Saturday, 30 December 2006
Iraq's Borders
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"The British drew the boundary lines and created the Shia in an attempt to foment tribal warfare. The Shiite is a creation of the western mind."-- from a reader

No.

1) "The British drew the boundary lines...."

The most important "boundary line" is that separating Arabs and Persians -- the line between Iraq and Iran. That line was drawn not by the British but by representatives of the Ottoman Empire (for Iraq did not then exist, but consisted of three Ottoman vilayets, Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul) and the Persian Empire. This Treaty of 1847 was brokered by Russia. Great Britain had nothing to do with it.

2) "The British drew the boundary lines and created the Shia in an attempt to foment tribal warfare."

The Shi'a have existed for 1300 years. They were not "created" by the British but rather by a dispute over the rightful line of succession to Muhammad, and from that initial rift, grew a number of other differences in belief and ritual. But on the matter of treatment of Infidels, Shi'a and Sunni do not differ.

The British who were in Iraq from 1920-1932, the period of Sir Percy Cox and Gertrude Bell, had no desire to "foment tribal" or any other kind of warfare. Gertrude Bell wrote in her letters about the Shi'a tribes that did not want to accept control by a government in Baghdad, especially one Sunni-dominated (Hashemite king, Sunni Arab elite, with an admixture of non-Sunnis and even non-Arabs).

3. "The Shiite is a creation of the Western mind."

This denies 1300 years of history, denies theology, denies the persecution and murder of Shi'a (hence the Shi'a-originating doctrine of taqiyya, designed to protect them from Sunni Muslims).

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Posted on 12/30/2006 1:48 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Another piece in the jigsaw.
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You may recall that I am of the belief that the robbery of the travel agent in Bradford during which PC Sharon Beshenivsky was murdered was to secure funds for the furtherance of jihad. So far as I know this was never mentioned in court, but is merely my opinion based on the obvious reason why Pakistanis and Somalis should join forces together.
You will also recall that one of the wanted men, who was not deported to Somali for earlier crimes for fear of his safety, despite his family being influential there, escaped using his sisters passport and veil. This is from the Telegraph and Argus a local Yorkshire paper and shows an exclusive (albeit out of date) photo of Piran Ditta Khan who was described during the trial as the architect of the armed robbery.
Piran Ditta Khan, who lived and worked in Bradford when he came to England from Pakistan at the age of 18, is thought to have fled at the beginning of this year to return to a remote village in his homeland.
The photograph obtained by the Telegraph & Argus shows Khan when he owned a restaurant in Aberdeen. A spokesman said: "There are ongoing inquiries but we cannot say anything more at this stage. This does appear to be a picture taken a number of years ago. However it is not a good likeness. The man we are seeking is now in his late 50s."
Suspect Piran Ditta Khan, who is now 58, in a photograph obtained by the Telegraph & Argus
Waqas Yousaf, managing director of Universal Express, said Khan, a former customer, (that is the travel agency robbed of money paid for trips to Mecca) was reported to have turned to religion, grown a beard and be helping to rebuild a mosque in Pakistan.
He said he and his business partners first suspected he was involved in the robbery when the police came to see them shortly afterwards.
"They were asking if we knew an Uncle P Khan who used to be a customer here," said Mr Yousaf. "They took all our records and then we realised that they must think he was involved."
So for what religious purpose does a mosque building man turn to crime? 5 letters, begins with J.
Have you seen this man, now aged 58?
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Posted on 12/30/2006 1:19 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
It's my hotel and I have the papers to prove it
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New York Daily News: ...A Staten Island man allegedly tried to steal the trendy $76 million hotel's deed by filing phony papers with the city.

But the con failed to make a hotelier out of Kouadio Kouassi, who faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the bizarre scam, authorities said yesterday...

An employee with the city Department of Finance alerted investigators after Kouassi allegedly tried several times to file paperwork that would have transferred ownership of the hotel to him.

"The documents were not filled out in a professional way or not filled out at all," Gill Hearn said. "It was just not the kind of filing you would see if it was a real commercial transaction."

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Posted on 12/30/2006 1:04 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Re: Saddam's Death
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"Marginally enhances Iraq's prospects,and ours..." --Andy McCarthy

More likely to do two things: First, create a Sunni martyr, a permanent symbol of the loss of Sunni power to the Rafidie dogs, the Shi'a.. Second, because the Shi'a rulers insisted on this quick execution, and refused to wait until the trial, already begun, devoted to Saddam Hussein's mass murdering of the Kurds, this will be taken by the Kurds as a symbol, as it should be, of the essential Arab indifference or disinterest in what happened to them at Arab hands.

