Archive | August 13, 2016

Newborn Baby Seized by Department of Human Resources with No Court Order, No Trial, and No Evidence*

Newborn Baby Seized by Department of Human Resources with No Court Order, No Trial, and No Evidence*

Social workers at the DHR office (Department of Human Resources – Alabama’s Child Protective Services) handed Haly a disturbing letter on Monday, August 8, in which the department attempts to justify keeping her baby Avyonna in their custody. The letter contains a number of problematic points, which indicate a couple of things:

  1. The conclusions reached by the department reveal a flawed investigation process, and
  2. If the conclusions reached are allowed to stand, this shows that DHR has a truly frightening amount of power over the lives of the citizens of the state of Alabama, and their ability to abuse this power must immediately be reigned in by the government.

To summarize the background of why Haly’s baby was taken, Haly and her siblings were taken from their grandparents’ home when she was 12 years old after her twin brother Haydn popped her bra strap. DHR became involved. The situation was allegedly quickly twisted and Haydn was accused of all kinds of things that everyone in the family says he didn’t do. There was absolutely no evidence for the allegations, but a confession was allegedly illegally coerced out of a scared little boy who was locked in a room and interrogated for almost 5 hours. Based on that confession, Haly and all of her siblings were removed from their grandparents’ custody. She allegedly left kicking and screaming.

All of the other children eventually returned to their grandparents’ home, but Haly became pregnant in foster care. She suffered abuse and was shifted from placement to placement, separated from the rest of her family. She had 2 babies while in foster care. Even so, she graduated high school on time.

Her foster mother died suddenly, and her children were placed in another home, where they were abused in state custody. The babies were born while Haly was a foster child, so the state kept custody of the children. Her rights were terminated in December 2015. She was told that the children had been in custody so long that she wasn’t getting them back.

Thus, when she gave birth to another baby in May, DHR came into her hospital room and took the new baby. As appears to be a common practice with Shelby County DHR, social workers removed her baby without a court order or warrant. She, her husband Anthony, and her family have been fighting ever since to get baby Avyonna back. It appears that Shelby County DHR needed no other reason than the fact that they had already taken her other children.

The Letter: One Social Worker Determines Fate of Child

The letter that Haly received states that the preliminary decision is that they believe that child abuse/neglect is “indicated” or true. According to DHR:

“An “indicated” finding is used when there is more credible evidence than not, based on the professional judgment of the social worker, that child abuse or neglect has occurred.”

Parents often complain to Health Impact News that criminals have more rights than parents do, and from the above statement, that would appear to be the case. One person, who may or may not like the accused, is permitted to make a judgment as to the guilt or innocence of a parent. There is no jury of peers or opportunity to present exonerating evidence. There is no opportunity to face one’s accusers. Apparently, guilt or innocence may be decided by a social worker, begging the question: where is due process?

DHR Social Workers Make Unfounded Psychological Diagnoses

The letter reports that Haly is being accused of having the following diagnoses:

“You were diagnoses (sic) with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Depressive Disorder, NOS and Borderline Intellectual Functioning.”

Haly and her grandparents report that she has never been diagnosed with these things, and they wonder where these diagnoses come from. In all of the paperwork that the family has over the years, there has never been any mention of these things.

Admittedly, there has been trauma in her life from DHR taking her away from her family when she was 12 years old. She suffered abuse in foster care, and she has now had 3 children seized from her. There was certainly trauma, but since she has been back with her family for the past 2 years, she is learning to be victorious and overcome the traumatic things that have happened to her. Oftentimes, Post-Traumatic Stress is not a “disorder” but a NORMAL response to an ABNORMAL situation. That may well be the case with Haly. It is apparent to those around her that she is an overcomer.

Depressive Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS) is a condition in which a person has symptoms of depression, but not enough to qualify for a clinical diagnosis (and therefore drugs to treat it). The NOS designation appears to allow doctors to have a diagnosis in order to prescribe medications for people in a mild or temporary, situational depressive state. Despite the depressing reality of having 3 children taken from her, Haly has never been diagnosed with depression.

Baby Avyonna

 

The allegation of Borderline Intellectual Functioning is something that Haly finds, frankly, to be insulting. Her record speaks for itself. Despite having 2 babies and suffering abuse in foster care, she still managed to graduate from high school on time with mostly A’s and B’s, with the occasional C in higher math. She took regular classes, never special ed. She is a hard worker with a quick wit. She has worked in her current job since March, and was recently promoted to a managerial position. This is not something that she would have accomplished if she had “Borderline Intellectual Functioning,” which is a term which has replaced the term “mental retardation.”

Shouldn’t she be applauded, and not insulted?

DHR Accuses Mother to Have “Characteristics” of a Child Abuser

The next statement in the letter from DHR states that:

“You have an increased risk of physical child abuse and personal interpersonal characteristics that are similar to characteristics of known physical child abuser. (sic)”

So now Child Protective Services can take away someone’s children because they have traits that are similar to someone who has abused a child? What if someone has some traits in common with a thief or murderer? Are we going to lock them up because those traits mean they might commit a crime? And how does anyone defend themselves against such an accusation? Where does individual choice and responsibility fit into this?

It used to be that when someone grew up in difficult circumstances and they made choices to overcome their background, we praised such accomplishments. Hollywood and the Olympics are full of stories of triumphant people who share characteristics with people who don’t do so well in life.

Did Haly lose the ability to rise above her circumstances simply because DHR is involved? Her family and friends do not think so, and they report that she has come a long way in the 2 years that she has been back with her family and church.

False “Sex Abuser” Accusation Still Being Used by DHR

The department asserts that:

“In addition, you currently live in the home with a sexual offender.”

No, she doesn’t.

A simple investigation into the facts show this to be patently false. This statement is presumably referring to Haly’s twin brother – the one who popped her bra strap when they were 12. The whole ordeal is explained in detail here, and a document from 2011 clearly states:

“He is not charged with a juvenile criminal sex offense and was therefore not assigned a risk of re-offense level.”

Numerous documents over the years have stated that DHR has not believed him to be a threat.

Health Impact News searched sex offender databases and no one in Haly’s family comes up in the search.

Finally, on that point, even if this were truly a concern, it wouldn’t apply to Haly anyway. She doesn’t live at her grandparents’ home any more. She and her husband Anthony live in their own apartment. Neither of them have ever been accused of being any kind of sexual offender.

Does Child Protective Services Own All Subsequent Children Born to a Previous Foster Child?

Many parents around the nation have reported to Health Impact News that Child Protective Services workers often operate under the assumption that they have the right to any subsequent children borne by a mother who has ever had any child taken by the system. Apparently, Shelby County DHR follows this philosophy as well, as their letter to Haly indicates:

“Further, your rights have been terminated on your older children.”

The family continues to maintain that there was never a valid reason for the state to keep her older children in their custody. Haly’s appeal of the TPR was denied in July, but she still hopes to appeal to a higher court.

Dee Prince, Haly’s grandmother, has said many times to Health Impact News that DHR never gave Haly the opportunity to be a mother to her children.

Haly at her baby shower. She was so excited about her baby, and then she was taken away by DHR. Source: Facebook

 

Potential Future Adverse Events Used to Keep Baby: Could be Applied to ANY Family

In perhaps the most ironic statement in the entire letter, DHR reasons that, because harm COULD occur in the parents’ custody, they have the right to remove the child from her family. This statement shows an apparent blindness to the documented governmental statistics that a child in Child Protective Custody is at least 6 times more likely to suffer abuse, rape, molestation, or even death while in foster care than they would if they had been left in their own home, even if that home is less than ideal.

