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Rockwell’s "Golden Rule" – Norman Rockwell Museum

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Jun 122016

Golden Rule, 1961. Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, April 1, 1961. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. SEPS: Curtis Publishing, Indianapolis, IN

This week the United Nations rededicated a large mosaic of Norman Rockwells iconic 1961 illustration, Golden Rule, which hangs in their New York City Headquarters.The workoriginally presented to the UN in 1985 as a gift on behalf of the United States by then First Lady Nancy Reaganwas restored by Williamstown Art Conservation Center, which over the years has repaired numerous objects from Norman Rockwell Museums collection as well (including Rockwells 1953 United Nationsdrawing, which was the artists earliest conceptions for Golden Rule). Here is a little more background on both artworks, currently on view and part of the collection of Norman Rockwell Museum.

United Nations

Conceived in 1952 and executed in 1953, this drawing was inspired by the United Nations humanitarian mission. Though it was carefully researched and developed, Rockwells idea never made it to canvas. He said he didnt quite know why he grew tired of the pieceperhaps it was too ambitious. At the height of the Cold War and two years into the Korean War, his concept was to picture the United Nations as the worlds hope for the futurehe included sixty-five people representing the worlds nations, waiting for the delegates to straighten out the world, so that they might live in peace and without fear. In the end Rockwell abandoned the illustration, saying that it seemed empty and pretentious, although he would reference it again many years later.

Golden Rule

In the 1960s, the mood of the country was changing, and Norman Rockwells opportunity to be rid of the art intelligentsias claim that he was old-fashioned was on the horizon. His 1961 Golden Rule was a precursor to the type of subject he would soon illustrate. A group of people of different religions, races and ethnicity served as the backdrop for the inscription Do Unto Other as You Would Have Them Do Unto You. Rockwell was a compassionate and liberal man, and this simple phrase reflected his philosophy. Having traveled all his life and been welcomed wherever he went, Rockwell felt like a citizen of the world, and his politics reflected that value system.

Id been reading up on comparative religion. The thing is that all major religions have the Golden Rule in Common. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Not always the same words but the same meaning.Norman Rockwell, The Norman Rockwell Album.

From photographs hed taken on his 1955 round-the-world Pam Am trip, Rockwell referenced native costumes and accessories and how they were worn. He picked up a few costumes and devised some from ordinary objects in his studio, such as using a lampshade as a fez. Many of Rockwells models were local exchange students and visitors. In a 1961 interview, indicating the man wearing a wide brimmed hat in the upper right corner, Rockwell said, Hes part Brazilian, part Hungarian, I think. Then there is Choi, a Korean. Hes a student at Ohio State University. Here is a Japanese student at Bennington College and here is a Jewish student. He was taking summer school courses at the Indian Hill Museum School. Pointing to the rabbi, he continued, Hes the retired postmaster of Stockbridge. He made a pretty good rabbi, in real life, a devout Catholic. I got all my Middle East faces from Abdalla who runs the Elm Street market, just one block from my house. Some of the models used were also from Rockwells earlier illustration,United Nations.

See the originals: Golden Rule and United Nations are currently on view at Norman Rockwell Museum.

View the restoration of RockwellsUnited Nations painting below:

Related Links:

Golden Rule, iconic Norman Rockwell mosaic, rededicated at UN Headquarters, UN News Centre, February 5, 2014

The Golden Rule: Restoring the Norman Rockwell Mosaic at the United Nations, Art Conservator, Summer 2013

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Rockwell’s "Golden Rule" – Norman Rockwell Museum

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Transhumanism – End Times Bible Prophecy

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Mar 262016

As the world draws closer and closer to the day of Christ’s return, the exponential pace of technological change will play an increasing role in the fulfillment of bible prophecy.

The development of technologies such as molecular manufacturing, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing will trigger abrupt and radical changes in the global economic, social, and geopolitical landscape.

The acceleration and magnitude in development of these powerful technologies will dwarf the Industrial Revolution in size and scale.

Foreseeing such change, the world should note the various social philosophies and political movements which emerged during the Industrial Revolution. Darwinism, Marxism, Communism, Facism, and eugenics all emerged within a few short decades.

While the Industrial Revolution was not absolutely necessary for, nor was the it the cause of, the rise in popularity for each of these movements – it did serve to amplify their influence.

So what small movements might explode in popularity during the next technological revolution?

One possible candidate is the transhumanist movement…

The definition of transhumanism varies depending on who you consult, but here’s Wikipedia’s take:

“Transhumanism is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical characteristics and capacities. The movement regards aspects of the human condition, such as disability, suffering, disease, aging, and involuntary death as unnecessary and undesirable. Transhumanists look to biotechnologies and other emerging technologies for these purposes.” (Wikipedia)

These are noble goals. After all, who could be against ending disabilities, suffering, disease, aging, and involuntary death?

Yet the aforementioned philosophical and political movements of the Industrial Revolution – Marxism, Facism, Communism, and eugenics – all had similar utopian goals.

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Despite their promises, the real world application of each resulted in unprecedented death and destruction.

If the Transhumanist movement takes flight, it will result in more of the same.


Because all of these movements fail to address the root cause of the current human condition – the sinful nature of man.

Instead of placing God at the center, each of these movements places “extraordinary” men at the center, whether through means of a ruling elite class, a master race, or the evolutionary development of “better” human beings.