Both will contribute to the break-up of Iraq. Both will help to divide and demoralize the Camp of Islam.

Thus the execution, done as it was done by Muslims themselves, will help the Camp of Infidels.

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Posted on 12/30/2006 12:39 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Auster: The Minimum
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Lawrence Auster writes: For any commentator who describes Islamization as a calamity that must be prevented at all costs, here is what I would see as the minimum position on Muslim immigration and the regulation of the Islamic religion that is consistent with such a view:

  • All new mass immigration of Muslims under the national quotas and other general immigration laws, not just from Muslim countries, but from all countries, must stop. Only select numbers of Muslim individuals with particular connections to the U.S., of a family or business nature for example, can be admitted.
  • To the extent possible, all Muslims here illegally must be found and be made to leave (the U.S. made a nice start of that in 2002 and 2003 when it got a large number of Pakistani illegals to depart voluntarily).
  • All legal resident alien Muslims must be subjected to an...examination of their beliefs and allegiances. Anyone found to support sharia and jihad, or who on the basis of his background and associations, can be reasonably expected to support sharia and jihad, will be deported. As compared with the outright exclusion of prospective immigrants that I propose above, the milder expedient of a questionnaire is suitable in the cases of legal residents because these are persons who have already been admitted to the U.S.
  • Mosques and Muslim schools must be closely examined and monitored for promotion of jihadist beliefs and those that fail the test will be closed.

I would support such a platform if put forward by immigration reformers. Despite the fact that republicans try to minimize the importance of it, immigration reform will likely be a top priority issue for voters in 2008 both pro and con. We must answer the question,"what is America?" once more.  This is a pivotal query that occurs once in a generation and eventually leads to another, deeper and even more urgent question, "what is man?" which goes to the heart of this conflict, but needs be answered only once a century or so.

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Posted on 12/30/2006 12:05 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Unpardonable.
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Outrage of the month is surely the refusal of George W. Bush to grant pardons to the two Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting at a Mexican drug smuggler. The agents — a five-year veteran and a ten-year veteran of the Patrol — will begin lengthy prison sentences on January 17 unless something is done, for what was in essence a minor procedural error. The drug smuggler was granted immunity by the U.S. court so that he could testify against the agents. Boy, he must be laughing himself to sleep every night at the thought of those damn fool Gringos.

This whole miserable case demonstrates that one of our president’s governing passions is a fierce, unbending, fanatical determination to do absolutely nothing about border control, to pack as many underclass Central Americans into the USA as this country will hold, and to bring all the apparatus of unbridled state power against those who oppose him in this project.

Why any patriotic person would harbor such an attitude is beyond my understanding. The president undoubtedly does harbor it, though, and he is a man famously resistant to changing his mind about anything. Certainly he will not change on this point. For some unfathomable psychological reason, open borders, and free access to U.S. schools and hospitals for anyone who crosses those borders, are the very heart and soul of Bush’s personal philosophy.

So long as Bush has any authority over the issue, the border wall approved by Congress will never be built; border control will never be enforced; the “guest worker” lunacy will be rammed down the nation’s resisting throat (along with the creation — already well under way — of a vast new criminal enterprise to supply phony versions of the required documents); and no U.S. employer will ever be penalized for employing illegals. Immigration-wise, we might as well have voted for John Kerry. Indeed, on the Nixon-to-China principle, we might have been better off.

(And on that point about employer sanctions: One thing we learned in the aftermath of those raids at the Swift & Co. meat-packing plants was that Swift had actually tried to inquire into the backgrounds of job applicants, to make sure they weren’t in the country illegally. When Swift did this, however, it was sued by the Justice Department for “discrimination”! As Mickey Kaus noted, writing about this: “Couldn’t President Bush — if he cares so much about workplace enforcement — have told the Justice Department to cut it out? If a conservative Republican president won’t rule out crying “discrimination” when immigration laws are applied, why do we think a liberal Democratic administration will?”)
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Posted on 12/30/2006 11:45 AM by John Derbyshire
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Re: Do We Possess A Democracy, Or Do We Not?
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Short answer to Hugh's question: no.

We do have an SR (senescent republic) more or less sharing similarities with late-Republican Rome. Decay of language, rise of political dynasties, confusion of virtues with values, triumph of celebrity over honor, imperial overstretch, lite beer:  take your pick.  (OK, I'm not sure about the last item, but it wouldn't surprise me.)

