In Sweden, Cash Is King No More
By MALIN RISING
STOCKHOLM — Sweden was the first European country to introduce bank notes in 1661. Now it’s come farther than most on the path toward getting rid of them.
“I can’t see why we should be printing bank notes at all anymore,” says Bjoern Ulvaeus, former member of 1970’s pop group ABBA, and a vocal proponent for a world without cash.
The contours of such a society are starting to take shape in this high-tech nation, frustrating those who prefer coins and bills over digital money.
In most Swedish cities, public buses don’t accept cash; tickets are prepaid or purchased with a cell phone text message. A small but growing number of businesses only take cards, and some bank offices – which make money on electronic transactions – have stopped handling cash altogether.
“There are towns where it isn’t at all possible anymore to enter a bank and use cash,” complains Curt Persson, chairman of Sweden’s National Pensioners’ Organization.
He says that’s a problem for elderly people in rural areas who don’t have credit cards or don’t know how to use them to withdraw cash.
The decline of cash is noticeable even in houses of worship, like the Carl Gustaf Church in Karlshamn, southern Sweden, where Vicar Johan Tyrberg recently installed a card reader to make it easier for worshippers to make offerings.
“People came up to me several times and said they didn’t have cash but would still like to donate money,” Tyrberg says.
Bills and coins represent only 3 percent of Sweden’s economy, compared to an average of 9 percent in the eurozone and 7 percent in the U.S., according to the Bank for International Settlements, an umbrella organization for the world’s central banks.
After his son was robbed for the third time he started advocating a faster transition to a fully digital economy, if only to make life harder for thieves.
“If there were no cash, what would they do?” says Ulvaeus, 66.
The Swedish Bankers’ Association says the shrinkage of the cash economy is already making an impact in crime statistics.
The number of bank robberies in Sweden plunged from 110 in 2008 to 16 in 2011 – the lowest level since it started keeping records 30 years ago. It says robberies of security transports are also down.
“Less cash in circulation makes things safer, both for the staff that handle cash, but also of course for the public,” says Par Karlsson, a security expert at the organization.
The prevalence of electronic transactions – and the digital trail they generate – also helps explain why Sweden has less of a problem with graft than countries with a stronger cash culture, such as Italy or Greece, says economics professor Friedrich Schneider of the Johannes Kepler University in Austria.
“If people use more cards, they are less involved in shadow economy activities,” says Schneider, an expert on underground economies.
In Italy – where cash has been a common means of avoiding value-added tax and hiding profits from the taxman – Prime Minister Mario Monti in December put forward measures to limit cash transactions to payments under (EURO)1,000 ($1,300), down from (EURO)2,500 before.
The flip side is the risk of cybercrimes. According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention the number of computerized fraud cases, including skimming, surged to nearly 20,000 in 2011 from 3,304 in 2000.
Oscar Swartz, the founder of Sweden’s first Internet provider, Banhof, says a digital economy also raises privacy issues because of the electronic trail of transactions. He supports the idea of phasing out cash, but says other anonymous payment methods need to be introduced instead.
“One should be able to send money and donate money to different organizations without being traced every time,” he says.
It’s no surprise that Sweden and other Nordic countries are at the forefront of this development, given their emphasis on technology and innovation.
For the second year in a row, Sweden ranked first in the Global Information Technology Report released at the World Economic Forum in January. The Economist Intelligence Unit also put Sweden top of its latest digital economy rankings, in 2010. Both rankings measure how far countries have come in integrating information and communication technologies in their economies.
Internet startups in Sweden and elsewhere are now hard at work developing payment and banking services for smartphones.
Swedish company iZettel has developed a device for small traders, similar to Square in the U.S., that plugs into the back of an iPhone to make it work like a credit card terminal. Sweden’s biggest banks are expected to launch a joint service later this year that allows customers to transfer money between each other’s accounts in real-time with their cell phones.
Most experts don’t expect cash to disappear anytime soon, but that its proportion of the economy will continue to decline as such payment options become available. Before retiring as deputy governor of Sweden’s central bank, Lars Nyberg said last year that cash will survive “like the crocodile, even though it may be forced to see its habitat gradually cut back.”
Andrea Wramfelt, whose bowling alley in the southern city of Landskrona stopped accepting cash in 2010, makes a bolder prediction: She believes coins and notes will cease to exist in Sweden within 20 years.
“Personally I think this is what people should expect in the future,” she says.
But there are pockets of resistance. Hanna Celik, whose family owns a newspaper kiosk in a Stockholm shopping mall, says the digital economy is all about banks seeking bigger earnings.
Celik says he gets charged about 5 Swedish kronor ($0.80) for every credit card transaction, and a law passed by the Swedish Parliament prevents him from passing on that charge to consumers.
“That stinks,” he says. “For them (the banks), this is a very good way to earn a lot of money, that’s what it’s all about. They make huge profits.”
Proposed UN Environmental Constitution For The World Would Establish
An Incredibly Repressive System Of Global Governance
16 Mar 2012
Most people have no idea that the United Nations has been drafting an environmental constitution for the world that is intended to supersede all existing national laws. This document has a working title of “Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development” and you can read the entire thing right here. Work on this proposed world environmental constitution has been going on since 1995, and the fourth edition was issued to UN member states on September 22nd, 2010. This document is intended to become a permanent binding treaty and it would establish an incredibly repressive system of global governance. This “covenant”, as it is being called, claims authority over the entire global environment and everything that affects it. Considering the fact that everything that we do affects the environment in some way, that would mean that this document would become the highest form of law for all human activity. This proposed UN environmental constitution for the world is incredibly detailed. The U.S. Constitution only has 7 articles, but the UN document has 79 articles. If the U.S. eventually ratifies this treaty, any national, state or local laws that conflict with this covenant will be null and void. This is potentially one of the greatest threats to our national sovereignty that we have ever seen and we need to warn the American people about it.
Essentially what this proposed environmental covenant does is it takes the sustainable development principles underlying Agenda 21 and turns them into global constitutional law.