The letter states:

“Serious harm has not yet occurred, but a child has been place in a situation that can result in significant physical injury; sexual abuse; severe impairment in the child’s behavioural and/or cognitive functioning; permanent disability or disfigurement; or death.”

Even though nothing has happened to Haly’s children in her care, DHR social workers believe that something might happen in the future, so the state feels justified in keeping her baby.

How frightening.

If DHR has the power to do this to Haly, what is to stop them from saying this to any other family in the state?

Further, harm has, in fact, happened to Haly’s older children in foster care, who have suffered abuse while in foster care. Her nephew, baby Braelon, allegedly almost died a few weeks ago because the foster carers did not listen to Braelon’s mother and get him care when he was sick until it was almost too late. (See story.)

Haly and her siblings suffered abuse while they were in foster care. Is it somehow more acceptable to have a risk of abuse at the state’s hands than it is at the parents’ hands?

How can a parent defend against an accusation that they MIGHT do something in the future? How can there be evidence either for or against such an allegation?

Guilty without Trial

According to DHR, the allegations outlined in the letter have resulted in an “indicated disposition for Other Risk or Serious Harm” being applied to the accusations. This will apparently not be the subject of a court hearing, as the letter states that she has 10 days in which to request a review, to be conducted by a panel of other DHR employees not involved with the case.

Shelby County DHR Furious that they are Exposed via the Alternative Media

From what Health Impact News has gathered from various sources, none of the court hearings involving Haly, the twins, or baby Braelon have actually addressed the accusations against the family or the lack of a court order or warrant to seize the children. Instead, we are told that the judge and DHR continue to be very upset that this story is in the media. Because they are busy addressing their desire to make this go away in the media, they apparently are not focusing on issues involving the children.

If negative press is what the officials in Shelby County want to avoid, the solution is simple – follow the law and the Constitution, and do the right thing. Honour the family’s due process rights, and return any children who should not have been removed from their family. This should not be about anyone’s ego; it should be about the children.

Foster Children Represent Big Money for the State

Mounds of evidence show that children need their families, and that children thrive best in environments where they are loved. There is a biological, psychological, and spiritual need for children to be with their families.

The harsh reality is that children taken by the Child Protective System represent huge amounts of money to the state, and decisions are not made based upon what is best for the child, but upon how best to maximize the funding the state can get for taking a child. Corruption within the system is rampant.

The task of media, according to the Founding Fathers, is to hold government officials accountable. Indeed, the Supreme Court emphatically upheld that role of the press in a 1971 case of the New York Times Co. vs United States:

“In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”

Perhaps it is time for the Shelby County Court and DHR to stop focusing on media exposure of their deeds, and instead focus on how they can make things right for Haly Boothe, the 14 year old twins, the Prince family, and the rest of the constituency that they serve.

How You Can Help

Supporters are encouraged to continue to call attention to the actions of DHR. Call Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s office at 334-242-7100. He may also be contacted here. He is also on Facebook.

Senator Cam Ward is the Senator for their district. He may be reached at 334-242-7873, or contacted here.

Representative April Weaver represents their district. She may be reached at 334-242-7731, or contacted here.

According to the Alabama Family Rights Association, ALFRA:

Alabama has a nine-member task force created to examine the work of the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR). If you have issues or concerns about DHR services, your best plan of action is to contact the following legislators/lawmakers and committee members:

Mac McCutcheon, State Representative, Task Force chair / 334-242-7705 / 256-655-3764 / email here

Chris England, State Representative / 334-242-7703 / 205-535-4859 / email here

Greg Reed, State Senator / 334-242-7894

The complete list of committee Members can be found here: Executive Order Number 11

Shelby County DHS Director Kim Mashego may be reached at (205) 669-3000, or contacted here.

Source*

Related Topics:

Seven Children Removed from Parents for Being Homeschooled*

Ex CIA Operative, Victim of Child Trafficking, and Political Prisoner in U.S.*

Child Protection Services Kidnapping Thousands of Children within the Law*

Child Protective Services Stealing Vaccinosis Children*

Police Took Healthy Baby Because It Was Born At Home*

Parents Blackmailed By Doctor: Vaccinate or We Take Your Child*

Family that Homeschooled their Children Harassed from Germany to France, the US and Back Again*

Hospital Takes Baby because Family Asked for a Second Opinion*

A New Illinois Law Threatens to Take away Home Alone Children*

Police Seize 10 Children from “Off-Grid” Homeschooling Family*Love Even Affects the Size of a Child’s Brain*

Mother Fights Back for Child Developmentally Disabled by Vaccines*

Police Remove Children from Caring Parents, Gave them To a Man Who Raped them for 6 Years*

CPS Case against Texas Homeschool Family Dismissed but Children are Traumatized*

CPS Takes Grandchildren as Grandmother Flees for her Life*

Why Your Child Should Practice Martial Art*

Disappearing Children Behind a Wall of Secrecy

British Family Courts: Protecting Children from the Baby Snatchers*

Child Abuse Whistleblower Gone Missing Under Police Custody*

Forced Adoption: U.K. Parents Cleared Of Abuse ‘Unlikely to See Their Child Again’ Three Years Later*

U.K. to Take Children Away from Parents if They ‘Might’ Become Radicalized*

Child Trafficking in the U.K. and the Child Protection System*

‘Phantom’ Pregnancy or a Stolen Baby!?*

States Take a Stand against the Increasing Centralization of Education*

States Take a Stand against the Increasing Centralization of Education*

By Sofia Gallo, Lindsey Burke

For much of American history, education was decentralized, seen as a responsibility of families, communities, churches, and local governments.

Parents in the mid-17th century, for example, were not just seen as critical partners in their children’s education, but were expected to be their children’s primary teachers, creating a symbiotic relationship between parent and community values. Over time, however, primary education became more formalized and centralized.

The Colonial Act of 1647 mandated that every town with more than 50 households would hire a teacher, and once a town had more than 100 families, a grammar school would have to be established. In this case, formalized schools served to ensure a shared mission, conserving and maintaining order in the budding community.

Changes to the nature of work from agrarian to factory during the mid-19th century, combined with westward expansion, further encouraged a fragmented system of academies to give way to widespread public schooling.

Formalized education grew increasingly sophisticated throughout the 19th century with the growth of the Common Schools movement—proto-public schools—designed to teach all children in the same “common” schoolhouse. The Common School Era eventually gave way to the Progressive Era, and what would be recognized today as a system of public schools.

During the early 20th century, as education increasingly fell under a unified school board model, taxpayer financing increased but remained largely local. Until 1930, localities provided over three-quarters of K-12 education funding, with the remainder coming from the states. It wouldn’t be until the 1978-79 school year that state funding of education would exceed local funding.

The federal government also began to spend more on K-12 education, with federal financing accounting for 9% of K-12 funding by that time. Today, state education financing accounts for nearly half of K-12 financing, local spending accounts for over 40%, and the federal portion now tops 10% of total K-12 spending.

Yet as federal financing has grown, so too have efforts to dictate local school policy from Washington. Over the last few decades, there has been an effort to standardize education under the assumption that the same education system would work well for every state. Standardization of education reached a high watermark with Common Core in 2010, when 48 states (and the District of Columbia) adopted common standards, while 46 states (and the District of Columbia) opted to use Common Core assessments.

But significant centralization over the past half century seems to be garnering opposition. Since June 2015, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee have joined seven others states that scaled back their involvement with Common Core standards in previous years. While some states have not repealed the standards, some, like North Dakota and South Dakota, have begun reviewing their standards and assessments.

Many more states have pulled out of the two national testing consortia. The Smarter Balanced testing consortium, which began with 32 states, is now down to 16 member states. The PARCC consortium, which began with 26 state members, is down to just six participants.