Add to that military and technological supremacy at its zenith.  Expand the list at will.

What are the differences?  The therapeutic has triumphed here, as has the digital mode.  We confuse facts with knowledge, knowledge with wisdom, and wisdom with intuition.  Did they?  Our SR seems to be some sort of lip-service democracy, our government's paying lip service to the constantly tabulated and analyzed desires of we, the people, who ourselves practice paying lip service to all sorts of things, including and especially honoring our promises.  We have the government we deserve, those of us who fit this jaundiced profile.

The question then becomes, What is to be done?
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Posted on 12/30/2006 9:48 AM by Robert Bove
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
It's instructions, Jim, but not as we know it.
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These are the instructions that came with a very pretty old fashioned clockwork alarm clock this Christmas. My French and German are not good enough to assess the instructions in those languages. They are also in Dutch.  

1  Turn the winding key in the direction………………………………………

    of the arrow clock every day.

2   Setting alarm-turn the knob in the direetion of the arrow.  Turn the ………

     alarmhand to the Time desired. The alarm time will show upin alignm      ent with the alarm  mark on the clock dial.

3  Stipping alarm-push the alarm “stop” button in.

4  Regulating time-if slow.move the regulator toward the “+” .if fast.      move the regulator to the “-“ TO move one graduation on the scalewill function about 3.5 minutes.

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Posted on 12/30/2006 9:45 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Saddam's Death
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I had to turn off the TV-news. 

This is a solemn, important moment.  It's not a joyous one.  An evil man deserved to die.  His elimination was necessary — not close to sufficient, but necessary — for achieving, over time, a semblance civilized stability in Iraq.  The celebration in the streets, though, the dancing and firing guns in the air, does not augur well for that achievement. 

This wasn't victory.  It didn't end suffering.  It was, in the heat of a war that has actually gotten more vicious and more uncertain since Saddam's capture three years ago, the carrying out of an essential but unpleasant duty.  It marginally enhances Iraq's propects, and ours.  But Saddam's death (as opposed to his deposing) has no impact whatsoever on the deep dysfunction and hatred that is rending what passes for Iraqi society.  The unbridled display of dancing and shooting says more about that than the death of one man — monstrous though he was — who has been imprisoned for three years.

Saddam's death is a marker worth observing.  It is not something to go up in a balloon over.

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Posted on 12/30/2006 9:31 AM by Andy McCarthy
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Secular Arab Nationalist?
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"Like Arafat, Nasser, and Assad, he [Saddam Hussein] was a secular Arab nationalist who lived and wielded power according to rules that were hardly uniformly Islamic."
-- from a comment by Robert Spencer

The phrase "secular Arab nationalist" may lead to some misunderstanding. Nasser and Saddam Hussein had pretensions to become King of the Arabs, but they were Muslims, ready whenever necessary to appeal to, and exploit, Muslim history, and neither one was impelled by a genuine sense of the "secular." In Nasser's case, it would have made no sense, in the years before OPEC trillions (which Egypt in any case did not share in), or the millions of Muslim immigrants settled deep behind the enemy lines of Western Europe, for him, an army colonel interested in modernizing Egypt and in enlarging his own power and greatness, to appeal to any pan-Islamic sentiment. After all, his main threat were those who were completely Muslim, the Ikhwan al-muslimin or Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Tariq Ramadan's grandfather Hasan al-Banna back in 1928, when the dansants at Shepheard's Hotel were still in full swing, and the syce-runners waiting patiently outside, and Levantines were reading La Gazette du Caire. Nasser's only political rival were the fanatically Muslim, and he represented not true "secularism" but rather, a less intense form of Islam. But, as he demonstrated again and again, he was prepared to use, and be used by, Islam -- and his seizing the property of, and throwing out of the country, Greeks, Jews, Armenians, Italians and others could be seen as an act of "nationalism" but could also be seen as an act against Infidels. Certainly his rhetoric before and during the Six-Day War was dripping with Islamic themes, and so was, for years, the Egyptian press. How could it be otherwise? Egypt was largely Muslim. And it is today?

As for Saddam Hussein, he realized that the Shi'a were more numerous than the Sunnis (though not quite to the extent that they have become today), and that the best way for a Sunni despotism to survive would be to disguise it as something else. Any Islam-based opposition to the rule of Saddam Hussein would have to be, among the Arabs, mosque-based, and that meant many of them would be Shi'a mosques, and that would be dangerous for the Sunni rulers of Iraq.

