Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sarah McSherryThe legality of the use and abuse of foreign passports? The falsification of passports and identity theft are serious criminal offences under British law. No doubt they are too under Israeli law. Falsification of a British passport by a member of the Israeli intelligence services is therefore more than just a clear breach of diplomatic relations. Moreover, there would be serious implications were it to transpire that the British government was aware that falsified travel documents were being used by Mossad as has been suggested by one British security source.

What are the steps the governments of these foreign passport-holders should do in light of these revelations?

The respective governments should:

  • Condemn the extra judicial killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh as a breach of international law;
  • Unequivocally declare whether they were aware that falsified travel documents were being used by Mossad in relation to this operation and/or any other;
  • Require the Israeli government to confirm whether its intelligence services were involved in the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh;
  • Require the Israeli government to confirm whether or not their intelligence services used falsified passports for this or any other operation or whether they have done since any assurance that they would not do so;
  • Seek an assurance from the Israeli government that their intelligence operatives will never falsify passports for use in operations;
  • Require the Israeli government to condemn the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh as a breach of international law;
  • Seek an assurance from the Israeli government that they will extradite any of those identified by the Dubai authorities as having been involved in the killing to Dubai to face trial for murder and to Ireland, Britain, France and/or Germany to face trial for offences arising out of the abuse of passports issued by those countries.

What steps should be taken to prevent this from happening in the future? If the Israeli government fails to comply with any of the requests made of them, the government could expel the Israeli ambassador from the country, break off diplomatic ties and/or impose sanctions which could deter future occurrences.

Sarah McSherry,
Human Rights Lawyer and Solicitor at Christian Khan

Sunday, February 21, 2010

From George Lakoff

The experimental results confirming our theories of embodied cognition have been coming in regularly, especially in the area of metaphorical thought. Natalie Angier, on February 1, summarized some of the recent research very clearly.

  • A University of Amsterdam study showed that subjects thinking about the future leaned forward, while those thinking about the past leaned backward. This was predicted by the 1980 analysis of common European metaphors in which The Future is Ahead and The Past is Behind. This is not just a matter of language, but of thought, as Johnson and I showed.
  • At Yale, researchers found that subjects holding warm coffee in advance were more likely to evaluate an imaginary individual as warm and friendly than those holding cold coffee. This is predicted by the conceptual metaphor that Affection is Warmth, as in She gave me a warm greeting.
  • At Toronto, subjects were asked to remember a time when they were either socially accepted or socially snubbed. Those with warm memories of acceptance judged the room to be 5 degrees warmer on the average than those who remembered being coldly snubbed.
  • Subjects asked to think about a moral transgression like adultery or cheating on a test were more likely to request an antiseptic cloth after the experiment than those who had thought about good deeds. The well-known conceptual metaphor Morality is Purity predicts this behavior.
  • Students told that that a particular book was important judged it to be physically heavier than a book that they were told was unimportant. The conceptual metaphor is Important is Heavy.
  • In a parallel study with heavy versus light clipboards, those with the heavy clipboards were more likely like to judge currency to be more valuable and their opinions and their leaders more important.
  • And in doing arithmetic, students who used their hands to group numbers together had an easier time doing problems that required conceptual grouping. This is predicted by the analysis of mathematics in Where Mathematics Comes From by myself and Rafael Núñez where we show how mathematics from the simple to the advanced is based on embodied metaphorical cognition.

These results don’t happen by magic. How can these results be explained?

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