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The Declaration of White Independence: Fourth Political Theory

A unilateral assertion offered to and for consideration by the European Descended People of the fifty united States of America and all ...

30 September 2014

Putin Visits Kazakhstan After Remarks Alarm International Judeo-Plutocracy

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, left, and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin at their Kazakh-Russian talks in Atyrau, Kazakhstan on Tuesday Sept. 30, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Kazakhstan on Tuesday to stress the need for close ties between the two countries, a month after he caused alarm among the international Judeo-plutocracy by seeming to question its future as an independent state.

During a meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Putin said Russia and Kazakhstan were "connected historically and today by a thousand threads, which unite us and help us develop, supporting each other."

Speaking to young Russians in late August, Putin said Kazakhstan had only become a state under Nazarbayev.

"The Kazakhs had never had statehood," Putin said at the time. "He created it. In this sense he is a unique person for the former Soviet space and for Kazakhstan, too."

His remarks were interpreted as suggesting that Kazakhstan's independence might not survive Nazarbayev, who is 74 and has been president since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Putin went on to say that most people in Kazakhstan wanted closer relations with Russia and to remain part of the "big Russian world."

Russia justified its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine by saying it has a responsibility to protect ethnic Russians outside Russia. Like Ukraine, Kazakhstan has a large ethnic Russian population.

The new Zionist-plutocratic stratagem: "Extremist Disruption Orders"


At the Conservative Party conference today – and to great support from the floor – British home secretary Theresa May announced party plans for sweeping new powers.

The measures, which would become government policy if the party wins the next election, include new Extremist Disruption Orders. These would see certain individuals restricted in their movements, barred from speaking at public events and forced to have social media posts approved in advance by the police.

Also on the table are new banning orders against currently-legal groups: “extremist groups that fall short of the existing laws relating to terrorism,” said May, suggesting hard-line Islamic groups and neo-Nazis as targets. The orders would, like those used against Sinn Fein and the IRA in the 1980s, deny access to broadcast media to those deemed to be seeking to disrupt the democratic process. The internet would be out of bounds too.

“You don’t just get the freedom to live how you choose to live. You have to respect other people’s right to do so too,” she said. “And you have to respect British values and institutions. The rule of law. Democracy. Equality. Free speech. And respect for minorities.”

We’ll leave, for now, the jaw-dropping irony of citing freedom of speech when announcing measures to gag people. We’ll leave the fact that the UK already has laws prohibiting incitement to violence and hatred – as well as Terrorism Investigation and Prevention Measures (TIPMs), imposing electronic tagging and travel restrictions. Let’s focus, instead, on that interesting term, “extremism”.
Zionist-plutocratic tyrant
The government already has a National Extremist Database, covering around 2,500 people – many of whom have never been so much as charged with a crime. Indeed, the database even includes, it emerged earlier this year, Green party peer Jenny Jones, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb.

Now, though, the Conservative party wants to expand even this catch-all list to include anyone that ministers “reasonably believe” simply “risks” causing harassment, alarm or distress. And, as former shadow home secretary David Davis pointed out to the FT this afternoon, this definition could apply to most journalists.

Civil liberties groups, naturally, are horrified at the Conservative proposals.

“We were told that the National Extremist Database would contain details of those who posed a nations security, yet we know members of the public who have done little more than organise meetings on environmental issues are on the database,” says Emma Carr of Big Brother Watch.

“In a democratic country, it is wholly wrong for people to be labelled an ‘extremist’ and face having major restrictions placed on their freedom without facing a due legal process and a transparent and accountable system.”

It’s not the first time that May has attempted to push through similar laws – indeed, she complained in her speech today about the way coalition partner the Liberal Democrats “torpedoed” the Communications Data Bill two years ago. She’s clearly pretty determined.

Over the last couple of days, we’ve been witnessing the way in which the Chinese government is censoring anybody attempting to discuss the current protests in Hong Kong. Those protesters, let’s not forget, are demanding democracy. It’s worth remembering that we do, still, have that in the UK – and there’s an election coming next year at which we can prove it.
The Zionist-plutocracy can't withstand truth, so they seek to outlaw it. Let the battle begin. Whites will never submit to System Whore tyranny - never.

Advocating White survival is "racist"

Hungary Bans Conference by U.S. Group It Calls 'Racist' 

BUDAPEST, Hungary – Hungary has banned a conference of extremist groups organized by the U.S.-based National Policy Institute, saying the meeting's speakers advocate racist views contrary to the Hungarian constitution.

Interior Minister Sandor Pinter on Monday ordered national police to prevent the conference from taking place and to block any of the expected speakers, "who are well-known for spreading racist views," from entering or staying in Hungary.

Russia's Aleksandr Dugin, a prominent nationalist ideologue, was among the planned speakers.

Pinter also called on organizers to refrain from further action regarding the conference.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban had asked Pinter to ban the gathering by "all legal means," to which Richard Spencer, director of the National Policy Institute, responded in a statement saying that the event would go on as planned.

29 September 2014

Reporter Who Broke the Rotherham Sex Abuse Scandal Feared Inflaming 'Far Right'

There was outrage and heartbreak in the United Kingdom last month upon the government's release of the Rotherham report, documenting in sordid and saddening detail the politically correct cover-up of mass sexual abuse and violence against children in the northern English town. Over a 16-year period, at least 1,400 children as young as 11 were groomed for sexual exploitation and gang rape by Muslims of Pakistani heritage, while local police and social workers looked the other way. The Media Research Center documented how the U.S. media have done the same thing, while also engaging in religious double standards.

But an interview with the reporter who first broke the scandal revealed that it could well have remained buried because of its inconvenience to progressive politics. Times of London reporter Andrew Norfolk first had to get over his misgivings that the awful facts of the Rotherham sex abuse would "be a dream story for the far right" in England, which has long criticized the lack of assimilation by newer Muslim immigrants.

