Wednesday, 30 January 2008
What Upsets The U. N. Human Rights Council, And What Doesn't (Ronan Seamus Farrow)
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Part of the frisson, and the unexpected pleasure,  comes from discovering the surprising background of the young author:  

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120156891659323879.html

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Posted on 01/30/2008 10:42 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Even worse pun interlude
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Well, I didn't take the Viagra as the emails urged me to, and I wasn't "good in bad". So, just as the emails predicted, my wife has gone. The question is: where?

My wife's gone to the West Indies
-Jamaica?
-No, she went of her own accord.

That's the original one, now prepare for a deluge of variations....

-My wife's gone to the Indian coast
-Goa?
-Phwoar! I'll say!

-My wife's gone to St Petersburg.
-Is she Russian?
-No, she's taking her time.

-My wife's gone to Northern Italy
-Genoa?
-I should think so, we've been married for 20 years.

-My wife's had an accident on a volcano
-Krakatoa? -No.
She broke her leg.

-My wife's gone mad in Venezuela
-Caracas
-Yes, absolutely loopy

-My wife's gone to the Welsh border.
-Wye?
-Search me.

-My wife's gone to the botanical gardens.
-Kew?
-Yes, it was rather busy.

-My wife's gone to Malawi
-Lilongwe?
-Yes, about 5000 miles

-My wife's got an upset tummy in Laos
-Inkhazi?
-Yes, constantly.

-My wife's gone on a singing tour of South Korea
-Seoul?
-No, R&B

-My wife caught a cold in the Gulf
-Qatar?
-Yes, she was coughing up greenies for weeks

-My wife went to a very bad concert in South East Asia
-Singapore?
-Terrible. And the rest of the band sucked too.

-My wife went on a sailing course in Poole
-In Dorset?
-Yes, she'd recommend it to anyone.

-My wife smoked a joint near Manchester
-In Hale?

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Posted on 01/30/2008 6:20 PM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Bad pun interlude
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Tommy Cooper, thou shouldst be living at this hour:

There was this man standing on a window ledge on a high building.
If he fell, it would be curtains.
If he fell the other way, he'd be dead.
--------------
Cos it's strange, isn't it.  You stand in the middle of a library
and go 'Aaaaaaagghhhh!' and everyone just stares at you.
But you do the same thing on an aeroplane, and everyone joins in.
--------------
He said, "I'm going to chop off the bottom of one of your trouser
legs and put it in a library."
I thought, "That's a turn-up for the books."
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And the back of his anorak was leaping up and down, and people were
chucking money to him.  I said, "Do you earn a living doing that?"
He said, "Yes, this is my livelihood."
--------------
So I was getting into my car, and this bloke says to me, "Can you give me a
lift?"  I said, "Sure, you look great, the world's your oyster, go for it."
You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today.  They left
a little note on the windscreen, it said, "Parking Fine."  So that was nice.
--------------
So I went down my local ice-cream shop, and said, "I want to buy an
ice-cream". He said, "Hundreds & thousands?"  I said, "We'll start
with one." He said, "Knickerbocker glory?"  I said, "I do get a
certain amount of freedom in these trousers, yes."
--------------
I went to Millets and said, "I want to buy a tent."  He said, "To
camp?". I said [butchly], "Sorry, I want to buy a tent." 
I said, "I also want to buy a caravan."
He said, "Camper?"
I said [camply], "Make your mind up."
--------------
So I went to the dentist.  He said, "Say Aaah." I said, "Why?"
He said, "My dog's died."
--------------
Now, most dentist's chairs go up and down, don't they?  The one I
was in went back and forwards.  I thought, "This is unusual".  And
the dentist said to me, "Mr Cooper, get out of the filing cabinet."
--------------
So I got home, and the phone was ringing.  I picked it up, and said,
"Who's speaking please?"  And a voice said, "You are."
--------------
So I rang up my local swimming baths.  I said, "Is that the local
swimming baths?"  He said, "It depends where you're calling from."
--------------
So I rang up a local building firm, I said, "I want a skip outside
my house." He said, "I'm not stopping you."
--------------
Apparently, 1 in 5 people in the world are Chinese.  And there are 5
people in my family, so it must be one of them.  It's either my mum
or my dad. Or my older brother Colin.  Or my younger brother
Ho-Cha-Chu.  But I think it's Colin.
--------------
So I was in my car, and I was driving along, and my boss rang up,
and he said, "You've been promoted."  And I swerved.  And then he
rang up a second time and said, "You've been promoted again."  And
I swerved again.  He rang up a third time and said, "You're managing
director." And I went into a tree.  And a policeman came up and
said, "What happened to you?"  And I said
"I careered off the road."
--------------
Guy goes into the doctor's.  "Doc, I've got a cricket ball stuck up
my arse" "How's that?"  "Don't you start"
--------------
A guy gets shipwrecked. When he wakes up, he's on a beach.
The sand is purple.  He can't believe it. The sky is purple. He
walks around a bit and sees  that  there is purple grass, purple
birds and purple fruit on the purple trees.  He's shocked when
he finds that his skin is starting to turn purple too.  "Oh no!" he
says, "I think I've been marooned!"
---------
"Doctor, I can't pronounce my F's, T's and H's."
"Well you can't say fairer than that then."
------------------
A woman in a supermarket sees a deal offering 5 boxes of tampax for
1 pound. She can't believe how good the deal is and asks the manager
"is this deal correct?" "Yes madam, 5 boxes for a pound, no strings
attached."
------------
"Doc, I can't stop singing the green green grass of home."
"That sounds like Tom Jones syndrome."  "Is it common?"
"It's not unusual."
-------------
Two cows standing next to each other in a field, Daisy said to Dolly
"I was artificially inseminated this morning."  "I don't believe
you," said Dolly "It's true, straight up, no bull!"
---------------
A guy walks into the psychiatrist wearing only clingfilm for shorts.
The shrink says, "Well, I can clearly see you're nuts."
--------
A man takes his Rottweiler to the vet.  "My dog's cross-eyed, is
there anything you can do for him?"  "Well," says the vet, "let's
have a look at him."  So he picks the dog up and examines his eyes,
then checks his teeth.  Finally, he says "I'm going to have to put
him down."  "What? Because he's cross-eyed?"
"No, because he's bloody heavy."   

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Posted on 01/30/2008 6:11 PM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Polvere Di Stelle (Alberto Sordi, Monica Vitti)
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Posted on 01/30/2008 5:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Musical Interlude: Terry Fell
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Posted on 01/30/2008 2:56 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
A Musical Interlude: Oh Baby, What A Night (Harry Reser Orch.)
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Posted on 01/30/2008 2:39 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Art Linkletter, Thou Shouldst Be Living At This Hour
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"Bin Laden's boy Omar: Dad, please stop blowing things up"
-- title given to an article at Jihad Watch

Kids say the darndest things.

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Posted on 01/30/2008 2:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
100 things Europe Can Do To Protect Itself
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“The poll, carried out across 21 countries, found “widespread anti-immigration sentiment”, but warned Europe’s Muslim population will treble in the next 17 years."
-- from this news article

"Will treble?" Is this simply a given? There is nothing Europeans can do about this to protect their own legacy, their own art, science, legal and political institutions, their own physical security? Nothing?

Many things can be done. By god, I could list a hundred:

1. Halt Muslim migration. If you seek its justification, circumspice.

2. Deport all Muslim non-citizens. They have no divine right to remain.

3. Make naturalization tests much stiffer, requiring knowledge of the history and culture of whatever European nation is giving the test. A loyalty oath to the nation-state should be required, one which makes express the foreswearing of all other loyalties, and that includes a phrase about perjury being grounds for the stripping of citizenship so obtained.

Make sure the oath is written so as to expressly exclude a higher loyalty offered to Islam or to fellow members of the Umma throughout the world.

