Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I don't believe there was a plot to cause "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" using liquid explosives carried onto planes as hand luggage, just because the British police say so. With their appalling record of credibility, they need to show me some real evidence before I decide to become officially terrorised.

Their record on this sort of thing is bad. First there was the tragic case of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian man shot dead because police misinformation suggested he could have been a suicide bomber. He wasn't. The police officer who should have advised this was having a piss at the time, thus allowing the mistake to be made.

Later there was the case of the Kahar brothers whose London home was raided, and one of them shot, because police had supposedly reliable information they were making a chemical bomb. Weeks later the search turned up nothing and the pair was released.

Now we have police and politicians scaring us with tales of an imminent plot. Police breathlessly and laughably said tens of thousands of people could have died. They later toned it down to "hundreds". The theory about liquid explosives has been widely reported. But some explosives experts say it would have been quite difficult to make the liquid bombs allegedly planned. To effectively assemble such explosives may prove, in practice, to be impossible. Yet some media reports said the attack could have been days away, and the United States went to maximum terror alert. http://www.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,,1853741,00.html

Careers are being built on this, security empires are growing, and political skins are being saved. A day after the plot, George W Bush was claiming it justified a range of global policies, including the war in Iraq and Israel's actions in South Lebanon.

Terrorism is really bad, no doubt about it. So it's terrible when someone makes a prank call, saying there's a bomb on a plance and disrupting people's lives. The British police have been found out making the law enforcement equivalent of a prank call, only with much worse consequences.

Monday, August 28, 2006


The national census was held on August 8th. This is the one time when atheists get to officially declare their lack of belief. Religious people get Sunday services, Friday prayers, Christmas, Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, funerals, martyrdom videos etc. to stand up for God. In the census question about religion, one of the options is "No religion", and ticking it is a tiny little ritual which comes but once every five years for atheists. So I thought I'd have a look at the last census (in 2001) to see what the results were then.

I have combined the results for "No religion" (2,905,993), "Inadequately described" (352,090) and "Not stated" (1,835,598). In the broad definition of atheism, they can all count. And the figures are:

Atheist: 5,093,681 (27.14%)
Catholic: 5,001,624 (26.65%)
Anglican: 3,881,162 (20.68%

So, by a narrow margin, atheism is Australia's biggest denomination! In an era when religious commentators are seeking to influence public debate on issues like stem cell research, abortion and science education, the media and lawmakers should take note. Comments from a representative of atheist Australia would carry more weight.

The census from which these figures were drawn was taken just over a month before the September 11 attacks. I will be watching the results of the 2006 poll with great interest. Those attacks were carried out by religious zealots. If atheists drop below 27.14%, the terrorists will have won!