Monday, 19 August 2013

Saudi Arabia's War on Witchcraft

And these loons are allies?


A special unit of the religious police pursues magical crime aggressively, and the convicted face death sentences.
Aug 19 2013, 9:00 AM ET
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witch.jpg
Members of the religious police attend a training course. The Saudi authorities have a unit dedicated specifically to hunting witches. (Ali Jarekji/Reuters)

The sorceress was naked.

The sight of her bare flesh startled the prudish officers of Saudi Arabia's infamous religious police, the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV), which had barged into her room in what was supposed to be a routine raid of a magical hideout in the western desert city of Madinah's Al-Seeh neighborhood. They paused in shock, and to let her dress.

The woman -- still unclothed -- managed to slip out of the window of her apartment and flee. According to the 2006 account of the Saudi Okaz newspaper, which has been described as the Arabic equivalent of the New York Post, she "flew like a bird." A frantic pursuit ensued. The unit found their suspect after she had fallen through the unsturdy roof of an adjacent house and onto the ground next to a bed of dozing children.

They covered her body, arrested her, and claimed to uncover key evidence indicating that witchcraft had indeed been practiced, including incense, talismans, and videos about magic. In the Al Arabiya report, a senior Islamic cleric lamented that the incident had occurred in a city of such sacred history. The prophet Muhammad is buried there, and it is considered the second most holy location in Islam, second to Mecca. The cleric didn't doubt the details of the incident. "Some magicians may ride a broom and fly in the air with the help of the jinn [supernatural beings]," he said.

The fate of this sorceress is not readily apparent, but her plight is common. Judging from the punishments of others accused of practicing witchcraft in Saudi Arabia before and since, the consequences were almost certainly severe.

In 2007, Egyptian pharmacist Mustafa Ibrahim was beheaded in Riyadh after his conviction on charges of "practicing magic and sorcery as well as adultery and desecration of the Holy Quran." The charges of "magic and sorcery" are not euphemisms for some other kind of egregious crime he committed; they alone were enough to qualify him for a death sentence. He first came to the attention of the religious authorities when members of a mosque in the northern town of Arar voiced concerns over the placement of the holy book in the restroom. After being accused of disrupting a man's marriage through spellwork, and the discovery of "books on black magic, a candle with an incantation 'to summon devils,' and 'foul-smelling herbs,'" the case -- and eventually his life -- were swallowed by the black hole of the discretionary Saudi court system.

The campaign of persecution has shown no signs of fizzling. In May, two Asian maids were sentenced to 1,000 lashings and 10 years in prison after their bosses claimed that they had suffered from their magic. Just a few weeks ago, Saudi newspapers began running the image of an Indonesian maid being pursued on accusations that she produced a spell that made her male boss's family subject to fainting and epileptic fits. "I swear that we do not want to hurt her but to stop her evil acts against us and others," the man told the news site Emirates 24/7.

According to Adam Coogle, a Jordan-based Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch who monitors Saudi Arabia, the relentless witch hunts reveal the hollowness of the country's long-standing promises about liberalizing its justice system.

In a country where public observance of any religion besides Islam is strictly forbidden, foreign domestic workers who bring unfamiliar traditional religious or folk customs from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Africa, or elsewhere can make especially vulnerable and easy targets. "If they see these [folk practices or items] they immediately assume they're some kind of sorcery or witchcraft," he said. 

The Saudi government's obsession with the criminalization of the dark arts reached a new level in 2009, when it created and formalized a special "Anti-Witchcraft Unit" to educate the public about the evils of sorcery, investigate alleged witches, neutralize their cursed paraphernalia, and disarm their spells. Saudi citizens are also urged to use a hotline on the CPVPV website to report any magical misdeeds to local officials, according to the Jerusalem Post

According to a director of the religious police's witchcraft division in Riyadh, the unit provides confidentiality to informants. "We deal with sorcerers in a special way. No one should think that we mention the name of whomever files a report about sorcery," Sheikh Adel Faqih told the Saudi Gazette. In 2009 alone, at least 118 people were charged with "practicing magic" or "using the book of Allah in a derogatory manner" in the province of Makkah, the country's most populous region.

Faqih also claimed that the process of arresting someone for crimes of magic involved more than just receiving a tip from a neighbor or employer. A formal investigation would be pursued, and "information must be collected before an arrest can be made." What sort of information do they need? The answer was unsurprisingly vague and innocuous: if the suspect sought to purchase "an animal with certain features." For example, "he asks for a sheep to be killed without mentioning Allah's name and asks to stain the body with the animal's blood or if he asks for similar unusual things." 

By 2011, the unit had created a total of nine witchcraft-fighting bureaus in cities across the country, according to Arab News, and had "achieved remarkable success" in processing 586 cases of magical crime, the majority of which were foreign domestic workers from Africa and Indonesia. Then, last year, the government announced that it was expanding its battle against magic further, scapegoating witches as the source of both religious and social instability in the country. The move would mean new training courses for its agents, a more powerful infrastructural backbone capable of passing intelligence across provinces, and more raids. The force booked 215 sorcerers in 2012.

***

The most aggressive pursuit of witches tends to be in the interior of the Arabian peninsula, a parcel of the country that hosts the capital city Riyadh and many of the most dedicated followers of Salafism, the ultra-conservative school of Sunni Islam that the government enforces throughout the country in its religious courts.

