Thursday, July 9, 2009

EDITORIAL: Passing unread laws - Washington Times

This weekend's Fourth of July festivities celebrated the birth of representative government in America. As the Declaration of Independence set forth 233 years ago, our government derives its power from the consent of the governed. Such consent does not exist when legislation is purposely rammed through Congress so quickly that congressmen -- let alone citizens -- do not have time even to read it.

Welcome to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's House of Representatives. The "people's House" is now a place where bills are voted on not only before legislators or the public have read them, but also before parts of the bills even have been written. Such was the case with a 300-page amendment to the cap-and-trade bill the House passed on June 26. The House leadership could not even produce this amendment on paper, in final form, before it was voted on.

In response to that and other recent outrageous infringements of real representative democracy, a group called Let Freedom Ring is pushing all 435 members of Congress and 100 senators to sign a pledge against such shenanigans on any health care reform bill Congress considers.

All 535 of them ought to do so.

The pledge, which can be found at, reads in part as follows: "I pledge to my constituents and the American people that I will not vote to enact any healthcare reform package that: 1) I have not read, personally, in its entirety; and 2) Has not been available, in its entirety, to the American people on the Internet for at least 72 hours, so that they can read it too."

No simpler requirement for good government could be imagined. When what is at stake is a revolutionary change in the entire organization of 17 percent of the economy - not to mention the delivery of services that could mean the difference between life and death for millions of Americans each year - it is basic common sense to insist that our lawmakers know and understand what they are voting on - and that includes the fine print.

As it was put by Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, "there is no rational reason for not signing the pledge."

Unfortunately, Mrs. Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid say they can't be bothered with such essentials. On June 25, both declined to promise to give the public a week to review any major health care reform. Mrs. Pelosi did not even respond to a question posed at a press briefing by Cybercast News Service about whether the Congressional Budget Office would have time to "score" the bill's final price tag.

Such an attitude represents the height -- or, rather, the depth -- of irresponsibility.

It is an axiom in criminal court that "ignorance of the law is no excuse." There certainly is no excuse for lawmakers to be ignorant of the laws they would force on the rest of us. That sounds almost criminal to us.

Make Congress Read Their Bills Before Voting

Make Congress read every word of every bill they create before they vote on it. Urge your Representative and your Senators to sponsor's “Read the Bills Act” (RTBA).
EDITORIAL: Passing unread laws - Washington Times

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1984 on the Horizon: Congress Moves to Regulate Thought Crime

Ever-vigilant for opportunities to quash anything contrary to the liberal worldview, Leftists in Congress are working on new ways to silence any dissent.

Most of us know about the “Fairness Doctrine” that they got away with for years to harass and control the opposition. Most of us also know the liberals have been trying for years to bring it back.

Their latest attempt is HR 1966, ostensibly to fight “cyber bullying,” but it could very easily be used to prosecute “hate crimes,” or essentially any electronic communication that hurt someone’s feelings.

David Rittgers of the Cato Institute discusses this Orwellian measure on Fox News in the video below.

“Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce [radio, TV internet] any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.” – HR 1966 Sec 3, Sec 881A

It is also said to violate “double jeopardy” Constitutional protections, in that if you are tried and convicted, but the federal government believes you weren’t punished severely enough, they can retry you to seek a harsher sentence.

It is no stretch whatsoever to see homosexual activists use this against someone like myself or broadcasters at Focus on the Family any time we tell the truth about the moral and health dangers of homosexual behavior.

Here are just a few items from an article I wrote a couple of days ago on how “hate crime” legislation is already being used against people for exercising their opinion, free speech, and freedom of association, both internationally and already here in the United States:

  • Last year a Catholic priest in Canada, Fr. Alphonse de Valk, who was investigated by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) for the “crime” of teaching what the Bible says about homosexual behavior (that it is a sin) and marriage (that it is between a man and a woman).
  • The Ontario Human Rights Commission slapped Protestant printer Scott Brockie with a $5000 fine for refusing to print homosexual-themed stationary.
  • The Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal fined Hugh Owens several thousand dollars for quoting the Bible in a letter to the local newspaper.
  • Mayor Diane Haskett in London, Ontario, was fined $10,000 for refusing to proclaim a gay pride day.
  • Swedish Pastor Ake Green in 2004 was sentenced to 30 days in jail for preaching a sermon in which he defined homosexual behavior as sinful and harmful to society.
  • A British couple were questioned by police on possible “hate crime” charges after they wrote a letter-to-the-editor of their local newspaper criticizing city officials for distributing brochures at city hall promoting homosexual behavior.
  • In Canada, Focus on the Family must cut out any portions of their broadcasts dealing with homosexuality for radio stations in that country.
  • Last year the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal ruled that youth pastor Stephen Boissoin was guilty of writing a letter to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate which might expose homosexuals to hate and contempt (Boissoin’s 2002 letter said homosexuality was immoral, physically dangerous and should not be promoted in schools).
  • Not content with their success in quashing open refusals to bow at the altar of political correctness, the Canadian pro-homosexual group EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere) is calling for the Canadian postal system to censor the mail for “hate mail”
  • Catholic Charities in Boston was forced out of the adoption ministry because they refused to put children in homes of homosexual couples.
  • Boston school teachers have been threatened with termination if they fail to cast homosexuality in a positive light to students.
  • The University of Toledo fired a black administrator for writing a “letter to the editor” of a local newspaper about the inconsistency of comparing homosexuality to ethnicity.
  • Christians in Philadelphia were arrested for reading Bible verses and praying out loud during a homosexual festival.
  • The state of New Mexico issued a fine of $6,600 to a Christian photographer (a private businessman) who didn’t want to photograph two lesbians make a commitment to each other.
  • A Colorado law passed last year to allow men to use women’s restrooms and shower rooms if they “felt like a woman” also contained provisions which prohibits the publication for public consumption any material which is “discriminatory” against homosexual behavior. So while churches can (for now) continue teaching within their own walls what the Bible says about homosexual behavior, they cannot publish anything in public which does. This includes any Christian book publishers or other ministries in Colorado.

