True North Humanist Perspective June 21 2013

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Great Britain’s Girl Guides and Brownies

remove God from their 103-year-old oath

By William Bigelow

20 June 2013 — On Wednesday 19 June Great Britain’s Girl Guides (their equivalent of U.S. Girl Scouts) and Brownies removed God from their 103-year-old oath.

Instead of the passage where they used to promise to “love God,” they will now vow to be true to "myself" and develop "my beliefs." The organization said the move is intended to attract girls from secular families.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, condemned the move, saying, "These values have their roots in a Christian outlook. Taking ‘God’ out of the promise denies the history and foundations of the movement without offering anything in its place, with the result that the organization will lose its distinctive ethos and end up meaning nothing." (More)


Drenched in blood

Nazi commander in SS-led unit

has been found living in Minnesota

Michael Karkoc, a commander of a Nazi SS-led unit accused of atrocities, has been living in Minnesota since shortly after World War II, an AP investigation finds.

By David Rising Randy Herschaft, Monika Scislowska
The Toronto Star

14 June 2013 BERLIN Germany — A top commander of a Nazi SS-led unit accused of burning villages filled with women and children lied to American immigration officials to get into the United States and has been living in Minnesota since shortly after World War II, according to evidence uncovered by The Associated Press.

Michael Karkoc, 94, told American authorities in 1949 that he had performed no military service during World War II, concealing his work as an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defence Legion and later as an officer in the SS Galician Division, according to records obtained by the AP through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Galician Division and a Ukrainian nationalist organization he served in were both on a secret American government blacklist of organizations whose members were forbidden from entering the United States at the time. (More)



Former Canadian, 98, indicted for Nazi-era

war crimes by Hungarian prosecutors

Convicted in absentia by Slovak court in 1948

By The Associated Press
The Toronto Star

18 June 2013 BUDAPEST, HUNGARY — Hungarian prosecutors indicted a 98-year-old former police officer Tuesday for abusing Jews and assisting in their deportation to Nazi death camps during World War II.

They said Laszlo Csatary was the chief of an internment camp for 12,000 Jews at a brick factory in Kosice — a Slovak city then part of Hungary — in May 1944, and that he beat them with his bare hands and a dog whip. (More)



Divine grace or sublimated Sado-Masochism?

'Spanking for Jesus' movement lets

God-fearing husbands feel good about punishing their wives

Women report feeling calm and relaxed after being disciplined

By Eric W. Dolan

19 June 2013 — What happens when you combine Fifty Shades of Grey with fundamentalist Christianity? “Spanking for Jesus” — or a movement known as Christian Domestic Discipline. The alternative lifestyle fell into the media spotlight on Wednesday thanks to The Daily Beast and Jezebel.

Both publications detailed the household arrangement, in which men dominate women using divinely-approved spankings. It sounds like a crude parody, but The Daily Beast estimates that thousands of couples have actually embraced the Christian Domestic Discipline way of life.

Two websites devoted to Christian Domestic Discipline both emphasize the absolute power of a husband over his wife, a situation that is purportedly supported by biblical teachings. (More.)



Kerry condemns Assad for threatening peace talks

as reports reveal the CIA will continue to arm rebels


16 June 2013 — The use of chemical weapons by Damascus and Hezbollah involvement in Syria risks derailing a political settlement to the conflict, John Kerry warned. His comments follow reports the CIA is preparing to funnel arms to rebel forces via Jordan and Turkey.

On Thursday 13 June, the Obama Administration said it would reverse US policy of not providing lethal aid to rebel fighters after claiming the Syrian government had crossed a red line by allegedly deploying chemical weapons against opposition forces on four separate occasions.

Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov characterized the evidence provided by the United States regarding the use of chemical weapons by Damascus as “unconvincing.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also warned the US against sending rebel factions in Syria the “wrong signals” with promises of increased military aid, a move which would shift their focus on “escalating the fight instead of starting a dialogue.”

However, the US said the arms shipments would begin within a matter of weeks, with the CIA acting as the middleman between Washington and the opposition’s Supreme Military Council. (More)



US sends guns and bombs while China sends

oil refineries, transport, hospitals and schools

China And Latin America: Quest For Energy Security – Analysis

By Teshu Singh

17 June 2013 — Xi Jinping toured through Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) countries on 31May-6 June 2013. He visited Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico. This marks a new chapter in Chinese foreign policy.

During his visit to Costa Rica, thirteen major agreements were signed on projects worth nearly USD 2 billion, in the areas of the upgrade of an oil refinery, a key highway and public transport. Amongst these agreements, the biggest project will be the modernization of an obsolete oil refinery in the Caribbean port of Limón, which will be replaced with a new refinery capable of processing 65,000 barrels of oil a day. The USD1.5 billion venture will be financed with a USD 900-million credit from the China Development Bank, and the remaining USD 600 million will be put up by the China National Petroleum Corporation and Costa Rica’s National Refinery (RECOPE). A group of thirty RECOPE officials will travel to Beijing in coming days to receive training for three months at China’s University of Petroleum. Another big project agreed to is the upgrading of Route 32, a strategic highway that links San José to Limón, a USD 400-million dollar endeavour that will be financed by China.

During the visit to Mexico, bilateral relations were upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership. The two heads of state agreed to push forward the China-Mexico comprehensive strategic partnership by working jointly in the following four aspects; by showing mutual understanding and support on the issue concerning each other’s core interest, improving practical cooperation in accordance with their development strategies, and agree to increase mutual investment in key areas such as energy, mining, infrastructure and high technology, encourage more exchanges between art troupes, promote tourism and strengthen communication among students, academics, journalists and athletes and improving multilateral coordination based on their common interests and responsibilities on major international issues. (More)


U. Hawaii astrobiologists find Martian clay

contains chemical implicated in origin of life

University of Hawaii at Manoa
13 June  2013 Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa NASA Astrobiology Institute (UHNAI) have discovered high concentrations of boron in a Martian meteorite. When present in its oxidized form (borate), boron may have played a key role in the formation of RNA, one of the building blocks for life. The work was published on June 6 in PLOS One.

