel insisted on the importance of “human and dignified treatment” of asylum seekers. “There will be no tolerance towards those who are not prepared to help,” she said. “The more people that make that clear, the stronger we will be.”

Heidenau, which has been housing 600 refugees since Friday, was the scene of violent clashes between police and demonstrators at the weekend, confrontations which, on Wednesday, Merkel branded shameful and repulsive. Right-wing radicals and racist protesters threw fireworks and bottles at police, injuring 31 of them.
German neo-Nazi protesters clash with police at new migrant shelter
Read more

Following the announcement last week that Germany was expecting to receive at least 800,000 refugees this year, attacks against refugee shelters which were already high, have intensified, particularly in the east of the country.

“Germany will help where help is necessary, and of course we need to put this into practice,” Merkel said. “We cannot act as if this situation was a perfectly normal one. And it will only work if we take this new path together.”

Protesters repeatedly shouted “people’s traitor” and chanted “Wir sind das Pack” (we are the mob), a dig at the deputy chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, who called the protesters a mob during a visit to Heidenau on Tuesday. It was also a play on the popular demonstration cry “Wir sind das Volk”, (we are the people) used by pro-democracy demonstrators in the run-up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 but recently hijacked by supporters of the racist movement Pegida.

Merkel thanked the tens of thousands of people in Germany who have been joining in the effort to help the refugees who have dispersed across the country, after arriving mostly via Bavaria in the south.

She also praised mayors across Germany for trying to care for the refugees, thanking them and everyone who had “had to endure the hatred”. Her closing words amounted to what was, for Merkel, an unusually heartfelt appeal to all Germans to keep talking about the issues and about how Germany could best deal with what she described as the exceptional situation.
Germans greet influx of refugees with free food and firebombings
Read more

At the same time, the German president, Joachim Gauck, visited a refugee shelter in Berlin. He said the attacks belonged to a “dark Germany” and said those who were involved in helping refugees to integrate belonged to a “bright Germany” and offered a clear answer to the rabble-rousers. He added that while it was the job of politicians to listen to the fears of the people, now was a time when the people needed to trust politicians to “master the challenges”.

“I’d like to remind you that during times in the past when Germany was grindingly poor we have faced far greater challenges than this. But people nowadays have of course forgotten this.”

In the first half of 2015 there were about 200 attacks on the accommodation of asylum seekers, a huge increase on last year.

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William Bader, Steven Johnson and the KKK #fundie theguardian.com

Outside the South Carolina statehouse, William Bader stood tall and defiant as he brandished a large Confederate battle flag. It was not unlike the one embroidered on his black shirt, or the one a local honor guard recently removed from a flagpole outside the legislative building where he protested.

Bader, an imperial wizard in the Trinity White Knights, drove hundreds of miles from Kentucky – or, rather, “Klantucky”, as he quipped – to Columbia, all in hopes of defending the flag on a sweltering Saturday afternoon.

“They took our flag, so be it,” said Bader, a member of the Ku Klux Klan for the past two decades. “They’re taking our heritage from us. They’re taking the freedom out of America.”

More than a week ago, South Carolina lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to take down the Confederate flag from its prominent position on the statehouse grounds. The controversial decision, which followed a racially motivated 17 June shooting that left nine African American men and women dead inside a historic Charleston church, prompted competing rallies between white supremacist and black activist groups.

The Loyal White Knights, a North Carolina-based group thought to be the largest KKK faction, scheduled the protest to stop the removal of the flag. The group decided to carry on regardless. They received support from other KKK factions, National Socialist Movement members and Christian fundamentalists.

“The blacks have been out here attacking people, stealing people’s property, taking their flags,” said Steven Johnson, a South Carolina father of two who was among those waving Nazi flags during the rally. “I’m scared of what my family’s about to grow up with.”

Forgoing their notorious hoods, more than 50 protesters brandished flags and yelled racial epithets at minority onlookers from behind the protection of steel barricades, watched by dozens of law enforcement officers. According to Bader, some KKK members had planned to hold a church burning, wearing the infamous Klan uniforms.

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66Applicationsperjob #conspiracy theguardian.com

London only brings in the extra money because a) it has raided it from all other regions within the UK and has even stolen money sent by the EU; b) the immigration policy which encourages immigrants to want to live and settle where the money is (in the South) making demands for people who live there to move out, so they can move in owing to favoured conditions thanks to the EU (Government creates the conditions remember e.g. the bedroom tax) who are against nationalism and by making all other immigrants illegal even those from the Commonwealth c) favouring certain countries and their natural resources for exploitation by the EU and to ensure expansion of the EU capturing wealth and then paying itself handsomely with the rewards even to the point of printing money in trillions and then awarding austerity onto populations who pay for it.

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Morrissey #fundie theguardian.com

Eating meat is not murder, it's much worse than that, according to the celebrated miserablist and former Smiths singer Morrissey.

"I see no difference between eating animals and paedophilia," he said. "They are both rape, violence, murder. If I'm introduced to anyone who eats beings, I walk away."