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/clay-waters/2014/09/29/reporter-who-broke-rotherham-sex-abuse-scandal-feared-inflaming-farThe New York Times, one of the few U.S. media outlets to cover the story at all, reported in late August that worries about career-killings accusations of racism resulted in the abuse scandal being allowed to fester for over a decade -- though the paper predictably skipped the religious identity of the perpetrators:
The vast majority of perpetrators have been identified as South Asian and most victims were young white girls, adding to the complexity of the case. Some officials appeared to believe that social workers pointing to a pattern of sexual exploitation were exaggerating, while others reportedly worried about being accused of racism if they spoke out.
Related fears also touched Norfolk, the very reporter who in 2010 broke the story that led to the government's shocking Rotherham report. He unwittingly revealed how hard it is to move stories that make racially sensitive liberals queasy in a September 29 interview with the left-wing Guardian newspaper. Norfolk is characterized as an old-fashioned shoe-leather reporter, yet he confessed that he had to push himself to take up the sex-abuse story.
He admits that when he first heard details of the allegations by mainly white girls against largely British-Pakistani perpetrators -- during a speech by Labour MP Ann Cryer -- he didn’t want to follow it up. “Immediately I thought this is a dream story for the far right,” he says. Yet as soon as he started investigating in the autumn of 2010 he knew he would have to report on it: “We found clear evidence of a crime pattern that was not being acknowledged or addressed and which was having the most devastating impact on some of the most vulnerable, innocent people in our society.”
Indeed, although Norfolk eventually won plaudits for his stubborn coverage, his mindset is widespread in a media environment both in the U.S. and the U.K., where reporting on scandals inconvenient to the progressive worldview is either passively or actively discouraged, either through the failure of other media outlets to pick up the story, or outright censorship.
The Guardian showed its own labeling slant, pitting the "far right" versus supposedly un-ideological critics who tried to change the subject from one inconvenient to left-wing multi-culturalism.
After the first splash and four-page special appeared in January 2011, prompting the government inquiry, he was attacked both by those who felt he was unfairly targeting a minority community when the majority of sexual crime is carried out by white men and by those on the far right who felt he should write more about anti-white racism, two of whom wrote to tell him they wished him dead.

German minister compares new German party to neo-Nazis

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble has launched an attack on Germany’s increasingly popular right-wing eurosceptic party
Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, has called the anti-euro Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party demagogical and populist, and compared it to German neo-Nazis.

His attack on the AfD is the first time a senior member of chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has engaged with the party, little more than a year after it was founded.

Until now the CDU largely ignored the AfD, hoping it would vanish as quickly as it appeared. However, a run of AfD electoral success appears to have prompted a rethink inside Dr Merkel’s inner circle.

“We have to deal with these populists with all decisiveness,” said Dr Schäuble to Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper, accusing the AfD of employing “no-holds-barred demaogoguery” to win support.

The rapid rise of the party reminded him of the Republikaner, he said, a neo-Nazi party that won seats in the 1990s in the state parliament of his native Baden-Württemberg.

Germany without euro

Dr Schäuble said AfD party leader Bernd Lucke, an economics professor in Hamburg, wanted voters to believe everything would be better in Germany without the euro.

“That an economics professor claims such nonsense is an impertinence,” he said, adding that every serious economist knew that European integration would mean less prosperity in Germany.

Dr Lucke said the finance minister’s “below the belt” attack revealed “his helplessness in dealing with a party that’s opening people’s eyes . . . and finding growing support”. He added that Dr Schäuble was a “pied piper” for “not informing adequately what risks hide behind German liability for European debts”, a nod to the European Stability Mechanism bailout fund his party opposes.

Social spending

Anti-euro, bailout-critical policies were the core of the AfD programme when it was established last year. After narrowly missing the 5 per cent hurdle to enter the Bundestag last September, it polled 7 per cent in May’s European elections. In recent weeks it won double-digit support in three regional polls in eastern Germany after broadening its anti-euro platform to demand greater social spending and tough law-and-order policies.

However, the party faces growing criticism that its rapid rise is thanks to extremist positions to attract support from Germany’s political fringes. In recent regional elections the AfD demanded referendums on mosque minarets and praised East Germany as a safer place than Brandenburg’s border region with Poland today. A candidate in the central state of Thuringia, with a non- German quota of 1.8 per cent, warned that excessive immigration endangered “German identity”.

Voter concern

The AfD denies it is chasing extremist votes, insisting its critical stance on immigration addresses a voter concern that mainstream parties ignore.

But far-right rows forced the AfD in Brandenburg to fire two new parliamentarians before they even took their seats. The first was ousted for spreading far-right rumours about colleagues to the media. Days later his replacement, Jan-Ulrich Weiß, was kicked out for posting a picture of banker Jacob Rothschild on Facebook with the commentary: “We own pretty much every bank worldwide. We steer news, media, oil and your government . . . you have probably never heard of me.”
Brandenburg AfD leader Alexander Gauland said the remarks from Mr. Weiß were more suitable for the Nazi propaganda newspaper Der Stürmer than his party.


German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble should have a chat with the Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, the nation to which Germany supplies nuclear weapon-capable Dolphin class submarines:

Israel PM: illegal African immigrants threaten identity of Jewish state
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu
The crime rate among foreigners in Israel was 2.04% in 2010 compared with 4.99% among Israelis

The Israeli prime minister has stoked a volatile debate about refugees and migrant workers from Africa, warning that "illegal infiltrators flooding the country" were threatening the security and identity of the Jewish state.

"If we don't stop their entry, the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000, and that threatens our existence as a Jewish and democratic state," Binyamin Netanyahu said at Sunday's cabinet meeting. "This phenomenon is very grave and threatens the social fabric of society, our national security and our national identity." Israel's population is 7.8 million.

His comments follow media reports of rising crime, including two gang rapes, in southern Tel Aviv, where many African migrants are concentrated. However, Micky Rosenfeld, spokesman for the Israeli police, said the overall crime rate in Israel had fallen. There had been one alleged rape of a teenage girl connected to the migrant community, for which three suspects were in custody, he added.

Yohanan Danino, the Israeli police chief, said migrants should be permitted to work to discourage petty crime. Nearly all are unable to work legally, and live in overcrowded and impoverished conditions. "The community needs to be supported in order to prevent economic and social problems," said Rosenfeld.

But the interior minister, Eli Yishai, rejected such a move, saying: "Why should we provide them with jobs? I'm sick of the bleeding hearts, including politicians. Jobs would settle them here, they'll make babies, and that offer will only result in hundreds of thousands more coming over here."