Wresting the country's criminal proceedings from the grip of one of the strictest strains of Islam would involve more than just the development of a more progressive outlook; it would require cosmic revisions in Saudi history and religious identity.

The Saudi government and many of its citizens subscribe to the 18th-century teachings of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, a revivalist Islamic scholar who called for a return to literal interpretations of the Quran, and for the abandonment of folk rituals that had developed around the worship of Islamic shrines and grave sites. According to historian Vladmir Borisovich Lutsky:


He sharply criticised such superstitious survivals as fetishism and totemism, which, to him, were indistinguishable from idolatry. Formally all the Arabs were Moslems. But, in reality, there existed many local tribal religions in Arabia. Each Arab tribe, each village had its fetish, its beliefs and rites. The variety of religious forms that stemmed from the primitive level of social development and the lack of cohesion between the countries of Arabia were serious obstacles to political unity. Abd el-Wahhab set up against this religious polymorphism a single doctrine called tauhid (unity)...

....

The Wahhabis fought against the survivals of local tribal cults. They destroyed the tombs of the saints, and forbade magic fortune-telling. But at the same time their teachings were directed against official Islam.


Under Wahhabi doctrine, magic is seen as a serious affront to the pure and exclusive relationship one is supposed to share with Allah.

But belief in the supernatural and magic is actually quite common in Muslim culture. According to the Quran, the jinn are demonic supernatural beings that were created out of fire at the same time as man. Some believe that jinn have the power to cause harm, and it is not uncommon for the possessed to visit faith healers or sorcerers tasked with ridding the evil.

According to the Pew Research Center's Religion and Public Life Project:

In most of the countries surveyed, roughly half or more Muslims affirm that jinn exist and that the evil eye is real. Belief in sorcery is somewhat less common: half or more Muslims in nine of the countries included in the study say they believe in witchcraft.

Accusations of jinn worship and witchcraft once even touched the administration of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, when his advisers and aides were arrested on charges of black magic. Ahmadinejad denied the charges, but a sorcerer well-known among the ruling class claimed that he met with the President at least twice and gathered intelligence for him on "Jinn who work for Israel's intelligence agency, the Mossad, and for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency," according to the Wall Street Journal

gsi-chp4-2.png

According to the Pew survey, the majority of Muslims agree that Islam restricts making contact with jinn or using magic. But Wahhabism is particularly opposed to this notion, according to Muhammad Husayn Ibrahimi's analysis of the sect:

Based on some verses of the Qur'an, Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab, Ibn Taymiyyah and the contemporary Wahhabis regard seeking help from other than God or asking for their intercession {shafa'ah} as an act of polytheism. Their main proof is the phrase, "other than God" in verse 18 of Surah Yunus. The Wahhabis regard the prophets, saints, idols, the jinn, and the dead as the most vivid manifestations of this verse.

This might explain why Saudis, many of whom are devout Wahhabi practitioners, are so fierce when it comes to the pursuit of witches.

***

The courts are controlled by judges -- commonly religious clerics -- who have unlimited latitude to interpret and define the content of witchcraft crime, the details of which are not articulated in a spare, barely existent penal code. They can also mete out capital punishments as they see fit. Saudi Arabia ranks third behind China and Iran for its number of executions. Evidence in these cases is limited to witness testimony and the presentation of the "magical" items discovered in the possession of the accused.

The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia did not respond to requests for comment on the specifics of its dealings with witchcraft crime.

The ability to defend against the charges seems to depend on the caprice of the particular judge assigned to the case. In the 2006 case of Fawza Falih, who was sentenced to death on charges of "'witchcraft, recourse to jinn, and slaughter' of animals," she was provided no opportunity to question the testimonies of her witnesses, was barred from the room when "evidence" was presented, and her legal representation was not permitted to enter court. After appeals by Human Rights Watch, her execution was delayed, but she died in prison as a result of poor health.

The police can also use questionable tactics. In 2008, a well-known Lebanese television personality, Ali Hussain Sibat, who made a living by telling callers' fortunes and instructing them on other superstitious matters, was lured into an undercover sting operation while making a religious pilgrimage to Mecca. According to the New York Times, he was arrested shortly after the police recorded conversations he held about providing a magical elixir to a woman that would force her husband to separate from his second wife. His death sentence was later stayed after outcry from international human rights organizations.

Belief in magic is so widespread that it is often invoked as a defense in Sharia courts. "If there's an employer dispute -- say the migrant domestic worker claims she wasn't paid her wages or her conditions are unlivable -- a lot of times what happens unfortunately is the defendant makes counterclaims against the domestic worker," Coogle said. "And a lot of times they'll make counterclaims of sorcery, witchcraft, and that sort of thing."

Domestic workers, many of whom who are not fluent in Arabic, face significant challenges in defending themselves against these charges, according to Coogle. Sometimes, he says, "they don't even know what's happening." "I think that there are cases where the authorities will provide translation, but I'm told the translation isn't always available and isn't always reliable." Many don't have the resources to hire a lawyer, so they are often representing themselves, unless a human rights organization takes on their case.

