www.theguardian.com

NEpalese Ministry Of Immigration #sexist theguardian.com

Nepalis protest 'ridiculous' proposed ban on women travelling abroad

Activists warn new anti-trafficking law requiring permission from families to travel is evidence of ‘deep-rooted patriarchal mindset’

A proposed law in Nepal that would ban women from travelling abroad without permission from their families and local government officials has been called unconstitutional and “ridiculous”. The proposals, introduced by the Department of Immigration last week in an attempt to prevent women being trafficked, would require all women under 40 to seek permission before they visit Africa or the Middle East for the first time.

Following criticism, the department said the law applied only to “vulnerable” women and stressed it had yet to be finalised.

Ila Sharma, a former election commissioner of Nepal, said: “It’s preposterous the way educated bureaucracy seems to be objectifying women. Clearly, they do not see women as fully fledged adults. “Instead of empowering and building the capacity of women, as well as the rest of the emigrant labour workforce, they are being regressive, unconstitutional, not to say ridiculous.”

Nepal’s Human Rights Commission estimated that about 35,000 people, including 15,000 women and 5,000 girls, were victims of trafficking in 2018. Activists pointed out that it is not just women who are trafficked, so immigration lawmakers should consider women and men in any proposed legal changes. There have been several attempts over the past decades to combat exploitation through travel restrictions. The latest was in 2017 when the government banned Nepali citizens from working in the Gulf as domestic workers, a move that targeted women. Activists have long complained that banning women from travelling doesn’t work and infringes their rights.

Mr Bond #psycho #racist theguardian.com

Austrian rapper arrested over neo-Nazi songs

Austrian authorities have arrested a rapper accused of broadcasting neo-Nazi songs, one of which was used by a man who livestreamed a deadly antisemitic attack in Germany.

Austrian intelligence officers had been trying for months to unmask the rapper, who went by the pseudonym Mr Bond and had been posting to neo-Nazi forums since 2016.

The suspect, who comes from the southern region of Carinthia, has been detained for allegedly producing and broadcasting Nazi ideas and incitement to hatred.

“The words of his songs glorify National Socialism (Nazism) and are antisemitic, racist and xenophobic,” said the interior ministry statement.

One of his tracks was used as the soundtrack during the October 2019 attack outside a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle.

In posts to online forums based in the US, the rapper compared the man behind the 2019 Christchurch shootings that killed 51 people at a New Zealand mosque to a saint, and translated his racist manifesto into German.

Last September, an investigation by Austrian daily Der Standard and Germany’s public broadcaster ARD said that the musician had been calling on members of neo-Nazi online forums and chat groups to carry out terrorist attacks for several years.

They also reported that his music was used as the soundtrack to the livestreamed attack in Halle, when a man shot dead two people after a failed attempt to storm the synagogue.

During his trial last year for the attack, 28-year-old Stephan Balliet said he had picked the music as a “commentary on the act”. In December, a German court jailed him for life.

Unnamed Counter-Protesters & Delhi Police #wingnut theguardian.com

Counter-protesters in Delhi have burned effigies of the Swedish environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg after she tweeted support for India’s protesting farmers in posts that have prompted an investigation by Indian police.

Crowds gathered in Delhi to protest against several international celebrities including Thunberg and the pop singer Rihanna, who inflamed sentiments in India and angered the government after tweeting about the continuing farmer protests this week. Photos of Thunberg and Rihanna were set alight and banners were held aloft warning that “international interference” in Indian affairs would not be tolerated.

Since November, hundreds of thousands of farmers have been camped out around Delhi demanding several new agriculture laws are repealed. After a march last week turned violent, with hundreds storming the capital’s historic Red Fort, Delhi police had been cracking down on the farmers by sending in riot officers and paramilitary troops, cutting off entry and exit to the protest sites and blocking mobile internet access.

In response to reports that a case had been filed against Thunberg, Praveer Ranjan, the special commissioner of police for Delhi, said: “‘We haven’t named anybody in the FIR [first information report], it’s only against the creators of the toolkit which is a matter of investigation and Delhi police will be investigating that case.”

The Indian government released a statement in response sharply warning against celebrities tweeting “sensationalist social media hashtags and comments”.

Orthodox Church in Romania and Archbishop Teodosie #fundie #psycho theguardian.com

The Orthodox Church in Romania is facing growing pressure to change baptism rituals after a baby died following a ceremony which involves immersing infants three times in holy water.

The six-week-old suffered a cardiac arrest and was rushed to hospital on Monday but he died a few hours later, the autopsy revealing liquid in his lungs. Prosecutors have opened a manslaughter investigation against the priest in the north-eastern city of Suceava.
[...]
Local media recounted several similar incidents in recent years. Church spokesman Vasile Banescu said priests could pour a little water on the baby’s forehead instead of full immersion. But Archbishop Teodosie, leader of the Church’s traditionalist wing, said the ritual would not change.

Raye Johnson #psycho theguardian.com

Experience: I paid to have my daughter kidnapped

That first day I grieved. I knew deep down I was right, but I didn’t know if my daughter would forgive me.
It was 3am. I went into my daughter’s room, woke her, told her I loved her and that she was going on a trip. She was drowsy from the sleeping pills I’d slipped in her drink a few hours earlier. Then the two strangers I’d hired to take her away went into her room. She tried to get her bag and makeup. “Where you’re going, you don’t need anything,” they told her. I stood outside the door, shaking. Had I just created a situation in which I would lose my 17-year-old for ever?

I’d quit a successful financial career and moved across the country to bring up my daughter and son in Florida, so we’d have time as a family after their father and I divorced. I loved them fiercely and we were close. They knew I had high hopes for them. But at 17, my daughter started hanging around with different people; her straight-A grades dropped and her attitude changed. We started to fight about her going to school. “Even if you drive me there, you can’t make me go inside,” she would say. Then she told me she had decided to quit school to become a high-end hairdresser and wanted me to pay for her to go to beauty school. I was distraught. There is nothing wrong with hairdressing, but I wanted her to get a proper education first, so she would have choices.

Around the same time, police twice caught her 14-year-old brother with drugs. I wasn’t having it a third time, so I sent him away to a strict boarding school in another state. On a weekend visit, it struck me how much he’d changed and how my daughter would benefit from the same intensive treatment.

But I had to act fast. Her beauty school fees were due the coming Saturday. And, legally, I had control over her only while she was still under 18. I found a boot camp for troubled children in Utah and hired a private service to escort her there, whether she wanted to go or not. That Friday night we went to dinner on the pretence that it was to celebrate her new school. It was actually to stop her seeing friends and ensure she’d be home for the escorts.

After their appearance in the middle of the night, the security service flew with her to the Utah desert. That first day I grieved. I knew deep down I was right, but I didn’t know if my daughter would forgive me: I had to be prepared to lose her in order to help her. Her friends called and I said she’d gone on a trip. “Where did she go? When will she be back?” they asked. I told them I didn’t know.

I had paid $16,000 (£11,380) for seven weeks of gruelling physical and mental challenges. The other kids were in desperate situations: young offenders, drug addicts, some were suicidal. I was aware my daughter didn’t share their circumstances. They lived like cavemen: they didn’t see a roof the whole time, took care of their sanitary waste, learned survival skills and did physical labour; some cut off their hair because they couldn’t bathe.

They had daily therapy and wrote letters to their parents. My daughter’s were full of apology: how she had made mistakes, wanted to be forgiven, how she loved me. Sure, she was angry at first when she didn’t know what was going on, but she soon understood why I’d sent her there and was embarrassed.
Experience: my plane was hijacked
Read more

At the end, parents were taken into the desert to be reunited with their kids. We could see them walking towards us from a mile away. I was scared. I didn’t know how my daughter would react. Then I spotted her; she was muscular and dirty. We hugged and cried. She was back to the daughter I knew, the one without the attitude.