While devout Morrissey fans may regard his every word as divine writ – including his recent monumental autobiography which he insisted on being published in the Penguin Classics series – he pushed them to the limit in his latest utterances.

"Imagine, for example, if you were in a nightclub and someone said to you: 'Hello, I enjoy bloodshed, throat-slitting and the destruction of life,' well, I doubt if you'd want to exchange phone numbers," he said.

The insights were shared in a Q&A session on his fan website, True to You. Asked about his proudest achievement, he said it was persuading many people to stop eating meat. "If you believe in the abattoir then you would support Auschwitz. There's no difference."

But he wasn't done: "If Jamie 'Orrible is so certain that flesh-food is tasty then why doesn't he stick one of his children in a microwave?" he asked. And of Cilla Black preparing a leg of lamb recently on television: "Since a lamb is a baby, I wondered what kind of mind Cilla Black could possibly have that would convince her that eating a baby is OK?"

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Belzer rabbis of Stamford Hill #fundie theguardian.com

Leaders of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect in north London have said children who are driven to school by their mothers will be turned away at the school gates.

Rabbis from the marginal Hasidic sect Belz have told women in Stamford Hill who drive that they go against “the traditional rules of modesty in our camp”.

In a letter sent to parents last week, seen by the Jewish Chronicle, they say there has been an increase in the number of mothers driving their children to school and add that this has led to “great resentment among parents of pupils of our [Hasidic] institutions”.

The letter says the ban, to come into force in the summer, is based on the recommendations of Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, the Belzer spiritual leader in Israel.

It says that if a mother has no other choice but to drive her child to school – for medical reasons, for example – she should “submit a request to the special committee to this effect and the committee shall consider her request”.

The move has been met with some disagreement within the Orthodox community. Dina Brawer, the UK ambassador of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, said: “What this is really about is the curtailing of women’s freedom of movement rendering them dependent on men. It’s an issue of power and control not one of religious sensibility.

“The positioning of this ban is that women drivers somehow breach the values of modesty, which is absurd, as by any objective standpoint there is nothing at all immodest about a women driving a car.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews distanced itself from the decree, saying the letter was from a marginal and unaffiliated group.

But a statement issued on behalf of women in the sect by a local Belz women’s organisation said they felt “extremely privileged and valued to be part of a community where the highest standards of refinement, morality and dignity are respected”.

“We believe that driving a vehicle is a high pressured activity where our values may be compromised by exposure to selfishness, road-rage, bad language and other inappropriate behaviour,” they said.

“We do, however, understand that there are many who conduct lifestyles that are different to ours, and we do not, in any way, disrespect them or the decisions they make.”

Not all Orthodox sects discourage women from driving. This is believed to be the first time a ban has been imposed in the UK.

The Belz, who originated in Ukraine in the early 18th century and established their headquarters in Israel after the second world war, are one of the most prominent Hasidic sects.

In September last year, there was similar controversy when posters put up by an Orthodox Jewish group warned women to walk on one side of the road for a religious parade. The posters were removed by Hackney council after they were deemed unacceptable.

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Robert Ménard #fundie theguardian.com

A French mayor backed by the far-right Front National has been accused of racism after using the names of schoolchildren in his town to decide how many were Muslim.

Under France’s strict secularism laws, the government does not keep statistics on people’s religion or ethnicity.

But Robert Ménard, mayor of Béziers in the south of the country, said his administration had used lists of pupils’ names to decide how many were Muslim, and claimed the figure came to 64.6%.

“Sorry to say this, but the mayor has, class by class, the names of the children,” he said on France 2 television on Tuesday night.

“I know I don’t have the right to do it. Sorry to say it, but the first names tell us their religion. To say otherwise is to deny the evidence,” he added.

His comments brought condemnation from the Socialist government, with the prime minister, Manuel Valls, tweeting: “Shame on the mayor”.

[...]

However the town hall of Béziers denied on Wednesday that there was any list of children’s names or that any effort had been made to identify which were Muslim.

“The town hall of Béziers does not have, and has never had, files on its children,” it said in a statement.

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Mostafa Gavahi & other hardliners #fundie theguardian.com

“Homosexual” and “devil worshipping” hairstyles have been banned in Iran, alongside tattoos, sunbed treatments and plucked eyebrows for men, which are all deemed un-Islamic.

The move – aimed at spiky cuts – follows a trend where, each summer, Iranian authorities Iranian authorities get tough on men and women sporting clothing or hairdos seen as imitations of western lifestyles.

In 2010, Iran banned ponytails, mullets and long, gelled hair for men, but allowed 1980s-style floppy fringes or quiffs.

Iran’s moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, has spoken against such crackdowns, stating that the police’s duty is to implement the law and not enforce Islam. But hardliners have remained defiant.

Mostafa Govahi, the head of Iran’s barbers’ union, told the semi-official Isna news agency on Monday that fancifully spiked hairstyles were banned and those who styled them risked having their shops closed.

