Posts Tagged ‘London’

Carless Cities

January 28, 2014

Most people in Europe and America take it for granted that they can drive their cars wherever they want or need to go, but that could change if planners in some cities have their way. I learned about this development from CNBC via The Drudge Report.

Germany, home of the high-speed autobahn, is perhaps one of the few countries that has had as intense a love affair with the automobile as the U.S. But in an effort to go green, the country’s second-largest city is studying ways to eliminate cars by 2034.

The northern city of Hamburg has laid out an initial concept, named the Green Network Plan, that would expand public transportation and add more routes for pedestrians and bicyclists. The most controversial aspect of the plan calls for a steady phase-out of automobiles in the center of the city over the next two decades.

And Hamburg might not be alone. The idea of banning, or at least reducing, the use of automobiles in city centers has become an increasingly hot topic among urban planners, especially in Europe and other industrialized countries dealing with issues as diverse as congestion and smog.

“Other cities, including London, have green rings, but the green network will be unique in covering an area from the outskirts to the city center,” Hamburg city spokeswoman Angelika Fritsch told The Guardian newspaper. “In 15 to 20 years, you’ll be able to explore the city exclusively on bike and foot.”

There are already a handful of car-free communities around the world, but they’re typically small and often focused on tourists seeking a quaint throwback in time. Examples include Michigan’s Mackinac Island or Sark island off the English Channel coast of the U.K.; perhaps the largest is Venice, which simply has no way to open up roads linking its network of small islands.

But a number of major cities, including the likes of Paris, London and even New York, have been exploring ways to reduce the number of vehicles on their streets, if not to ban vehicles outright.

London introduced a much-debated congestion charge for vehicles driving into the center of the city in 2003. The program had a dual purpose—reducing commuter traffic while also raising new funds to support the city’s expansive mass transit system. The charge is 10 British pounds per day.

Several other cities have adopted a similar approach, though former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s bid to put one in place in crowded Manhattan was blocked by state lawmakers. Nonetheless, changes have been made in several parts of Manhattan, including a stretch near the theater district, to create pedestrian zones to absorb the mass of tourists.

Many urban planners accuse automobiles of killing street life, with roadways often dividing once-connected neighborhoods, and creating endemic air and noise pollution. They also cite them as as being a major factor in pedestrian deaths and injuries.

Lord Richard Rogers, a British architect and long-time advisor on urban issues, suggested last year that London should become “a people space rather than the car space it currently is.”

I’m glad Mayor Bloomberg didn’t get his way, for once. I wonder if Lord Richard Rogers or Angelika Fritsch have any intention of asking the people of London or Hamburg whether they would like to do without automobiles. I have a feeling that a great many of the residents of these and other cities consider that the benefits of being able to go where you want,when you want to outweigh the costs of smog and congestion.I also have a feeling that the urban planners and city spokespeople,as well as other members of the elite, will get some sort of special waiver allowing them to drive, or be driven, in otherwise carless regions.

What do planners and progressives have against the automobile anyway? They have been trying to get us out of our cars and into buses and trains almost since Henry Ford introduced the Model T. Is it the freedom that comes with being able to drive that they resent? Do they prefer it if everyone had to stay in one place? Maybe they think only the proper sort of people, the ones who are environmentally or socially enlightened. Those of us backward peasants should walk or ride the bus. Maybe they really are concerned about congestion or pollution. I agree that these are real problems, especially in older cities with narrower streets and if I lived in New York or Hamburg, I probably wouldn’t find owning an automobile as necessary as I do in rural Indiana, but I think I would resent being told I couldn’t have one, just because urban planners want to make the city where I live a “people space”.

 

 

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Preacher Arrested in London

July 9, 2013

One of the main reasons that I have opposed same sex marriage is that I am certain that it is only a matter of time before churches are compelled to perform such marriages, in defiance of their teachings and doctrine. If you believe that I am raising an unlikely possibility, all I can say is that the activists who favor gay marriage and other items on the radical homosexual agenda have not proved to be very tolerant of opposing viewpoints. Consider the example of the American preacher who was arrested in London for daring to state that homosexuality is a sin.

An American evangelist said he was arrested and interrogated about his Christian faith after he was caught on a London sidewalk preaching that homosexuality is a sin.

Tony Miano, a retired deputy sheriff and former chaplain with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept., was charged with “using homophobic speech that could cause people anxiety, distress, alarm or insult.”

Miano had been preaching on a London street corner during the Wimbledon Tennis Championships with a ministry group called Sports Fan Outreach International.

