The science of the Koran

September 1, 2011

Science-in-hindsight, is what the Koran should be called. Very vague ‘science’ at that. It is a book that you can find obscure verses and claim scientific understanding….. after the science has already discovered something. Like when people suggested Nostradamus predicted 9/11…. but were only able to make the connection after 9/11. The Koran is similar… wait until something is known, and then claim Islam knew it all along. This isn’t science, this is absurd opportunism.

I was first introduced to Islam’s claims on scientific advancement, and forethought, when listening to the Muslim speaker, Hamza Tzortzis try to point to the Koran’s description of mountains as proof that the Holy book is divine. He claimed that there is no way Mohammad could have known that mountains act as ‘pegs’ – as claimed in the Koran – at that time. This refers to the fact that mountains extend downwards into the upper mantle of the Earth. The moment he said it, the Muslim observers in the room were taken in, as if he’d just proven the existence of God. They were awed by his vision. Sadly, they were also woefully misinformed and manipulated (which is of course, the job of the religious preacher). The Koran in this instance, states:

“Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse, And the mountains as pegs?”

– Typically vague, but also wrong. Clearly Allah is asking a rhetorical question. If an answer were permitted, it would be an unequivocal ‘no’. Though Islam Guide.com thinks the answer is a definitive yes backed by modern science.

Modern earth sciences have proven that mountains have deep roots under the surface of the ground and that these roots can reach several times their elevations above the surface of the ground. So the most suitable word to describe mountains on the basis of this information is the word ‘peg,’ since most of a properly set peg is hidden under the surface of the ground. The history of science tells us that the theory of mountains having deep roots was introduced only in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

– All of the above, simply isn’t true. A mountain is not stabilising anything, it holds nothing together. It is like a human in water, part is above the surface, part is below, but you wouldn’t refer to the part of the body below the surface as a peg. It simply floats. Likewise, a mountain simply floats on the mantle.
Islam-guide.com continues its plague of ignorance, with the conclusion:

Likewise, the modern theory of plate tectonics holds that mountains work as stabilizers for the earth.

I recall my science lessons at school, my geography lessons of which I retained information from, to the abandonment of all mathematical teaching, which I quickly learned to discard through pure hatred of the subject. I recall that Volcanoes do not extend as ‘pegs’. Contractional tectonics also form mountains – the Appalachians for example, are definitely not ‘pegs’. The Sierra Navada mountain range has mountains created by what is known as fault block mountains, which are formed when rocks slide through the slopes of the Earth’s crusts. None of which act at all as stabilizers. To claim so, would get a huge roar of laughter from the scientific community.

The reason that the Koran refers to mountains as “pegs” is for it’s next claim:

And He has set firm mountains in the earth so that it would not shake with you… (Quran, 16:15)

Now, islam-guide.com again tries to, rather embarrassingly, explain this quote, and link it to modern science:

Mountains also play an important role in stabilizing the crust of the earth.4 They hinder the shaking of the earth.

– Firstly, they don’t hinder the shaking of the Earth. In fact, mountains are formed by the shaking of the Earth. Secondly, that isn’t what the Koran says. It states quite unequivocally that mountains will ensure the World that the Earth will NOT shake with you, in any way. Well, tell that to the people of Japan. An Earthquake so strong, the island of Honshu was moved eight feet eastward. If Allah had intended for mountains to prevent the Earth from shaking, he failed, miserably.

Often, I have been told by the religious faithful that their Holy Book contains advance science that humanity, at the time of writing the Holy Book, could not possibly have known.

Followers of Islam, more so than Christianity or Judaism in this instance, claim their book is filled with advanced scientific knowledge. To the believer, it’s somewhat of an assurance that their scripture is anything but a book of delusions and vicious hatreds. To the unbeliever, its poor attempt to break the increasing truths offered by science.

Every claim of scientific advancement in the Koran, is either too ambiguous to take seriously, already knowledge widely accepted at the time, or just plain wrong. It is extraordinary for Islamic scholars to claim that their Holy Book holds any sort of scientific truth. A very quick critical analysis of the Koran, and of scientific knowledge already known, long before Mohammad’s time, proves that the Koran offers nothing new. It is beyond irrational to claim it does.

For example:

“Seest thou not that Allah merges Night into Day And He merges Day into Night?” [31:29]

– This, according to Way to Allah.com is, quite bizarrely, proof that the Koran held the knowledge of the Earth’s spherical shape:

Merging here means that the night slowly and gradually changes to day and vice versa. This phenomenon can only take place if the earth is spherical. If the earth was flat, there would have been a sudden change from night to day and from day to night.

– Well, why didn’t the Koran say that the Earth is spherical, if that’s what it meant? As opposed to a deeply ambiguous suggestion? Not only that, but it is wrong. The Earth spinning on its axis is what creates the illusion of day and night, not “Allah”. I cannot imagine a reputable astronomer or physicist would phrase the day turning into night, as a God merging the two together.
If we are going to take deeply ambiguous statements and claim they are proof of scientific advancement, with respect to the Earth’s shape, then we must be consistent:

[15:19] And the earth We have spread out like a carpet; set thereon mountains firm and immovable; and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance.