4. Put much more effort and money into enforcing the laws that exist (or if those laws are not strong enough, make them stronger) so that those who fraudulently receive benefits, and who have been violating the law (say, on polygamy), or who refuse to work (and receive unemployment benefits) though able-bodied, are subject not only to being permanently deprived of all such benefits provided by the Infidel state (free health care, free education, free or greatly-subsidized housing) but that the property such people may have accumulated is seized by the state. There have been too many cases of very large sums being accumulated by Muslims who officially have been on the dole. This problem is not confined to one European country, but can be found everywhere.

5. Make conviction for violence or threats of violence that are prompted by a refusal to accept freedom of speech as understood in the West to be grounds for immediate deportation of non-citizens and of deportation, after a hearing (before special courts, with judges versed in Islamic ideology), of those who managed to acquire citizenship in countries for which they do not feel, and cannot possibly feel, any real loyalty.

6. Interdict, by seizure (with no return), any sums that are sent from abroad by Muslim governments or groups to pay for mosques and madrasas within the lands of Western Europe. Make it very difficult for such buildings to be erected, and use the opposition of local communities, and the zoning laws, to prevent more such buildings from going up.

7. Make sure that the race-relations industry is not roped into defending what has nothing to do with "racism" but with a clear and distinct set of ideas, inculcated by Islam. To wit: the duty of Jihad to remove all barriers to the spread, and then dominance, of Islam, and the view of the universe as being divided in two, between Believers and Infidels, with the former required to see themselves as in a permanent state of war (though not always and everywhere in a state of open warfare -- not if the Infidels are too strong) with Infidels.

8. Do everything to encourage, in and out of schools, the study of the real Islam, and everything to discourage, to expose and to mock, the presentations of Islam by the sly apologists, whether the apologist is a sweetly-smiling hijabbed Muslimah prepared to explain the "real Islam" at some interfaith-racket Outreach to Infidels at some Mosque Open Night, or at the local library or meeting-hall.

9. Make sure that members of the political and media elites are vigilantly observed by those whom they presume to instruct and protect, to see if they themselves understand Islam sufficiently. Do not let them continue to get away with ignoring this subject, acting as if "of course" Islam is "moderate" or to pretend that real, detailed knowledge, both of what is inculcated in the Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira, and what the 1350-year history of Muslim conquest and subjugation of every kind of Infidel, is somehow unnecessary for their own functions and duties, a waste of time, an irrelevancy. It is not.

10. This one I leave to you.

11-100. And these too.

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Posted on 01/30/2008 2:21 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Computers and globalisation could spell the demise of the three letters that distinguish the Danish alphabet
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Tacked onto the end of the Danish alphabet, the special Danish letters 'æ', 'ø' and 'å' are  threatened in a globalised world where the English language's dominance grows daily and where linguistic idiosyncrasies slow the internet's lightning fast communication, reports 24timer newspaper.
The telltale signs of standardisation have already appeared, concerned linguists point out. Denmark's largest corporation has erased the line in its 'ø' split apart the 'æ' in its name and now calls itself 'A.P. Moller-Maersk', for example. And any scholar named 'Søren' knows it's easiest to just use an 'o' when attending conferences abroad.
The Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies is concerned that as Danes choose not to use the letters abroad, their use at home will become superfluous as well.
'Æ, ø and å are threatened by both globalisation and the growing use of computer,' said institute head Johan Peter Paludan. 'If something drastic isn't done, the three letters will most likely disappear.'
Computers in particular have trouble digesting the Danish vowels, explains Sabine Kirchmeier-Andersen, head of the Danish Language Council.
'Use æ, ø and å in digital texts creates a lot of trouble because most programmes and operating systems are developed in English,' she said. 'In the long term, it's a threat to the peculiar Danish letters.'
'You can imagine that the necessary forces will be mobilised to fight for the survival of æ, ø and å,' said Paludan.
I think Swedish also uses ø, and Norwegian å which I am copying and pasting from the body of text because I don’t have them on my English computer. I can see a use for æ on an English computer. I don’t write of Æthelræd the Unræd or Æthelstan the Ætheling or Æthelflæd Lady of the Mercian’s very often, but a proper scholar of Saxon history would, probably daily. I say æ quite a lot, that diphthong being a feature of the London accent. So I would be sorry to see it go.
Computers keep individual languages punctuation; no way would French and German speakers give up umlauts and accents. So why should the Scandinavian languages risk losing their individuality. 
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Posted on 01/30/2008 2:09 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Follow The Recipe
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"Visualize whirled peas."
              -- from a reader

