Twenty per cent would refuse the invitation to a gay marriage


Father Edmund Montgomery's ordination, though you would have thought that the Catholic Church would have obviated the need for the unfortunate positioning of these two men. Well, it is the Catholic Church!

Father Edmund Montgomery’s ordination, though you would have thought that the Catholic Church would have obviated the need for the unfortunate positioning of these two men. Well, it is the Catholic Church!

One of the trending topics today is gay marriage, with the BBC giving details of a poll that revealed that 20% of the respondents would not go to a gay marriage. In my opinion, about 20% of people would not go to any kind of marriage. It is typical of the media that the statistic that is trumpeted is the minority who wouldn’t go, not the vast majority who would!

But Catholic Voices, which represents the Catholic Church, said the findings of the survey reflected the reality that people remained “deeply uncomfortable” with being honest about their true feelings on the meaning of marriage. Father Edmund Montgomery, a member of the organisation and a Catholic priest in Greater Manchester, said: “As the Church, we love those seeking a same-sex union, but our love for them requires we tell them the true meaning of marriage, something which that fifth of respondents find difficult but have the integrity to do by turning down the invitation. In our modern culture it is increasingly difficult to have an open debate without being labelled as bigoted or intolerant.”

Having said that, Father Montgomery then lectured us about the rights and wrongs of the state changing the scope of whom can get married, by adding that, as marriage predates “the State”, it should not be the government’s place to change its meaning.” Having explained how difficult it is to have an open debate he then decides all by himself exactly who can’t rewrite the rules, simply to suit his own beliefs! Note too his comment about the refuseniks having difficulty “but have the integrity to do by turning down the invitation”. So the other four-fifths have no integrity?  Sorry Father, but that is a paradigm of bigotry and intolerance.

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Courtney in Wonderland …


Courtney Love has claimed that she may have ‘found’ the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, even offering exact co-ordinates as to the jetliner’s location on her Facebook page. She claims that her discovery is less than a mile from where the plane was last tracked before it ‘vanished’.

courtney-loves-brain-text

I have added my own annotation to the image. Picture, if you will, a plane flying at almost six miles high that crashes into the sea but a mile from where it was last tracked. If you are doing this correctly, the trajectory would be not far short of vertical, in which case the plane would have disintegrated on impact, leaving bodies and body parts strewn across the impact site with other objects – such as hand luggage – floating about plus, of course, a gigantic fuel slick. Add to this that it has been confirmed that the plane was sending pings to data tracking sysytems through satellites and the mystery deepens.

The Boeing 777-200’s final ‘ping‘ was picked up nearly seven hours after the co-pilot signed off with a ‘goodnight’ to Subang air traffic control in Malaysia, leaving experts to wonder if the plane may have been landed somewhere to be used later as a weapon – a thought far more chilling than Ms Love’s daft theory.

 

 

A tale of two photos: ultranationalism v internationalism


In an unusual display of libertarianism, the Russian government allowed a peaceful protest by those criticising Russia’s involvement in Crimea which was followed by another group of pro-Russian annexation of Crimea supporters, characterised by quasi-militarised ultranationalists wearing what appeared to be clothing bordering on uniform.

spot-the-difference-text

It is increasingly looking as if a large swathe of the Russian population are locked in the cold war past, preferring to absorb neighbouring territory whilst strutting about in clothing that they feel befits their ultranationalsistic ethos.

What is of deep concern is the isolation that Russia seems content to wallow in, coupled with the fact that the richest 110 people in Russia hold 35% of the nation’s wealth. The West should be wary of any nation that is run by kleptocrats as they have too much personal financial interest at stake.

From Russia with hate …


russia-national-unity-day-2010

Russian National Unity Day

The recent developments in Ukraine, particularly the prevailing suspicion that Vladimir Putin is orchestrating the pro-Russian grip on the peninsula, has highlighted a recent comment made by former US presidential adviser, Pat Buchanan concerning the similarities between the Russian leadership and right-wing conservatives in the US.

Whether or not you agree with same-sex marriage, abortion, or any other development that tears up the old world order, unless you look at them through a religious prism it is inescapable to conclude that the equality of individual rights – dare I say it human rights – should be unequivocally  and universally respected. However, late last year, Buchanan, a Republican political commentator,  wrote in his blog “Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative? In the culture war for mankind’s future, is he one of us?” The very idea that one of America’s foremost, right-wing thinkers should put into words the idea that Putin shares enough common values with US-style conservatism to make them ‘on the same side’ is frightening enough, but the infusion of this belief in a fundamentally religious teacup is alarming and deeply concerning.

Setting out his stall alongside the Russian president, Buchanan observed that “privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights [but] to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil”, and concluded that Putin is not wrong in saying that he can speak for much of mankind because he has said that “destruction of traditional values” in these countries comes “from the top” and is “inherently undemocratic because it is based on abstract ideas and runs counter to the will of the majority of people”, though neither Putin nor Buchanan offer any evidence to support their mutual assertion that such values lack the support of the host population.