– This seems to suggest that the Earth is flat, like a carpet, and that Mountains cannot in any way move.
Not only is the idea of a flat Earth scientifically wrong, it was even known to be wrong by the time the Koran was written. It offers no new insight, it simply offers an idea that was defunct around the 3rd Century BC. About 800 years before the Koran. Aristarchus of Samos suggested the Sun was the centre of the Universe, in the 3rd Century BC; this piece of wisdom was truly way ahead of its time. Aristarchus offers us a glimpse into scientific reality on a scale that, 800 years later, the Koran hadn’t even came close to, and Aristarchus certainly didn’t claim divine revelation for his predictions. Unsurprisingly, flat Earth predictions were borne out of Ancient Mesopotamia, and so it would seem that cosmological claims in the Koran can be viewed as earlier traditions coming out of Mesopotamia thousands of years prior to the Koran. Heavens, Firmament, great deep, pillars, the concept of the Earth being flat like a carpet, all this nonsense can also found in the Bible. Educated people knew the Earth was round, as envisaged by Ptolemy and before him, Aristotle, long before the Koran; which still seems to suggest that Earth is flat.

I’m not the only one who suggests that the Koran says the Earth is flat. Tafsir al-Jalalayn, a prominent exegeses of the Koran that still holds much importance, 600 years after it was written, states quite openly:

” … and his saying sutihat makes it obvious that the earth is flat, and this is certified by Ulama’ ash-shar’a (the shari’a theologians), not a globe as it is said by ahlul-hay’a (the laymen).”

Let’s for one second accept that the Koran states that the Earth is egg shaped (this translation, is rather new), is this new to the Koran? Well, no. Let’s note that before becoming a Prophet, Muhammad was a merchant. A trader. He had contact with different cultures, and would most definitely have come into contact with ideas especially those coming out of Greece. The Greeks knew the Earth was round in the 6th Century BC. Plato taught students that the Earth was a sphere. Aristotle’s incredible evidence based in astronomy was way ahead of its time, predating Islam by a millennium. Aristotle noted that the shadow of the Earth on the Moon during a lunar eclipse, is round. Eratosthenes even attempted to work out the Earth’s circumference, 700 years before Muhammad’s time. These great Greek scientific leaders, have seemingly had their brilliance hijacked by Islam, which claims their achievements as their own.

A simple observation of Greek history, finds that by the time that the Koran sprung up, Greek cosmology and culture had spread as far as Afghanistan and even India, having penetrated Arabia centuries previous.

Much like the Nostradamus obsessives, believers in the Koran cannot predict a new scientific discovery, until after the discovery is made. They then re-translate their Holy Book, and surprise! “We were right all along!” Fans of Nostradamus will only assign a prediction of his, after an event has taken place. It is weak reasoning, and it certainly proves absolutely nothing. If the Angel Gabriel genuinely did present Mohammad with scientific knowledge written in the Koran, then the Angel Gabriel was less knowledgable in the 7th Century, than Aristotle was, 1000 years earlier. I’m not sure that’s too good an advert for Heaven.

On the subject of taking the translation too far, and just inventing their own translation from the original, to suit objections, there is one doing the rounds that amuses me greatly. The claim is that the Koran actually accurately describes the Big Bang, here:

It is We Who have built the universe with (Our creative) power, and, verily, it is We Who are steadily expanding it. (Surat adh-Dhariyat: 47)

– The problem here is, the experts claim that this isn’t actually what the original translation says. The translation, according to the the Centre for Muslim-Jewish engagement at the University of California, the verse actually reads:

Yusuf Ali: With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We Who create the vastness of space.
Pickthal: We have built the heaven with might, and We it is Who make the vast extent (thereof).
Shakir: And the heaven, We raised it high with power, and most surely We are the makers of things ample.

– This is clearly vastly different from the more modern translation. The constant use of the phrases “heavens and Earth” echoes the same offering from the Bible and other ancient sources, which considered the universe to consist pretty much entirely of the Earth and heaven, so it is unsurprising that the Koran mentions them together, all the time. The Koran, again, proves to be a product of its time. If it is divine, it is horribly lazy of its creator. The Koran is pretty conclusive with its cosmology; the Earth is flat, there are seven heavens, and it is geocentric.

Another favourite of the Muslim community, is to quote the Koran’s claims on embryology:

And indeed We created man out of an extract of clay. (12) Thereafter We made him as a Nutfah in a safe lodging. (13) Then We made the Nutfah into a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood), then We made bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We brought it forth as another creation. So Blessed is Allâh, the Best of creators.[] (14)

– This is one of those instances where the Koran is not vague. It claims that man is made from a clot of congealed blood. Whilst being entirely wrong, the moulding together of a drop of blood, with embryology already existed, is not new to the Koran, and was quite obviously stolen by Muhammad, from the Babylonian Enuma Elish tablet. When you copy something from another source, and the other source is entirely wrong, thus making your claim entirely wrong, then it is clear your book is not divine.

