Anti-vaxxers play the Trump card *Boom* Autism!

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America has a problem and that problem is celebrity. We live in a world where morons like Trump can spout this drivel and people will believe it. There is a massive issue over there with the topic of vaccinations. In 1998 a group of Doctors published a paper in the Lancet. In it, the authors claimed to have identified a new syndrome, autistic enterocolitis, raising the possibility of a link between a novel form of bowel disease, autism, and the MMR vaccine. The authors noted that the parents of eight of the twelve children linked what were described as “behavioural symptoms” with MMR, and reported that the onset of these symptoms began within two weeks of MMR vaccination.

Now the paper did state there was a link with Autism and the gastronomical problems. However it did not show a link between the MMR vaccine . This wasn’t good enough for the papers lead Dr Andrew Wakefield who decided in a press conference that there was a link and that the MMR vaccine should be dropped. Cue a massive media panic and fewer and fewer parents giving their children the MMR vaccine, or worse, just not getting their children vaccinated.

This wasn’t much of a problem at the time however there was a big Measles outbreak in Swansea in 2013 linked to the decline caused by the MMR controversy.

Eventually though the truth got out that Wakefield was a fraud, he received payments from groups who were trying to bring down the MMR and the companies that produced it, had filed patents for a rival single jab vaccine and had falsified the data. The paper was retracted and Wakefield barred from practicing medicine in the UK. Eventually we realised as a nation we were duped and began vaccinating children.

In the US however the problem is the findings and the belief that vaccinations cause autism gained traction and became a personal interest of “celebrity” Jenny McCarthy.

McCarthy’s son has autism (although further research using information available suggests a mis-diagnosis) although at first she didn’t mention a link between vaccines and Autism however she then decided it did and cited Wakefields paper as exhibit A (Wakefield also wrote the foreword to her book.) Reaction to this was not that kind with many outraged at her claims and her defending Wakefield following his outing as a fraud.

The anti-vaccination movement is still strong in America and very Vocal, even though New York is in the middle of a measles outbreak there hasn’t been a significant drop in the rates of people being vaccinated. However enough have refused it to cause a disease once thought eradicated in the US to come back with a vengeance.

The Centre for Disease control recently published a new report with revised higher estimates of people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. This prompted Wig-wearing-bigoted-loudmouth-Scottish-natural-beauty-hater Donald Trump to take to Twitter

Reaction was, well it’s the Internet and Trump is a prat so you work it out. However he is a believer in the idea that if you give a child 3 vaccinations their immune system gets all screwed up and Autism happens. You would think there would be lots of science done over this with charts and case studies, there is, and there’s absolutely no truth in this idea whatsoever.

What may be true thanks to a study at the Autism Center of Excellence at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine is that Autism may begin before the vaccines, and before the child is born. If this is proven then you would think the Anti-vaxxers would call it a day. But since they’ve continuously ignored any scientific research with vaccines and autism in general it’s unlikely this is far from over.

Meanwhile the world is beginning to represent the map in the Pandemic game, all because celebrities know how to get the public to believe them, that governments are too slow and useless to put out the correct information and state their case clearly and because we trust the word of a washed up “celeb” over experts.

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Flatulent Goats and Flowery Twats

  It’s a relatively crass name for a post and now the actual blog, so what the hell is going on?

It all started yesterday, but first we need to go back a bit. Unless you live in a cave or just  use Facebook for Candy crush and writing about how much you heart  celebrities you will  be aware of a page called “I fucking Love science.” It’s kind of a big deal with a website and  soon a TV show.

There’s a few critics of it, some (well 6,000) have complained that the many images on the  page have been used without the original owners permission. Others dislike how many people on it don’t actually “fucking love science” and just like pretty and often wrong pictures and Neil DeGrasse Tyson quotes and it’s more a pack mentality.

Either way I casually pay attention to it but really I can get the information in text form and actually understand the subject in more depth. It’s not to say I don’t like it, on the contrary. If it reaches one person and encourages them to read a bit more or even become more interested in Science so they truly fucking love it, then it’s served its purpose.

