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They Call It Female Circumcision.
I have felt bone-chilling fear twice in my life.
The first occasion was while filming a television report about little British-born girls from London’s Somali community being sent abroad to have their genitals mutilated.
They call it female circumcision – an inadequate description of the radical and primitive surgery they’re forced to undergo.
Teachers in their schools had wept as they described bright young pupils of five or six coming back at the end of the holidays in agony and in deep shock, no longer able to manage the lavatory without crying out.

The local Imam, when I challenged him about such a barbaric practice, which he justified as a religious and cultural necessity to ensure their purity at marriage, had steely eyes which bored through me.
“In the not too distant future”, he intoned, “all British girls will be circumcised when Islam rules this country”.

( Jenny Murray )

Five Doctors Held Her Down And Killed Her Baby.
A family complained to the police when their five-year-old son was stolen.
They could not afford a bribe.
The hated Birth Control Committee in their village took an interest – but only because they had two other children, thereby breaking the sacred Birth Policy.
They were both forcibly sterilized.
Huang, the father, was given no anaesthetic.

“Eight men held me down. I thought I was going to die”, he said. “They dumped me outside like an animal”.
Jin Yani, a young wife from northern China, came under scrutiny when officials learned she was pregnant and had married without an official certificate.
When she was nine months pregnant, she was dragged from her bed in her nightdress and taken to a dirty clinic where her baby was murdered.
Five doctors held her down as they induced an abortion and killed the baby.
She is now sterile.

( Richard Jones )

Bombing The Zeppelin Sheds.
In late 1914, the first long-range air attacks were undertaken by the Royal Naval Air Service against the Zeppelin sheds in Cologne and Dusseldorf.

The German airships were a menace to British shipping and a threat to British cities.
The inspiration behind the attacks was the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill.
British seaplanes were based in the Channel to protect the waterway and to shorten the distance to Germany.
The attacks proved effective and continued into 1915.
That year the Admiralty developed plans to attack German industry as well, but they were suspended in the spring of 1917.
Churchill was always an enthusiast for bombing and aerial attacks on German industry were approved a few days after he became Prime Minister in May 1940.

Executions In Death Vans.
It is now the second-largest economy in the world and the manufacturer of almost everything we need.
It is tempting to believe there has been progress, too, in China’s respect for human dignity.
Premier Wen Jiabao would like us to think so.

He told David Cameron: “On human rights, China and the UK should respect each other, respect the facts, treat each other as equals”.
But after 20 years reporting from all corners of China, I am confident these words are not merely empty: they are a travesty.
If anything, abuse is worse, thanks to new technology.
Once, executions took place in a field with a bullet to the back of the head.
Now, there are lethal injections in specially made ‘death vans’.
( Richard Jones )

An Obscene Miscarriage Of Justice.
WPC Yvonne Fletcher was policing a protest outside the Libyan embassy in London in the spring of 1984.
A burst of semi-automatic gunfire from a window in the embassy hit the unarmed WPC Fletcher in the stomach.
Her policeman fiancé was also on duty at the protest and he was at her side as she lay on the ground.
Yvonne was taken to Westminster Hospital where she died one hour later of her wounds.
WPC Yvonne Fletcher was 25 years old.
She has been dead for 27 years.
The coward who murdered her has been free and unpunished for 27 years – for, after an 11-day siege, everyone inside the Libyan embassy was allowed to leave and given free passage to the airport and a flight back to Tripoli.
Diplomatic immunity, you see.
And it’s one of the most obscene miscarriages of justice ever seen on British soil.
( Tony Parsons )

The Men Who Fought In Korea Deserve To Be Remembered.
More British troops died in the Korean War than in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
The Korean conflict is in danger of becoming our forgotten war, and it shouldn’t be, not only because of the palpable good it achieved but also because the fighting was of an intensity which, thankfully, no war has matched since.
Without the Korean War, a prosperous nation of nearly 50 million would be living in near slavery in the grim north.
The men who fought with the UN force deserve to be remembered better than they currently are.

