Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Decline of violence, no credit to Christians

The Jewish Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker has a big new highly-promoted book on violence that has many anti-Christian claims:
First, the premise that Nazism and Communism were “atheist” ideologies makes sense only within a religiocentric worldview that divides political systems into those that are based on Judaeo-Christian ideology and those that are not. ...

Nazism received extensive support from many German churches, and no opposition from the Vatican. ... religions have been responsible for 13 of the 100 worst mass killings in history, resulting in 47 million deaths. ...

Crusaders, for example, killed 1 million people in world of 400 million, for a genocide rate that exceeds that of the Nazi Holocaust. Shortly afterwards, the Cathars of southern France were exterminated in another Crusader genocide because they had embraced the Albigensian heresy.

But things started going downhill in 312 when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, and the historical facts are not consistent with the claim that Christianity since then has been a force for nonviolence: The Crusaders perpetrated a century of genocides that murdered a million people, equivalent as a proportion of the world’s population at the time to the Nazi holocaust. ...

Christians killed 60,000-100,000 accused witches in the European witchhunts.
Several years ago, Pinker attacked a scholarly work on Jews:
Of course I have not plowed through MacDonald's trilogy ... outside the bounds of normal scientific discourse ... MacDonald's various theses, even if worthy of scientifically debate individually, collectively add up to a consistently invidious portrayal of Jews
It seems to me that Pinker is going out of his way to give an invidious portrayal of Christians.

The Crusades were not genocides. They were wars to prevent the Mohammedans from invading Europe. It is a little strange to blame the Pope for being neutral during WWII. He had no army and could not do anything. Pinker ought to be blaming the aggressors in these wars.

If I had Pinker's attitude, I would declare his book offensive to Christians, and refuse to read it. I will be interested to see what historians and other experts say. Eg, Quodlibeta argues that the his death toll for the Albigensian Crusade is way too high.

Steve Sailer's review says:
Unfortunately, the opening chapters of Better Angels — a history of violence — display Pinker’s main weakness. His historical sense isn’t that strong. And a major reason for that is his deep-rooted aversion to engaging intellectually with the effects of Christianity. His distaste for the culture of Christendom before the Enlightenment is palpable. For instance, he responds to historian Barbara Tuchman’s summary of medieval economic theory with, “As my grandfather would have put it, ‘Goyische kopp!’ — gentile head.” This old family attitude seems to make this otherwise very bright scholar’s interpretations of the last 2,000 years rather obtuse.

For example, the single most obvious bit of evidence in support of Pinker’s theory that there has been a long trend away from violence is the change in morality from the Old Testament to the New. Pinker recounts at length some hair-raising anecdotes passed on without criticism — indeed, often with approbation — in the Hebrew Bible, such as the tale of what the 12 sons of Jacob did to Hamor the Hivite. Yet when the author’s attention turns to the New Testament, with its radically different moral climate, he’s barely able to begrudge an acknowledgment of this epochal change. He quickly quotes Jesus saying, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.”

The Enlightenment historian Edward Gibbon famously argued in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that early Christians were too nonviolent, that their pacifistic tendencies undermined the Roman army’s ability to keep out the German barbarians. But that goes unmentioned in Pinker’s history of violence.
Pinker seems to argue the opposite -- that Roman coversion to Christianity caused more violence, not less. Weird. I think that Pinker's biases are showing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Freud declared totally dead

A WSJ op-ed says:
How do religions die? Generally they don't, which probably explains why there's so little literature on the subject. ...

Still, Zeus and Apollo are no longer with us, and neither are Odin and Thor. Among the secular gods, Marx is mostly dead and Freud is totally so. Something did away with them, and it's worth asking what.

Consider the case of global warming, another system of doomsaying prophecy and faith in things unseen. ...
Freud ought to be totally dead, but he is not. NPR just reviewed a book on Freud and cocaine. There was no mention of what a quack Freud was, except that he wrote an essay on the medical uses of cocaine without even noticing that it is an effective local anaesthetic. Freud was a cocaine addict.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Not freed by DNA

There have been lots of examples of men convicted of horrible crimes, and later proved innocent by DNA evidence. Legally, some appellate court grants the convict a new trial because of evidence not considered in the original trial, and the district attorney decides not to prosecute. But here is such a story where the man was prosecuted again, and convicted again! The jury decided to believe the cops instead of the DNA.