What I do prefer more is the profile of the actual creator of IFLS Elise Andrews. A woman who got the worst of the internet when those people who fucking love science only love it when it’s not been done by women. Now since I only follow it I just get the public posts. But these in itself deserve its own page. Peoples opinions online are like arseholes, everyone has one and they’re usually full of it. She must get an awful lot of abuse not just from genuine haters but also what appears to be an army of trolls. Most are the usual “God will send you to hell” but occasionally you do get a corker:
Now obviously we just mock these people, but what about the ones who are civil and not foaming? now the chances are you’re not going to change their minds. If that was the case Ken Ham would be the New Dawkins and not just a nutjob who doesn’t believe in evolution but thinks as a species we’re getting dumber, which would be a sign of evolution in itself.

I’ve been looking at creationists recently, mainly due to their vocal opposition and general butt hurt over the new ‘Cosmos’ and there was a “debate” of sorts with Professor Alice Roberts and a creationism over evolution. The poor soul must be smarting today because every argument about an intelligent designer was shot down, mainly by Professor Roberts showing elements of our physiology that was designed by an idiot, not someone intelligent. However both sides stopped and no-one has changes, Professor Roberts isn’t wearing sandals and condemning us to hell and “Christ21Cent” (Rather cheap for a messiah) isn’t in a lab coat preaching evolution.

This raises the question, what’s the point in rising to a challenge? Bill Nye and Ken Ham debated evolution and all that happened was Ham got more publicity and more donations. No-one changed their minds. This is the main problem.

If you hold a belief so strong that fact based evidence isn’t going to change your mind then you’re not going to be convinced by anyone, not even a world authority on the subject. You can try to change their mind but it will leave you exhausted and annoyed.

But in honour of these cranks, I’m pleased to reveal Blog 2.0 the awesomely named FLATULENT EXPRESSION OF TORTOISES!

Evangelicals Still Don’t Know What to Do With the Big Bang

By Karl W. Giberson

When a major discovery confirmed the Big Bang this week, some evangelicals ignored it, while others claimed it’s already in the Bible. But the theory’s Catholic history suggests there’s a better way to look at it.

The “Big Bang” theory of the origin of the universe got a big boost this week when scientists reported the discovery of 14-billion-year-old echoes of the universe’s first moments—the first proof of an expanding universe, and the last piece of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Creationists and other conservative religious believers have a curiously ambivalent relationship with the Big Bang—unlike evolution, which is universally condemned. Young-earth creationists mock the Big Bang as a wild guess, an anti-biblical fantasy that only atheists determined to ignore evidence of God’s creation could have invented. In contrast, creationists who accept that the earth is old—by making the “days” of creation in Genesis into long epochs—actually claim that the Big Bang is in the Bible. Some of them are rejoicing in the recent discovery.

The leading evangelical anti-science organization is Answers in Genesis (AIG), headed by Ken Ham, the guy who recentlydebated Bill Nye. AIG’s dismissive response to the discovery is breathtaking in its hubris and lack of insight into how science works. They call for Christians to reject the discovery because the “announcement may be improperly understood and reported.” This all-purpose response would also allow one to deny that there is a missing Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777.

Secondly, Answers in Genesis complains that the predictions being confirmed in the discovery are “model-dependent.” They fail to note that every scientific prediction ever confirmed, from the discovery of Neptune, to DNA, to the Ambulecetus transitional fossil is “model-dependent.” The whole point of deriving predictions in science is to test models, hypotheses, theories. Finally, AIG suggests that “other mechanisms could mimic the signal,” implying that, although the startling prediction was derived from Einstein’s theory of general relativity and the inflationary model of the Big Bang, it could have come from “some other physical mechanism.” No alternative mechanism is suggested.

The AIG response declares instead that “Biblical creationists know from Scripture that the universe did not begin in a big bang … we know from Genesis 1 that God made the earth before He made the stars, but the big bang requires that many stars existed for billions of years before the earth did.”