Many state leaders say they are downgrading their involvement with the national standards and tests because they want students, teachers, and other local leaders to have more of a say in education policy to ensure that it is responding to their needs.

“We will be producing a superior set of North Dakota standards for our public schools, written by North Dakota teachers, that establish clear and high expectations for North Dakota students,” North Dakota’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler said.

We are capable of developing our own Oklahoma academic standards that will be better than Common Core,” declared Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin when the Sooner State withdrew from the effort.

Proponents of Common Core have argued that it has “college and career-ready” standards. However, a new study by ACT suggests that Common Core is not adequately preparing students for college. According to the ACT study:

In English Language Arts high school teachers and perhaps some middle school teachers may be emphasizing certain approaches to writing over others due to a concern for source-based writing in response to the Common Core State Standards. But if so, college instructors appear to value some key features of source-based writing (the ability to analyze source texts and summarize other authors’ ideas) much less than the ability to generate sound ideas—a skill applicable across much broader contexts.

Parents throughout history have wanted schools to be reflections of what they value in an education for their children.

Yet efforts such as Common Core restrict parent voice and increase homogenization of education options. The Supreme Court has noted,

“As governmental pressure toward uniformity becomes greater, so strife becomes more bitter as to whose unity it shall be.”

As more states continue to leave Common Core, those that remain should consider the benefits of choosing their own path that works for students.

Source*

Related Topics:

Obama and GOP Unleash “Community Schools” to Replace Parents*

Parents Now Being Thrown in Jail in America for Homeschooling Their Children*

The Invention of Adolescence*

The New Dumbness

Top Teachers Resigning because of Common Core*

Brick-by-brick: Missouri Judge Rules Common Core Unconstitutional*

One Mother Shows How 2012 Top Math Students Fail in Common Core Math*

Childish Tit-for-Tat Reprisals by the Feds for on Mass Common Core Test Refusals*

Common Core is for Your Kids not Bill Gates’*

Public School Students Taught To ‘Pledge Allegiance To International Flag’…*

Michigan Education Board Secretly Keeping Parents Out of Gender Decisions for Children*

Thousands of Boston Students Walked Out Of Class to Save Schools*

U.S. School Kids Opt-Out En Masse against Common Core*

How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture*

School Stops Enforcing Obama’s trans Bathroom Policy after Parents Pulled Kids Out*

Back to School Shots: How Your Child is Being Programmed*

Schooled in Nature: There’s a way to Teach Children Without Colonizing Their Minds*

Assistant Head Teacher Resigns in Powerful Letter to U.Ks Education Secretary*

Australian Schools banned from using the terms ‘mum’ and ‘dad’*

Thousands of U.K. Parents to take Children out of School in Protest*

The Vatican Has Paid $4-bn to Settle Child Molestation Lawsuits*

The Vatican Has Paid $4-bn to Settle Child Molestation Lawsuits*

By Alexa Erickson

The reality of child molestation by the Roman Catholic Church has surfaced time and time again, and yet, somehow, it continues to happen. If you watched the movie Spotlight, perhaps you have an idea of just how things are going down. But let’s break it down to date.

While you can’t put a price on the innocence of a child, you can put a price on just how much the Roman Catholic Church has paid out in lawsuits over the never-ending epidemic of child molestation wreaking havoc in its ranks.

According to Jack and Diane Ruhl of the National Catholic Reporter, who decided to research this particular topic, since 1950, the Vatican has spent a disgusting $3,994,797,060.10. That’s nearly $4 billion to keep things hush hush. That number may even be a bit conservative, as we cannot know for sure the agreed upon “under the table” amount.

The figure is based on a three-month investigation of data, which includes a review of over 7,800 articles from LexisNexis Academic and NCR databases and information from BishopAccountability.org. Reports from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops were also used.

If the amount of money dished out was divided evenly amongst the U.S.’s 197 dioceses, each one would get almost $20 billion. An incredible amount of cash from hard working people who support the good faith and intentions of the Church — people who are parents to little boys being sexually abused — is being used to cover up unfathomable crimes executed by priests.

In the early nineties, a monk who worked at the Vatican opened up to The New Yorker, admitting:

 “You wouldn’t believe the amounts of money the church is spending to settle these priestly sexual-abuse cases.”

By 1992, U.S. Catholic dioceses had given 400 million dollars to settle hundreds of molestation cases. That was a shocking chunk of change then, and that figure has only risen exponentially since. The men running the Vatican are well aware of the problem, and yet they refuse to provide justice.

When Pope Francis addressed hundreds of bishops on the issue, he said:

“I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you, and I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims — in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed — and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated.”

His words of “generous commitment” only further show just how tightly knit the Church truly is — worried more about reputation than morality.

“The people he was talking to are the people who moved the paedophiles around to prey on kids,” said John Salveson, a 59-year-old Philadelphia businessman who was abused as a child by a priest.

“If you gave me 100 years to pick a word to describe the U.S. bishops’ reaction to this crisis, ‘generous’ would never make the list.”

Terry McKiernan, who runs BishopAccountability.org, noted that Francis overlooked the fact that many dioceses around the country haven’t disclosed the names of abusers, and furthermore, continue to lobby against reforming statute of limitations laws that shield priests from prosecution for crimes from the past.

David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was once optimistic that Francis would push for change in how the Church handled the scandal, but has since lost hope.

 “There’s nothing he could say that would be helpful, because Catholic bishops have said it all before — ‘I’m sorry, we didn’t know, we’ll do better.’ We’ve heard that for decades,” he said.

“This is a pope who has refused to take steps to expose one predator or punish one enabler. . . . He could simply defrock, demote, discipline, or even clearly denounce just one complicit bishop. He refuses, not one.”

Spanning many hundreds of years, children have suffered at the hands of child predators who remain safe in the authority and integrity of an honourable faith, yet organizations, investigators, reporters, etc. continue to raise awareness, while the Catholic Church continues their fight to block bills that would extend the statute of limitations for reporting sex abuse.

Source*

Related Topics:

Priest under House Arrest for Sexual Assaults*

Priest Arrested for Sexual Abuse Spanning 37 years*

Pope Criminalizes Vatican Leaks of Child Prostitution and Sexual Abuse*

30 Chicago Priests Guilty of Paedophilia*

Catholic Archbishop to be Defrocked for Sexually Abusing Teenage Boys*

Religious Schools Face Closure if they don’t Promote Homosexuality*

The NY Catholic Church Paid Lobbyists $2.1mn to Block Child Sex-Abuse Law Reform*

Oklahoma Plan to Castrate Sex Offenders*

Alabama Lawmaker Introduces Mandatory Castration for Child Sexual Abuse*

Priests Accused of Child Sex Crimes are Moved to Poor Countries Instead of Facing Prosecution*

E.U. Making Paedophilia Legal Across Europe*

U.S. Legalizing Paedophilia and Bestiality

Sexual Violence Ruled a Crime against Humanity in Guatemalan Court*

Sex Abuse Victim Allowed Euthanasia as mental health problems Considered ‘INCURABLE’*

Microsoft’s Problem with a Backdoor to your Computer Lets Slip its “golden key”*

Microsoft’s Problem with a Backdoor to your Computer Lets Slip its “golden key”*

By Tom Mendelsohn

Microsoft has inadvertently demonstrated the intrinsic security problem of including a universal backdoor in its software after it accidentally leaked its so-called “golden key”—which allows users to unlock any device that’s supposedly protected by Secure Boot, such as phones and tablets.