She finished high school with straight As, went to college, then did a master’s. She works in the legal system now. Both my kids joke that I’m a psycho mom, but they forgave me and we remain close. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Could they have got where they are today without such drastic action? Perhaps, but it wasn’t a chance I was willing to take. I believe the more we suffer in life, the more we grow. I have two strong, amazing kids, and I’d do it again.

• As told to Candice Pires. Raye Johnson is a pseudonym.

Oregon Republican Party #wingnut #conspiracy theguardian.com

The Oregon Republican party has falsely claimed in a resolution that there is “growing evidence” that the 6 January attack on the US Capitol by a pro-Trump mob was “a ‘false flag’ operation”.
[…]
To back up these false claims, the resolution cited links to rightwing websites, including the Epoch Times, a pro-Trump outlet that has frequently published rightwing misinformation, as well as the Wikipedia entry for “Reichstag Fire.”

In a Facebook video released on 19 January, the Oregon Republican party chairman, Bill Currier, said that Oregon Republicans were working with Republicans in other states to release similar resolutions. “We are encouraging and working with the others through a patriot network of RNC members, the national level elected officials from each state, to coordinate our activities and to coordinate our messaging,” Currier said as part of the video conversation with other members of the Oregon Republican party.

“We’re partway in the door of socialism and Marxism right now … and we have to fight,” Currier said. “It’s a time for choosing. People can decide what they want to believe and what they want to do, but there are people standing up and there are people sitting down.”
[…]
In addition to labeling the Capitol attack a potential false flag operation, the Oregon GOP’s resolution also condemned several House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the 6 January assault. The statement called the legislators “traitors” who had “conspired” with the enemy, and described members of the Democratic party as “Leftist forces seeking to establish a dictatorship void of all cherished freedoms and liberties.”

Shaun Bailey #wingnut #elitist theguardian.com

Tory London mayoral candidate: homeless can save for house deposit

The Conservative candidate for London mayor has sparked controversy after suggesting that homeless people in the capital would be able to save up for a £5,000 deposit to buy a share in a newly-built affordable home.

Shaun Bailey has promised to deliver 100,000 affordable homes with his £4bn housing budget if he wins the election in April, many of them shared ownership, of which buyers would be able to purchase a share for as little as £100,000.

Asked how these families would produce a £5,000 deposit and secure a mortgage, he said: “I don’t think the £5,000 will [be a problem]. The mortgage application thing might be a bit tougher … they could save for it, yeah.”

Pressed by the interviewer on whether he was suggesting a homeless family in bed and breakfast accommodation could afford a deposit, Bailey replied: “Not all of them, but some people could. A full proportion of people could.”

Bailey’s comments attracted widespread bewilderment on Twitter. The Liberal Democrat councillor and candidate for London mayor, Luisa Porritt said: “Oh dear, the Tory candidate is at it again. This time he’s suggesting homeless families ‘save up’ for a deposit. Just how out of touch can he get?”

Lambeth Labour councillor Ed Davie tweeted: “Famously, people living in poverty usually have at least £5,000 lying around – it’s amazing that it hasn’t occurred to them to simply buy a London property, which are well known for being really cheap. Thank God senior Tories are here to give out this good advice.”

Mogoeng Mogoeng #fundie #conspiracy theguardian.com

South Africa’s chief justice has dismissed concerns that he may be endangering people’s health by linking coronavirus vaccines to a “satanic agenda”.

The comment by Mogoeng Mogoeng marked the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic that a senior judge had aired such preoccupations. [...] Worries quickly surfaced, in a country where new medical interventions are often controversial, that people might avoid vaccination as a result of the comments.

After South Africa began hosting the continent’s first coronavirus vaccine trial, anti-vaccine activists protested against Africans being used as test subjects.

Two decades ago, the then-president Thabo Mbeki questioned whether HIV caused Aids, which has ravaged the country.

Mogoeng, who frequently displays his Christian faith while performing his duties, prayed at a public event on Thursday that people should be spared any vaccine that sought to “advance a satanic agenda of the mark of the beast”.

Addressing questions about this at a news conference on Friday to release a judiciary report, he said: “If there is any vaccine that is deliberately intended to do harm to people, that vaccine must never see the light of day. I cry unto God to stop it.”

War on Women Award

Ohio Republicans #fundie #sexist theguardian.com

Ohio bill orders doctors to ‘reimplant ectopic pregnancy’ or face 'abortion murder' charges

Ohio introduces one of the most extreme bills to date for a procedure that does not exist in medical science

A bill to ban abortion introduced in the Ohio state legislature requires doctors to “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy” into a woman’s uterus – a procedure that does not exist in medical science – or face charges of “abortion murder”.

This is the second time practising obstetricians and gynecologists have tried to tell the Ohio legislators that the idea is currently medically impossible.

The move comes amid a wave of increasingly severe anti-abortion bills introduced across much of the country as conservative Republican politicians seek to ban abortion and force a legal showdown on abortion with the supreme court.

Ohio’s move on ectopic pregnancies – where an embryo implants on the mother’s fallopian tube rather than her uterus rendering the pregnancy unviable – is one of the most extreme bills to date.

“I don’t believe I’m typing this again but, that’s impossible,” wrote Ohio obstetrician and gynecologist Dr David Hackney on Twitter. “We’ll all be going to jail,” he said.

An ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition, which can kill a woman if the embryonic tissue grows unchecked.

In addition to ordering doctors to do the impossible or face criminal charges, House Bill 413 bans abortion outright and defines a fertilized egg as an “unborn child”.

It also appears to punish doctors, women and children as young as 13 with “abortion murder” if they “perform or have an abortion”. This crime is punishable by life in prison. Another new crime, “aggravated abortion murder”, is punishable by death, according to the bill.

The bill is sponsored by representatives Candice Keller and Ron Hood, and co-sponsored by 19 members of Ohio’s 99-member House.

Mike Gonidakis, the president of the anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life, declined to comment on the bill, and said he was still reading the legislation because, it’s “approximately 700 pages long”. He said his office is “taking off the rest of the week for Thanksgiving”.

The Guardian also contacted the Susan B Anthony List, a national anti-abortion organization. The organization did not reply to a request for comment.

Keller, Hood and eight of the bill’s 19 co-sponsors did not reply to requests for comment. The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association also did not reply to a request for comment.

Ohio passed a six-week abortion ban last summer. The “heartbeat bill”, as supporters called it, banned abortion before most women know they are pregnant. Reproductive rights groups immediately sued, and the bill never went into effect. Abortion is legal in all 50 US states.

In May, researcher Dr David Grossman argued reimplanting a fertilized egg or embryo is “pure science fiction” in a Twitter thread that went viral in May, when the bill was first introduced.

“There is no procedure to reimplant an ectopic pregnancy,” said Dr Chris Zahn, vice-president of practice activities at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. “It is not possible to move an ectopic pregnancy from a fallopian tube, or anywhere else it might have implanted, to the uterus,” he said.

“Reimplantation is not physiologically possible. Women with ectopic pregnancies are at risk for catastrophic hemorrhage and death in the setting of an ectopic pregnancy, and treating the ectopic pregnancy can certainly save a mom’s life,” said Zahn.

Keira Bell, Paul Conrathe & High Court Judges #quack #transphobia theguardian.com

Puberty blockers: under-16s 'unlikely to be able to give informed consent'

Children under the age of 16 considering gender reassignment are unlikely to be mature enough to give informed consent to be prescribed puberty-blocking drugs, the high court has ruled. Even in cases involving teenagers under 18 doctors may need to consult the courts for authorisation for medical intervention, three senior judges have ruled in an action brought against the Tavistock and Portman NHS trust, which runs the UK’s main gender identity development service for children. The claim was brought by Keira Bell, a 23-year-old woman who began taking puberty blockers when she was 16 before detransitioning, and the unnamed mother of a 15-year-old autistic girl who is on the waiting list for treatment.