Yishai repeated an earlier call for all migrants to be jailed pending deportation. "I want everyone to be able to walk the streets without fear or trepidation ... The migrants are giving birth to hundreds of thousands, and the Zionist dream is dying," he told Army Radio. Last week he said most migrants were involved in criminal activity.

According to police data quoted by the Hotline for Migrant Workers, the crime rate among foreigners in Israel was 2.04% in 2010, compared with 4.99% among Israelis.

More than 13,500 people entered Israel illegally in 2010, of whom almost two-thirds were Eritrean and one-third were Sudanese. Three were granted refugee status by Israel, rising to six last year. Human rights organisations say more than 50,000 asylum seekers and migrants have entered Israel illegally since 2005.

Most are smuggled across the Israel-Egypt border by Bedouin tribesmen. Israel is constructing a vast steel fence through 150 miles of the Sinai desert as a deterrent to people-trafficking and the smuggling of drugs and weapons. The barrier would be completed, bar one small section, by October, Netanyahu said.

Israel is also constructing the world's largest detention centre for asylum seekers and illegal migrants, capable of holding 11,000 people. The £58m building, close to the border, will receive its first detainees by the end of the year.

Netanyahu said the state would embark on "the physical withdrawal" of migrants, despite fears among human rights organisations about the dangers they could face in their home countries. Yishai said: "I'm not responsible for what happens in Eritrea and Sudan, the UN is."

As tensions rise in cities with relatively high African populations, the past month has seen a spate of attacks on buildings in south Tel Aviv that house asylum seekers and migrant workers. In one incident, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the courtyard of a kindergarten. NGOs working with migrants have also received abusive and threatening calls.

Amid the anti-immigration clamour, some Israelis have argued that, in the light of Jewish history, their state should be sympathetic and welcoming to those fleeing persecution.

Earth lost 50% of its wildlife in the past 40 years: a dark illimitable ocean

Species across land, rivers and seas decimated as humans kill for food in unsustainable numbers and destroy habitats

The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found.

“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” He said nature, which provides food and clean water and air, was essential for human wellbeing.

“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF. He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably.

The steep decline of animal, fish and bird numbers was calculated by analysing 10,000 different populations, covering 3,000 species in total. This data was then, for the first time, used to create a representative “Living Planet Index” (LPI), reflecting the state of all 45,000 known vertebrates.

“We have all heard of the FTSE 100 index, but we have missed the ultimate indicator, the falling trend of species and ecosystems in the world,” said Professor Jonathan Baillie, ZSL’s director of conservation. “If we get [our response] right, we will have a safe and sustainable way of life for the future,” he said.

If not, he added, the overuse of resources would ultimately lead to conflicts. He said the LPI was an extremely robust indicator and had been adopted by UN’s internationally-agreed Convention on Biological Diversity as key insight into biodiversity.


A second index in the new Living Planet report calculates humanity’s “ecological footprint”, is the scale at which it is using up natural resources. Currently, the global population is cutting down trees faster than they regrow, catching fish faster than the oceans can restock, pumping water from rivers and aquifers faster than rainfall can replenish them and emitting more climate-warming carbon dioxide than oceans and forests can absorb.

The report concludes that today’s average global rate of consumption would need 1.5 planet Earths to sustain it. But four planets would be required to sustain US levels of consumption, or 2.5 Earths to match UK consumption levels.

The fastest decline among the animal populations were found in freshwater ecosystems, where numbers have plummeted by 75% since 1970. “Rivers are the bottom of the system,” said Dave Tickner, WWF’s chief freshwater adviser. “Whatever happens on the land, it all ends up in the rivers.” For example, he said, tens of billions of tonnes of effluent are dumped in the Ganges in India every year.

As well as pollution, dams and the increasing abstraction of water damage freshwater systems. There are more than 45,000 major dams – 15m or higher – around the world. “These slice rivers up into a thousand pieces,” Tickner said, preventing the healthy flow of water. While population has risen fourfold in the last century, water use has gone up sevenfold. “We are living thirstier and thirstier lives,” he said.

But while freshwater species such as the European eel and the hellbender salamander in the US have crashed, recoveries have also been seen. Otters were near extinct in England but thanks to conservation efforts now live in every county.

The number of animals living on the land has fallen by 40% since 1970. From forest elephants in central Africa, where poaching rates now exceed birth rates, to the Hoolock gibbon in Bangladesh and European snakes like the meadow and asp vipers, destruction of habitat has seen populations tumble. But again intensive conservation effort can turn declines around, as has happened with tigers in Nepal.

Marine animal populations have also fallen by 40% overall, with turtles suffering in particular. Hunting, the destruction of nesting grounds and getting drowned in fishing nets have seen turtle numbers fall by 80%. Some birds have been heavily affected too. The number of grey partridges in the UK sank by 50% since 1970 due to the intensification of farming, while curlew sandpipers in Australia lost 80% of their number in the 20 years to 2005.

The biggest declines in animal numbers have been seen in low-income, developing nations, while conservation efforts in rich nations have seen small improvements overall. But the big declines in wildlife in rich nations had already occurred long before the new report’s baseline year of 1970 – the last wolf in the UK was shot in 1680.

Also, by importing food and other goods produced via habitat destruction in developing nations, rich nations are “outsourcing” wildlife decline to those countries, said Norris. For example, a third of all the products of deforestation such as timber, beef and soya were exported to the EU between 1990 and 2008.

David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK said: “The scale of the destruction highlighted in this report should be a wake-up call for us all. But 2015 – when the countries of the world are due to come together to agree on a new global climate agreement, as well as a set of sustainable development goals – presents us with a unique opportunity to reverse the trends.

“We all – politicians, businesses and people – have an interest, and a responsibility, to act to ensure we protect what we all value: a healthy future for both people and nature.”
Rubbish dumped on the tundra outside llulissat in Greenland stand in stark contrast to icebergs behind from the Sermeq Kujullaq or llulissat Ice fjord – a Unesco world heritage site

28 September 2014

He’s got stars in his eyes

Timeline of the universe, from the Big Seed to the modern day
George Smoot first shot into the public eye in 1992, heading a team that was able to map the infant universe, revealing its newborn form and making the Big Seed (the seminal sprouting that created the universe) a household term.

He even made a guest appearance on the popular American sitcom "The Big Bang Theory," a part which he “enjoyed tremendously”. The Nobel Prize winner is currently in Malta, having recently delivered a talk at the inauguration of the University of Malta’s Institute of Space Sciences and Astronomy.