The key basically allows anyone to bypass the provisions Microsoft has put in place ostensibly to prevent malicious versions of Windows from being installed, on any device running Windows 8.1 and upwards with Secure Boot enabled.

And while this means that enterprising users will be able to install any operating system—Linux, for instance—on their Windows tablet, it also allows bad actors with physical access to a machine to install bootkits and rootkits at deep levels. Worse, according to the security researchers who found the keys, this is a decision Microsoft may be unable to reverse.

The golden keys were found by MY123 and Slipstream in March this year. They’ve just posted, on a rather funky website, a description both of Microsoft’s security errors and of its seeming reluctance to patch the issue. The researchers note that this snafu is a real-world demonstration of the lack of wisdom in the FBI’s recent demands for universal backdoors in Apple’s devices. They wrote:

“A backdoor, which MS put in to Secure Boot because they decided to not let the user turn it off in certain devices, allows for Secure Boot to be disabled everywhere! You can see the irony. Also the irony in that MS themselves provided us several nice “golden keys” (as the FBI would say) 😉 for us to use for that purpose 🙂

About the FBI: are you reading this? If you are, then this is a perfect real world example about why your idea of backdooring cryptosystems with a “secure golden key” is very bad! Smarter people than me have been telling this to you for so long, it seems you have your fingers in your ears.

You seriously don’t understand still? Microsoft implemented a “secure golden key” system. And the golden keys got released from MS[‘s] own stupidity. Now, what happens if you tell everyone to make a “secure golden key” system? Hopefully you can add 2+2…”

The researchers seem to have found the golden key—which isn’t a PKI-type private key you would use to sign binaries, but rather a way to alter the tasks executed by UEFI at boot—bundled in dormant form on retail devices, left in as a debugging tool by accident. Now apparently available online, it should allow any user to turn off Secure Boot.

Secure Boot works at the firmware level, and is designed only to allow an operating system signed with a key certified by Microsoft to load. It can be disabled on many desktops, but on most other Windows devices, it’s hard-coded in. The golden key policy seems to have been designed for internal debugging purposes, to allow OS signature checks to be disabled, apparently so programmers can test new builds. In practice, it could well open up Microsoft’s tablets and phones to serious attacks.

At first, Microsoft apparently dismissed the find as a non-issue, before changing its mind, and then slowly applying a patch. The software giant eventually awarded a bug bounty in June, and has since released two patches—MS16-094 and MS16-100—with a third on the way. It’s understood that none of them are able to directly shut the back door, and there’s a distinct possibility that the hole opened by the golden keys may not be truly closable.

According to the researchers, “it’d be impossible in practise for MS to revoke every bootmgr earlier than a certain point, as they’d break install media, recovery partitions, backups, etc.”

In February, in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings in the U.S., the FBI asked Apple to introduce backdoors into its products, after it had proved difficult to access information on an iPhone belonging to one of the shooters. In a statement, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote:

“We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software—which does not exist today—would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

Source*

Related Topics:

Microsoft Shifts Spyware Windows 10 to ‘Recommended’ Update, Automatic Download*

Microsoft Taking Vengeance on Windows 7 Users*

Microsoft Pitches Technology That Can Read Facial Expressions at Political Rallies*

U.S. Central Command Intelligence Reports Hid Poor Progress against ISIS in Iraq and Syria*

U.S. Central Command Intelligence Reports Hid Poor Progress against ISIS in Iraq and Syria*

washington-soldiers-flag-835254-lU.S. Central Command intelligence reports were altered to hide poor progress against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, a congressional joint task force announced.

Fifty intelligence analysts sparked the investigation by filing a whistleblower complaint about superiors changing information on their products.

Republican chairmen of the House Armed Services Committee, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Subcommittee on Defense of the House Appropriations Committee, led by GOP Reps. Ken Calvert (Calif.), Mike Pompeo (Kan.), and Brad Wenstrup (Ohio) established the joint task force, the Hill reported Thursday.

“What happened at CENTCOM is unacceptable — our warfighters suffer when bad analysis is presented to senior policymakers,” Rep. Ken Calvert said.

“We must continue our efforts until we fix it.”

Rep. Mike Pompeo (Kan.) told CBS This Morning “there’s enormous evidence about how this information from talented career professionals inside the analytic arm at CENTCOM did their job and accurately depicted what was going on the ground, but when it got to very senior levels, that information was changed.”

Wenstrup, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve said

“we still do not fully understand the reasons and motivations behind this practice and how often the excluded analyses were proven ultimately to be correct. We cannot win the war against ISIS with incomplete intelligence.”

“The report out today highlights the importance of having an independent process,” he added.

But Infowars has already revealed the motivation: the Obama administration is doing everything it can to help ISIS topple Syrian President – and Putin ally – Bashar al-Assad.

For one thing, a classified DIA report presented in August 2012 revealed that “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al- Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” being supported by “the West, Gulf countries and Turkey.”

Additionally, former intelligence head Michael Flynn revealed that Obama routinely turned a deaf ear to updates and reports on the rise of ISIS because they didn’t fit with the narrative the administration was feeding the American public.

“I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision,” the former DIA chief said.

And in Nov. 2015 the administration was giving Islamic State militants a 45-minute warning prior to bombing their oil tankers.

“Get out of your trucks now, and run away from them. Warning: air strikes are coming. Oil trucks will be destroyed. Get away from your oil trucks immediately. Do not risk your life,” the warning leaflets given to ISIS read.

U.S. military pilots also confirmed they were ordered not to drop 75% of their ordnance on ISIS targets because they couldn’t get clearance from their superiors.

“We can’t get clearance even when we have a clear target in front of us,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.)

The war with ISIS hit the two-year mark on Aug. 8, 2016 and there is currently no end in sight.

Source*

Related Topics:

Washington won’t Accept Syrian Defeat by Iran and Russia*

Terrorists Surrender in Syria*

Thousands of Terrorists in Syria Flee to North Aleppo*

French T.V Used footage of Russian Airstrikes in Syria to show U.S.-led “success”*

The Syria War Will Not Be a Quagmire – Because Putin and Assad Are Winning*

Kerry Calls For Peace as NATO Proxies Lose Ground in Syria*

Data Reveals Airstrikes on Syrian Hospital Launched by U.S.-Led Coalition*

Pentagon is Currently Training Terrorists in Syria*

Syria Grand Mufti: Rebels Offered Peace In Return for Concessions to Israel*

U.S. Delivers 3,000 Tons of Weapons, Ammo to Terrorists in Syria*

Syrian Elections 2016: US, NATO Criminals Failed Attempt to Deny the Will of the Syrian People*

U.S. Troops Illegally in Syria*

U.S.-Backed Terrorists Shell Aleppo Hospital, but Blame Russia and Syria*

U.S. Army Captain Files Lawsuit against Obama over ‘Illegal’ War in Iraq and Syria*

Syrian Free Army Participate in the Zionist Herzliya Conference*

U.S. Still cannot Determine Who are the Terrorists in Syria*

The West Remains Silent as NATO Member Supports Terrorists in Syria*

Corporate Media Silent on M.E. on Israel and Turkey Strike on Syrian Oil Deal*

U.S. Backed Syrian Rebels Lose ISIS Battle after being Abandoned by U.S. Jets*

U.S and French Warplanes Massacre Civilians in Syria on Phony Pretext of Combating ISIS*

Russia Blasts U.S. for Supporting ‘Moderates’ Who Gas Civilians in Syria*

The U.S. Military Back on the Battlefield in Iraq*

The ISIS Commander U.S. Claimed it Killed is Alive and Killing in Iraq*

17-months Later U.S. Can’t Find any Iraqis to ‘Train’*

An Iraqi Woman’s Story of Life in Baghdad during the U.K. – U.S. Invasion*

U.S. Forces Burn Iraqi Family Alive in Horrific Attack in Rashaad*

Iraqi Forces have been Busy doing what U.S. Fails to Do*

ISIL Leaders Traveling via US Air Force in Iraq*

U.S Helping ISIS in Iraq*

U.S. Delivery of Missiles to ISIS Seized by Iraq*

Iraq Captures ISIL Leaders who Confess Receiving U.S. intelligence Support*

Former Iraqi PM Slams the 60 nations in the U.S. –Led ‘anti’ ISIS Coalition*

Iraq Arrests ISIS Advisors, U.S. and Israelis Held*

U.S. Stopping Iraqi Popular Forces’ from Freeing Ramadi from ISIS*

U.S. Airstrike Kills at 20 More Iraqi Soldiers in Anbar*

Russia on the Attempted Coup in Crimea*

Russia on the Attempted Coup in Crimea*

Kiev’s terrorist attack “invasion” of Crimea has killed two Russian servicemen, whereas Ukraine’s claim of a Russian “invasion” and takeover of Crimea did not kill anyone. What’s wrong with the picture?