The quote from the Koran also claims that the bones come first. Nutfah by the way, means sperm, in the best possible translation into English. To be precise, nutfatun amshaajin means a mixed drop of sperm. It doesn’t refer to the female ovum, in any such translation (and believe me, those who believe that the Koran contains scientific truth, like to say, when questioned about the vague, ambiguous, and wrong statements in the Koran, that it can be translated differently; they only tend to play this card when their first translation is quite obviously wrong).
The word used for blood clot, is alaqa. This word has been translated into ‘blood clot’ by Maulana Muhammad Ali, in 1951, Muhammad Zafrulla Khan in 1971, the Supreme Sunni and Shii Councils of the Republic of Lebanon in 1980, Hamidullah in 1981, and Indonesian Department of Religious Affairs in 1984. It’s pretty obvious that Alaqa is best translated to mean blood clot. The problem with this is, there is no stage in human development where the fetus is a clot of blood. It is just false science.

When it comes to the joining together of male sperm, and the female egg. Perhaps the Koran is unique and shows great forethought and revelation? Well, no. The Hanbali scholar Ibn Qayyim, in his book Kitab al-tibyan fi aqsam al-qur’an, gives us a statement from the lips of Mohammad himself:

He is created of both, the semen of the man and the semen of the woman. The man’s semen is thick and forms the bones and the tendons. The woman’s semen is fine and forms the flesh and blood.

– Quite obviously, this is wrong. The “great” Prophet, is entirely wrong.

Dr Basim Musallam Director of the Centre of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge says:

“Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Galen were as much a part of Middle Eastern Arabic culture as anything else in it…… “The stages of development which the Qur’an and Hadith established for believers agreed perfectly with Galen’s scientific account….There is no doubt that medieval thought appreciated this agreement between the Qur’an and Galen, for Arabic science employed the same Qur’anic terms to describe the Galenic stages”

– Turns out, the Koran merely states something that was known centuries earlier, alongside completely wrong ‘science’. All the Koran does here, is spend a long time catching up to scientific thought at the time.

Does the reference to sperm mean that the Koran has stumbled upon a great revelation; that sperm is partly responsible for life? Well, again……. no. Not even slightly. Aristotle had pointed to Anaxagorus, a Greek pre-Socratic philosopher, around 450bc, who stated that sperm came only from the male, and that the female simply provided a place of nurture. So, the “safe lodging” which Muslims say refers to the womb, was known as that, 1000 years before the Koran.

Secondly, it is important to note that bones are not created first, and slowly fleshed out. Bones and muscle tissue are created simultaneously. For a far more eloquent explanation, whilst at the same time dismissing the Islamic claim on embryology of Hamza Tzortzis, I would strongly advise watching this video, as Hamza attempts to explain embryology and the Koran’s claims on embryological truth, to……. a leading embryologist. The result is predictable; Tortzis and whomever he is with are proven wrong, and so they resort to changing the interpretation of the text, to suit the objection. Weak, weak, weak.
Needless to say, the Koran is wrong. There is never a stage in the development of a fetus, in which bones exist alone, much like there being no stage in fetus development when the fetus is a clot of blood. It would appear that we can find more information from Wikipedia on the development of a fetus, than we can from the all knowing master of the Universe. Wikipedia > Allah?

And do we really believe that we needed a 7th century divine commentary to tell humanity that sperm creates human life? The Koran, simply stole this idea from the ancient Greeks, without giving them any credit for it.
J. Needham, an author who specialised in Embryology, in his book “A History of Embryology” states the importance of Ancient Greek, Indian and Egyptian Embryology, says that the Koran’s Embryological claims were simply:

“a seventh-century echo of Aristotle and the Ayer-veda”

– It appears more and more so, that the Koran is simply a collection of religious dogma attempting to claim the forethought of secular science as espoused by great minds like Aristotle, as its own. It is similar to when a girl in my Politics seminar tried to claim that Christianity invented Democracy. Religion trying to latch onto human advancement, and claim it as its own, should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

To summerise, the Earth is not flat, mountains do not hold the Earth down preventing it from shaking, and humans do not start out as bone, slowly fleshed out over time. A God who presents so many vague statements is bad enough, but an omniscient being presenting his creation with what seems to be drunkenly erratic commentaries on certain aspects of the World and humanity which turn out to be entirely false on the most basic of examination, is a God that not only should not be taken seriously, but should never have any sort of political power over the workings of society, and should be challenged by every free thinking human being, at every possible opportunity. That is how humanity advances beyond primitive dogma.

There is absolutely no scientific credibility laying in the pages of the Koran.


The wisdom of Philip Davies, MP

June 22, 2011

Twitter Philip Davies MP

A couple of nights ago, Twitter was alive with the news that Tory MP for Shipley, Philip Davies had stood up in the House of Commons and said this:

“If an employer is looking at two candidates, one who has got disabilities and one who hasn’t, and they have got to pay them both the same rate, I invite you to guess which one the employer is more likely to take on.

“Given that some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable that, given the employer was going to have to pay them both the same, they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk.

“My view is that for some people the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a help.

“If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that’s some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don’t see why we should be standing in their way.”