Update: The NY Times reports on Dec. 12:
The conviction of a man in the 1992 rape and murder of an 11-year-old baby sitter, a case that his supporters have long believed was the result of a false confession, was reversed Friday night by an Illinois appellate court. ...

Mr. Rivera’s case was profiled in a Nov. 27 article in The New York Times Magazine.

Earlier this week, the prosecutor, Michael Mermel, who had convicted Mr. Rivera in his third trial, retired because of inappropriate comments he made about the reliability of DNA evidence and about alleged sexual activity by the victim.
I guess that is what it takes to free an improperly convicted man. DNA proof of innocence, and a long NY Times article that humiliates the pig-headed prosecutor into retirement.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Non-Christians can freely mock Christianity

Ever wonder what happens when atheists try to form a community? If so, just google atheist elevator and you will find thousands of messages arguing about some silly incident at an atheist convention a few months ago. You will wonder how they ever cope with ordinary human interactions.

Now there has been another convention and another silly incident. Just google atheist gelato, and read about how the atheists are trying to punish an ice cream shop because the owner was offended by their anti-Christian tirades. Leftist-atheist-evolutionist PZ Myers writes:
Others may accept his apology. I don't. Until he accepts that non-Christians can freely mock Christianity, it's a not-pology.
They accuse the Christian of being a bigot, but he was really just expressing offense at a convention speech.

Myers explains himself. He acts as if he is the victim, because he is an atheist. But nobody cares about his atheist beliefs. He read his explanation, and it will convince you that he is a creep that you would not want to be near.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

50 years for decapitating a pig

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (CBS Washington) – A Portsmouth woman faces up to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to beheading her boyfriend’s piglet.

According to court documents, Ashley Fowler, 22, was breaking up with the piglet’s owner Zach Sawyer and wanted to play a prank first.

Sawyer’s mother told the Virginian-Pilot last year that the piglet’s head freaked her out when she let her puppy outside early one morning last February and saw it staring back at her.

“For somebody to come and do something like this was unbelievably sick,” Janie Sawyer told the paper.
Okay, it is sick, but 50 years in prison? Your local grocery store is stocked with meat from slaughtered pigs.

Conrad Murray killed Michael Jackson, and he faces a maximum sentence of only 4 years. Our society is unbelievably sick when it values a piglet more than the King of Pop.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Talent matters

A NY Times op-ed says:
HOW do people acquire high levels of skill in science, business, music, the arts and sports? This has long been a topic of intense debate in psychology.

...what seems to separate the great from the merely good is hard work, not intellectual ability...Malcolm Gladwell observes that...snip “Once someone has reached an I.Q. of somewhere around 120,” he writes, “having additional I.Q. points doesn’t seem to translate into any measureable real-world advantage.”snip..

But this isn’t quite the story that science tells. Research has shown that intellectual ability matters for success in many fields — and not just up to a point.
You would think that would be obvious, but apparently not. In the same paper, columnist Thomas L. Friedman writes:
To better understand why some students thrive taking the PISA tests and others do not, Andreas Schleicher, who oversees the exams for the O.E.C.D., was encouraged by the O.E.C.D. countries to look beyond the classrooms. So starting with four countries in 2006, and then adding 14 more in 2009, the PISA team went to the parents of 5,000 students and interviewed them “about how they raised their kids and then compared that with the test results” for each of those years, Schleicher explained to me. Two weeks ago, the PISA team published the three main findings of its study:

“Fifteen-year-old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parents read with them infrequently or not at all. The performance advantage among students whose parents read to them in their early school years is evident regardless of the family’s socioeconomic background. Parents’ engagement with their 15-year-olds is strongly associated with better performance in PISA.”
No mention of the talent of either the parents or the kids.

People are a product of nature and nurture. That has been understood since ancient times. Any attempt to understand success in school or science or sports or anything else by just looking at teachers or practices times is doomed. Some people have more talent.

I doubt that parents reading to their kids does any good at all. Maybe smarter kids or parents like to do that, but a study like this does not show that it helps. It may be just a way of selecting the smarter kids.