All parties to this new constitution would be forced to turn their nations into centrally-planned societies where all decisions about everything are evaluated within the framework of sustainable development.
If the United States became a party to this treaty, America would become a paradise for control freaks. Basic decisions about what you eat, about what you wear, about where you live, about how big a family you can have and about what activities you could engage in on a daily basis would be dictated by the mandates in the global constitution.
If you doubt this, just read the document.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the wording in this proposed constitution for the world….
In documents such as these, drafters have learned to never use the term “global government” because it sets off alarm bells for people. So they often use the more politically-correct term of “governance”. On page 36, we are told that proper governance includes the creation of governing institutions on various levels “from the local to the global”….
“Governance is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). It also can be defined as the rational organization of society in order to achieve the objectives emerging from its common concerns emerging from material, economic, historical and cultural foundations and needs. Governance includes the creation and the functioning of institutions and of norms at various levels from the local to the global.”
In the forward to the document, we are told that the covenant is a “living document” that will serve as a blueprint for an international agreement that the authors hope will eventually be adopted by all members of the United Nations….
“The Draft Covenant is a blueprint for an international framework (or umbrella) agreement consolidating and developing existing legal principles related to environment and development. The intention is that it will remain a “living document” until – as is the hope and expectation of those who have been involved in the project – it is adopted as a basis for multilateral negotiations.”
This project was originally focused almost entirely on the environment, but the authors acknowledge that there has been an increased focus on the “social and economic pillars” in this latest edition….
“Special care was taken to update it with respect to the ‘social and economic pillars’ and thereby avoid falling into the trap of concentrating solely on the ‘environmental pillar’.”
In the preamble we are told that a “global partnership” is necessary in order to “achieve sustainable development”….
“…the belief that humanity currently stands at a decisive point in history, which calls for a global partnership to achieve sustainable development”
Article 3 of this proposed global constitution declares that the global environment should be under the “protection” of “international law”….
“The global environment is a common concern of humanity and under the protection of the principles of international law, the dictates of the public conscience and the fundamental values of humanity.”
Later on in the document, things start becoming more specific.
In Article 16, we are told that all member nations must integrate environmental conservation into all of their national decisions….
Parties shall, at all stages and at all levels, integrate environmental conservation into the planning and implementation of their policies and activities, giving full and equal consideration to environmental, economic, social and cultural factors. To this end, the Parties shall:
(a) conduct regular national reviews of environmental and developmental policies and plans;
(b) enact, periodically review, and enforce laws and regulations; and
(c) establish or strengthen institutional structures and procedures to integrate environmental and developmental issues in all spheres of decision-making.
In Article 20, we are told that parties to this treaty will be required to “mitigate the adverse effects of climate change”. That means that if this treaty is ratified in the United States, the national debate about climate change will be over and our national, state and local government institutions will all be required to actively fight man-made global warming whether it actually exists or not….
Parties shall take precautionary measures to protect the Earth’s climate system and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. To these ends, they shall cooperate internationally inter alia to:
(a) Measure their emissions and implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions;
(b) Establish risk management and implement adaptation measures to enable climate-resilient development.
In Article 31, there is a requirement to eradicate poverty. Yes, everyone should work hard to eliminate poverty, but what this document envisions is a worldwide socialist system where wealth is redistributed on a global scale….
Parties, individually or in partnership with other States, international organizations and civil society, in particular the private economic sector, shall adopt measures aimed at the eradication of poverty, including measures to:
(a) legally empower people living in poverty to exercise their rights including the right to development;
(b) respect, ensure, promote and fulfill the rights of vulnerable and marginalized persons, in particular to food, water, housing and other basic needs;
(c) enable all individuals to achieve sustainable livelihoods, in particular by increasing access to and control over resources, including land;
(d) rehabilitate degraded resources, to the extent practicable, and promote sustainable use of resources for basic human needs;
(e) provide potable water and sanitation;
(f) provide education, with a particular focus on, and with the participation of women and girl children, indigenous peoples, local communities, and vulnerable or marginalized persons; and
(g) support microcredit and microinsurance schemes and the development of microfinance institutions and their capacities.
In the end, socialism always makes everyone poorer, but unfortunately the United Nations has apparently not gotten that memo yet.
In Article 32, there is a requirement to recycle “to the fullest extent possible“.
If the U.S. ratifies this global environmental constitution that means that there will be a lot more government agents snooping through our trash cans to make sure that we are recycling properly like is already happening in Cleveland, Ohio.
In Article 33, countries are required to determine “the size of the human population their environment is capable of supporting” and to implement measures to make sure that the population does not exceed that level….
Parties shall develop or strengthen demographic policies in order to achieve sustainable development. To this end, the Parties shall:
(a) conduct studies to estimate the size of the human population their environment is capable of supporting and develop programmes relating to population growth at corresponding levels;
(b) cooperate to alleviate the stress on natural support systems caused by major population flows;
(c) cooperate as requested to provide a necessary infrastructure on a priority basis for areas with rapid population growth;
(d) provide to their populations full information on the options concerning family planning;
(e) provide for long-term resettlement of persons displaced by changing environmental conditions.
Article 33 is definitely one of the most chilling parts of the entire document.
In Article 34, nations are required to maintain “an open and non-discriminatory international trading system”. This document affirms the emerging one world economic system and sets out rules for how to participate in it in an environmentally responsible way….
1. Parties shall cooperate to establish and maintain an open and non-discriminatory international trading system that equitably meets the developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.
To this end, Parties shall endeavour to ensure that:
(a) trade does not lead to the wasteful use of natural resources nor interfere with their conservation or sustainable use;
(b) trade measures addressing transboundary or global environmental problems are based, as far as possible, on international consensus;
(c) trade measures for environmental purposes do not constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade;
(d) unilateral trade measures by importing Parties in response to activities which are harmful or potentially harmful to the environment outside the jurisdiction of such Parties are avoided as far as possible or occur only after consultation with affected States and are implemented in a transparent manner; and
(e) prices of commodities and raw materials reflect the full direct and indirect social and environmental costs of their extraction, production, transport, marketing, and, where appropriate, ultimate disposal.