We all understand the need to criminally punish assaults on persons and property. We also understand the need to restrict direct threats of violence against persons and property.

1984BookBut this measure and others like it seek to punish thoughts and opinions. Even without a threat of violence against persons or property, this type of regulation can be used to brand you a criminal and punish you for expressing a value statement about a particular issue or behavior.

This bill is a direct assault on the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This is what we get when we put Leftists in power in our government. Leftists have no interest in fairness or in the freedoms of the “little people.” It is all about the consolidation of power and exercising any government control over the individual–including speech, thoughts and opinions–they consider contrary to their socialist ideology.

Remember this, and remember that the next time you vote.

Source: Dakota Voice
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Honduras and Iran: Obama Betrays Freedom Again

Coup is the word du jour in the Orwellian age of Obama where words take on opposite meaning. Coup is the word used to recklessly define the healthy democracy at work in the Honduras.

What just happened in Honduras? A military coup, destroying democratic rule? No. What just happened in Honduras was an example of how democracy works - and yet more confirmation that Barack Obama is not on the side of freedom, but of tyranny. The United Nations, the leftopaths in the mainstream media, and the radical U.S. President are trying to paint what happened in Honduras as a coup. It was not. It was a democracy at work, saving itself from a Hugo Chávez-backed takeover. For a complete time line on the Chavez backed attempt to overthrow a free and thriving democracy go here.

The real story behind the chaos in Honduras is a huge story that needs to be exposed to the world. And the bottom line is that Obama got it wrong, again.

Take this hypothetical: imagine that Barack Obama announced that he was going to hold a referendum on legalizing a third term for himself. Imagine that even his attorney general, Eric Holder, advised him that it was illegal. Imagine that the Supreme Court ruled that holding the referendum was unconstitutional. In spite of that, let's imagine that Obama coerced the FEC into holding the referendum anyway. Then - let's further imagine -- we found out that Venezuelan strongman Chávez (who has pulled off a similar power grab in his own country) was financing the referendum. What should the Joint Chiefs do in such a case? And if they removed Obama from office, would they be destroying the Constitution or preserving it?

This is exactly what has occurred in Honduras, to a tee. The Honduras Attorney General and their Supreme Court did exactly that - ruled that President Manuel Zelaya's referendum was unconstitutional. The Honduran Generals did what they had to do. But then Chávez, Zelaya's friend and ally, announced: "I have put the armed forces of Venezuela on alert." And at that point Barack Obama spoke out - to side with Zelaya, Chávez and dictatorship. Obama said he was "deeply concerned" about what was happening in Honduras and called upon that nation to "respect democratic norms."

Obama is on the same side as Chávez, Ortega and the Castro brothers.

And the irony is thick. In a press conference on June 23, Obama said: "I've made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not interfering with Iran's affairs." He never called upon the Iranian mullahs to "respect democratic norms." On the contrary, he ostentatiously refuses to "meddle" in Iran, where individuals are courageously risking life and limb for the idea of free elections. Brutal Islamic nazis are crushing dissent, and Obama talks about "lively debate." Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami spoke out Thursday against what he called a "velvet coup against the people and democracy." Obama has sided with that coup, while in Honduras, Obama and the whores at the United Nations have no qualms about interfering to back a Chávez proxy. On Tuesday, U.N. General Assembly piled on, condemning the "coup" in Honduras and demanding that Zelaya be returned to office. It passed - by acclamation - a resolution calling upon all member states not to recognize the new government.

Obama and the U.N. passed up an opportunity to recognize the will of Honduran people and the sanctity of their Constitution. It has been widely reported in the Spanish-language press, but not here in the United States, that the anti-Zelaya demonstrations in Tegucigalpa are huge, demonstrating that the Honduran people support the actions of their Congress and Supreme Court in removing Zelaya from office.

The new president of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, said Thursday: "I am concerned that President Obama - for whom we have a great deal of respect and admiration, as we do for his people - should shun us without having heard our explanation" for the removal of Zelaya. He added: "However, of Señor Chávez we can expect anything: he has already threatened to invade the country. This is a lack of respect." Former U.S. diplomat and democracy advocate Martin Barillas noted that in an interview Thursday, "Micheletti said that 80 percent of his compatriots support his presidency, a claim that has been bolstered by the throngs of supporters appearing on the streets of Tegucigalpa, the capital city. Some protesters in the Honduran capital brandished placards telling President Obama, in English, that they too have a dream of democracy."

Obama, wrong on Honduras, wrong on Iran. He's consistent, no?

Obama, yet again, on the side of evil.

Source: American Thinker

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Where does YOUR attorney general stand on the Second Amendment?

We spoke on Tuesday about California Attorney General Jerry Brown petitioning the Supreme Court to hear a challenge to Chicago's gun ban. 33 other state AGs have also lent their names to the effort.


Two-thirds of the nation’s attorneys general have filed an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case of NRA v. Chicago and hold that the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This bi-partisan group of 33 attorneys general, along with the Attorney General of California in a separate filing, agrees with the NRA’s position that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental individual right to keep and bear arms in the home for self-defense, disagreeing with the decision recently issued by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

You can read their brief here.

One of the AGs, Mike Cox of Michigan, addressed criticism of his signing the brief in The Detroit Free Press. He does a good job and I encourage you to read his rebuttal.

I like his ending the best:

I make no apologies for my support of the Constitution and the Second Amendment.

Amen. None of us should.

Here are the states that joined in the amicus brief. As mentioned, California acted on its own:

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

If your state is not listed, contact your attorney general and give him an earful. Here's a resource to help you do that, or to thank yours for doing the right thing.

Source: The Examiner

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The language that absolves Israel

A special political vocabulary prevents us from being able to recognize what's going on in the Middle East.