Update: New research claims to show that IQ is hereditary in roundworms. It appears that they learn to avoid bacteria better if they have the HECW1 gene. Yes, some worms are more talented than others.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How Google explains its rankings

In 2007, Google published this explanation:
Our search results are generated completely objectively and are independent of the beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google. Some people concerned about this issue have created online petitions to encourage us to remove particular links or otherwise adjust search results. Because of our objective and automated ranking system, Google cannot be influenced by these petitions. The only sites we omit are those we are legally compelled to remove or those maliciously attempting to manipulate our results.
But it was never the case that Google sesrch results were objectively generated.

Saying that it removes "those maliciously attempting to manipulate our results" is also misleading, at best. It punishes sites that compete with Google portal services, or that use a competing ad network, or that use keywords and SEO methods to boost rankings. It is absurd to call these tactics "malicious". The web sites are just promoting their content in straightforward ways, and not acting maliciously towards anyone else.

Google's current version says:
The beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google, as well as the opinions of the general public, do not determine or impact our search results. Individual citizens and public interest groups do periodically urge us to remove particular links or otherwise adjust search results. Although Google reserves the right to address such requests individually, Google views the comprehensiveness of our search results as an extremely important priority. Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it. We will, however, remove pages from our results if we believe the page (or its site) violates our Webmaster Guidelines, if we believe we are required to do so by law, or at the request of the webmaster who is responsible for the page.
So Google no longer claims that its results are automatically or objectively generated, and that it sometimes makes manual adjustments as a result of popular pressure.

Google is still lying when it says that its beliefs and preferences do not impact its search results. Google rankings change at least once a month as a consequence of manual fine-tuning of those preferences. It is especially obvious that the "feel lucky" results are hand-tuned.

The complaint was that a search for "jew" yields, just as a search for "jihad" yields These sites have politically sensitive content that is banned in certain countries. Apparently these sites do not violate the Webmaster Guidelines.

An example of Google finding a violation is how Google punished JC Penney for paying for links from unrelated sites. Most of Google's revenue comes from pressuring sites to use ads related to page content.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The empathy gene

New research claims that there is an empathy gene that determines trustworthiness, and that others can spot it from a couple of glances:
Strangers can "see" a persons trustworthy genes through their behaviors, suggests a new study finding that a single genetic change makes a person seem more compassionate and kind to others.

The gene in question is the "love hormone," or oxytocin, receptor. A single change in the receptor can result in higher or lower empathy, or how much you can emotionally relate to others. These changes can be detected by strangers from just 20 seconds of soundless video; these strangers could literally see the person's genes manifesting in their behavior.
Previous 2009 research said (in this paper):
One of the substances that experts thought to be responsible for this trait was oxytocin. ... The polymorphism, called rs53576, may be what causes empathy differences in the general population.
Here is the soundless video:
A new UC Berkeley study shows that people who are rated as trustworthy, kind and compassionate are more likely to possess a particular variation of the oxytocin receptor gene known as the GG genotype. This video shows a sequence of five individuals listening to their romantic partners talk about times when they suffered.
Look for yourself. Do you really believe that trustworthiness can be judged from these videos? Or that it is determined by a gene?

Some research says that Aspergers folks have too little empathy, and some says they have
too much empathy.

The new study seems dubious to me. It only involved 23 subjects. It got different results for Koreans and Americans.

The so-called empathy gene, rs53576, is not new to humans. The researchers claim that all human ancestors once had it, and that it is tne opposite variant that is gaining by evolution in the population. If so, that would seem to imply that the empathy gene is disadvantageous.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Penn State indignation

David Brooks writes:
Let’s All Feel Superior
First came the atrocity, then came the vanity. The atrocity is what Jerry Sandusky has been accused of doing at Penn State. The vanity is the outraged reaction of a zillion commentators over the past week, whose indignation is based on the assumption that if they had been in Joe Paterno’s shoes, or assistant coach Mike McQueary’s shoes, they would have behaved better. They would have taken action and stopped any sexual assaults. ...

Online you can find videos of savage beatings, with dozens of people watching blandly. The Kitty Genovese case from the ’60s is mostly apocryphal, but hundreds of other cases are not. A woman was recently murdered at a yoga clothing store in Maryland while employees at the Apple Store next door heard the disturbing noises but did not investigate.
Yes, there are many such videos, but nothing like what McQueary told the grand jury. He testified that he was the sole witness to an old man brutally raping a 10-year-old boy, and he did not intervene or report it to the police.