The answer to that is the most overlooked missing link in the whole Ukraine upheaval. For a coup to become successful legally, it must establish control over the entire country, or it is a failed coup.

Those areas that are able to successfully oppose and reject the coup, who did not vote in the election to validate it cannot be called rebels, because the coup “rebels” overthrew the government in Kiev that Crimeans were loyal to.

Having been a part of Russia during modern history, and the majority population having been Russian, it does not take a rocket scientist to understand Crimea’s urge to reunite with Russia to annul Nikita Khrushchev’s having given it away to Ukraine in one of the biggest recorded acts of patronage.

To that we can add the spectacle of the Neo-Nazi MPs in the UkrainianRada ranting from the podium about what they were going to do to the ethnic Russia in the Donbass area.

Nor have we forgotten Yulia Tymoshenko’s taped conversation about her wanting to “nuke” all the ethnic Russians in the Southeast, and then continue on killing them in Russia. Good gosh, what’s not to love about that if you’re a Russian living in Crimea?

Kiev’s statements that Russia had made this whole event up were just another example of the delusional state of mind they are working from. It did not take a genius to see that no mention in the public reports was made about killed, wounded or captured Ukrainian attackers.

We did not have to wait long for captured Yevgeny Panov’s video confession, held back after Kiev made an even bigger fool of itself by wanting to take the “provocation by Crimea” against Ukraine to the UN Security Council. You just can’t make this stuff up. So we have just another fiasco manufactured by the gang that can’t shoot straight in Ukraine, and who are a national security risk to the entire country and its neighbors.

NATO weighed in with its pathological reputation intact, claiming that Russia has produced no credible evidence for a terrorist attack. These are the kind of people that will pee on your shoes and then tell you it is raining. Dear NATO, your attitude toward the public is one of contempt and there is a mountain of evidence to support that. If you would like to debate VT about it, give us a call... Jim W. Dean

Meet the citizen activists from Ukraine

 

STATEMENT BY THE FOREIGN MINISTRY OF RUSSIA

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has disrupted a plot to carry out terrorist attacks in the Republic of Crimea. The attacks, planned by the Ukrainian Defence Ministry’s Chief Intelligence Directorate, targeted critical infrastructure and facilities in Crimea. Russia’s intelligence services take the view that these planned acts of sabotage and terrorism were intended to destabilize the socio-political situation in the region in the run-up to federal and regional elections.

A group of saboteurs were apprehended near the town of Armyansk on the night of August 6. An FSB officer was shot and killed in the process of apprehending the terrorists. Explosive devices with a total charge of more than 40 kilograms of TNT, munitions, grenades, land mines and other weapons were found at the scene.

Ukrainian Defence Ministry special units made two further attempts to infiltrate Crimean territory in the early hours of August 8, but the groups of saboteurs and terrorists were intercepted by the FSB and other Russian forces.

These attempts to infiltrate Crimea took place under cover from armoured equipment and massive fire by Ukrainian armed forces from inside Ukrainian territory. One Russian Defence Ministry serviceman was killed as a result.

A handcuffed man identified as Yevgeny Panov, suspected of being involved in a group that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) identified as Ukrainian ‘saboteurs,’ is led by FSB officers in Crimea, on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (Russian Federal Security Service Press Service via AP)

 

Russia has now taken action to dismantle the Ukrainian Defence Ministry Chief Intelligence Directorate’s network of agents in Crimea and have detained Ukrainian and Russian citizens who aided in the preparation of these terrorist attacks.

The detained individuals include Yevgeny Panov and Andrey Zakhtey. All of them have admitted their involvement and are giving a confession.

We have repeatedly brought to our partners’ attention that the current authorities in Kiev have no real interest in searching for a peaceful solution to the problems in Ukraine, are not ready to compromise, and intend to resolve issues that arise through the use of force, including terrorism now.

The attempts to enter Crimea unlawfully, the recent attempt on the life of Head of the Lugansk People’s Republic Igor Plotnitsky, the constant firing along the line of contact in Donbass, and the actions of radical nationalists and so-called ‘activists’ from around Ukraine that go beyond the bounds of any lawful framework are a vivid illustration of the state of affairs in Ukraine today.

The numerous provocations, efforts to portray Moscow as the enemy, and the deliberate cultivation of anti-Russian sentiments are an attempt by the Ukrainian government to distract the public from the country’s own troubles and the problems affecting the majority of people in Ukraine.

We see a deliberate effort to divert public attention from the actions and responsibility of those in power and their inability to carry out long overdue reforms and conduct an honest investigation into the murders of journalists and human rights activists and the crimes committed in 2014 during the Maidan protests, in Odessa, Mariupol, and other cities.

Ukraine’s government makes loud declarations in a bid to deny what is evident and pass responsibility for its own actions to others, even the UN Security Council – anything to avoid taking meaningful steps to normalize the situation.

We call on our partners, whose efforts play a large part in keeping the current regime in Kiev in power, to show common sense and finally get their Ukrainian wards to end their constant provocations and fulfil their obligations in accordance with Minsk Agreements on a political settlement in Ukraine.

Mr Poroshenko constantly touts the “unconditional support from the USA, NATO, and the European Union” in his “fight to return annexed Crimea”. The West’s willingness to play along with this rhetoric undoubtedly played a role in the Ukrainian leadership’s criminal decision to attempt an armed provocation in Russian Crimea.

If the commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces was involved in these decisions, he will have driven the final nail in the coffin of the peace process. If these decisions were taken without his knowing, then it is even worse.

Kiev’s inaction in the face of growing militaristic rhetoric and violent acts planned and executed by so-called volunteer battalions and other extremists is cause for grave concern. We hope that Western capitals will draw the appropriate conclusions.

Attempts to destabilize the situation in Russian Crimea are doomed to fail. Russia unconditionally guarantees Crimea’s stability and security. Kiev and its foreign backers should know that any harm to Russia or the deaths of Russian personnel will not go unanswered.

As President Vladimir Putin noted on August 10, given the current situation and until we see real positive steps from Kiev, like renouncing terror and provocations, it makes little sense to hold Normandy format meetings, like the Beijing meeting in early September requested by Mr Poroshenko recently.

Once again, we call on our partners to use their influence with Kiev to dissuade the government from taking any dangerous steps that could have grave consequences. Playing with fire is dangerous.