On Sunday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech that -- by categorically ruling out the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state -- ought to have been seen as a mortal blow to the quest for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Monday morning, however, newspaper headlines across the United States announced that Netanyahu had endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state, and the White House welcomed the speech as "an important step forward."

Reality can be so easily stood on its head when it comes to Israel because the misreading of Israeli declarations is a long-established practice among commentators and journalists in the United States.

In fact, a special vocabulary has been developed for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the United States. It filters and structures the way in which developing stories are misread here, making it difficult for readers to fully grasp the nature of those stories -- and maybe even for journalists to think critically about what they write.

The ultimate effect of this special vocabulary is to make it possible for Americans to accept and even endorse in Israel what they would reject out of hand in any other country.

Let me give a classic example.

In the U.S., discussion of Palestinian politicians and political movements often relies on a spectrum running from "extreme" to "moderate." The latter sounds appealing; the former clearly applies to those who must be -- must they not? -- beyond the pale. But hardly anyone relying on such terms pauses to ask what they mean. According to whose standard are these manifestly subjective labels assigned?

Meanwhile, Israeli politicians are labeled according to an altogether different standard: They are "doves" or "hawks." Unlike the terms reserved for Palestinians, there's nothing inherently negative about either of those avian terms.

So why is no Palestinian leader referred to here as a "hawk"? Why are Israeli politicians rarely labeled "extremists"? Or, for that matter, "militants"?

There are countless other examples of these linguistic double standards. American media outlets routinely use the deracinating and deliberately obfuscating term "Israeli Arabs" to refer to the Palestinian citizens of Israel, despite the fact that they call themselves -- and are -- Palestinian.

Similarly, Israeli housing units built in the occupied territories in contravention of international law are always called "settlements" or even "neighborhoods" rather than what they are: "colonies." That word may be harsh on the ears, but it's far more accurate ("a body of people who settle in a new locality, forming a community subject to or connected with their parent state").

These subtle distinctions make a huge difference. Unconsciously absorbed, such terms frame the way people and events are viewed. When it comes to Israel, we seem to reach for a dictionary that applies to no one else, to give a pass to actions or statements that would be condemned in any other quarter.

That's what allowed Netanyahu to be congratulated for endorsing a Palestinian "state," even though the kind of entity he said Palestinians might -- possibly -- be allowed to have would be nothing of the kind.

Look up the word "state" in the dictionary. You'll probably see references to territorial integrity, power and sovereignty. The entity that Netanyahu was talking about on Sunday would lack all of those constitutive features. A "state" without a defined territory that is not allowed to control its own borders or airspace and cannot enter into treaties with other states is not a state, any more than an apple is an orange or a car an airplane. So how can leading American newspapers say "Israeli Premier Backs State for Palestinians," as the New York Times had it? Or "Netanyahu relents on goal of two states," as this paper put it?

Because a different vocabulary applies.

Which is also what kept Netanyahu's most extraordinary demand in Sunday night's speech from raising eyebrows here.

"The truth," he said, "is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians."

In other words, as Netanyahu repeatedly said, there is a Jewish people; it has a homeland and hence a state. As for the Palestinians, they are a collection -- not even a group -- of trespassers on Jewish land. Netanyahu, of course, dismisses the fact that they have a centuries-old competing narrative of home attached to the same land, a narrative worthy of recognition by Israel.

On the contrary: The Palestinians must, he said, accept that Israel is the state of the Jewish people (this is a relatively new Israeli demand, incidentally), and they must do so on the understanding that they are not entitled to the same rights. "We" are a people, Netanyahu was saying; "they" are merely a "population." "We" have a right to a state -- a real state. "They" do not.

And the spokesman for our African American president calls this "an important step forward"?

In any other situation -- including our own country -- such a brutally naked contrast between those who are taken to have inherent rights and those who do not would immediately be labeled as racist. Netanyahu, though, is given a pass, not because most Americans would knowingly endorse racism but because, in this case, a special political vocabulary kicks in that prevents them from being able to recognize it for exactly what it is.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA. He is the author of, among other books, "Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation."

Source: The Los Angeles Times
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Switzerland Threatens to Seize UBS Client Info - GOOD FOR THEM

The Swiss government said it is ready to confiscate UBS client information to prevent the bank from violating secrecy laws by handing documents over to the U.S. government.

The IRS is battling in a Miami court to force UBS to provide information on the accounts of 52,000 U.S.-based taxpayers. However, UBS contends that doing so would violate Swiss banking secrecy laws. Instead, the bank has chosen to close many of the clients’ accounts.

In a statement released by the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police, Switzerland on Tuesday confirmed that Swiss law prohibits disclosing the client information. “Switzerland makes it perfectly clear that Swiss law prohibits UBS from complying with a possible order by the court in Miami to hand over the client information,” said the department. “In addition, on the basis of the Federal Council’s decision of principle, UBS will by no means be in a position to comply with such an order. According to that decision, all the necessary measures should be taken to prevent UBS from handing over the information on the 52,000 account holders demanded in the U.S. civil proceeding.”

The department added that if circumstances require, it would issue an order explicitly prohibiting UBS from handing over client information.

In February, the bank signed a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, agreeing to pay $780 million and provide the names of 250 U.S. clients who had been accused of tax fraud (see UBS Agrees to Reveal Tax Shelter Clients). However, the IRS has continued to sue the bank to learn the identities and holdings of an additional 52,000 UBS clients by issuing “John Doe” summonses. The U.S. and Swiss government have made progress on a treaty to share more taxpayer information (see U.S., Swiss to Share More Taxpayer Information). But the legal battle over the 52,000 UBS clients threatens to derail the treaty.

Source: Web CPA

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Canadian Jewish Congress Once Again Caught Creating Events In Order To Achieve Their Ends

A Jewish-Canadian author is in a battle of words with the Canadian Jewish Congress after alleging the organization props up neo-nazi groups to get “hate crime” legislation passed and expand the role of the country’s Human Rights Commission.