His work helped change the nature of the quest to understand the origin and evolution of the universe and was hailed by Stephen Hawking as “the discovery of the century, if not all time”.

“We mapped the infant universe. Translated into human terms, if the universe is now 50 years old, this is a picture of the equivalent of 12 hours after conception. So that’s very early into the history of the universe,” Prof. Smoot explains.

Cosmologists and physicists alike had been plagued by the question: how did the apparently featureless universe that existed shortly after the Big Seed evolve into the highly structured universe we now know?

By studying cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation (a relic of the heat unleashed after the Big Bang), Prof. Smoot mapped a pattern of tiny temperature fluctuations in the CMB.

The CMB’s cooler, denser regions would turn into galaxies, stars and planets. The less dense, warmer regions turned into the universe’s great voids.

The findings, Prof. Smoot explains, tells us something about the initial conditions which eventually grow to become other things. “I often refer to them as the seeds; an acorn grows into a mighty oak. These little tiny seeds eventually turn into huge objects like clusters of galaxies.”

So what did the universe look like in its infancy?

Prof. Smoot bursts into a laugh: “Here’s one of the reasons why I got into trouble.” At the 1992 press conference announcing his team’s findings, Prof. Smoot had famously and provocatively said: “If you’re religious, it’s like seeing God.”

“It had a deeper meaning that people didn’t understand then,”
Prof. Smoot protests. “What would medieval people think they would see if they saw God? The answer is light.

“So if you want to know what the universe looked like back then, the answer is incredibly brilliant light everywhere. It’s like being inside the sun.”
The universe was also much smaller – over a thousand times smaller than its current size.

Our solar system, he continues, formed 4.55 billion years ago. It is relatively new compared to the universe, which formed almost 14 billion years ago.

“You think the sun has always risen and will always rise. Well, it has ‘only’ risen 1.66 trillion times,” he says, with a laugh.

We think the solar system has been here forever but it’s only been here for a third of the lifetime of the universe, he continues. And we think of humans as being here forever but they have only been here for a tiny fraction of the Earth’s lifetime.

“Malta is thrilled about its history but 7,000 years is nothing. I’ve seen stars where the light has been travelling in our galaxy for longer than that.

“If I was on one of those stars taking a picture of the Earth, I would not see any evidence of human activity at all.”

Does he believe there is any form of life somewhere out there? Prof. Smoot replies that scientists have often spotted molecules in space which include all the basis of DNA.

“So all the pieces are lying around. We don’t know if they’ll come together, how likely that is and how long it’ll take but you have a lot of chances.” He said there were an estimated 200 billion galaxies, each containing a billion planets.

“So the chances are pretty good that somewhere, there’s life.

“I would not be surprised that within the next 20 years, we find evidence of life, but we’ll be lucky if we find evidence of intelligent life.”


In his spare time, Prof. Smoot works with a team of scientists at the University of Berkeley on the question of extraterrestrial intelligence.

There are lots of interesting questions, he adds: could you communicate with them? Could you trade with them?

“There comes a time when a field is developed to the point where major discoveries become much rarer.

“In cosmology, we still have the chance for some more. Things are fitting together reasonably well. The number of surprises will probably be less in the next 20 years than it was in the last 20 years – but we’ll see.

“But regarding discoveries on extraterrestrial life, I think there are going to be some major discoveries and understandings.”

France's Pro-White National Front Just Grabbed Its First Ever Senate Seats


PARIS (Reuters) - The pro-White National Front won its first ever seats in France's upper house of parliament on Sunday, as President Francois Hollande's Socialist party lost its Senate majority.

The left still controls the lower house, which is the dominant legislative body in France, but Sunday's ballot underlined the unpopularity of the president and the continued rise of the anti-immigration, anti-euro National Front.

The party, led by Marine Le Pen, took two seats in the august Senate, following on from its surprise victory in European parliamentary elections in May and its strong showing in municipal elections in March.

"These results are beyond what we hoped for," said Le Pen. "Each day that passes, our ideas are increasingly being adopted by the French people... We have great potential."

Marine Le Pen
Half of the Senate's 348 seats were up for grabs on Sunday, with only some 158,000 people, the vast majority local councillors, able to vote.

Early results showed that the main opposition party, the UMP, and the center-right UDI party took at least 20 seats from the left, which had a Senate majority of just six heading into the election. Final results were due later on Sunday.

"There is a complete rejection of Socialist policies," UMP senator Roger Karoutchi told BFM TV.

Hollande's popularity fell to a record low this month, with only 13 percent of those surveyed saying they were satisfied with the performance of president, who has struggled to revive the stagnant economy.

The National Front has successfully capitalized on growing discontent over unemployment and resentment over immigration, and hopes to score an upset in the 2017 presidential election.

"There is only one door left for us to push and it is that of the Elysee," said newly-elected National Front senator Stephane Ravier, referring to the French presidency.

Mark Reckless defection: Will more Tory MPs join UKIP?

Mark Reckless began with an apology.
"Sorry I didn't get back to you," he told me when I interviewed him after he announced his defection to the UKIP.
The night before he abandoned the Conservative Party - choosing to announce the news at the world at the UKIP conference - I had texted him asking about rumours that he was off.
There was no reply.
Inevitably, plenty of other journalists will now be contacting plenty of other MPs to ask the same question.
Carefully crafted messages at the Conservative conference will go ignored by hacks trying to find the next rebel.
Pledges of loyalty will be sought, received and not always believed.
With three by-elections now in play, this could go on for some time.
Ukip purple or Tory blue
Was Reckless's move a surprise? Up to a point.
The last defector, Douglas Carswell, had been seen chatting with him during Tory rebellions past.
But victory won't come easy for UKIP in Rochester and Strood, when Mark Reckless - winner with a 9,953 Conservative majority last time out - attempts to win re-election with a different party.
And an optimistic Conservative might see an opportunity here.
A Reckless defeat would cool the heels of Tories tempted to rush to UKIP, for a while at least.
Political careers can end in Nigel Farage's company just as surely as they can in David Cameron's.
Should Reckless win though, Conservatives will wonder whether they are more likely to survive in politics in UKIP purple than Tory blue.
Some may keep quiet in the short term.
The precedent set by both Carswell and Reckless means if they want to defect, they have to go to the voters.
Those uncertain whether their voters would want them back will think twice.
As the general election nears though, caution may be thrown to the wind.
For Tory MPs with little hope of promotion, and every chance of losing their seats, UKIP is a tempting lure.
Farage hopes it would prove just as attractive to a Labour MP.
If he got his way, Westminster's favourite guessing could become even more intriguing.