In the commentary on Article 34, we are told that a one world economic system that respects the environment is “an essential component of sustainable development”….
Paragraph 1 sets out the duty to cooperate to establish and maintain an international economic system that ensures inter- and intra generational equity, giving effect to the principles enunciated in Articles 5 (Equity and Justice) and 10 (Right to Development) of the Draft Covenant. This duty has been recognized in recent international instruments as being an essential component of sustainable development.
In Article 41, nations are instructed to integrate sustainable development principles into all decisions regarding “infrastructure and town and country planning”….
Parties shall establish and implement integrated physical planning systems, including provisions for infrastructure and town and country planning, with a view to integrating conservation of the environment, including biological diversity, into social and economic development.
In Article 51, we learn how all of this is going to be paid for.
It turns out that we will be required to finance the implementation of all of these repressive new requirements….
1. Parties undertake to provide, in accordance with their capabilities, financial support and incentives for those national activities aimed at achieving the objectives of this Covenant.
2. Parties shall pursue innovative ways of generating public and private financial resources for sustainable development.
In Article 52, it even tells us how much of our national GDP we will be required to contribute….
Parties, taking into account their respective capabilities and specific national and regional developmental priorities, objectives and circumstances, shall endeavour to augment their aid programmes to reach the United Nations General Assembly target of at least 0.7 percent of Gross National Product for Official Development Assistance.
In Article 69, the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea are essentially designated the “judicial branch” for this global governance scheme….
1. Parties shall settle disputes concerning the interpretation or application of this Covenant by peaceful means, such as by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, and judicial settlement, and where appropriate, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or by any other peaceful means of their own choice.
2. If Parties to such a dispute do not reach agreement within one year following the notification by one Party to another that a dispute exists, the dispute shall, at the request of one of the Parties, be submitted to either an arbitral tribunal, including the Permanent Court of Arbitration, or to judicial settlement, including by the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea as appropriate.
Those that try to claim that this is not a proposed constitution for the world are simply being delusional. Article 71 even gives us detailed procedures for “amending” this constitution.
If this document is not intended to be a constitution, then why does it have a “preamble” like the U.S. Constitution does, why is it organized into “articles” like the U.S. Constitution is, and why does it set forth procedures for “amending” the document like the U.S. Constitution does?
And notice that the word “shall” is used constantly throughout the entire document. This proposed constitution does not contain “suggestions” that the authors hope will be followed. Rather, it contains commands which are intended to be obeyed.
This document would establish a very repressive system of world governance. The global elite believe that we are not smart enough to think for ourselves and that they need to run the entire planet like a tightly-controlled prison in order to save the environment.
America Is Being Transformed From A Wealthy Nation Into A Poor Nation
At Breathtaking Speed
11 Mar 2012
America is losing wealth far faster than any other nation on earth is. In fact, since the mid-1970s there has been a transfer of wealth of almost 8 trillion dollars from the United States to the rest of the world. Sadly, most Americans have no idea what is happening. Most of them are completely unaware that America is being transformed from a wealthy nation into a poor nation at breathtaking speed. Most Americans just assume that America will always have the largest economy on earth and will always be the wealthiest nation on the globe. Unfortunately, just because something was true in the past does not mean that it will be true in the future. Right now, the United States is bleeding wealth at a pace that is almost unimaginable. Every single month, tens of billions of dollars of wealth is permanently transferred from the American people to the rest of the world. That means that the overall economic pie is shrinking. While the rich and the poor are busy fighting over the distribution of wealth in this country, the size of the pie that they are dividing up is continually getting smaller. America is poorer than it was last month, and next month it will be even poorer. If this continues, it will result in a complete and total economic nightmare.
Let’s break this down to a real simple example. Imagine that you are playing a game with a whole bunch of people, and you have been chosen to play the role of the United States. So you go stand on a giant map of the United States and you are given much more money than anyone else in the game. However, with each turn 50 billion dollars is taken out of your pile of money and is given to the other players.
What is going to happen eventually?
Yes, that is right – you are going to run out of money at some point.
In order to continue playing you will need to borrow more money from the other players or you will need to print up some more money.
Does that sound familiar?
In January, the U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world hit 52.6 billion dollars.
That means that we bought 52.6 billion dollars more stuff from the rest of the world than they bought from us.
That 52.6 billion dollars is gone and it is not coming back. Next month another 50 billion dollars will leave the country.
Are you starting to get the picture?
Imagine a giant hourglass filled with dollar bills. Dollars are pouring out of the United States and into the pockets of foreigners at a pace that is absolutely astounding.
In 2011, the U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world was about 560 billion dollars.
We have a trade imbalance that is more than 5 times larger than any other nation on earth has. That means that we are getting poorer at a far faster rate than anyone else is.
Most of the money that we spend does not even do any lasting good.
For example, a huge chunk of our trade deficit is spent on importing oil. Once we burn that oil up in our cars it is gone for good and we have nothing to show for it.
But the people we sent our money to end up with bulging bank accounts.
How in the world do you think those oil barons build those outrageous palaces and are able to afford those exotic car collections?
They buy all those things with the money that we sent to them.
Meanwhile, our once great major cities are degenerating into festering sores.
Our foolish policies are causing our own destruction.
Another reason why we have such a huge trade deficit is because of our trade relationship with China.
Our trade deficit with China was approximately 26 billion dollars during the month of January.
That is absolutely horrifying.
For the entire year of 2011, our trade deficit with China hit a grand total of about 295.5 billion dollars.
That was the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the world.
Back in 1985, the U.S. trade deficit with China was only 6 million dollars for the entire year.
In 2011, our trade deficit with China was more than 49,000 times larger than it was back in 1985.
That is not a good trend.
Have you ever noticed that it seems like half the stuff we sell in our stores says “Made in China” on it?