Neo-conservative author Ezra Levant claims in his latest book, Shakedown, that the Canadian Jewish Congress hired ex-cop John Garrity to work for the Canadian Nazi Party in the 1960’s. In 1965 and 1966, Garrity was put in charge of membership for the group and organized the dozen or so “rag-tag band of losers” into an outfit that garned a lot of press coverage.

That media attention was used by the CJC to build up a precieved public threat that persuaded Parliament to abridge Canada’s freedom of speech, Levant contends. The CJC, which had been advocating restrictions on free speech in Canada since the 1930’s, used the Nazi Party’s publicity to successfully lobby for the 1971 “hate law” (Section 319 of the Criminal Code). The end result was the enactment of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which “empowers the Canadian Human Rights Commission to deal with complaints regarding the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet.”

Levant’s claim has been floating around for some time now. Garrity came clean in a 1966 article for Maclean’s magazine, admitting that he handed member and donor information over over to the CJC; however, he did not say his final goal was to curtail free speech in Canada.

Garrity did admit that the Canadian Nazi Party did not conspire to or implement any violent or illegal activities. In fact, any violence Garrity saw was done by Jewish and anti-racist vigilantes. “Sadly, it is the [....] anti-Nazi extremists who, in their attempts to destroy Beattie, provide him with most of the publicity he craves. If it weren’t for the riots and the assaults and the public protest meetings they hold, there’d be no real news,” Garrity wrote in his article.

Back in November 2000, former Canadian Nazi Party leader John Beattie was scheduled to testify at a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that he was a “dupe and a patsy” for the CJC. He was also going to explain how an agent from the CJC (presumably Garrity) “proposed legal maneuvers [sic] that were calculated to frighten and cause distress among Jews.” However, Beattie never testified, a point many have speculated upon.

Levant then contends that some twenty years after the collapse of the Canadian Nazi Party, Canada’s spy agency infiltrated another neo-nazi group, The Heritage Front. CSIS agent Grant Bristow wound up running the now-defunct group, using Canadian tax dollars to foment more hysteria that got Section 13 to expand even further.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission also actively engages in “hate speech” in order to catch and prosecute people for “hate speech,” Levant contends. The biggest offender of such a practice is former CHRC staffer Richard Warman, who has been the complainant in all but two cases heard by the CHRC tribunal this decade. In addition to making tens of thousands of dollars, the CJC bestowed Warman with a special award for his efforts.

The tables were stunningly turned on Warman last month, after the CHRC rebuked Warman for his anti-Semitic postings the White Nationalist website Warman defended himself by saying his posts that “Jews are scum” was an attempt to gather information on real Nazis, but the tribunal called his actions “disappointing and disturbing,” and ruled that he risked encouraging

more hateful messages himself.

“Warman’s actions appalled the tribunal, but apparently not the CJC,” says Levant. “Just as the CJC did with Garrity, Nazi opponents continue to stir up neo-Nazi incidents — as if there aren’t enough real threats to Jews as it is.”

Current CJC co-president, Rabbi Reuven Bulka, has dissmissed Levant’s allegations as “fiction” and that all the group did for the Nazis was “to purchase a bottle of rum” for them. Rabbi Bulka wants a retraction to the allegations published in a second printing of Levant’s book.

Source: The Right perspective

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Ireland: blasphemy law a backward step

The government should not be creating new laws to enforce provisions written in the reactionary 1930s, says Michael Nugent

This Wednesday the Irish parliament will vote on a new law making blasphemy an offence punishable by a fine of €25,000. If this law is passed, Atheist Ireland will respond by publishing a blasphemous statement in order to test the law and highlight its absurdity. We believe that people need protection from harm, but ideas and beliefs should always be open to challenge.

Why is this happening? The Irish Constitution says that blasphemy is an offence that shall be punishable by law. That law currently resides in the 1961 Defamation Act. The Dáil is now repealing and updating this Act, and Justice Minister Dermot Ahern says he must pass a new blasphemy law to avoid leaving a “void”.

But this “void” is already there. In 1999, the Supreme Court found that the 1961 law was unenforceable because it did not define blasphemy. So, in effect, Ireland has never had an enforceable blasphemy law under the 1937 Constitution. But we will if this bill is passed through the Dáil and the Seanad (the upper house), and the government has the working majority needed to pass it.

Here are three reasons why this law is both silly and dangerous:

Reason One: The proposed law does not protect religious belief; it incentivises outrage and it criminalises free speech. Under this proposed law, if a person expresses one belief about gods, and other people think that this insults a different belief about gods, then these people can become outraged, and this outrage can make it illegal for the first person to express his or her beliefs.

The problematic behaviour here is the outrage, not the expression of different beliefs. Instead of incentivising outrage, we should be educating people to respond in a healthier manner when somebody expresses a belief that they find insulting. More worryingly, this law would encourage, reinforce and protect the type of orchestrated outrage that Islamic fundamentalists have directed against cartoonists and novelists.

Reason Two: The proposed law treats religious beliefs as more valuable than secular beliefs and scientific thinking. Personally, I find it abusive and insulting that the Christian Bible suggests that a woman should be stoned to death for not being a virgin on her wedding night, or that it is okay to kill your slave if he dies slowly, or that effeminate people are unrighteous, or that women must not teach and must learn in silence.

If enough atheists are outraged by these passages, should the Christian Bible be banned? I do not believe that the Bible should be banned, and neither should discussion of the Bible in terms that cause Christians to be outraged.

Reason Three: We should be removing 1930s religious references from the Irish constitution, not legislating to enforce them. Today, under the Irish constitution, you cannot become president or be appointed as a judge unless you take a religious oath asking God to direct and sustain you in your work.