Source*

Related Topics:

Crimean Leader Blames the U.S. for Failed False in Crimea*

Crimean Parliament Votes to Join Russia*

Open Letter from Former NSA Director and Veterans on NATO’s Ukraine Pretext for WWIII*

Ukraine Government’s Crime against Humanity in Luhansk*

Second Humanitarian Aid for Ukraine Makes it through Russian Customs*

Free European Army in Defence of Ukraine against NATO and EU*

Central Asian States are Reluctant to Make Friends with U.S. (a Wolf)*

Central Asian States are Reluctant to Make Friends with U.S. (a Wolf)*

The Central Asian region has always been distinguished by the extensive amount of attention that various international players paid to it. After the collapse of the Soviet Union this resource-rich and strategically important region started attracting the attention of China, the United States, India, and a number of pretty influential and wealthy Muslim states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and a number of others. Each of these global players has been pursuing his own agenda in this region.

And even if we are comprehend the desire of regional players to gain a foothold in Central Asia; America’s desire to occupy a dominant position in this part of the world looks strange at best. There’s little doubt that this desire has been motivated by an unhidden plan to undermine the positions of Russia, China and Iran. After all, one must not forget that the United States intervened in Afghanistan on the pretext that Washington was seeking retribution for the 9/11 attacks, while the actual goal was to deploy its military bases in the immediate vicinity of China’s, Russia’s and Iran’s borders.

In a bid to “conquer Central Asia” Washington has employed a wide variety of methods, including attempted “colour revolutions” and coup d’etats and the abuse of the U.S. sponsored media sources and NGOs to swing the opinion of the local population in favour of the White House. Washington has even embarked on the mission of straightforward bribery, promising various credits in exchange for the sovereign interests of local players.

Among the regional states that are taking advantage of the U.S. military aid one can find Uzbekistan which is now being demanded to abstain from any contacts with Moscow and Beijing, while staying away from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEC) led by Russia.

If we are to take into consideration the fact that Central Asia has always been connected with Russia, both historically and geographically, we can notice that over the last two decades the United State has done a lot to push certain regional players away from Moscow. We’ve even been witnessing attempts to destabilize and then destroy the whole region from within. Yet, Washington tries to pretend that it plays an important part in the regional life, since it has allegedly been providing “counterbalance” to the regional aspirations of local players, like China and Russia.

It is therefore not surprising that in early August Washington has assembled a special meeting in the C5 + 1 format that was introduced by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to the region back in 2015. During the meeting that brought together the foreign minister of five regional players (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan) American diplomats put forward five different projects that ranged from the fight against terrorism, to investments in environmental protection and culture. It’s hardly a secret that the sole purpose of this meeting was an attempt to gain a foothold in the region.

Although the U.S. stated time and time again that the C5 + 1 format is not designed to undermine the interests of Russia and China, however, it completely ignores their existence and the role they play in the region. It is noteworthy that the C5 + 1 format was launched just before the elections in the U.S., while the neocon champion Hillary Clinton, that craves for power, has declared long ago that Russia, China and Iran are the main enemies of modern America. Therefore, the Central Asia is being regarded in Washington as a primarily tool for the destabilization of its rivals, that is why there’s been continuous attempts to topple sitting authorities in the Central Asian states, while replacing them with more pro-American ones.

However, the sitting authorities in those states are no fools and make this goal as difficult for the U.S. as they possibly can. It is noteworthy that the White House originally planned to launch the “Greater Central Asia” scenario, according to which a series of terrorist attacks and military engagements must have sent a shock wave across the whole region. However, the failure of the military coup in Turkey forced Washington to take a more cautious approach, using the C5 + 1 format instead. There is every reason to believe that Uzbekistan will be the primary target of the U.S., since this country has a number of inner contradictions that can spark civil unrest, and the White House is planning to take full advantage of this fact.

What we’ve witnessed in recent years across the globe was the growing deficit of trust towards the United States, and the countries of Central Asia are no different in this regard. The reason for this deficit can be illustrated by the example of Turkey. Ankara has been a loyal ally of Washington for decades, and now once it has been betrayed, it openly defies its former masters, and Washington can literally do nothing about it, since it has lost all levers of military influence.

The deficit of trust towards the United States has been aggravated by the growing list of America’s military failures, since it hasn’t won a single battle over the last decade, while the Pentagon has been unable to suppress the mujahideen movement for over a decade in Afghanistan. Under these circumstances many countries are beginning to wonder is Washington really capable of protecting them? The policy of destabilization that has been widely used by the Pentagon across the Middle East and Central Asia and other regions of the world has led to the strengthening of the authority enjoyed by China and Russia.

It is also necessary to add that the government of the Central Asian countries in recent years have learned to tell the difference between the sincere desire to help, that has been manifested by China and Russia, and the diplomatic manoeuvring, which is pretty popular in Washington. This manoeuvring has only persuade the sitting Ukrainian authorities out of all the former Soviet states so far, and while watching their sad example, political elites of the Central Asian are approaching the United States with extreme caution.

That is why the United States in recent years has lost the right to use military facilities both in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, while American business presence is diminishing rapidly across the whole region.

Therefore, the C5 + 1 meeting that was held Washington, is nothing but cheap PR, the same kind of PR as the attempts to persuade the people of the world that the U.S. Army is playing a decisive role in the settlement of the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya. What we’re witnessing here is the bitter and long awaited collapse of the U.S. international prestige.
Source*

Related Topics:

Whoever Controls Eurasia Controls the World*

The Rothschild’s Zionist World Order*

Turkey to Ditch U.S. Dollar, Pull Out Of NATO*

U.S, U.K., Israel, China, Saudia behind Myanmar’s Rohingya Genocide*

The Real Secret of the South China Sea*

50,000+ Okinawans Gather for anti-U.S. Military Rally after another Rape and Murder by U.S. Soldier*

Bush’s War on Terror in the Philippines*

The Suppressed History of Dutch Atrocities in Indonesia*

The CIA Coup and Sponsored Massacre that Led to the Ruin of Indonesian Society*

Reflections on the Idea of a Common Humanity*

Reflections on the Idea of a Common Humanity*

By Raimond Gaita

It is striking how often people now speak of “a common humanity” in ethically inflected registers, or ethically resonant tones that express a fellowship of all the peoples of the earth, or sometimes the hope for such a fellowship.

It is also striking how often we speak of our humanity as something that is not given to us once and for all, as species membership is, but something towards which we are called upon to rise – not until such time as we achieve it, which could be different from one person to another – but unendingly, until we die.

The two seem interdependent: to recognise the humanity of others we must rise to the humanity in ourselves, but to do that we must at least be open to seeing fully the humanity of all people.

In a similar way, the acknowledgement of human rights – rights that all people are said to possess merely by virtue of being human – appears to be interdependent with the acknowledgement of a common humanity with them.

The same is true for the recognition of the “Dignity of Humanity” to which, we are told in preambles to important instruments of international law, an unconditional respect is owed, as it exists, inalienably, in every human being.

More often than not, we refer to the idea of a common humanity when we lament the failure of its acknowledgement. The forms of that failure are depressingly many: racism, sexism, homophobia, the dehumanisation of our enemies, of unrepentant criminals and those who suffer severe and degrading affliction.

As often as someone reminds us that “we are all human beings”, someone will reply that to be treated like a human being you must behave like one.

There are two kinds of explanations for this. Each has its place. One assumes that we retain a firm hold on the idea that all peoples of the earth share a common humanity, but for various psychological, social, moral and political reasons fail to live up to our acknowledgement of it.

The other suggests that the very idea of a common humanity waxes and wanes with us and at times – when we dehumanise our enemies or are vulnerable to racism, for example – becomes literally unintelligible to us.