“It is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under, or 14 or 15, would be competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blockers,” the judges added. For those over 16 it is normally presumed that they have the ability to give consent. But where puberty blockers may lead to subsequent surgical operations, the judges said: “Given the long-term consequences of the clinical interventions at issue in this case, and given that the treatment is as yet innovative and experimental, we recognise that clinicians may well regard these as cases where the authorisation of the court should be sought prior to commencing the clinical treatment.”

At a hearing in October, lawyers for the claimants argued that children going through puberty were “not capable of properly understanding the nature and effects of hormone blockers”.

Lui Asquith, from the trans children’s charity Mermaids, said: “It’s frankly a potential catastrophe for trans young people across the country and it cannot be exaggerated the impact that this might have, not only on the population of trans young people that require hormone blockers, but it may potentially open the floodgates towards other questions around bodily autonomy and who has the right to govern their own body.”

Nigel Farage & Richard Tice #quack #wingnut theguardian.com

Reform UK: Brexit party to rebrand as anti-lockdown voice

Party chairman Richard Tice says country must ‘learn to live with’ Covid not ‘hide in fear’

The Brexit party has applied to the Electoral Commission to change its name to Reform UK in a bid to rebrand the party, which has no elected representatives, as a voice in the anti-lockdown movement. The party’s leader, Nigel Farage, and chairman, Richard Tice, first announced the plan in a joint article in the Telegraph where they wrote it was “time to redirect our energies”. The name change is subject to approval of the commission. Prior to the December election, Farage had announced the party would change its name following the UK’s exit from the European Union and focus on campaigning for changes in the electoral system.

In a statement on Sunday announcing the plans to rebrand the party, Farage said: “As promised, we continue to keep a very close eye on the government’s trade negotiations with the EU, to ensure a proper Brexit. Further reform in many other areas is also vital for our nations’ future.” Tice added: “The need for major reform in the UK is clearer now than ever. A new approach is essential, so that government works for the people, not for itself.” He said that a new strategy was needed for tackling the coronavirus so that “we learn to live with it, not hide in fear of it”. The idea of ending the Covid pandemic through herd immunity was recently denounced as “a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence”, by 80 researchers who wrote a warning letter in a leading medical journal.

Valeurs actuelles #racist theguardian.com

A French magazine has apologised after portraying a black lawmaker as a slave, as France’s government and officials across the political spectrum decried the publication.

The legislator, Danièle Obono, from the far-left party La France Insoumise (Defiant France), said the publication flies in the face of those who complain that free speech is threatened by the fight against racism and sexism.

“The extreme right – odious, stupid and cruel,” she tweeted.

The magazine, Valeurs actuelles, which caters to readers on the right and far-right, apologised. The deputy editor, Tagdual Denis, told BFM television on Saturday that the image was not designed to wound Obono, and denied that it was an attention-getting ploy. But he added: “What I regret is that we are always accused of racism ... we are politically incorrect, it’s in our DNA.”

[...]

Elisabeth Moreno, the junior minister for equality and the only black member of the French government, tweeted: “I don’t share Danièle Obono’s ideas, but today I offer her all my support.” A similar refrain came from politicians from multiple parties, including the treasurer of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party.

Jair Bolsonaro #wingnut #conspiracy theguardian.com

Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has accused his political foes and the press of purposefully “tricking” citizens about the dangers of coronavirus, as Latin America braced for a spike in the number of deaths.

The pandemic has claimed nearly 15,000 lives across the globe and looks set to exact a deadly toll on Latin America in the coming weeks, with many regional governments closing borders and shutting down major cities in a desperate bid to limit the damage.

But Bolsonaro has resisted such drastic measures, dismissing media “hysteria” over coronavirus and calling the illness “a little flu”.

In a tetchy television interview on Sunday night Bolsonaro again downplayed the pandemic and attacked the governors of key states including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo who have ordered residents to stay at home and are imposing quarantines.

“The people will soon see that they were tricked by these governors and by the large part of the media when it comes to coronavirus,” Bolsonaro said, as his own health officials announced 25 deaths and 1,546 cases of coronavirus in Brazil.

Bolsonaro claimed a wave of pot-banging protests, which entered their sixth night on Sunday, were a part of a media-backed plot to topple him.

“It is a shameless campaign, a colossal and absurd campaign against the head of state … They want to force me out however possible,” he claimed.

Unnamed CPC Cadres #psycho #racist #sexist theguardian.com

China sterilising ethnic minority women in Xinjiang, report says

Uighurs are among those facing involuntary contraception or threats over birth quotas

Chinese authorities are carrying out forced sterilisations of women in an apparent campaign to curb the growth of ethnic minority populations in the western Xinjiang region, according to research published on Monday.

The report, based on a combination of official regional data, policy documents and interviews with ethnic minority women, has prompted an international group of lawmakers to call for a United Nations investigation into China’s policies in the region.

The move is likely to enrage Beijing, which has denied trampling on the rights of ethnic groups in Xinjiang, and which on Monday called the allegations “baseless”.

The country is accused of locking more than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in re-education camps. Beijing describes the facilities as job training centres aimed at steering people away from terrorism following a spate of violence blamed on separatists.

A report by Adrian Zenz, a German researcher who has exposed China’s policies in Xinjiang, says Uighur women and other ethnic minorities are being threatened with internment in the camps for refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas.

Zenz’s data-driven work on the camps – which uses public documents found by scouring China’s internet – has previously been cited by experts on a UN panel investigating the facilities.

Women who had fewer than the legally permitted limit of two children were involuntarily fitted with intrauterine contraceptives, says the report.

It also reports that some of the women said they were being coerced into receiving sterilisation surgeries.

Former camp detainees said they were given injections that stopped their periods or caused unusual bleeding consistent with the effects of birth-control drugs.

Government documents studied by Zenz also showed that women in some rural minority communities in the region received frequent mandatory gynaecological exams and bi-monthly pregnancy tests from local health officials.

Zenz found that population growth in Xinjiang counties predominantly home to ethnic minorities fell below the average growth in primarily Han majority counties between 2017 and 2018, a year after the officially recorded rate of sterilisations in the region sharply overtook the national rate in 2016.

Uighur activists say China is using the internment camps to conduct a massive brainwashing campaign aimed at eradicating their distinct culture and Islamic identity.

“These findings raise serious concerns as to whether Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang represent, in fundamental respects, what might be characterised as a demographic campaign of genocide” under UN definitions, Zenz said in the report.

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a group of North American, European and Australian members of parliament from a range of political parties, said in a statement on Monday that it would push for a legal investigation on “whether or not crimes against humanity or genocide have taken place” in Xinjiang.

IPAC was formed in June with a stated mission of standing up against “challenges posed by the present conduct and future ambitions of the People’s Republic of China”.

China’s foreign ministry said the allegations were “baseless” and showed “ulterior motives”.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian attacked media outlets for “cooking up false information on Xinjiang-related issues,” saying at a regular press briefing that Xinjiang is “harmonious and stable”.

The rights group World Uyghur Congress said the report showed a “genocidal element of the CCP’s [Chinese Communist party] policies” and called in a statement for international action to confront China.

Justice and Development party (AKP) lawmakers #sexist theguardian.com

Turkey’s ruling party has begun a second attempt at introducing a law to grant rapists amnesty as long as they marry their victim, four years after a similar bill sparked outrage at home and internationally.

The legislation, which was first debated by parliament on 16 January, would give men suspended sentences for child sex offences if the two parties get married and the age difference between them is less than 10 years.

Opposition parties and women’s rights groups have been quick to point out that the bill in effect legitimises child marriage and statutory rape in a country where the legal age of consent is 18.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s conservative Justice and Development party (AKP) has said the proposal is designed to deal with Turkey’s widespread child marriage problem.