There is no record of McQueary telling anyone of a rape in 2002. He somehow remembered the story for the grand jury 9 years later, and now he has changed his story.

A famous NY Times article on the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese said that 38 people watched and did nothing. The story is in the psychology textbooks, but it is mostly false.

A Psychology Today blog writes:
Is it possible that someone can have a really scary experience early in life and then forget all about it until it comes out during psychoanalysis years later? ...

Perhaps the most notorious case played out in California where kids from a preschool were badgered into concocting hair-raising tales of sexual shenanigans occurring between playtime and naptime. ...

But perhaps the most tragic part of this entire episode is that anyone who ever took so much as a Psych 101 class should have been in a position to speak out against this lynch-mob mentality yet, to the best of my knowledge, only one person did.
I am speaking out against the lynch-mob mentality at Penn State. It is based on recovered memory, a bogus Freudian concept. It is brought by horrible evil people who hate everything that Joe Paterno stands for. They say that he is suspect because he is a leader, a football coach, a conservative, an Italian-American, and a Catholic.

NBC's Bob Costas says:
"There is a tremendous amount of information out there and fair-minded, common sense people have concluded that you are guilty of monstrous acts," Costas said. "And they are particularly unforgiving with the type of crimes that have been alleged here. And, so, millions of Americans who didn't know Jerry Sandusky's name until a week ago now regard you not only as a criminal but -- I say this I think in a considered way -- but as some sort of a monster."
No, fair-minded people believe in innocent until proven guilty, and common sense says that a 3.5 year investigation that depends almost entirely on McQueary's credibility is a very weak case.

Scientists against free will

Leftist-atheist-evolutionist Jerry Coyne writes:
Now that materialism is the dominant paradigm in all the sciences, what on earth do we do about free will? If all of our “free” decisions are really predetermined—perhaps long in advance—by a combination of our biology and our environment, and our brain is simply a concatenation of cells that must obey the laws of physics and chemistry, how can any of our decisions be “free”? And if what we do for the rest of our lives has already been determined by the laws of physics—absent, perhaps a tad of quantum indeterminacy—how can we be held responsible for our actions? ...

What is not justified under my scheme is the notion of punishment as retribution.

A kid who holds up a liquor store with a gun is no more “responsible” for his actions -— in the sense of being able to freely refrain from them -— than is someone with a brain tumor who becomes aggressive and attacks another person. The only difference is that the physical influences on behavior are more obvious in the second case. Choices come from minds, minds come from brains, and brains are collections of molecules that obey physical laws.
And a SciAm interview of neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga:
Cook: You talk about “abandoning” the idea of free will. Can you explain what you mean by this, and how you came to this conclusion?

Gazzaniga: As I see it, this is the way to think about it: If you were a Martian landing on Earth today and were gathering information how humans work, the idea of free will as commonly understood in folk psychology would not come up. The Martian would learn humans had learned about physics and chemistry and causation in the standard sense. They would be astonished to see the amount of information that has accumulated about how cells work, how brains work and would conclude, “OK, they are getting it. Just like cells are complex wonderful machines, so are brains. They work in cool ways even though there is this strong tug on them to think there is some little guy in their head calling the shots. There is not.”

The world is not flat. Before this truth was realized, people use to wonder what happened when you got to the end of the earth-- did you fall off? Once we knew the earth was round, the new perspective, made us see how the old questions were silly. New questions also seem silly many times until a new perspective is accepted. I think we will get over the idea of free will and and accept we are a special kind of machine, one with a moral agency which comes from living in social groups. This perspective will make us ask new kinds of questions.
There is not science here. Scientists claim that they are right because they have a superior worldview, and then proceed to draw policy conclusions.

They are able to make the leap from saying that the world is not flat to saying that criminals are not responsible for their actions.

Update: A comment below doubts that Coyne is really determinist. I agree with him that free will is philosophy, not science. But Coyne is firmly against free will. Besides the above quote, Coyne says that free will is impossible, and attacks Carroll and Horgan for saying that free will is possible. Adam K. Fetterman explains that for new atheists like Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne, believing in free will is like believing in God, and both are contrary to science.