Yes, I know what you mean. A kind neighbor gave me, a few days ago, her special recipe for whirled peas. Last night I tried, for the very first time, to follow her recipe. But I had come home late, and friends were expected, and I was rushed, and I had run out of one of the spices the recipe called for, and the result was a dish of whirled peas that disappointed.

I ran into my neighbor this morning and she explained that it was very important not to leave out any of the ingredients she mentioned, but also to stir the dish, over medium heat, for as long as she had specified. Then the whirled peas, she assured me, would have come out just fine.

She's a marvellous cook and I'm sure she was right. Had I but whirled enough and thyme.

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Posted on 01/30/2008 2:07 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Re: Islamic banking
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Islamic banking is a con. I'll repeat a post from a few months ago in which I argue that, when it comes to sukuk, Muslims are all mouth:

Gentlemen, if you're offered this, turn it down. As with so-called "Islamic mortgages", these bonds are a fiddle.

Sale and leaseback of this kind is, according to UK accounting standards, a secured loan. The difference between the value of the assets leased back and the total amount paid to lease them back is interest. If you account for the substance of the transaction rather than its legal form, this is a loan with interest. There is nothing wrong with that, except that Islam forbids it.

In financial matters as in morality, Islam places form over substance.

By the way, I wonder if an Islamic bond market is called a sukouk.

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Posted on 01/30/2008 11:30 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Bare in the air
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Do you like nuts with your in-flight drink? How about a sausage, melons or a nice pear? From The Telegraph:

German nudists will be able to start their holidays early by stripping off on the plane thanks to a new service from an eastern German travel firm.

A travel agency website - Ossiurlaub.de - is to start taking bookings from Friday for a trial nudist day trip from the eastern town of Erfurt to the popular Baltic Sea resort of Usedom, planned for July 5 and costing £370.

"I wish I could say we thought of it ourselves but the idea came from a customer," said Enrico Hess, the managing director. "It's an unusual gap in the market."

The 55 passengers will have to remain clothed until they board, and dress before disembarking, said Mr Hess. The crew will remain clothed for safety reasons.

Mr Hess admitted the flight was expensive but said it was due to using a small plane. Naturism, or "free body culture" (FKK) as it is known in Germany, was banned by the Nazis but blossomed again after the Second World War.

"I don't want people to get the wrong idea. It's not that we're starting a swinger club in mid-air or something like that," said Mr Hess. "We're a perfectly normal holiday company."

The hell you are. Why do so many Germans want to take their clothes off? Nobody else wants them to, as the Telegraph Leader points out:

Air travel is tiresome enough as it is, but a German enterprise adds a fresh hell to flight, with the idea of a nudist service.

Passengers might pass through security a little quicker, but the scene in the aeroplane is best left unimagined, unless a sick-bag is within easy reach.

A bulgy German is seldom a welcome neighbour in narrow airline seating, even clothed. Rubbing more than shoulders unclothed is statistically unlikely to be an agreeable experience.

Could one rely on personal effects being safely stowed before take-off? Would not one's own direct contact with sticky faux-leather seating prove uncomfortable after an hour or so?

In any case, wouldn't nudist passengers object to the compulsory donning of seat-belts? Wouldn't any exit down escape-chutes guarantee friction burns? These questions demand not so much answers as a cover-up.