[...]

“In 2016 the government introduced a [similar] draft law on amnesty for child abuse perpetrators. All women stood against it and the bill was withdrawn after our protests,” she said. “If they dare to try again, we will fight against it again.”

[...]

“Marry your rapist” clauses are present in legislation relating to sexual consent in many countries in the Middle East and Latin America. In recent years such loopholes have been closed after protests against them in Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia.

Turkey appears to have travelled in the opposite direction. After abolishing such laws in 2005, a 2016 bill that would have allowed the release from prison of men guilty of assaulting a minor if the aggressor married the victim and the act was committed without “force or threat” provoked widespread fury and was eventually defeated.

Ankara insisted that the bill’s intention was distorted by critics. “There are people who get married before reaching the legal age. They just don’t know the law,” the then prime minister Binali Yıldırım said at the time, adding that the measure aimed to “get rid of this injustice”.

His comments were echoed by the justice minister Bekir Bozdağ, who said marriages involving minors were “unfortunately a reality” in Turkey but the men involved “were not rapists or sexual aggressors”.

Andrew Sabisky (Former adviser to Boris Johnson) #wingnut #racist #elitist #dunning-kruger theguardian.com

If the mean black American IQ is (best estimate based on a century’s worth of data) around 85, as compared to a mean white American IQ of 100, then if IQ is normally distributed (which it is), you will see a far greater percentage of blacks than whites in the range of IQs 75 or below, at which point we are close to the typical boundary for mild mental retardation. Typically criminals with IQs below 70 cannot be executed in the USA, I believe.

That parsimoniously explains the greater diagnostic rates for blacks when it comes to ‘Intellectual disability’.

Jair Bolsonaro #wingnut theguardian.com

Jair Bolsonaro has taunted Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, over the Chilean dictatorship that tortured her and her parents, after she criticised rising police killings and a “shrinking” space for democracy in Brazil.

“She is defending the human rights of vagabonds,” the Brazilian president told reporters on Wednesday. “Senhora Michelle Bachelet, if Pinochet’s people had not defeated the left in 73 – among them your father – Chile would be a Cuba today.”

Bachelet’s father, Alberto, an air force general, was imprisoned and tortured for opposing the 1973 military coup led by Augusto Pinochet, and died of a heart attack in prison. In 2014, two retired Chilean military officers were handed prison sentences for torturing him. Bachelet and her mother, Ángela Jeria, were also imprisoned.

Bolsonaro has frequently praised Brazil’s 21-year military dictatorship and expressed admiration for rulers such as Pinochet, whose regime killed more than 3,000 people from 1973 to 1990.

His comments came after Bachelet criticized the increase in police killings in Brazil’s two biggest cities.

Chinese state media and pro-Beijing HK lawmakers #racist #conspiracy theguardian.com

'A cop said I was famous': China accuses foreigners in Hong Kong of being 'agents'

Chinese state media and pro-Beijing lawmakers post images of westerners to stoke suspicions of ‘external forces’

Westerners living in Hong Kong are being targeted online by China’s state-owned media and local pro-Beijing politicians who have accused them of stoking demonstrations that have now run into their eighth week.

Images showing foreign workers at the site of protests are being circulated, sometimes alongside speculative text questioning why they are there.

Some images have been circulated so widely that one foreign worker and long-term Hong Kong resident said he was now recognised in the street, including by police. “I now sometimes have to pose for CIA selfies with protesters,” he said, referring to a post which asked if he was a member of US intelligence.

The online tactic reinforces the assertion by Beijing that “foreign forces” are behind the protests. On Monday, the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist party, published an editorial warning citizens against “provoking external forces” that “lead the wolves into your home and hurt the country”.

The move also comes amid ongoing protests. On Wednesday, dozens of protesters faced court accused of rioting in the wake of Sunday’s violence.

In one example, Ann Chiang, a Hong Kong pro-Beijing lawmaker, shared a video of a foreign worker who regularly livestreams the protests and tweets under the name Hong Kong Hermit, and questioned why he was at every protest as a “commander”.

He now fears he might lose his job, or that he might be at risk of getting targeted by either the police or triads. “My boss now knows about it,” the worker told the Guardian. “And an angry cop on Sunday night, between rounds of tear gas, told me he knew who I was as ‘you are internet famous’. I also wait to see if this makes me more or less at risk of harm from the police at protests.”

In another case, an American academic living in Hong Kong, whose name is being withheld to protect his privacy, found out last month that his photo and name were being circulated on social media, along with accusations of instigating violence.

After the attacks on protesters by thugs in Yuen Long on 21 July, he received a warning from a friend that the triads “believe the narrative about western meddling”, telling him that he’d be targeted. He said messages like that “really changed my mind about what’s happening here”.

“I’ve been warned by locals in my neighbourhood that I could be in danger if pro-Beijing people knew that was me in that photo [being circulated],” he added, explaining that the area where he lived was a stronghold for a local pro-establishment party. His wife has asked him if their family is in danger.

Even journalists have been targeted. Ta Kung Pao, a Chinese state-owned newspaper based in Hong Kong, described the movements of a New York Times employee as “suspicious”, publishing a photograph of him as well as a close-up image of his phone, showing the text message conversation he was having about the protests with colleagues. Several other state-owned publications ran similar stories.

The same Ta Kung Pao article mentioned that Austin Ramzy, a New York Times reporter in Hong Kong, had written “18 reports”, “most of which have criticised Hong Kong police officers and the HKSAR government while turning a blind eye to the illegal activities of the mobs”. Ramzy later commented about the experience.

On Monday, the top Chinese government body for Hong Kong and Macau affairs denounced “external interference”, accusing western politicians of formulating a “plot” to “destroy Hong Kong and turn it into trouble for China, thereby restricting or curbing China’s development”.

And on Sunday, state-owned media outlet China Daily compared the Hong Kong protests to the revolutions instigated in the Middle East and North Africa, saying that local anti-government actors were “colluding with external forces to topple governments”.

The moves are all part of a strategy, suggested China researcher Adam Ni. “By blaming the current crisis on outside forces, it negates or neutralises stories about internal troubles,” said Ni.

David N. Anderson and Francine Graham #racist #psycho theguardian.com

Authorities in New Jersey on Thursday announced they are investigating Tuesday’s killing of a police officer and an attack on a kosher supermarket, with three gunned down by a man and woman on a rampage, as an antisemitic hate crime.

“I can confirm we are investigating this matter as potential acts of domestic terrorism, fueled by antisemitism and anti law enforcement beliefs,” New Jersey’s attorney general, Gurbir Grewal, said.

The two killers who shot dead a detective in Jersey City, then stormed a kosher supermarket and killed three bystanders, had apparently been followers of the Black Hebrew Israelites, a fringe group whose members have been known to rail against white people and Jews.

One of the suspects had made antisemitic posts online, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation, but who was not able to disclose their name, said on Thursday.

[...]

The FBI on Wednesday searched the Harlem headquarters of the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ, which is the formal name of the Black Hebrew Israelites group, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The why and the ideology and the motivation that’s what we’re investigating,” Grewal said, adding that authorities are trying to determine whether anyone other groups were involved in planning the attack.

Others, including Jersey City’s mayor, Steve Fulop, pronounced the bloodshed a hate crime against Jews, with Fulop saying surveillance video made it clear that the attackers targeted the Jewish market, slowly and deliberately driving up to the grocery in a stolen rental van and immediately opening fire.

The attackers were identified as David N Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, both of them also prime suspects in the slaying of a Uber driver found dead in a car trunk in nearby Bayonne over the weekend, who was Jewish.

Anderson used a rifle in the grocery attack. Grewal wouldn’t confirm if Graham also had a weapon when she followed Anderson into the market. Several weapons were recovered from the store.

