Archive for October, 2016

Please sign and share this petition.

Petition by Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II

I am the Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has long opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline project. The pipeline presents a threat to our lands, our sacred sites, and our water.

Now, thousands of American Indians, from more than 300 tribes spanning the continent, have joined with us to stand against this violation of our tribe's rights under federal laws and regulations. Twenty-one city and county governments have also joined us to stand in opposition to this pipeline.

We demand that construction of this pipeline be stopped before any further damage is done.

While we engage in the long legal process to curtail construction of the pipeline, Dakota Access is still poised to begin construction. Halting the construction was an unprecedented step in response to our powerful movement—and now President Obama must reject the pipeline's permit outright.

Current and future generations depend on our rivers and aquifer to live. The Dakota Access pipeline jeopardizes the heath of our water and could affect our people, as well as countless communities who live downstream, as the pipeline would cross four states. The pipeline, as designed, would destroy ancient burial grounds, which is a violation of federal law.

On Saturday, September 5, Dakota Access bulldozed two miles of burial grounds. The company's private security sicced dogs on and pepper-sprayed those who tried to protect the site. This company cannot be trusted. Urgent action is needed to prevent Dakota Access from continuing to violate federal laws.

Over the past year, I have spent a great deal of time addressing the Tribe's concerns about this pipeline. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has failed to follow the law and has failed to consider the impacts of the pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and neighboring communities.

We demand to be heard, and we will continue to stand together for our nation and for all who live with and by the Missouri River, until justice is done.

Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline once and for all – #NoDAPL


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Hand-Built By Robots

You employed us in thousands, but begrudged our pay;
"We must do this cheaper, there must be a way."
So you installed robotics and sacked all the workers
Then 'cause we weren't working you called us all shirkers.
We need money to live—that's the system you built—
But when we have none you say ours is the guilt.
Though your greed for more profit's what took all our jobs
You say welfare is theft, that we're just lazy slobs.

There will come a day when you pay for your crimes;
For the dollars you hoarded while we scratched for dimes.
With the steel in our arms and the fire in our blood
We'll re-introduce you to Old Ned Ludd.


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A few days back, Andrew Brown at the Grauniad posted a little article under the unpromising heading, "Scepticism gets you only so far. Even nonbelievers need to have faith."

Yes, I can already hear the groans and mutterings of "Oh no, not that old saw again" from the back row. And yes, Gentle Reader, it is that old saw again.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't try to imply that Mr Brown is some kind of fundamentalist loon, convinced that the Bible is literally true in every jot and tittle, that The Evil Gay Illuminati™ are to blame for everything from a stubbed toe to an earthquake, and that Adam and Eve spent their evenings joyriding on Spiky, their pet triceratops. On the contrary, he's a warm, liberal, fair-minded, intelligent man, who can definitely sling a pleasingly well-formed sentence together; and what's more, usually—on any topic but the one in hand—manages to construct an argument free of fallacies or fuzzy thinking. On most topics, even if I disagree with him, I usually find that, as it were, we're travelling in the same direction and merely disagreeing over the route. But, like many religious people, straddling the whole spectrum from whacko fundy to whatever the complete absence of whacko-fundiness is called, he seems to struggle somewhat with the idea that atheists don't have a "god-shaped hole" in their minds, which just has to be filled with some sort of spirituality.

That atheists, to put it another way, are actually atheists.

So, anyway, the article in question…


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The Inglorius Padre Steve's World

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Yesterday was an interesting day as I infiltrated the Donald Trump rally here in Virginia Beach. I had thought about wearing a Hillary button but in light of how some Trump supporters have treated anyone thought to be protesting I decided not to create a scene. Instead I tried to blend in, watch, and observe the crowd that I estimate to have been around 3000, maybe 3500 people, about the same number that might attend an early season weekday game at our local minor league affiliate. Since I have been to quite a few of those games I’m pretty good at estimating crowd size. The Trump Campaign will said that was around 10,000 which seems to be their standard answer, as they routinely over inflate attendance numbers, but I digress.

Since I wanted to fit in without wearing any Trumpware I decided to wear my…

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From Jacob Bronowski's excellent nineteen seventy-three television series, The Ascent Of Man, episode eleven: Knowledge Or Certainty. Still, to my mind, one of the most simple yet articulate and moving discussions of the dangers of dogma, of claims to certainty—both religious and secular—ever broadcast.

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Regarding The Ched Evans Rape-Trial

No one should need to say this. It should be blindingly obvious.

It should not matter a jot if the complainant in a rape trial has had consensual sex with the entire football league, the band of the grenadier guards, the Pontypridd male voice choir and a handful of randomly chosen bishops—or if she's never had sex before.

The question in hand at such a trial is not—or at least should not be—"How many times has this person given consent?" It is "Did the person give consent on this occasion?"

Next week in Statin' The Bleedin' Obvious, we answer the question, "Should a driver's twenty-year history of not drink-driving be taken into account when they're put on trial for killing a pedestrian whilst driving drunk?"


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“10 Points Of Fascism:” 1933

I had a conversation the other day regarding the futility of trying to fit political stances into a neat left-right-centre scheme. Fascism provides a good example, in that although its ultimate outcome and over-all message is just about as right-wing as you can get, much of its rhetoric is couched in left-leaning, often socialist, terms. Trying to fit conservatism, which by definition wishes to preserve tradition, and fascism, which is revolutionary, into the same box by labelling them both "right wing" seems to me an exercise in label-obsessed pigeon-holing rather than accurate or useful description. (Libertarianism is another good example, though it's often a little unfairly tainted by an assumption that the version predominant in the US—fiscally conservative, anti-taxation, pro-capitalism—provides the only definition.)

That's part of the reason I wanted to post, by way of illustration, the pamphlet below, originally published by Oswald Mosley's British Union Of Fascists in 1933. Then Robert Nielsen at Whistling In The Wind put up a good article, How Fascism Takes Over, which I urge you to read, and which, by good fortune, this pamphlet provides a good illustration for.

Two birds, Gentle Reader, one illustrative stone!


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