A sign saying ‘Don’t allow humanity to wither’ near the scene of a bomb attack in Ansbach, Germany, last month. Timm Schamberger/EPA

 

Racism is again on the rise in many parts of the world. So is the dehumanisation – in some cases demonization – of our enemies. They have come together in attitudes to ISIS and have spread to Muslims and some immigrants as effortlessly as water flowing downwards in a channel.

For that reason, many people now fear that within ten years or so, national and international politics will be dominated by crises that are caused and inflamed by the shameful gap between the rich and the poor nations, aggravated by the effects of climate change.

We now have reason to believe that instability in many regions of the earth may cause even more people to be uprooted than were last century. Strong nations are likely to protect themselves in ways that become increasingly brutal, testing the relevance and the authority of international law.

It is, I believe, almost certain that my grandchildren’s generation will not be protected as mine has been from the terrors suffered by most of the peoples of the earth, because of impoverishment, natural disasters and the evils inflicted upon them by other human beings.

More and more, I fear, the reality of affliction together with unrelenting exposure to what is morally horrible – to evil if you have use for that word – will test their understanding of what it means to share a common humanity with all the peoples of the earth, and to a degree almost to awful to imagine, their faith that the world is a good world despite the suffering and the evil in it.

Inherent dignity and inalienable rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1948, stated in its preamble that the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

It also spoke of crimes that had recently “shocked the conscience of mankind”.

Memorial to the British nurse Edith Cavell who helped around 200 allied soldiers escape from German occupied Belgium during WW1 and was shot by a German firing squad

 

Two years earlier, the U.N.’s Resolution on Genocide declared genocide to be a “shock to the conscience of mankind … contrary to moral law and to the spirit and aims of the United Nations” and a crime “which the civilized world condemns”.

Yet at the time those words were written, the peoples of the European nations who drafted them and created international law looked upon most of the peoples of the earth as primitive savages who, of their very nature, lacked the kind of understanding presupposed in what is meant by speaking of genocide as “a shock to the conscience of mankind” – even though some of them had been victims of colonial genocides.

Racism of that kind was then, and is now, often marked by incapacity to see depth in the lives of Blacks, Asians and Central and South Americans. Some other forms of racism are different. Anti-Semitism is different in many ways from the racism of whites towards coloured peoples. I do not know enough about racism of coloured peoples to one another and towards whites to comment on it.

At issue in the kind of racism I will be talking about is not the truth of the factual stereotypes to which racists often appeal in order defend their attitudes, but rather the meaning they are able to see – or fail to see – in the lives of the peoples they denigrate.

When James Isdell, Protector of Aborigines in Western Australia in the 1930s, was asked how he felt when he took children of mixed blood from their mothers, he answered that he

“would not hesitate for a moment to separate any half caste from its aboriginal mother, no matter how frantic her momentary grief might be at the time”.

Written comments on a 1934 newspaper clipping: ‘I like the little girl in centre of group, but if taken by anyone else, any of the others would do, as long as they are strong’.

 

They “soon forget their offspring”, he explained. It was literally unintelligible to him that “they” could grieve as “we” do, that grief for a dead child could lacerate a black woman’s soul for the remainder of her life.

To get the hang of what I mean by “unintelligible”, think of why one couldn’t cast someone who looked like a racist caricature from a Black and White Minstrel Show, to play Othello. Such a face can express nothing deep. Not even an omniscient God could see in it the expressiveness needed for such a role.

It’s hardly disputable that expressions like “failing full to see the humanity of peoples” come naturally in discussions of racism of the kind betrayed by Isdell’s remark.

So when I speak of a common humanity of all the peoples of the earth I mean, at least in the first instance, that there are no peoples who are as Isdell saw Aboriginal Australians. Given my earlier remarks about the colonial context in which the Universal Declaration of Human rights emerged, and the resurgence of racism worldwide, the importance of such an affirmation cannot be overstated.

In making it, however, I do not want to suggest that I understand what it is to be fully human, that I and others who make the same affirmation discovered it and wish to impose that discovery to formerly denigrated peoples.

But when I say we have not discovered it, that we do not know what full humanity is, I don’t mean that we might one day. There is no such thing to discover.

Earlier, I said that we sometimes speak of humanity as something towards which we are called upon to rise, that it is task with no end, and would have no end even if we lived a thousand years. That is the idea of humanity that informs what I have been saying about this topic. Reviewing my book A Common Humanity: Thinking about Love and Truth and Justice (1999), Greg Dening said that “for Gaita, humanity is a verb, not a noun”. I couldn’t have put it better.

What it means to be human

It is, I think, uncontroversial that Australia’s Aboriginal peoples think differently about what it means to be human than non-aboriginal Australians do – a difference expressed, not discursively, but as the great Australian anthropologist WH Stanner put it, in

“all the beauty of song, mime, dance and art of which human beings are capable.”

The difference can be described most generally as being in their attitude to the natural world and their place in it. That is vague, of course, but it is enough to sustain the point that the difference has inevitably shown itself politically in, for example, disputes and court rulings about land and title and in the many, sometimes angry, arguments about what counts truly (practically) as reconciliation as opposed to merely symbolic gestures towards it.

Perhaps the most bitter disagreements were over whether genocide was at least sometimes, in some parts of Australia, committed against the Stolen Generations, as the 1997 Bringing Them Home report alleges.

I want to comment on this, though not in order to set new fires burning. Genocide is perhaps one of the most controversial concepts of international law. There is disagreement over whether it entails murder and over whether the Holocaust should be regarded as its paradigm or only as an extreme instance of a crime that, at its other extreme, might be forced assimilation.

Bringing Them Home consists largely of heartbreaking stories. The argument that genocide was committed is brief and depends on its definition. The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and punishment of the Crime of Genocide allows that there may be genocide without a single killing in service to a genocidal intent and that taking the children of a group may be a means to genocide, if it is done with the intention to destroy, “in whole or in part, the group as such”.

Stories, I have argued elsewhere, cannot of themselves tell us whether that allegation is right. Stories, no matter how many and how moving, cannot settle the controversies about the nature of genocide.

In the West, where the concept was developed, stories or narratives like Primo Levi’s If This Is a Man (1979) which played such an important role in our understanding of the Holocaust, speak to us only against the background of a common understanding. It is the work of discursive thought, usually in disciplines like anthropology, philosophy and history to try to render it reasonably perspicuous. But I must enter two important qualifications to that point.

Firstly, the kind of thought that engages with the stories should be answerable to the same critical concepts that determine the degree to which the stories contribute to understanding, rather than to edification or to delight. Those concepts are, of course, partly those with which we assess literature.

About virtually everything that matters in life, including matters of law, we argue not only about facts and the logical inferences made from them, but also about whether certain accounts of them move us only because we are vulnerable to sentimentality, or pathos, are deaf to what rings false, and so on.

For that reason, there can be no marked distinction between the concepts with which we critically assess narratives and those to which discursive engagement with them is answerable.

Bringing Them Home was criticised for being emotional. Hostile to its allegation of genocide, many Australians said that it convinced only people whose reason had given way to their emotions. Kim Beazley, some of you may remember, wept in Parliament when he read out some of those stories.

It is, of course, a failing – sometimes a very serious one – to be “emotional” in the pejorative sense of the term. Then we ignore or deny facts and arguments that are not congenial to beliefs to which we are emotionally committed. That is usually what people have in mind when they say “stop being so emotional”. Hold on to your reason, they say, especially in turbulent times like ours – like advising someone to hold onto to their hat in a storm.

Men hug as they watch then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologise to Aboriginal Australians on a big screen outside Parliament House in Canberra in 2008. Mick Tsikas/Reuters

 

But there is a danger here that threatens our capacity, indeed our desire, to see things. It is the tendency to oppose reason to emotion in a way that makes us insensible to, or uneducated in, a form of understanding in which thought and feeling and form and content are inseparable.