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Posted on 01/30/2008 11:15 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Danish library to exhibit Mohammed cartoons
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Had Muslims not kicked up such a fuss about those cartoons, they would have been forgotten. Now they'll be preserved for ever. From The Telegraph:

Denmark's Royal Library is risking the wrath of Muslims with plans to display controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that sparked violent protest throughout the Islamic world two years ago.

The 12 caricatures of Islam's founder were published in Danish newspapers in September 2005 triggering riots and violence which claimed the lives of over 50 people.

Copenhagen's Royal Library – founded by King Frederik III in 17th century – is courting a new controversy by classifying the cartoons as “historic” objects alongside other Danish treasures, such as original manuscripts by Martin Luther.

Risking the wrath of Muslims? That's so easily done. Every thought, word and deed of a free infidel risks the wrath of Muslims. Every song he sings, every picture he paints,  every step he - and particularly she - takes. Muslim wrath is worth the risk, though, wouldn't you say?

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Posted on 01/30/2008 11:03 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Timur Kuran On The Political Menace Of Islamic Banking
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From an article, or rather, a book-review and summary by Daniel Pipes of  Professor Timur Kuran's indispensable study, "Islam and Mammon":

"Islamic economics increasingly has become force to contend with due to burgeoning portfolios of oil exporters and multiplying Islamic financial instruments (such as interest-free mortgages and sukuk bonds). But what does it all amount to? Can Shari'a-compliant instruments challenge the existing international financial order? Would an Islamic economic regime, as an enthusiast claims, really imply an end to injustice because of "the State's provision for the well-being of all people"?

To understand this system, the ideal place to start is "Islam and Mammon," a brilliant book by Timur Kuran, written when he was (ironically, given heavy Saudi backing for Islamic economics) King Faisal Professor of Islamic Thought and Culture at the University of Southern California.

Now teaching at Duke University, Kuran finds that Islamic economics does not go back to Muhammad but is an "invented tradition" that emerged in the 1940s in India. The notion of an economics discipline "that is distinctly and self-consciously Islamic is very new." Even the most learned Muslims a century ago would have been dumbfounded by the "Islamic economics."

The idea was primarily the brainchild of an Islamist intellectual, Abul-Ala Mawdudi (1903-79), for whom Islamic economics served as a mechanism to achieve many goals: to minimize relations with non-Muslims, strengthen the collective sense of Muslim identity, extend Islam into a new area of human activity, and modernize without Westernizing.

As an academic discipline, Islamic economics took off during the mid-1960s; it acquired institutional heft during the oil boom of the 1970s, when the Saudis and other Muslim oil exporters, for the first time possessing substantial sums of money, provided the project with "vast assistance."

Proponents of Islamic economics make two basic claims: that the prevailing capitalist order has failed and that Islam offers the remedy. To assess the latter assertion, Kuran devotes intense attention to understand the actual functioning of Islamic economics, focusing on its three main claims: that it has abolished interest on money, achieved economic equality, and established a superior business ethic. On all three counts, he finds it a total failure.

1) "Nowhere has interest been purged from economic transactions, and nowhere does economic Islamization enjoy mass support." Exotic and complex profit-loss sharing techniques such as ijara, mudaraba, murabaha, and musharaka all involve thinly disguised payments of interest. Banks claiming to be Islamic in fact "look more like other modern financial institutions than like anything in Islam's heritage." In brief, there is almost nothing Islamic about Islamic banking which goes far to explain how Citibank and other Western majors host far larger Islam-compliant deposits than do the specifically Islamic banks.

2) "Nowhere" has the goal of reducing inequality by imposition of the zakat tax succeeded. Indeed, Kuran finds this tax "does not necessarily transfer resources to the poor; it may transfer resources away from them." Worse, in Malaysia, zakat taxation, supposedly intended to help the poor, instead appears to serve as "a convenient pretext for advancing broad Islamic objectives and for lining the pockets of religious officials."

3) "The renewed emphasis on economic morality has had no appreciable effect on economic behavior." That's because, in common with socialism, "certain elements of the Islamic economic agenda conflict with human nature."