He was preaching about immoral living – and cited homosexuality as an example of lifestyle choices that are contrary to biblical teaching.

“I never used any gay slurs,” he said. “You would never hear me using slang or discriminatory language against homosexuals or any other group. That would be contrary to my faith.”

At some point, the evangelist quoted I Thessalonians 4:1-2 – a passage of scripture that mentions sexual immorality.

“I talked about women addicted to romance novels, men addicted to pornography, people with lustful thoughts, heterosexual fornication and homosexuality,” Miano told Fox News. “When I mentioned that the Bible was clear that homosexuality is a sin, a lady walked by and she glared at me and hurled the f-bomb.”

Of course she did. People on the Left are not much for reasoned discourse. They prefer insults and censorship.

Miano said the woman came back a short time later and began to videotape his sidewalk sermon. Then, she called the police.

“They were concerned about homophobic speech,” he said. “But I told them I don’t fear homosexuals. The language I used was not homophobic, as I was not promoting fear or hatred of homosexuals.”

Miano said he did not limit his remarks to homosexual acts.

“I did not speak solely about homosexuality as a form of sexual immorality but also about any kind of sex outside marriage between one man and one woman, as well as lustful thoughts,” he said. “All of these are considered mainstream Christian positions and have been taught and believed by Christians for thousands of years.”

The fact that he was preaching positions held by Christians for the last two thousand years is irrelevant, as is the fact that he did not mean to be hateful. Any opposition to the gay lifestyle is hateful and bigoted and must be punished.

“I was made to feel that my thoughts could be held against me,” he said. “The detective also asked me if I thought I was 100 percent right in what I had done. I said yes.”

Miano said he would gladly offer assistance to a homosexual.

“The Christian faith is dictated by the two greatest commandments – to love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor,” he said. “As such, I am compelled to love all people. Had a gay come up and asked me for something to eat, I would have fed him.”

But what troubled Miano is the idea that a hypothetical situation could have been used against him in court.

“I was actually going to be tried for how I thought,” he said.

In an ironic twist, the officers made arrangements to provide the evangelist with a Bible to read in jail – the same book that led to his arrest.

“The same book I read from in public which resulted in my arrest, was now the same book the police were giving to provide me comfort,” he said.

Miano, who is a member of the Evangelical Free Church, has been open-air preaching for eight years. He said this is the first time he’s been arrested.

“It was a rather surreal experience,” the retired deputy sheriff said. “I’ve conducted many interrogations but I’ve never been the subject of one.”

Miano spent about seven hours in jail before he was released without explanation and without an apology.

Now back home in Southern California, Miano said he fears that what happened in Great Britain could soon happen in the United States.

“I believe that’s what our government is going to eventually do here,” he said. “I believe homosexuals or others who are sensitive to their point of view will be visiting churches to listen to what preachers say from the pulpit. And I believe that pastors will be arrested in their pulpits for teaching what the Bible says about homosexuality and other sins.”

Perhaps the first amendment would prevent such an outrage here in America. Maybe not. Freedom of religion would seem to include the freedom of a religious body to decide for itself would constitute sinful conduct, yet we have also seen that the activists care little about such freedom. It may be possible that the recent decision on DOMA by the Supreme Court could be used to justify harassing dissenting churches. Hadley Arkes from National Review Online commented on the day the decision was announced,

These decisions, handed down by the Court today, affect to be limited in their reach, but they are even worse than they appear, and they cannot be cabined. They lay down the predicates for litigation that will clearly unfold now, and with short steps sure to come, virtually all of the barriers to same-sex marriage in this country can be swept away. Even constitutional amendments, passed by so many of the states, can be overridden now. The engine put in place to power this drive is supplied by Justice Kennedy’s “hate speech,” offering itself as the opinion of the Court in U.S. v. Windsor. Kennedy wrote for the Court in striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the part of the act that recognized as “marriage,” in federal law, only the union of a man and woman. In Kennedy’s translation, the Defense of Marriage Act showed its animus in its very title: The defense of marriage was simply another way of disparaging and “denigrating” gays and lesbians, and denying dignity to their “relationships.” As Justice Scalia noted so tellingly in his dissent, Kennedy could characterize then as bigots the 85 senators who voted for the Act, along with the president (Clinton) who signed it. Every plausible account of marriage as a relation of a man and woman can then be swept away, as so much cover for malice and blind hatred.