Even then, they must face a religious cleric who serves simultaneously as a judge and a prosecutor and can often introduce new charges or modify existing ones during the course of the proceedings. "When you have a situation that's so arbitrary and left to the discretion of a judge, women without the means to defend themselves can sort of be left alone," he said. Though some of the cases receive international attention, Coogle expects that many don't make headlines at all. "Given the isolation of these individuals," he said, "I just expect that a lot happens that we don't know about."



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Fwd: [New post] NEW JERSEY MALL: Muslim woman files lawsuit claiming she was “intimidated and humiliated” when mall security guard asked her to remove her full face-covering headbag






BareNakedIslam posted: "Wakeelah Salaam (photo right), of Elizabeth, NJ has filed a lawsuit against Bridgewater Commons mall, its owner, General Growth Properties, its mall security vendor, IPC International Corporation, and Marc Krause, a former mall guard. "He came into my fac"

New post on BARE NAKED ISLAM

NEW JERSEY MALL: Muslim woman files lawsuit claiming she was "intimidated and humiliated" when mall security guard asked her to remove her full face-covering headbag

by BareNakedIslam

Wakeelah Salaam (photo right), of Elizabeth, NJ has filed a lawsuit against Bridgewater Commons mall, its owner, General Growth Properties, its mall security vendor, IPC International Corporation, and Marc Krause, a former mall guard. "He came into my face as if he were going to kiss me (Kiss YOU? Don't dream, honey)  and made a hand […]

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BareNakedIslam | August 19, 2013 at 6:33 pm | URL: http://wp.me/p276zM-X9P

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Fwd: How a Missouri Rodeo Became a Phony Scandal



August 19, 2013

How a Missouri Rodeo Became a Phony Scandal

By Jack Cashill

If an eccentric, liberal, nudist musician had not attended a rodeo at the Missouri State Fair a week ago Saturday, the world would be a slightly happier place. The State Fair would not have banned rodeo clown Tuffy Gessling for life. The NAACP would not have asked the Secret Service to investigate Tuffy for a "hate crime." His clown colleagues would not have been dispatched to sensitivity training. And race tension nationwide would not have ratcheted up another notch.

But the eccentric in question, Perry Beam, did attend the rodeo. He took his wife and a Taiwanese student with him. When Tuffy donned an Obama mask, Beam grew concerned. When the crowd egged the clown on, Beam grew uneasy. But when another clown started bobbling the lips on the mask, well, that sent Beam "over the top." The student recorded it all on his video camera.

Repelled by what he had seen, the exquisitely sensitive Beam fled the fair with wife and student in tow. The normally inquisitive student asked no questions about what he had witnessed. "In a way," says Beam, "I'm glad. I had no answers for him." They rode the sixty miles home in shamed silence.

The whole affair might have ended on Beam's Facebook page had it not been for the intervention of a professor friend of Beam's, a garden variety leftist named Bob Yates. Beam gives Yates credit for forwarding the information "to the appropriate blogs" and that, says Beam, "got the ball rolling."

By 7:30 a.m. Sunday, less than twelve hours after the soon to be infamous rodeo, "MoDem," likely the nom de guerre of Yates himself, had posted a photo essay on both the Daily Kos and Show Me Progress sites. He concluded his commentary with the less than merciful, "I can't write anymore at how disgusting this is. All I want is some heads to roll." And roll they would.

Liberal tom-toms beat double time all day Sunday. That afternoon Jeff Mazur, a union honcho and former media guy for Democratic governor Jay Nixon, took to Twitter to spread the word about the rodeo's "barely-veiled racism, anti-Americanism and violence fantasies." Later that evening, Democratic Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill branded the whole affair as "shameful."

By Monday, the story was front-page news with the liberal spin fully woven into the warp and woof. The USA Today quoted Beam as saying of the rodeo, "It was feeling like some kind of Klan rally you'd see on TV." Beam, a Hillary enthusiast, may have been the only one at the rodeo to feel that way, but he had kindred spirits aplenty in every major American newsroom. (For verification, watch HBO's self-parodying Newsroom.)

At this point, the Republican front line did what it almost always does in the face of a Democratic media offensive. It collapsed. The right's paid professionals -- elected officials and media nabobs both -- ran for cover. Missouri Lieutenant Governor Pete Kinder, a Republican, was soon imploring Nixon "to hold the people responsible for the other night accountable."

This happens often. In the face of last year's Democrat-led Trayvon Martin media offensive, the New York-based National Review took top honors for capitulation. Editor Rich Lowry headlined his piece, "Shocker! Sharpton is right for once," and NR contributor Robert VerBruggen insisted that "[s]upporters of pro-self-defense policies should roundly condemn Zimmerman's actions." Newt Gingrich excepted, prominent Republicans joined the retreat.

In both cases, however, conservative guerillas in the blogosphere held the line, rallied the troops, and eventually turned the tide. Before week one of Rodeogate was through, thinking liberals like David Weigel of Slate had come to see that conservative bloggers were waging the stronger arguments.

"Banning Gessling," wrote Weigel, "looks like corporal punishment for free speech, and it gives Obama-haters proof that they can't criticize Dear Leader without the state coming down on him. It turns a dumb-but-legal political joke into a moment of martyrdom."

Exactly.