This means that up to a quarter of a million Irish people could not take up these offices without swearing a lie. These religious declarations are contrary to Ireland’s obligations under the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The preamble to the Irish constitution states that all authority of the state comes from, and all actions of the state must be referred to, a specific god called the Most Holy Trinity. It also humbly acknowledges the obligations of every person in the state to a specific god called Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The constitution acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. This is not an assertion of the right of citizens to worship this god. It is an assertion of the right of this god to be worshipped by citizens. Our national parliament recognises the rights of this god by starting each day’s business with a prayer asking this god to direct the actions of our parliamentarians.

There are also other references in the constitution to religion, as opposed to gods. We should be amending our constitution to remove these theistic references, not creating new crimes to enforce provisions written in the 1930s.

This Saturday, 11 July, Atheist Ireland will hold our AGM between 2pm and 5pm in Wynn’s Hotel in Dublin. Members of the public are welcome to attend. Please come along, or advise any friends living in Dublin to do so, if you want to help build an ethical and secular Ireland.

Source: Index On Censorship

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TSA: Tyrannical, Silly Agency

Whatever your definition of tyranny, the Transportation Security Administration probably met it last April when it harassed Steve Bierfeldt, the Campaign for Liberty's Director of Development. Steve was catching a flight home after C4L's conference in St. Louis with $4700 in proceeds when federal screeners "detained" him for carrying too much cash. They interrogated Steve, yelling and cursing at him, forcing him to justify his affairs to their satisfaction as though he were a slave rather than a taxpayer footing their salaries.

Steve coolly and courageously withstood their intimidation. He also recorded the encounter on his cell phone -- evidence of abuse that even a bureaucracy as fond of denial and deception as the TSA can't dispute. That evidence and Steve's heroism made national headlines.

Steve is now suing the agency with help from the American Civil Liberties Union. Larry Schwartztol, an attorney there, explained: "Mr. Bierfeldt's experience represents a troubling pattern of TSA attempting to transform its valid but limited search authority into a license to invade people's privacy in a manner that would never be accepted outside the airport context."

True -- but why are such invasions accepted inside the airport context? And just how "valid" is the TSA's "limited search authority"? After all, screeners search every passenger boarding a commercial flight in the US without the slightest suspicion that any of them plans to commit a crime, let alone that he already has. Doesn't the Constitution prohibit precisely that?

"The right of the people," says its Fourth Amendment, "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. . . "

That command is so clear even politicians can understand it. The Amendment recognizes no limits to our freedom from unreasonable searches, not even in national emergencies or airports. Nor may government act as if potential victims of terrorism are terrorists themselves and abuse them accordingly.

The Amendment continues, ". . . and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." The Founding Fathers simply assumed and then implied that no search will ever happen without a warrant. And no warrant happens without suspicion so strong it's "probable" that the subject committed a crime. Claiming he could commit one, as is the TSA's habit, doesn't fly. Warrants must also specify the search's who and what and why. This eliminates the fishing expeditions so beloved by the TSA, which "detains" people not only for weapons and too much cash but for illegal drugs, immigration papers of the wrong color, fake ID, and other belongings irrelevant to terrorism. It also makes the agency's harassment of two million passengers each day logistically impossible: cops and courts can't file that many warrants, let alone pretend to suspect that many individuals.

The Fourth isn't the Constitution's only salvo against the TSA. It also prohibits the agency's mere existence. Nowhere among the Federal powers it delegates are "delaying, pestering, and occasionally even killing passengers." The Ninth and Tenth Amendments reserve such mayhem to the states and the people.

Yet in aviation's case, as in so many others, the Constitution is a waste of good parchment for all the homage government pays it. Leviathan's authority over aviation is nigh absolute and has been for decades. For that we can thank judicial decisions and an accident of history.

Modern judges seem to measure their professional skill by how ingeniously they circumvent the Constitution. And so they invented an "interest" for the State in "safe" aviation. Where that interest comes from is anyone's guess -- certainly not from the Creator Who endows on us our inalienable rights. Meanwhile, the Constitution never concerns itself with or even mentions governmental interests. But that doesn't faze the judiciary. It has repeatedly conjured interests from thin air when the Constitution prohibits the Feds from doing as they please. For instance, in the 1870's, the Supreme Court found that the government had an "interest" in controlling immigration though the Constitution never empowers it to interfere with people's movements. Likewise with "safe aviation."

Courts have also cooked up a monstrosity called "administrative search" that annuls the Fourth Amendment. When a government official sticks "administrative" before the word "search," he magically frees himself from the Fourth Amendment's restrictions and requirements because he's no longer conducting a real search. Try that on the next cop who stops you for speeding: tell him you were only "administratively" speeding. "Administrative searches" legalize such Constitutional assaults as health inspectors raiding restaurants without warrants and building inspectors trespassing on construction sites.

These judicial hijinks collided with the Progressive Era to produce the gulag that is today's airport. Like automobiles, aeroplanes got off the ground around the turn of the twentieth century, when politicians and intellectuals were convincing Americans who had formerly distrusted government that it was in fact their best friend. Newfangled flivvers and Fokkers were playthings of the wealthy at first, with other folks greeting the contraptions skeptically or even fearfully. And so enthusiasts encouraged the State's interest in their hobbies: not only were people learning to equate government's regulation with safety, but subsidies and grants salved regulation's sting. Millionaires might own cars, but where could they drive them? There were few paved roads in 1900. Ditto for planes and the infrastructure they require. Rich, politically connected pilots and drivers wanted everyone paying for that infrastructure, not just themselves and their cronies. The Constitution's inconvenient enumeration of powers was small change compared to the dollars involved here.

Within a few decades, the Feds controlled most aspects of aviation. They owned outright such operations as control towers while regulating things like the design of aircraft so heavily they might as well have nationalized the factories. When hijacking planes as a political stunt became popular in the 1960's, most Americans expected the Federal Aviation Administration to subsume aviation's security, too. It gladly obliged, publishing myriad rules that governed everything from the metal detectors it began requiring in airports to a flight crew's response when hijacked (sit tight and comply with the criminals' demands -- cooperation that contributed to the success 19 terrorists enjoyed on 9/11).