He said: “Devil-worshipping hairstyles are forbidden. Any shop that cuts hair in the devil worshipping style will be harshly dealt with and their licence revoked. Tattoos, solarium treatments and plucking eyebrows [for men] are also forbidden.”

Govahi said shops who imitate such “western hairstyles” or violate “the Islamic establishment’s regulations” would be shut down if they failed to take an initial warning seriously. “Usually the barber shops who do this do not have a licence. They have been identified and will be dealt with,” he said.

In a separate interview broadcast by the exiled Iranian opposition television channel, Manoto, Govahi said barbers across Iran had been given a list of appropriate hairstyles for men. He said hairstyles adopted by homosexuals were also banned but did not provide further details on what sort of haircut that would be.

“Haircuts that show symbols or signs of devil worshippers or those adopted by homosexuals are banned,” he said. “I won’t allow such wrongful western styles as long as I’m in this position.” He said the policy was in line with the cultural norms outlined by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Recently, a group of hardliners in the city of Qazvin wrote to the authorities asking them to ban full-body waxing for women in beauty salons. Women receiving hair removal treatments to their private parts was of particular concern.

Shop mannequins have not been immune from such measures either, with those displaying sizeable breasts or hips not tolerated.

Religious police and plainclothes basij militia are often deployed on the streets or in public buildings such as big shopping malls where they crack down on men and women who fail to stick to their forced Islamic dress code.

Rouhani has repeatedly made clear he stands opposed to such practices, but Iran’s police and similar forces operate under the direct control of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In controversial remarks last week, Rouhani told a group of senior Iranian officers: “Police do not have a duty to enforce Islam. No police officer can do something and say he did it because God commanded it, or the prophet had said so. It has nothing to do with the police.”

He added: “The police only have one duty: to implement the law. That’s it.”

This week, he reiterated his position once more but it has been met with sharp criticism from hardliners, among them many influential clerics. Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi responded by saying: “All individuals, including the police, are required to enforce rules of Islam.”

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roninwarrior #conspiracy theguardian.com

Personally, I think there are far greater dangers to our children in the 21st century. Here in Britain there is an agenda to install "smart meters" into every home by 2020. These devices will be pumping out wi-fi every 30seconds or so and creating a blanket of radioactivity we`re all going to bathe in. That includes those unborn as well as babies, infants etc.

What research we do have indicates that wi-fi is even more toxic to the human organism than cell phone emissions, and both are carcinogenic. Increasing countries have recognised this as rates of cancer, autism etc are climbing at alarming rates. This is not due to the spin line that we better diagnose, and many are trying to do something about it.

Wi-fi is banned in schools in various countries, but here in Britain we can`t allow anything to stand in the way of profit or the surveillance grid so the plan is to radiate the entire country.

Much like the vaccine industry, no time is given to allow for true and accurate findings before roll out. The same can be said for GMO. Some people need to accept that science isn`t gospel. It`s just the best guess at a given time with information available at that time.

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Ravi Kulasekere #conspiracy theguardian.com

Sure, now that a pharma consulting company, a bug eyed ball of wool and a bold faced liar have all claimed that there is no association between vaccines and autism (or neurological disorders such as the ones listed in vaccine inserts) then it must be true.. yeah I also believed in Santa for awhile. The study is quite obviously rigged with the study subject selection criteria and until such time as a true unbiased vaccinated versus un-vaccinated study is done vaccines will and should remain unavoidably unsafe, marginally efficacious in most instances and should remain a choice. The only thing that this study shows is that there should NOT be a one size fits all vaccination agenda like the one we have here in the USA where our babies are given a whopping 49 vaccines from the time they are born until age six. Oh yeah we should probably not question that either because some expert (who by the way runs away from peer-to-peer debates on TV) has claimed that a child can take 10000 vaccines at once and be fine. That must be the money talking or the rear end, take your pick. I am so sick of the bullying, coercion and lies on this subject and the fact that intelligent people who ask intelligent questions are being shut down by people who have blatant conflict of interest and love to play god.

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Nissam Ben Haim and others at Kikar HaShabbat #fundie theguardian.com

For most media outlets a picture of Kim Kardashian, reality television celebrity and wife of rapper Kanye West, would be regarded as guaranteed clickbait. Now, however, the woman for whom the word over-exposed might have been invented has found herself crudely excised from ultra-orthodox Jewish website Kikar HaShabbat.

A photograph of Kardashian in a Jerusalem restaurant enjoying a meal with her husband was doctored, with a receipt placed where she was sitting. In a second image she was rendered unrecognisably fuzzy.

Even Kardashian’s name was left out of the piece by the paper, which referred to her only as “Kanye West’s wife”.

The article from which Kardashian was excised had criticised the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, for dining with the couple at a well-known non-kosher restaurant, Mona, which not only opens on the Jewish sabbath but serves non-kosher dishes mixing meat and dairy, including for the meal in question.