As Scalia suggested, that opinion can now become the predicate for challenges to the laws on marriage in all of the States. A couple of the same sex need merely go into a federal court and invoke Justice Kennedy’s opinion in the DOMA case (U.S. v. Windsor): The Supreme Court has declared now that a law that refuses to recognize same-sex marriage is animated by a passion to demean and denigrate. Any such law cannot find a rational ground of justification. As Kennedy had famously said in Romer v. Evans, those kinds of laws can be explained only in terms of an irrational “animus.”

Read the part I put in bold. Arkes is only referring to the fact that any state law restricting marriage to a man and a woman can now be overturned, but consider the wider implication here. If the belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman is not a sincerely held religious belief but animated by malice and blind hatred and is an irrational animus, then wouldn’t it be acceptable to use the law to force churches to comply with same-sex marriage. Wouldn’t preaching against homosexuality be hate speech, to be discouraged and even forbidden. This may seem like overreaching, but I fully expect some sort of effort along these lines in the next couple of years.

Jews in Europe

January 30, 2013

In his article in The Daily Beast, British writer Jonathan Freedland presents a more optimistic appraisal of the state of the Jews in Europe than is usually the case with America writers. He argues that anti-Semitism is not nearly as pervasive in Europe as Americans choose to believe.

My inbox is giving me a queasy sensation of déjà vu. It’s filling up with anguished claims that British schools are banning the teaching of Hebrew. As it happens, no such thing has occurred. The government has simply proposed that elementary schools be required to teach one of a list of seven officially recommended languages: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Mandarin, ancient Latin, or Greek. Hebrew is no more about to be banned than is Arabic or Russian. Jewish schools will still be able to teach Hebrew. It’s just that, if the move goes ahead, they’ll also have to teach French, Spanish, or one of the other approved seven languages.

The feeling of déjà vu arises because six years ago I received an email titled “In Memoriam.” It announced that British schools had banned the teaching of the Holocaust, lest Muslim pupils be offended. The email declared this to be “a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.” Spurred into action, the New York Post published a lament by Barry Rubin, denouncing “UK Schools’ Sickening Silence.”

Sickening it would indeed have been. Except not a word of the accusation was true. The teaching of the Holocaust was and remains compulsory in English schools. (Indeed, a long-running scheme in operation then and now ensures two seniors from every high school in the country visit Auschwitz on trips subsidized by the U.K. government.) The story was a fabrication, arising from a research study that had found—and criticized—a single teacher in a single English school who had avoided selecting the Shoah for specialist coursework because she suspected a resistance to the topic among some Muslim pupils. Government ministers condemned the action of that single teacher and reiterated that the subject was a mandatory part of the curriculum.

Forgive all the detail, but this is becoming a regular task for a British Jew: reassuring our American friends that, no, we are not living in a new dark age and, no, the lights are not going out all over Europe. We are getting used to the fact that U.S. Jews seem ready to believe the worst of this part of the world. In the two cases I’ve mentioned, many Americans were all too willing to accept that British Jews were about to become latter-day Marranos, driven underground by an anti-Semitic government and its jihadist allies, huddling together to teach their children about the Holocaust in Hebrew whispers.

He has a point. It is possible that the Muslim population of Europe does not have quite the numbers or power that we in America believe them to have, at least not yet. Still, it is hard to imagine that all of the reports of “Londonistan” or “Eurabia” are exaggerations. Freedland does allow that there is often harsh criticism of Israel throughout Europe, but that has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

Which brings us to another crucial distinction. Episodes that Americans see as evidence of growing European hostility to Jews are often understood by European Jews to be criticism of Israel—in fact, not even criticism of Israel itself, but rather of a specific strain of Israeli policy: what we might call the Greater Israel project of continuing and expanding settlement of the West Bank. When European governments either abstained or voted for the Palestinian upgrade to semi-statehood at the U.N. in November, plenty in Israel and the U.S. saw that as yet another example of age-old European hostility to the Jews. But very few Jews here saw it the same way. We understood it for what it was, an attempt by governments avowedly sympathetic to Israel’s right to security to revive the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their calculation might have been wrong, but it was not anti-Semitic. Yet one regular on the academic anti-Semitism studies circuit tells me that U.S. speakers repeatedly cite examples of anti-Israel discourse as if they were synonymous with instances of anti-Jewish racism. A scholar in his own right, he is infuriated that

his colleagues fail to make this critical distinction.