After the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin gained widespread traction, it seems logical that most of its adherents would draw the conclusion that the current version of humanity is not “the final product,” but only an early stage in a continuing evolutionary process.

This belief lies at the heart of the transhumanist movement:

“A common feature of transhumanism and philosophical posthumanism is the future vision of a new intelligent species, into which humanity will evolve, which will supplement humanity or supersede it.” (Wikipedia)

In fact, following this line of thinking, human beings have a moral imperative to take charge of their own evolutionary progress and expidite the process:

“Transhumanist philosophers argue that there not only exists a perfectionist ethical imperative for humans to strive for progress and improvement of the human condition but that it is possible and desirable for humanity to enter a transhuman phase of existence, in which humans are in control of their own evolution. In such a phase, natural evolution would be replaced with deliberate change.” (Wikipedia)

If achieved, the desired result would be the attainment of a “posthuman” status, akin to nirvana:

“Transhumanist thinkers predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label ‘posthuman.’ Transhumanism is therefore sometimes referred to as ‘posthumanism’ or a form of transformational activism influenced by posthumanist ideal.” (Wikipedia)

Given the utopian promises, as well as the exciting prospect of participating in such revolutionary change, look for the transhumanist movement to gain in popularity as we approach the singularity and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Anticipation of the singularity and the exponential pace of technological change has spawned the organization of like-minded individuals who look forward to a posthuman world and seek to hasten its arrival:

“In 1998, philosophers Nick Bostrom and David Pearce founded the World Transhumanist Association (WTA), an international non-governmental organization working toward the recognition of transhumanism as a legitimate subject of scientific inquiry and public policy. In 1999, the WTA drafted and adopted The Transhumanist Declaration.” (Wikipedia)

The World Transhumanist Association (WTA) has since changed its name to Humanity+, but its focus as an organization dedicated to developing transhumanist ideas and policies remains unchanged.

At its core, the organization promotes the development of the next step in humanity’s evolutionary process:

“Transhumanists view human nature as a work-in-progress, a half-baked beginning that we can learn to remold in desirable ways. Current humanity need not be the endpoint of evolution. Transhumanists hope that by responsible use of science, technology, and other rational means we shall eventually manage to become posthuman, beings with vastly greater capacities than present human beings have.” Transhumanist Values (Humanity+)

So what fuels this desire to transition to “posthuman” status? Is it really idealistic, utopian goals, or is it really just an inherent desire to overcome the “biological chains” of humanity?

For most transhumanists, its probably the latter.

As Wikipedia cites:

“At the EZTV Media venue frequented by transhumanists and other futurists, Natasha Vita-More presented Breaking Away, her 1980 experimental film with the theme of humans breaking away from their biological limitations and the Earth’s gravity as they head into space.” (Wikipedia)

A theme “of humans breaking away from their biological limitations and the Earth’s gravity as they head into space?”

That theme sounds familiar…

The bible has a lot to say about our future. Approximately 3,000 years ago, King David wrote about the hearts of men just prior to the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ, as men prepared to “free themselves from God’s slavery”:

“Why do the nations rage? Why do the people waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against His Anointed One. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they cry. ‘And free ourselves from this slavery.’ But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them.” Psalm 2:1-4 (NLT)

The viewpoint of end time humanity is one of animosity toward God. Humanity will view its limitations as arbitrary obstacles erected by God. As a result, humanity will prepare for battle against the Lord in an effort to break the shackles of its perceived oppressor.

The Transhumanist Declaration asserts a desire which has much in common with the attitude of humanity in the last days:

“Humanity stands to be profoundly affected by science and technology in the future. We envision the possibility of broadening human potential by overcoming aging, cognitive shortcomings, involuntary suffering, and our confinement to planet Earth.” The Transhumanist Declaration (Humanity+)

When asked by His disciples to describe the time of the end and the day of His Coming, Jesus stated:

“In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.” Matthew 24:22 (NLT)

In this translation, the phrase “not a single person will survive” is deceptive.


Because it’s the result of the translator’s assumption that the phrases “no flesh will survive” and “no people will survive” are interchangable.

Assuming the possibility exists for a transhumanist future, the two phrases are not.

According to Strong’s Concordance, the key Greek word in this phrase is translated “sarx,” and means:

“flesh (as stripped of the skin), i.e. (strictly) the meat of an animal (as food), or (by extens.) the body (as opposed to the soul [or spirit], or as the symbol of what is external, or as the means of kindred), or (by impl.) human nature (with its frailties [phys. or mor.] and passions), or (spec.) a human being (as such)”

Taken in its original context, Jesus did not necessarily say that unless those days are shortened, “humanity will not survive.”

Instead, he said unless those days are shortened, “no flesh will survive.”

If the transhumanist movement suceeds in transforming the human race into a race of “posthumans” who no longer need flesh covered bones to survive, then these words of Jesus take on an entirely different meaning.

And it doesn’t take an illogical leap of faith to draw this conclusion.

After all, it seems reasonable to assume that humanity will have to undergo some sort of radical transformation in order to plot a war against God Almighty. The arrogant impulse already exists. All that remains is the need for an exponential increase in human power which deludes humanity into believing it can overcome the Lord of lords.

And make no mistake about it, the Bible is clear that this is where humanity is ultimately headed – physical conflict with God:

“Then I saw the beast gathering the kings of the earth and their armies in order to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army.” Revelation 19:19 (NLT)

Do not confuse the “war” with a spiritual struggle.