Siddhartha Chaibub, Olavo de Carvalho and Ernesto Araújo #crackpot #dunning-kruger theguardian.com

Siddhartha Chaibub’s suspicions that the Earth wasn’t really round were first aroused when he stumbled across a YouTube video while living in Brazil’s capital, Brasília.

“I was always very sceptical about things,” said the 35-year-old freelance designer, who soon dived deep into the flat Earth universe: reading, watching videos and joining a dedicated WhatsApp group.

By the end of 2015, he was convinced. “The model that is imposed on us – that the Earth is spherical – is full of contradictions,” he said.

Today, his YouTube channel Professor Terra Plana (Flat Earth Professor) – featuring videos such as “25 examples that prove Nasa is a fraud” and “gravity doesn’t exist” – has nearly 29,000 subscribers.

Like Britain and the United States, Brazil is seeing a revival of flat Earth theory: 7% of the population – 11 million Brazilians – believe that the Earth is flat, according to the polling firm Datafolha. The poll noted believers were more likely to be religious or poorly educated.

Last week, Chaibub and three of his flat Earth fellows got their biggest break yet when they appeared on the country’s most-watched talkshow, The Night, to promote Brazil’s first ever flat Earth convention this Saturday in São Paulo.

The location of the event will only be disclosed on the day, organizers say, for security reasons. “There is a lot of prejudice,” said Chaibub

[...]

Accusations of links to the flat Earth movement have dogged Bolsonaro’s government.

In January, the science minister, Marcos Pontes – South America’s first astronaut – said that he felt a “knot in the stomach” when he heard suggestions that the Earth is flat.

But just a few months later, Olavo de Carvalho – a former astrologer who is considered the intellectual guru of Bolsonaro and his inner circle – prompted outrage and ridicule when he tweeted: “I didn’t study the subject of the flat Earth. I just watched a few videos of experiments that show that aquatic surfaces are flat – and so far I haven’t found anything to refute them.”

Carvalho – who has also claimed Pepsi was sweetened with aborted foetuses and that oral sex can cause cancer – dined with Bolsonaro and Steve Bannon in Washington during the Brazilian president’s state visit to the US in March.

When questioned about flat Earthism, the foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo – an Olavo disciple who believes climate change is a Marxist plot – also seemed sympathetic to the movement, saying: “For me, the Earth is round. But it’s important to have this spirit of questioning,”

Shin Ok-ju and the Grace Road Church #fundie theguardian.com

The leader of a South Korean doomsday cult who held 400 people captive in Fiji and subjected them to violent beatings has been sentenced to six years in jail.

Shin Ok-ju, founder of the Grace Road Church, convinced her followers to move to Fiji in 2014, which she said was the “promised land”, pointed to in the Bible, where they would survive coming apocalyptic events.

Once they arrived on the island their passports were confiscated. Those who left the group reported brutal rituals, called “threshing floors” in which people were beaten as punishment for sinful actions or to drive out evil spirits.

On Monday a South Korean court found Shin guilty on multiple criminal charges including violence, child abuse and fraud.

“The victims suffered helplessly from collective beatings and experienced not only physical torture but also severe fear and considerable mental shock,” said the Anyang sub-court of the Suwon district court.

“Heavy punishment is inevitable against illegal acts carried out in the name of religion,” it added in a statement earlier this week.

Shocking footage showing Shin beating her followers and ordering them to beat one another was shared with the Guardian by South Korean police last year.

In several videos, Shin was shown calling members of the church forward during her sermons and then hitting them in the face, pulling and cutting their hair and throwing them to the ground.

She was arrested along with three other church leaders when they landed at Incheon airport just outside the South Korean capital Seoul in July 2017.

People have joined Grace Road Church and travelled to join the group in Fiji from all over the world.

In an interview with the Guardian, one American teenager who was taken to Grace Road Church by her mother, told how she was trapped there, had her passport taken, her medication withheld and all contact with her father and sister in the US cut off. She eventually escaped by running out of the church and making a phone call from a convenience store.

Grace Road Church still owns and operates multiple businesses across Fiji, including farms, cafes and construction companies.

After the sentence was handed down, an opposition leader in Fiji called for an investigation into alleged links between the Fijian government and the cult, according to RNZ, saying that as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, the government should do more to investigate concerns about modern-day slavery in Fiji.

Barbara O’Neill #quack theguardian.com

A naturopath who told vulnerable clients that their cancer was a fungus that could be cured with bicarbonate soda rather than through conventional medical treatment has been barred from practising for life, according to the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission.

Barbara O’Neill describes herself as a qualified naturopath and nutritionist and has worked at health retreats in Queensland, Victoria and NSW. She gives lectures internationally, has authored books on health and nutrition, and appears in YouTube videos. The HCCC found: “Mrs O’Neill does not recognise that she is misleading vulnerable people including mothers and cancer sufferers by providing very selective information.”

“The misinformation has huge potential to have a detrimental effect on the health of individuals as Mrs O’Neill discourages mainstream treatment for cancer, antibiotics and vaccination,” the commission’s decision, published in October, found.

The commission’s investigation found O’Neill never held any membership with any accredited professional health organisation and had failed to obtain any relevant health-related degrees or diplomas. According to the investigation she also failed to keep records of consultations with clients, falsely claimed to be able to cure cancer, did not treat clients in a safe or ethical manner and posed a risk to the health and safety of members of the public.

She has been permanently barred from providing any health services either voluntarily or in a paid capacity, including giving lectures. It comes after the commission received numerous complaints about O’Neill between October 2018 and January.

These included complaints about dietary advice for babies that O’Neill published on her personal website which, if followed, would lead to the child’s death or injury. According to the HCCC’s decision, O’Neill told the commission the dietary advice was based on her own experiences and she had never read the National Health and Medical Research Council’s infant feeding guidelines for health workers, which provide evidence-based recommendations.

A complaint was also received by the commission after O’Neill allegedly gave a lecture promoting the discredited theory that cancer is a fungus. The investigation found she encouraged clients to remove essential food groups from their diet such as fruits and carbohydrates, and to instead use probiotics and bicarbonate wraps to treat their cancer. According to the investigation, O’Neill falsely claimed in one lecture that a doctor had a 90% success rate curing cancer with sodium bicarbonate injections. She produced no evidence to support the statistic.

According to the HCCC, O’Neill also gave advice based on theories from medical doctors who have been sued by their former patients for failing to treat them appropriately, including one doctor who was found guilty of manslaughter. The HCCC noted that after being informed by the commission of these legal cases, O’Neill said she would continue to use the advice from those discredited doctors in her lectures. The HCCC found that she also told her clients that following her treatments would be more successful if they gave up chemotherapy and other conventional treatments.

The HCCC noted that O’Neill frequently told the commission that she did not give clients advice, but merely provided them with information. The HCCC said this information included telling pregnant women not to take antibiotics for streptococcus B infections because “no baby has ever died from Strep B catching out of birth”. However, statistics from the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists indicate early-onset Strep B has a fatality rate of 14% in neonates, a risk that can be reduced by 80% with antibiotics.

Unknown CPC authorities #fundie #racist theguardian.com

China accused of rapid campaign to take Muslim children from their families

Relatives tell of more than 100 missing children amid reports of Xinjiang boarding school building drive

China is reportedly separating Muslim children from their families, religion and language, and is engaged in a rapid, large-scale campaign to build boarding schools for them.

The attempts to “remove children from their roots” exists in parallel to Beijing’s ongoing detention of an estimated 1 million Uighur adults from the western Xinjiang region in camps and sweeping crackdown on the rights of the minority group, the BBC reported.

“I don’t know who is looking after them,” one mother told the BBC, pointing to a picture of her three young daughters. “There is no contact at all.”