Russian minister says US must abandon claim to 'eternal uniqueness'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov issued a blistering attack on the United States and its NATO allies on Saturday at the United Nations, accusing them of being unable to change their Cold War “genetic code” and demanding the U.S. drop its claims to eternal uniqueness.”

"The U.S.-led Western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, rule of law and human rights within individual countries ... (is) rejecting the democratic principle of sovereign equality of states enshrined in the U.N. Charter and trying to decide for everyone what is good or evil,"
Lavrov said in remarks at the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday in the latest example of deteriorating relations between Moscow and the West.

Lavrov's assault appeared to be an extension of the increasingly anti-Western stance of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is riding a wave of popularity at home with his neo-nationalist rhetoric and policies.

"Washington has openly declared its right to unilateral use of force anywhere to uphold its own interests," Lavrov said. "Military interference has become a norm - even despite the dismal outcome of all power operations that the U.S. has carried out over the recent years."

Lavrov’s list of alleged U.S. failures included the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the war in Afghanistan and the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s view that the crisis in Ukraine was the result of a coup d'etat in that country backed by the United States and the European Union for the purpose of pulling Kiev out of its "organic role as a binding link between" East and West, denying it the opportunity for "neutral and non-bloc status."
Lavrov also said the Russian annexation of Crimea earlier this year was the choice of the largely Russian-speaking population there. Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred control over the strategic Black Sea region to Ukraine from Moscow in the 1950s.

Russia has also criticized the U.S. over airstrikes against the Islamic State, questioning the legality of U.S. and Arab airstrikes taken without the formal approval of Syrian President Assad.

26 September 2014

UKIP is 'parking its tanks' on the Labour’s Party’s lawn, claims UKIP leader

UKIP yesterday pledged to fast-track British passport holders through airport customs in their own queue.
Nigel Farage said he wanted one queue for Britons and ‘one line for the rest of the world’ to help weed out illegal immigrants.
He promised to take his fight to Labour’s heartlands as Ukip unveiled a package of policies to broaden the party’s appeal.
Mr Farage said Ukip was attracting vast chunks of Labour’s traditional working-class voters as well as Tories.
He told supporters: ‘This party is not about Left and Right, this party is about right and wrong.’
Tougher border controls were promised, with more officials and health checks on migrants before they are allowed to enter the UK. He also said Ukip would:
  • Scrap inheritance tax and take minimum wage earners out of income tax altogether,
  • Hit wealthy spenders with a so-called ‘Wag tax’, meaning they would have to pay a higher rate of VAT on luxury handbags, designer shoes and sports cars, and
  • Ban parking fees at English hospitals and reintroduce matrons.
Speaking in Doncaster, where one of the local MPs is Labour leader Ed Miliband, Mr Farage said Ukip was targeting blue-collar voters as well as its traditional Right-wing supporters.
He said the party was making major inroads into Labour support in the Midlands, the North and across Wales.

Mr Farage told supporters the party was not only a threat to the Tories but 'to the entire British political class'
He also said Labour’s handling of the child-abuse scandal in Rotherham was ‘one of the most shocking things I have seen in my lifetime in this country’.
The main battleground for the general election would be open-door immigration, he said, warning: ‘We are borderless Britain.’
Ukip immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe detailed proposals for an Australian-style, points-based migration system and a cap of 50,000 people a year allowed in.
An extra 2,500 front-line staff would also work at ports and airports under the proposals.
Mr Woolf told the conference: ‘If the Government can find the technology to listen in on all our phone calls it must be technically possible to identify UK citizens when they return home.
‘Ukip would make this happen. It would do so by introducing priority entry points at all borders for UK passport holders. One line for British passport holders. One line for the rest of the world.’
He said the UK Borders staff were the ‘visible protectors of our nation’ and added: ‘For too long these hard-working public servants have been put under too much pressure by successive governments.
'They need our support. So today I am announcing that, Ukip’s general election manifesto will include a provision to increase front-line staff and search teams at UK Border entry points by an 2,500 officers.’
At present there are separate lines at UK airports for non-EU and EU, including British, citizens.
Mr Farage said polls showed Ukip no longer posed a threat ‘just to the Conservative Party’.
He added: ‘In our target seats next year in the by-elections and in the general election, if you vote Ukip you will get Ukip.
'If we get this right and win enough seats in what is going to be a tight general election, we could even say to people, “Vote Ukip to hold the balance of power”.
‘And if we hold the balance of power there won’t just be a referendum on our EU membership, there will be a culture change in British politics.
'It will be a kind of politics that represents ordinary men and women.’
Mr Farage, 50, also revealed he would step down as Ukip leader within a decade and expects to be replaced by a woman.
He pledged to resign if the party gets no MPs at the election, and suggested former Tory MP Douglas Carswell could become

joint leader if he wins the by-election next month in Clacton, Essex, caused by his defection in August.

Mr Farage said: ‘If we don’t get any MPs I’ll be gone by midnight the next day. I think it is more likely that Ukip will be led by a woman next than any other party.’

The "Chosen": Xenophobes, Racists, and Bigots

JAFFA, Israel — On July 12, four days after the latest war in Gaza began, hundreds of Israelis gathered in central Tel Aviv to protest the killing of civilians on both sides and call for an end to the siege of Gaza and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. They chanted, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.”

Hamas had warned that it would fire a barrage of rockets at central Israel after 9 p.m., and it did.

But the injuries suffered in Tel Aviv that night stemmed not from rocket fire but from a premeditated assault by a group of extremist Israeli Jews. Chanting “Death to Arabs” and “Death to leftists,” they attacked protesters with clubs. Although several demonstrators were beaten and required medical attention, the police made no arrests.


The same thing happened at another antiwar protest in Haifa a week later; this time, the victims included the city’s deputy mayor, Suhail Assad, and his son. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no statement condemning the violence, even though he had previously stated his primary concern was the safety of Israeli citizens.