According to Strong’s Concordance, the key word here is translated “polemos,” and means:

“warfare (lit. or fig.; a single encounter or a series) – battle, fight, war.”

The word “polemos” appears at least 16 times in the New Testament, and in each case, it refers to physical conflict, not a spiritual one as Paul refers to here:

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)

When Paul speaks of the spiritual struggle, he uses the word “pale.” According to Strong’s Concordance, “pale” means:


Clearly, the Bible differentiates between our everyday spiritual struggle with the forces of darkness and literal phsyical conflict in the form of war.

Regarding the Antichrist, the gathering at Armageddon, and the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ, it’s clearly prophesied that man will engage in physical battle with God Almighty:

“From one of the prominent horns came a small horn whose power grew very great. It extended toward the south and east and toward the glorious land of Israel. His power reached to the heavens where it attacked the heavenly armies, throwing some of the heavenly beings and stars to the ground and trampling them. He even challenged the Commander of heaven’s armies by canceling the daily sacrifices offered to him and by destroying his Temple.” Daniel 8:9-11 (NLT)

The power of the Antichrist will be immense enough to attack the heavenly armies, throwing angels to the ground and trampling them in the process. He will even attack the Commander of heaven’s armies, Jesus Christ.

But the attack is futile. Jesus will destroy the Antichrist and all those aligned against God.

Ultimately, the transhumanist agenda is nothing new.

The transhumanist movement seeks:

Some humans will ultimately achieve these goals. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, they will witness:

1) The end of death and suffering…

“There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4 (NLT)

2) The end of starvation and disease…

“On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.” Revelation 22:2 (NLT)


3) The end of disabilities…

“And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!” Isaiah 35:5-6 (NLT)

All of these hopes are realized in heaven. So essentially, the transhumanist agenda is one that seeks to achieve heaven on earth.

The problem with the transhumanist movement is that there’s only one path to heaven. All others are false:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” John 10:1-5 (NLT)

Final implementation of the transhumanist agenda is a blatant attempt to “sneak over the wall of the sheepfold, rather than going through the gate.” It’s an agenda that will ultimately fail.

Christ is the only gate that leads into heaven. Those who try to enter by any other means are doomed to failure:

“Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: ‘I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.'” John 10:6-10 (NLT)

To learn more about the transhumanist movement and its adherent’s positions, read the Humanity+ website.

Britt Gillette is the founder of End Times Bible Prophecy and the author of Signs Of The Second Coming: 11 Reasons Jesus Will Return in Our Lifetime.

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Elon Musk and the SpaceX Odyssey: the Path from Falcon 9 to Mars Colonization Transporter

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Jan 302015

Are we seeing the convergence of a century of space science and science fiction before our eyes? Will Musk and SpaceX make 2001 Space Odyssey a reality? (Photo Credit: NASA, Apple, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Illustration Judy Schmidt)

In Kubricks and Clarks 2001 Space Odyssey, there was no question of Boots or Bots[ref]. The monolith had been left for humanity as a mileage and direction marker on Route 66 to the stars. So we went to Jupiter and Dave Bowman overcame a sentient machine, shut it down cold and went forth to discover the greatest story yet to be told.

Now Elon Musk, born three years after the great science fiction movie and one year before the last Apollo mission to the Moon has set his goals, is achieving milestones to lift humans beyond low-Earth orbit, beyond the bonds of Earths gravity and take us to the first stop in the final frontier Mars the destination of the SpaceX odyssey.

Marvel claims Musk as the inspiration for Tony Stark in Ironman but for countless space advocates around the World he is the embodiment of Dave Bowman, the astronaut in 2001 Space Odyssey destined to travel to the edge of the Universe and retire an old man on Mars. (Photo Credit: NASA, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Illustration Judy Schmidt)

Ask him whats next and nowhere on his bucket list does he have Disneyland or Disney World. You will find Falcon 9R, Falcon Heavy, Dragon Crew, Raptor Engine and Mars Colonization Transporter (MCT).

At the top of his working list is the continued clean launch record of the Falcon 9 and beside that must-have is the milestone of a soft landing of a Falcon 9 core. To reach this milestone, Elon Musk has an impressive array of successes and also failures necessary, to-be-expected and effectively of equal value. His plans for tomorrow are keeping us on the edge of our seats.

The Dragon Crew capsule is more than a modernized Apollo capsule. It will land softly and at least on Earth will be reusable while Musk and SpaceX dream of landing Falcon Crew on Mars. (Photo Credits: SpaceX)

CRS-5, the Cargo Resupply mission number 5, was an unadulterated success and to make it even better, Elons crew took another step towards the first soft landing of a Falcon core, even though it wasnt entirely successful. Elon explained that they ran out of hydaulic fluid. Additionally, there is a slew of telemetry that his engineers are analyzing to optimize the control software. Could it have been just a shortage of fluid? Yes, its possible they could extrapolate the performance that was cut short and recognize the landing Musk and crew dreamed of.

A successful failure of a soft landing had no baring on the successful launch of the CRS-5, the cargo resupply mission to ISS. (Image Credits: SpaceX)

The addition of the new grid fins to improve control both assured the observed level of success and also assured failure. Anytime one adds something unprovento a test vehicle, the risk of failure is raised. This was a fantastic failure that provided a treasure trove of new telemetry and the possibilities to optimize software. More hydraulic fluid is a must but improvements to SpaceX software is what will bring a repeatable string of Falcon core soft landings.