Greece Gave Us The Idea Of Political Liberty.
I don’t like a big general, with a swaggering, straddling kind of gait.
And with his curls all combed.
Let mine be one who is small and bandy, stands with feet firmly planted on the ground, and is full of heart.
( Archilochus, c.680BC – c.645BC )
Archilochus is saying he doesn’t like authority and people bossing him around – which makes him one of the earliest embodiments of the Greek idea of liberty.
The greatest thing that ancient Greece has given us is the idea of political liberty.
Archilochus was revered by the ancient Greeks as one of their most brilliant writers.

You Will Never Defeat Us.
The attacks on 9/11 destroyed so much that can never be recovered – and yet life goes on.
And that is the ultimate message of 9/11 – for us, and to the men who would fly planes with terrified children into skyscrapers, who carry bombs in rucksacks on to Tube trains, the fanatics who would happily dance on our graves.
You can hate us.
You can bomb us.
You can destroy our proudest buildings, and slaughter our loved ones, and murder our brightest and our best.
But hear this – you will never defeat us.
( Tony Parsons )

Who Was Really Responsible?
The attack on the Twin Towers wasn’t made because Bin Laden ‘hated our way of life’.
It was aimed at driving US forces out of Saudi Arabia, and compelling Washington to support a Palestinian state.

How do we know this?
First, because one of the culprits said so.

Abdulaziz al-Omari, almost certainly the man who flew the American Airlines plane into the North Tower, made a pre-suicide video, which was briefly shown on Al Jazeera TV in September 2002.
This homicidal fanatic had dressed carefully for his last message.
He was shown wearing a chequered ‘keffiyeh’ head-scarf, of the type associated with Palestinian cause.
What was his aim?
In his own words, his planned murders were to be ‘a message to all infidels and to America to leave the Arabian Peninsula and stop supporting the cowardly Jews in Palestine’.

Almost exactly a month after the Twin Towers fell, President George W Bush declared that the US now supported a Palestinian State.
US troops were withdrawn from Saudi Arabia in 2003.
Afghanistan, ‘Al Qaeda’ and Bin Laden is, and always was, a sideshow.
( Peter Hitchens )

The Least Discussed Genocide In World History.
After European colonisation of the Americas, and with the formation of the Canadian and United States governments, both countries passed laws intended to suppress Native cultures and encourage assimilation to majority-European culture.
They banned Indigenous ceremonies and, in many schools and other areas, prohibited Indigenous people from speaking their native languages.
In some cases they were not allowed to visit sacred sites when these had been excluded from the territory of reservations.
One hundred million Native Americans lost their land, their culture, and their lives, in one of the least discussed genocides in world history.

Spoken Before The Iraq Invasion.
There are known knowns.
These are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns.
That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know.
But there are also unknown unknowns.
There are things we don’t know we don’t know.
( Donald Rumsfeld, former US Defence Secretary )

Computers Don’t Care.
Cognitive scientists recognise a restlessness in the human mind, a need to do something with our thoughts and to pursue goals.
Being human means grasping for something more.
The computer is a passive system.
Its goals and the strength of its drive to reach them are those given it by the designer.

Left to itself, it will sit inert, awaiting further orders.
We will not.
We look for new goals, and are forced to solve problems we did not have before.

Artificial intelligence researchers doubt whether they can build a similar restlessness or curiosity into a computer.
They can program a computer to seek new avenues and investigate new problems, but it does so because of its program, not because it wants to.
Computers don’t “want”, they don’t feel good, bad or sad.

Computers don’t care.
The computer is neither pleased nor displeased by its own creation, unlike every human artist.

The challenge facing computer programmers may shed light on the choices God faced in creating human beings.
Presumably, God could have designed a human brain more like a computer, leaving out any neurological restlessness.

Animals seem content living out the singular goal of survival, without the need to reflect on themselves or grasp for more.
Yet when God created humans, he built in restlessness, along with curiosity and desire, in full awareness they could lead the human to choose the wrong path.
That freedom, a reflection of God’s image and our greatest advantage as human beings, can turn into a terrible disadvantage.

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