Well, that is because China is wiping the floor with us on the global economic stage.
Just look at how the overall U.S. trade deficit has exploded over the past few decades. In the chart below, we see that the U.S. trade deficit really spiked when the price of oil reached unprecedented heights a few years ago. Then it dropped during the recession when the price of oil fell like a rock. But now the U.S. trade deficit is almost back to where it was before….
Today, the U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world is about 5 times larger than it was back in 1996.
That means that we are getting poorer as a nation at a rate that is 5 times faster than back in 1996.
All of that money that is going out of the country could be going to support jobs and businesses inside the United States.
But instead we have been losing jobs and businesses over the past decade at a rate that is absolutely amazing.
According to U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day closed down in the United States during 2010.
23 every single day!
That means less jobs for American workers.
Right now, there are approximately 6 million fewer jobs in America than there was back in December 2007.
Because there are not enough jobs, we now have millions of working age Americans that simply cannot take care of themselves.
But it isn’t just jobs that we are losing.
There are a whole host of other statistics that show that economic conditions in America continue to get worse and worse and worse. An all-time record 46.5 million Americans are on food stamps and poverty continues to explode all over nation.
Instead of addressing the root causes of our problems, our leaders continue to support our false standard of living by borrowing gigantic piles of money.
In many instances, we go back to the very same people that we sent our money to and we beg them to borrow it back.
How stupid can we be?
Debt always makes you even poorer in the long run.
Take a look at how our budget deficits on the national level have absolutely exploded in recent years….
Anyone that tells you that America is in good shape financially is lying.
Just look at that chart.
Sadly, the truth is even worse than the chart shows. For example, there never was a “surplus” under the Clinton administration. The U.S. government simply stole money from Social Security and used a bunch of other accounting tricks to make things seem a lot better than they were.
And the U.S. government is still using all sorts of accounting tricks to hide the true size of the national debt. If you doubt this, just read this article.
If the U.S. government was forced to use GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), the U.S. budget deficit would be far larger each year.
But it is not just the federal government that is drowning in debt.
All over the country right now, municipalities are going broke….
*Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has announced that it will be skipping debt payments.
*Stockton, California is on the verge of becoming the largest U.S. municipality to ever file for bankruptcy.
For years, our politicians borrowed immense amounts of money to make up for all of the wealth that we were bleeding as a nation.
But now we are absolutely drowning in debt and all of this reckless spending is not going to be able to last much longer.
When all of this reckless spending ends, our false prosperity is going to disappear.
Did you know that the U.S. national debt is growing by about 150 million dollars every single hour?
150 million dollars an hour is being stolen from our children and our grandchildren so that we can maintain our false standard of living.
Most Americans expect things to get back to “normal”, but the truth is that “normal” has left the building.
Our transition from being a wealthy nation to being a poor nation continues every single day, and our politicians are doing nothing to stop it.
Enjoy these good times while you still can, because they are not going to last too much longer. The debt bubble we have been living in is going to burst, and when it does we are going to get hit with a cold dose of reality.
Obama health care rule final: $1 abortion surcharge from premium payers
|Kathleen Gilbert||Tue Mar 13 13:52 EST||Abortion|
WASHINGTON, March 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The final rule for the health care exchanges set for implementation under the federal health care law has maintained an original accounting arrangement allowing taxpayer funding of abortion, despite the Hyde amendment.
The Department of Health and Human Services this month issued a final rule regarding the exchanges required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The rule provides for taxpayer funding of insurance coverage that includes elective abortion through a direct abortion subsidy.
To comply with the accounting requirement, plans will collect a separate $1 abortion surcharge from each premium payer. As described in the rule, the surcharge can only be disclosed to the enrollee at the time of enrollment, and insurance plans may only advertise the total cost of the premiums without disclosing the abortion surcharge.
Click “like” if you want to end abortion!
PPACA allows for one insurance plan in each exchange to refuse to cover abortion, while the rest are permitted to cover the procedure.
The final rule also mentions that several commenters had expressed concerns about further abortion coverage in federally-administered “multi-state” plans, but says only that the standards for those plans will be described later. No part of PPACA prevents such plans from covering abortions.
The law mandates that the new exchanges be operational by January 1, 2014. The final rule notes that the federal government will force implementation of an exchange in any state that refuses to create one.
The abortion surcharge was one of several points of contention named by pro-life advocates when battling the health care law before its passage two years ago, in March 2010. Pro-life leaders argued that the abortion surcharge amounted to a meaningless accounting gimmick designed to skirt accusations that federal premium subsidies would be used to pay for the procedure in abortion-covering plans.
Susan Muskett, senior legislative counsel at National Right to Life, told LifeSiteNews.com that the final rule “reinforces the serious pro-abortion effects that Obamacare will have on America.” She said the abortion subsidy setup flouted the intention of the Hyde amendment, which specifically bars federal dollars from funding health insurance plans that cover abortion, except for in cases of rape or incest.
“Under Obamacare, there’s going to be hundreds of billions of dollars that’s going to be paying for federal premium subsidies,” said Muskett. For many in America, she said, being forced to pay for abortion-subsidizing plans is “just as bad” as directly paying for the abortions themselves.
The accounting trick is not unlike the “accommodation” President Obama announced last month regarding the HHS mandate forcing religious employers to cover abortifacient drugs and sterilizations, also authorized under PPACA. Obama attempted to sidestep the controversy by claiming that insurance companies would simply offer free birth control to women covered by their religious employers – a fix that left the original mandate unchanged.
In terms of how to respond to the final rule, Muskett said that “we don’t even have all the pieces of the puzzle yet,” such as the details on abortion in multi-state plans, but that NRLC will continue to support efforts to repeal the health care law.
New York Times ad calls Catholic Church ‘autocratic, woman-hating, sex-
perverting’ Old Boys Club
|Ben Johnson||Tue Mar 13 16:31 EST||Faith|
The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s ad, which takes the form of a letter to a “liberal Catholic,” asks “Cafeteria” Catholics, “Why are you propping up the pillars of a tyrannical and autocratic, woman-hating, sex-perverting, antediluvian Old Boys Club?”
