No more US support for Israel

They no longer hold the moral high ground, if ever they did. The massacre in Shejaiya is an obscenity.

Two small bodies lie on the metal table inside the morgue at Gaza’s Shifa hospital. Omama is nine years old. Her right forearm is mangled and charred and the top half of her skull has been smashed in. Beside her lies her seven year-old brother. His name is not certain. It might be Hamza or it might be Khalil. Relatives are having trouble identifying him because his head has been shorn off. Their parents will not mourn them—because they are dead too.

All of them were killed in Shejaiya, one of Gaza’s poorest and most crowded neighborhoods, which came under a brutal and sustained assault by the Israeli military today.

90 dead. The Israeli military was firing artillery shells into a residential neighborhood. It’s unconscionable, indiscriminate murder.

"Those of us who worked in Shifa can say that last night was the worst night of our lives," says Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor at Shifa. He has come to Gaza many times to provide medical assistance, including during the previous two Israeli assaults in 2008/2009 and 2012.

"Israeli impunity is a huge medical problem," Gilbert says. "Every single dead child and adult, and all the injuries, all the amputations, are one hundred percent preventable. This is a man-made disaster. Cynically planned and brutally executed by the government of Israel."

I’ve had people try to tell me that it is justifiable — that Hamas is firing rockets into Israeli neighborhoods. I freely grant that trying to kill random citizens with rockets is also unconscionable, whether it’s done by Palestinians, Israelis, or Americans. But how can anyone condemn one and not the other?

We should not be propping up the vile and bloody government of Israel anymore. Maybe if they’re deprived of the teat of unquestioning US aid, they’ll realize that they can’t afford to solve their problems with attempted genocide.

Although why a Jewish state would need any kind of compulsion to recognize that is surprising.

The priorities at Hobart and William Smith Colleges

The NY Times features a long and horrific story on a gang rape at a college campus. Hang on, I shouldn’t call it a gang rape: a campus committee acquitted the football players who participated, despite all the evidence of what had been going on. Remember, there is no such thing as rape culture.

This is a terrible story — details below the fold, and you might not want to click on the link if it’s too raw for you.

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I feel so dirty now

Kent Hovind is counting the days now, and unfortunately he has followers who are going to afflict us with badly made videos. If you feel the need to be deathly bored, here’s an interview with Hovind’s “lawyer” (not really a lawyer, but a “consultant” on Hovind’s financial planning — which is why he’s in jail right now.) Yes, you want to listen to this man’s crazy tax advice.

I only mention it because it includes a note from Kent Hovind that mentions me. The ignominy.

Dr. Hovind says:

Hey folks! New way to mass communicate! Check and ask about Zello! They let us out 1st today so it’s 4am in Vancouver.. I’ll not call. Maybe tomorrow?

For Tommy Comer- The 1040 days of wrath is from Dan 8 and the 2300 days of the temple being desolate minus the 1260 days of great trib we go through. more in WOE about that! WOE=What on Earth is About to Happen for Heaven’s Sake by Dr. Hovind

For Ian- He does good math but bad logic- he needs to see seminar part 4 about Jump frog! Ps 104:6-9 says the mountains rose up near the end of the flood and the water rushed off. There is enough water in the oceans today to cover the earth 8000ft deep. Plenty to drown in. As for "comparing his doctorate with mine" if his education left him believing he came from a rock I’m already un-impressed! he also makes the silly assumption that the water for the flood came from rain where the Bible says it came from inside the earth via the fountains of the deep. He also says the flood lasted 40 days where the Bible says the earth was covered for 5 months and Noah was in the ark over a year. read the Bible Ian!

For PZ- glad you exposed Michael Shermer’s behavior and his rape of the other atheist at the atheist conference. I don’t understand how any atheist can decide ANYTHING is right or wrong. Where is the standard to judge by? If that woman’s husband or brothers or dad or uncles get Shermer drunk and make him a eunuch (which I suspect they have thought of and may yet still do!) would that be "wrong" in PZ thinking? Christians have God’s Word to show us right and wrong. What do atheists have?

Until next time.. see you at the finish line!

Kent Hovind

Jebus. I decide that something may be wrong by empathizing with the victim, and recognizing that an injustice was done. I don’t need a magic book to see that a harm was done to someone else. Further, when a wrong is committed, it makes me a worse person to consider committing a greater wrong in revenge. That Hovind considers castration to be a reasonable response simply tells me that God’s Word is simply a compendium of barbarisms used to excuse savagery.

Here’s what atheists have: respect for our fellow human beings.

Criminal, arrogant, and stupid

Ah, Mormons. Utah is a lovely state, but one thing I don’t miss at all are inhabitants who make a mess of it — I recall a camping trip in the Stansburys in which we found a campsite totally trashed by the previous visitors. That just took a little clean up, but here’s a story of a group of enthusiastic Mormon missionaries visiting a designated wilderness area, climbing up a mountain, and using concrete to mount a flagpole so they could leave their ugly mission flag flapping over the area. Not cool, dudes, not cool at all.

But just to further tarnish the reputation of Mormon missionaries everywhere, they did one thing further: they signed the flag.