Kuran dismisses the whole concept of Islamic economics. "[T]here is no distinctly Islamic way to build a ship, or defend a territory, or cure an epidemic, or forecast the weather," so why money? He concludes that the significance of Islamic economics lies not in the economy but in identity and religion. The scheme "has promoted the spread of antimodern currents of thought all across the Islamic world. It has also fostered an environment conducive to Islamist militancy."

Indeed, Islamic economics possibly contributes to global economic instability by "hindering institutional social reforms necessary for healthy economic development." In particular, were Muslims truly forbidden not to pay or charge interest, they would be relegated "to the fringes of the international economy."

In short, Islamic economics has trivial economic import but poses a substantial and malign political danger. "

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Posted on 01/30/2008 10:35 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
What Ever Happened To Arab Promises Of Iraqi Debt Relief?
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Here is a story about James Baker's famous "mission" in 2004 to persuade Iraq's creditors to forgive it its debts. Infidel states, and Arab ones, both agreed to take part. But for some reason only the Infidel states appear to have actualy cancelled those debts, in the tens of billions. One has not heard more about those Arab promises to "cancel" Iraq's debts.

Why not?

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Posted on 01/30/2008 9:48 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Sharia Banking In Michigan
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Atlas Shrugs posted this commercial from University Islamic Financial
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Posted on 01/30/2008 8:24 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Muslim Leader Calls Sharia Loans A `Con Job'
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A follow up to Esmerelda's post comes from the Toronto Star:

A controversial study looking at Islamic banking by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has ignited protest from some sectors of the Muslim community.

But despite opposition from the Muslim Canadian Congress, the federal housing authority said yesterday it is going forward with the study looking at banking that adheres to Islam's guiding body of rules, or sharia.

Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, which bills itself as a progressive Muslim group, said in an interview he was "shocked" to learn that "a Crown corporation is using taxpayers' money" for faith-based banking.

Fatah calls sharia banking the "biggest con job ever. What are we going to have next, Buddhist banking?" he asked...

However there is a growing market in Canada for sharia-compliant mortgages.

Under sharia rules, it is not permissible for institutions to charge interest on loans. However, the deal is usually structured so that the homeowner ends up leasing to own the property, essentially paying rent instead of interest. As a result, those mortgages end up costing the homeowner the equivalent of an extra one percentage point or more. That is what concerns the congress.

"You are taking advantage of the most disadvantaged people. You are telling them that we will charge you more for your total mortgage and when you die you will go to heaven," Fatah said. "They are using the holy books to prey on a vulnerable market."

Sharia-based banking is already available in Canada, but not through major banks. Sharia banking is widely available in the United Kingdom and is offered by some U.S. banks that see a major financial opportunity.

The global market for Islamic finance has grown more than 20 per cent annually since 2001, and is currently the fastest growing segment of the financial services industry, said a report this month by the law firm Stikeman Elliott LLP.

By 2017, Muslims are expected to make up between 3.7 and 4.9 per cent of Canada's population, which should provide a "tremendous opportunity for financial firms prepared to serve the growing market."...

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Posted on 01/30/2008 8:10 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
One Side Kicks The Beam
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"Turin, 29 Jan.(AKI) - The Union of Arab Writers has written a letter of protest at the designation of Israel as a guest of honour for the next edition of the Turin International Book Fair, Italian daily Corriere della Sera reports....

"'In any case, this is a book fair, this is not the United Nations, it is not a political office. The Israeli writers that we invited are usually critical toward their government,' said the director of Turin's book fair, Ernesto Ferrero in a response."
-- from this news article

Everybody should get into this, starting with writers in Corriere della Sera and Il Foglio.