Philip Davies ideal England is one in which sweatshops, full of people with disabilities create cheap goods for the overly privileged Tory benches to feed from, whilst the sweatshop bosses drive up to the gates of Downing Street in their brand new Mercs, accompanied by a lovely big donation for the Tory Party.

Perhaps we could use the £161,300 in expenses he claimed rather dubiously in 2009, on top of his £65,000 a year salary, to pay people a better salary? On the subject of his expense claims, he claimed the most of all Bradford MPs, and claimed £10,000 more on his second home allowance than Bradford North MP Terry Rooney. I am not entirely sure how that’s warranted, or helps him does his job to a greater degree. Incidentally, claimed for more in second home allowances than my dad makes in a year. Unsurprisingly, he clings onto this gravy train by opposing much needed Parliamentary reform. The lobby for Parliamentary reform, Power 10 label Philip Davies as one of the six MPs who will happily block reform of Parliament. This isn’t surprising, given just how much he has financially benefited from the current corrupt nature of Parliament.

Nevertheless, there is an unnerving essence to a member of our national legislature, insinuating that a person’s worth should be based solely on their physical or mental capability, and then using defensive rhetoric, heartfelt sentiment, to sound as if he only wishes to help disabled people, rather than line the pockets of his Party’s donors, and make it easy for employers to exploit without worry. It is equally as unnerving for a politician to tacitly suggest that wage discrimination is not only acceptable, but entirely the fault of those who are being discriminated against. His words sound as if he is suggesting being disabled is a lifestyle choice, that requires a bit of a punishment. That punishment should apparently be an agreement to work for less money that one needs in order to live, along with the added expense that comes with certain disabilities.

It would be right to point out that those with disabilities, who Davies wants to be paid less, did not cause the financial problems we’re now in. Ironically, for Davies, it was the private sector’s excessive greed (of which he clearly has no problem in promoting) that caused the mess, through unproductive excess profit being used – not to pay people better even when it had accumulated enough to easily manage paying more – but on dodgy asset deals. The problem in 2007 wasn’t that there appeared to be a lack of capital caused by the need to pay disabled people, or anybody a national minimum wage, but by the fact that there was an abundance of concentrated excess capital that wasn’t being put to good and productive use. Wages were stagnating for the majority of people, whilst wages at the very top climbed higher and higher. That, is entirely the fault of the private sector. Is Davies saying that if we dropped the minimum wage, wages would flourish, failed Tory economics would be proven right, and disabled people would be working shorter hours, for a loyal boss, who paid wonderfully? Because I foresee a bunch of employers driving even bigger Porsche’s whilst their £2 an hour disabled employees can no longer afford adequate care. Davies certainly didn’t offer any added benefits that some disabled people may require due to being paid below minimum wage. Grants for specialised equipment? Incomes and the ability to pay for necessary care and equipment cannot always be planned for even on a week to week basis, for those suffering certain disabilities. To promote the idea of wage discrimination against those with disabilities, at the same time as cuts to Disability Living Allowance take hold

It is a minimum wage for a reason. Do we really believe employers wouldn’t use an “opt-out” for their own advantage? Wages at the top are already obscenely high in the private sector. In 2009, for example, the chief executive of the Anchor Trust, which provides home for the elderly, took home £391,000. Anchor Trust is a charity! Whilst donations are down and employees are facing redundancy it is ludicrous for a CEO of an organisation that so many people rely on, to take home almost £400,000 a year.

I continue to be of the opinion that if an employer cannot afford to pay somebody a decent enough wage to live on, he/she shouldn’t be running a business. They are a danger to the public. £5.89 is not a lot of money, and to suggest that the rest of us are entitled to at least that, whilst a disabled person is entitled to less, purely because of a natural affliction is sensationally regressive.

The far right narrative is the problem, not minimum wage legislation. Philip Davis is attempting to remove responsibility for fair pay away from the employer, and onto the employee. Citizens UK found that of the companies in London willing to sign up to paying their lowest paid members of staff a “National living wage” rather than a “National minimum wage”, of £8.30 an hour, they managed to lift 3500 families out of poverty in 2009. It didn’t have an adverse affect on prices, in the same way as the minimum wage introduction in the late 1990s didn’t have an adverse affect as many Tories claimed it would. Campaigners for a National Living Wage are screaming out at Tesco, who have failed to ensure their cleaning staff are paid a fair living wage, despite the company making £3.8bn profit last year. Employers do not, ever, take paying their staff a respectable wage seriously. Ever. Surely if they were made to pay more, of which they can definitely afford, the money would be divided among a workforce who would pay more tax, and use the added disposable income on goods and services from businesses across the Country, rather than wasting it on the very very small band of wealthy elites?

A study in America called “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.” , found that job applicants with a white sounding name are 50% more likely to be asked back than an applicant with a white sounding name. The researches sent out 5000 applications in sales, marketing, clerical and customer service positions. The names they used were a mix of white sounding names, and black sounding names. The report showed that white applicants with stronger resumes than other white applicants received 30% more callbacks, whereas black applicants with stronger resumes than other black applicants received just 9% more callbacks. It proved that regardless of credentials, black applicants were 50% less likely to get a callback than a white applicant. I wonder if Philip Davis thinks black Americans should agree to work for less money than their white counterparts, purely because they are black? What about a black person with a disability? Back to slavery?