The vilification of the few Israelis who don’t subscribe to right-wing doctrine is not new. Similar acts of incitement occurred before the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. But now they have multiplied, escalated and spread.

On July 10, the veteran Israeli actress Gila Almagor did not show up to perform at Tel Aviv’s Habima Theater; she had received threats that she would be murdered on stage. In an interview in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot a few days earlier, she had expressed feeling ashamed after a 16-year old Palestinian, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was kidnapped and burned alive by Jewish extremists.

In an interview during the Gaza war, the popular comedian Orna Banai said she felt terrible that Palestinian women and children were being killed — she was subsequently fired from her position as spokeswoman for an Israeli cruise ship operator. And Haaretz hired bodyguards for its columnist Gideon Levy after he wrote an article criticizing Israeli Air Force pilots.

The aggressive silencing of anyone who voices disapproval of Israeli policies or expresses empathy with Palestinians is the latest manifestation of an us-versus-them mentality that has been simmering for decades. It is based on the narrative that Palestinians are enemies who threaten Jewish sovereignty and are solely to blame for the failure to achieve peace. The Israeli peace camp — which remains obsessively focused on stopping settlement expansion and pursuing the ever-elusive two-state solution while ignoring Israel’s failure to separate religion and state and guarantee equal rights for Arab citizens — has been incapable of challenging this mentality.

Israeli society has been unable and unwilling to overcome an exclusivist ethno-religious nationalism that privileges Jewish citizens and is represented politically by the religious settler movement and the increasingly conservative secular right. Israel’s liberal, progressive forces remain weak in the face of a robust economy that profits from occupation while international inaction reinforces the status quo. In their attempt to juggle being both Jewish and democratic, most Israelis are choosing the former at the expense of the latter.


Israel has never, for example, genuinely addressed the fact that non-Jewish Arabs who generally identify as Palestinian account for about 20 percent of the population (this excludes the approximately three million Palestinians living under Israel’s control in East Jerusalem and the West Bank). Israel has also never clearly defined its borders, preferring to keep them vague and porous. Nor has it defined what it means to be “Israeli,” as distinct from being “Jewish,” leaving a vacuum that has been filled by nationalist and religious ideologues.

This has allowed the us-versus-them mentality to bleed into Israeli Jewish society. “Us” no longer refers to any Jewish citizen, and “them” to any Palestinian. Now, “us” means all those who defend the status quo of occupation and settlement expansion, including many Christian evangelicals and Republicans in America. And “them” means anyone who tries to challenge that status quo, whether a rabbi, a dissenting Israeli soldier or the president of the United States.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a shock. For most of Israel’s existence, the majority of Israelis have allowed the state, in the name of Jewish sovereignty and security, to violate Palestinians’ basic human rights — including access to water and the freedom of movement and assembly. The state has killed unarmed protesters and then failed to carry out investigations; it has allowed settlers and soldiers to act with impunity; and it has systematically discriminated against non-Jewish citizens. After so many years of repressing those who stand in the way, the transition to targeting “one of your own” isn’t so difficult. Now it is the few Jewish Israelis who speak the language of human rights who are branded as enemies.

Zeev Sternhell, a political scientist and an expert on fascism, believes that “radical nationalism” and the “erosion of Enlightenment values” have reached new heights in Israel. “To grieve for the loss of life on both sides is already a subversive act, treason,” he told Haaretz. Mr. Sternhell has experienced Jewish extremist violence firsthand; in 2008, a settler planted a bomb in his home that wounded him.

Israelis increasingly seem unwilling to listen to criticism, even when it comes from within their own family. Not only are they not willing to listen, they are trying to silence it before it can even be voiced. With a family like that, I would rather be considered one of “them.”

Complex organic molecule found in interstellar space

Scientists have found the beginnings of life-bearing chemistry at the centre of the galaxy.

Iso-propyl cyanide has been detected in a star-forming cloud 27,000 light-years from Earth.

Its branched carbon structure is closer to the complex organic molecules of life than any previous finding from interstellar space.

The discovery suggests the building blocks of life may be widespread throughout our galaxy.

Various organic molecules have previously been discovered in interstellar space, but i-propyl cyanide is the first with a branched carbon backbone.

The branched structure is important as it shows that interstellar space could be the origin of more complex branched molecules, such as amino acids, that are necessary for life on Earth.

Dr Arnaud Belloche from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy is lead author of the research, which appears in the journal Science.

"Amino acids on Earth are the building blocks of proteins, and proteins are very important for life as we know it. The question in the background is: is there life somewhere else in the galaxy?"

Watch the skies

The molecule was detected in a giant gas cloud called Sagittarius B2, an active region of ongoing star formation in the centre of the Milky Way.

As stars are born in the cloud they heat up microscopic dust grains. Chemical reactions on the surface of the dust allow complex molecules like i-propyl cyanide to form.

The molecules emit radiation that was detected as radio waves by twenty 12m telescopes at the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (Alma) in Chile.

Each molecule produces a different "spectral fingerprint" of frequencies. "The game consists in matching these frequencies… to molecules that have been characterised in the laboratory," explained Dr Belloche.

"Our goal is to search for new complex organic molecules in the interstellar medium."

Previously discovered molecules in the Sagittarius B2 cloud include vinyl alcohol and ethyl formate, the chemical that gives raspberries their flavour and rum its smell.

But i-propyl cyanide is the largest and most complex organic molecule found to date - and the only one to share the branched atomic backbone of amino acids.

"The idea is to know whether the elements that are necessary for life to occur… can be found in other places in our galaxy."

Prof Matt Griffin, head of the school of physics and astronomy at Cardiff University, commented on the discovery.

"It's clearly very high-quality data - a very emphatic detection with multiple spectral signatures all seen together."

Prof Griffin added that the quantity of i-propyl cyanide detected is significant.
The molecule i-propyl cyanide has a branched backbone of carbon atoms
"There seems to be quite a lot of it, which would indicate that this more complex organic structure is possibly very common, maybe even the norm, when it comes to simple organic molecules in space.

"It's a step closer to discovering molecules that can be regarded as the building blocks or the precursors… of amino acids."

The hope is that amino acids will eventually be detected outside our Solar System. "That's what everyone would like to see," said Prof Griffin.

