Saturday, June 27

President Ahmadinejad, here’s what your people think of you

People tend to think that this is the iconic image for the Islamic New Revolution going on right now.

or this one:

But do you remember this image from Tiananmen Square? That was iconic.

And I think this image is best rather than Neda.


Says it all, doesn’t it? Its a veiled young girl, legs spread wide, like an Iranian Lara Croft, with a school/university bag, saying it all to to that bumpkin idiot on the car sitting there surrounded with heavies.

And here’s from me too, up yours, you doofus :)

Friday, June 26

Why should vaccines be free?

I agree with this company, why on earth should the vaccines be free? Say I am a shareholder of GSK and Novartis (which I am not, btw), and I have invested my money in its stock. Why are you expecting ME to fund the vaccines? What's the solidarity in that? If my returns are lower, do you think anybody will be willing to top up my pension? in solidarity? I dont think so. I quote:

Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceuticals group, defied the World Health Organisation and some of its corporate peers by ruling out a donation to the poor of vaccines to counter the latest flu pandemic, and saying developing nations or donor nations should cover the costs.

Daniel Vasella, Novartis chief executive, told the Financial Times that he would consider offering discounted pricing to low-income nations, but unlike other drug companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, would not offer vaccines for free. He said: “If you want to make production sustainable, you have to create financial incentives.”

It definitely makes sense, the firm is not running as a bloody charity, you know? it has to pay its suppliers, its staff and its other commitment holders. If you take the argument to its logical conclusion, every medicine it makes will be expensive to the poor because in effect even a 1 cent/paise/pence cost will be quite high for the poor. So does that mean that in solidarity, this firm should be run as a charity? No way. So Margaret Chan, the WHO Director General, please note that you are saying complete bollocks.

Also remember what happens if you make things like this free, then no private firm produces them. Many of these instances have happened in our history, for example with measles and polio vaccines in the past. When will these idiots learn? This is not to say that the governments cannot step in and purchase sufficient vaccines for their populace or some international body does it for them, but asking something like this is forced charity, that’s not solidarity, that’s stupidity.

Thursday, June 25

Blaming Al Queda unfairly

Looks like I owe Al Queda an apology, I thought that they were the perpetrators behind the killing of the French engineers in Pakistan. But it turns out that the reason is much more mundane. I quote:

High-ranking Pakistani officials were behind the killing of eleven French ship-building engineers in Karachi seven years ago, two French judges have ruled. Until now al-Qaeda had been blamed for the bomb attack on a bus in 2002 that killed 11 engineers and three Pakistanis . The judges suspected that the Pakistanis were retaliating over a decision by former French President Jacques Chirac, to halt payment to Pakistani officers of millions of pounds in secret commission from an 720 million pounds contract signed in 1994, for three French submarines, the Time reported today.

But this was the major WTF moment for me.

According to media reports, the French secret service retaliated after the 2002 attack, breaking the legs of two Pakistan navy admirals and killing a lower-ranking officer.

Shades of Operation Wrath of God, eh? Now that’s something that makes you go, hmmm, why ever not? although I realise that this is just very very dangerous indeed. If you think Indian media is biased, then check out AFP. I quote:


France's opposition called Thursday for a parliamentary inquiry into the 2002 killing of 11 French engineers in Pakistan, over allegations of a link to a corrupt submarine deal with Islamabad. According to a lawyer for the victims' families, the judicial probe under way into the Karachi attack -- initially pinned on Al-Qaeda -- is now focusing on a 1994 sub contract with French state firm DCN, the engineers' employer.

Anti-terrorism investigators now suspect it could have been ordered as punishment after Paris stopped paying commissions to Pakistani intermediaries for the contract won by French state firm DCN, said lawyer Olivier Morice. Magali Drouet, daughter of one victim, says the magistrates specifically believe the attack was ordered because payments were not made to Asif Ali Zardari, who is now Pakistan's president but was a minister at the time.

