1000 Lashes For Saudi Blogger

Saudi is ‘in the dock’ says the Guardian. “The cruel and unjust sentence passed on the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes, has been upheld by the supreme court in Riyadh. Hopes that the court might reduce or even commute the sentence, particularly as the holy fast of Ramadan begins next week, have been dashed. The only remaining appeal now is to the Saudi monarch, King Salman. From Quebec, where she has been granted asylum with their children, Mr Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar has said that she fears the public flogging – 50 lashes at a time every Friday after prayers – might resume as soon as this Friday. Mr Badawi had been whipped only once after his sentence was passed, and prison doctors deemed that he was too ill to be flogged again before his appeal was heard. Britain and its allies, conveniently meeting together at the G7 in Germany, must unite and condemn what is almost certainly a life-threatening sentence. They should stand together in defence of their shared values and demand his release.”

I posted this story back in January, but it still needs to be addressed. A history of this case as well as links to what the blogger wrote is provided by the Guardian. The next lot of 50 lashes is expected tomorrow. He had 50 lashes in January; 950 lashes to go, and a ten year jail sentence along with a hefty fine, if he survives the lashes! We can only hope that Saudi Arabia can see what the world sees, what the Guardian describes as “The cruel and unjust sentence passed on the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes; this is man’s inhumanity to man!

See the story also in:

The BBC

The Sydney Morning Herald

The New York Times

The Times

Posted in Faith Issues, Injustice, Political Issues, Religious Liberty, Social Issues | Leave a comment

US View Downton Abbey – & The UK’s Demise Of Faith

“There are countless lessons for American Christians to observe as we watch Downton Abbey. But we ought not to miss the larger story of which tales like Downton are only a part. The world that was passing away was not only a world of footmen, but also of faith. Britain would never be the same again, and that loss of faith and certitude would eventually become a tide that would sweep across every aspect of British culture,”

“But, do Americans have any idea what they are really watching?” Asks Albert Mohler.

Posted in Faith Issues, Political Issues, Social Issues | Leave a comment

1000 Lashes For Saudi Blogger

A family man with three small children is to receive 50 lashes a week for twenty weeks, but the second week has been deferred because his wounds are not healed enough to take the second round of lashing. He also faces 10 years imprisonment ( he has already served two years), and fined £175,000.

While the boundaries are being pushed by Saudi’s on social media the government seems to be making an example of Raif Badawi.

Reports the BBC:

“The first round of flogging was carried out outside a mosque in Jeddah last Friday as a crowd of onlookers watched.

“A number of foreign governments, including the US, Canada, Germany and Norway, had criticised the punishment.

“Amnesty International said officials had delayed the second round of flogging because Badawi’s wounds had not yet healed.

“”Not only does this postponement… expose the utter brutality of this punishment, it underlines its outrageous inhumanity,” said Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and Africa, Said Boumedouha.

“”The notion that Raif Badawi must be allowed to heal so that he can suffer this cruel punishment again and again is macabre and outrageous.”

“Reporters Without Borders urged Saudi Arabia “to abandon this barbaric punishment”, saying it remained “very concerned” about Badawi’s health.

The Hindu report.

Channel 4 report.

The Mail reports that the Saudi king halts flogging of Blogger

Posted in Faith Issues, Injustice, Political Issues, Social Issues | Tagged | Leave a comment

How Did The Giraffe’s Get Its Long Neck?

Simon Barnes, a sports and nature writer is highly esteemed by journalist colleagues. He recently left The Times to the surprise of colleagues. The cost-cutting move by The Times is thought by one fellow journalist to be likened to a football manager selling off their main striker; it didn’t seem to make sense. I read his article in the Daily Mail recently, titled ‘Giraffes in Jeopardy’.

When it comes to the animal kingdom and their threatened extinction due to poaching, killing for their ivory, human population expansion, etc, that does get my attention. But the essay held my interest for another reason; it did surprise me to read:

“So, there are populations of giraffe in serious decline, and it’s time we started worrying about this. Not only because giraffes have a right to exist, but because giraffes matter very much to us humans.