Elon Musk and the SpaceX Odyssey: the Path from Falcon 9 to Mars Colonization Transporter

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Silk Road Judge: Tor Browser Is "Mumbo-Jumbo To Most People On The Jury Right Now"

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Jan 192015

Illustrations by Susie Cagle.

The Silk Road trial is a high-tech case of nearly inscrutable levels, and prosecutors are grappling with the burden of having to explain cryptographic technologies to a jury whose demographics lean away from technological sophistication. As Judge Katherine Forrest explained to them on Tuesday, the jury need not have any technical expertise to rule on the issues at trial, since everything they need ought to be presented to them in court. But the prosecutionalthough not for lack of effortseems to be falling short of making sense to the jurors.

In a conference with the attorneys on Wednesday, before the jury entered the courtroom, Judge Forrest complained about the prosecutions explanation of Tor. What [the Tor Browser] is, I think, is mumbo-jumbo to most people on the jury right now. theres room for clarity, here.

Quite early on in the pre-trial process, the judge had asked for the two sides to come up with a glossary of technical terms. But in the end, the prosecution and the defense could not reach an agreement on how the terms should be defined. Although the exact substance and the extent of their disagreement is yet unknown, the filings do show that they often sparred over whether to characterize Bitcoin as a currency (a term favored by the prosecution) or as a payments system (favored by Ross Ulbrichts defense). Another point of contention may have been how to characterize Tor. In the opening statements, the prosecution repeatedly referred to the Tor-hidden service Silk Road as a dark and secret part of the Internet, whereas the defense pointedly mentioned that Tor had actually been developed by the U.S. government for legitimate means.

Only three days have passed and the jury has already been barraged with detailed technical explanations of a dizzying array of cryptographic technologies: Tor, PGP, Bitcoin. The run-downs of these technologies have been interspersed with nearly comical explanations of far more basic elements of the Internethow forum posts work, the difference between forum posts and direct messages, what the Internet Archive is, and the concept of a wiki.

With respect to the last, at one point, the prosecutor asked his first witness, a DHS agent, What is a wiki? The witness began his answer with, Its, uh, its like Wikipedia.

Illustration by Susie Cagle.

For the most part, the prosecutions explanations have been thorough, detailed, and technically correct. Explanations have often been accompanied by exhibits that can only be described as tutorial videos, where Jared Der-Yeghaiyan, the aforementioned DHS agent, walked the jury step by step through how to use Tor, how to track Bitcoin transactions on, and how to encrypt e-mails with PGP. Nonetheless, the prosecution is up against a difficult task: hosting a crypto-party for a group that never asked to be in the room in the first place.

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Silk Road Judge: Tor Browser Is "Mumbo-Jumbo To Most People On The Jury Right Now"

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Charlie Hebdo: Free speech not affected by race laws, hate speech is

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Charlie Hebdo: Free speech not affected by race laws, hate speech is
Jan 132015


Illustration: Alan Moir.

There seems to be confusion between the concept of free speech and hate speech (Letters, January 13).

I support free speech or the presentation of ideas and concepts even if I find them distasteful or stupid. Climate change denial and support of violence are two ideas that spring to mind. One can argue and disagree with them in the same sense of free speech.

Hate speech is when one deliberately insults or hurts another person or group because of either who they are or the ideas they support. It is hate speech to denigrate Muslims or Jews or Whites or Gays or Republicans or members of the Liberal Party if the point is to insult or hurt them.

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Disagreeing with a logical presentation of ideas, however, with any of the above group’s behaviours or beliefs is an integral part of free speech.


That’s where the radio commentators and Attorney-General George Brandis have it wrong. They confuse demeaning other humans (a bad thing and a sign of social destruction) with disagreeing with another’s ideas (a good sign of a healthy democracy)

Howard Clark Ryde

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Charlie Hebdo: Free speech not affected by race laws, hate speech is

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Freedom of speech needs protection

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Freedom of speech needs protection
Jan 092015


Illustration: Alan Moir

The French editor, Stephane Charbonnier, who was murdered in Paris said, “I would rather die standing than live on my knees” (“Better to die standing than live on our knees”, Editorial, January 9). But it is better again to exercise free speech without being threatened with death. So free speech needs better protection. It is not enough to re-educate pockets of society and for us to revile terrorism. We need to excise the terrorists from our midst.

We should recognise that religious fanaticism with its jihadism is a deadly disease of the mind just as Ebola is a deadly disease of the body. Ebola is spread in unhygienic conditions among uneducated people. Religious fanaticism spreads in the same way. Its victims are feckless young men who have little education and are easily influenced by infected preachers and websites.

We prevent and treat Ebola by cleaning up unhygienic conditions, quarantining victims, educating people and encouraging them to hand over infected victims. We should do the same with the victims who are infected with religious extremism.

We need to quarantine jihadists, preferably before they commit acts of terrorism, and treat them. They will need to be identified, arrested, detained and re-educated. Obviously this would be abhorrent to many people. But what is more abhorrent? Detaining these extremists or allowing them to kill innocent people, themselves, and spread their mind disease?


Geoff BlackCaves Beach

I wonder what the great French philosopher Voltaire would be thinking now, were he still alive. Four hundred years or so later, one of his greatest statements, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” certainly has resonance. Would he have imagined this heinous crime possible, I ponder.