The May 8, 2002 attack saw a car packed with explosives ram into a minibus carrying the 11 French engineers for DCN, who were killed along with three Pakistanis. Two alleged members of an Al-Qaeda-linked group were convicted in Pakistan in 2003 over the Karachi attack, but both were acquitted last month after a court ruled there was insufficient evidence against them.

In a letter seen by AFP, the head of the DCN's international branch, Philippe Japiot, wrote to French investigators in September 2002 arguing that the attack was a direct result of its contract to supply the Agosta subs. But the Paris prosecutor's office said on Monday there were "no objective elements" linking the attack to the submarine deal.

Big question marks there!!! See this Pakistani news story as well.

Wednesday, June 24

Missionary Activity

This proselytising habit amongst several religions, primarily Christianity frequently gets people into trouble. And some of these chaps dont listen. The Vatican agreed not to proselytise in Israel. I quote:

After meeting the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, and praying at the Western Wall on Tuesday, Pope Benedict XVI arrived for a historic meeting with the chief rabbis at Heichal Shlomo, next to the capital's Great Synagogue, and agreed that the Catholic Church will cease all missionary activity among Jews.

In his welcoming address, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger thanked the pope for his announcement, calling it an "historic agreement and, "for us, an immensely important message."

Now, why on earth dont they listen in the other parts of the world? If they can stop doing this silly sod thing in Israel, perhaps they should listen in a variety of places ranging from Afghanistan, India and Yemen. See what happened in Yemen with these German missionaries.

Officials from the Foreign Ministry in Berlin believe that the Germans kidnapped in Yemen were abducted because of their missionary activities. Local Muslims had threatened one of the group and told him to stop proselytizing -- a warning the German ignored. The German Christians kidnapped recently in Yemen were probably the victims of an act of revenge, SPIEGEL has learned. According to information obtained from the German Foreign Ministry's crisis task force responsible for the case, a dispute took place in Saada a few months ago related to missionary activities by one of the Germans. German investigators also found missionary tracts in the belongings of the two German nurses believed to have been shot by their kidnappers, Rita S. and Anita G. from Lemgo in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Here’s the previous case with South Korean Missionaries in Afghanistan:

The Taliban's abduction of 23 South Korean Christian missionaries in Afghanistan last week has put South Korea's evangelical fervor under a microscope. Despite its long-standing shamanist, Buddhist and Confucian roots, South Korea has about 12,000 missionaries in 173 countries, second only to the United States. Today, almost half of South Korea's population is Christian. The hostages, members of Saemmul Church from Bundang, near Seoul, appear to have been somewhat naive. They were traveling from Kabul to Kandahar on one of the most dangerous routes in Afghanistan. Photos of some of the missionaries, mostly women in their 20s and 30s, have surfaced on the Internet; they are seen giddily posing in front of the government sign at Seoul's Incheon International Airport warning about the dangers of travel to Afghanistan.

This is not the first time South Korean missionaries have endangered themselves by entering war zones to gain converts. In April 2004, seven missionaries were kidnapped in Iraq (they were released within hours). In June that year, Kim Sun-il, a 33-year-old translator who had hoped to do missionary work in Iraq, was taken hostage and beheaded. Last summer, more than 1,000 Korean Christians, including many children, entered Kabul for a peace rally, only to be deported. Proselytizing is illegal in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has threatened to kill missionaries; yet South Korean Christians can't seem to take no for an answer.

Its not just the Muslims who are upset with this, its the Hindu’s who are up in arms as well in India. There are several websites concentrating on this. Here’s one. Here’s a recent story around a rather convoluted set of circumstances around conversions.

Suspected Maoists killed a senior Hindu leader and four others in a remote eastern Indian village, an attack that police said may be linked to a controversy over religious conversions in the area.

Armed men raided a Hindu school in Orissa's rural Kandhamal district on Saturday and killed five people, including an octogenarian leader linked to India's main opposition Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The remote, forested region is a hotbed of religious tensions between hardline Hindus who accuse Christian priests of bribing poor tribespeople and low-caste Hindus to change their faith. Christian groups say lower-caste Hindus who convert do so willingly to escape the highly stratified and oppressive Hindu caste system.