Barkat – the target of the article – had posted a photograph of himself with the couple on his Facebook page, in which he wrote: “Raising a glass to Jerusalem with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West! I asked them to serve as Jerusalem’s ambassadors and spread the word that Jerusalem is an open city and welcomes everyone.”

Nissim Ben Haim, an editor at the Kikar HaShabbat website, said on Wednesday Kardashian had been removed because she clashed with ultra-Orthodox values, not least that women should dress and behave modestly.

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Jean-Marie Le Pen #fundie theguardian.com

[Hyperlinks in original]

It has been described as a far-right, political death-match somewhere between King Lear and Dallas.

France’s far-right Front National has been plunged into an all-out war between its president, Marine Le Pen, and her ageing father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, after he made inflammatory comments belittling the Holocaust and defended Marshal Pétain, the leader of France’s Nazi collaborationist Vichy regime.

[...]

Then in an interview this week with Rivarol, a notorious far-right weekly, Jean-Marie Le Pen attacked his daughter’s criticism of his Holocaust comments, saying: “You’re only betrayed by your own.”

He defended Philippe Pétain, the leader of France’s Nazi collaborationist Vichy regime in the 1940s, who was convicted of treason after the war. He told the magazine: “I have never considered Marshal Pétain a traitor. He was treated too severely after the liberation.”

He also lamented: “We’re being governed by immigrants and children of immigrants at all levels.” Citing France’s Spanish-born Socialist prime minister, Manuel Valls, he asked: “What is his attachment to France

He said France should join with Russia to save the “white world” and said he understood why some fought democracy.

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Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock #fundie theguardian.com

Yoga classes do not violate students' religious rights, Californian court rules
Appeals court upholds ruling against lawsuit brought by family who claimed yoga promoted Hinduism and inhibited Christianity.
Yoga taught in a public school is not a gateway to Hinduism and does not violate the religious rights of students or their parents, a California appeals court has ruled.

An appeal court in San Diego upheld a lower court ruling that tossed out a family’s lawsuit that tried to block Encinitas Union school district from teaching yoga as an alternative to traditional gym classes.

“While the practice of yoga may be religious in some contexts, yoga classes as taught in the district are, as the trial court determined, ‘devoid of any religious, mystical, or spiritual trappings,’” the court wrote in a 3-0 opinion.
Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock and their two children had brought the lawsuit claiming yoga promoted Hinduism and inhibited Christianity. They were disappointed with the ruling and considering their options.

“No other court in the past 50 years has allowed public school officials to lead children in formal religious rituals like the Hindu liturgy of praying to, bowing to, and worshipping the sun god,” attorney Dean Broyles said in a statement.

Paul V Carelli IV, a lawyer for the district, said there were no rituals occurring in the classroom and no one was worshipping the sun or leading Hindu rites. The district said the practice was taught in a secular way to promote strength, flexibility and balance.

Yoga is now taught at schools across the US, but the district is believed to be the first with full-time yoga teachers at all schools.

A three-year grant from the KP Jois Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes Ashtanga yoga, provides twice-weekly, 30-minute classes to the district’s 5,600 students.

About 30 families opted out of the classes begun in 2011.

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Chelsea football fans #racist theguardian.com

Police in Paris and London have launched investigations after Chelsea supporters were filmed singing a racist chant and preventing a black man from boarding the Paris Métro.

...

The footage, obtained exclusively by the Guardian, shows a man repeatedly trying to squeeze on to a busy train, only to be forcefully shoved out of the door and back on to the platform at the Richelieu–Drouot station before Chelsea’s Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain.
The fans on the train are then heard chanting: “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it,” while a black woman is standing in front of them.

...

A Chelsea fan who was on the train claimed the supporters pushed the man off the carriage because he was a PSG fan rather than for being black. Season-ticket holder Mitchell McCoy, 17, from Fulham in London, told the Press Association: “We got on the train and at the station where the man was trying to get on we stopped for a couple of minutes.
“He tried to get on and a few people were pushing him off because there wasn’t much space on the carriage. You couldn’t move.
“People were saying it was because he was black. It’s not true at all. I personally think it’s because he was a PSG fan. Obviously they didn’t want him anywhere with us. That guy in the video tried to force himself on, so they pushed him off.”
Mitchell, who travelled to Paris with five friends, admitted that fans chanted “we’re racist and that’s the way we like it”, but said it was a reference to Chelsea captain John Terry. Asked why that song was sung at that moment, he said: “I’m not sure. I didn’t sing it.”

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Stephanie Messenger #conspiracy theguardian.com

An anti-vaccination children’s picture book written to “educate children on the benefits of having measles” has been bombarded with hundreds of scathing reviews in the past few days in the wake of the disease’s current outbreak in the US.

Australian author Stephanie Messenger, who writes that she has raised three children “vaccine-free and childhood disease-free”, first self-published Melanie’s Marvelous Measles two years ago. But since the measles outbreak in California’s Disneyland last month spread to more than 100 people, it has received more than 800 one-star reviews on Amazon.com as readers laid into the title.