The FAA emphasized its liability for passengers' safety in April 2001 when it described its "mission" in "A Commitment to Security": "FAA provides a safe, secure, and efficient global aerospace system that contributes to national security and the promotion of US aerospace safety." It also provided minute and extremely detailed orders to airport screeners. These employees were still private, if by "private" we mean that a company rather than the Feds issued their paychecks. But such companies prior to 9/11 were little more than personnel agencies: they supplied the staff for airport checkpoints, but the FAA dictated in detail everything that staff did, down to the wanding of passengers who set off metal detectors. Blaming "private" screeners for 9/11 is like blaming a secretary for the boss's nasty letter.

Yet that's exactly what politicians did after terrorists easily penetrated the FAA's "safe, secure, and efficient global aerospace system." Most of the Democrats who condemned "private" screening had long hoped to nationalize airport searching and add tens of thousands of members to the American Federation of Government Employees, one of the nation's largest labor unions. Most of the Republicans excoriating "private" airport security were trying to deflect attention from the Bush Administration's failure to prevent 9/11 despite ample warnings. Between them, they capitalized on the day's tragedies to foist yet another bureaucracy on us.

That makes the TSA a political rather than a practical response to terrorism. And it shows in its slapstick "security." For 35 years, the Feds have operated on the assumption that disarmed passengers are safe passengers -- but absolutely no research substantiates this. In fact, both research and common sense tell us that it's just the opposite on the ground, so why would it be different at 35,000 feet? It's the same for checkpoints: presuming that disarmed passengers are a good thing, no one has tested the TSA's methods for finding weapons. There may be less expensive, more efficient ways to secure planes, but no one knows because Congress unilaterally slapped a security system on aviation (with the industry's enthusiastic cooperation: when taxpayers fork over $7 billion annually for the TSA, airlines don't have to).

To this toxic brew you can add employees who are as incompetent as they are surly. TSA screeners are tested frequently on their job skills, whether by the TSA and its parent bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Government Accountability Office or even by the occasional college student. Typically, screeners who never miss your bottle of Chardonnay or Chanel fail to find 65%, 75%, even 90% of the weapons undercover investigators smuggle past them. And they fail this overwhelmingly even though they cheat! Turns out a bureaucrat in the TSA's headquarters was alerting "Federal Security Directors" at airports so that they could inform screeners what the undercover agents looked like and what tricks they'd pull.

Screeners' scores plunged further, to 0%, when a guy completely unaffiliated with the Feds whose plans couldn't be leaked ran his own tests. Nathaniel Heatwole was a 20-year-old college student in 2003 when he spirited packages containing box-cutters, matches, bleach, molding clay, and a note aboard six planes. Nat then emailed the TSA and told them what he'd done; he considered himself a civic-minded hero who'd helped the country by showing the TSA its vulnerabilities. He must have been pretty disillusioned when the TSA ignored him. In fact, his packages would still be aboard all those flights -- except that the airline's maintenance crews found them and snitched to the Feds.

Nat had made an utter fool of the TSA, so the government charged him with a felony. That could have put him in prison for a decade. It eventually settled for fining him $500, putting him on probation for two years, and requiring him to perform 100 hours of community service. Revealing the TSA for a total sham apparently doesn't count as "community service."

But we ought not allow the TSA's failures to obscure its successes. It's a champ at making work: it enables 50,000 screeners, let alone the layers of management that abound in any bureaucracy, to leech off our taxes. And it enormously enriches the corporations that manufacture its gizmos and accessories: its newest toys, millimeter-wave machines that peer through clothing so that passengers appear naked on screeners' monitors, cost $170,000 each -- and the TSA plans to install these pornographic scanners at all 2800 checkpoints nationwide. No wonder corporate America and its media love the TSA.

But the agency's greatest success lies in training formerly free Americans to cringe and kowtow to their rulers. And that endangers us far more gravely than any terrorist.

TSA: Tyrannical, Silly Agency

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WATCH: Settler attacks Peace Now activists documenting settlement construction

Two representatives of the Peace Now organization and members of an Israeli television crew were attacked last week by a settler who objected to their presence in the West Bank as they documented construction in the settlements.

The footage, originally broadcast on Channel 2 Television and posted online by Peace Now, shows a security guard at the Dolev settlement snatching and destroying the TV crew's camera equipment and later attacking the activists' car with rocks.

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UN: Israel must tear down West Bank barrier

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel must tear down its West Bank separation barrier, a senior U.N. official said Wednesday, marking five years since the International Court of Justice declared the barrier illegal and a violation of Palestinian rights.

The barrier separates Israel from the West Bank and in places cuts into Palestinian territory. Israel started building it in 2002 to stop a wave of suicide bombing attacks by Palestinians, who infiltrated across the cease-fire line.

Palestinians charge the complex of walls, trenches, barbed wire and electronic sensors is a land grab that cuts people off from their property and basic services.

Israel did not recognize the 2004 ruling against the barrier by the International Court of Justice, an advisory opinion with no enforcement mechanism.

The barrier is about two-thirds completed. The southern section, near sparsely populated areas on both sides of the line, has not been constructed. Israel's Supreme Court has forced rerouting of several segments closer to the Israel-West Bank line.

At a news conference in Jerusalem to mark the anniversary, the U.N. released a statement concluding that the completed barrier would close in 35,000 Palestinians and wall off another 125,000 on three sides. About 2.4 million Palestinians live in the West Bank.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said the barrier is only part of the problem.

"The wall is but one element of the wider system of severe restrictions on the freedom of movement imposed by the Israeli authorities on Palestinian residents of the West Bank," Pillay said. Israeli must "dismantle the wall" and "make reparations for all damage suffered by all persons affected by the wall's construction," she said.