We should though, not be surprised by the ignorance that Philip Davis displayed. Here is an MP who voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, which state that it is unlawful to discriminate when selling goods or services, education or facilities based on sexuality. Davies therefore thinks it is acceptable for a school to expel a gay student. Or for a shop to ban a lesbian lady purely for her sexuality. He also voted against removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords. So, he wants more freedom for shop owners to ban people based on sexual orientation (individualism and all that Libertarian bollocks) yet that same individualism, he doesn’t extend to the most privileged of people passing that privilege onto their children, who may or may not have worked or produced anything worthwhile in their entire lives? Oh the hypocrisy.

In 2011 he even invented his own logic based on a lie, when it comes to making cigarette packaging plain:

“I believe that the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes is gesture politics of the worst kind. It would not have any basis in evidence and it would simply be a triumph for the nanny state and an absurd one at that.”

– The objection I have with the line “it would not have any basis in evidence” is that it does have basis in evidence. Cigarette companies spend millions on their packaging, and over the last couple of decades, they have used the idea of “light” packaging to sell products to people who believe smoking “light” fags, means less danger. A 2004 British Medical Journal research article found that:

The increase in lung cancer risk is similar in people who smoke medium tar cigarettes (15-21 mg), low tar cigarettes (8-14 mg), or very low tar cigarettes (≤ 7 mg)

– So smoking a cigarette from a package that claims to be “ultra light” means nothing. But do people really believe “ultra light” means they are at less of a risk of developing lung cancer? Does the advertisement on the packaging work? If it does, then Davis is either a liar, or a massive idiot. Well, surprisingly……. he’s a liar or a massive idiot. A University of Toronto research paper, titled “‘Light’ and ‘mild’ cigarettes: who smokes them? Are they being misled?” published in 2002 found that:

In 1996 and 2000, respectively, 44% and 27% smoked L/M (light and mild cigarettes) to reduce health risks, 41% and 40% smoked them as a step toward quitting, and 41% in both years said they would be more likely to quit if they learned L/M could provide the same tar and nicotine as regular cigarettes. These data provide empirical support for banning ‘light’ and ‘mild’ on cigarette packaging.

– The policy of plain packaging is absolutely based on evidence. It is time we started to ignore the “nanny state” hysterical screams from manic, misinformed, ignorant right wingers.

Not only that, but in 2006, after an act of vandalism was initially blamed on a group of Muslim men, Davies said:

“if there’s anybody who should fuck off it’s the Muslims who do this sort of thing.”

– It later turned out that the act of vandalism was caused by white men. Davies did not apologise, nor did he take the same tough far-right, BNP-esque line with the white vandals as he had done when he imagined the vandals were all muslim.

You might think the incessant stupidity stops there. You’d be wrong. In 2009 Davies asked:

“Is it offensive to black up or not, particularly if you are impersonating a black person? Why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this?

Maybe he would be happy for black people to take a pay cut after all.


The Pig Society Part II

February 16, 2011

The Big Society grows ever stronger, and support grows ever wider, charity bosses and workers applaud it and sing its praises, because it is a wonderful plan that is definitely not a cover for a mass of Corporate tax cuts.

That is what delusional Conservatives believe.
Except, it’s bullshit.
The voluntary sector is being absolutely gutted of funding.
As the previous post pointed out. But to make it clear, the Guardian today featured a story of a lady named Denise Marshall. She is Director of Eaves and also the Poppy Project. These charities work with victims of domestic abuse and sex trafficking. She has dedicated her life to this cause. She has fought some pretty high powered members of the criminal underworld across Europe. Eaves provides housing and counselling for victims of abuse. They offer up to 35% savings on gas and electricity and other necessities for vulnerable women. In short, Denise Marshall is a heroine. She was recognised for this in 2008 by being given an OBE. She is one of the very few who actually deserve the honour.

Denise is now handing back the OBE, to David Cameron personally, because she has said that the extreme and needless cuts to funding for charities and organisations like Eaves, means she will no longer be able to support and fight criminal gangs who traffic women for the sex trade. She feels that she would be hypocritical and unworthy of an OBE when she can no longer protect the women she has the award for protecting.

Marshall said:

“I received the OBE in 2007 specifically for providing services to disadvantaged women. It was great to get it; it felt like recognition for the work the organisation has done.

But recently it has been keeping me awake at night. I feel like it would be dishonourable and wrong to keep it. I’m facing a future where I can’t give women who come to my organisation the services they deserve – I won’t be able to provide the services for which I got the OBE.”

“If you run a refuge where you don’t have the support staff it just becomes a production line, where you move people on as quickly as possible to meet the targets. You’re not helping women to escape the broader problems they face. They may get a bed, but no help with changing their lives and moving out of situations of danger.”