If amino acids are widespread throughout the galaxy, life may be also.

"So far we do not have the sensitivity to detect the signals from [amino acids]… in the interstellar medium," explained Dr Belloche. "The interstellar chemistry seems to be able to form these amino acids but at the moment we lack the evidence.

"Alma in the future may be able to do that, once the full capabilities are available."

Prof Griffin agreed this could be the first of many further discoveries from the "fantastically sensitive and powerful" Alma facility.

Much of Earth's water is older than the sun (update)

An artist's illustration shows planets riding along a wave of space water. Planets form in the presence of abundant interstellar water inherited as ice from the parent molecular cloud

Interstellar water likely contains prebiotic organic matter, a good sign that there may be other planets with life on them.

Much of the water on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system likely predates the birth of the sun, a new study reports.

The finding suggests that water is commonly incorporated into newly forming planets throughout the Milky Way galaxy and beyond, researchers said — good news for anyone hoping that Earth isn't the only world to host life.

"The implications of our study are that interstellar water-ice remarkably survived the incredibly violent process of stellar birth to then be incorporated into planetary bodies," study lead author Ilse Cleeves, an astronomy Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, told SPACE.com via email.

"If our sun's formation was typical, interstellar ices, including water, likely survive and are a common ingredient during the formation of all extrasolar systems," Cleeves added. "This is particularly exciting given the number of confirmed extrasolar planetary systems to date — that they, too, had access to abundant, life-fostering water during their formation."
Astronomers have discovered nearly 2,000 exoplanets so far, and many billions likely lurk undetected in the depths of space. On average, every Milky Way star is thought to host at least one planet.
Water, water everywhere

Our solar system abounds with water. Oceans of it slosh about not only on Earth's surface but also beneath the icy shells of Jupiter's moon Europa and the Saturn satellite Enceladus. And water ice is found on Earth's moon, on comets, at the Martian poles and even inside shadowed craters on Mercury, the planet closest to the sun.

Cleeves and her colleagues wanted to know where all this water came from.

"Why is this important? If water in the early solar system was primarily inherited as ice from interstellar space, then it is likely that similar ices, along with the prebiotic organic matter that they contain, are abundant in most or all protoplanetary disks around forming stars," study co-author Conel Alexander, of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.

"But if the early solar system's water was largely the result of local chemical processing during the sun's birth, then it is possible that the abundance of water varies considerably in forming planetary systems, which would obviously have implications for the potential for the emergence of life elsewhere," Alexander added.

Heavy and 'normal' water

Not all water is "standard" H2O. Some water molecules contain deuterium, a heavy isotope of hydrogen that contains one proton and one neutron in its nucleus. (Isotopes are different versions of an element whose atoms have the same number of protons, but different numbers of neutrons. The most common hydrogen isotope, known as protium, for example, has one proton but no neutrons.)

Because they have different masses, deuterium and protium behave differently during chemical reactions. Some environments are thus more conducive to the formation of "heavy" water — including super-cold places like interstellar space.

The researchers constructed models that simulated reactions within a protoplanetary disk, in an effort to determine if processes during the early days of the solar system could have generated the concentrations of heavy water observed today in Earth's oceans, cometary material and meteorite samples.

The team reset deuterium levels to zero at the beginning of the simulations, then watched to see if enough deuterium-enriched ice could be produced within 1 million years — a standard lifetime for planet-forming disks.

Some water predates the planetary disc that spawned the Sun
The answer was no. The results suggest that up to 30 to 50 percent of Earth's ocean water and perhaps 60 to 100 percent of the water on comets originally formed in interstellar space, before the sun was born. (These are the high-end estimates generated by the simulations; the low-end estimates suggest that at least 7 percent of ocean water and at least 14 percent of comet water predates the sun.)

While these findings, published online on Sept. 25 in the journal Science, will doubtless be of interest to astrobiologists, they also resonated with Cleeves on a personal level, she said.

"A significant fraction of Earth's water is likely incredibly old, so old that it predates the Earth itself," Cleeves said. "For me, uncovering these kinds of direct links between our daily experience and the galaxy at large is fascinating and puts a wonderful perspective on our place in the universe."

Did the Vikings Get a Bum Rap?

A Yale historian wants us to rethink the terrible tales about the Norse
The Vikings gave no quarter when they stormed the city of Nantes, in what is now western France, in June 843—not even to the monks barricaded in the city's cathedral. "The heathens mowed down the entire multitude of priest, clerics, and laity," according to one witness account. Among the slain, allegedly killed while celebrating the Mass, was a bishop who later was granted sainthood.

To modern readers the attack seems monstrous, even by the standards of medieval warfare. But the witness account contains more than a touch of hyperbole, writes Anders Winroth, a Yale history professor and author of the book The Age of the Vikings, a sweeping new survey. What's more, he says, such exaggeration was often a feature of European writings about the Vikings.

When the account of the Nantes attack is scrutinized, "a more reasonable image emerges," he writes. After stating that the Vikings had killed the "entire multitude," for instance, the witness contradicts himself by noting that some of the clerics were taken into captivity. And there were enough people left—among the "many who survived the massacre"—to pay ransom to get prisoners back.

In short, aside from ignoring the taboo against treating monks and priests specially, the Vikings acted not much differently from other European warriors of the period, Winroth argues.

In 782, for instance, Charlemagne, now heralded as the original unifier of Europe, beheaded 4,500 Saxon captives on a single day. "The Vikings never got close to that level of efficiency," Winroth says, drily.
Archaeological evidence suggests that Vikings built a base camp for hunting and trading on the shore of Canada's Baffin Island
 Viking History Told by Their Victims
Just how bad were the Vikings?

Winroth is among the scholars who believe the Vikings were no more bloodthirsty than other warriors of the period. But they suffered from bad public relations—in part because they attacked a society more literate than their own, and therefore most accounts of them come from their victims. Moreover, because the Vikings were pagan, they played into a Christian story line that cast them as a devilish, malign, outside force.

"There is this general idea of the Vikings as being exciting and other, as something that we can't understand from our point of view—which is simply continuing the story line of the victims in their own time," Winroth says. "One starts to think of them in storybook terms, which is deeply unfair."

In reality, he proposes, "the Vikings were sort of free-market entrepreneurs."