Israel's Foreign Ministry did not comment on the statement Wednesday. Israel's government has said in the past that the completed sections of the barrier have significantly reduced Palestinian attacks in Israel.

The U.N. said it will release a full report on the humanitarian impact of the barrier later this month.

Source: Associated Press

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Law must thwart' Israeli barrier

International aid and advocacy group Oxfam is demanding the "triumph of the rule of law" over Israel's barrier inside the West Bank.

The campaign marks five years since an International Court of Justice advisory opinion found its construction was illegal and it should be dismantled.

Since then, Oxfam says, the view of the "most distinguished international legal body has been met by inaction".

Israel says the barrier for security; Palestinians view it as a land grab.

In the report, entitled Five Years of Illegality, Oxfam details the situations of 13 Palestinian communities affected by the barrier and its associated security system of gates, buffer zones and passes.

It says displacement and exclusion caused by the barrier entails family break-up, the loss of livelihood and removal of social welfare, and "wide-ranging physical and psychological impacts, including trauma and anxiety for children".


Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International, says the testimonies are just a small insight into the "labyrinth of bans and restrictions" faced by Palestinians because of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

The barrier was started in 2002 and when completed will be up to 790km (490 miles) in length, with only 14% of it will running along the Green Line between Israel and the territory it has occupied since 1967. About 57% has already been completed, with 9% under construction, Oxfam says, but when completed it will divide the West Bank into three sections and completely cut off East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as a future capital.

"No one feels safe here, especially the families living close to the Wall," says Salah Ajarma, of Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, enclosed by a nine-metre-high concrete section of the barrier, complete with watchtowers and sniper positions.

"Our children don't have their playground any more, as it is now on the other side of the Wall. So the children play in the streets of the camp, which creates noise and prevents the older ones from studying.

"And playing in the streets is dangerous because the soldiers can fire at any moment."


The ICJ advisory opinion of 9 July 2004 calling the barrier illegal where built on occupied land was considered a landmark by Israel's critics and received the overwhelming support in the UN General Assembly.

Section of Israel's separation barrier in al-Ram on the outskirts of Jerusalem

Israel, however, dismissed the ICJ judgement and General Assembly vote as "non-binding" and looked to its own High Court ruling that the ICJ view was flawed as it did not consider Israel's security needs.

It argues the barrier, which it calls the "security fence" is a just and necessary answer to the threat of militant attacks on its territory, such as suicide bombings.

And it says it has contributed to the virtual eradication of that threat, which took more than 200 Israeli lives in 2002.

"Since the completion of the security fence in the northern and central regions of the country, the number of successful terror attacks inside Israel has dropped almost to zero," an Israeli military spokesman said.

Oxfam, and other critics, have given little credence to Israel's assertion that the barrier is a temporary measure.

They argue that too much has already been invested in it by the government, and the pattern of settlements Israel wants to keep permanently over the Green Line reveals the barrier's purpose, they say.

It incorporates about 90% of the Israeli settler population in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as "valuable agricultural and substantial water resources", according to Oxfam.

Source: BBC

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Beware William Tell's Second Arrow

William Tell, seen here immortalized in bronze next to a likeness of his son, is a hero not just to Swiss patriots, but to all those in whom the desire for freedom is irrepressible.

"You Swiss are so proud of your 500,000-man citizen militia.... But what will you do if a 1,000,000-man German Army comes marching across your border?"

"That's easy. Each of us will shoot twice, and go home." --

A reported conversation between a German and a Swiss diplomat, circa 1939.

Seven hundred years ago, when Switzerland was under the domination of the Hapsburgs, a dissolute colonial overlord named Hermann Gessler sought to humiliate the residents of Altdorf, the capital of the central Swiss canton of Uri.

Gessler instructed his minions to erect a tall pole in the town square, at the top of which would be displayed his cap. Every Swiss man who entered the square would be required to pay fealty to Gessler, and the foreign imperial power he represented, by bowing before his cap.

One local resident, a man who distinguished himself by both his virtuosity with a crossbow and his contemptuous hostility toward bullies. Trying to force him to genuflect before another man, let alone his empty cap, would be a bit like trying to relocate the Matterhorn one shovel-full at a time. So while others prostrated themselves before Gessler's headwear, William Tell stood erect, burly arms folded across his broad chest, slowly shaking his head as his derisive laughter echoed through the town square.

Tell's defiance became known to Gessler, as did his reputation as a marksman. The Hapsburg stooge was worried about the possibility of Tell's rebellion becoming contagious. Endowed with the vicious creativity that so often replaces character in creatures of his kind, Gessler abducted Tell's young son, forcing William to leave his mountain home and stand before him.

Gessler told Tell that his son would be placed in the town square with an apple atop his head. Tell was placed at a considerable distance from his son and told that he was to shoot the apple from his child's head; failure to do so on his first shot would bring about the death of his son at the hands of Gessler's soldiers.

According to the legend, Tell hestitated not at all in fitting an arrow to his crossbow and letting fly, cleaving the apple without harming his child.

Tell's feat, and the composure with which he carried it off, were sufficient to impress even the porcine, self-enraptured Gessler.

As Tell collected his son and turned to leave, a second arrow fell from his coat. Noticing this, a puzzled Gessler asked Tell why he'd bothered to grab a second arrow, since the first shot would either have succeeded or brought about the death of his son.

Fixing the despot with an unflinching stare, Tell replied: "That second arrow was for you, if the first had wounded my boy."

Not long afterward, Tell's second arrow found its intended destination as Tell and his countrymen rose up against the foreign occupation, leading to the eventual creation of the Swiss Confederacy in the late 13th Century

A true citizens' militia and its leader: Henri Guisan, appointed commander-in-chief of the Swiss militia during WWII, inspects the troops. Thanks to Guisan's leadership and strategic vision, Switzerland deterred a planned Axis invasion and was able to remain independent during the European bloodletting.

