Archive for November, 2010


Elior Chen found guilty of all charges against him
Self-styled rabbi convicted of perpetrating sadistic attacks on the children of a couple who became his followers; sentencing at later date.
By DAN IZENBERG • Jerusalem Post

Elior Chen 2 Jerusalem District Court Yoram Noam on Tuesday afternoon convicted Elior Chen of all charges against him. Sentencing will be at a later date.

In the meantime the self-styled rabbi’s lawyer, Ariel Attias, has already said that his client is innocent that that he will appeal the lower court decision to the Supreme Court.

Chen was found guilty of perpetrating sadistic attacks on the children of a couple who became his followers.

Attias charged that Noam had not allowed him to question the children who were victims of Chen’s acts. He also said that he had been given only five weeks to read all of the evidence involved in the case, whereas it had taken the court five months to do the same.

Last week, four of Chen’s disciples were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for taking part in the brutal attacks against the children, one of whom has been in a coma ever since.

On November 23, Jerusalem District Court judge Nava Ben-Or sentenced David Avraham Kugman to 20 years in jail and a one-year suspended sentence and ordered him to pay NIS 200,000 in compensation to the children. Avraham Maskalchi and Shimon Gabai were each sentenced to 17 years in jail, a one-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay NIS 100,000 in compensation.

Roi Tzoref, who spent only part of the time during which Chen was in control of the children, was sentenced to 30 months in jail, six months suspended and ordered to pay NIS 10,000 in compensation.

The mother of the children, identified as M., has already been sentenced to five years in jail for her role in the affair. She turned state’s witness and testified against her former “teacher.”


Rational people don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy adherents share a flawed worldview with religious adherents, one derived from flawed thinking and anti-scientific methods.

Conspiracism mirrors  Creationism or its ridiculously pretentious euphemism, Intelligent Design.

These ideologies invariably begin with a false premise and then amass entirely selective factoids said adherents believe will support their crackpot hypothesis, but their false premises inevitably only lead to false conclusions.

Their methods are alien to civilised notions of the pursuit truth and of course, a complete disregard for scientific principles and methodology.

Religious fundamentalism embraces conspiracism and is historically the seminal source of modern conspiracism.

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Here’s first hand accounts and insights, tripping through the millieu of conspircaism and Christian fundamentalism:- Christian Fundamentalism’s Easy Compatibility with Conspiracy Theories

I began my journey through Christian Fundamentalism in about 1975. In short order, even at my good church, Bensalem Baptist Church, I was introduced to the idea of a conspiracy of Satanists from then reigning conspiracy cuckoo, Johnny Todd, who barked at us from the pulpit that the Satanists, the Illuminati, the pope and–oh, I can’t recall who else–probably Henry Kissinger, were all running the world from one huge Satanic secret society.

More here:- Conspiracy Theory Addiction and Christian Fundamentalism

Though Shermer has given us a list of great cognitive fallacies typical of belief in conspiracy theories (posted in yesterday’s blog), he does not give us a reason that some people (or cultures) persistently flock to conspiracy theories, urban legends, etc., as a pillar of their world outlook.


CNNTech reports on comic book fiction becoming reality!

Raytheon is designing in real life what comic books and Hollywood have promised for years, a real life Iron Man-like suit. Raytheon is designing in real life what comic books and Hollywood have promised for years, a real life Iron Man-like suit. A lunchtime crowd is gathering beside the parking lot at Raytheon Sarcos, the defense contractor, on a recent day in Salt Lake City. White-collar workers from nearby office parks stand with their yogurt cups and sandwiches, watching with quiet awe as a man in a metal suit — sort of half-man, half-robot — performs superhuman feats of strength. This may be the closest these people will get to a real-life “Iron Man,” the character from the comic books and hit movies.

  • Raytheon is designing in real life what comic books and Hollywood have promised for years, a real life Iron Man-like suit.
    Raytheon is designing in real life what comic books and Hollywood have promised for years, a real life Iron Man-like suit.

About Atheism has some interesting and insightful comments on the Tea Bagger loonies:-

It would be difficult to understate just how bigoted America’s Tea Bagger movement really is. It’s unlikely that many are consciously bigots, like members of the KKK, but they do subscribe to an extreme form of tribalism in which white, Protestant Christians are the only “true” Americans.

The extremes to which this can be taken are evident in Texas where State Rep. Joe Straus should have the votes to become Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, but a coalition of Tea Baggers is fighting him — and one of their key arguments is that he’s a Jew. The anti-Semitism of their anti-Straus campaign is evident to everyone but them — they seem to believe that they are immune to anti-Semitism because they are Christians guided by God.

– “Straus is going down in Jesus’ name,” said one e-mail, whose origins were unclear.

– Straus “clearly lacks the moral compass to be speaker,” said another, written by Southeast Texas conservative activist Peter Morrison. A Morrison e-mail said that Straus’ rabbi sits on a Planned Parenthood board and then pointed out that Straus’ opponents in the Speaker’s race “are Christians and true conservatives.” Morrison is a contributor to the white supremacy website VDARE.

– The Tea Party-backed groups are now running anti-Straus robo-calls and e-mails demanding a “true Christian speaker,” reports News 8 Austin.