In Syria, Ba'athism helped to disguise the Alawite dictatorship, and since the Alawites are about 12% of the population, and with their cult of Mary are dangerously un-Islamic (in fact one of their achievements was to receive, in recent years, a fatwa from Shi'a Muslims in Iran offering the opinion that Alawites were indeed orthodox Muslims -- but as the Sunnis might say, this may be a case of needing a second opinion), they needed such a disguise. The Alawites, a minority despised by the Sunni Arabs, came to power only as a result of their having served the French as part of the "Troupes Speciales," and then having formed a kind of military caste, and finally, the Air Force officer Hafez al-Assad put himself, and other Alawites (the only people he could fully trust) in power. He could not possibly abandon "secular" Ba'athism, because he had to appeal not only to Christians (with Armenians forming one of the special household-guard units), who realized the Alawites were their only protectors against the real Muslims, but also to those Muslims who were more alarmed by the Ikhwan than they were offended by the syncretistic Alawites.

In Iraq, the disguise was needed by the Sunnis, and furthermore, it left open the possibility for Shi'a Arabs, for Kurds, even for the odd Christian (and Tariq Aziz was very odd), to join the Ba'ath Party and to some modest degree, at least pretend to have a share in the power.

But Saddam Hussein appealed to Islamic history, again and again. He naturally named his battles and campaigns against Iran after famous battles in that history. He named his war against the Kurds "Al-Anfal" after a sura in the Qur'an. He built mosques, and was building the largest mosque in the world. He commissioned Qur'ans, including one calligraphed using an ink consisting mainly of his, Saddam Hussein's, own blood. He put a Qur'anic inscription on the Iraqi flag.

And had Nasser lived longer, one would not have been surprised to find him embracing Islam more openly, as Saddam Hussein found himself doing. First, out of political necessity. Second, because in the end, these were not true "secularists" as this word is commonly used in the West. They were simply just a bit less fanatically Muslim than some other Muslims who were their political rivals.

But real "secularists" in the Western sense? Never. Not possible.

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Posted on 12/30/2006 9:17 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Whistling in the Dark Continues
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"If the Ethiopians continue to occupy Somalia, we won't sit here. We will go back to Somalia and fight as one!" says Zakharia Ahmed, banging his fist on the table.

The scene is the Café Bolsho in Oslo's downtown immigrant district Grønland. Dozens of compatriots are gathered round in the noisy café, and Ahmed clearly has full support. "Yes, we will go back and fight," the others shout.--from this news item

On what basis were they admitted to Norway? On what basis given Norwegian citizenship? Is it a party favor, open to all? What are the immigration and naturalization policies of the countries of Western Europe? For that matter, what is the policy of the United States? Is there a quota system, by country? Who decides what is a genuine refugee? It would make sense to assume that the only genuine political refugee from a Muslim-dominated country would be a non-Muslim. I can understand letting in a Christian from Somalia, or Pakistan, or Iraq, but not a Muslim. The very idea that the Western countries should serve as places open to all those who wish to leave the self-generated hatreds and hostilities (as Sunni vs.Shi'a,or Arab vs. non-Arab Muslim), or to find better economic prospects because in their own Muslim countries Islam's inshallah-fatalism results, despite oil wealth in some, in permanent economic paralysis, and that these people should come not having jettisoned, but taking with them the belief-system that largely explains the wretched conditions from which they flee, and which they are now hoping to impose on those who take them, ignorantly and innocently, in, makes no sense.

The Somalis in Norway are a security risk, a troubling presence, an expense to monitor. If they obtain citizenship, and remain, and use the vote, they will, like other Muslims, vote for those promoting Islam. That has happened everywhere. Those political figures, in turn, will work to undo or prevent the most modest of security measures, and work to stifle debate over the nature of Islam as a belief-system, a debate based on the contents of the Qur'an, Hadith, and the Sira, not referred to vaguely but with specific passages, and incidents, brought forth and examined. Unless Islam is understood, and unless the history of Islamic conquest, and of subjugation of non-Muslims, is understood to have been similar through time and space, unsurprisingly, because it reflected the same texts, received by adherents in the same way, then the Western world will continue to be unable to utter anything but hollow pieties, as the whistling in the dark continues.

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Posted on 12/30/2006 9:05 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Dozy bint update
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Further to this post about niqabbed Christmas broadcaster Khadijah, not to be confused with niqabbed Christmas would-be broadcaster Khadija, The Daily Mail reveals (h/t JW) that she is no moderate, but works for a radical Muslim group who would like to take political control of Pakistan (they’re welcome) and replace British pubs with mosques (over my dead body).