To be sure, scholars have for decades been stressing aspects of Viking life beyond the warlike, pointing to the craftsmanship of the Norse (to use the term that refers more generally to Scandinavians), their trade with the Arab world, their settlements in Greenland and Nova Scotia, the ingenuity of their ships, and the fact that the majority of them stayed behind during raids.

But Winroth wants to put the final nail in the coffin of the notion that the Vikings were the "Nazis of the North," as an article by British journalist Patrick Cockburn argued last April. Viking atrocities were "the equivalent of those carried out by SS divisions invading Poland 75 years ago," Cockburn wrote.
Viking seafarers used ships like this modern replica to reach the New World
Few scholars today hold Cockburn's view. In fact, some believe the trend Winroth represents—de-emphasizing Vikings' violence and stressing their similarities with other Europeans—goes too far.

"Other Europeans were perfectly horrible as well," agrees Tom Shippey, an emeritus professor of English at Saint Louis University, who writes often about the Vikings. But why, Shippey asks, slightly exaggerating, did the Vikings always win?

Much of the explanation, he says, is an "ethos that is unlike anything else in Europe," one that included reverence for the warrior ideal and a gallows-humor, "who cares?" attitude toward death.

In addition, points out Martin Arnold, a reader in Old Norse studies at the University of Hull, the pope placed limits on Christian warfare and threatened excommunication for leaders who became unduly aggressive. The Vikings had no such inhibiting force.

An alternate explanation for the Viking win-loss record, which Winroth embraces, is that Viking ships were so speedy and stealthy that the Norse almost always surprised their enemies. "I don't buy it," says Shippey.

Blood Eagles and Berserkers

It used to be routine for scholars to claim that Vikings killed some of their victims by means of the so-called blood eagle. The form of an eagle reportedly was carved onto a victim's back, his rib cage severed, and his lungs pulled out the back.

But Winroth holds strongly to the view, first advanced by his Yale colleague Roberta Frank, that the anecdote derives from a misreading of the allusive, grammatically ambiguous, and metaphorically rich Viking verse written by the so-called skalds.
This geometrical Viking camp on the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark extends some 130 yards in diameter
Skaldic poetry is full of birds, including eagles, that feast on the bodies of one's enemies. Through dubious grammatical readings, the authors of the Scandinavian sagas, written centuries after the Viking raids, turned an eagle cutting into a man's back into an eagle being carved on the back. Further embellishments and creative license took flight from that first error.

Winroth also wants us to rethink the berserkers, the supposedly near-psychopathic warriors in the front line of Viking attacks said to be immune to pain and possibly high on psychotropic mushrooms. The more colorful accounts add that they chewed on their shields and ate burning coals. But Winroth argues that references to berserkers first appear in the poetry of 13th- and 14th-century Iceland, and they are plainly described as people who lived "once upon a time."

But that doesn't necessarily rule out the existence of half-crazed warriors, says Robert Ferguson, an independent scholar and author of The Vikings.

"I don't have any particular trouble in imagining that the Vikings in the forefront of their attacks were men of violence, the kind of people you have in the Hell's Angels now. They would drink. They were almost psychopathic. I think we have berserkers [in modern armies] now. They just aren't called that anymore. "

The True Reason for Viking Raids

Rather than being primed for battle by an irrational love of mayhem, Vikings went raiding mainly for pragmatic reasons, Winroth contends—namely, to build personal fortunes and enhance the power of their chieftains. As evidence Winroth enumerates cases in which Viking leaders negotiated for payment, or tried to.

For example, before the Battle of Maldon in England, a Viking messenger landed and cried out to 3,000 or more assembled Saxon soldiers: "It is better for you that you pay off this spear-fight with tribute ... Nor have we any need to kill each other." The English chose to fight, and were defeated. Like anyone else, the Vikings would rather win by negotiation than risk a loss, Winroth says.
Nor was every place the Vikings attacked decimated, despite repeated claims by scribes that "everything was destroyed." Winroth notes that the trading post of Dorestad, in what is now the Netherlands, was sacked four times in four years, starting in 834, yet it continued to flourish. Viking raids were seen as an "overhead cost," Winroth writes, and a fair number of traders doing business in Dorestad would have been Norse.
This sixth-century helmet plaque shows two berserkers, one wearing a horned helmet and one in a wolf or bear mask

Along those lines, Winroth stresses just how entwined the Norse were with other Europeans. In the 840s a Viking named Rurik, whose uncle had been king in Denmark, plundered the coastal regions of the kingdom of Emperor Lothair, in what's now Belgium and the Netherlands. Lothair then essentially hired Rurik to defend his land against other Viking raids, a common practice. Rurik became the equivalent of a European prince.

The Norse were prodigious traders, selling furs, walrus tusks, and slaves to Arabs in the East. Winroth goes so far as to argue that Vikings provided much needed monetary stimulus to western Europe at a crucial time. Norse trade led to an influx of Arabic dirhams, or coins, which helped smooth the transition to an economy of exchange instead of barter.

Yet even among scholars who attempt to see things from the Vikings' perspective, disagreements persist about the nature of Viking violence. Robert Ferguson, for example, doesn't downplay its ferocity, but he characterizes it as symbolic and defensive, a form of "asymmetric warfare."

In the year 810, for example, the slaughter of 68 monks on the Isle of Iona, off the coast of Scotland, sowed terror in Europe. Ferguson suggests that the move was designed to convince Charlemagne and others that it would be very costly to expand Christianity into Scandinavia by force. The Vikings "were fighting to defend their way of life," Ferguson says.
Stefan Nordgren lives in a trailer during the annual reenactment of a Viking battle in Sweden
Winroth took an indirect route to becoming a scholar of the Vikings. As an undergraduate in his native Sweden, he was frustrated by how little he learned about the Norse. And misunderstandings about Vikings "are just as prevalent in Scandinavia" as in the United States, he says. "Maybe more."

When his dissertation on medieval church law won a MacArthur Fellow prize, the so-called genius grant, he used the funds to retrain himself as a scholar of the Norse.

Asked whether he thinks there's a danger of going too far in domesticating the Vikings, Winroth replies: "To domesticate them means to see them in context."

For a historian, he says, putting people in the context of their times humanizes them. And that's an unadulterated good, even when we're talking about people best known for rapine, plunder, and slaughtering monks.