Friday, November 11, 2011

Beware of those who claim to care about "social justice" while supporting abortion

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
John 12:3-6

Malcolm Muggeridge commented on the passage above with words to the effect of "The disciple who betrayed Jesus was the one most strongly committed to social justice." An example of this is Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG), which says, on its About Us page:

Our Mandate

APIRG is a student-run, student-funded, non-profit organization dedicated to research, education, advocacy, and action in the public interest. APIRG exists to provide students with resources to be active citizens.

Basis of Unity

We believe the way to create positive social change is to provide individuals with the information and tools they need to become active citizens and to participate effectively in their communities.

Statement of Values

AP!RG considers an equitable environment to be a part of positive social change. We acknowledge that social change is achievable and see social awareness as a valuable facet of the public interest. We see anti-oppression as a process that acknowledges the existence of systemic oppression (including, but not limited to, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, and ableism). Through practices and policies, we seek to actively identify, challenge and address oppression wherever it exists, in all its various forms, and to actively encourage opportunities for social awareness and change. Further, we recognize and respect that systems of oppression interact in different ways and affect each person differently.

About APIRG

APIRG is a PIRG. PIRG stands for Public Interest Research Group. PIRGs are student organizations based on the premise that students are citizens, and as such, part of their education should include recognizing and engaging in societal problems. PIRGs exist to provide training, support, and opportunities for students to be active citizens in their communities. Through involvement with PIRGs, thousands of Canadian students have learned skills in consensus decision-making, group facilitation, events organizing, media relations, and community-based research. These skills help individuals to act effectively in the public interest.

On November 10, 2011, an event called the "It Used to Be Cool" Pro-Choice Dance Party was held on the campus of the University of Alberta, hosted by Voices for Choices, the U of A's pro-abortion group. Click on the above link to the event promo, and you'll read, "Thanks to the Alberta Public Interest Research Group for their continued support and funding assistance." If that link is no longer valid, you can see the ad for the event, as it appeared on posters displayed on campus, in The Gateway for November 9, 2011 (scroll down to page 3); you'll notice the APIRG logo prominently displayed at the bottom.

The reader will notice that nowhere in APIRG's Statement of Values are unborn human beings mentioned among those being oppressed, but I can't think of a more severe form of oppression than being torn to shreds in the womb of one's mother. Rather, I view those practicing abortion as the worst kind of oppressors. I also flatly reject the idea that abortion is "positive social change" or is in the "public interest."

For those who haven't yet noticed that the people who support the pro-abortion agenda also support the pro-homosexuality agenda, I offer the following from the Voices for Choice Constitution (the reader will note that the "values" of "choice" and "queer positivity" are associated with those of feminism):

Voices for Choices is a non-hierarchical, collective group of individuals who are working to establish and promote a pro-choice, sex and queer-positive, as well as woman-friendly presence on and around the University of Alberta campus and the City of Edmonton.

Our goals are to:

- Disseminate fact-based information on the options available to pregnant women, safer sex, sexuality, and sexual health.
- Form and expand a pro-choice community on campus and around the city of Edmonton while deepening its knowledge and feelings of solidarity.
- Reflect the values of harm reduction, sex and queer positivity, as well as feminism while also being open to peaceful, respectful, and constructive dialogue

A university fraternity that exhibits characteristics of a cult

Among the characteristics typically found in cults are sleep deprivation, isolation, paddling, and perverse initiation rituals for prospective members. Another item from the backlog--as reported by Alexandria Eldridge in The Gateway, October 21, 2010:

The Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity at the University of Alberta tells pledges to eat their own vomit, deprives them of sleep, and closes them in a plywood box as part of a four-day initiation process, according to video footage from January 2010 obtained by The Gateway.

According to the DKE International Risk Management Policy posted on their website, hazing by any chapter, student, or alumnus is prohibited. Having the permission of a person being hazed is not a defence.

DKE International defines hazing as:

"Any action taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off fraternity premises, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule. Such activities may include but are not limited to the following: use of alcohol; paddling in any form; creation of excessive fatigue; physical and psychological shocks [… and] morally degrading or humiliating games and activities."

A DKE (Deke) alumnus, who wished to remain anonymous to protect his identity, and who will be referred to as Joe, described his experience during initiation as traumatic.

"[Pledges are] not told what happens. There's very little care actually done for them. They're stolen from, they're taken advantage of, they're yelled at [...], they're not told when it will end," Joe said. "They're definitely hurt mentally and physically at the end of it."