The BBC says its investigation is based on publicly available documents, and backed up by dozens of interviews with family members living overseas. In 60 separate interviews, parents and other relatives gave details of the disappearance of more than 100 children in Xinjiang, all of them Uighurs – members of the region’s largest and mostly Muslim ethnic group.

“I heard that they’ve been taken to an orphanage,” another woman said, holding a photograph of her four children.

In one township alone, more than 400 children have lost one or more parents to either the camps or prison, it reports.

A Chinese state media outlet called overseas reports on China’s mass detainment of Uighur Muslims in internment camps “fake news” and published detailed denials of eight “rumours”, on the 10th anniversary of the Urumqi riots, in which at least 140 people were killed and 828 injured. Many Uighurs say the riots precipitated the increasing oppression of Muslims in the region.

“Despite China’s efforts to tell what is really happening in Xinjiang, some western media and politicians insist on making and spreading fake news,” said an editorial in the Global Times, a tabloid run by the official newspaper of the Chinese communist party, the People’s Daily.

The denials contradict well-documented evidence from media outlets and researchers. China initially denied the existence of the camps in Xinjiang, which is home to about 12 million Muslims. But last year, it began rebranding them as “free vocational training”, claiming those detained within them are taught language, culture and vocational skills.

The editorial, published shortly after midnight, denies Uighurs are being targeted and mistreated, that the state is looking to wipe out their history and culture, and that they were sent to “vocational training centres” for being Muslim.

It also denies there were a million people being held at these centres, says the camps were there for “counter-terrorism and deradicalisation efforts”, and the centres existed to “nip terrorist activities in the bud”.

An earlier BBC report showed a teacher describing inmates as “affected by religious extremism”, and saying that the purpose of the camps was “to get rid of their extremist thoughts”.

The prominent Uighur author Nurmuhammad Tohti, 70, died after being held in one of the re-education camps.

His granddaughter said he had been denied treatment for diabetes and heart disease, and was released only once his medical condition meant he had become incapacitated.

China has in recent weeks invited media outlets to view these camps, but has tightly controlled their access to the facilities and detainees.

Stephanie Messenger #quack #conspiracy #dunning-kruger #psycho 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”.

Various Chinese officials and journos #conspiracy theguardian.com

One of the most popular topics on the Chinese microblog Weibo on Thursday was a one-minute clip of a US congressional hearing this week on how the country was dealing with the coronavirus.

In the video posted by the People’s Daily, Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is asked whether there may have been deaths attributed to influenza that could actually have been the result of Covid-19. Redfield responds in the affirmative: “Some cases have been actually diagnosed that way in the United States today.”

Redfield’s vague answer was enough to add fuel to a conspiracy theory that has been gaining traction over the past two weeks in China – that the coronavirus did not originate in China but may have come from the US instead.

“The US has finally acknowledged that among those who had died of the influenza previously were cases of the coronavirus. The true source of the virus was the US!” one commentator said. “The US owes the world, especially China, an apology,” another said. “American coronavirus,” one wrote.

The theory has gained traction over the past few weeks, after a respected epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan, said in a passing remark at a press conference on 27 February that although the virus first appeared in China “it may not have originated in China”.

Zhong later clarified his statement, saying that the first place where a disease is discovered does not “equate to it being the source”. He told reporters: “But neither can we conclude that the virus came from abroad. Only through investigation and tracing can we answer that question.”

Yet only Zhong’s first comment has stuck, repeated by Chinese diplomats, state media and officials who have subtly encouraged the idea.

On Thursday, a foreign ministry spokesman suggested without evidence the US military might have brought the virus to the Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak. Zhao Lijian accused the US of lacking transparency, saying on Twitter: “When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!”

China’s ambassador to South Africa said last week on Twitter that the virus was not necessarily “made in China”.

An editorial in Xinhua last week also echoed Zhong: “The epidemic was first reported in China but that does not mean it necessarily originated in China … The WHO has said many times that Covid-19 is a global phenomenon with its source still undetermined.”

Officials have framed the campaign as a protest against the “politicisation” of the outbreak by countries such as the US, where some officials have continued to use the terms “Chinese coronavirus” or “Wuhan virus,” despite the World Health Organization’s discouragement. But analysts say China may be looking to deflect blame as the coronavirus spreads around the world.

“We might be heading into first global recession caused by Chinese Communist party mismanagement,” wrote Bill Bishop, author of the China newsletter Sinocism. “Previous manmade disasters in China since 1949 never really spread outside the People’s Republic of China’s borders in meaningful ways.”

“This time looks to be different … And that is likely one of the reasons the propaganda apparatus and PRC officials are pushing so hard the idea that virus may not have originated in China,” he wrote.

For weeks, Chinese state media pointed to a seafood market in Wuhan as the likely origin for the virus while researchers said the source had not yet been determined, but few have floated the idea that it came from outside of China. Another respected Chinese researcher, Zhang Wenhong, said in an interview with the China Daily that he did not believe the virus had been imported into China.

“If that was the case, we should have seen patients emerging from different regions in the country around the same time rather than their concentration in Wuhan,” he said, in comments that later appeared to have been removed from the interview.

“I think the consensus is still clearly that the virus did originate in China,” said Jane Duckett, professor at the Scottish Centre for China Research, University of Glasgow, focusing on Chinese policy and health.

“This would appear to be a nationalist narrative aimed at countering criticism of the Chinese government for not better managing the outbreak in its early stages,” she said.

Shifting the narrative may also be important as China tries to move forward, now that new infections appear to have levelled off. This week, the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, visited Wuhan for the first time since the outbreak began as state media pronounced “victory is near”. State media showed elaborate celebrations marking the closure of the last of the temporary hospitals in Wuhan.

“This is a propaganda effort aimed at the domestic audience. Among the Chinese public, there is a general awareness that delays in notifying the public led to many more infections in Wuhan,” said Victor Shih, a politics professor at the University of California, San Diego.

He said: “This campaign is aimed at distracting the public from the party’s delayed response.”

Pablo Cassado, Vox party #conspiracy #wingnut theguardian.com

Spain’s coalition government has vowed to overturn an “authoritarian” initiative by the far-right Vox party that allows parents to stop their children attending talks, workshops or classes during school hours whose content “goes against their moral principles”.

According to Vox, the policy – referred to as the “parental pin” – is designed to protect children by requiring parental permission for exposure to content relating to “ethical or social values or civic or sexual morals”.

But critics claim it will shut down debate on gender, sexual orientation, feminism and the environment as the scheme also requires parental consent for any activity relating to “socially controversial moral questions or sexuality”.

Although the initiative featured in Vox’s manifesto for last April’s general election, and has been in effect since last September in the south-eastern region of Murcia – where Vox props up a regional government between the conservative People’s party (PP) and the centre-right Citizens party – it has only recently become a topic of fierce debate.

Last week, Vox threatened to veto the Murcia government’s annual budget unless the PP and Citizens adopted the parental pin as part of the regional education programme.

Although the pin was not signed into law, the regional budget was agreed after a deal was reached to allow “families to educate their children freely, without any kind of impositions, through the express permission of families when it comes to their children’s participation” in extracurricular classes and activities.

The debate could have more national consequences as Vox has also played kingmaker to PP-Citizens coalition regional governments in Madrid and Andalucía.

The new central government of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ party (PSOE) and the far-left, anti-austerity Unidas Podemos alliance, said last week that it would work to have the scheme overturned – by legal means if necessary – as it “goes against constitutional values”.

Spain’s new equalities minister, Irene Montero, described the measure as an attempt at educational censorship.

“The sons and daughters of homophobic parents have the same right as everyone else to be educated about respect, the promotion of human rights and being able to love whoever they want,” she said last week.

“The sons and daughters of sexist parents also have the same right to be educated about equality and feminism.”