Unfortunately, thinking liberals are today less common than liberals who "doublethink," an Orwellian concept that implies the ability to embrace two contradictory thoughts at the same times. Just a few days after helping blacklist Tuffy the Clown, for instance, Yates denounced "the blacklisting of people like [Howard] Fast and [Dalton] Trumbo." For the record, Trumbo and Fast, were both unapologetic Stalinists who collaborated with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, an offense arguably worse than donning an Obama mask at a rodeo.

"If you are a Christian," doublethinker Beam posted on Facebook, "your commission is not one of judgment but one of service. Let God do his job and you, yours." Having chastised those who would pass judgment on others, he turned his righteous judgment on "the [George] Zimmerman's of this land," whom he described, a bit uncharitably, as "the weak-minded, the fearful, the ignorant, the crazy, the stupid."

In fact, George Zimmerman was a registered Democrat, an Obama supporter, and a boots-on-the-ground civil rights activist. Tuffy Gessling was a semi-literate rodeo clown. Neither deserved their fate, but both served an indispensable purpose for our progressive friends.

For red state amateurs like Beam and Yates, rising above their fearful, ignorant, crazy, and stupid neighbors allows them a brief shining moment of unalloyed self-love. Cheap as that thrill may seem, for some people it is apparently priceless.

For the pros, however, the ones who green light these kind of stories and take them national, this is all business. Amidst the ruins of the Obama presidency, the demand for distraction is a constant. When the president falls hard off his high horse, as he often does, they need someone to freeze the opposition and excite the low-information masses. How fitting it was that this time they picked a real rodeo clown.


Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/../2013/08/how_a_missouri_rodeo_became_a_phony_scandal.html at August 19, 2013 - 03:24:19 PM CDT



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Fwd: The NSA: 'The Abyss from Which There Is No Return'



https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/the_nsa_the_abyss_from_which_there_is_no_return

 

The NSA: 'The Abyss from Which There Is No Return'


By John W. Whitehead
August 19, 2013

"The National Security Agency's capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide. If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back."—Senator Frank Church (1975)

We now find ourselves operating in a strange paradigm where the government not only views the citizenry as suspects but treats them as suspects, as well. Thus, the news that the National Security Agency (NSA) is routinely operating outside of the law and overstepping its legal authority by carrying out surveillance on American citizens is not really much of a surprise. This is what happens when you give the government broad powers and allow government agencies to routinely sidestep the Constitution.

Indeed, as I document in my book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, these newly revealed privacy violations by the NSA are just the tip of the iceberg. Consider that the government's Utah Data Center (UDC), the central hub of the NSA's vast spying infrastructure, will be a clearinghouse and a depository for every imaginable kind of information—whether innocent or not, private or public—including communications, transactions and the like. In fact, anything and everything you've ever said or done, from the trivial to the damning—phone calls, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Google searches, emails, bookstore and grocery purchases, bank statements, commuter toll records, etc.—will be tracked, collected, catalogued and analyzed by the UDC's supercomputers and teams of government agents.

By sifting through the detritus of your once-private life, the government will come to its own conclusions about who you are, where you fit in, and how best to deal with you should the need arise. Indeed, we are all becoming data collected in government files. Whether or not the surveillance is undertaken for "innocent" reasons, surveillance of all citizens, even the innocent sort, gradually poisons the soul of a nation. Surveillance limits personal options—denies freedom of choice—and increases the powers of those who are in a position to enjoy the fruits of this activity.

If this is the new "normal" in the United States, it is not friendly to freedom. Frankly, we are long past the point where we should be merely alarmed. These are no longer experiments on our freedoms. These are acts of aggression.

Senator Frank Church (D-Ida.), who served as the chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence that investigated the National Security Agency in the 1970s, understood only too well the dangers inherent in allowing the government to overstep its authority in the name of national security. Church recognized that such surveillance powers "at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide."

Noting that the NSA could enable a dictator "to impose total tyranny" upon an utterly defenseless American public, Church declared that he did not "want to see this country ever go across the bridge" of constitutional protection, congressional oversight and popular demand for privacy. He avowed that "we," implicating both Congress and its constituency in this duty, "must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."

Unfortunately, we have long since crossed over into that abyss, first under George W. Bush, who, among other things, authorized the NSA to listen in on the domestic phone calls of American citizens in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and now under President Obama, whose administration has done more to undermine the Fourth Amendment's guarantee of privacy and bodily integrity than any prior administration. Incredibly, many of those who were the most vocal in criticizing Bush for attempting to sidestep the Constitution have gone curiously silent in the face of Obama's repeated violations.

Whether he intended it or not, it well may be that Obama, moving into the home stretch and looking to establish a lasting "legacy" to characterize his time in office, is remembered as the president who put the final chains in place to imprison us in an electronic concentration camp from which there is no escape. Yet none of this could have been possible without the NSA, which is able to operate outside the constitutional system of checks and balances because Congress has never passed a law defining its responsibilities and obligations.

The constitutional accountability clause found in Article 1, section 9, clause 7 of the Constitution demands that government agencies function within the bounds of the Constitution. It does so by empowering the people's representatives in Congress to know what governmental agencies are actually doing by way of an accounting of their spending and also requiring full disclosure of their activities. However, because agencies such as the NSA operate with "black ops" (or secret) budgets, they are not accountable to Congress.