Its authors accuse “the conscienceless Catholic Church” of “launching a vengeful modern-day Inquisition” by opposing the HHS mandate that religious employers provide contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs in their health insurance coverage. “No politician should jeopardize electability for failure to genuflect before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.”
They tell those who do not believe in the Magisterium of the Church, “Your continuing Catholic membership, as a ‘liberal,’ casts a veneer of respectability upon an irrational sect determined to blow out the Enlightenment and threaten liberty for women worldwide. You are an enabler. And it’s got to stop.”
“If you’re part of the Catholic Church, you’re part of the problem,” they state.
The authors welcome Catholics to “a more welcoming home…free of incense-fogged ritual, free of what freethinker Bertrand Russell called ‘ideas uttered long ago by ignorant men.’”
The Freedom from Religious Foundation is led by Annie Laurie Gaylor and her husband, Dan Barker. Gaylor is author of the book, Abortion Is a Blessing.
(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )
“Never has there been a more vicious anti-Catholic advertisement in a prominent American newspaper,” said Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Donahue said the ad uses the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops’ opposition to the HHS mandate as a “pretext…Its real agenda is to smear Catholicism.”
“Not a single Catholic who reads this ad will be impelled to leave the Church. That is not the issue,” Donahue said. “The issue is the increase in hate speech directed at Catholics.”
“Nothing will stop Catholics from demanding that the Obama administration respect their First Amendment rights…Why the Times allowed this ad is another issue altogether.”
John Leo of the Manhattan Institute agreed the newspaper exercised poor judgment in running the ad. “Why is it OK for the Times to push this stuff? Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. should apologize immediately, or else explain that, out of basic fairness, he is equally willing to run a similar ad savaging Muslims, Jews, or Protestants. The Times may be slipping, but it doesn’t want to morph into a gutter rag, does it?”
“The issue is that the Times has handed [FRFF] a microphone,” wrote an author at The No Left-Turns blog, operated by the Ashbrook Center. “Try to imagine a similar ad aimed at Muslims – or attacking atheists – and imagine the reaction of the New York Times – and the liberal disciples of tolerance who are suspiciously quiet in the wake of this obvious expression of hate and intolerance.”
In 2009, the New York Times rejected an op-ed piece written by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, saying much of the newspaper’s coverage amounted to “anti-Catholicism.”
Contact: Arthur Sulzberger Jr., New York Times chairman and publisher, email@example.com
Read the full text:
Dear ‘Liberal’ Catholic:
It’s time to quit the Roman Catholic Church.
It’s your moment of truth. Will it be reproductive freedom, or back to the Dark Ages? Do you choose women and their rights, or Bishops and their wrongs? Whose side are you on, anyway?
It is time to make known your dissent from the Catholic Church, in light of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ ruthless campaign endangering the right to contraception. If you’re part of the Catholic Church, you’re part of the problem.
Why are you propping up the pillars of a tyrannical and autocratic, woman-hating, sex-perverting, antediluvian Old Boys Club? Why are you aiding and abetting a church that has repeatedly and publicly announced a crusade to ban contraception, abortion and sterilization, and to deny the right of all women everywhere, Catholic or not, to decide whether and when to become mothers? When it comes to reproductive freedom, the Roman Catholic Church is Public Enemy Number One. Think of the acute misery, poverty, needless suffering, unwanted pregnancies, social evils and deaths that can be laid directly at the door of the Church’s antiquated doctrine that birth control is a sin and must be outlawed.
A backer of the Roman Catholic presidential candidate says that if women want to avoid pregnancy we should put an aspirin between our knees? Catholic politicians are urging that the right to contraception should be left up to states? Nearly 50 years after the Supreme Court upheld contraception as a privacy right, we’re going to have to defend this basic freedom all over again?
You’re better than your church. So why? Why continue to attend Mass? Tithe? Why dutifully sacrifice to send your children to parochial schools so they can be brainwashed into the next generation of myrmidons (and, potentially, become the next Church victims)? For that matter, why have you put up with an institution that won’t put up with women priests, that excludes half of humanity?
No self-respecting feminist, civil libertarian or progressive should cling to the Catholic faith. As a Cafeteria Catholic, you chuck out the stale doctrine and moldy decrees of your religion, but keep patronizing the establishment that menaces public health by serving rotten offerings. Your continuing Catholic membership, as a “liberal,” casts a veneer of respectability upon an irrational sect determined to blow out the Enlightenment and threaten liberty for women worldwide. You are an enabler. And it’s got to stop.
If you imagine you can change the church from within — get it to lighten up on birth control, gay rights, marriage equality, embryonic stem-cell research — you are deluding yourself. If you remain a “good Catholic,” you are doing “bad” to women’s rights. You’re kidding yourself if you think the Church is ever going to add a Doctrine of Immaculate ContraCeption.
It is disgraceful that U.S. health care reform is being held hostage to the Catholic Church’s bizarre opposition to medically prescribed contraception. No politician should jeopardize electability for failure to genuflect before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. (Question to ask your Bishop: Does he hold up an umbrella against the rain? Isn’t that just as “unnatural” as using a condom or diaphragm?)
Your Church hysterically claims that secular medical policy is “an assault against religious liberty.” You are savvy enough to realize that the real assault is by the Church against women’s rights and health care. As Nation columnist Katha Pollitt asks: Is it an offense against Jehovah Witnesses that health care coverage will include blood transfusions? The Amish, as Pollitt points out, don’t label cars “an assault on religious liberty” and try to force everyone to drive buggies. The louder the Church cries “offense against religious liberty” the harder it works to take away women’s liberty.