Update: Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci more fully explains where Coyne goes wrong. They both claim to be rational naturalist skeptics on the warpath against creationists.

Monday, November 14, 2011

American inequality

David Brooks’s column tries to define American egalitarianism:
Fitness inequality is acceptable. It is perfectly fine to wear tight workout sweats to show the world that pilates have given you buns of steel. These sorts of displays are welcomed as evidence of your commendable self-discipline and reproductive merit.

Moral fitness inequality is unacceptable. It is out of bounds to boast of your superior chastity, integrity, honor or honesty. Instead, one must respect the fact that we are all morally equal, though our behavior and ethical tastes may differ.

Sports inequality is acceptable. It is normal to wear a Yankees jersey, an L.S.U. T-shirt or the emblem of any big budget team. The fact that your favorite sports franchise regularly grounds opponents into dust is a signal of your overall prowess.

Church inequality is unacceptable. It would be uncouth to wear a Baptist or Catholic or Jewish jersey to signal that people of your faith are closer to God. It is wrong to look down on other faiths on the grounds that their creeds are erroneous.
For a more liberal egalitarian view, see this video of a self-hating white man. He is on a weird liberal guilt trip.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Penn State observations

I have a few observations about the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.

Media stories do not mention homosexuality because there are psychologists who claim that men raping underage boys has nothing to do with homosexuality. They say that pedophiles only have an age attraction, in spite of ample evidence of homosexual pedophiles.

Sandusky is a sick pervert, but McQueary is a moral degenerate.

The case against Penn State rests entirely on the dubious and uncorroborated testimony of McQueary about details of 2002 conversations. It is foolish to think that those details will ever be established.

If McQueary is telling the truth, then he was in a position to stop a child rape, and he chose not to intervene or notify the police.

If McQueary is lying, then he is conspiring to frame Penn State officials, in exchange for immunity from the DA. I think that he is lying.

Joe Paterno's reputation has fallen farther and faster on flimsier evidence than any case I have never seen.

Most people do not believe in innocent until proven guilty.

If anyone ignored the evidence against Sandusky, it was the PA AG. The university gave him all the evidence in 1998, and he said that there was not enough to prosecute. A victim brought the strongest complaint in Spring 2008, and the (different) PA AG waited 3.5 years before taking action against Sandusky.

Joe Paterno was a conservative who strove for excellence in football and in his players. He was loyal to his team and they were loyal to him. They were winners. He is just the sort of man that liberals despise. There is a plot to destroy him.

Penn State fired Sandusky in 1999. I predict that all other Penn State officials will eventually be acquitted. We should make a note of those who are in a rush to judgment against Penn State.

I have some more comments here and here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bad arguments that people are irrational

There are psychologists and economists, such as Daniel Kahneman, who have made their reputations on the thesis that humans are irrational. He got famous with a Bank of Sweden prize for it. Here is an example:
2. A team of psychologists performed personality tests on 100 professionals, of which 30 were engineers and 70 were lawyers. Brief descriptions were written for each subject. The following is a sample of one of the resulting descriptions:
Jack is a 45-year-old man. He is married and has four children. He is generally conservative, careful, and ambitious. He shows no interest in political and social issues and spends most of his free time on his many hobbies, which include home carpentry, sailing, and mathematics.

What is the probability that Jack is one of the 30 engineers?
A. 10–40 percent
B. 40–60 percent
C. 60–80 percent
D. 80–100 percent
Lawyers do not have mathematics as a hobby. Engineers often do. That is what I thought. Kahneman says that I am irrational for thinking so. He says that the right answer is A.

I don't doubt that people can be fooled by trick questions. Most non-mathematicians are not even able to answer straightforward logic problems.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Railroading Joe Paterno

Penn State coach Joe Paterno was just fired in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. I am surprised by the rush to judgment. Doesn't anyone believe in "innocent until proven guilty"?

The main accusation against Paterno is that in 2002, a graduate assistant told him that he saw Sandusky abuse a 10-year-old boy in a campus shower the previous day. Sandusky was an assistant coach who retired in 1999. Paterno reported the accusation to higher university officials. The content of those 2002 discussions is hotly disputed. Sandusky was banned from taking children to the facility, but no criminal action was taken. No one knows the identity of the boy, and he is not complaining.