– The Quorum Report, an online newsletter, reported extensively late Monday on e-mails that mentioned Straus’ Judaism, his rabbi and the Christian faith of his House critics, who include Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola.

– Patrick Brendel reported that David Barton, leader of the group WallBuilders, has helped organize much of the anti-Straus campaign. Barton is a frequent contributor to the Glenn Beck program.

– Kaufman County Tea Party Chairman Ray Myers sent an e-mail last week praising a Straus opponent as “a Christian Conservative who decided not to be pushed around by the Joe Straus thugs.”

Source: Think Progress

It’s important to recognize that these aren’t just some fringe Tea Baggers at work here. All of these groups have operated alongside other conservative groups without a problem for a while now. They are accepted as being as “mainstream” as a group can get in conservative circles today. What this means is that this anti-Semitism, bigotry, and extreme tribalism are also accepted as “mainstream” among conservatives and Republicans today. Indeed, they are arguably what is driving modern American conservatism.

Myers, Morrison, and others have signed letters and worked in conjunction with major right-wing and Republican groups, like Americans for Prosperity. Americans for Prosperity, funded and financed by billionaires David and Charles Koch, is one of the most prominent conservative organizations in the country. Its leader, Tim Phillips, ran a similarly anti-Semitic campaign before being asked by David Koch to manage Americans for Prosperity.

That anti-Semitic campaign was, interestingly enough, against Eric Cantor in 2000. Today Eric Cantor is one of the leaders of the Republican Party — and he hasn’t wasted a second of his precious time condemning or even mildly objecting to the anti-Semitic tribalism or Christian Nationalism of his political cronies. He doesn’t have enough self-respect to complain when it’s directed at him, much less enough respect for others to stand up for them — not even when they are conservative Republicans.

This is the true heart of the American Tea Bagger. Gaze upon it well, for sooner or later it will direct its hatred in your direction. This sort of tribalism always seeks out new targets to attack, until there is nothing left but to turn in on itself and become self-destructive.


New York Times:-

WASHINGTON — A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.

Read more here …

The Guradian:-

• More than 250,000 dispatches reveal US foreign strategies
• Diplomats ordered to spy on allies as well as enemies
• Saudi king urged Washington to bomb Iran

Read the full coverage of the US embassy cables


Apology follows settlement in which magazine and contributor Melanie Phillips agreed to pay Mohammad Sawalha compensation and his legal costs

  • Josh Halliday
  • guardian.co.uk, Thursday 25 November 2010 16.45 GMT
  • Melanie Phillips
    Melanie Phillips, journalist and political commentator.
    Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

    The Spectator and contributor Melanie Phillips today published an online apology to a prominent British Muslim they falsely accused of antisemitism.

    Today’s apology, published on the Spectator website, follows an out of court settlement in which the magazine and Phillips agreed to pay Mohammad Sawalha “substantial” compensation and his legal costs.

    Sawalha, president of the British Muslim Initiative, took legal action over a blog post by Phillips published in July 2008 in which she accused him of calling British Jews “evil/noxious”.

    The apology stated: “On 2 July 2008 we published an article entitled ‘Just look what came crawling out’ which alleged that at a protest at the celebration in London of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel, Mohammad Sawalha had referred to Jews in Britian as ‘evil/noxious’.

    “We now accept that Mr Sawalha made no such antisemitic statement and that the article was based on a mistranslation elsewhere of an earlier report. We and Melanie Phillips apologise for the error.”

    Solicitors acting for Sawalha said he was “delighted” to be cleared of the false allegation.

    Sawalha, a long-time campaigner for community cohesion in Britain, took the dispute to the high court after the Spectator initially refused to correct Phillips blog post, which alleged that he had referred to Jews in Britain as “evil/noxious” at a protest in London of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel.

    Instead, the Spectator published a second story by Phillips, titled “Taking the airbrush to evil”, repeating the false allegation and casting doubt on the suggestion that the “evil/noxious” quote was the result of a mistranslation of the transcript of an interview.

    They continued to defend the claim even after an independent expert commissioned by both sides had confirmed that the phrase in the original transcript could not be translated as referring to Jews as “evil/noxious”, before finally settling shortly before the case was due in court.

    In October, the Spectator paid substantial damages and legal costs to the campaign group IslamExpo, of which Sawalha is a director, for an article it also published in July 2008. Matthew d’Ancona was editor at the time, replaced by Fraser Nelson in August last year.

    The article, written by Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard, called IslamExpo a racist, fascist and genocidal organisation.


One of the saddest falls from sanity has been Charles Krauthammer’s. Of all the conservative pundits, he was frequently one of the most rational, back in the day, but now he’s completely controlled by the Obama Derangement Syndrome that has subsumed the entire right wing like a vampiric virus.

Here’s one of the silliest points he’s made yet, as he bashes the “liberal media” for being “obsessed with Sarah Palin,” at the same time as he works as an analyst for Fox News — where it’s all Sarah Palin, all the time — and as Palin puts herself and family in front of the cameras at every opportunity.

Krauthammer’s frustration probably stems from the fact that he doesn’t have much respect for Sarah Palin, and the last thing he wants is for her to run for President. But I predict that when she does, Krauthammer’s going to jump right on board and sing her praises like every other right wing pundit.