Obama has compromised, but the Church never budges, instead launching a vengeful modern-day Inquisition. Look at its continuing directives to parish priests to use their pulpits every Sunday to lobby you against Obama’s policy, the Church’s announcement of a major anti-contraception media campaign — using your tithes, contributions and donations — to defeat Obama’s laudable health care policy. The Church has introduced into Congress the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, ” a bill to place the conscienceless Catholic Church’s “rights of conscience” above the rights of conscience of 53 percent of Americans. That the Church has “conscience rights” to deny women their rights is a kissing cousin to the claim that “corporations are people.” The Church that hasn’t persuaded you to oppose contraception now wants to use the force of secular law to deny contraceptive rights to non-Catholics.
But is there any point in going on? After all, your misplaced loyalty has lasted through two decades of public sex scandals involving preying priests, children you may have known as victims, and church complicity, collusion and coverup going all the way to the top. Are you like the battered woman who, after being beaten down every Sunday, feels she has no place else to go?
But we have a more welcoming home to offer, free of incense-fogged ritual, free of what freethinker Bertrand Russell called “ideas uttered long ago by ignorant men,” free of blind obedience to an illusory religious authority. Join those of us who put humanity above dogma.
As a member of the “flock” of an avowedly antidemocratic club, isn’t it time you vote with your feet? Please, exit en Mass.
Annie Laurie Gaylor Co-President Freedom From Religion Foundation
Campus Hate Groups Target Jews & Israel
Posted by Mark Tapson
Mar 14th, 2012
[Editor’s note: To order the Freedom Center’s new pamphlet, Muslim Hate Groups on Campus by Daniel Greenfield, click here.]
In the wake of Israeli Apartheid Week, the international campaign to delegitimize the state of Israel, campus hate groups have stepped up their aggressive pressure on Jewish students and speakers. The last week of February was marked by anti-Israel ugliness at two University of California events that left Jewish students feeling, as a letter to the UC President put it, “targeted, intimidated, harassed, and unsafe.”
On February 27 at University of California at Davis, Jewish student groups presented a talk entitled “Israeli Soldiers Speak Out” featuring Ran Bario Bar-Yoshafat, an Israeli reservist, and Ranya Fadel, a Druze woman whose father and brother fought in the Israeli Defense Force. The two had visited at least ten campuses across the United States in an effort to engage students of all political stripes in a dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to dispel the biased media narrative about the Israeli military.
But members of the UC Davis branch of the national Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) had conspired on a strategy for suppressing the free speech of the scheduled speakers: pack the room with pro-Palestinian students, many of whom would walk out together during the event, leaving other members behind to disrupt the event relentlessly. Students for Justice in Palestine exists primarily for campus promotion of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns and others efforts to cripple the Jewish state.
The UC Davis event was attended by anywhere from 125-200 students (estimates vary). As Ran himself told it to me, approximately 20-30 seemed pro-Israel, perhaps 20 were neutral, and the remainder were very vocally pro-Palestinian. The event was disrupted from the beginning by hecklers intent on preventing it from going forward. On this video, one brazen heckler who claimed to be Indian, not Palestinian, challenged someone to “Remove me! Remove me!” (which campus security did not do), then began spewing at the speakers:
I will stand here and I will heckle. My only purpose today is that this event is shut down! My only purpose today is that this event is shut down!
He then became so incensed that spit flew as he ranted:
You have turned Palestine into a land of prostitutes and rapists and child molesters!
On a separate video he can be observed demanding of the speakers,
How many women have you raped? How many children have you raped? You are a child molester!
Again he begged to be arrested. No response from security, although he was eventually persuaded to leave voluntarily. But within minutes (as soon as Ran mentioned the word “Israel,” according to one witness), perhaps 40 students left in a coordinated walkout, their seats then filled by other pro-Palestinian students who had been lining the walls at the standing-room-only event. The talk progressed with difficulty as the heckling continued nearly unabated. When Ran and Ranya mentioned soldier friends who had been killed in the conflict, the pro-Palestinian students laughed. The question-and-answer period devolved into shouted statements of accusations of Israeli atrocities from the crowd, but no questions, and so the event organizers curtailed it.
Ran told me that some Muslim students approached him and Ranya to tell them that the disrupters were not representative of all, and that, although they disagreed with the speakers, they felt that they could at least talk with them. But many of the others closed in aggressively enough to warrant concern that things might get physical, so security escorted the speakers away.
In a letter to the UC Davis newspaper afterward, Layla Rayyan, referring to herself as co-president of the campus SJP, began her disingenuous spin on the event with this revealing perspective on Israeli-Palestinian dialogue:
I am personally against dialogue, as the word implies that both parties are on equal footing — obviously Israel as the Occupier and Palestinians as the Occupied cannot sit down as two equals. It’s the equivalent of asking a white man and black man to sit down to dinner in 1960s Mississippi — absolutely absurd.
The Israeli speakers were traveling from campus to campus to initiate dialogue, braving threats and enduring the kind of harassment they received at UC Davis; all the while they treated everyone with dignity and respect. Meanwhile the co-president of the UC Davis SJP is against dialogue.
A few days later, SJP members at UC San Diego brought to the Students Council for the third straight year a resolution asking the University of California to divest from American firms that do business with the Israeli Defense Forces. The resolution was defeated, but the Jewish students and faculty felt threatened at the meeting and afterward. According to the AMCHA Initiative, one faculty member reported that it was “emotionally difficult to bear the hatred and lies.” A student stated that “Jewish students feel targeted, and Jewish students don’t feel as safe or comfortable on campus.” Another Jewish student said, “I am unsafe on this campus when there is talk of divestment.” (In this video, Jewish students at UCSD describe the atmosphere of hostility they experienced as a result of the campus divestment campaign).
The AMCHA Initiative (“amcha” means “your people” in Hebrew) was created to express concern for the safety and well-being of Jewish college and university students, particularly at UC campuses. The co-founders sent a letter to UC President Mark Yudof regarding the two recent incidents to highlight anti-Semitic hatred on UC campuses. Their letter accused the UC administration of “failing in their basic responsibilities: to protect Jewish students from a hostile environment and to ensure their rights to freedom of speech.”