Rose PanidisGraceville (Qld)

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Locked in a war of words to define free speech

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Locked in a war of words to define free speech
Dec 232014

Activist Pat Eatock speaks to media after the Federal Court found in 2011 that columnist Andrew Bolt had breached the Racial Discrimination Act. Photo: Justin McManus

Fredrick Toben always insisted he wasn’t a Holocaust denier because you couldn’t deny something that never happened. The German-born Australian says there was never any systematic German program to kill Jewish people, denies the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz and claims that Jews exaggerated the numbers murdered during World War II, sometimes for financial gain.

When Australia passed racial hatred laws in 1995, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry decided to take Toben on, led by its then director Jeremy Jones and the solicitor in the case, Peter Wertheim. Their first complaint was in 1996. It took until 2002 for it to get to the Federal Court, which found that Toben’s views weren’t part of academic debate about the Holocaust, but were designed to ”smear” Jews.

Toben refused to remove the material, citing freedom of speech. In 2009, he was sentenced to three months’ jail for contempt of court.

Illustration: Matt Davidson.

Wertheim is the executive director of the council, which has used racial hatred laws aggressively to fight serious examples of anti-Semitism – cases have been conciliated though the Australian Human Rights Commission and several have found their way to the Federal Court.


The influential national Jewish group and every major ethnic organisation in the land will not let these laws go without a fight.

The government, which this week released proposed amendments designed to end the ”chill factor upon freedom of speech”, as Attorney-General George Brandis put it, suddenly seems nervous about championing the free speech of people such as Toben.

The draft laws ”would always capture the concept of Holocaust denial”, Brandis insisted, saying it would amount to racial vilification, a proposed new provision. But Wertheim, as well as human rights lawyers, the libertarian Institute of Public Affairs, which campaigned to scrap racial hatred laws, and the Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, are in agreement that people like Toben are likely to have free rein if the proposals become law, because the exemptions to vilification are so broad.

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Locked in a war of words to define free speech

Metallic Bitcoin Plates – Illustration/Photo Series – Video

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Dec 162014

Metallic Bitcoin Plates – Illustration/Photo Series
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Press Freedom: George Brandis is talking plain rubbish

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Nov 052014

Illustration: John Spooner

I am not a fan of the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis. He’s a politician with a slender grasp of matters such as fairness and accuracy, as he demonstrated last year when he branded me publicly as an enemy of press freedom.

I defended myself at the time, and don’t need to do it again here. The sad truth is few politicians have much regard for fairness and accuracy. Exaggeration and distortion are much more useful on the hustings. What’s more concerning is that Brandis, who constantly applauds himself for his championship of press freedom, appears not to understand it at all.

Witness his bizarre defence of section 35P of the newly minted National Security Legislation Amendment Act (No. 1). That’s the section that makes it an offence, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, to “disclose information” about a so-called special intelligence operation.

A question of trust: Attorney-General George Brandis urged members of the Press Club to trust the Coalition. Photo: Andrew Meares

On Q&A on Monday night, Brandis announced the law was not aimed at journalists. But, asked Tony Jones, if a journalist reported what a whistleblower had disclosed, would they fall under the law


Here, verbatim, is Brandis’ convoluted reply:”If it’s a whistleblower, the whistleblower protection laws still apply. If it’s a journalist covering what a whistleblower has disclosed, then the journalist wouldn’t fall within the reach of the section, because the relevant conduct is the conduct constituting the disclosure; so if the event is already disclosed by someone else and a journalist merely reports that which has already been disclosed, as it was by Snowden, then the provision would not apply.”

Well, for a start, as the Attorney-General must know, there is no chance at all that the whistleblower protection laws would apply to anyone disclosing information about an intelligence operation (let alone a “special” intelligence operation) to the media. Not a chance.

Second, most whistleblowers do not act openly, as Edward Snowden did. They approach the media, seeking confidentiality. The first public disclosure of the information is by a journalist, either quoting a confidential source, or publishing a document supplied by that source.

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Press Freedom: George Brandis is talking plain rubbish

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Anti-terror laws undermine democracy

 Freedom  Comments Off on Anti-terror laws undermine democracy
Nov 032014


October 2014 will go down as the month in which the federal Parliament made some of its greatest ever inroads into freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Ironically, this occurred only weeks after our politicians extolled the virtues of these freedoms in the debate over section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

It is disturbing that our political leaders have moved so quickly from this to anti-terror measures that impose lengthy jail terms for journalists and others who speak about matters of public importance. It reveals a shallow adherence to freedom of speech, and an unwelcome, authoritarian streakon behalf of the government and the opposition when it comes to restricting democratic freedoms.

Most of the attention has focused on section 35P of the first anti-terrorism bill passed on October 1. This provision says: “A person commits an offence if the person discloses information and the information relates to a special intelligence operation.” The penalty is jail of up to five years, or 10 years if, for example, the disclosure prejudices a special intelligence operation.

As Attorney General George Brandis has said, section 35P “applies generally to all citizens”. It does not discriminate between people who seek to harm our security by revealing secret information, and journalists and whistleblowers who shine a spotlight on government wrongdoing, incompetence or even the death of an Australian citizen at the hands of an intelligence officer.