On Monday, eight regional education ministers from the PSOE published an open letter decrying the parental pin as a measure that would “rupture school harmony and the culture of dialogue and reflection and impose a blind and uncritical authoritarianism”.

Pablo Casado, leader of the PP, said a balance needed to be found between freedom of choice and information for parents, adding that he thought most “sensible” Spaniards wanted to decide what kind of education their children receive.

“I don’t believe in a country where parents have to be subject to the whims of what a politician or bureaucrat says,” Casado said on Monday.

He also renewed his attack on the new government’s decision to appoint a former justice minister, Dolores Delgado, as the new attorney general, saying the outrage over the parental pin was a “smokescreen” to distract from criticisms of the move.

Critics argue that Delgado’s appointment blurs the separation of powers, with some members of the General Council of the Judiciary suggesting it could serve to “create the appearance of a link with the executive branch that does not contribute to the perception of the judiciary’s independence”.

Evo Morales #conspiracy theguardian.com

Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, has accused opposition leaders and foreign powers of attempting a “coup” against him amid growing tensions over the result of Sunday’s desperately tight election.

In an angry televised speech on Wednesday, Morales said: “A coup d’etat is under way. The right wing prepared the coup with international support.”

Morales went into elections needing 40% of votes and a 10-point margin of victory to avoid a second-round runner against the main opposition candidate, Carlos Mesa. By Wednesday afternoon 97% of the official results had been processed, giving him 46.49% and a 9.5-point lead.

With most outstanding votes from remote rural areas expected to go in his favour, Morales repeated his declaration of a first-round victory, which he had made prematurely on Sunday night.

But on Wednesday the Organization of American States (OAS) said that a runoff should be held even if Morales breached the 10-point margin.

“In the case that … the margin of difference exceeds 10%, it is statistically reasonable to conclude that it will be by negligible margin,” said Manuel González, the head of the OAS election observation team in Bolivia. “Given the context and the problematic issues in this electoral process the best option continues to be the convening of a second round.”

International observers have expressed concern over an unexplained daylong gap in the reporting of results which was followed by a surge in Morales votes when the count resumed on Monday.

“Why did the government shut down the reporting of results?” asked Carlos Trujillo, US ambassador to the OAS, at a special session convened to discuss the Bolivian situation. “The government allowed a somewhat fair election because they did not realise their own popularity and thought they could win under their system. When they realised they could not win in the first round they shut down the results so that they could steal the election.”

The vice-president of Bolivia’s electoral board resigned on Tuesday, saying that the decision of the board’s six-member panel to suspend reporting results had discredited “the entire electoral process, causing unnecessary social convulsion”.

Mesa has accused Morales of trying to conduct “a giant fraud” and vowed that his party “will not recognize a fraudulent result”.

In a video statement on Wednesday, Mesa called for “permanent protests” until a second-round vote was confirmed, and said he would present evidence of electoral fraud.

Allegations of electoral fraud have already sparked street violence, in which anti-government protesters clashed with police, and set fire to electoral offices in eight of Bolivia’s regional capital cities.

On Tuesday the OAS said it would conduct an analysis of the election, focusing on the results reporting systems and the chain of custody of ballot boxes. However, the results of such an analysis are unlikely to please either side as the positions become increasingly entrenched.

Civil society groups in eight of the country’s nine departments called for a general strike that could bring the country to a standstill. “Not even an ant will move in Santa Cruz,” declared Luis Fernando Camacho, the leader of the civil society group for Santa Cruz, the country’s largest and richest city.

Morales has overseen relative stability and growth, but angered many by running for a fourth consecutive term despite a 2016 referendum which ruled against lifting term limits.

The results reflect the split between Bolivia’s urban population – which broadly backed the opposition – and the rural Andean populations that remain loyal to Morales, a former coca farmer.

“I don’t think Evo will accept the OAS’s calls for a second round,” says Jorge Derpic, a Bolivia specialist and assistant professor at the University of Georgia. “This is the first time we have seen protests by the middle classes in all the country’s major cities against Morales. Evo has called to mobilize his base – the coca growers, the miners and the campesinos [the rural poor] – and we could see further partisan violent clashes between rural and urban areas.”

William Lane Craig #fundie #psycho theguardian.com

In commanding complete destruction of the Canaanites, the Lord says, 'You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons, or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods' (Deut 7.3-4). […] God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. […] Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God's grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven's incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.

So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgment. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalising effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.

André Schmitt, the Kommando Pipeline and unnamed German preppers #wingnut #psycho theguardian.com

A network of elite German combatants with links to far-right “prepper” circles secretly trained civilians in “commando-like structures”, raising fears the group planned to build up a paramilitary fighting unit.

Drone footage filmed in June 2018 at a former barracks of the German armed forces in the southern town of Mosbach shows a group of around half a dozen men in military-style gear moving in formation across sandy terrain, holding what appear to be assault rifles in a firing position.

Experts interviewed by the German public broadcaster ARD’s Monitor programme after viewing the footage classified the exercises as “combat training” – illegal in Germany unless carried out by active members of the military, police or private security companies and supervised by state authorities.

The exercise in Mosbach, however, was organised by Uniter, a private support network for active and former soldiers and security personnel. Its founder, André Schmitt, is known to have founded and administered a Germany-wide Telegram chat group, which had sub-groups in which so-called preppers discussed plans to build up parallel infrastructures in preparation for the anticipated collapse of the prevailing social order.

The group chat, which was divided into southern, northern, western and eastern districts, expanded in the autumn of 2015, when Angela Merkel’s refugee policy became the focus of the national debate in Germany. Members discussed the threat of terrorist attacks and how to respond to them by hoarding weapons, munitions and food supplies.

They have since dismissed their chats as “thought experiments”.

[...]

Internal documents presented on the programme suggest the exercises were part of “Kommando Pipeline” training designed to produce in its last phase “combat-ready” fighters trained in handling rifles and handguns, as well as close combat and urban warfare.

In recent months a number of investigations across Germany have tried to establish a fuller picture of the network’s activities. In November, a member of one of the northern German chat groups went on trial in the north-east city of Schwerin accused of illegally hoarding and stealing weapons, partly from the German military.

A member of the southern network, a disgraced former army officer known as Franco A, is to stand trial over alleged plans to impersonate a Syrian refugee and carry out a terrorist attack that would be perceived as motivated by Islamist extremism. Investigators found a Uniter badge at his home, though the association denies he was a member of the network.

Germany’s public prosecutor general is also investigating a police officer and a lawyer who are suspected of plotting to round up and murder “representatives of the political left”. The accused deny any such plans.

Philip Manshaus #wingnut #racist #psycho theguardian.com

The suspected gunman in an attack on a mosque in Norway on Saturday was inspired by recent white extremist attacks in New Zealand and the US, online posts suggest.

Police in Norway have so far only said the attack in Baerum, a town 20km from Oslo, the capital, will be investigated as a possible act of terrorism.

In messages posted on the day of the attack, Philip Manshaus, a 21-year-old man who has been named by local media as the main suspect, described himself as “chosen” by “Saint [Brenton] Tarrant”, the gunman who killed 51 people at mosques in New Zealand in March.

“My time is up, I was chosen by Saint Tarrant after all … We can’t let this continue, you gotta bump the race war threat in real life … it’s been fun,” one post reads.

In a meme also posted by Manshaus, three rightwing extremists suspected of being responsible for other attacks this year are depicted and praised as heroes of the white nationalist movement.

Tarrant is described as having “addressed the Muslim problem” while Patrick Crusius, who has been charged with the attack in El Paso, Texas, in which 22 people died, is praised for “fighting to reclaim his country”.

A third attacker suspected of killing a woman during a Passover celebration at a synagogue in California in April is also praised, alongside antisemitic abuse.

Nigel Farage #conspiracy #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.”