Tensions came to a head on Christmas Eve last year when fights broke out in which one person was killed and churches and temples were damaged. Police say by attacking Hindus the Maoists were trying to garner support among the region's poor tribes, most of which had converted to Christianity.

"There are instances where the rebels have threatened Hindu temples here," said Satish Gajbhiye, a senior police official. The murdered Hindu leader was leading a local campaign to reconvert Hindus and tribal people from Christianity. Saturday's killings have sparked tension in the area with hundreds of Hindus blocking roads and stopping trains. Thousands of policemen were deployed to maintain peace. Reports said one church was burned down by Hindu crowds.

Now, I ask you, this is a bit of an issue. With the geopolitical situation as is, do you really want to do conversions and poke people? If the Pope can stop conversions in Israel, how about (at least for the Catholic Church) stop doing so for rest of the world? An interesting research paper (First Conversion and Second Conversion in Nigeria Author: Gilliland, Dean S., Source: Mission Studies, Volume 7, Number 1, 1990 , pp. 131-150(20)) came to my attention about Nigeria and I quote from the conclusions:

1. In the past twenty years conversions to Christianity have been greatly accelerated in Northern Nigeria among the heterogeneous com- munities. These are primary conversions from traditional religion and from societies that have been erroneously classified as Muslim by virtue of their political history.

2. The conversions in the South, which we call second conversion, have resulted in great numbers of people giving active allegiance to a variety of churches and movements, most of which have no mission history. The greatest number of conversions take place in pentecostal type churches which demonstrate an openness to African culture, and in the various branches of the Aladura churches.

3. Because of the cultural and geographical situation in Nigeria, combined with policies of the colonial administration, the division between the North and the South has always been pronounced. One result was that the Northern minority groups who have been converting in large numbers to Christianity had only superficial recognition by Christians in the South. The Southern people who resided in the North transplanted their own ethnic churches, thus hardening the division. An analysis of these two separate phenomena shows a clear differentiation in cause and structure.

4. The two conversion streams have been brought together (though just in the beginning stages) by the realization that by their combined forces they could alter the political course of the nation. The South needs the North for a coalition that could bring in a non-Muslim government in 1992. The North has discovered that ethnic interests are divisive and that together they can take charge of their own destiny. '

5. In the short range, the stimulus which this combined force of new Christianity is providing will generate even more conversions both in the North and South. As the government assesses the meaning of the recent middle belt local elections, which showed a consensus for Chris- tianity, care will be taken to balance the interests of Muslims and Christians in current affairs. This also means that Christians will have an active and aggressive role in all deliberations relating to the new government.

6. At the deeper level, theological questions of conversion have to be faced. If this paper has given the impression that the spiritual aspect of conversion is not important or can be overlooked, such was not the intention. If the incentives for conversion in this highly charged context are not carefully thought through, revitalization of the old religion and discovery of a new religion can become secularized and materialistic. The consequences of this, in the long run, would be counterproductive. For example, ethnocentrism has long plagued the nation. There is now the potential for this revitalized Christianity to bring reconciliation andwork for a spiritual unity between the ethnic groups. If this is not being done, along with the recent moves for political unity, once the political goals are realized and Christians are in power, they would face again the same divisiveness and ethnic self-interest which traditionally kept them apart. This would destroy any gains made up to this point.

7. The Christian Association of Nigeria at present has a highly religious nature, but the impelling force behind it is the unification of Christians to compete with Muslim structures. The objective is to pro- vide a means for Christians of all persuasions, worldviews or theologies to speak with one voice in shaping government policies vis-a-vis Islam. There are signs that C.A.N. is becoming a purely political movement. A number of candidates in the recent local elections used C.A.N. as their political platform. C.A.N. could become the Christian counterpart to Jama'atu Nasril Islam, an organization which seeks for cooperation between all Muslims, regardless of the different tarikas, for the advance- ment of Islam on all fronts. Should C.A.N. follow this model its useful- ness as a positive agency for the continued trend in Christian conversion would be diminished.