It is not easy for journalists to know whether they are complying with this law. Special intelligence operations are by their nature covert, and the information that cannot be disclosed covers these operations and anything that “relates to” them. This means that the ban extends to other, connected operations by ASIO and agencies such as the Australian Federal Police.

All this can create doubt in the mind of a journalist about whether they can publish a story. They may decide not to do so on the basis that it is better to be safe than sorry. Governments and agencies can exploit this zone of uncertainty by warning off journalists so as to prevent the publication of compromising information.

Brandis has defended section 35P by saying that it is not intended to apply to journalists. If this is the case, it is easy to fix the provision. He should sponsor an amendment that exempts the disclosure of information that is part of a media report in the public interest.

Instead, the Attorney General will direct federal prosecutors to consult with him on any charges laid against journalists. He has said that prosecutions against journalists will only proceed with his consent.

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Anti-terror laws undermine democracy

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Tony Abbott and Vladimir Putin were made for each other

 Illuminati  Comments Off on Tony Abbott and Vladimir Putin were made for each other
Oct 142014


Headed for a “shirt-front”: President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Has the world ever encountered such a pair as Abbott and Putin (“Australians were murdered … I am going to shirt-front Mr Putin”, October 14)? They seem to be a unique breed of testosto-Illuminati those who are mysteriously inspired by their testosterone. I think that truly, once they sort through their posturing, they’ll realise how deep their affection is for each other. Bring on the G20 bromance of 2014.

Catherine HoskinPennant Hills

Many Australians would probably be happy for Tony Abbott to confront Vladimir Putin about the loss of life of passengers on flight MH17, but talk of “shirt-fronting” isn’t the talk we expect of a leader, let alone a prime minister. Grow up Abbott. Speak and represent us appropriately.

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Paul Parramore Sawtell


Russian-backed rebels murdered 38 Australians. The Prime Minister’s tough words about Putin were inspirational and showed great leadership. But where is the tough talk from the other world leaders who lost so many in the MH17 tragedy? The Russian President must be laughing at their weakness. Full marks also to the Opposition Leader for refusing to meet Vladimir Putin.

Phil Johnson Dee Why

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Tony Abbott and Vladimir Putin were made for each other

Corporate tax dodgers put on notice

 Tax Havens  Comments Off on Corporate tax dodgers put on notice
Oct 022014

The leaders of Australia’s biggest companies and foreign multinationals, including Apple, Google and coal miner Glencore, are expected to be hauled in front of a parliamentary inquiry into tax avoidance.

The Senate voted on Thursday to establish the inquiry after the release of a report revealed by Fairfax Media on Monday that found almost one-third of the nation’s largest companies are paying less than 10 in the dollar in corporate tax.

It estimated up to $80 billion could have been forgone by the AustralianTax Office over the past decade due to the complex tax-minimisation strategies employed by the biggest 200 sharemarket-listed companies.

Illustration: Ron Tandberg.

The inquiry by the Senate Economics References Committee will be conducted in the shadow of the G20 leader’s summit in Brisbane in November, where Treasurer Joe Hockey has vowed to lead an assault on corporate tax avoidance by multinationals.


It will seek to unpick the increasingly complex web of foreign tax havens used to keep profits out of the clutches of the Tax Office and is expected to call bank chiefs, miners and media executives.

It will also consider whether the ATO is equipped for the task of tracking the estimated $270 billion that flows between Australian companies and their foreign subsidiaries.

Representatives of business, including the Corporate Tax Association, have rubbished the tax report Who Pays For Our Common Wealth?insisting there are legitimate reasons for a company’s effective tax rate to fall below the statutory 30 per cent.

The report found James Hardie had paid on average $0 in company tax in Australia over a decade, while Sydney Airport and Echo Entertainment owner of Sydney’s Star Casino paid 5 in the dollar or less.

Corporate tax dodgers put on notice

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Advance Australia on unfair tax sidesteps

 Tax Havens  Comments Off on Advance Australia on unfair tax sidesteps
Sep 302014


“It is not for the Australian Tax Office to ‘man up’ as there needs to be a legislative power for it to do so.” Photo: Jeffrey Chan

It is no wonder that 60 per cent of the ASX 200 companies use tax havens (“Big business ‘shirks’ fair share of tax load”, September 29). They are simply following the example set by Australia’s $100 billion Future Fund. This fund invests overseas using 47 tax haven entities it owns, and three it does not own 50 all up.

The Future Fund pays no Australian income tax, just GST and FBT. Joe Hockey has stated that the Future Fund is following its own environmental, social and governance (ESG) guidelines, and is operating within the framework of the principle of sovereign immunity (the state cannot commit a legal wrong). The government’s concerns with multinationals using tax havens appears to be a case of “do as I say, don’t do as I do”. Sovereign funds are not of a higher moral order than an ordinary corporation.

Bill Johnstone Marrickville


I’ve tried to believe that sacking workers improves a company’s “productivity”. That flogging public assets to private profit makers will improve their “efficiency”. That it’s fair for executive salary growth to have outstripped mine by a factor of 30-plus. That because my tax now funds the profit-making projects of “private contractors, commercial-in-confidence”, rather than public works, it’s none of my business how it’s spent. I’ve tried to believe that my little boat will rise on the tide of collective growth even as it trickles down and forms a bigger slice of cake for all. If I ask how the free market can grant James Packer’s casino a 50-year, publicly underwritten profit-or-compo safety net but can’t even guarantee how many casual hours I’ll be rostered on tomorrow, I’m told I’m “economically illiterate”, a leaner, entitled, playing class warfare. Tax? Last year, the ATO found resources enough to bill me an extra $600, annual salary of $55,000. Guess illiterate me stuffed the sums on the back of my envelope at the kitchen table.