It sounds as if Paterno could have done more, but if the graduate assistant really saw severe abuse, then why didn't he intervene directly? He was a record setting former quarterback, and could have easily subdued the elderly Sandusky. Why didn't he call the police? The grand jury treats him as some sort of hero, but he seems to be the second most culpable person involved. Apparently he made some sort of deal with the DA, trading his testimony against his superiors in exchange for not being prosecuted. Why is this only becoming an issue after 9 years, when even honest witnesses could have forgotten details?

College students are almost all over 18, and hence adults under USA law. Colleges are not really equipped to babysit 10-year-olds. Where are the parents of that boy? Why is Paterno responsible for people who don't even belong on campus?

It took a 3-year investigation by the state attorney general to decide that there was some wrongdoing here, and she had access to all sorts of info that Paterno did not. So how was Paterno supposed to figure out that something was wrong if it took the Penn AG 3 years?

An SF CA columnist writes:
It was the women's basketball coach, Rene Portland, who kept her job for 27 years despite a well-established hostility to lesbian players. Joe Paterno, then serving as both football coach and athletic director, hired Portland in 1980 and said on more than one occasion that he considered her the best coach he had brought to the school.
I guess Paterno did not show the right amount of tolerance for homosexual activity. Too much or too little can make enemies.

This seems political to me. Like the attacks on Herman Cain, it is an attempt to destroy a man who stands for what he believes in, based on vague accusations of inappropriate behavior many years ago. The accusations depend on the impossibility of learning the truth.

You could say that Sandusky's perversions should have been obvious to Paterno, but why weren't they obvious to anyone else? No one tolerates child rape. All it took was for one person to report it promptly to the police or to the father, and that would be the end of it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Female boxer wants to wear shorts

The current SciAm says that you are likely to be a moral relativist if you can solve this problem:
The green blocks problem
There are five blocks in a stack. In this stack, the second block from the top is green, and the fourth is not green. Is a green block definitely on top of a non-green block?

A) Yes
B) No
C) Cannot be determined
This seems like just a typical IQ test question to me.

Meanwhile, Yahoo sports reports:
Women will get a chance to box in the Olympics for the first time in 2012. If the Amateur International Boxing Association has anything to say about it, they will be wearing skirts. ... Unsurprisingly, many top female boxers are against this plan. Three-time world champion Katie Taylor from Ireland does not want to wear something that she would find uncomfortable while fighting:
"It's a disgrace that they're forcing some of the women to wear those mini-skirts. We should be able to wear shorts, just like the men.
"I won't be wearing a mini-skirt. I don't even wear mini-skirts on a night out, so I definitely won't be wearing mini-skirts in the ring."
Weird. Are they afraid that they might look feminine? Not too much chance of that.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Bogus sex allegations

I commented before that case against Assange is based on denying him his right not to incriminate himself, a right that Americans have.

Assange just lost his British extradition appeal, with this ruling:
Although it is clear a decision has not been taken to charge him, that is because, under Swedish procedure, that decision is taken at a late stage with the trial following quickly thereafter. In England and Wales, a decision to charge is taken at a very early stage; there can be no doubt that if what Mr Assange had done had been done in England and Wales, he would have been charged and thus criminal proceedings would have been commenced. If the commencement of criminal proceedings were to be viewed in this way, it would be to look at Swedish procedure through the narrowest of eyes. On this basis, criminal proceedings have commenced against Mr Assange.
That's it? Sweden wants to interrogate him, but not inform him of the charges against him? And Britain happily extradites him just because Sweden customarily denies suspects the rights that they would have in Britain.

The Assange extradition is based on (1) allegations that might not be crimes outside of Sweden, (2) Sweden's habit of prosecuting men without informing them of the charges against them, and (3) denying what we call the 5A right against self-incrimination. That and Sweden being a hornets' nest of revolutionary feminism.

On the subject of sex allegations, Jon Stewart is on the attack against Herman Cain with a big rant on what is or is not an allegation. He is a moron. An allegation is an assertion offered without proof. Usually it is an assertion of some sort of wrongdoing. Depending on the context, there may or may not be an implication that a proof is forthcoming. An assertion is a factual assertion. Stewart says that the Cain sexual harassment story is fact, not an allegation, but Cain's unsupported belief about racism is an allegation.