Not all biblical literalists take such a hard-line stance. Like Ham, the popular Christian apologist Hugh Ross is a biblical literalist who rejects all forms of evolution: Ross believes that the “days” of creation in Genesis are vast epochs and thus the universe can be billions of years old. Ross heads the organization Reasons to Believe, which is often attacked by AIG and other young earth creationist groups for having a “liberal” view of the Bible.

Ross, an astronomer by training, was delighted by the discovery of the gravitational waves and told the Christian Post that “The Bible was the first to predict big bang cosmology.” Ross, in fact, is convinced that many ideas in modern science—including the inflationary model for the Big Bang confirmed by the recent discovery—were actually predicted by the Bible. He argues—to the dismay of Hebrew scholars—that the word “bara,” translated “create” in Genesis 1:1, means “to bring into existence that which did not exist before.” Ross has ingeniously located much of modern physics in the Bible, including the laws of thermodynamics and the Big Bang.

The initial response from the Discovery Institute, the headquarters of the Intelligent Design (ID) movement, maligned the motivations of the cosmologists searching for the gravity wave, claiming they found more theologically friendly models of the Big Bang “disturbing,” and wanted to refute them. The recent discovery of the gravity waves—after years of searching—is being trumpeted by the scientific community because it “saves the jobs of a thousand people at two national labs who are having to justify their expensive failure.

Despite his organization’s snarky cynicism, the Discovery Institute’s director, bestselling ID author Stephen Meyer, was in the this-new-discovery-proves-the-Bible camp. Meyer went on the John Ankerberg show to extol the theological virtues of the Big Bang. Using the same arguments as Hugh Ross, Meyer finds both the Big Bang and even the inflation model in the Bible: “We find repeated in the Old Testament, both in the prophets and the Psalms,” he told the Christian Post, “that God is stretching or has stretched out the heavens.” Meyer says this “stretching” means that “Space expanded very rapidly,” and the recent discovery provided “additional evidence supporting that inflation.”

Meyer and Ross are right that English translations of the Bible do speak of the heavens being “stretched out.” But to suggest that this is what has been confirmed by the recent discovery is simply not possible. A typical biblical passage supporting this claim is found in Isaiah 40:22 where we read that God “stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” Does this really sound like an event at the beginning of time when the universe experienced a momentary burst of expansion? And what do we make of the apocalyptic vision described in Revelation 6:14 that, at the end of time, “the sky rolled back like a scroll”?

The biblical authors—and most ancients—understood the sky over their heads to be a solid dome—an inverted bowl resting on a flat earth for the authors of Genesis, a crystalline sphere surrounding a round earth for Aristotle and most Christians until the scientific revolution. The Hebrew word used in Genesis for the sky is “raqia” which means “bowl” or “dome.” It does not mean “space-time continuum” and it is not something that could be “inflated.” It could, however, be “stretched out like a tent” or “rolled back like a scroll.”

These divergent responses are full of hubris in both directions, making extravagant claims for or against scientific discovery, embracing or rejecting science on the basis of existing religious commitments. But these extremes aren’t the only ways for religious believers to respond to major scientific breakthroughs. Not every scientific idea has to have a theological interpretation, although the tendency to fit new science into ancient religious frameworks is often irresistible. And the Big Bang is certainly no exception.

The Big Bang theory, in fact, was developed in the 1920s by a Catholic priest who was also an acclaimed physicist, the Monsignor Georges Lemaître. It was ridiculed and rejected by Lemaître’s atheist colleague, Fred Hoyle. Hoyle applied the derisive term “Big Bang” to Lemaître’s theory in a 1949 BBC interview—a nasty label that stuck.

Hoyle, who labored heroically to produce an alternative theory, didn’t like the theological implications of the universe beginning suddenly in a moment of “creation.” It sounded too much like the first verse in the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” And, as Hoyle and others noted, Lemaître was a priest who might reasonably be suspected of trying to smuggle Catholic theology into science.

Hoyle’s concern was amply illustrated in 1951 when Pope Pius XII declared that, in discovering the Big Bang, science had indeed established the Christian doctrine of the “contingency of the universe” and identified the “epoch when the world came forth from the hands of the Creator.” “Creation took place,” the pope said. “Therefore, there is a creator. Therefore, God exists!”