The Antarctic Search for Meteorites team found the Martian meteorite used in this study in Antarctica during its 2009-2010 field season. The minerals it contains, as well as its chemical composition, clearly show that it is of Martian origin.

Using the ion microprobe in the W. M. Keck Cosmochemistry Laboratory at UH, the team was able to analyze veins of Martian clay in the meteorite. After ruling out contamination from Earth, they determined boron abundances in these clays are over ten times higher than in any previously measured meteorite. (More)


Why people lie — why most people believe lies

By Robert J. Burrowes
Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach, State University of New York Press, 1996. His email address is

20 June 2013 — The purpose of fear is to suppress awareness of the truth.

People always lie for the same reason: fear. But the precise fear that makes a person lie in one circumstance might be different from the fear that makes them lie in another.

When a child is young, it will naturally tell the truth. Most usually, it starts to learn to lie (consciously or unconsciously) when it discovers that it is not believed when it tells the truth or it is blamed and punished for telling the truth (particularly if the truth is unpalatable to a parent or other adult). In these circumstances, lying might occur in an attempt to be believed or in an attempt to avoid blame and punishment and the lie might take the form of the child fearfully telling the parent what the child knows the parent wants to hear. Why does this happen? (More)


Evidence shows that illegal female genital cutting

is a growing phenomenon in US and on 'vacations'

Up to 200,000 American girls and women are at risk, many of them sent abroad to undergo the procedure.

21 June 2013 — Female genital cutting (FGC), also known as female genital mutilation (FGM) and female circumcision, is an increasing international concern to human rights activists and feminists across the globe. An estimated 140 million girls have been subjected to the practice worldwide and it is still prevalent in at least 28 countries according to the World Health Organization Progress Report in 2011.

In Western culture, mere mention of FGM sends feminist activists up in arms, generating intense negative feelings and evoking discussion about sexism, brutality and gender-based violence. However, while FGM is mostly practiced in African and Middle Eastern countries and classified as an “off-shore problem,” many Americans are unaware of the cultural complexities embedded in the custom and the fact that it is happening right under our noses. (More)



Bible thumpers are losing their grip on American politics

The Christian Right appears to be in decline, yet Republicans still pander to them.

By Amanda Marcotte

20 June 2013 — Is the religious right, which has been the electoral backbone of the Republican Party since the creation of the Moral Majority in the '70s and the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, in trouble?

The strongly right-wing Washington Times reports rather dimly on the conference for the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group founded by religious right luminary Ralph Reed, because it couldn’t even gather 400 audience members, despite having a deep bench of fundamentalist-beloved politicians and celebrities like Pat Robertson, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry and Scott Walker. The Times contrasted the small conference with its '80s and '90s counterpart, the Christian Coalition’s Road to the White House conventions, which drew thousands of participants every year.

If such a right-wing publication as the Washington Times is willing to hint at it, maybe it’s really time to ask the question: Is the Christian right beginning to lose its numbers, its mojo, and even its power? While it’s definitely too early to count them out — after all, the religious right, weird fantasies about masturbating fetuses and all — still wholly owns the Republican Party at this point. Still, is there some hope on the horizon that their once-mighty numbers and power are beginning to dwindle? (More)


Syria: 'I saw rebels execute my boy for no more than a joke’

Nadia Umm Fuad watched her son being shot by Islamist rebels in Syria after the 14-year-old referred to the Prophet Mohammed as he joked with a customer at his coffee stall in Aleppo. She speaks to Richard Spencer.

21 June 2013 — Mohammed Katta's mother witnessed the execution of her son in three stages.

She was upstairs at home when she first heard the shouting. The people of the neighbourhood were yelling that "they have brought back the kid", so she rushed out of her apartment.

"I went out on my balcony," Nadia Umm Fuad said. "I said to his father, they are going to shoot your son! Come! Come! Come! I was on the stairs when I heard the first shot. I was at the door when I heard the second shot.

"I saw the third shot. I was shouting, 'That's haram, forbidden! Stop! Stop! You are killing a child.' But they just gave me a dirty look and got into their car. As they went, they drove over my son's arm, as he lay there dying." (More)



The 7 things atheists turn to when they have problems

handle difficulties very differently from believers in God

By Greta Christina
20 June 2013 — "But people need religion for community! For social support! People get so much from religion—counseling, emotional help during hard times, financial help during hard times, rituals and rites of passage, day care, even job networking. Why do atheists want to take that away?"
There are a lot of arguments people make for religion. But this one gets atheists' attention. Not because it's a good argument for religion—it's not. People don't need religion to help each other out, or even to form organized groups to help each other out. We form communities and support networks around all sorts of ideas and identities: philosophies, political views, sexual orientations, gender identities or lack thereof, hobbies, geographical accidents, food preferences, and much, much more. And the communities people build around religion are hardly evidence that God exists... any more than Dickens re-creation societies are evidence that Oliver Twist exists. (More)
By Katie Neith
Caltech News
Los Angeles CA (SPX)
28 June 2013 — For most terrestrial life on Earth, oxygen is necessary for survival. But the planet's atmosphere did not always contain this life-sustaining substance, and one of science's greatest mysteries is how and when oxygenic photosynthesis — the process responsible for producing oxygen on Earth through the splitting of water molecules — first began.
Now, a team led by geobiologists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has found evidence of a precursor photosystem involving manganese that predates cyanobacteria, the first group of organisms to release oxygen into the environment via photosynthesis. (More)