Take a look at the journal and look at the articles. Here’s something about Cameroon. I quote the  abstract:

This article seeks to shed light on a much-debated question in the history
of mission and anthropology: What is the nature of religious conversion?
The rough archive studies of the literature produced by the Norwegian missionaries
in northern Cameroon from 1943 to 1960 the author shows how the
missionaries interpreted religious conversion. The missionary discourse on
conversion was biased in a specific theological and cultural environment, yet
it was open for negotiations with the encountered population. The missionaries
used biblical images to describe conversion to Christianity that were
coherent with the cultural practices of both the missionaries and the groups
that accepted the message of the missionaries in order to describe conversion
to Christianity. Biblical images that corresponded with the cultural practice of
groups that did not accept the missionaries are, however, absent from the
material. A Western Protestant discourse presented spiritual and social oppression,
ignorance, sickness, and lack of moral behaviour as obstacles the Africans
had to be liberated from in order to be converted to Christianity. The missionaries,
lacking knowledge about the social and religious organisation of
traditional society, interpreted the “spiritual oppression” as “heathendom,”
and interpreted it according to their own theological paradigm. The reactions
of the local population to this civilising mission made the missionaries modify
their approach in order for their project to fit the agency of the new Christians
in northern Cameroon.

Take a look at this free article. “The Wrong Kind of Missionary, Author: Peterlin, Davorin, : Mission Studies, Volume 12, Number 1, 1995 , pp. 164-174(11)”. Warning, this isn't very complimentary towards the Missionaries.

Now despite me being a free speech nut, I have to admit that I am now very nervous around this issue of conversions. This almost always creates problems of law and order, arises accusations of colonisation and the like. We have seen conversions before in our human history and almost without exception, this wasn't all hunky dory as one makes out. And almost all religions have done it.

Monday, June 22

Blogging then and now


A rather sad commentary on the current state of affairs, no?

Terrorists attack civilians because of religious factors

Quite an interesting paper, unfortunately, I dont have access to the details, will have to put in an inter-library loan now. Here’s the abstract:

What factors may lead a terrorist organization to attack undefended and unaware civilians—or as we style them, “soft targets”? We examine two distinct processes in choosing to attack soft targets: the one-time decision to begin attacking soft targets and the continued use of violence against such targets. Our analysis points to ideology—specifically religion—as the decisive factor in turning to target civilians, while organizational factors such as group size and network centrality are related to the number of incidents perpetrated.

Now this is really going to be contentious and will cause quite a lot of angst around the world if this is indeed true. Also, the problem is what will be the solution? go after the religion to modify it suitably? hmmm, points to ponder indeed and cant wait to get hold of a copy of the paper.

Mosques and Urban Development

Religious places are interesting urban and human development artefacts. By and large, religious places are one of the biggest things one can see in human history. One only needs to see the seven ancient wonders of the world to see what I mean:

  1. Great Pyramid of Giza
  2. Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  3. Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  4. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  5. Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus
  6. Colossus of Rhodes
  7. Lighthouse of Alexandria

With the exclusion of the last one and perhaps one can argue the 6th one, rest are religious buildings. How about the medieval wonders?

  1. Stonehenge
  2. Colosseum
  3. Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa
  4. Great Wall of China
  5. Porcelain Tower of Nanjing
  6. Hagia Sophia
  7. Leaning Tower of Pisa
  8. Taj Mahal
  9. Cairo Citadel
  10. Ely Cathedral
  11. Cluny Abbey

Again, mostly religious in nature. Walk around in any city in any country and you will find religious buildings as one of the key urban infrastructure artefacts. Religious buildings also play a huge part in the social dynamics of cities. The second point is that from this year onwards, there are more people in urban areas rather than in rural areas. So its important to know how religious buildings interact with urban development. You need to know this for a variety of reasons, for town planning, for security, for urban warfare, for traffic, to determine the value of your home, etc. etc. So how do you do it? Well, these chaps seem to have done a good job in doing this. I quote:

Explaining historical urban development using the locations of mosques: A GIS/spatial statistics-based approach, Irem Ayhana and K. Mert Cubukcu, City and Regional Planning, Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey


Religious buildings, including temples, churches, synagogues and mosques have always been one of the integral components of the urban layout. This paper aims to answer the question whether the historical spatial development of a large-size city can be approximated using historical geographical and categorical data pertaining to its places of worship. We use data for 525 mosques built in Izmir, Turkey, over the years 1550–2008 and maps of built-up areas for the same period. Based on the results of GIS/spatial statistics-based analyses using the three basic measures of spatial statistics (mean center, weighted mean center and standard deviational ellipse), we conclude that the spatial distribution of mosques is a close proxy of urban development. Thus, location data for places of worship, often available and accessible, can be used to derive historical urban development over a given period.

Here’s the relevant image of the city.


this is how the mosques were constructed by time period:

And immediately you can see the differences between the construction period and how the city grew. In terms of going into statistical measures, this image now shows how the mean centres of the city changed by time:

As you can imagine, various things like land values to traffic patterns will change dramatically based upon this kind of data. Very interesting stuff.

Sunday, June 21

Police 'illegally' stopping white people to racially balance stop-and-search figures

This is bizarre and frankly racist to boot. Why search on the basis of skin colour? And stupid!!!!, idiots, wasting police time just because of political correctness. No wonder the BNP get into power. Are you listening, you moronic idiots? I quote:

Police are making unjustified and 'almost certainly' illegal searches of white people to provide 'racial balance' to Government figures. Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of terror laws, said he knew of cases where suspects were stopped by officers even though there was no evidence against them.

He warned that police were wasting time and money by carrying out these 'self-evidently unmerited searches' which were an invasion of civil liberties and 'almost certainly unlawful'.The searches of, for example, 'blonde women' who fit no terrorist profile come against a backdrop of complaints from rights groups that the number of black and Muslim people being stopped by police is disproportionate.

Lord Carlile suggests whites are being needlessly stopped in order to balance the books. Last year, the number of whites searched under anti-terror laws rocketed by 185 per cent, from 25,962 to 73,967. Whites made up around two-thirds of all those stopped, although, compared to the overall population, blacks and Asians remain far more likely to be stopped and searched.

Lord Carlile, a Liberal Democrat peer and QC, condemned the wrongful use of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 in his annual report on anti-terror laws. Lord Carlile says police should stop trying to racially balance figures on stop and searches He said police were carrying out the searches on people they had no basis for suspecting so they could avoid accusations of prejudice.

Lord Carlile wrote: 'I have evidence of cases where the person stopped is so obviously far from any known terrorism profile that, realistically, there is not the slightest possibility of him/her being a terrorist, and no other feature to justify the stop.'In one situation the basis of the stops was numerical only, which is almost certainly unlawful and in no way an intelligent use of the procedure.

'I believe it is totally wrong for any person to be stopped in order to produce a racial balance in the Section 44 statistics. There is ample anecdotal evidence this is happening.'I can well understand the concerns of the police that they should be free from allegations of prejudice, but it is not a good use of precious resources if they waste them on self-evidently unmerited searches.'It is also an invasion of the civil liberties of the person who has been stopped, simply to 'balance' the statistics.

'The criteria for section 44 stops should be objectively based, irrespective of racial considerations: if an objective basis happens to produce an ethnic imbalance, that may have to be regarded as a proportional consequence of operational policing.' Lord Carlile later said the number of Section 44 searches could be cut by half in London without damaging national security.

He added: 'If, for example, 50 blonde women are stopped who fall nowhere near any intelligence-led terrorism profile, it's a gross invasion of the civil liberties of those 50 blonde women. 'The police are perfectly entitled to stop people who fall within a terrorism profile even if it creates a racial imbalance as long as it is not racist."

And the serpent of discrimination stirs in NI

You might have read about the issue of discrimination, racist attacks on a bunch of Romanian families in Northern Ireland. Here’s a good overview article. I quote:

When the police in Northern Ireland started recording racially motivated crime in 1996 there were just 41 incidents. Last year there were nearly 1,000…..There have been persistent attacks on the newcomers. In April Hungarians, Lithuanians and Slovakians and Poles said they were intimidated out of the area. Dr Jarman said that while an element of loyalism has associations with neo-Nazis he did not believe that paramilitaries have been involved in the latest attacks.