Owing to its tradition of resolute individualism, the unexcelled marksmanship of its citizen militia, and its decentralized political system, the Swiss have managed to avoid entanglement in the affairs of other nations and independence from foreign domination.

Efforts have been made to break Switzerland to the saddle of "internationalism": In 1798, the French revolutionary army invaded and occupied Switzerland, inflicting on it a centralized "Helvetic Republic" that lasted five years.

In 1939, as recounted in Stephen P. Halbrook's book Target: Switzerland, the German military drew up plans to invade and occupy Switzerland in the mistaken belief that its citizen militia would be no match for the Wehrmacht.

Under the leadership of Colonel Henri Guisan (at the time, it was the tradition that no officer would be appointed "general" unless the country actually went to war), the militia prepared a strategy called the "national redoubt": In the event of a German invasion, the militia would retreat into a series of fortified installations in the Alps and wage unremitting guerrilla war for as long as it took to drive the invaders from their land.

Confronting the prospect of fighting an entire country under arms, and horrified by the price that would be paid to pry the Swiss militia from its Alpine redoubts, the German High Command decided to leave Switzerland alone. What this means, of course, is that Switzerland actually won its war without suffering the hideous losses inflicted on any of the combatant nations.

A decade ago, another campaign -- this one more subtle than threats of military occupation -- was mounted to destroy Swiss independence. Beginning in 1997, Switzerland, which rescued tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust, was besieged by spurious claims that its renowned banking system was hoarding gold stolen from victims of the Nazis.

Stories were put into circulation describing the cynical heartlessness of banking officials in turning away aging survivors of Nazi cruelty; those stories invariably proved to be as substantial as cotton candy and as reliable as Jim Cramer's investment advice.

Nonetheless, a global campaign of defamation and invective, spearheaded by the coprogenetic Edgar Bronfman Sr. and eagerly abetted by the Clinton administration, indelibly branded the Swiss as Holocaust profiteers, thereby setting the stage for a shake-down that continues to this day.

No matter that on three prior occasions -- in 1946, as a result of the post-WWII Washington Accord; in the mid-1950s; and in 1962 -- the Swiss banking industry had conducted comprehensive, diligent, and transparent investigations regarding its wartime gold holdings.

Nor did it matter that the Clinton administration's inquiry actually exonerated the Swiss of claims that they had hoarded "victim gold" stolen from Jews who suffered and perished at the hands of the Nazis. The defamation campaign succeeded in prying some $14 billion worth of gold from the Swiss treasury and -- more importantly -- inducing the Swiss electorate to enact a new constitution that (among other dreadful features) repudiated the link between the Swiss franc and gold.

The Imperial Regime in Washington apparently believes it has reduced the heroic Swiss to a state of subservience, because its most recent demands savor of the same arrogant, unwarranted self-assurance that led Herr Gessler to place his hat atop the pole in Altdorf's town square.

This is the ugliest spot in Switzerland. I'm kidding, sort of.

Last year, Washington tried to impose a $780 million fine on the Swiss for their refusal to enforce U.S. tax laws within their own country.

Next week, the Regime intends to press its claims in court -- that is, in its own courts -- in the hope of forcing the Swiss to turn over confidential information on some 52,000 Americans who have private accounts protected by Swiss law.

To their eternal credit, and the benefit of those who cherish freedom everywhere, the Swiss are responding to Washington's imperial bullying with the equivalent of William Tell's laughter, augmented by an upraised middle digit.

Earlier this year, the Swiss People's Party (SVP) began a campaign urging their fellow citizens and elected leaders to resist Washington's imperial blackmail. After the Swiss government capitulated in late February to Washington's demand to pay a $780 million fine and disgorge the names of Americans who had opened private banking accounts, the SVP -- the nation's largest political party, which combines tradtionalist populism with enticing hints of libertarianism -- angrily demanded the repatriation of Swiss gold stored in the Swiss National Bank in the U.S.

The party also demanded a ban on the sale of U.S. commercial and government bonds in Switzerland (a sound proposal, if only because the sale of fraudulent financial instruments is a crime), an end to the Swiss government's role as a diplomatic intermediary between Washington and various national governments disinclined to act as U.S. colonies, and a refusal by Geneva to help Washington free itself from the tarbaby it created at Gitmo by taking in detainees freed from the detention facility.

Not everything about the SVP is entirely commendable, but in mounting this pressure campaign it was acting squarely in the noble tradition of William Tell and Henri Guisan. And the party's efforts may have helped the Swiss political class regain its backbone and virility: The Swiss government has announced that it will forbid UBS AG to comply with any order from the US central government requiring it to surrender confidential banking information -- and that Swiss authorities would seize that information, if necessary.

Already, major Swiss banks have announced that, of necessity, they will no longer accept American clients because of disclosure and paperwork requirements being pressed on them by Washington's commissars for international wealth extraction.

These extraordinary measures, notes Bill Bonner, are being undertaken by Swiss officials in order to preserve their country's traditional role "as a protector of foreigners' money." To that end, as well as the protection of its own citizenry and their economic interests, the Swiss are "sharpening their knives and tightening their borders," Bonner writes. That is to say, they seem to be recovering a hint of the intransigent patriotism that led them to evict the Hapsburgs, throw of Bonaparte's yoke, and stare down the Wehrmacht.

Washington, the focus of evil in the modern world, is displaying the behavior we would expect terminally corrupt collectivist kleptocracy: It needs revenue to satisfy its retinue of parasitic constituencies, has the power to seize it in defiance of the law, and believes that all people everywhere should genuflect before its demands. It is behaving pretty much the way Gessler did before he was brought down by Tell's second arrow.

Wouldn't it be delicious if Switzerland's resistance proved to be the precipitating event that brought down Washington's wretched empire of debt and deceit?

Source: Pro Libertate
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