Dawkins & Minarets!?!?

Picked up from Twitter posted on Dawkins site is a piece by Ayaan Hirsi Ali entitled Swiss ban on minarets was a vote for tolerance and inclusion. So WTF? Is this just for pointless discussion/attention or is it an implicit agreement with the ban, a lot of people somewhat idolise Dawkins and it is certainly fun seeing him skewer religious chumps but his atheism sometimes ignores political, historic and cultural context. It sounds like me and my friends in sixth form when we were rejecting our dumb bullshit catholic nonsense, light on life experience but full of righteous iconoclasm. I don’t like religion, I am an atheist but it seems to me there is a strand of atheism that (pre) judges all religious people without finding out about them. I think religion is dumb and harmful but there are clearly people who are religious and use it to both make their life work and help others without trying to convert them or impose conditions on them (admittedly not much organised religion works like that). Given this is not a perfect world I am not going to prioritise them renouncing their beliefs before I respect their lives and deeds as long as it is not a cover for bigotry, conservatism and domination, I just think some atheists obsess over it to not much practical end and begin to appear smug. But if this also means tipping into support for this discriminatory ban I think we are seeing one thread of atheism that like religious extremists endorses discrimination. And of course the ban was fomented by fascist politicians many of whom think of themselves as Christian (and crusaders), as a commenter on Dawkins site points out the ban got more support in religious areas as opposed to less religious areas, the four Kantons that voted against were also the four who voted for women’s suffrage. So in fact that affirms tolerance and progressive attitudes yet it was a commenter left to say this not the site who posted the piece without comment. So WTF Dawko?

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No Shit Sherlock

In London 93% of the population is in reach of eight or more megabytes per second, but in Wales it is 38.4%, while more than one quarter cannot access even two megabyte services.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno “Figures show Wales is still lagging behind when it comes to broadband access and speed. We need to look at how to prioritise areas that cannot currently access broadband. I appreciate that it is important that broadband expansion is carried out in a manner that is commercially viable, but we must not lose sight of the fact that accountants must not have the last word.”

And even when you have theoretical 8MB shitty infrastructure means you don’t. Commercially viable must not be the deciding factor, by that rule we would not have had electricity & telephone lines, rail or roads in many parts. What once nationalised utilities built for the public commons decays where profit is not to be found, the inequality of access to services and quality of infrastructure is a function of the neoliberal state. Our future is going to look like a backward joke at this rate.

One Law For Us…

“Family limited partnerships” were being publicized to lawyers and accountants in November 2007 at the time Blair’s lawyers started to set up his structures. Known in the trade as “Flips”, family limited partnerships are a way of getting round stricter inheritance tax rules in the 2006 budget, imposed by Gordon Brown while Blair was still prime minister.

To be precise it is the same law but only the rich have access to the means to get around it, so we can appear a modern democratic, rule of law nation blah de blah, when in fact it’s war crimes and class war 24/7. Oh yeah and this was the New Labour party.

PS. Richard Murphy with more on Anthony’s ill gotten gains.

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USA Tops Financial Secrecy Index

Which means it is the leader in the elite’s class war against 99% of the people on planet Earth. Financial Secrecy Index.

And For Those Who Get Skittish At The Mention of Class War

Executives at Britain’s top companies saw their basic salaries leap 10% last year, despite the onset of the worst global recession in decades, in which their companies lost almost a third of their value amid a record decline in the FTSE.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to admit for the first time that spending cuts will be needed, the BBC understands. BBC political editor Nick Robinson said Mr Brown would make his most explicit comments yet on spending choices in a speech to union leaders on Tuesday.

Those Astroturf Shills For Capital

Click to Embigenify

Click to Embigenify

Image via A Very Public Sociologist’s Twitter (me like the Nambu)

Margaret Talev, McClatchy Newspapers

  • Conservatives for Patients’ Rights is led by health care entrepreneur Rick Scott, the co-founder of Solantic urgent care walk-in centers, which he’s spread across Florida and is looking to expand. While 80 percent of its patients have at least some insurance, Solantic also bills itself as an alternative to emergency-room care and a resource for patients with no insurance. Scott left his job as CEO of the Columbia/HCA hospitals during a federal Medicare fraud probe in 1997 that led to a historic $1.7 billion settlement. He wasn’t prosecuted and got a golden parachute.
  • FreedomWorks, which has been advocating against the overhaul but has not launched TV ads, is chaired by Dick Armey, the former Republican majority leader of the House of Representatives from Texas. But also noteworthy are the group’s other backers and board members. They include billionaire flat-tax proponent and former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes; Richard J. Stephenson, who founded Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which offers alternative as well as standard therapies, sometimes not covered by insurance; and Frank M. Sands, Sr., chief executive officer of an investment management firm whose offerings include a Healthcare Leaders portfolio.
  • Patients First and Patients United are creations of a larger group called Americans for Prosperity. AFP’s Web site describes a grassroots organization with more than 700,000 members that advocates “for public policies that champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint.” It was started by billionaire David Koch, of the Koch Industries oil family, one of the country’s top donors to conservative, free-market causes. The foundation’s board includes Art Pope, a former North Carolina legislator also involved in conservative causes, whose family owns hundreds of discount stores. Tim Phillips, AFP’s president, is a former Republican congressional staffer who helped former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed start up the consulting firm Century Strategies in the 1990s. Clients paid the firm to build Christian grassroots support for various business causes. That included work for since-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Entitled To Kill

In the Israeli army reaction to Amnesty’s report on their assault on Gaza they show again the absolute sense of entitlement that views others suffering as subordinate to their own desires. A very dangerous chauvinism that is the logical result of Zionist ideology, a militarist garrison colonial state practising apartheid. Reminding me of what Naomi Klein said recently

“There is a debate among Jews. I used to say the Jewish community then I got excommunicated. There is a debate among Jews–I’m a Jew by the way” that boils down to: “Never again to everyone, or never again to us?… [Some Jews] even think we get one Get away with genocide free card… There is another strain in the Jewish tradition that says, ‘Never again to anyone.'”