They signed the evidence of their crime.

I know. It sounds so…Mormon.

Human beings seeking a better life

That’s what I see in this boatload of immigrants trying to reach Italy.

Italian navy rescue asylum seekers

There have been several mass drownings recently, and the Italian navy is trying to rescue people. It’s not clear from the article what they do with them — are they granted asylum in Italy? Or sent back? Or parked in a refugee camp?

Or possibly worse. Although it can’t be worse than what the US has been doing. Mass graves of migrants have been found in Texas.

Unidentified migrants who died entering the United States were buried in mass graves in a South Texas cemetery, with remains found in trash bags, shopping bags, body bags, or no containers at all, researchers discovered.

In one burial, bones of three bodies were inside one body bag. In another instance, at least five people in body bags and smaller plastic bags were piled on top of each other, Baylor University anthropologist Lori Baker said. Skulls were found in biohazard bags — like the red plastic bags in receptacles at doctors’ offices — placed between coffins.

This is not a discovery of a tragedy in the distant past — these are bodies that have accumulated since 2005, and it’s the product of an ongoing practice by a funeral home that was paid to dispose of the bodies. Dispose of them like trash, apparently.

Human beings deserve better.

Rad’s video

I just got around to watching Cristina Rad’s rebuttal of Jaclyn Glenn — it’s often difficult to find a spot of time and a quiet place to watch videos when I’m flitting about. It’s very good.

It pins down a lot of my difficulties with the “He’s Crazy!” brigade. It’s just not an explanation. It’s about as useful as declaring that he’s possessed by a demon. It’s also as universally applicable: was Adolf Hitler insane? How about George W. Bush? Nelson Mandela? Richard Dawkins? If you’re just going to say that mental illness is believing strongly in something that other people find repugnant, then they’re all bug-buggering nuts, and ought to be locked up.

Or if you’re going to try and narrow it down to just those who rationalize doing physical harm to others (you’d have to be crazy to murder people, you know!) then please, do send the men in white coats to pick up Obama. And all the legislators who passed ‘stand your ground’ laws, and support the death penalty. And the entire roster of the Texas Open Carry organization. And at last, we’ll be able to lock up Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It might also mean you get locked up, but I’m willing to pay that price.

I think part of the problem is an excessively reductionist attitude that leads to a kind of identity essentialism. You are who you are because that is your nature (an entirely circular argument), and that nature is determined, so that if you differ from my nature, it can’t be because you are misinformed, confused, miseducated, or warped by your circumstances — it must be because your nature is broken and defective. And sadly, there’s nothing to be done about that other than to label you as someone outside the healthy circle of humanity and ostracize you.

That’s also visible in the recommendations some people make to deal with these problems. Bullies, rapists, misogynists are treated as an external force of nature, rather than as part of our communities already — they only possible response is for us sane ones to change our behavior to defend against them. We can’t possibly recognize the bullies’ existence as part of us, because that would change our essential view of our society as a good one. So we set them apart, insist that it is neither our responsibility nor within our power to change their beliefs, and we let ourselves suffer to maintain the fiction. The demons will occasionally possess one of us, making them an Other, and thereby justify isolating them.

Gosh, I hope the word doesn’t get out that you have to be insane to not go to church. Or has it already?

There’s a simple solution to every problem

And it’s usually wrong and makes everything worse. I see that the Baltimore police have a response to a panicky pet. No excuses for the dog; it was lost and apparently a bit frantic, and tried to bite someone.

Nala’s owner, Sarah Gossard, said that her dog “had a collar around its neck with tags, with my phone number. She was just the sweetest dog and would never hurt anyone. She was just scared that day, and through all of those events — being scared and lost, thirsty, hungry — yes I’m very sure that she bit someone, but the actions after that were not OK.”

So what should the police have done? Caught the dog to prevent further harm, sure; maybe even fine the owner for negligence. I can imagine lots of ways to appropriately deal with this real problem. Officer Jeffrey Bolger came up with an innovative solution.

After the dog, named “Nala,” was secured with a dog pole, Officer Jeffrey Bolger approached the dog and slit its throat. According to the charging documents, before cutting Nala’s throat, Bolger yelled, “I am going to fucking gut this thing!”

Oh. So we’re out of the realm of ‘appropriate’, and into the realm of ‘extreme lashing out’. In that case, the proper Bolger response to Bolger ought to be simply putting Officer Jeffrey Bolger down…quickly and humanely, of course, because we aren’t barbarians.

But I guess if we’re going to abide by the law, maybe instead Bolger should be arrested (he was) and fired (not clear if he will be).

I’m just curious why a policer officer was out serving and protecting while carrying a knife suitable for throat-slitting. Is that standard issue in Baltimore?

Your daily school shooting

Today, it’s at Reynolds High School in Oregon.

We are waiting on news of the shooter’s race to determine the cause behind this one. If he’s brown, this will be an act of terrorism; if he’s white, he’s mentally ill or has been playing too many video games; if he’s black, it’ll be that violent rap music. I can just tell the media are all distressed because they don’t know what narrative to follow yet.

At least one bit of certainty that they’ll be able to rely on is that for sure it has nothing to do with guns.