In his book Body of Secrets, the second installment of the most extensively researched inquiry into the NSA, author James Bamford describes the NSA as "a strange and invisible city unlike any on earth" that lies beyond a specially constructed and perpetually guarded exit ramp off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. "It contains what is probably the largest body of secrets ever created."

Bamford's use of the word "probably" is significant since the size of the NSA's staff, budget and buildings is kept secret from the public. Intelligence experts estimate that the agency employs around 38,000 people, with a starting salary of $50,000 for its entry-level mathematicians, computer scientists and engineers. Its role in the intelligence enterprise and its massive budget dwarf those of its better-known counterpart, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The NSA's website provides its own benchmarks:

Neither the number of employees nor the size of the Agency's budget can be publicly disclosed. However, if the NSA/CSS were considered a corporation in terms of dollars spent, floor space occupied, and personnel employed, it would rank in the top 10 percent of the Fortune 500 companies.

If the NSA's size seems daunting, its scope is disconcerting, especially as it pertains to surveillance activities domestically. The first inkling of this came in December 2005 when the New York Times reported that President Bush had secretly authorized the NSA to monitor international phone calls and email messages initiated by individuals (including American citizens) in the United States. Bush signed the executive order in 2002, under the pretext of needing to act quickly and secretly to detect communication among terrorists and their contacts and to quell future attacks in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.

The New York Times story forced President Bush to admit that he had secretly instructed the NSA to wiretap Americans' domestic communications with international parties without seeking a FISA warrant or congressional approval. The New York Times had already sat on its story for a full year due to White House pressure not to publish its findings. It would be another six months before USA Today delivered the second and most significant piece of the puzzle, namely that the NSA had been secretly collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans who used the national "private" networks AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.

It would be another seven years before Americans were given undeniable proof—thanks to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—that the NSA had not only broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times every year but was actively working to flout attempts at oversight and accountability, aided and abetted in this subterfuge by the Obama administration.

Then again, all Snowden really did was confirm what we already suspected was happening. We already knew the NSA was technologically capable of spying on us. We also knew that the agency had, since the 1960s, routinely spied on various political groups and dissidents.

So if we already knew that the government was spying on us, what's the big deal? And more to the point, as I often hear many Americans ask, if you're not doing anything wrong, why should you care?

The big deal is simply this: once you allow the government to start breaking the law, no matter how seemingly justifiable the reason, you relinquish the contract between you and the government which establishes that the government works for and obeys you, the citizen—the employer—the master. And once the government starts operating outside the law, answerable to no one but itself, there's no way to rein it back in, short of revolution.

As for those who are not worried about the government filming you when you drive, listening to your phone calls, using satellites to track your movements and drones to further spy on you, you'd better start worrying. At a time when the average American breaks at least three laws a day without knowing it thanks to the glut of laws being added to the books every year, there's a pretty good chance that if the government chose to target you for breaking the law, they'd be able to come up with something without much effort.

Then again, for those who insist they're not doing anything wrong, per se, perhaps they should be. Because if you're not doing anything wrong, it just might mean that you're not doing anything at all, which is how we got into this mess in the first place.

 



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Fwd: The Death Of Common Sense Is The Death Of The Rule Of Law







 

The Death Of Common Sense Is The Death Of The Rule Of Law

August 19, 2013 by Bob Livingston 

Common sense is a crucial support of the rule of law. Without it, the rule of law is dead. The law then stands on air, ephemeral as gossamer and as malleable as Play-Doh.

Common sense is dead in America, slain by the psychopathic ruling class and progressive propagandists teaching America's youth to pledge fealty to the state at all cost and teaching collectivist claptrap, pseudo history, feelings-based psychobabble and political correctness above reading, writing, arithmetic, history and language arts. Several generations of youths have now grown up devoid of common sense and with little useable knowledge, having had it washed from their minds by the noneducation system.

When people cannot exercise common sense, normalcy bias and cognitive dissonance take over and dominate their thought processes. Normalcy bias is a condition in which the mind is convinced that because something has not happened, then it cannot or will not happen. When faced with a crisis, a person suffering normalcy bias underestimates the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. He is rendered unable to function beyond the level of automaton.

Cognitive dissonance is a condition of confusion. If a person believes a "fact" long enough (whether that fact is the truth or not), he cannot ponder or contemplate information or a question that challenges the "fact." Even when presented with information that is in obvious conflict with currently held beliefs, the person suffering from cognitive dissonance is unable to process the dissonance and so accepts it as a normal state, i.e. conventional wisdom.

The lack of common sense first came to affect the hoi polloi. This was by the design of the ruling class. It is easier to fool and subjugate an ignorant populace than an intelligent one. Tyrants and despots have for years used the ignorance of their subjects against them. Notable examples include the Catholic church's ban on non-Latin Bible translations, prohibitions against teaching American slaves to read and write, and the Islamists' current and long-held ban on education for females.