Sentimentality, a disposition to pathos, a failure to register what rings true, a tin ear for irony – these undermine understanding more often and surely than when emotion usurps reason, if reason is conceived as separate from and unfriendly to emotion.

When that happens it is not because emotion defeated reason that we affirm beliefs that we regret holding and having acted upon when we become morally clear sighted. It is because we were bereft of a sensibility, educated and disciplined, that would have enabled us to detect the sometimes crude, sometimes sophisticated, sentimentality, pathos and so on in what seduced us.

I come now to my second qualification. There is no shared understand between Aboriginal and non-aboriginal Australians about what it means to be human, and therefore, I think, no shared understanding of what we would naturally call crimes against humanity – if the concept of humanity plays any serious role in the ethical characterisation of such crimes.

Aboriginal peoples have no power of the kind that could force anything on non-Indigenous peoples, no power to force them to negotiate a treaty, for example.

Awful though it must be to peoples treated as they have been by their colonisers and their descendants, whatever further justice they are given will be a function of the openness of non-aboriginal Australians to seeing that justice must be done and, most importantly, seeing what that comes to if it is true to the history of this land.

For that to happen, non-aboriginal peoples must come to see what is at issue from the perspective of the Aboriginal peoples. That requires more than we usually mean by empathy, because it depends on acquiring new concepts or modifying old ones – concepts that are a condition of empathy, rather than its product.

For most non aboriginal Australians, that will involve a perceptual gestalt switch of the kind, which, for example, would enable them fully to acknowledge that this land is under occupation, if not legally as defined in international law, but morally, nonetheless.

If you think that is an exaggeration, a step way too far, then listen to Pat Dodson.

“While the 1788 invasion was unjust, the real injustice was the denial by [Governor] Phillip and subsequent governments, of our right to participate equally in the future of a land we had managed successfully for millenniums. Instead, the land was stolen, not shared. Our political sovereignty was replaced by a virulent form of serfdom; our spiritual beliefs denied and ridiculed; our system of education undermined.

We were no longer able to inculcate our young with the complex knowledge that is acquired from intimate engagement with the land and its waterways. The introduction of superior weapons, alien diseases, a policy of racism and enforced biogenetic practices created dispossession, a cycle of slavery and attempted destruction of our society.

The 1997 report Bringing Them Home highlighted the infringement of the U.N. definition of genocide and called for a national apology and compensation of those Aborigines who had suffered under laws that destroyed indigenous societies and sanctioned biogenetic modification of the Aboriginal people.”

For many people, to see Australia like that, really to see it like that, will at first be like seeing one aspect and then the other of an ambiguous drawing.

Crimes and lacerated souls

There is, of course, much more to understanding Aboriginal cultures than seeing the impact on them of the crimes committed against the Aboriginal peoples. But if we are to talk seriously about a treaty then we cannot avoid talking about crimes.

Understanding the crimes committed against the indigenous peoples of this country depends on an ethical understanding of what they suffered. Understanding of that can never be too distant from their stories and other forms of art that express that suffering.

If that is so, then it is obvious that, for the most part, Aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples of this country do not have a shared understanding of that suffering and, therefore, of how it should enter the ethical characterisation of the crimes against them.

The development of such understanding will be unnerving, radical and almost certainly novel to the classical traditions of Western political thought.

When people’s souls have been lacerated by the wrongs done to them, individually or collectively, openness to their voices requires humbled attentiveness. Such attentiveness is growing in Australia, I believe: slowly, by no means surely, but growing nonetheless

Philosopher Martin Buber said that the basic difference between monologues and “fully valid conversation” is “the otherness, or more concretely, the moment of surprise”. His point is not merely that we must be open to hearing surprising things.

A group of Australian children adorned with painted faces and bodies clown for the camera in Sydney in 2000. Jim Hollander/Reuters

 

We must be open to being surprised at the many ways we may justly and humanly relate to one another in a spirit of truthful dialogue. It is in conversation, rather than in advance of it, that we discover, never alone but always together, what it means really to listen and what tone may properly be taken. In conversation we discover the many things conversation can be.

No one can say what will happen when, through such conversations, we understand better how Aboriginal peoples have experienced – in the past and now – the crimes committed against them and, therefore, how that understanding should inform the ways that Aboriginal and non aboriginal peoples will be able to say “we”, truthfully and justly, in political fellowship.

It might not be “we Australians”. We might change the name of the country. Maybe not, but I cannot see how one can respond with truth-seeking humility to Dodson’s words and at the same time rule that out.

An act of faith

As things stand, the preambles to some of the most important instruments of international law that I mentioned earlier deploy Eurocentric concepts to express the ethical significance of those laws, to reveal what it means ethically to break them. The Dignity of Humanity and the inalienable dignity of every human being are amongst those concepts.

Elsewhere, I have expressed deep reservations about the way we speak of human rights and Human Dignity with a capital D (the capital D is necessary because the issue is not the alienable dignity people fear to lose as a result of injury, or enfeeblement in old age).

Like French philosopher Simone Weil, I fear that the way we now speak about human rights rests on an illusion. The illusion is that no matter how unrelentingly savage or cruel our oppressors, we can retain a Dignity that they cannot touch.

A woman holds a sign at a protest in Paris in April 2016. Elyxandro Cegarra/New Zulu

 

Some people suffer affliction so terrible, either through natural causes or because of human cruelty, affliction that crushes their spirits so completely, that the heroic key in which we talk about Dignity and inalienable human rights sounds like whistling in the dark.

But I have also said that the battles for what we call “human rights” and for the acceptance that all the peoples of the earth share an inalienable Dignity that defines their common humanity have been amongst the noblest in Western history. God only knows where we would have been had we not fought and won so many of them.

Talk of inalienable dignity is often an attempt to capture the shock of encountering the violation of something precious, a kind of wrong that cannot fully be captured by reference to the physical or psychological harm that is part of, sometimes integral, to it.

In much of my work, I have developed the implications of the fact, wonderful but also commonplace, that sometimes we see something as precious only in the light of someone’s love for it.

Our sense of the kind of preciousness that we feel is violated when we speak of a person’s inalienable dignity was historically shaped, I believe, by the works of saintly love. They were the inspiration, I believe, for what we mean when we say that even people who have committed the most terrible crimes and those who suffer severe and ineradicable affliction possess inalienable dignity.

Kant, to whom we owe the modern heroic inflections attached to those ways of speaking, was right to say that we have obligations to those we cannot love and may even despise.

He was right. But it was the works of saintly love, I believe, that transformed our understanding of what it means to be human and in fact are the source of the affirmation that we owe unconditional respect to the inalienable dignity possessed by every human being.

One doesn’t have to be religious – I am not – to acknowledge that. Doing so will enable us to talk of the inalienable dignity of every human being without falling victim to the illusion that its heroic resonances encourage.

I spoke earlier of my fears for the world my grandchildren will grow into.

I dread the prospect of a world in which my grandchildren could no longer affirm – for it is an affirmation, an act of faith to be true to what love has revealed but reason cannot secure – that even the most terrible evildoers, those whose characters appear to match their deeds, who are defiantly unremorseful and in whom we can find nothing from which remorse could grow – are owed an unconditional respect, are always and everywhere owed justice, for their sake, rather than because we fear the consequences if we do not accord it to them.

I dread the prospect of a world in which we no longer even it find intelligible that those who suffer radical, degrading and ineradicable affliction could be accorded a respect that is without trace of condescension, and thereby kept fully amongst us, mysteriously our equals.

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