 

In fact, as I argued in my earlier post, had she been a “moderate” Muslim she would in fact have been just as dangerous if not more so, lulling an uninformed public into a false sense of security with taqiyya.

 

“Khadijah” despises Westerners, commenting:

 

When I see large numbers of non-believers I feel very sad for them as they remind me of rats or gerbils in cages going round and round on a treadmill, believing that they are fulfilling their sole purpose in life and reaching their true destiny (which is Argos).

 

The classical reference puzzles Hugh, who asks whether the Infidels are searching for the Golden Fleece. No, they are not. Argos is a large retailer based in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, perhaps unique in displaying items via a catalogue. It does a roaring trade at Christmas, and is most certainly a temple to Mammon. It is visited by many a latter-day Jason

 

The name was presumably chosen because of the classical reference, although this would be lost on most of its customers. It would not be the first classical name used for commercial purposes. Think of Ajax scouring powder and the now defunct Vim. Vimto, the drink with its origins in Lancashire, also has the idea of strength and vigour contained in the root of its name. A Mars bar presumably keeps you fighting fit, and a Marathon gave you stamina and energy, until the name was changed to the ghastly Snickers, which just about covers your embarrassment. There are probably other examples.

 

I have a good, but completely pointless, memory for advertisements. Mars used to be advertised as follows:

 

A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play.

 

In Germany, the line was:

 

Mars macht mobil bei Arbeit, Sport und Spiel.

 

The Germans do sport where we rest, telling us a lot about our respective national characters.

 

Coming back to Kadijah  (doesn't that sound so much more exotic than Elaine, her real name?) Muslims often contrast the best of Islam - prayer, devotion, seriousness - with the worst of Western society – consumerism, drunkenness, immorality, as if this were all the West had to offer. I discuss this theme here.

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Posted on 12/30/2006 9:03 AM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Do We Possess A Democracy, Or Do We Not?
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Many in Israel and abroad were surprised when the flags of the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority flew side-by-side for the first time, at the official Prime Minister’s Residence. --from this news item

Olmert's supporters constitute about 20% of the population. He is trying desperately to stay in power. It does not matter how. He is a disgrace. Can a country call itself a democracy when, on major decisions of war and peace, the person running that country, and behaving as if he had a mandate, possesses the support for the decisions he does take of only 20% of the population?

No, of course not.

And the same thing goes for George Bush. Only 17% of the American population supports the "surge" of more troops. If he decides to do this, he will be acting as an autocrat ignoring the wishes of 4/5 of the people in what is supposed to be a democracy. And the same goes for the continued squandering of men, money, matériel, military and civilian morale, all in this crazed campaign to bring "freedom" to the "ordinary moms and dads throughout the Middle East."

Quaere: Do we possess a democracy, or do we not?

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Posted on 12/30/2006 8:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Spare Us These Spiritual Searchers
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One more Spiritual Searcher. Some don't go quite so far but just become Apologists for Islam. See Karen Armstrong. Others fall for it, and when they discover The Awful Truth make up their own Private Islam, and stick to that, pretending that they are "working within the system" to promote what is best, and to do away with, or rather to "reform" Islam (fat chance). Still others may simply find it is a way to make them more important in the world's eyes (starting with Muslims who may have made much of them as new converts), and even more importantly, given them the status they think they deserve (google "Posted by Hugh" and "Weiss-Schwartz Syndrome").

No doubt the wage-slave's treadmill is disturbing. No doubt the sickening amounts, the hundreds of millions or billions given by some corporation to some departing executive, as part of his "package," infuriate, no doubt the Western world is full of all kinds of idiocy and everyone can mock or deplore the Consumer Society or, even bigger, the entire civilta di consumo, but why turn to Islam?

A similar question was asked long ago. That the excesses or injustices of capitalism, Dickensian capitalism, existed and exist are undeniable. But why become a Communist, and a loyal supporter of Joseph Stalin?

Even, or perhaps especially those who are aware of all the problems of the Western world, have a duty at this point not to fall for, or let others fall for, the idea that Islam represents anything at all except a Totalitarian System, one that uncompromisingly teaches adherents to divide the world between Believer and Infidel, limits and impoverishes the means for artistic expression, discourages free and skeptical inquiry, locates political legitimacy in the will of Allah and not in the expressed will of the people, sets up as a Perfect Man a cunning and ruthless warrior who was perfectly happy to attack those who had done nothing to him and were merely inoffensive farmers (the Khaybar Oasis), looked on approvingly at the massacre of hundreds of bound prisoners (the Banu Qurayza), was pleased to learn that those who had mocked him were murdered (Abu Akaf, Asma bint Marwan), and preached that "war is deception" and much else that inspires Muslims, and disturbs Infidels, to this day.