Both Lemaître and the Vatican’s science advisor were horrified by the Pope’s confident assertion that physics had proven God. They warned him privately that he was shaky ground: the Big Bang was not a theory about the ultimate origin of the universe and should not be enlisted in support of the Christian belief in a Creator. The pope never mentioned it again.

Ironically, in this dispute, the atheist Hoyle was on the side of the pope in seeing a linkage between the Big Bang and God. It was Lemaître and the pope’s science advisors who saw clearly that scientific theories, no matter how well-established, should not be enlisted in support of theological notions. And, as the Catholic Church learned in the Galileo affair, scientific theories should not be opposed on theological or biblical grounds.

These lessons have been learned by Catholics, for the most part, as evidenced by the relative scarcity of prominent Catholic science-deniers. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same things for many evangelical Protestants, many of whom belong to truncated religious traditions that began after Galileo, or even after John F. Kennedy. They lack the accumulated wisdom that restrains the pope from inspecting every new scientific discovery and either rejecting it because it counters a particular interpretation of Genesis or enthusiastically endorsing it because it confirms this or that doctrine. And when the pope strays, his advisors quickly get him back on track. Catholic thinking on science is informed by the pontifical academy of science, an advisory group with no counterpart in Protestantism.

Ken Ham and his colleagues at Answers in Genesis, Hugh Ross and his colleagues at Reasons to Believe, and Stephen Meyer and his colleagues at the Discovery Institute are too quick to embrace, reject, or gloss with theological meaning the latest scientific discoveries. Rather than rushing to the Bible to see whether its ancient pages can accommodate the latest science, they would do well to heed this caution from Lemaître, as he spoke of the theory that he discovered:

“We may speak of this event as of a beginning. I do not say a creation … Any preexistence of the universe has a metaphysical character. Physically, everything happens as if the theoretical zero was really a beginning. The question if it was really a beginning or rather a creation, something started from nothing, is a philosophical question which cannot be settled by physical or astronomical considerations.”

 

Karl W. Giberson holds a Ph.D. in physics from Rice University and teaches writing, science, and religion at Stonehill College. He is the author and coauthor of numerous books, including Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution and The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age, and lectures widely on science and religion.

This article first appeared on the DailyBeast website

CNN: First for faking news.

“Rumour is a pipe
Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures,
And of so easy and so plain a stop
That the blunt monster with uncounted heads,
The still-discordant wavering multitude,
Can play upon it.”

William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II

The Boston marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt is the first terrorist attack against a western target in the social media age. Not even 5 minutes had passed since the first bomb detonated changing the lives of hundreds and ending those of 3 before images were circulating on the internet, the most poignant of all is that of Jeff Bauman being wheeled away one leg missing and all that remains on the other is the bone and hanging torn flesh. For a moment 24 hour rolling news and Social media were working side by side, one feeding the other news instantaneously. Sadly that didn’t last.

Rolling news has a problem, that problem is rolling news. Just like newspapers need to get exclusives to boost sales and damage competitors, rolling news needs the same they need the next big story, with reporters and cameras at the scene before their rivals. Nowhere more clearly illustrated that than Boston.

When the AP put a flash out quoting one unnamed source that an Arrest was imminent it was quickly spread on social media, however, like a massive game of chinese whispers the “truth” became distorted.

Unless you were on CNN, in which case the truth got well and truly kicked in the nuts. When it comes to breaking news CNN used to be the master, it was one of the first 24 hour news networks and built up a respectable reputation for objectivity and good journalistic practice. Of course that was before competition from Fox news and MSNBC, now they seem more content to show celebrity or human interest stories and not actual news.
It was thought that the low point for CNN was the “hologram” used for the 2008 election in an attempt to get more viewers. However the 1 hour 40 minutes on wednesday left us all yearning for a return of the hologram.

It began with CNN contributor John King reporting a breakthrough in the identification of the bombers before describing them as a “dark skinned male” then saying that speculating on the suspect may inflame tensions, then followed up by repeating the dark skinned male line.