According to Joe, the initiation weekend took place last year near the end of January. Pledges arrive at the Deke house on Thursday and do not leave until Sunday, except to go to class on Friday.

During check-in, when pledges arrive at the house, the initiated Deke brothers, who are active members or alumni, put the food and alcohol each pledge brings into the communal fridge.

One of the videos shows a pledge being yelled at by at least five of the active members or alumni during check-in because he brought two small cans of beans instead of one large can.

"Do you have a problem following instructions? Because if you do, your life is going to become extremely difficult […] Do you have a learning disability? Are you retarded?"

The video also shows the pledges being told to do wall sits, being pressured into taking a bite out of a raw onion, and being pressured into eating raw eggs, to which one brother says, "go salmonella."

Video footage also shows pledges attending an off-campus dinner, where they eat food that is intentionally disgusting and then smoke a cigar as quickly as possible after eating. Joe explained that for these reasons, some pledges vomit and then eat their vomit.

"As far as I know, no chemical is added to the food, and there's always a percentage of the people that just eat it," Joe said. "But here are the instructions — get him to eat as much as possible, get him to puke; when he pukes, try to get him to clean up his plate. His plate should be empty, including his vomit."

Over the weekend, the brothers also hold extended exercise drills for the pledges called "circles." One alumnus, called the circle master, stands in the middle of a group of pledges, who are surrounded by active members and alumni. The pledges must do and say whatever the circle master tells them to, including sit-ups and push-ups, while being yelled at by their surrounding brothers.

Multiple times over the weekend, pledges also go into "the Hilton," a plywood box that Joe described as being a confined space. He said that the brothers alter the size by putting desks and chairs inside of it.

"I'm guessing you could possibly stuff 30 people in there, but if you've got a class of 15, you just close off half. You couldn't stand in it."

Joe said that often, someone will squirt ketchup or throw food into the Hilton, or urinate inside before the pledges enter. The pledges usually won't stay in the Hilton for any more than 15 minutes, and Joe said that anyone who is claustrophobic is not forced in.

According to a sample list obtained by The Gateway, pledges are also instructed to bring wooden paddles to the initiation weekend. According to Joe, brothers are never, under any circumstances, allowed to actually hit pledges with the paddles. However, Joe said pledges are never told that they will not be paddled and thinks the paddles add to the atmosphere of intimidation.

Many hours over the weekend are also spent in "meditations." Pledges are instructed to sit upright facing the wall, but are not allowed to sleep. The alumni play extremely loud, repetitive music. After a few hours, Joe said many people start to hallucinate.

According to Joe, during the final stage of initiation, all of the pledges individually appear before a tribunal of active members and alumni and are told they did not make it into the fraternity. Then they all come together in a ritual where a brother will ask anyone who did not make it into the fraternity to step forward. Everybody steps forward.

The video indicates that over the course of the weekend, the personal property of the pledges is often stolen. At one point on the video, one brother says to another, "we steal their shit." Joe added that other things are simply ruined because pledges' belongings are kept in the basement, where circles occur, so things are often trampled.

Joe added that the pledges get no substantial time to sleep. According to schedules obtained by The Gateway, the pledges are only allotted time to sleep for a half hour on Friday night and for five 15-minute intervals and one half-hour interval on Saturday night.

In addition to sleep deprivation, Joe said the pledges are also encouraged to drink large amounts of alcohol throughout the weekend, but this is not mandatory.

"I've always wondered if it's better to get drunk or not. Because the alcohol dehydrates you, but the alcohol definitely helps deal with the trauma. If you're hammered through the whole thing, you're going to have a lot less nightmares than if you're sober the whole time," Joe said.

After Friday night, pledges are not allowed to leave the initiations. On the video, a group of alumni discuss the basic rule that once someone starts on Friday, they can't leave until Sunday unless it's a special circumstance.

Joe explained that some of the pledges actually enjoy the challenge of initiations, and many of the brothers enjoy it as well, but he feels it's unfair that pledges do not know what to expect from initiations before they begin.

"I'd call it hazing, I call it abuse. I think the better word is abuse. You get abused, absolutely."

A second Deke alumnus, who also wished to remain anonymous, confirmed the information listed above.

Mike Siebert, President of the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the governing body of fraternities on the U of A campus, did not respond to specific allegations, but said that the IFC has a zero-tolerance policy towards hazing...

...DKE International did not respond to request for comment as of press time. A spokesperson for the DKE alumni association denied the allegations.