And so it proved, this is tapping into the same contemptible underlying racism which has given rise to the BNP. By and large, the people who are voting for the BNP are the same people who are doing this, the lower socio-economic class, the uneducated class, the class which sees anybody who is not “them” as a threat, the underclass so to say.

The BNP immediately felt that it had to issue a statement: I quote:

“The BNP wishes to state publicly that it considers the mindless violence in Ulster as reprehensible and futile, and wishes to make it crystal clear to all that we have nothing whatsoever to do with the ongoing attacks against the Romanians, regardless of the claims of various political and media commentators,” Mr Griffin wrote.

“The BNP demands that the police in Belfast arrest the criminals behind these attacks and bring them to justice. We also wish to make it clear that the BNP has not been involved with the troubles in any capacity whatsoever. The media, always on the lookout to smear the BNP in any way possible, has been desperately trying to incriminate the party in this wave of violence. We state categorically that this claim is nothing but a pathetic lie of the liberal-left media.

“Blaming the BNP is attractive to media liars and head-in-the-sand politicians who refuse to address the genuine problems caused in working class communities by irresponsible mass immigration.

“But the truth of the matter is that as long as multiculturalism and uncontrolled mass immigration continues to be official policy, we will continue to see inter-communal violence and bloodshed like recently in Belfast. The race riots on the British mainland and the Belfast attacks are, unfortunately, the tip of the multicultural iceberg,” Mr Griffin continued.

“To the brainwashed liberal-left multiracial fanatics of the media and the main parties, any failings in the so-called ‘multiracial society’ must be the work of the BNP.

“We call on the establishment politicians to carefully consider their policies on immigration, social affairs and politically correct policing. These policies undermine the stability of parts of Belfast and Ulster which can ill afford these added strains in the light of that region’s history.

“Ulster has suffered greatly over the years and to see sectarianism replaced by racism would not only be a tragedy but would be the fault of politicians and community leaders who refuse to see the truth,” Mr Griffin concluded.

Nick Griffin’s basic idiocy in echoing conspiracy theories mean that he is a figure of much amusement to me. But that’s not a problem, a man who names his dogs as Anne and Frank as a way to get back at the Jews is simply somebody who lives under a rock. And people who are voting for him, well, see what you are associating yourself with. But the underlying incoherence of this stupid statement, “we condemn the attacks but its their fault for immigrating” was echoed on several conservative lists that I am on.

I was quite shocked to read the casual racism that was being shown. The Roma deserved it. They are criminals. I want to know the other side. This was coming to them. Frankly, many people who I thought were genuinely concerned about their country have shown their underlying discriminatory nature most nakedly. The situation is much worse than what I thought when normally respectable people think that its fine to be openly racist. That’s what they are. I thought of debating them, even pointed out that what is happening to the Romanians in Northern Ireland was the same as what was happening to the White farmers in Zimbabwe. Guess what was the response? That the White farmers are different because they were productive. I mean, talk about not seeing the wood for the trees. Its the casual and targeted racism against a group simply because of their skin colour or nationality which is the common element. Disgusting and made me feel dirty. And then to top it all, they call themselves as Christians.

And you know what the funny bit is? when other terrorists want to disassociate from you. Here’s an interesting comment by the erstwhile loyalist leaders.

Loyalists have been blamed for the spate of attacks, but police said they did not believe that paramilitaries were involved in orchestrating them.

Jackie McDonald, leader of Northern Ireland’s largest loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association, blamed BNP and Combat 18 supporters for the attacks, denying that loyalists had been involved.

A BNP spokesman told the Belfast-based Irish News: “The people of Belfast were always going to get the blame but the source of the problem is these people. They cause trouble wherever they go.”

Poor BNP members and voters, even other people who were at the bottom think you are beyond the pale (pun intended). Contemptible.