Shortly after King looked at his phone and broke in that there was an arrest, immediately AP tweeted this as breaking news and a media scrum ensured. Most major networks carried this as breaking news despite it coming from one unnamed source “close to the investigation.” What followed was half an hour of speculation on the suspect it wasn’t until an hour later when CNN law enforcement expert, Tom Fuentes, a former assistant director of the F.B.I., appeared on the air and reported that he had three sources who assured him no arrest had been made.

CNN then double backed and tried to distance themselves from the speculation they themselves had caused (or in the words of Jon Stewart; CNN had become the human centipede of news, eating it’s own shit in some sort of cycle)
This shows the main problem with 24 hour news on a developing story, you have 3,4 or more people with a lot of time to kill between developments, so, it’s obvious that speculation and gossip take over and now social media is such an integral part this now makes these broadcasts a bit like the drunk in the bar spouting off about anything to anyone who would listen.

Print media haven’t covered themselves in glory. Special mention goes to the -soon to be written off- New York Post, who haven’t endeared themselves to their owner, Rupert Murdoch, who is considering a sale of the paper. The NYP who faced criticism in December for reprinting a picture of Ki Suk Han trying to climb back onto the New York Subway platform. He was unsuccessful and Mr Han was killed under the headline “DOOMED.”
This time the Post headline was “Bag men” and contained an image of 2 individuals it said police were looking for. These two have two things in common, they have bags, but so did many people present. The other link is their skin colour, they’re both “brown.”

Salah Barhoun came forward to protest his innocence and now thanks to the internet and media is now fearful of reprisals. It transpired that the suspects weren’t brown they were Caucasian, in fact the only way they could be any more Caucasian would be if they were from the Caucasus, and they were. But the Post still decided to play a game of Where’s Ahmed with the crowd and along with some sections of the internet wrongfully identifies other innocent victims as suspects and again under the sole reason that they were “brown.” The MailOnline had an image under another accusing headline showing a man running away from the explosion claiming he was a suspect because “he was seen running in the opposite direction from the crowd” And also because he was Brown.

The media and internet detectives haven’t covered themselves in glory and it turns out the suspects were stopped by a combination of real police work and a vigilant city even with the hindrances of press and Internet.

Richard III Society

If the events of the last week have proven anything it’s that Richard III’s followers, the Richard III Society are somewhat vocal in their admiration.

The society aims to “encourage and promote a more balanced view” of Richard. From it’s origins in 1924 as “the Fellowship of the Wild boar” to the current society who contributed funding to Leicester University’s archaeological dig.

However with the controversy over his final resting place brewing the society have become a caricature of themselves. It started with the Channel 4 documentary on Monday which followed Phillipa Langley, the woman who started the project to find Richard following “a feeling” she had in the car park. Opinions on Langley were mixed on social networks in particular Twitter. Opinions varied from her being completely unhinged to being madly in love with him. I prefer to think she’s passionate about Richard, she is after all writing a screenplay about him. However one section in the programme resulted in the presenter of the show – Simon Farnaby from Horrible histories- exchanging conversation with various members.

The questions were the usual “has he been misunderstood” “What about the princes in the tower” now anyone who is a member of a society which aims to present a more unbiased version of events could go into it and say there’s not much evidence to support the idea or dismiss it and it will need more scrutiny. However the members interviewed went into rants that make Alex Jones’ appearance on Piers morgan seem sane. Now I’m not a fan of people who distort history to fit their own views, it’s the same with scientific results or theories. I foolishly thought it was a one off, and that C4 had just picked up the more loopy fringe of the society.

Now before we go any further I should admit that while the Tudors are probably my second favourite historical area of interest (yes I do have a ranking system) I have always had an interest in Richard III, I think given his short reign and the almost damnatio memoriae of him to be a fertile ground for Historical research (quite a lot is done by the Richard III Societies more grounded members)

Wanting to look more at the society and what its members are like I went to the website which seems normal and has quite a lot of information about Richard, and is well worth taking a look at here. However the Facebook page is another matter, on there is a lot of criticism aimed at Leicester University for having the remains at Leicester Cathedral against Richards wishes (although I’ve not seen any evidence that he wanted a burial there other than giving money to the Minster which for the time isn’t unusual.) The Society members then attack the University for being ungrateful for the donations raised by the society to fund the dig, although they weren’t the ones doing the digging.