Spare us this kind of Spiritual Searcher. The psychically marginal -- John Walker Lindh and Adam Gadahn come swimmingly to mind -- who are thrown up in the Western world, and who, instead of merely descending into, as they might have, some other available off-the-shelf form of An Answer to Everything, choose dangerous-to-themselves-and-to-others Islam.

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Posted on 12/30/2006 8:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Iranian Operatives Captured in Iraq Sent Home
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WaPo: BAGHDAD, Dec. 29 -- Two senior Iranian operatives who were detained by U.S. forces in Iraq and were strongly suspected of planning attacks against American military forces and Iraqi targets were expelled to Iran on Friday, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.

The decision to free the men was made by the Iraqi government and has angered U.S. military officials who say the operatives were seeking to foment instability here.

"These are really serious people," said one U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They were the target of a very focused raid based on intelligence, and it would be hard for one to believe that their activities weren't endorsed by the Iranian government. It's a situation that is obviously troubling."

One of the commanders, identified by officials simply as Chizari, was the third-highest-ranking official of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' al-Quds Brigade, the unit most active in aiding, arming and training groups outside Iran, including Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, U.S. officials said. The other commander was described as equally significant to Iran's support of foreign militaries but not as high-ranking...

U.S. defense officials familiar with the raids said the captured Iranians had detailed weapons lists, documents pertaining to shipments of weapons into Iraq, organizational charts, telephone records and maps, among other sensitive intelligence information. Officials were particularly concerned by the fact that the Iranians had information about importing modern, specially shaped explosive charges into Iraq, weapons that have been used in roadside bombs to target U.S. military armored vehicles...

New Duranty has more: Whatever the case, the behind-the-scenes discussions were intense. An Iraqi politician familiar with the case said the Americans had been trying to get the Iraqis to expel the men and declare them persona non grata.

But the Iraqis pushed back. They agreed to release a statement that condemned interference by neighboring countries in general, but stopped short of capitulating fully to American wishes and declaring the men intruders.

The delicately worded statement said the government “emphasizes to Iraqi neighboring countries the necessity of respecting the independence of Iraq.”

But it added that Iraq wants “to continue good relations with its neighbor Iran and hopes that such incidents will not be repeated in the future, which may disturb these relations.”

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Posted on 12/30/2006 7:02 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Re: "punk" in America
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I ain't no rock historian, man, but a couple questions raised by this post got me to thinkin'.  I agree the punk movement in the UK was strictly a product of a social millieu born of a particular time and place.  It never could catch on here as a movement, but it did influence hair and clothing fashion.  But even those fashions were not widely popular here.   Musically, the influences ran back and forth. Punk rockers in the UK have cited many such earlier  influences, most derived from U.S. garage rock and proto-punk bands, dating, respectively, from the early 60s to the late 70s.

The latter category includes the entertaining Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers (Road Runner), the Velvet Underground, etc.  The late 60s exemplar of proto-punk was MC5.  A friend of mine from Cincinnati introduced a bunch of us to them back then.  We were all fans of, yes, Jethro Tull or the Grateful Dead or Miles Davis or whatever, and MC5 did not go over big with us.  (Although less than successful when they were first released, all three of MC5's albums are still available as CD's.)

The most famous musical assessment of punk was penned by Canadian Neil Young:  "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" from his 1979 Rust Never Sleeps album:  "This is the story of Johnny Rotten."

Live album by Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Young's attention to punk was refreshing, if somewhat morbid.  It was about as far from the influences of the hugely popular disco sound as anything put out at that time, and I believe it was meant to be so.  (Speaking of morbid influences on the morbid:  Curt Cobain.)

Pubs in the U.S.?  Pubbish-looking bars, but not the same thing.   (Note the double-b, the second b inserted soley for modesty's sake.)  I should have put "local" in quotes.
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Posted on 12/30/2006 6:32 AM by Robert Bove
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Telling Words And Gestures
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"Israel's possession of nukes has been one of the world's worst kept secrets for about, oh...20 or 30 years. Yet when Iran starts splitting atoms, Egypt and Saudi Arabia all of a sudden get really, REALLY nervous.There is an encyclopedia's worth of information about the Middle East in this little tidbit." -- from a reader

That is a keen observation. And there are other examples of behavior, or statements, that are far more telling than many realize.