Unnamed Tower Hamlets father #conspiracy theguardian.com

A man who refused to register his son’s birth because he says he does not want him to be controlled by the state has lost a high court case.

Tower Hamlets social services, the London council which has responsibility for the baby’s welfare, asked a high court judge to intervene in the case after the man and his partner, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, failed to register the child’s birth earlier this year.

Mr Justice Hayden ruled the council had the right to step in as the child’s “institutional parent” to register the birth.

The judge considered the issue at a private hearing earlier this month in the family division of the high court in London and outlined his decision in a written ruling published online.

The child, referred to in the case only as T, is currently the subject of a care order while his parents are “subject to a residential assessment”.

The judge was told that the couple’s parenting skills were being assessed before decisions about the boy’s long-term future were made. He also noted that the father’s behaviour towards a judge in the family court resulted in a prison sentence for him and his partner.

Hayden said the couple’s deliberate decision not to register the birth stemmed from the boy’s father’s unusual and somewhat eccentric beliefs about the concept of personal sovereignty. He said the boy’s mother was not prepared to register the birth herself, but was not opposed to somebody else registering it.

He said the father had a genuinely held belief in the power and writ of the individual. The father told the judge: “We are each our own sovereign. We are governed by a common law but only to the extent that we depart from three principles. These three imperatives are: to do no harm; to cause no loss; to inflict no injury.”

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.

Anonymous Asshole #racist theguardian.com

image

Happy Brexit Day
As we finally have our great country back we feel
there is one rule to that needs to be made clear to
Winchester Tower residents.
We do not tolerate people speaking other languages
than English in the flats.
We are now our own country again and the the
Queens English is the spoken tongue here.
If you do want to speak whatever is the mother
tongue of the country you came from then we suggest
you return to that place and return your flat to the
council so they can let British people live here and we
can return to what was normality before you infected
this once great island.
It's a simple choice obey the rule of the majority or
leave.
You won't have long till our government will
implement rules that will put British first. So, best evolve
or leave.
God Save the Queen, her government and all true
patriots.


Aung San Suu Kyi & Viktor Orbán #racist #fundie theguardian.com

Aung San Suu Kyi finds common ground with Orbán over Islam

On a rare trip to Europe, Myanmar leader and Hungary PM discuss issue of ‘growing Muslim populations’

From her failure to speak out against ethnic cleansing to imprisoning journalists, the reputation of Aung San Suu Kyi in the west has taken a battering in recent months.

But the leader of Myanmar has found a new ally in far-right, staunchly anti-immigrant Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán.

In a rare trip to Europe, state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel peace prize laureate who was once the figurehead of the fight for democracy in Myanmar, met Orbán in Budapest. There, the two leaders found common ground on the subject of immigration and Islam .

“The two leaders highlighted that one of the greatest challenges at present for both countries and their respective regions – south-east Asia and Europe – is migration,” read a statement released after their meeting.

“They noted that both regions have seen the emergence of the issue of co-existence with continuously growing Muslim populations.”

Once lauded as the great democratic hope for Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was elected as civilian leader in 2015 after living under house arrest by the military for 15 years, has proved a marked disappointment to most western governments who were her champions.

Her failure to condemn the military’s violent crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya minority in 2017 – which saw thousands of Rohingya raped and killed in what the UN described as an exercise in ethnic cleansing – and her defence of the military’s brutal actions against Myanmar’s Muslims have proved particularly contentious.

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.”

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.”

Carlos Bolsonaro #wingnut theguardian.com

The rumbustious son of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has come under heavy fire from across the political spectrum after claiming rapid political change was unachievable “through democratic means”.

Carlos Bolsonaro – a politician and social media fanatic known for his incendiary and often unintelligible tweets – sparked the maelstrom on Monday evening with a 43-word post on Twitter.

“The transformation Brazil wants will not happen at the speed we yearn for through democratic means,” he tweeted to his 1.3 million followers.

That comment triggered an immediate outcry in a country that only emerged from two decades of dictatorship in 1985 and whose current leader is a notorious pro-torture admirer of that military period and other authoritarian regimes.

[...]

The conservative Estado de São Paulo newspaper condemned Carlos Bolsonaro’s “vile statement” and demanded an urgent statement from his father on the matter.

Father Dan Reehil and the St Edward Catholic school #fundie theguardian.com

A private Catholic school in Nashville has removed the Harry Potter books from its library, saying they include “actual curses and spells, which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits”.

Local paper the Tennessean reported that the pastor at St Edward Catholic school, which teaches children of pre-kindergarten age through to 8th grade, had emailed parents about JK Rowling’s series to tell them that he had been in contact with “several” exorcists who had recommended removing the books from the library.

“These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception,” Rev Dan Reehil wrote. “The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.”

Curses and spells included in the bestselling books, which were published between 1997 and 2007, include “avada kedavra”, the “killing” curse; “crucio”, the torture curse; and “imperio”, which allows the wizards to control others’ actions.

Rebecca Hammel, superintendent of schools for the Catholic diocese of Nashville, told the Tennessean that Reehil had sent the email after an inquiry from a parent. She added that “he’s well within his authority to act in that manner”, because “each pastor has canonical authority to make such decisions for his parish school”.

Unnamed Kabiangek teacher #sexist theguardian.com

A 14-year-old schoolgirl in Kenya took her own life after a teacher allegedly embarrassed her for having her period in class.

The girl’s death has prompted protests from female parliamentarians and reignited a national conversation about “period shaming” and access to menstrual products.

The girl’s mother said her daughter was found dead last Friday after she got her period during class and stained her clothes. Her teacher allegedly called her “dirty” and expelled her from the classroom in Kabiangek, west of Nairobi.

It was the girl’s first period, her mother told local media, and she did not have a sanitary pad.

The incident has cast a spotlight on a 2017 law requiring Kenya’s government to distribute free sanitary pads to all schoolgirls. Poor implementation of the law is the subject of a parliamentary investigation.

On Wednesday, female MPs “laid siege” to the education ministry to protest about the girl’s death and discuss the programme, MP Esther Passaris wrote on Twitter.

Unnamed Killers #fundie #sexist #psycho theguardian.com

Pakistan: teenage girls shot dead by relatives over online footage

Father of one victim and brother of the other arrested in connection with the murders

Two female teenagers in Pakistan have been murdered by family members after a video emerged online of them associating with a man.

The pair, said to be aged 16 and 18, were shot dead by male relatives in their remote village in Pakistan’s North Waziristan province this week after footage was posted online of them in the company of a young man in a secluded area.

After they were shot, the pair were then buried in the village by their family members.

Local police confirmed they had arrested the father of one of the victims, and the brother of the other victim, in connection with arranging and carrying out the murders, and they were now being held in custody.

The police are searching for two other family members believed to have been involved in the killings.

The footage of the women, which is less than a minute long, was said to have been filmed last year but only appeared on social media a few weeks ago. The police said they were still searching for a third young woman who also featured in the video to ensure she did not suffer the same fate.

The tribal areas in North and South Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan, are known for the strict “honour code” imposed on women, whose movements are heavily restricted and who are often not allowed out of the house unaccompanied.

So called “honour” killings remain common in Pakistan’s tribal areas, mainly against women who are believed to have brought shame on a family, and activists say up to 1,000 such killings are still carried out every year.

The issue was brought to the fore in Pakistan in September after three men were found guilty and sentenced to life behind bars for the killing of three women in Kohistan who had been caught on video singing and clapping at a wedding in 2011. The women’s bodies were never found.

Though against the law, “honour” killing cases were previously difficult to convict owing to a loophole in the law that allowed perpetrators to walk free if they were given a pardon by the victim’s family member.

However, the crimes now come with a mandated life sentence.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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?”

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
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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
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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.

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?”

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.”

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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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?”

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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?”

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.”

"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.

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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