Yudof responded to AMCHA with an open letter to the UC community specifically condemning the protesters at UC Davis:
It was wrong for hecklers to disrupt speakers on the UC Davis campus at an event entitled “Israeli Soldiers Speak Out.” It was reprehensible that one of these hecklers accused the speakers of being associated with rapists and murderers… Attempting to shout down speakers is not protected speech. It is an action meant to deny others their right to free speech.
One of the steps that the David Horowitz Freedom Center is taking to combat such campus anti-Semitism is the distribution of over 100,000 copies of a recent DHFC pamphlet by FrontPage contributor and Shillman Journalism Fellow Daniel Greenfield. “Muslim Hate Groups on Campus” documents the radical origins and violent objectives of the main Muslim student organizations across our nation, such as the Muslim Students Association (MSA), founded by the virulently anti-Semitic Muslim Brotherhood, and SJP. Both are sponsors of hate-fests like Israeli Apartheid Week and Palestine Awareness Week.
What Greenfield writes about such Muslim campus groups and their leftist allies helps illuminate the nastiness of the UC Davis protests:
The anti-Israel radicals who have occupied America’s campuses have made it clear that they are not there to learn, but to teach. And they have only one lesson to teach. The lesson of their hate.
[Editor’s note: To order the Freedom Center’s new pamphlet, Muslim Hate Groups on Campus by Daniel Greenfield, click here.]
U.K. Thought Police Send Man to Prison
Posted by Bruce Bawer
Mar 14th, 2012
A few days ago I did some reflecting here on the steady rise of sharia in Britain, as exemplified by the BBC’s frank admission of its unwillingness to mock Islam, the harassment of an air passenger for an innocuous remark about hijab, and the see-no-evil response of a BBC reporter to mass displays of pro-sharia aggression in Luton.
Alas, the evidence of Britain’s decline and fall in the face of Islam just keeps on coming. This week’s case in point is that of Darren Conway, who on March 6 was sentenced to a year in prison for posting anti-Islamic materials in the window of his ground-floor apartment in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. As the BBC puts it, he was “convicted of a religiously aggravated public order offence for putting anti-Islamic literature in his window.”
For once, the language used by the BBC was restrained and objective in comparison with the rhetoric employed by local news organizations covering the story. Here’s how the website This is Lincolnshire began its report:
A Gainsborough man who plastered his front window with vile anti-Islamic hate literature has been jailed for a year.
Darren Conway, a self-confessed supporter of right-wing organisations, was given a 12-months’ sentence at Lincoln Crown Court.
Note the way in which the reporter deploys the words vile and self-confessed. The very inclusion of such language in a supposedly objective news report means that what we are reading here is not, in fact, anything of the kind; what it is, rather, is an effort by the writer and the website to signal to their audience that they’re on the “right” side of this issue. The use of such language is a gesture of dhimmitude, an implicit statement of submissiveness, a tacit communication of acceptance of the sharia-based notion that, yes, criticism of Islam is vile and should be punished. And it is a plea: don’t hurt us. Similarly, note the use of the words offensive, inflammatory, and racist in this opening sentence of the article about Conway in the Worksop Guardian:
The offensive actions of a Gainsborough man were blasted by a judge as he was jailed for displaying inflammatory racist posters in the front window of his flat.
The word racist occurs frequently in the articles about the Conway case. Although most of the descriptions of the items posted in Conway’s window are very sketchy, there is nothing in any of them to indicate that any of the materials were genuinely racist; it seems pretty clear that when the reporters writing about Conway employ the word racist, they are making the now familiar equation of Islam criticism with racism.
Exactly what did Conway post in his windows? The most extensive description I could find was in the Worksop Guardian, which said that he had put up “posters, literature and photographs which attacked the Prophet Mohammed and the Muslim religion,” “slogans such as ‘Jihad works both ways,’ ‘no surrender,’ ‘Muslims are the most hateful of them all’ and a letter confirming that he was a member of the BNP.” Another source tells us that the materials “contained derogatory comments about Islam” and “promoted the BNP,” while “one poster showed a picture of an English Defence League demonstration.”
It would be useful to actually see the items Conway posted, so as to determine for oneself just how “vile” they were, to discover whether anything was, in fact, racist, and to find out if Conway called for acts of aggression or for somebody’s murder or anything like that. If he did incite violence, there might be good reason to put him behind bars; but I have not found any suggestion anywhere that this was the case. (Conway himself has been quoted as saying, “I have no problem with Muslims, although I do believe the Islamic faith is very much flawed but as for people who follow it I have no personal problem with.”)
In any event, just as nearly all the major Western news organizations refused to show the Danish Muhammed cartoons, none of the media reporting on the Conway case have dared to vouchsafe readers a glimpse of the materials he posted. No, we’re simply expected to take their and the prosecutors’ word that the stuff was, indeed, vile. One prosecutor, Edward Johnson, is reported to have “described the material…as grossly offensive towards the Muslim faith.” Meanwhile the Crown Prosecution Service’s own website has posted an extensive statement on the matter by Judith Walker, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS East Midlands:
Everyone has the right to live free from harassment in a tolerant society. Darren Conway displayed highly offensive posters in his window targeted at the Muslim community. Although they were targeted at Muslims, they would cause offence to virtually anyone that saw them.
Today’s conviction sends a strong message that targeting groups in society in this deliberately offensive way has no place in our community and will not be tolerated. The words and images used by Conway were particularly disgusting, so it was important to bring this case to court and ensure that he faced the full consequences of his actions.
How I Became a Hate Group
Posted by Daniel Greenfield
Mar 15th, 2012
When I went to sleep last night, little did I know that while outside sirens competed with car alarms in the symphony that is New York City, I had already been declared a hate group.
Being declared a hate group wasn’t in my plans for the day, but like winning the lottery, it seems to be one of those things that happens when you least expect it. Except that as the little bald man in front of the bodega tells you, you have to play to win, but you don’t even have to buy a ticket to be declared an official hate group.