“I’ve worked in this sector for almost 30 years. I don’t want to sound melodramatic but I don’t think I have ever felt as depressed and desperate as I do now,”

How then, do the Big Society advocates justify the fact that on the same day as a true heroine feels she can no longer protect very very vulnerable women in her care, the Tories are trying to stop an EU law on the banning of naked short selling (which I shall try to explain as much as possible shortly)? The EU law, if the Tories get their way, will not affect the UK on naked short selling. Germany have banned it, the U.S have banned it, Australia have banned it, Hong Kong have banned it, Japan have banned it. We have kept it. It makes a very small elite group of speculators very rich, whilst risking money that is not theirs. How are these people protected, yet the vulnerable women like those that Denise Marshall represents have their funds slashed. The Government and its banking friends and business associates are sitting sipping champagne, whilst Rome burns. Nero would be in awe.

Short Selling (not naked short selling) is a little confusing, and utterly absurd. It has no social use. It is not to the benefit of any of us. It is dangerous and it should be banned. When you buy shares, you buy them in the hope that the price will rise and you can sell them some time in the future, to make a nice bit of money. It is all to do with how you obtain shares. You and I would buy shares. Naked short sellers borrow shares in the hope that the price will fall. So, if for instance I was to borrow 5000 shares from Broker A. I will then sell them at £1 a share, so £5000, hoping the price falls. Say the price falls by half. I now buy back all the shares, at £2500. I have netted myself a nice little £2500 and I give the 5000 shares back to the Broker A.

Naked Short Selling is different, because you don’t even borrow the shares you’re selling. You don’t have them. You’re selling a promise that you will obtain the shares that you’ve just sold, at some point in the future. You may as well walk into a bank, take all of their money, and promise to give it back at some point in the future. There is then an incentive for short sellers to wreck companies, because the share price has to fall for them to meet their promise. On a grand scale, this can lead to massive crashes.

This little practice lead necessarily to the 1997 Asian Financial Crises, that left millions in poverty. This wasn’t the fault of too much Government interference in people’s lives, or too many people on the dole. It was a direct result of unproductive short sellers and a massively deregulated financial sector.

The law looks to ban naked short selling in the EU. The UK will be trying to exempt itself from that banning.

This of course comes days after the announcement that there would be vast changes to the offshore tax laws, which mean that large and medium sized businesses who offshore their profits and then move them back to the UK, no longer have to pay the difference between the tax they paid in their tax haven and the tax they pay in the UK. They no longer have to pay any tax on profits that are made outside the country and brought back to the UK. Not only that, but they can claim expenses against tax they pay in the UK, to fund their overseas departments. That represents one of the biggest changes to Corporate tax law, and a massive shift of wealth from the poorest due to cuts, to the very wealthiest on a level far beyond anything Margaret Thatcher could have dreamed of. Suddenly the veil of an omni-benevolent Tory government is falling off, to be replaced by a face stamped with the logos of Diageo and Barclays.

On the 9th February, George Osborne told the House of Commons:

Those entrusted by us to regulate those bankers and run our economy washed their hands.
Meanwhile the rest of the country is left paying every day for their failures.
The government has to pick up the pieces.

It would seem that what Osborne believes is “picking up the pieces” entails giving away massive tax cuts, destroying the voluntary sector, and inviting the World’s naked short sellers to come and set up home in Britain.

Welcome to the Pig Society.


Why the Big Society is a load of bollocks

February 14, 2011

I have taken it upon myself to write a bullet point list of why the Big Society is a load of bollocks.

  • It’s a Tory plan.

    In principle, is sounds lovely, and cuddly; a Country where everyone helps the little old lady cross the street, and the struggling girl trying to lift her suitcase up a flight of stairs, or a disabled man trying to reach food on the top shelf, or inviting a homeless drug addict round to Christmas dinner and letting him touch your wife’s breast. It all sounds lovely. But it’s a Tory plan. So obviously it isn’t all that it seems. Putting two and two together is not difficult, because this breed of Tory isn’t much better than the last breed at hiding their sinister motives.

    Tories and their supporters are notoriously unable to critique their dogmatically held economic principles, no matter how flawed or dangerous it is. They simply put a new mask on it, every couple of years. A rebranding. Putting sparkly bits on dog turd.

    Compact Voice, an agreement between the Voluntary sector and the Government, took London Council to court over plans to cut £10mn worth of funding. They won the right to a judicial review, after the court found that the plans to cut funding to 200 projects for lower socio-economic areas of London failed to meet statutory equality duties. So given that it takes a court order to promote a Big Society that the Government is apparently massively in favour of…. what is going wrong?

    First you must look at the current Tory leader. Margaret Thatcher. Actually, it’s a posher looking shinier version of the mad old witch, but it nevertheless, is Thatcher. Dogmatically gelling himself to out of date, unfounded economic principles that didn’t work last time, and wont work again. Economic principles that cause more misery than joy, and only work to enrich a few people; the same people who happen to be socially retarded bastards of the highest calibre.

    Thatcher famously said “there’s no such thing as society“. This is exactly what David Cameron is saying when he tries to promote his “Big Society”. The mask behind the motive, is that people will volunteer in their communities, rescue libraries, save post offices. The problem is that local communities are being drained of all resources.