I have written before that government attracts psychopaths. And while they are present throughout government and are evident by their actions, it is unfair to state that the whole of the elected class, all government functionaries and people in authority are psychopaths or exhibit psychopathic behavior. Many are simply suffering from a lack of common sense, which creates normalcy bias, cognitive dissonance or confusion. However, because of their positions of authority and status as "leaders" and "decision makers," they contribute to the lack of common sense suffered by the masses, for they spread it like a cancer.

The lack of common sense is now pervasive throughout government at all levels. Here are some examples:

  • The Federal tax code is now about 70,000 pages long, contains 3.7 million words and is changed on average more than once per day. It is so confusing that 82 percent of Americans pay for help, and 60 percent of them hire a professional accountant or tax preparer. Taxpayers spend almost $28 billion per year to have their taxes prepared. Even the former head of the Internal Revenue Service, Douglas Shulman, hired a professional tax preparer. It is impossible to get a "correct" answer when calling the IRS for help, because you are likely to get as many different answers as the number of different agents you ask. This puts everyone in danger of becoming a "tax cheat" and subject to fines, penalties and imprisonment. The irony is that taxes are not necessary to fund the government. They were instituted as a control measure and a wealth-redistribution scheme.
  • U.S. regulatory bodies — the alphabet-soup agencies charged, ostensibly, with ensuring Americans are protected from fraud and abuse — are corrupt, fascist systems that serve as a revolving door of cronyism between government, large corporations and lobbying organizations. What they actually ensure is almost monopolistic power for favored corporations, redistribution of wealth from the producers to the large corporations via corporate welfare and tax breaks, and favored status when contracts are doled out. Meanwhile, small businesses are regulated and taxed into destitution and forced to shutter their doors and windows.
  • The U.S. government is in a perpetual state of war, and the enemy is defined only as a "terrorist." But the definition of terrorist has become all-encompassing and ever-changing and applies to whomever the psychopathic elected class determines is a threat to their power, prestige or office. The threat of "terrorist attacks" is used to gin up fear and further oppress the people. Those threats evaporate as quickly as they appear. Yet they are not questioned. The reality is that terror attacks on American soil are most often created by the FBI, CIA or some NGO (non-government organization) working on behalf of the state. In addition to Afghanistan, the United States has assets attacking so-called terrorists in Pakistan, Syria and Yemen (that we know of) and has attacked them in Iraq, Iran and Philippines. Such a fear of "terror" has created a climate in which the government has decided that it can assassinate American citizens by drones without due process, and many people see nothing wrong with this.
  • While the United States fights undeclared wars against al-Qaida in many countries, it is funding and assisting al-Qaida-linked terrorists in others. An example of this is the recent Libyan revolution and the current hostilities in Syria. With U.S. funds, NATO helped terrorists linked to al-Qaida defeat Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's military so that the terrorists could take power. The U.S. was running guns through the Benghazi consulate to al-Qaida-linked terrorists in Syria.
  • The Barack Obama regime, with an assist from the neocon wing of the Republican Party, backed the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization in its rise to power in Egypt and Libya. In Egypt, the Obama-supported Muslim Brotherhood president was thrown from power by a military coup over his efforts to create an Islamist state and failure to crack down on its attacks on the country's Coptic Christians.
  • In schools, students are being treated like criminals for the "crimes" of biting their food into the shape of guns, cutting off one-fourth of a sheet of paper (a teacher thought it looked like a gun), wearing T-shirts with gun images and the 2nd Amendment printed on them, bringing small G.I. Joe guns to school and throwing temper tantrums. Zero tolerance policies — the ultimate in no-common-sense policies — have even led to children as young as 3 and 4 being charged with sexual harassment and having permanent marks on their school records.
  • The Missouri chapter of the NAACP is calling for the Department of Justice to investigate an incident in which a rodeo clown donned an Obama mask and asked the crowd if they'd like to see Obama run down by a bull. In response to the incident, the Missouri State Fair will force all future clowns to undergo "sensitivity training" mind-alteration therapy for the thought crime of projecting harm on a likeness of the President.

These are just a few examples demonstrating that common sense has been thrown out the window, but the political class and the masses accept as normal. Any questioning of the status quo gets one labeled an extremist, a conspiracy theorist or a "wacko bird."



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Pressgram

A new web application, Pressgram, is about to be launched that will work like Instagram but for WordPress bloggers.


It will allow those uploading images to maintain ownership of them, unlike FaceBook and Instagram.


The developer explains it on the PressGram blog:


YOUR IMAGES, YOUR PRIVACY: RUINED

AUGUST 2, 2013 COMMENT
Photo Credit: KamrenB Photography

Photo Credit: KamrenB Photography

In relation to the images that you post and publish to Facebook:

Most people are fairly familiar with this type of information extraction. However, a significant amount of information can also be extracted from the actual visual information in the images (i.e. aside from any tags or meta data). The obvious ones are your ethnicity, age, and sex. However, did you know that it is possible to analyze your images to find out what skin products are best for you? Or, what hairstyle or makeup would look best for your given face type, color, and shape?

The images that you post to Facebook allow them to commercialize you, simple as that. They can provide their partner organizations with vital information so that they can insert an annoying banner advertisement above, to the right, to the left, over (all over) your images.

Are you okay with that? Essentially your photos have a monetary value assigned to them and it's Facebook's mission (unlike ours) to extract every single penny possible.