Other interesting comments centre around this belief that since Richard was given a sloppy burial at Greyfriars then it shows that they didn’t want him, completely ignoring what would have been a pretty hectic and confusing day in Leicester since Richard left the city in the morning and by midday was dead and on his way back. They also ignore the terms of the archaeological exhumation license which stated the remains should be placed either in the Jewry wall Museum, the Cathedral or nearest churchyard by 2014. Some go as far as creating some conspiracy that the Dean of York Minster – Very Reverend Vivienne Faull- who was previously the Dean of Leicester had something to do with it, especially since the Minster issued a statement supporting the internment at Leicester.

Others are annoyed that guides at the Bosworth museum are “Pro Henry” and some have “kicked off” and “educated” them and the others on the tour that Richard was a sweety and Henry a tyrant. It seems to present a non biased view of Richard some members have ignored reality and other historical research. If a society is judged on its members then as the more vocal members seem to be fanatical in their devotion to Richard it isn’t doing the society’s image any good.

This isn’t a situation unique to the Richard III Society and I only highlight them as they are now in the news following the discovery of Richard, but I can’t help but think that the facebook page in particular isn’t going to get them many new members, rather I hope they emphasise their brilliant website and the research carried out behind the shouting mob.

I once toyed with becoming a member, however now I can’t help but think of Groucho Marx and his “PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER” Anecdote.

A Proportional response?

A milestone was reached today and it was not a good one. Today marks the day the death toll in the latest trouble to hit Palestine reached 100. It’s no surprise the death toll is so high, Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on the planet 1.7 million people call the desolate 25 x 6 mile strip home and Israel’s tactic of dropping high explosives in it is stupid at best, a war crime at worst.

Israel defend the civilian casualties by saying it’s Hamas’ fault for placing their installations in populated areas. Just to clarify that’s a strip of land not much bigger than Birmingham but with nearly double the population. Israel say they’re doing this in response to mounting rocket attacks into Israel. It’s worth noting that only 3 civilians in Israel have died.

Of those 100 to die over half are civilians, it appears Israel is performing keyhole surgery using an axe, of course this is the same military who in 2009 remarked that although 1000 people were Killed in Gaza 500 were militants. No civilized nation should think that Killing so many civilians to get at few militants is acceptable . It’s the same line we saw in Europe during the 1940’s although this time Israel is playing – rather ironically- the part of the Nazi’s and Warsaw 1944 is Gaza 2012. Israel has reacted with disproportional response, same as in 2009 under the misguided belief that overwhelming responses would discourage any more attempts well it’s 3 years later and we’re back to square one. Israel won’t negotiate because Hamas is a terrorist organisation backed by Iran, a country that isn’t exactly friendly.

Israel needs to accept that for now, Hamas is the ruling power in the strip, we may not like it, and we certainly shouldn’t accept it. Hamas are just another variation of other fanatical rulers we saw in Afghanistan and the more remote areas of Pakistan. They are in power because the west, and Israel let them. We tried to play Hamas and Fatah off against each other. Supplying Fatah with aid and attempting to remove Hamas. It backfired, the Palestine lands split between the Hamas Gaza and Fatah West Bank. And now because of the political chess game between Israel and the West and Iran and Hamas it’s innocent civilians who are paying the price. Israel bomb Gaza Killing civilians, for every one they Kill 2 more join Hamas. And Hamas retaliate with rockets further causing strikes by Iran and more civilian deaths and recruits.

For Israel the way to win against Hamas is simple. Stop the bombing, end the blockade. Provide aid to what is a giant refugee camp and let the young in Gaza know where that aid has come from. Gaza has a young population they are the future leaders of the land and you’ll go further by helping them and creating a positive image than you will with Killing them. The onus is also on the ordinary Israeli’s, the country is bitterly divided it is not united in the slightest. By allowing the modernists and those who don’t see the complete eradication of Palestine as the only option a voice in the government then real moves could be made. There’s an election coming up which in part explains why Israel have gone on the offensive when they do that and Israel inevitably comes under attack it strengthens the nationalists giving them a mandate to continue their abhorent strikes on Gaza.