    When you take the mask off, the choice is “run your library yourself, of we’re closing it down“. And that’s horrendous. It is no different to what Tories always attempt to do, it just has a new mask. It would seem that the “Big Society” is a clever PR stunt, to cover up the fact that the Government is taking money away from the public sector, washing its hands of all social responsibility, in order to fund a mass of tax cuts for the very wealthy. The evidence for this can be seen with the recent offshore Corporate tax rule change; the biggest change in its history. Public money is being taken away from your library, and given back to people who run a business in England, but store their profits elsewhere, and pay no tax on it. Not only has the offshore tax system been scraped, the Corporate tax rate will be dropped by 4% by 2014. Public money is being taken away from your child’s school, for purely ideological reasons, and given to the very rich in the form of tax cuts; the very same very rich people who happen to fund the Tory Party.

    Last year, George Osborne stood up in Parliament and told us all he was instantly getting rid of 490,000 jobs. Half a million people unemployed, in less than ten seconds. The Tory backbenchers cheered in joy. The Big Society is the tedious and futile hope that the voluntary sector will suck up the jobs that have been, and will continue to be destroyed by the Government. When millions are unemployed and in desperate need, the Government is washing its hands of them, and telling the rest of us to deal with it. We didn’t create this mess. The Financial Sector; many of whom donate to the Tory party, and all of whom are taking home a mass of money in bonuses this year created the problems.

    The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations said:

    “In Scotland we’re already delivering the big society. David Cameron’s big idea simply describes a lot of what already happens throughout Scotland’s third sector, from active volunteers in communities across the country to excellent public services run by charities.

    “But government cuts are dangerously undermining our capacity to even continue the valuable work we were doing before the crash, never mind becoming the thriving third sector that Scotland so badly needs.

    “Right now we’re on a knife- edge. The local lifelines that so many people rely on face vicious cuts, leaving the most vulnerable without the support they need. It’s going to take more than rhetoric to save our services.”

    It is impossible to engage the Voluntary sector, when you are taking billions our of it, and giving a couple of million back whilst telling everyone you’re definitely funding it adequately. It is a joke. Most charity leaders don’t buy into it. They recognise that whilst Charity organisations face cuts of close to £5bn, plus the added issue of receiving less due to the scrapping of tax relief on donations, the promise of a couple of extra hundred million pounds, is minuscule. A £100mn “transition fund” is the equivalent of taking a loaf of bread away from you, handing you a slice of bread, and telling you to feed your family.

    In fact, the Office for Civil Society’s promise of an extra £470mn for Voluntary organisations over the next four years, during a Parliament of intense Council cuts, is nothing in comparison to £500mn over the past three years. The Charity Commission will also be required to cut its funding by 27%.

    Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, the Executive Director of the UKs leading voluntary and training service; “Community Service Volunteers” said:

    “So there are a lot of very worthwhile programmes – for example volunteers working in child protection as promoted by the minister for children – which are now under threat of closure.”

    Do not buy into the Big Society hype.
    It is not just a cover for public sector cuts, it is a cover to transfer wealth to a very narrow wealthy elite, through a mass of Corporate tax breaks.
    In plain, it is Tories being Tories.


  • A game played by “adults”

    June 8, 2010

    According to several sources, our wondrous new coalition government of nasty bastards, are to spend £4m on new “reintegration” centres in Afghanistan, to send unaccompanied Afghanistan child asylum seekers back to Afghanistan. This was announced, on the very same day that BBC News reported the deaths of 10 Nato troops, as fighting in Afghanistan escalated.

    In an horrendous move to the right, it isn’t just immigration that the Tories intend to clamp down on, but now quite horrifically, it is children they have taken aim at. Overall, I find the idea of limiting immigration whilst further opening our borders to trade and capital, a silly idea based solely on the Colonial model of Nation States. But then, I find Nation States to be an outdated, and damaging principle. A silly social construct of National pride, that really has its origins around 1534 here in the UK, and is wholly inconsistent with a postmodern World built on Capitalist principles. But children, who really do not have a notion of this largely fatuous and arbitrary system of National borders, or trade, or capital flows, are now becoming the innocent victims of a game played by “grown ups“. I read the article, and just sat thinking how evil the whole idea of Nation States really is.

    The Western World has spent decades destroying Afghanistan. We have armed the Taliban against the Soviets, because it suited us. In fact, in 1985, American President Ronald Reagan referred to the Taliban as;

    “These gentlemen are the moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers.”

    Current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted recently, that the creation of the Taliban, was pretty much entirely down to the US. Which in turn, means the problems that Afghanistan, and in a sense, Pakistan now face, are largely due to the policies of the USA, in its vain attempts to defeat whomever they have designated an “enemy” in that particular decade:

    “It seemed like a great idea, back in the ’80s to– embolden– and train and equip– Taliban, mujahidin, jihadists against the Soviet Union, which had invaded Afghanistan. And with our help, and with the Pakistani support– this group– including, at that time, Bin Laden, defeated the Soviet Union.”