Don’t want the economists running my country any more, please. Isn’t working. Isn’t fair. Isn’t Australian.

Jack Robertson Birchgrove

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We're trashing our beaches: CSIRO

 Beaches  Comments Off on We're trashing our beaches: CSIRO
Sep 142014

Devastating effect: 43 per cent of seabirds have ingested plastic.

Illegal dumping is a primary source of rubbish on Australian beaches, according to the world’s largest survey of coastal rubbish.

The survey, carried out over three years by the CSIRO, Earthwatch Australia, TeachWild and petroleum giant Shell, dispels the idea that the rubbish on Australian beaches is due to ocean currents bringing the world’s rubbish to our shores.

“The majority of coastal debris in Australia is from Australian sources, not the high seas,” the report says.

Illustration: Matt Golding.

“Consumer behaviour and illegal dumping are primary causes of marine debris in Australia.”


The survey was conducted at sites approximately every 100 kilometres along the Australian coastline. Students, teachers, scientists and Shell employees were enlisted to conduct the surveys.

The surveys found that about three quarters of the rubbish along the cost is plastic, and that local measures such as the South Australian bottle refund program can be effective to stop plastic pollution reaching the water.

“When we compared the ratio of beverage containers to beverage container lids across states in the clean-up data, South Australia came out with a much higher ratio of lids to containers in the clean-up data than any other state,” the report says.

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We're trashing our beaches: CSIRO

Dumping is trashing Australian beaches, says CSIRO report

 Beaches  Comments Off on Dumping is trashing Australian beaches, says CSIRO report
Sep 142014

Devastating effect: 43 per cent of seabirds have ingested plastic.

Illegal dumping is a primary source of rubbish on Australian beaches, according to the world’s largest survey of coastal rubbish.

The survey, carried out over three years by the CSIRO, Earthwatch Australia, TeachWild and petroleum giant Shell, dispels the idea that the rubbish on Australian beaches is due to ocean currents bringing the world’s rubbish to our shores.

“The majority of coastal debris in Australia is from Australian sources, not the high seas,” the report says.

Illustration: Matt Golding.

“Consumer behaviour and illegal dumping are primary causes of marine debris in Australia.”


The survey was conducted at sites approximately every 100 kilometres along the Australian coastline. Students, teachers, scientists and Shell employees were enlisted to conduct the surveys.

The surveys found that about three quarters of the rubbish along the cost is plastic, and that local measures such as the South Australian bottle refund program can be effective to stop plastic pollution reaching the water.

“When we compared the ratio of beverage containers to beverage container lids across states in the clean-up data, South Australia came out with a much higher ratio of lids to containers in the clean-up data than any other state,” the report says.

Dumping is trashing Australian beaches, says CSIRO report

Darkcoin, the Shadowy Cousin of Bitcoin, Is Booming

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on Darkcoin, the Shadowy Cousin of Bitcoin, Is Booming
May 212014

Illustration: WIRED

Someone out there likes anonymous money.

In only a month, the little-known bitcoin alternative known as Darkcoin has rocketed nearly tenfold in valuefrom around 75 cents a coin to almost seven dollars. Its selling point: Darkcoin offers far greater anonymity than bitcoin, mixing up users transactions so that its incredibly difficult to trace a payment to a person. And though few have yet to accept that more-anonymous coin for actual goods and services, the promise of Darkcoins privacy features seems to have sparked a miniature boom. Its one of the fastest growing among the wave of cryptocurrencies thats followed bitcoins success, with the total value of its combined coins topping out at nearly $30 million.

Darkcoin, supporters argue, serves a real privacy need. Despite its reputation for being more anonymous than traditional money, the bitcoin network actually allows anyone to see every transaction on a public accounting ledger known as the blockchain. Users often have to take extra steps, like mixing their coins in a laundry service, to prevent those addresses from being tied to their identity by any government or corporation that wants to snoop.

Darkcoin adds an extra layer of privacy by automatically combining any transaction its users make with those of two other usersa feature it calls Darksendso that anyone analyzing the blockchain has a harder time figuring out where a particular users money ended up. A large community believes that the way bitcoins blockchain is designed is a problem, says Evan Duffield, the 32-year old Arizona-based software developer who launched Darkcoin in January. Darkcoin has this anonymity aspect to it, which is attractive to a lot of people.

Darkcoins exchange rate with the dollar and market cap over the last month. Credit:

Darkcoins uncanny growth, of course, may also be fueled by speculators who see an opportunity to jump on a hot commodity. And given how wildly its appreciated in its short life, theres no guarantee it wont crash just as fast.

But Darkcoins price increases may also be linked to real changes in its features, says Kristov Atlas, a bitcoin consultant and Darkcoin fan. He argues that its value comes in part from its unique properties as a payment system, not just as an investment vehicle. The currencys first big price jump occurred in late April, for instance, when its Darksend privacy trick was initially switched on for real transactions. Its not purely a speculative bubble, Atlas says. Theres some solid indications the market price is currently based on the fundamental value of the coin.