Whoops

A few days ago the Prime Minister appeared on ‘This Morning’ during the interview he was ambushed by Phillip Schofield on the abuse scandal currently engulfing the country. Schofield had spent only a “few minutes” on the internet searching for the high profile member of the Conservative party who was alleged to be involved.

Now there’s no secret that there were at least one or more members involved in the scandal, some of the names are in the public domain already so it’s highly unlikely David Cameron isn’t aware of who they are. Much in the same way the Premiership footballer involved in the Super Injunctions wasn’t an open secret.
During the interview Cameron warned of a “[Gay] Witch hunt” many saw this as a veiled insult that being gay is equal to being a paedophile, it could be. Or it could be something more rational, that in the minds of some being gay is a “sexual deviancy” that is akin to paedophilia. It turns out the more widely discussed name was in fact innocent of the allegations but this was revealed too late.

Last Friday the BBC’s flagship current affairs show ‘Newsnight’ broadcast a report into the North Wales abuse scandal. In it, one of the victims Steve Messham revealed that a senior Conservative from the Thatcher administration had abused him. Newsnight had the scoop, they had the name but in the report the name was omitted  They didn’t even contact the person offering them right of reply. The report broadcast immediately added fuel to a mob mentality online and in the media on the identity. Many high profile journalists named them online, the wife of the Speaker of the House – Sally Bercow- also named him online. 2 days ago that person came forward to deny the reports.

Lord McAlpine, a former conservative party treasurer released a statement, in it he says:

“I must publicly tackle these slurs and set the record straight. It is obvious that there must be a substantial number of people who saw that I had been identified in the internet publications as this guilty man and who subsequently saw or heard the broadcasts or read the newspapers in question and reasonably inferred that the allegation of guilt in those broadcasts and newspapers attached to me.”

Last night Newsnight under the supervision of a senior BBC executive apologised for the error, it also carried the apology of Steven Messham who said the man in the photograph he saw at the time was said to be that of McAlpine and after seeing a photo of him from that time period recently he is now aware that it wasn’t him. Newsnight, Phillip Schofield and the internet got it wrong. I will admit I too have seen the list of names online, some of them I can’t see being involved. I’m guilty of passing on the names in conversation as, I suspect, has nearly everyone else who is interested in this story. David Cameron was right, this has become a witch hunt. Innocent people are being dragged into this story and the nature of the allegations are career ending for almost everyone involved. The British public despise child abusers, these stories can make even the most reasoned and rational person turn into a foaming lunatic demanding blood.

McAlpine is now pursuing legal action, it is highly likely Newsnight will be the main target they behaved irresponsibly it was a massive failing of journalistic standards in pursuit of a story. Newsnight already had a massive story linked to all this. They refused to run it.

Their story?

That TV superstar Jimmy Savile was a serial child abuser with victims in their hundreds.

Todd Akin has 24 hours left.

The controversy over Rep Todd Akin’s remarks yesterday August,20 continues to build as lawmakers from both sides seek to distance themselves over his remarks that Pregnancy due to “legitimate rape” is impossible.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Tex.) informed Rep. Todd Akin on Monday that the national GOP will stop funding his election campaign, not only that but Cornyn has given him 24 hours to reconsider his candidacy, remarking that his comments were “wrong, offensive, and indefensible” and ”he risks the party’s chance of a majority.”

President Obama waded into the controversy saying “”Rape is rape and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.”

Akin remains defiant, quoting the founder of the US Navy – and a personal hero of mine- John Paul Jones “I have yet begun to fight”

It is now clear that Akin’s position is untenable. For the good of his Party and the people of Missouri he must stand down. While freedom of speech is sacred, the consequences of someone with his views legislating on issues such as law and order, health and the welfare of 300 million people is a nightmare from which there may be no awaking.

The Giants are more believable.