We can be certain anti-Semitism is not a factor since they hold Israel’s enemies to the same high standard as they do Israel. Oh wait…

More importantly, they fail to notice the intriguing paradox of European Jews’ current position—that there are dangers, but also great triumphs. Take Britain. Jews here can feel unease at the tenor of the national conversation on Israel—a newspaper cartoon here, a politician’s turn of phrase there—but they also enjoy a Jewish life that is in many ways richer than ever before. Limmud, the annual festival of Jewish learning that has gone global, began here, while Jewish Book Week has become London’s biggest literary festival. The Booker Prize for 2011 was won by a novel about Jews, The Finkler Question, written by a man who has chronicled the British-Jewish sensibility better than anyone, Howard Jacobson. British TV currently airs not one but two highly rated sitcoms depicting Jewish family life. Meanwhile, if the current polls hold till 2015, Britain’s next prime minister is set to be the first Jewish leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband—who repeatedly stresses the pride he takes in his Jewish roots. Not bad for a Jewish community that, according to the latest census, numbers just over 260,000, less than 0.5 percent of the British population.

 

This is why the Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Jewish racism, opens its report with an insistence that “British Jewry should be defined by its success and vibrancy rather than by anti-Semitism.” That is true of Britain but also beyond. Mark Gardner, director of communications for the CST, used to compare the European-Jewish situation to a glass that some will see as half full, others as half empty. Now he says, “There are two glasses, one half full, one half empty, and they stand side by side.” That sounds sufficiently nuanced to be correct. But don’t expect anyone to be putting that message in an email.

I am neither Jewish nor European, so I don’t really know whether Freedland, or those spreading scare stories tells a more accurate account. I do, however, have a strange feeling that an article like this could have been written in Weimar Germany.

Auschwitz concentration camp, arrival of Hunga...

It couldn’t happen again, could it? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Church for Atheists

January 6, 2013

This sounds a bit like the old joke about an atheist at his funeral: all dressed up and no place to go, but it seems to be real enough. I read about the first church for atheists at wnd.com.

It’s believed to be the first “atheist church” and it is scheduled to hold its first “service” on Sunday in London, according to a report from The Christian Institute.

“Stand-up comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, who are behind the ‘church,’ say they like many aspects of religion but don’t believe in God,” the Institute reported yesterday.

So no problem. They’ve created plans for now for a once-a-month meeting for those who, well, don’t believe.

“We thought it would be a shame not to enjoy the good stuff about religion, like the sense of community, just because of a theological disagreement,” Jones said in a report by the Institute.

The result? “It’s part atheist church and part foot-stomping show. There will be a speaker on a theme each month but there will also be an awesome house band, which Pippa will lead. We’ll be helping people try and stick to their new year’s resolutions in the first service.

Actually, if they want the “good stuff” about religion without the trouble of believing in a deity, they need not go through all the effort of founding their own church. All they really have to do is join the nearest Unitarian Universalist congregation. There, they will find a church where belief in God is optional. Or, since this is in London England, they should just join the Anglicans. They really don’t believe in much of anything these days except, perhaps, the desirability of Britain adopting Sharia law.

Seriously, though, I am not sure if Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones are going to find what they are looking for. There are many churches of various denominations that have become little more than social clubs and in which God is rarely mentioned, except as a sort of cosmic security blanket. These churches that make no demands on their members, whether of faith or standards seem not to flourish. If this Atheist Church is little more than a place for atheists to get together and talk about how wonderful it is not to believe in God, than I don’t expect much to come of it.

 

Islamic Science

June 11, 2012

There are many Islamophobes in the West who believe that the Muslims have not contributed anything significant to humanity’s scientific progress in the last few centuries. Sure, the Arabs invented algebra, and made spectacular contributions to the sciences of chemistry, optics and astronomy, but all of that was a thousand years ago. What have they done recently? Well, I am happy to report that scientists  in the Middle East have been engaged in the most cutting edge research.

There is Sultan Bashirudden Mahmood. He was a leading figure in the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and was the man most responsible for Pakistan’s development of atomic weapons. He also happened to be very supportive of the Taliban and al-Qaida, until he was arrested for meeting with Osama bin Laden. He has since devoted himself to exploring the connection between Islam and science and has proposed using the power of Jinn (that is genies) to resolve the energy crisis. No, I am not making that up.

It was in the 1980’s that Mr. Bashiruddin Mahmood emerged as a proponent of ”Islamic science,” espousing among other things that djinni could be tapped to solve the energy crisis. He published a book called ”The Mechanics of Doomsday and Life After Death.”