Darkcoins price may in fact be manipulated by investors, says Allen Price, a trader in the bitcoin alternatives known as altcoins. But he says its already outlasted his expectation that its price growth was caused by a pump-and-dump scam. I had sort of smugly stood to the side waiting for the big, inevitable crash with an I told you so ready, says Price. But no crash ever really came, and its been kind of an ongoing success for investors.

Much of the currencys more recent price increase, says Duffield, may stem from its system of financially rewarding users whose machines serve as the coordinators of its Darksend transactions. Anyone can become make their computer into one of those coordinators, which Duffield calls master nodes, by proving that theyve paid a thousand darkcoins. In exchange, they reap ten percent of all new coins added to the Darkcoin network, which are distributed among the master nodes as an incentive for their work. Duffield says Darkcoiners seeking those rewards created 170 master nodes in the last month, tying up 170,000 darkcoins, a number that significantly decreased the currencys supply and has likely helped raise its price.

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Darkcoin, the Shadowy Cousin of Bitcoin, Is Booming

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The free speech tongue-twister

 Free Speech  Comments Off on The free speech tongue-twister
Mar 142014


Thanks to ABC1’s Q&A last Monday, we’re in an even more confused state about the government’s free speech program. There was Attorney-General George Brandis appropriating an inordinate amount of time to tell viewers that section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was throttling free speech and that it should be repealed ”in its current form”.

Brandis said: ”In a free country, people should have the right to say things that other people find insulting or offensive or wounding” – and that applies to making nasty remarks based on someone’s race or ethnicity.

So that seemed fairly clear, until the Q&A panel got onto the topic of Chinese buyers snapping up all the best housing. Brandis said: ”I’m always uncomfortable with the idea of picking on one racial group and saying, well, they’re the problem.”


He may well be uncomfortable, but that didn’t mean he wants the law to get involved.

Yet if the man who is engineering this legislative change feels unsettled about people picking on particular racial groups, maybe that should be a tiny warning.

Two days after Q&A the Attorney-General gave a doorstop interview in Melbourne where he complained about an ALP leaflet circulating in the South Australian election that attacked a Liberal candidate, Carolyn Habib.

He said the flyer showed Habib in silhouette against a bullet-riddled wall with the caption ”don’t trust Habib”. This, he thundered, was ”a thinly veiled racist slur”.

The slurs may not be so thinly veiled once s.18C ”in its current form” is ditched. Be careful what you wish for, George.

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The free speech tongue-twister

How To Use Excel To Gain SEO Insights – Video

 SEO  Comments Off on How To Use Excel To Gain SEO Insights – Video
Feb 132013

How To Use Excel To Gain SEO Insights
How to use an Excel spreadsheet to gain SEO Insights By SEO Synovation an Innovative Search Marketing Optimisation company. Presented by . Various SEO efforts have various affects on web analytical metrics. This presentation gives you an insight of how to use Excel and graphically improve the presentation of SEO actions plans and how they affect the business. An extraction from your website analytic data would include traffic volumes, number of conversions that led to a certain amount of revenue for your chosen keyword. Another set of data would detail the ranking positions for the selected keyword during the same period. Construct your Excel spreadsheet in this way. In week 1 there was an SEO exercise to create an improvement in keyword rankings by SEO of on page elements and SEO link building. This had an almost immediate effect by moving the website from the top of the third page (position 20) to the bottom of the second page (position 18). However there no impact of Traffic volumes and Revenue for weeks 1 to 4 which we shall call SEO Action A In the Excel table focus on the ranking positions and traffic volumes are you will see two distinct jumps — in week 2 and in week 5. In the chart for traffic, conversions and revenue the only jump you see is in week 5. This illustration proves that different SEO actions have impacts on different metrics. See SEO http SEO action A focused upon on page Meta tags and link building. See

By: Vincent Sandford

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How To Use Excel To Gain SEO Insights – Video

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The Fall Of English France 1449-53 – David Nicolle – Video

 Islands  Comments Off on The Fall Of English France 1449-53 – David Nicolle – Video
Dec 262012

The Fall Of English France 1449-53 – David Nicolle The Fall Of English France 1449-53 – David Nicolle For the overwhelming majority of people outside the French-speaking world the Hundred Years War consisted of a sequence of major English victories, above all Crcy, Poitiers and Agincourt. The only significant victor or 'hero' on the French side was Joan of Arc, and she ended up being burned at the stake. Yet somehow the war ended in a French victory and with England's martial energies being turned against itself in the Wars of the Roses. This book is intended to provide some balance. It will describe the campaign that brought the Hundred Years War to a close, with English possessions being confined to Calais and the Channel Islands. It will also explain how the somewhat unprepossessing and unmartial King Charles VII of France succeeded where his predecessors had failed. The campaign consisted of more than battles, of course, but it was marked by two major victories – at Formigny in 1450 and at Castillon in 1453. Formigny is of special interest because it saw French cavalry defeat English archers, in effect a reversal of Crcy, Poitiers and Agincourt, and could be interpreted as one of the last 'medieval' battles. Castillon is of interest because it was a victory of gunpowder artillery in fixed positions over a traditional medieval assault by mixed infantry and cavalry, and thus could be interpreted as one of the first 'modern' battles.Author: Nicolle, David Publisher: Osprey Publishing Illustration: Y Language: ENG …From:JodiBeaudonViews:0 0ratingsTime:00:10More inPeople Blogs

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The Fall Of English France 1449-53 – David Nicolle – Video

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