My first response on finding out that I was now a hate group was to look around to see where everyone else was. A hate group needs the “group” part, and one man and a cat don’t seem to be enough. Even when the cat is a well known bigot who hates mice, birds, car alarms that go off in the middle of the night, the plumber and sudden noises.
Still the Southern Poverty Law Center had listed, “Sultan Knish a blog by Daniel Greenfield” as one of their “Active Anti-Muslim Hate Groups,” alongside such other vast organizations as “Faith Freedom,” a website for ex-Muslims, and “Casa D’Ice Signs,” the signs on a bar located on K-Mart Plaza located in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
Someone with less faith in the fact checking abilities of the Southern Poverty Law Center might have thought that whoever had made up this list had no clue that “Casa D’Ice” was a lounge with signs outside, that there was no such group as “Casa D’Ice Signs” and that signs are pieces of plastic and not a hate group. But I had faith that the Center knew more than I did. Perhaps its crack team of researchers had learned that the signs had come alive and formed their own hate group, somehow arranging their own letters to form messages about illegal immigration and the need to get out of Iraq.
My first thought was to wonder whether some mistake had been made in my own case, but the Southern Poverty Law Center people are experts on hate groups, even if they don’t seem to know what the definitions of “hate” or “groups” or “hate groups” might be. Even if they seem to have copied their list off a forum somewhere at the last minute to have something to show the donors. Clearly I was now a hate group, and with tax season upon us, I called my accountant to find out if there was a tax deduction for that. There wasn’t.
As a consolation though, I was listed as “active,” which I took as a compliment because I had jogged a few miles yesterday and clearly the Southern Poverty Law Center had noticed. They also listed me as being in New York, which showed that the Center was well aware that it was aggressively trespassing above its jurisdiction below the Mason-Dixon Line and invading the north.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hate Map” (TM), which is either a map of hate groups or a map of groups that the center hates, had me floating somewhere in the East River next to the National Black Foot Soldier Network and the National Socialist Movement in Long Island. Say what you will, but I think it’s a real tribute to the broadminded diversity of the city that there’s room for all of us there, from Catholic Family News to the Nation of Islam to the newest massively organized hate group– me.
I had fewer members, especially if you don’t count the cat, and no uniforms or jackboots, but I had to soldier on. The Southern Poverty Law Center was in desperate need of more hate groups to fight and I couldn’t let them down. It’s not easy running a 216 million dollar organization which has been described as the country’s richest civil rights organization with misleading fundraising practices.
Having succeeded in such diverse areas as being George McGovern’s national finance director, Carter’s national finance director and national finance chairman for Ted Kennedy’s presidential campaign, SPLC head honcho Morris Dees doesn’t have many options except to collect his 0.95 percent compensation and solicit more donations to fight active hate groups like me and that guy who puts up signs on his bar. I knew that I couldn’t let him down.
Every time the Southern Poverty Law Center sent out another begging letter asking donors to help an organization with a mere 216 million dollar endowment fight an impossible uphill battle against Bare Naked Islam, Atlas Shrugs and Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, I had to do my part so that all the poor employees of the Southern Poverty Law Center would have enough to eat that night.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which seems to have expanded beyond its core mission of using the law to impoverish people in the south, to qualify as an anti-Muslim hate group, you had to believe such outrageous filthy things as the notion that Islam might be, “sanctioning pedophilia, marital rape, and child marriage.”
People who believe such Islamophobic nonsense include the Ayatollah Khamenei, the Grand Mufti of Australia and the author of a certain curious hadith that affirms:
“The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with ‘Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).” (Sahih Bukhari 7.62.88)
The Koran, meanwhile, also sanctions polygamy: “marry of women as may be agreeable to you, two, or three, or four.”
Quickly I understood that I was now part of a much bigger anti-Muslim hate group than I had realized. This Islamophobic group included all of Islam. Was it possible for Islam itself to be an anti-Muslim hate group? It seemed mind-boggling, but there could be no other answer.
Pakistan, which had legalized the marriage of 12 year olds, was surely the base for a major Anti-Islamic hate group which was doing its best to demean Islam. It also appeared to be conspiring to depict Muslims as “irrational, intolerant and violent,” which was another check box on the SPLC list. But the story didn’t end there.
“These groups also typically hold conspiratorial views regarding the inherent danger to America posed by its Muslim-American community.” Now it appeared that anti-Islam hate groups included the FBI and the NYPD, which were notorious for suspecting that Muslim-Americans might be terrorists and arresting them and detaining them for doing nothing more than practicing some aspects of their religion.
Suddenly it wasn’t just one man and a cat– it was the entire Muslim world, the FBI, the NYPD and it didn’t end there. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s own website had a list of Top 10 Jihadists, slurring the names of such respectable practitioners of traditional Islam as Anwar Al-Awlaki, a Muslim cleric who had appeared on PBS, NPR and many other outlets to explain the peaceful nature of Islam, and Abdullah Muhammad, whom the Center outrageously suggests was conspiring to terrorize South Park for mocking the other Muhammad, the one who, in a bid to make Islam look bad, practiced pedophilia, marital rape and child marriage.
Even the Southern Poverty Law Center had exposed itself as an anti-Islam hate group, and how could I or anyone else trust it to assemble a reliable anti-Islam hate group list, when it had left itself off that list?
It was hard for me to accept that a group of intrepid researchers who had cluelessly listed Ann Barnhardt twice, listed Silver Bullet Gun Oil, a gun lubricant, as a hate group, and listed single-author blogs like mine, Pamela Geller’s and Bonni Intall’s as “hate groups,” could possibly be wrong. How could an organization which wrote down “Casa D’Ice Signs” as a hate group without realizing that Casa D’Ice was a bar, make a mistake?
But there was no way around it. The SPLC had proven to be Islamophobes and couldn’t be trusted anymore. And so I could no longer take their word that I and my cat were an anti-Muslim hate group. Though Morris Dees may have to go hungry to bed tonight, I must decline the honor of posing as a member of a hate group in order to help him defraud his donors. But I will always remember the brief four hours when I had my own hate group.