And if you thought you were safe on Instagram, well, you're not because Facebook owns Instagram (many people still are not even aware of this relationship! We need to educate and inform them!). Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, said this explicitly on an earning's call to investors:

Kevin [Systrom, Instagram Founder] has always been clear that we're building Instagram to be a business. And that we expect that over time we're going to generate a lot of profit from it … probably through advertising.

Really, really sad. What a loss. How gross is it going to get when you start scrolling through your Instagram feed to see a half-naked woman yelling at you that there are "HOT SINGLES READY TO MINGLE IN YOUR [Insert Zip Code Here]!"

Zuck goes on:

When the right time comes, we'll think about doing advertising as well, and I think that's going to be a really big opportunity.

Hopefully it's an opportunity you won't give them. Join us, take back your image sharing rights (and pageviews), and join the revolution.

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Fwd: GIVE A MAN A FISH . . .



 

 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

GIVE A MAN A FISH . . .

. . . and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.




2013 Version:

Give a man a Welfare check, a free phone, free Internet, cash for his clunker, food stamps, Section 8 housing, free contraceptives, Medicaid, ninety-nine weeks of unemployment, free medicine, and he will vote Democrat the rest of his life even after he's dead.



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Fwd: The Radical Racist Background of Obama & We’re Not Talking About Barack






The Radical Racist Background of Obama & We're Not Talking About Barack

 

I did some background checking into Michelle Obama and her links with socialists, communists and other high ranking radicals that wish nothing more than to destroy the United States as it is, and create a brand new United States! This may sound absurd and demeaning, but it is true. Some of the words spoken by Michelle Obama and her husband Barack Obama have come directly from a radical book titled Rules for Radicals by Saul D. Alinsky.

I'll expose Alinsky's background in future articles, but before we go too far, let us just start with Michelle Obama's college days, since to find her high school history seems to be quite difficult.

Michelle Obama's maiden name was Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, and she was born on January 17, 1964. She married Barack Hussein Obama in 1992.

According to FrontPageMagazine reporter Jacob Laksin, "In a [February 2008] interview with Newsweek, [Michelle] Obama reveals that she got into Princeton … not on the strength of her grades, which she admits were unexceptional, but thanks to her brother Craig, a star athlete and gifted student who preceded her to the school. As a 'legacy' candidate and a beneficiary of affirmative action, Michelle Obama was granted an opportunity that others more accomplished were denied."

The First lady got her college education due to her brother and her ethnicity, not her excellence in academics. So why is she such a radical racist woman? It must come from somewhere in her background. Perhaps her parents were the ones who led her to this road of turmoil about racial prejudice. Let us take a brief look to see just what she was doing at Princeton while she was there and what types of people she had as her close friends. Some of Michelle Obama's contacts in College were of the Marxist/socialist types.

Princeton, 1984

Charles C. Johnson wrote on October 30, 2012, "Michelle Obama attends and promotes a 'Black Solidarity' event for guest lecturer Manning Marable, who was, according to Cornel West, probably 'the best known black Marxist in the country.' The event is the work of the Third World Center (TWC), a campus group whose board membership is exclusively reserved for minorities."

A classmate of Michelle's identified her to TheBlaze as the second person on the left. Article/photograph taken from The Daily Princetonian – Vol. CVIII, No. 107 November 6, 1984

 

Daily Princetonian article showing Michelle as a board member.

With this documented article, we see that Michelle Obama, much like her husband is closely associated with the teachings of Marxism and had attended meetings with Marxist-type people. We must now wonder, why did the people elect a man with a wife that has such a marked background, mixed with Marxism and communism by association with such types of people?

Michelle Robinson's racial animosity of Caucasian people is exposed through her articles and statements from the time she was at Princeton. One can see this in her ideas that the white population at Princeton were a bunch of "racist" individuals. Johnson quotes an article Michelle Robinson (Obama) wrote while at Princeton University, following an introduction to the quotation.

If ever there was an example of the TWC governing board's obsession with race, an editorial from October 21, 1981 is it. The members took great offense to an op-ed titled "Rebuilding Race Relations," calling the article "racist, offensive, and inaccurate" for daring to question the group's true commitment and to present a thesis on race relations counter to its own.

"The word RE-building implies that race relations once existed and, for some mysterious reasons, fell apart … ," the board wrote in a scathing letter to the editor. "We, on the other hand, believe that race relations have never been and still are not at a satisfactory level. We are not RE-building. We cannot RE-build something that never existed in the first place."

An early copy of the TWC's constitution. (The Princeton Archives)


Another copy of the constitution and the preamble. (The Princeton Archives) [/caption

]

"Don't hide behind excuses such as a lack of effort [to integrate with the Princeton campus] on our part," the revealing letter added. "The bottom line is that white students on this campus are racist, but they may not realize it." [Emphasis added]

Princeton itself, however, was concerned about the self-segregation by black students and proposed reforms to counter it, including no longer permitting black students to all room together in one dorm and integrating black freshmen into the general student body. The TWC strenuously opposed all of these reforms, arguing that integration of nonwhite students would harm the "support system" available to them, especially blacks. (Julie Newton, "TWC criticizes CURL plan: Minority strife would worsen," The Daily Princetonian, October 21, 1981)."