As a free, advanced, Western country, heir to a history much longer than the 60 years of its modern existence, and peopled by the People of the Book, Israel is a perfect guest to be honored in that sixtieth year of the State's existence. Those putting on the Festival should be proud to have done the right thing, and to have given a schiaffo to the U.N., to the E.U., and to all those who have allowed their minds to be poisoned by the mendacious reporting, drip-by-drip-by-drip, that has done such damage to Israel while Israel is only trying, believe it or not, to stay alive, to withstand the Lesser Jihad that has been waged, is being waged, will forever be waged, against it, though Israel's own leaders seem determined not to recognize or name that Jihad. Ferrero seems to understand that he should be unapologetic about the Turin Book Festival's choice. He titles one reply to critics "La Fiera e fiera di Israele." (The Festival is proud of Israel.)

But it is wrong to defend the choice in a way that concedes what should not be conceded. Israel, and Israel's best writers, should be invited because they deserve to be, and not because some or perhaps most, or even all, of those writers are critical of their own government. Indeed, it is unfortunate that the choice appears to have been limited to those who are full-time critics of Israel, all on the left, and all of them political naifs, who enjoy their moral preening, and certainly find it makes things much easier for them when abroad to join in attacking their country (why, it's the easiest thing in the world), not that they don't also thoroughly enjoy doing the same thing when they are home.

Ferrero should not have drawn attention to these writers being critics of Israeli policies. He had only to say that Israel is a civilized nation, with freedom of thought and speech, and an impressive literary tradition. He might have mentioned Agnon, or Appelfeld, or any number of poets who do not share the political stance of Yehoshua-Oz-Grossman, just to make clear that the Festival was not about to "honor" Israel by inviting only Israeli critics of Israel, even if they happen, by dint some suspect (I suspect) that not literary merit but political acceptability accounts for their relative fame abroad.

And he might not have indicated, as apparently he has, that soon enough brave little non-existent "Palestine" would be similarly honored, in a time-honored tocca-a-te-tocca-a-te approach to what should be untouchable matters of literary taste and historical judgment. The celebrated Arab poet Adonis claims there is no longer any Arab literature; it is all propagandistic trash. He said this in a famous interview a few years ago. He surely meant, above all, the "Palestinian" writers whose subject, only subject, is the wickedness of the Israelis and of the unparalleled suffering -- why, there's just nothing like it in human history -- of the "Palestinian people" about whom not a word was said, for they did not yet exist, before the Six-Day War.

To balance a real country, with a real literature and real freedom of the mind, by then inviting a non-existent country, that is merely one subset of the Arab Muslim people, a place that has never had, and never will have, freedom of thought and freedom of speech, is monstrous. “Palestinian” writers are not critics, but remain silent about the warlords (the Fast Jihadists of Hamas, the Slow Jihadists of Fatah), those "Palestinian" lords of misrule. Their loyalty is not to literature, but to politics, to saying nothing that would ever endanger the "sacred cause" -- which turns out, upon inspection, to be nothing but the old Muslim cause of eliminating any Infidel nation-state that stands in the way of the Greatest Cause of All. Not "Palestine" (that's trivial), but Islam.

Whatever else “Palestine” may be, it does not produce literary works but political propaganda ill-disguised as literature. That includes the much-rewarded (Lannan Prize, the whole works) and celebrated "star" of "Palestinian" literature, that downmarket mayakovsky, that sweet swinger of the Lesser Jihad against Israel, the execrable poet (just try to read his stuff) Mahmoud Darwish.

And so what might have been an act of moral heroism will inevitably be leached of its initial heroism when, in a few months or in a year, or in two, at the Fiera del Libro in Torino, a place tendentiously called "Palestine" becomes -- not on literary merit but by way of atonement or making up for, or "balancing," the act of inviting Israel to be the Torino Bookfair's Guest-Country of Honor -- the next "guest."

This is not "balance." One side kicks the beam.