“Take that neck. You could say, if you wished, that the neck of the giraffe explains the mystery of life. You can grasp this by counting the number of vertebrae in your neck: the answer is seven. Now count the number of vertebrae in a giraffe neck. And the answer is … seven. (But I would have to but in here and ask, but Simon, don’t all mammals have 7 vertebrae?).

“So giraffes and humans have something rather unexpected in common. We share an ancestor — an ancestor with a seven-vertebra neck, which was little more than a handy way of joining head to body.

“But when the rich forests of Africa disappeared millions of years ago and the open wooded savannahs took their place, giraffes found it advantageous to reach higher up into the trees that were left.

“The individuals with the longest necks had the best chance of surviving, and they passed their necks onto their progeny. When it came to the next generation, those that had still longer necks now had the advantage.

“And so, in the course of countless millennia, giraffes became tall, stately, long-legged, long-necked beasts, yet with those seven — gigantic — vertebrae to show that we have an ancestor in common.”

I have read ‘a children’s funny’ about how giraffe got its long neck, but this part of Simon Barn’s essay gives what appears to me a serious explanation of how the giraffe got its long neck.

In my reading the ‘high browsing’ and stretching for food used to be taught as the reason for giraffes evolving long necks. But that Lamarckian explanation is now discredited. It was long-necked giraffes that produced long-necked offspring.

As a lay person I see the ‘historical sciences’ not like real science where things are observed and seen to be repeated. The giraffe’s neck has not been observed to have evolved nor evidence for it in the fossil record, even if there are giraffes with shorter necks they could be another species of the same kind. Like the claim about Haeckel’s Embryos that is now discredited, this explanation for the giraffe’s long neck through ‘high browsing’ as I read, is also now discarded.

However, as with Haeckel’s Embryos, there are still sites that give evidence that this ‘classic evolutionary hypothesis’ for the giraffe’s neck is still promoted, and even by the BBC.

For a layman like myself this article, ‘What Giraffes Will Do For A Drink’, gives a more reasoned and responsible explanation for the giraffes’ long neck. I found it worth reading the essay but a few of paragraphs will give more than a hint why I see the giraffe’s ‘high browsing’ being responsible for its long neck is no longer a credible explanation for the long neck of the giraffe, there is much more to it than the stretching of the neck, as the following suggests:

“Many hospitals use what is known as gravity suits. These ensembles prevent fluid retention (edema) in the lower extremities. The giraffe has an in-built gravity suit that prevents blood pooling and edema. The two portions of the giraffe’s body that help in the function of this system are its tough skin and its fascia (connecting tissue). So, in order to survive, the giraffe must have evolved a long neck, a heart to push the blood up the neck, special valves to maintain its blood pressure, and antigravity suit to resist the extreme pressure that is routinely produced. Did these structures arrive by coincidence? (Sounds like ‘irreducible complexity’ to me).

“The list of what must have evolved ‘in sync’ with the rest of the giraffe’s anatomy is lengthy and impressive. Evolutionist Robert Wesson stated:

“The protogiraffe had not only to lengthen neck vertebra (fixed at seven in mammals), but had to make any concurrent modifications: the head, difficult to sustain atop the long neck, became relatively smaller. . . . Big lungs were necessary to compensate for breathing through a tube 10 feet long; many muscles, tendons, and bones had to be modified harmoniously; the forelegs were lengthened with corresponding restructuring of the frame, and many refluxes had to be reshaped (1991, p. 226, parenthetical item in orig.).

“As Wesson noted, these processes had to come into existence at the same time! The head had to be miniaturised in order to rest on the top of a 15-foot-high-giant. Plus, the giraffe’s lungs are eight times the size of an average human’s in order for it to breathe through a ten-foot-long-trachea. And every structural support must reshape to match the new form of the neck. Any statistician (or physiologist) would balk at the probability of a creature evolving these extreme characteristics.”