The TWC is an organization of whose membership was exclusively reserved to Minorities only and the initials represent the words, "Third World Center". Here we have to note that Michelle Robinson was an activist that had the intention to change the very ideology of the Princeton school she got into through the use of her brother! Here, she makes the statement, "The bottom line is that white students on this campus are racist, but they may not realize it" [Emphasis added]. This clearly shows an animosity towards white people while she was attending Princeton, and it also shows just what she thought of the college that allowed her to enter based upon her brother's position and not her grades. Michelle Robinson was actually biting the hand that fed her!

Princeton took a look at the problems and came up with a plan that would integrate the different people and bring them into a more associative bonding. However, this was not strong enough for Michelle Robinson or the TWC since that would solve the problem that they shine a spotlight on, but it was not what they wanted and they countered that idea as shown below.

"Princeton itself, however, was concerned about the self-segregation by black students and proposed reforms to counter it, including no longer permitting black students to all room together in one dorm and integrating black freshmen into the general student body. The TWC strenuously opposed all of these reforms, arguing that integration of nonwhite students would harm the "support system" available to them, especially blacks. (Julie Newton, "TWC criticizes CURL plan: Minority strife would worsen," The Daily Princetonian, October 21, 1981)."

Michelle Robinson was part of the group, but not a full board member at that time, but when she did become a board member she found yet another racially-charged way to make a statement. Michelle Obama was an individual that found fault with anything that dealt with ethnicity. Johnson documents her actions and statements in 1983 as follows:

"While Michelle was not a part of the board in 1981, as a board member of the Third World Center starting on April 7, 1983 she joined in a different racially-charged statement reproaching the college for not doing enough to hire "Latino administrators." In a letter a few weeks later, the TWC attacked Princeton's administration for not replacing Hector Delgado, a minority dean of students.

"This search needs to produce another experienced individual who is of minority background, preferably Latino, and who will be responsive to the concerns of Third World Center as well as the student body at large," the TWC's governing board wrote.

Others on campus took notice of the group's calls and expressed concern.

For example, Fred Foote — the editor of Prospect magazine, a conservative monthly publication — criticized the TWC and Delgado for their obsessive focus on race.

"[Delgado's] penchant for drawing campus issues along racial lines—a penchant shared by the TWC and The Daily Princetonian—is the chief cause of racial strife on campus," he wrote."

Now this seems to show without a doubt that others on campus were looking at this action by the TWC of which Michelle Robinson,(Obama), was a part of. It seems to show that had she and the others just allowed actions to drift by, the so-called problems would have been much less in the front of the students than their curriculum was. Now one has to wonder why take such actions if the college was getting along just fine before?

Michelle Robinson (Obama) did more than make meetings and express her seemingly hate for whites, she went on with the TWC and made demands for minority only meetings. She would have been up in arms to stop such meetings if they were to the exclusion of minorities. Yet it was fine, and even better, when she stood alongside a segregation policy that banned whites from any meetings held by the TWC! This is well noted in statements below.

"In November 1984, TWC's board demanded that nonwhite students should have the right to bar whites from their meetings on campus. They also demanded minorities-only meetings with the deans. (John Hurley, "Black students, university debate closed meeting policy," The Daily Princetonian, November 29, 1984). The ban was frankly unnecessary, since whites were made to feel unwelcome at the meetings if they were invited at all, but the TWC continued to press for it, arguing, too, that blacks ought to be able to bar whites from attending events aimed at discussion of "sensitive" racial issues.

"The administration, by denying us these [blacks-only] meetings, is saying that we don't have specific needs that have to be addressed this way," David Jackson, '87, a fellow TWC member, told the Daily Princetonian after the university officials finally rejected its proposal to hold racially limited meetings.

But despite the radical and racialist character of the TWC, Michelle Robinson was an active participant and may have been attracted by that very radicalism.

"The Third World Center was our life," Angela Acree, her best friend at Princeton, told The Boston Globe in June 2008. "We hung out there, we partied there, we studied there [in Liberation Hall]."

"Not a day went by that I did not see Michelle at the Center," Czerni Brasuelle, TWC's director at the time, told the Daily Princetonian in its November 5, 2008 issue."

This would seem to indicate that Michelle Robinson (Obama) did not like the idea of all ethnicities working together, and would rather have them separate from each other. However, this is not what our nation had been working towards. It had been working towards having ethnic groups working together and not apart. This was so we all could be together as one nation, as Americans. Michelle Robinson in 1983-84 did not like that idea and helped call for separate and different meetings just for minorities. No whites could be there at all. Yet it was Michelle Robinson (Obama) that had stated that race relations at Princeton were deficient. However, it seems that she was part of the problem. She sat on the board of TWC to force Princeton to have separate meetings for minorities without any whites allowed! This does not bring ethnicities together nor does it resolve problems. It would make them worse due to the distancing of the minorities from the white population and causing the white population to wonder what the monitories are planning. However, this was just the beginning for Michelle Robinson.

This is the first of a 2 part article on Michelle Robinson Obama. The next article will show her use of Saul Alinsky's works, a man she admired along with her husband Barack Obama.



Read more: http://freedomoutpost.com/2013/08/the-radical-racist-background-of-michelle-obama-were-not-talking-about-barack/#ixzz2cPb0yOr3



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