Two other examples.

#1.

When King Hussein's Bedouins were killing members of the PLO, members of that same PLO, an organization dedicated to killing Israelis, the same PLO that always went on and on for the Western press about the diabolical cruelty of those same Israelis, tried to escape across the Jordan River, into Israel, and with their hands up, tried -- and in many cases did -- surrender willingly to those "cruel" Israelis whom, the PLO people knew perfectly well, would treat them humanely and not as other Arabs would.


#2. Last summer Kofi Annan, the man who has spent much of his time never opposing but always supporting, and frequently parroting, the anti-Israel rhetoric that is such a feature of the Islamintern-infiltrated and Islamintern-dominated U.N. (and Kofi Annan's own staff -- Edward Mortimer -- is part of that Islamintern International), publicly stated that he "thought the Israeli soldiers [captured by Hamas and Hezbollah] were still alive."

Now suppose he had been talking about Iraqis captured by the Americans. Suppose he had been talking about Arab soldiers captured by the Israelis. Would he, would anyone, including the Arabs and other Muslims, think to make such a statement as "we think those Iraqis [in American custody] are still alive" or "we think those Arabs [in Israeli custody] are still alive?"

No one would see the need to make such a statement. But clearly Kofi Annan found such an assurance, or semi-assurance, necessary in the case of the Israeli soldiers captured alive. For there are so many cases when, having been captured alive, Israelis, and other Infidel troops, have been slaughtered, that Kofi Annan felt such a statement was necessary. Yet he did not realize what making that statement revealed about his own true assumptions and attitudes, just as those PLO terrorists holding up their hands and waving white handkerchiefs as they clambered ashore on the Israeli side of the Jordan, did not bethink themselves to understand what their own act, freely chosen, actually meant.

And the same is true of the sudden fear about Iran's nuclear capacity -- as noted by the keen-minded reader above.

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Posted on 12/30/2006 6:47 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
The Trial and Execution of Saddam Hussein
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No doubt when the Americans decided to put Saddam Hussein on trial, rather than simply kill him or let the government kill him, their minds were full of a blend of the Nuremberg Trials and those "Truth and Reconciliation" businesses that are all the rage these days. No doubt, too, they thought that "the Iraqis," suffused with eternal gratitude toward their "liberators" ("The liberation of Baghdad will make the liberation of Kabul seem like a funeral procession" -- also sprach Bernard Lewis, and so many others after him), would all be able to unite around their indignation and fury at mass-murdering Saddam Hussein.

But Saddam Hussein's mass murder of Kurds never did elicit a single syllable of protest from the Arab League, or any Arab government, or any significant Arab body – or, indeed, from any Arab at all, save for Kanan Makiya and one or two others. And Saddam Hussein's mass murder of Shi'a, similarly, was never a cause for indignation among Sunni Arabs inside or outside Iraq.

It should have been expected that once Saddam Hussein was permitted to live and stand trial, that he would become a symbol of a Sunni put on trial by a Shi'a-dominated government. And hence, for many Sunnis (even for those who suffered under him) Saddam Hussein became a symbol of their former status and supposed well-being, and of their new and unjustly humbled condition – unjust to them, in their refusal to recognize their real numbers or to acquiesce in the loss of power.

For they do not care what happened to them under Saddam Hussein. Their memories are fluid, picking out what they wish to remember, forgetting what they don't. Why would it be otherwise among people raised in societies suffused with a belief-system where what happened in the seventh century, or eighth, or ninth, or eleventh, the battles, the men, the deeds of valor and of treachery are kept fresh, and mean far more than what happened, say, a year or so ago when the Infidels sent aid to Pakistan or to Aceh, or a few years before that when they rescued Muslims in Kosovo and Bosnia.

Yes, Saddam Hussein, having been captured alive, and allowed to live and stand trial, did not become a rallying point, based on shared hatred of him, for "Iraqis," but rather a would-be martyr for almost all (except the most morally aware) Sunnis. And so now he is on the verge of no longer being a would-be martyr, but the very thing. The Shi'a and the Kurds remember him as murderer rather than as martyr. And so his trial, his sentence, and his execution will not serve, as dreamy and endlessly ignorant and obstinate policy-makers in Washington and their confused and besieged claque once thought, to unite and rally "Iraqis" to "Iraq."