"We never would do anything to offend the honour of any of our own guys or any potential member either," the spokesperson said.

According to a sidebar The Gateway, the DKE initiation schedule was as follows (based on documents obtained by The Gateway):

Thursday
Check-in: Pledges bring food and alcohol to be put into the communal fridge
Dinner: Pledges are taken to an off-campus location for a dinner where they often vomit.
International Exam: Pledges take an exam about the history of DKE.

Friday
"Rude Awakening" and Run: Pledges are woken up after half an hour of sleep and taken on a run under the High Level Bridge
Classes or Cleaning: Pledges who have class can attend, accompanied by their big brothers, while those left behind clean the house.
Dinner: Pledges are taken to a restaurant for dinner, where they are encouraged, but not mandated, to drink heavily.
Beta's Charge: Pledges are told they are on probation with DKE and that initiations have begun. At this point, pledges cannot leave initiations.

Saturday
The Hilton: Pledges are introduced to "the Hilton," where they wait while the basement is set up for circles.
Circles: Pledges participate in an extended exercise drill where they are required to do physical activity.
Meditations: Pledges listen to repetitive music for hours and are not allowed to sleep.

Sunday
The Final Stage: Pledges are driven off-campus for the final stage of initiations.
Kickouts: Pledges individually appear before a tribunal and are told they did not make it into the fraternity.
Initiations end: One brother tells all the pledges that whoever didn't make it into the fraternity should step forward. Everybody steps forward, signalling the end of initiations.



There was considerable fallout from the story. On December 10, 2010, DKE International provisionally suspended the University of Alberta chapter for three years, and on January 27, 2011, U of A Dean of Students Frank Robinson announced that the U of A chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon was being suspended from affiliation with the university for five years.

That hasn't been the end of the story. On September 20, 2011, University of Alberta Protective Services confirmed that they had opened an investigation into a complaint that members of DKE had been seen recruiting on campus during student orientation, which would be a violation of the terms of the fraternity's suspension. According to a News in Brief item from The Gateway, November 9, 2011:

Four members of the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity have been charged for attempting to recruit students on campus, violating the five-year suspension imposed on the fraternity last January following allegations of hazing.

UAPS Director Bill Mowbray said the four students were charged under the code of student behaviour, which was handled by the Office of Judicial Affairs. A decision was then rendered by the office’s discipline officer.

The office was unable to comment on the nature of the discipline imposed, citing confidentiality for all cases.

The investigation took about two weeks to conduct, according to Mowbray. The case was forwarded to Mowbray for investigation by the Office of the Dean of Students, who received a video of DKE members engaging in recruitment activities during orientation.

The incident was recorded by several students aware of the DKE’s suspension, who subsequently complained to the Office of the Dean of Students.

Dean of Students Frank Robinson said he was unable to comment now that the investigation has closed. However, he said the office is looking to add an official definition of hazing in the U of A’s code of student behaviour, which it’s currently lacking.

Interfraternity Council (IFC) President Kevin Thomas said it’s important to note that the DKE members were violating more than just their suspension.

“It wasn’t just that they weren’t supposed to be doing what they were doing. It’s that they were doing something that no student group is allowed to do, which is soliciting on campus,” Thomas said.

Another casualty of "holistic healing" in Canada

If the following item seems somewhat familiar, it may be because it resembles this item from a few months ago.

As reported by The Canadian Press, November 11, 2011:

RICHMOND, B.C. - Five B.C. residents, including a woman nearly killed by arsenic poisoning and left a quadriplegic, are sharing more than $340,000 as a result of a settlement involving a self-proclaimed holistic healer.

Money from the settlement came from property seized from the defendant and sold under the B.C. government's civil forfeiture legislation.

The government says the defendant, Selena Tsui, was not charged in the case after the Crown concluded there was no substantial likelihood of conviction on any criminal charges.

The government says between 2000 and 2004, Tsui told at least a dozen people she was qualified to diagnose and treat diseases, including mental conditions, when in fact she had no formal training.

One of her clients, identified only as E.L., began taking a concoction she believed contained mushrooms and herbs, but had extreme arsenic levels, and she suffered respiratory and renal failure, cardiac arrest and paralysis.

She was taken to hospital, put on life support and given a five per cent chance of survival, but her life was eventually saved.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Could pilotless drones help to fulfil end-time prophecy?