Consider, if you will, that the USSR was dissolved specifically because it was predicated on a lack of individual freedoms and that since that dissolution the oligarchs have plundered the former state assets and industries to enrich themselves almost beyond measure, having brought about the election of a president who has never worked for anyone but the government and who declared earnings of 5.7 million roubles (£119,000) last year but owns about 4.5% stake in Gazprom worth £8 billion , 37% in Surgutneftegaz valued at approximately £12 billion and 50% in the oil-trading company Gunvor, worth £5bn. By a very conservative estimate it all adds up to more than £25 billion in total net worth, which easily makes him the richest man in Russia, whilst never having had a declared income by which he could have acquired such wealth. Despite that fact, Putin somehow finds it reasonable to take the moral high ground. Camels and needles are obviously set aside, let alone how he found the wealth to fill the camel’s saddlebags.

Russia is seemingly leading the world’s anti-abortion, anti-gay movement and the use of religious belief to support their prejudice is alluring to men like Buchanan, who are short on egalitarianism but big on religion and wealth. Gays in Russia are routinely menaced and beaten by white Russian’s citing ‘Russian values’. Newspapers and media outlets are shut down and journalists are murdered. Russia’s continual intimidation and harassment of gay people, feminists, political activists, dissenters, journalists and those trying to resist its ethnonationalist aspirations ought to be causing grave concern to a democratic politician of any hue, including the nauseating Mr. Buchanan. If we do not heed the warnings, the new world order will be predicated on an avalanche of intolerance, violence, thuggery and deceit.

Crime and Crimea


A blood-spattered Putin

Casual observance of the news from Crimea is enough to evidence troubling signs of nationalism and thuggery aimed at yielding the peninsula to Russian control. For the second day running masked, hooded pro-Russian militia have prevented European monitors  from entering Crimea. Armed pro-Russian thugs in military-style combat fatigues have consistently repelled the monitors and stopped photo-journalists from taking photos or video footage. The capacity of a uniformed militia to intimidate has a troubling history in Europe.

Evidence of pro-Russian methods of sunjugating Ukrainians

Evidence of pro-Russian methods of sunjugating Ukrainians

Over forty military and civilian monitors from the Organization for the Security and Co-operation in Europe tried to enter Crimea, but left after several hours of negotiation, saying they would return to the Ukrainian town of Kherson to plan the way forward in terms of monitoring the control being exerted by the newly constituted Crimean parliament. The observers are seeking to conduct a monitoring mission with a strong emphasis on ensuring that the human rights of the various ethnic groups in Crimea are being respected. Sadly, the prima facie evidence indicates that the pro-Russian militia are using strong-arm tactics, including using whips, to scare anyone but Russian ethnics from making any public statement about their opinion of the future sovereignty of Crimea.

How Russian ethnics are able to show themselves in Crimea

The rights of Russian ethnics in Crimea, though, are respected

“We are just trying to go through here as guests of the Ukrainian government under an OSCE mandate,” an observer told Agence France-Presse. “We’re going to try and negotiate with these people here.” The last two days have shown that there is little hope of any independent evaluation of the mood of the people in Crimea and the Russian government has spent that time redoubling its military presence there.

Unidentified troop movements in Balaclava

Unidentifiable troop build-up in Balaclava. No insignia is evident.

Here is some anecdotal evidence of harassment and intimidation by pro-Russian militia from Amnesty International:

“On 5 March 2014, a group of about 40 women staged a peaceful protest in front of the Ukrainian Naval headquarter in Simferopol. They were holding handwritten placards calling for peace and denouncing Russia’s military intervention in Crimea. Within minutes, they were confronted by some 100 aggressive men who identified themselves as the Crimean Self Defence League and grabbed and tore to pieces their placards, and forced them to leave.”

“On 5 March, a group of human rights monitors from EuroMaydan-SOS travelling from Simferopol to Evpatoriya tried to follow a column of around 20 military vehicles that had no number plates and no markings that would indicate which forces they belonged to. Their car was stopped, and all those inside ordered to get out at gunpoint. The military personnel ordered the activists to stop following them and go back. They refused to explain who they were and what they were doing in Crimea. When the activists insisted on their right to travel freely in Ukraine and refused to drive away, the men punctured the tires of their car and left.”

Journalists stopped and searched in Crimea

Journalists stopped and searched in Crimea

“A journalist from the media outlet “Topics of the Week – Crimea” told Amnesty International how he was attacked by a group of men identifying themselves as the Crimean Defence League when he tried to film the demonstration by the group of women in Simferopol on 5 March. The men pushed him into the road and told him to go away or they would beat him. The Crimean police officers who were standing about 30 metres away did not react to the incident. A journalist from Kerch.fm was attacked at 1pm on 6 March when she and a colleague visited the border ferry crossing which they heard had been occupied by Russian forces. She was threatened by men wearing Russian Cossack uniforms and men from the Crimean Self Defence League who told her “Switch off your camera or we will kill you.”

Some of the journalists in Ukraine assaulted in the last month for doing their jobs.

Some of the journalists in Ukraine assaulted in the last month for doing their jobs.

 

What appears almost certain is that Russia will engineer support through a referendum to annex Crimea, whether that act is legal or not, whether that act is in the interests of the Ukrainians or not, or even without any attempt to protect the minority Ukrainian and Tatars that live in Crimea. The West must act swiftly with ever-increasing sanctions against those who are responsible for this situation. Exclusion from the EU, visa withdrawals and freezing traceable assets in the EU of identifiable targets would be a start while supporting the new Ukrainian government. Democracy comes at a price, and the cost of ignoring that is the brown shirt tactics you see above, dressed up as ‘nationalism’; you and I may call it repressive thuggery.