In his essay, ‘Why do giraffes have long necks?Brian Switek concludes with what seems to me to be an honest answer. At the close of his essay he writes:

“Ultimately, a combination of natural history, embryology, and palaeobiology will be needed to fully understand the unique anatomy of giraffes. This is not something which will be accomplished in a year or even ten, but will take the persistent investigations of many researchers working across a variety of scientific disciplines. For the moment, the question of “How did the giraffe get its long neck?” must be answered with “We do not yet know”, but that is as it should be. It is better to admit that we are still unravelling a mystery than to dogmatically assert that all is solved and that all the uncharted places on the evolutionary map have been filled in.”

Evolutionists might balk at Intelligent Design as the best explanation for the physical design of the Giraffe, but I would want to look for more serious explanations for the giraffes’ long neck other than it was stretched through ‘high browsing’.

For one looking on at the Natural Sciences v Intelligent Design debate from the outside, on this one the latter has the more credible answer for me.

See also: Origins vs Operational Science and related articles

Posted in Faith and Science, Intelligent Design, Science, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solstice V Equinox

“The solstice doesn’t always occur on 21 December. Sometimes it nudges into the early hours of 22 December, which will happen again next year. The hour of day also varies. Last year’s arrived at 17:11. Next year’s will at 04:38.”  Will I remember?

The National Post with graphics on the Solstice V Equinox

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Origin of Remembrance Day and 2014

How people power created Remembrance Day: As millions flock to see those Tower poppies, the remarkable story of how ordinary Britons won the right to honour the fallen

People Power Keeps Tower Poppies: Exhibition To Stay Until The End Of The Month” announces the Singapore News.

Millions of people have turned up to see the Tower of London Exhibition of ceramic made poppies – how did we come to where we are with Remembrance Day? Alwyn W. Turner gives us his insights to the history of Remembrance Day with an excerpt from “The Last Post” published in the Daily Mail, November 7, 2014. Said the Mail, “As millions flock to see those Tower poppies, the remarkable story of how ordinary Britons won the right to honour the fallen.”

 Excerpt from ‘The Last Post’

( The Last Post by Alwyn W. Turner (Aurum, £14.99). To buy a copy for £11.99 (free p&p for a limited time), visit mailbookshop.co.uk. Offer ends December 24).

Posted in Books, Pics & Stories, Remembrance Service | Leave a comment

Wales: ‘The Nearly Nation’ Is My Homeland

Simon Jenkins’ essay on ‘the nearly nation’, Wales, gives this expat that feeling of nostalgia I experience every time I return to Wales to visit family and friends, and make new friends tracing family history.

Born and raised in Wales by Welsh speaking parents, they went to school to learn English; I went to school to learn Welsh, – that was the change in one generation. I worked in Wales for 17 years, the rest of my working life has been in England, so I found it interesting to read Simon Jenkins’ roundup of Wales. His essay has a very mixed reception reading through the comments.

Not part of the political scene I can’t really comment on the pros and cons of politics in Wales but I would personally be disappointed if Wales should choose the route for independence – just as disappointed if Scotland had chosen independence. Like Scot, Leslie Duncan, I wouldn’t want to have to have a passport or visa every time I entered Wales! And why give up being part of Great Briton where we still have voting rights to place ourselves under the control of EU where there are no voting rights. As the Scots have demonstrated, they have achieved more through ballot box than the UK will ever achieve under the EU!

For England, the English can’t deny that the mix of the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish bring a richness to England. And apart from Anne Robinson, the English I know who have visited Wales enjoy its geographical features and have an appreciation of its Welsh culture, although from my experience much of that has been lost with the closure of its many chapels with the consequent absence of many of the local Gymanfa’s; many chapel buildings have given way for other uses. But taking part in the South Wales 700 strong schools choir in the National Eisteddfod in Caerphilly was an experience never to be forgotten – well now, that is dating me!

If my family had not found work nearby, my wife and I would probably have made our way back to Wales after my retirement. Although so much has altered in Wales we love to return on our frequent visits to family and friends, with our only complaint being charged to cross the bridge! Although not everyone agrees with him, I found Simon Jenkins take on present day Wales, an interesting read.

 

Posted in E. U., Personal, Political Issues, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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