And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?...
...And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world...
...And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
Revelation 13: 4, 7-8, 11-15

Nat Hentoff wrote on the subject of pilotless drones in his WorldNet Daily column of November 8, 2011. I find it interesting that Mr. Hentoff, who professes to be an atheist, speculates on the possibility of Americans following a robot president:

But there are experts who believe that there are indeed people who can create ethical, responsible robots. Enter Ronald C. Arkin, author of "Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots." Among his credentials: This study was financed by the U.S. Army Research Office. Don't you trust the judgment of that official government level of validation?

Arkin, assures the Washington Post and us that "lethal autonomy is inevitable," robots having graduated from science fiction into real-time existence; competing with human chess champions, for one widely publicized example. But on the warfare level we're discussing, Arkin, reports Finn, "believes it is possible to build ethical military drones and robots, capable of using deadly force while programmed to adhere to international humanitarian law and the rules of engagement. "He said software can be created that would lead machines to return fire with proportionality, minimize collateral damage, recognize surrender, and, in the case of uncertainty, maneuver to reassess or wait for a human assessment."

If you are still skeptical, Lora G. Weiss, chief scientist at Georgia Tech Research Institute, adds: "How a war-fighting unit may think – we are trying to make our systems behave like that."

Is it possible, then, that eventually we'll have such corrosive distrust of our incompetent government, as we have come to know it, that we will put our faith in a robotic president so precisely and totally connected to the Bill of Rights and the rest of the Constitution that we will have no reason to doubt it?

You think I'm kidding? I sure hope so. I am glad to introduce Johann Borenstein, in charge of the Mobile Robotics Lab at the University of Michigan.

He tells the Washington Post that human skills will remain critical in battle far into the future, emphasizing: "The foremost of all skills is common sense. Robots don't have common sense and won't have common sense in the next 50 years, or however long one might want to guess."

But how long will future generations want to guess? In any case, why now, President Barack Obama, is it wise to conduct our warfare against terrorists who may ultimately have pilotless technology to kill us? And beyond the next election, what will future presidents think of saving the lives of our human soldiers by depending on soulless robotic drones?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More evidence that yesterday's liberalism has become today's evangelicalism

In 1983, at the 11th World Congress of the International Council of Christian Churches at Cape May, New Jersey, Dr. Samuel H. Tow of Singapore delivered an important and prescient address titled "Today's Evangelicals, Tomorrow's Liberals." The title is equally true if reversed: Individuals and ideas regarded as liberal in 1983 are now considered "evangelical" (e.g., Jim Wallis).

From a column by Charles Lewis titled Tarring all evangelicals in the National Post, November 7, 2011:

Trinity Western University, an evangelical school, has been consistently ranked as one of the top academic schools in the country...

...In Ottawa, TWU runs the Laurentian Leadership Centre. It is meant for their brightest students who are contemplating careers in public life. I visited the centre about four years ago and spoke to many of the students. None seemed to be too fussed about gay marriage or even abortion. To them, the burning issues of the day were debt relief and global poverty. Politically, they were all over the map, including some Green party activists.

In the United States there are a number of top flight schools — Baylor, Samford, Eastern — that are all evangelical. Wheaton College in Illinois is as tough to get into as Harvard. I’ve spoken to many of their people and again they are far and a way some of the smartest people I have met. It too is an evangelical school.

When it comes to the American schools mentioned above, some might question just how "evangelical" they are, and might argue that they're examples of how evangelicalism has morphed into liberalism. Mr. Lewis's comment about the students at Trinity Western University offers further support to this argument; today's "evangelical" students at their "evangelical" schools have priorities and opinions that are indistinguishable from those of the non-Christian world around them. A "textbook" example is The King's University College in Edmonton, Alberta. Click on the link for Micah Centre, then on the link titled "God's Politics," and it takes you straight to the blog of Sojourners, run by Jim Wallis, who I've always regarded as a Communist masquerading as a Christian. Mr. Wallis's views haven't changed in 50 years, but evangelicalism has moved so far to the left that it's caught up to him. Such are the results of Christians "engaging" the culture ("engagement" is the early 21st century equivalent of "appeasement," which carried a positive connotation as late as the Munich peace summit in 1938, and became a dirty word only after Adolf Hitler continued his aggression).

The trouble with "New Evangelicalism" is that it started on the wrong foot. The old-style fundamentalists, such as those in the ICCC, insisted on separation from liberal denominations. The "New Evangelicals," however, condemned the fundamentalists as lacking in love, and said that one could be affiliated with, for instance, the National Association of Evangelicals, without separating from a liberal denomination. The results have been exactly as the fundamentalists predicted.