”I think that if we develop our souls, we can develop communication with them,” Mr. Bashiruddin Mahmood said about djinni in The Wall Street Journal in an interview in 1998. ”Every new idea has its opponents,” he added. ”But there is no reason for this controversy over Islam and science because there is no conflict between Islam and science.”

But what has really impressed me is this article I read in Jihadwatch. Evidently there is a Shi’ite cleric in London who has made an astonishing discovery on the origin of homosexuality

“London-Based Shiite Cleric Yasser Al-Habib in Anti-Sunni Rhetoric: The Caliph Omar Had an Anal Disease that Made Him Addicted to Homosexuality,” from MEMRI, May 24:

Following are excerpts from an address by London-based Kuwaiti Shiite cleric Yasser Habib, which aired on Fadak TV on May 24, 2012. Fadak TV is dominated by Sheik Habib, who fled Kuwait in 2004 following a one-year prison term for cursing the Caliphs Omar and Abu Bakr and Prophet Muhammad’s wife Aisha. He was then sentenced in absentia for 10 years in prison. In September 2010, Kuwait revoked his citizenship.Yasser Habib: Anyone who consents to being called “Emir of the Believers” is a passive homosexual. Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, for example, who willingly assumed this title, was, without a doubt, a passive homosexual. The same goes for the caliphs Othman Ibn Affan, Muawiyya, Yazid, and the rulers and sultans of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties, as well as some of the rulers and sultans of our day and age. For example, the king of Morocco bears this title, and he is referred to as “the Emir of the Believers” by the [Moroccan] media. This is how you know that he is a passive homosexual.

This is in addition to the evidence revealed by Western media, which showed that the current king of Morocco is indeed a passive homosexual who belongs to the homosexual community. This was leaked from his palace by his assistants, his servants, and his “boys,” whom he would penetrate and who would penetrate him. They fled to Europe, sought asylum, and exposed all this.

Another such example is the person who ruled Afghanistan for a short time – the so-called Mullah Omar.

[…]

It is told [in the hadith] that Omar Ibn Al-Khattab had an anal disease, which could be cured only by semen. One should know that this is a well-known medical condition, which is also mentioned in sacred texts. Someone who, God forbid, has been penetrated in the anus – a worm grows within him, due to the semen discharged in him… A disease develops in his anus, and as a result, he cannot calm down, unless… That’s right, it becomes like an addiction, and he cannot calm down unless he is penetrated again and again.

[…]

The Shiites are undoubtedly protected from this disease, and from committing this abominable and hideous act.

[…]

As for the Nasibis [who hate the Prophet Muhammad’s family], they are definitely afflicted with this homosexuality.

[…]

One of the devils is present at the birth of every human being. If Allah knows that the newborn is one of our Shiites, He fends off that devil, who cannot harm the newborn. But if the newborn is not one of our Shiites, the devil inserts his index finger into the anus of the newborn, who thus becomes a passive homosexual. If the newborn is not a Shiite, the devil inserts his index finger into this newborn’s anus, and when he grows up, he becomes a passive homosexual. If the newborn is a female, the devil inserts his index finger into her vagina, and she becomes a whore….

 

There you have it. If you are gay and prefer to be a “bottom“, than the Devil stuck his finger up your butt just after you were born. This also explains why, as President Ahmadinejad could be sure that there were no homosexuals in Iran. It makes perfect sense to me.

 

 

Fuel for Electric Cars

June 21, 2011

Here is something amazing from MIT. Some students have learned how to store the electrons, (that provide the electricity for electric cars, and everything else for that matter), in a semi-solid “gel” that can fill up an electric car, not unlike filling up a car with gasoline.

Forgoing the traditional route of storing electrons in either nickel or lithium-ion, the MIT students have figured out a way to store electricity in semi-solid flow cells. Called “Cambridge Crude,” the charged particles are stored in an electrolyte gel that can be removed and refilled when drained, not unlike how we currently fill our cars with gasoline. The gel would move between a charging area, and dispensing area, sending electrons straight to the drivetrain. Perhaps even more importantly though, this technology can (supposedly) store 10x more electricity, at half the price of current conventional battery technology.
They are working on building a prototype in about 18  months. As the article says, this could be a game-changer that actually makes the electric car feasible.
There is one problem that I can see. If  electric cars do become common, maybe even only 10% of the cars on the road, then the demand for electricity will go up. Since we are not building many power plants, it is likely the price of energy will go up, making the electric car less economical than a regular car and sort of defeating the purpose of introducing them in the first place.
Anyway, there is more information here.

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