...

The book sets out to take children on a “journey to learn about the ineffectiveness of vaccinations and to know they don’t have to be scared of childhood illnesses, like measles and chicken pox”. With a cover showing a rash-covered girl playing in the garden, Messenger’s story sees Tina worrying about her friend Melanie, who is away from school with measles. Her mother tells her not to be concerned. “Many wise people believe measles make the body stronger and more mature for the future,” she tells her daughter, who then asks if she can visit Melanie and catch measles herself. “That sounds like a great idea,” laughs her mother. “Let’s take her some carrot juice and melon to help her get strong and recover from the measles.”

...

Messenger, in her book, claims that “often today, we are being bombarded with messages from vested interests to fear all diseases in order for someone to sell some potion or vaccine, when, in fact, history shows that in industrialised countries, these diseases are quite benign and, according to natural health sources, beneficial to the body”.

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Al-Khanssaa Brigade #fundie theguardian.com

Girls can marry at the age of nine, should ideally have husbands by 16 or 17 and should not be corrupted by going to work, according to a treatise published by female Islamic State supporters in Iraq and Syria.

The document, Women of the Islamic State: Manifesto and Case Study, says women must stay behind closed doors and leave the house only in exceptional circumstances.

“It is always preferable for a woman to remain hidden and veiled, to maintain society from behind this veil,” the English translation says. Fashion shops and beauty salons are denounced as the work of the devil.

The semi-official Islamic State manifesto on women – believed to be the first of its kind – was published on a jihadi forum in Arabic last month and is purported to be by the media wing of the al-Khanssaa Brigade, an all-female militia set up by Islamic State (Isis).

It has now been translated into English by the London-based counter-extremism thinktank Quilliam Foundation.

The introduction to the treatise says it has not been sanctioned by “the state” – meaning Islamic State – or its leadership but is a document to “clarify the role of Muslim women and the life which is desired for them” and “to clarify the realities of life and the hallowed existence of women in the Islamic State”.

The manifesto says: “From ages seven to nine, there will be three lessons: fiqh (understanding) and religion, Qur’anic Arabic (written and read) and science (accounting and natural sciences).

“From 10 to 12, there will be more religious studies, especially fiqh, focusing more on fiqh related to women and the rulings on marriage and divorce. This is in addition to the other two subjects. Skills like textiles and knitting, basic cooking will also be taught.

“From 13 to 15, there will be more of a focus on sharia, as well as more manual skills (especially those related to raising children) and less of the science, the basics of which will already have been taught. In addition, they will be taught about Islamic history, the life of the prophet and his followers.

“It is considered legitimate for a girl to be married at the age of nine. Most pure girls will be married by 16 or 17, while they are still young and active. Young men will not be more than 20 years old in those glorious generations.”

The western model for woman has failed, the treatise says, with women who go to work taking on “corrupted ideas and shoddy-minded beliefs instead of religion”. “The model preferred by infidels in the west failed the minute that women were ‘liberated’ from their cell in the house,” it says.

The manifesto includes a lengthy condemnation of the culture of the “disbelievers of Europe”, urging its readers to disavow “falsity and materialism in civilisation” and to devote oneself instead to religious knowledge.

The ideal Islamic community, it says, should not be caught up with “trying to uncover the secrets of nature and reaching the peaks of architectural sophistication”. They should instead concentrate on the implementation of sharia law and the spreading of Islam.

In a section entitled: “How the soldiers of Iblis [the devil] keep women from paradise”, the authors take aim at the western lifestyle that encourages both men and women to gain an education and employment. The manifesto denounces the wearing of fashionable clothes and piercings, concluding: “This urbanisation, modernity and fashion is presented by Iiblis [the devil] in fashion shops and beauty salons.”

It is the “fundamental function” of a woman to be in the house with her husband and children, the jihadi guide says, adding that they may leave the house to serve the community only in exceptional circumstances – to wage jihad when there are no men available, to study religion, and female doctors and teachers are permitted to leave but “must keep strictly to sharia guidelines”.

“Yes, we say: ‘Stay in your houses’, but this does not mean, in any way, that we support illiteracy, backwardness or ignorance,” the English-language translation reads. “Rather, we just support the distinction between working – that which involves a woman leaving the house – and studying, as it was ordained she should do.”

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Mike Huckabee #fundie theguardian.com

The Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee on Sunday said same-sex marriage was like drinking and swearing – a concept appealing to others but not to him as a Christian.

The former Arkansas governor, appearing on CNN, said forcing people opposed to same-sex marriage to accept it was the same as telling Jews they had to serve “bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli”.

“We’re not going to do that,” he said, adding: “We’re not going to ask a Muslim to serve up, ah, something that is offensive to him, to have dogs in his backyard.

“We’re so sensitive to make sure we don’t offend certain religions, but then we act like Christians can’t have the convictions that they have had for over 2,000 years.”

Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, showed strongly in the 2008 Republican primaries, winning the Iowa caucus. In January, he announced he was quitting his Fox News show in order to explore another run for the presidency in 2016.

“I’d like to think there is room in America for people to disagree instead of screaming and shouting and having to shut their businesses down,” he said, adding: “People can be my friends who have lifestyles that are not necessarily my lifestyle. I don’t shut people out of my circle or out of my life because they have a different point of view.

“I don’t drink alcohol, but gosh – a lot of my friends, maybe most of them, do. You know, I don’t use profanity, but believe me, I’ve got a lot of friends who do. Some people really like classical music and ballet and opera – it’s not my cup of tea.”

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Alabama could become the 37th state to allow it, pending the outcome of a legal fight stoked by resistance by the state government to a judge’s repeated rulings. The US supreme court is due to rule on the issue this year.

Same-sex marriages occurred in Huckabee’s home state, Arkansas, in May 2014, but are currently on hold pending an appeal. The state banned the practice in a 2004 constitutional amendment that was approved by voters.

Polls show 30% support for same-sex marriage among voters who identify themselves as Republicans.

“For me … this is not just a political issue,” Huckabee said. “It is a biblical issue. And unless I get a new version of the scriptures it’s really not my place to just say, ‘OK, I’m just going to evolve.’”

Huckabee is currently promoting a book, God, Guns, Grits and Gravy, which heralds what he says are the values of the states located between the more liberal east and west coasts. The book has courted some controversy, notably over his contention that President Obama was unwise to let his teenage daughters listen to music by Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Huckabee did not answer a question about whether he thought being gay was a choice, but said he appreciated different viewpoints on gay marriage and was friends with gay people.

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Binyamin Lipkin #fundie theguardian.com

A small Jewish ultra-Orthodox newspaper in Israel has found itself in the spotlight after digitally removing Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel from a photo of this week’s Paris march.

World leaders had linked arms to march in Paris against terrorism after Islamic extremists killed 17 people. At the march, Merkel stood in the front row between the French president, François Hollande, and Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

But readers of the Hamevaser newspaper’s Monday edition didn’t know, as she had been digitally removed, leaving Abbas standing next to Hollande. Israeli media joked it was meant to bring Abbas closer to Israeli premier Binyamin Netanyahu, who was standing nearby.

Within the insular ultra-Orthodox community, pictures of women are rarely shown, due to modesty concerns. In Jerusalem, ultra-Orthodox vandals frequently deface buses and billboards with advertising deemed to be immodest.

The picture in Hamevaser also cut out other women, like the Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, though the newspaper clumsily left her dark glove on the sleeve of a marcher. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, was cropped out.

Binyamin Lipkin, editor of Hamevaser, said the newspaper is a family publication that must be suitable for all audiences, including young children.

“The eight-year-old can’t see what I don’t want him to see,” he told Israel’s Channel 10 television station. “True, a picture of Angela Merkel should not ruin the child, but if I draw a line, I have to put it there from the bottom all the way to the top.”

He also said he did not want to tarnish the memories of the people killed in the attacks.

“Including a picture of a woman into something so sacred, as far as we are concerned, it can desecrate the memory of the martyrs and not the other way around,” he said.

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Meryl Dorey #conspiracy theguardian.com

More venues have cancelled appearances from a US anti-vaccination campaigner, prompting a supporter of the seminars to compare opponents to the gunmen who targeted French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

At least five venues have now ditched bookings for Sherri Tenpenny, who is due to visit Australia in February and March.

An online network opposing her visit, the Stop the Australian (Anti) Vaccination Network (SAVN), has called for venues to refuse bookings and is demanding that Peter Dutton, the immigration minister, reject her visa.

Meryl Dorey, a former president of the Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network, drew a comparison with Wednesday’s attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which left 12 people dead.

“The organisation that is pushing this censorship is a hate group and they are very much like the groups in France that have been carrying out these actions,” she told 3AW.

“No one is forcing people to attend but when you say in a democratic country that you can’t discuss an issue, that’s a problem. There’s an imbalance – 99% of what appears in government brochures is the benefits of vaccination, but not the risks. When someone talks about the risks they are downplayed or ridiculed.”

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Helpers of God's Precious Infants #fundie theguardian.com

Women trying to get an abortion in Albury, New South Wales, have ended up self harming or even attempting suicide because of harassment from protesters outside the only clinic offering the procedure in the area, health workers have said.

[...]

A social worker, who did not want to be named because she has been frequently targeted by protesters, said women had been intimidated about attending the clinic for too long.

“Many women end up travelling to Melbourne or Sydney for the procedure because they can’t face the protesters,” she told Guardian Australia.

“Some teenage girls do self harm because they don’t feel safe going to the clinic here, or they’re worried they will be identified by the protesters and the whole city will know about it.

“They don’t have the resources to go to Melbourne or Sydney, their parents may not know, and they are so stressed and traumatised, they attempt suicide.”

[...]