One thing the UK can be proud of is that the lunatic fringe isn’t quite as vocal as in America, we’re not completely throwing out human understanding in the belief that we were created in one action packed week and forcing others into believing it. However this seems to be changing over in Northern Ireland with the opening of the new visitor centre at the Giants Causeway.

The centre caused a minor uproar 2 years ago when the plan to include the Creationist theory of the formation was to be included in an interactive display. However the negative publicity didn’t stop the Caleb foundation (the same ones who protest sporting events on Sundays) managed to get their view into it. As expected the humanist societies are up in arms and the Caleb foundation are rubbing their hands in glee, but just how bad is this?

Well in all honesty it isn’t the end of the world, the “creationist display” is practically one line in an audio recording describing the origins of the causeway:

“Like many natural phenomena around the world, the Giant’s Causeway has raised questions and prompted debate about how it was formed.

This debate has ebbed and flowed since the discovery of the Causeway to science and, historically, the Causeway became part of a global debate about how the earth’s rocks were formed.

This debate continues today for some people, who have an understanding of the formation of the earth which is different from that of current mainstream science.

Young Earth Creationists believe that the earth was created some 6000 years ago. This is based on a specific interpretation of the Bible and in particular the account of creation in the book of Genesis.

Some people around the world, and specifically here in Northern Ireland, share this perspective.

Young Earth Creationists continue to debate questions about the age of the earth. As we have seen from the past, and understand today, perhaps the Giant’s Causeway will continue to prompt awe and wonder, and arouse debate and challenging questions for as long as visitors come to see it.”

It isn’t claiming that the causeway like the earth is 6000 years old, it is merely stating that in a wider historical context this was one viewpoint that was and still is believed and held sway until the last 100 or so years. However personally I think it being a road created by Giants is more believable.

Now there is a wider issue over just how far this will go the CF will rightly be feeling good about themselves today however I can’t imagine a display at Stonehenge claiming it was put there by aliens as a landing platform as much as I can’t imagine David Icke saying “That Hollow moon stuff, yea what WAS I thinking?” There’s far bigger issues and attacks on reason than a 5 second sound clip at a tourist destination.

Proof that not even solid Gold cannot polish the Turd in Westminster

Today was a special day in Westminster, not only is it the Dennis Skinner stand up show but Lady Gaga officially opened up the new session of Parliament. For our esteemed leader things have been looking a bit bleak. Not only has the traditionally Tory leaning newspapers abandoned him but his own party have the knives out. An election rout last week and the mother of all allegations that is waiting at the Leveson inquiry have added onto what is fast becoming a Greek tragedy.

The speech from the throne is where the government hand the queen a speech she’s never seen and then reads it verbatim. It outlines the legislative agenda for the next year and is a good indicator on where the focus of Government is going to be.

With an economy in freefall, a massive defeat at the polls, national strikes tomorrow and his “allies” in Europe being thrown out of office you would expect his agenda for the next year would be focused on sorting that out. However what we got was rather underwhelming, there was the one’s that wouldn’t normally make page 5 of a white paper (transferring of maternity leave between couples) one’s that in the grand scheme aren’t that important (Electoral register) one’s that won’t pass any court challenges such as the eavesdropping bills and the downright disgusting workers rights bill. There is the completely un passable bill on bankers and executive pay which won’t pass because – well – it’s bankers and executives. That’s like giving turkeys the vote on Christmas.

At a time when millions are facing real struggle, 2 and a half million children are living in poverty and millions more young people are unemployed and living off benefits is the priority of the Government in the next year really going to be on whether to have camera’s in court?

When families are enduring massive cuts in wages and benefits, old people paying higher tax on pensions they worked all their lives for is the priority of this government really going to be on reforming the House of Lords? A house that has recently done more in support of the people than the house of the people?

This country is in tatters, the government “elected” to end the crisis has deepened it. They’ve given tax breaks to the richest, formed close relationships with the media which are now coming to light as being completely wrong, hit the poorest and less well off hard while patting each other on the back for a measly £600 tax break which barely covers the cost of living. They’ve cut everything as part of “sorting the mess left to them” but not the things that directly affect them.

Democracy, it’s wonderful isn’t it?