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Posted on 01/30/2008 7:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Muslim Canadian Congress asks CMHC to drop Islamic banking study
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TORONTO - The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is being urged by a moderate Muslim organization to abandon the idea of a study on Islamic banking because such a system could leave many Muslims isolated.
The Muslim Canadian Congress, in a letter to CMHC, said the concept is "an attempt by Islamists, with backing from Middle Eastern Financial Institutions and their Western partners, to scare Muslim Canadians into believing that they should pay more to the banks and demand less in return as an act of religiosity."
The congress, which claims to represent Muslim moderates across Canada, says conservative imams are warning Muslims not to deal with conventional banks and accuses the clerics of being paid to "herd" Muslims toward a system it says is based on lies and deception.
"The most conservative among the Muslims think the Qur'an prohibits interest. We think that's the wrong interpretation," said Farzana Hassan, president of the Muslim Canadian Congress.
The Qur'an, she said, "doesn't even talk about (interest.) In fact what it does talk about is usury and the two are completely different."
Islamic financing is based on the principle that no interest is charged - a Muslim depositing money at a bank would receive no interest for their deposits, nor would they pay interest on a loan.
Instead, a financial institution might buy a house or car from the seller, then lease or rent it to the consumer with additional fees charged to pay for the financing.
Such financings can be exploitative, Hassan said, because "they are still charging the same amount, perhaps more, but calling it something else. This is not really fulfilling a religious requirement. It is cheating it."
The borrower would often be better off paying interest. Also with a premium upfront charged under the Islamic system  there is no advantage should the loan be paid off early.
That could also act as a deterrent for Muslims to buy property, she added.
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Posted on 01/30/2008 7:45 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Europeans Think Islam Is Dangerous
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Can't think why. From the Daily Express (hat tip: Jihad Watch):

AN “overwhelming majority” of Europeans believe immigration from Islamic countries is a threat to their traditional way of life, a survey revealed last night.

The poll, carried out across 21 countries, found “widespread anti-immigration sentiment”, but warned Europe’s Muslim population will treble in the next 17 years.

It reported “a severe deficit of trust is found between the Western and Muslim communities”, with most people wanting less interaction with the Muslim world. 

Last night an MP warned it  showed that political leaders in Britain who preach the benefits of unlimited immigration were dangerously out of touch with the public.

 

The study, whose authors include the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, was commissioned for leaders at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

 

It reports “a growing fear among Europeans of a perceived Islamic threat to their cultural identities, driven in part by immigration from predominantly Muslim nations”.


And it concludes: “An overwhelming majority of the surveyed populations in Europe believe greater interaction between Islam and the West is a threat.” Backbench Tory MP David Davies told the Sunday Express: “I am not surprised by these findings. People are fed up with multiculturalism and being told they have to give up their way of life.

 

“Most people in Britain expect anyone who comes here to be willing to learn our language and fit in with us.” 

 

Mr Davies, who serves on the Commons Home Affairs Committee, added: “People do get annoyed when they see millions spent on translating documents and legal aid being given to people fighting for the right to wear a head-to-toe covering at school.

 

“A lot of people are very uncomfortable with the changes being caused by immigration and politicians have been too slow to wake up to that.”

That's the understatement of the week.

The report says people have little enthusiasm for greater understanding with Islam and attempts to improve relations have been “disappointing”. 

The first comment on this article says: "In Britain and in the U.S., we are no longer "uninformed" about islam. Thanks to blogs and even the leftist news media, we have read about islam, even read the koran. PURE EVIL. Luckily in the U.S., we don't have retarded folks calling us racist because we are anti-islam (what race is islam?). I am anti-nazi, anti-klan and anti-islam."

And with the EU Muslim population expected to reach 15 per cent by 2025 it predicts: “Any deterioration on the international front will be felt most severely in Europe.”

 

But leading Muslim academic Haleh Afshar, of York University, blamed media “hysteria”  for the findings. She said: “There is an absence of trust towards Muslims, but to my mind that is very much driven by an uninformed media.

 

“To blame immigration is much harder because the current influx of immigrants from eastern Europe are by-and-large not Muslim. 

 

The danger is that when people are fearful of people born and bred in this country it is likely that discrimination may follow.”

Right. The real danger is Muslims might be discriminated against. That's what all right thinking people worry about.

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Posted on 01/30/2008 7:28 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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