One woman described how she panicked as the protesters began to approach. “I couldn’t take a step forward,” the woman, who did not want to be identified, said.

“I panicked very badly; my anxiety was so heightened I hyperventilated. I was so distressed knowing they were going to race at me.”

She said the group surrounded her and blocked her entrance to the clinic, telling her she was making the wrong decision and holding up graphic images of dead babies.

“I finally responded that I had no choice, that my foetus was likely both deformed and brain damaged, and that if I continued with the pregnancy that I’d likely leave four children motherless,” she said. “I was told that I should choose death. This ... made me hysterical.”

[...]

[W]omen were being filmed by protesters and that their names were being recorded, shattering their privacy.

[...]

A study conducted by a fertility clinic in East Melbourne found 78% of their patients were more traumatised by anti-abortion protesters than getting a termination.

Anna von Marburg, the co-ordinator for Albury Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, did not directly answer questions from Guardian Australia about claims women were being driven to self harm or being psychologically traumatised.

But she said the group had displayed “exemplary behaviour and incredible courage in the face of very aggressive tactics by abortion advocates”.

“The abortion clinic, abortion activists, police and pedestrians have hundreds of hours of footage of the [group] and have never been able to show evidence of any harassment, blocking, or violence,” she said.

She also dismissed Mourik’s assessment that staff were stressed as a result of the protests.

“Society should feel stress and anxiety that doctors and nurses are using surgical means to solve a largely psychosocial problem,” Von Marburg, who also runs the local Catholic bookstore, said.

“We believe that we can offer a solution that does not involve the destruction of human life.”

When asked why her group could not compromise and carry out protests down the street from the clinic, Von Marburg replied: “Why doesn’t Occupy Wall Street move to Kansas?”

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Marine Le Pen #conspiracy theguardian.com

Marine Le Pen's public relations efforts to soften the image of the far-right Front National were dented this week after she caused outrage by questioning the beards and scarves worn by returning French hostages.

Le Pen, whose party's trademark is speaking out against immigration and public displays of Islam, said the appearance of the four men who had been held captive by for three years by Islamist militants in the Sahel desert was "troubling".

She told Europe 1 radio: "Two of them had beards cut in a rather strange way. Their clothing was strange. One hostage had a scarf on his face. That all calls for some explanation on their part."

Asked whether she was implying the French workers kidnapped in 2010 from a uranium mine site in Niger might have converted to Islam, she said: "I'm not making allusions. I'm telling you how I felt. I wouldn't go so far as to offer a theory."

The mother of one of the former captives, Pierre Legrand, said her son and the three other men had agreed to keep their beards and scarves in a gesture of solidarity with other French hostages still held in the region. The four, flown back to Paris within 48 hours of their release from harsh conditions in northern Mali, had appeared tired and relatives said they needed time to recover from their ordeal.

[Bolding mine - links in the original]

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Garron Helm #racist theguardian.com

An internet troll accused of sending an antisemitic message to Labour MP Luciana Berger has been sentenced to four weeks in prison at Merseyside magistrates court.

Garron Helm, 21, from Litherland, north of Liverpool, tweeted a picture of the MP with a Holocaust yellow star superimposed on her forehead, with the hashtag “Hitler was right”. The tweet, which referred to Berger as a "communist jewess", read: "You can always trust a Jew to show their true colours eventually."

Helm send the tweet in the early hours of the morning on 7 August and claimed to have sent it in a state of anger and frustration. He pleaded guilty to sending an offensive, indecent or obscene message.

Berger, the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, said she hoped the jail term would deter would-be trolls. “This sentence sends a clear message that hate crime is not tolerated in our country," she said. "I hope this case serves as an encouragement to others to report hate crime whenever it rears its ugly head."

When police searched Helm’s home they found Nazi memorabilia including an SS flag and flags from the British neo-Nazi group National Action. Helm’s twitter account, called "Æthelwulf" – Old English for Noble Wolf – links to the National Action website, which promotes a "free, white Britain".

The account includes a tweet that refers to David Cameron and Ed Miliband as “Jews masquerading as Englishmen” and many references to far-right politics.

[Bolding mine ; links in the original]

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Janusz Korwin-Mikke #fundie theguardian.com

Dapper in bow tie and blazer, Nigel Farage’s new European ally likes to welcome a woman to his grey-walled, grey-carpeted Brussels office by stooping to kiss her hand. There is a danger, though, that he will follow up this display of old-fashioned courtesy by sharing some old-fashioned views about her inferiority.

Janusz Korwin-Mikke is the eccentric head of Poland’s Congress of the New Right. With his agreement, a member of the party, Robert Iwaszkiewicz, has just joined Ukip’s parliamentary alliance, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), pushing it over a threshold of 25 parliamentarians from seven countries and thus securing more than £1m in funding for Ukip alone.

A friend in need is a friend indeed. But Korwin-Mikke has the potential to be an embarrassing ally. For instance, he thinks women’s opinions are shaped by the sperm of the men they sleep with, that they are “on average” less clever than men, and that nearly half of women who tell a man they don’t want to have sex with them are feigning reluctance and should be ignored.

