“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for May 2007

How Hard Is It to Be A Humanist?

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Nowadays, we often forget how hard it is to put forward a secular or humanist approach to life, particularly in countries where there is strong religious or fundamentalist sentiment, therefore I was pleasantly surprised to find mukto-mona.

Mukto-mona is a secular site for Bengali humanists and freethinkers, it provides an interesting window into many of the issues facing secularists and humanists in developing countries.

Written by modernityblog

28/05/2007 at 20:14

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Slip Of The Tongue from Hamas?

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I wonder how the apologists for Hamas, will explain away these comments:

“Abbas hates rockets just like we hate the Jews,” Nizar Rayyan told reporters during a Hamas rally in the Gaza Strip.

Let’s try and guess what a few of the excuses might be?

1. “Reuters is controlled by international Zionism?”
2. “for sake of anti-imperialism, we will ignore Hamas’s virulent antisemitism”
3. “Nizar Rayyan was misquoted”
4. “Nizar Rayyan is not an offical Hamas spokesperson”
5. “it was a slip of the tongue”
6. “the cause of anti-Zionism is bigger than Hamas’s racist hatred of Jews, so we won’t dwell on it”

Hmm, still Nizar Rayyan has some history, as the Guardian points out:

“Nizar Rayyan, a Hamas leader in Gaza, brushed aside any room for ambiguity. He told Reuters: “We will never recognise Israel. There is nothing called Israel, neither in reality nor in the imagination.”

Peace is clearly foremost on his mind, as detailed here:

“According to Nizar Rayyan, a Hamas leader from Gaza’s Jabalya refugee camp, the terrorist group has been manufacturing hand grenades and RPG’s for several years. In July 2006, a Hamas video entitled “Hosted by the Rifle,” showed assembly lines for anti-tank rockets, bombs and grenades.”

And we know where guns before butter leads:

to death, how pointless and stupid.

Written by modernityblog

25/05/2007 at 19:22

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Fatah Al Islam? Who Are They?

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Michael Totten has some insights into the recent conflict in Lebanon and Fatah Al Islam.

Written by modernityblog

22/05/2007 at 02:04

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Sir Humpty and Hacker triumph

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Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey Appleby would be proud of the MPs’ move to exempt Parliament from the Freedom of Information Act, as The Times reports:

“A move to exempt Parliament from freedom of information law has been approved by MPs after attempts to block it in the Commons failed.

MPs brushed aside accusations that they were creating one law for themselves and another for those they govern as they voted through the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill.

It is now passed to the House of Lords, where peers opposed to the plan will begin another attempt to stop it from becoming law.

The MP behind the Bill, the former Conservative chief whip David Maclean, maintained that the provision was needed to guarantee that information given to MPs by people seeking their help would stay confidential.

Otherwise public bodies such as councils, police authorities or health trusts might release letters from MPs about such cases in response to freedom of information requests, he argued.

“I am aware of the growing problem of correspondence being released,” he told MPs. “Theoretically it could be protected under data protection but it has not been. That is damaging. That is why my Bill is necessary to give an absolute guarantee that the correspondence of MPs on behalf of our constituents or others to a public authority remains confidential.”

But opponents fear a hidden agenda to block further embarrassing details about MPs’ expenses and other information about how the Commons is run from becoming public.

Mr Maclean, a member of the House of Commons Commission, the governing body of the Commons, cited an assurance from the Speaker, Michael Martin, that MPs’ expenses would continue to be published, but critics said such a voluntary offer did not have the force of law.

Unusually for a Private Members Bill, the measure was given a second chance by the Government which brought it back for debate after it was “talked out” by MPs who opposed the move in April.

Bridget Prentice, the Ministry of Justice minister, who spoke in the Bill, claimed that the Government was taking a neutral position on the Bill and would leave it for Parliament to decide.

But a large number of Labour MPs, who would normally be in their constituencies on the Friday, turned up at the Commons to force the legislation through in a series of votes designed to stop objectors from blocking its progress. The Conservative front bench also gave it tacit support.

Around 30 MPs, most from the Liberal Democrats but including both Labour and Conservative backbenchers, mounted a show of resistance but were defeated by the superior numbers of its supporters and their ruthless use of parliamentary procedures.

Mark Fisher, a Labour MP, protested, saying: “This Bill shuffles everything to do with freedom of information under the carpet. People will be aghast and horrified and totally contemptuous of Parliament that we could place ourselves above the law in this country. We are going to bring this House into derision, contempt and discredit with this Bill.”

And Simon Hughes, for the Liberal Democrats, said: “I think we should say no to this Bill because it is an absolutely over-reactive Bill to a set of issues that have not been either addressed or evidenced.”

To be honest, we all knew it was going to happen that way didn’t we?

Despite protestations to the contrary and calls for “greater freedom and more open government”, it was always on the cards that when they could, members of Parliament and the Government,would block public access via the Freedom of Information Act

It is entirely predictable, and MPs wonder why they have such a bad reputation?

Arise Baron Humphrey of Subterfuge

Written by modernityblog

18/05/2007 at 18:16

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Site(s) of the Week/Month 22

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You could be forgiven for assuming that I take a slight interest in Middle East.

Well, it is partly true, but all of those other snippets that I mean to comment on are still in draft format, awaiting a few final touches before publishing,  and stuff on the Middle 
East seems to be so relevant  nowadays:

Thanks to Engage, I ran across the work of Khaled Diab

He has a refreshing perspective on the Middle East, so his blog: without a roadmap is my site of the week/month

Written by modernityblog

17/05/2007 at 00:00

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Patiently Untrue?

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Microsoft seems rattled, and their latest pronouncements on patent infringements by the Open Source community is part of a longer term strategy to undermine Linux, Eweek’s Microsoft-Watch suggests:

“Microsoft doesn’t have to sue anybody. The company just needs to generate FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about open-source software. The company can insinuate that liability could extend to the enterprise using open-source software. But, c`mon. There is no way Microsoft would ever really sue enterprises because they’re its customers, too. Microsoft can’t sue its own customers and ever realistically hope to keep them. But the uncertainty might be enough for some customers to back away from open-source software.”

Written by modernityblog

15/05/2007 at 13:15

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1948 In Context

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Written by modernityblog

14/05/2007 at 00:00

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