    A decade later, an American oil company called Unocal attempted talks with the Taliban in an effort to secure the rights to a major oil pipeline that would shoot through Afghanistan. Unocal were forced to back out, after they were criticised for dealing with the Taliban.

    Add another decade, and George Bush bombed the entire Country back into the stone age, for no real reason whatsoever, whilst referring to the Taliban, as part of an axis of evil (it’s ironic that a fucking evil President, has the balls to refer to another regime as evil). The very same well equiped, and fundamentalist Taliban, that the US created and armed in the first place. The US didn’t seem to give much of a shit about the Taliban’s human rights record when Reagan was funding them. But then, the same can be said for the rather evil right winged groups throughout Latin America that Reagan’s administration funded. Reagan, should have been thrown in prison, and left to rot miserably in a cell for the rest of his life. Bill Clinton, is just as to blame.

    According to the Times of India, 2001;

    “In the 1980s, the CIA provided some $5 billion in military aid for Islamic fundamentalist rebels fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, but scaled down operations after Moscow pulled out in 1989. However, Selig Harrison of the DC-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars recently told a conference in London that the CIA created the Taliban “monster” by providing some $3 billion for the ultra-fundamentalist militia in their 1994-6 drive to power.”

    Apparently Americans are not too keen on their money being spent on keeping their population healthy, but are perfectly fine with $5bn being spent on arming crazed Religious fundamentalists, who are now responsible for mass oppression and child sex trafficking.

    Given the not-too-surprising violence that is rife throughout Afghanistan, why would any genuinely decent person, suggest sending children anywhere near a country like that? If I were Prime Minister, not only would I not give two shits about the moronic English Nationalists who must now be at home wanking furiously over this; i’d happily tell them they are scum; i’d also publicly state that there is absolutely no way I am sending any child into a Country whose child sex trafficking market is one of the biggest in the World, regardless of our pathetic sense of National Pride. Regardless of our immigration and asylum policies, regardless of the “burden” to tax payers. Regardless of their skin colour or what language they can or cant speak. They are children. And I could not live with myself, if I had openly agreed to hand a child back to a Country in the midst of war, and losing a battle against child sex trafficking. Especially given that the UK, has had a helping hand in destroying that Country in the first place. It strikes me as being a fundamental problem with the way the World works, that we have billions to give to dirty banks and bad business practice, which in turn contributed to the huge pension packages of people like Sir Freddy Goodwin, who fucked the entire system and now lives in luxury; but we complain incessantly about any money from the tax payer, going to help children who happen to have a different skin colour.

    A US State Department Report on Human Trafficking, from 2009, reported:

    Afghan boys and girls are trafficked within the country for commercial sexual exploitation, forced marriage to settle debts or disputes, forced begging, as well as forced labor or debt bondage in brick kilns, carpet-making factories, and domestic service. Afghan children are also trafficked to Iran and Pakistan for forced labor, particularly in Pakistan’s carpet factories, and forced marriage. Boys are promised enrollment in Islamic schools in Pakistan, but instead are trafficked to camps for paramilitary training by extremist groups. Afghan women and girls are trafficked within the country and to Pakistan and Iran for commercial sexual exploitation and temporary marriages. Some Afghan men force their wives or daughters into prostitution. Afghan men are trafficked to Iran and Pakistan for forced labor and debt bondage, as well as to Greece for forced labor in the agriculture or construction sectors. Afghanistan is also a destination for women and girls from Iran, Tajikistan, and possibly China trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Tajik women are also believed to be trafficked through Afghanistan to Pakistan and Iran for commercial sexual exploitation. Trafficked Iranian women transit Afghanistan en route to Pakistan.

    Not only that, but according to the World Fact Book:

    Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Criminality, insecurity, and the Afghan Government’s inability to extend rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. It will probably take the remainder of the decade and continuing donor aid and attention to significantly raise Afghanistan’s living standards from its current level, among the lowest in the world.

    It does not matter how the children found their way to the UK. Whether they were trafficked here, whether they were sent by their parents, or whether they found their own way here out of desperation, it is irrelevant. Motives, are irrelevant. They are children. They are not a pawn in an adult game of economic warfare and its obsession with labeling people “illegal” if they weren’t born here. If a couple of pence in every pound of tax money goes to helping these children, rather than sending them to hell, then good! We are a decent country, with a sense of compassion built into us. We are not a country of the social Right. The Liberal Democrats, should be utterly ashamed of this.

    This represents a major shift to the social Right, for the Tories. It shows that they have indeed wore a moderate mask for the past few years; hidden behind moderate centre-right rhetoric, but scratch gently below the surface, and we are confronted with the same old vicious, nasty party of old. A party without a sense of human decency, who focus solely on economically driven policies rather than human policies.

    Left Wing Progressives, should work together to force real economic and social policy change. We need to understand how much the West is to blame for the hellhole of Afghanistan. We cannot simply exploit countries for the benefit of our business interests, rip the country to shreds, and then throw their children onto the scrap heap. Afghanistan has spent decades as a pawn in a game played by “adults“.