“Semen probably is not wasted, because nature usually makes use of the material it has, and there is a hypothesis that the attitudes of men are passed to women by way of the semen which penetrates the tissue,” he told the Observer, in the tone a science teacher might use for a basic lesson.

Giggles only prompt an admonition. “It is not a political statement. There is a very strong argument for this hypothesis, that now when contraceptives are much more in use, the women become much more independent.”

Korwin-Mikke, 72, is an extreme libertarian. A veteran with half a century’s political experience, he throws out his bizarre views in rapid-fire sentences, broken by the easy smile of a man used to deference, which only makes them seem more disturbing. There is no proof Hitler knew about the Holocaust, he has argued for years, and he told the Observer that Mussolini, who stripped Jewish citizens of property and civil rights, then sent thousands to German concentration camps, “was trying to protect Jews”.

He would like to abolish not just the European Union but democracy altogether, replacing it with an absolute monarchy, which he considers the gold standard for government. His main objection to dictatorship is that it leaves open the question of who succeeds a leader.

He hungers for what he says is a lost Europe of dog-eat-dog economic rules, the freedom to buy arsenic over the counter by the kilo, drive without seatbelts and give free rein to the aggression that he says made the continent great. “If someone gives money to an unemployed person he should have his hand cut off because he is destroying the morale of the people,” Korwin-Mikke said, adding that the state should not give anyone a cent either. “Europeans were very aggressive and now the boys are taught not to be aggressive … Give them the pistol, give them a sword.”

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ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) #fundie theguardian.com

Researchers have discovered that the hydrogen canopy that may have enclosed Earth before the Flood had some very interesting effects on plant and animal life. The hydrogen in the canopy absorbed blue light, but radiated red light, so the sky was pink rather than blue! Not only did pre-Flood man see the panorama of Creation “through rose-colored glasses,” but the pink light had a definite effect on his mind and body. Modern scientists have discovered that pink light stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete a hormone called norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is both a tranquilliser and a neurotransmitter that both calms the person and sharpens his ability to think. The tranquilliser in the hormone can reduce stress and the accompanying medical complications (heart conditions, ulcers, etc) that come with our-hectic, modern-day lifestyles. Some drugs have the same tranquillising effect, but these drugs also decrease the ability to think and respond to the environment. The neurotransmitter in the norepinephrine sharpens the person’s senses and enables him to think clearly by speeding up his nervous impulses.

Metal hydrogen not only filters blue light, but it also has a fiberoptic effects. This means that light from the sun was not only transmitted through the canopy, but was also spread out across the canopy. The light was dispersed around the world – even at night! At sunrise the sky was a vivid pink color. As the colour of the sky changed, the light grew in intensity throughout the morning, until it was a light pink at noon. As the light subsided during the afternoon, the color of the sky returned to vivid pink again at sunset.

The pink colour and the light dispersion worked together to create a perfect working condition. The pink morning sky caused the norepinephrine to begin flowing and stimulating the man to work. At noon, when the pink light and the norepinephrine production were at their peak, the man worked most efficiently. The decreasing intensity of the pink light in the afternoon gradually calmed the person so that by sunset he was relaxed and ready for a peaceful night’s sleep.

Modern scientists are just now discovering what Christians have always believed – that God’s Creation was perfect.

For more information on the subject of Creation model, you might like to read the book Panorama of Creation by Dr Carl Baugh. You might also want to read some of the numerous books on Creation written by Dr Henry M Morris or other contemporary Christian scientists.

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ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) #fundie theguardian.com

Scientists have known for years that snowflakes are shaped in six-sided, or hexagonal, patterns. But why is this? Some scientists have theorised that the electrons within a water molecule follow three orbital paths that are positioned at 60° angles to one another. Since a circle contains 360°, this electronic relationship causes the water molecule to have six ‘spokes’ radiating from a hub (the nucleus). When water vapour freezes in the air, many water molecules link up to form the distinctive six-sided snowflakes and the hexagonal pattern is quite evident.

Snowflakes also contain small air pockets between their spokes. These air pockets have a higher oxygen content than does normal air. Magnetism has a stronger attraction for oxygen than for other gases. Consequently, some scientists have concluded that a relationship exists between a snowflake’s attraction to oxygen and magnetism’s attraction to oxygen.

Job 38:22, 23 states, ‘Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?’ Considering this scripture, some scientists believe that a tremendous power resides untapped within the water molecules from which snowflakes and hailstones are made.

How can this scripture, along with these observations about snowflakes, show us a physical truth? Scientists at Virginia Tech have produced electricity more efficiently from permanent magnets, which have their lines of force related to each other at sixty-degree angles, than from previous methods of extracting electricity from magnetism. Other research along this line may reveal a way to tap electric current directly from snow, eliminating the need for costly, heavy, and complex equipment now needed to generate electricity.