How silly those Americans were, how uncomprehending, how little able to think or plan ahead.

So much nonsense. So much vzdor. So many stupidaggini. So much crap.

The execution of Saddam Hussein will exacerbate matters wonderfully. For he who has recently been adopting a magnanimous tone, addressing himself to all "Iraqis" and not only to his Sunni supporters. He has even repeatedly called on "Iraqis" not to "hate" the Infidels but only their governments. He may also, in his wild calculations, have thought that there was a chance that the Americans would see him as a possible savior-of-their-bacon in Iraq, and free him. Still, he will in death be a Sunni martyr, a figure of myth and poetry, the Sunni Arab put to death by those Rafidite dogs and Persians.

And as a bonus, Nouri al-Maliki has decided to have him executed forthwith, before he can be tried for the Anfal campaign against the Kurds, or for any of his attacks on fellow Sunnis. And in ignoring any of the non-Shi'a victims of Saddam Hussein, al-Maliki and the Shi'a supporting this hastened execution are ensuring that resentments among the Kurds -- who will now not get those months in court to state their case against him, and to let facts be presented to a not-very-candid world about the Arab persecution of the Kurds. The execution itself will further separate Sunni from Shi'a Arabs. But the timing of the execution, taking place after a single trial in which the victims were 148 Shi'a, and only Shi'a, at Dejail, and without any attempt to hold a trial about his killing of 182,000 Kurds in all of Kurdistan, or 300,000 Marsh Arabs in the south, will alienate the Kurds from the Shi'a. They are already angry at the Sunni Arabs, for it was the Sunni Arabs who eagerly supported the man who mass-murdered them, and it is Sunni Arabs who have moved in, or been moved in, to formerly Kurdish villages and even cities. In contested Kirkuk, it is largely Kurds against Sunni, not Shi'a, Arabs.

If one understands that the right goal is not to bring "democracy" to people who, because of the belief-system of Islam, cannot conceivably locate legitimacy in the expressed will of the people, but rather will always re-locate it in the will expressed by Allah in the canonical texts, and as glossed by the sayings and acts of his Prophet, Muhammad, then one will see the folly of Bush's enterprise. He doesn't. But never mind. The Muslim Arabs in Iraq are behaving as one would wish them to behave. Nouri al-Maliki, in putting Saddam Hussein to death last night, is ensuring the Sunni martyrdom of Saddam Hussein (even among Sunnis who suffered during his regime), and the Kurdish resentment at the (Shi'a) Arab indifference, as the Kurds will see it, to their own much greater (as the Kurds see it) suffering from Saddam Hussein.

If what one believes that the best way to defend the imperilled Camp of Infidels is by weakening the Camp of Islam, by exploiting its own natural divisions, the execution of Saddam Hussein will be something to welcome. For leaving aside the matter of justice, it will help promote our ends, our goals. Not in the way Bush or many others assume it will, by "showing Iraqis that they can have justice through the judicial process." But in another way, a way visitors to JW and NER by now understand perfectly.

And so, too, will infidel interests be promoted by such things as the Saudi cleric's judgment expressed in this article. Here are his words:

"The rejectionists (Shi'ites) in their entirety are the worst of the Islamic nation's sects. They bear all the characteristics of infidels," Sheikh Abdel-Rahman al-Barrak said in the fatwa, or ruling, distributed on Islamist Web sites. “They are in truth polytheist infidels, though they hide this," it said, citing theological differences 14 centuries after the death of the Prophet Mohammad, such as reverence of shrines which followers of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi school consider abhorrent."

Reading such words puts a bounce in my step and a smile on my face. Many Infidels no doubt have experienced something similar.

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Posted on 12/30/2006 6:27 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Long live the English pub
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The day after I expressed concern about a possible communist takeover of my old local, this item appeared in The Telegraph about possible threats to that great institution, the English pub:

The English pub, one of our greatest gifts to civilisation, is in mortal danger. They are closing in the towns no less than rural areas, or being turned into featureless cash-cows. Even when they survive, their character is threatened by the rise of the gastro-pub and the march of the voracious chain, neither of which place much emphasis on the quirky or the particular, which lies at the heart of what makes a pub a pub.

For the pub, the local, the boozer, is such an extraordinarily English (not British) institution that it cannot simply be wished into existence by managers or advertising executives, any more than it can be replicated in another part of the world.

Almost without exception attempts to establish a "Ye Olde" in California or South Africa are embarrassing, just as attempts to recreate the Celtic fog of an Irish bar are toe-curlingly awful. On one hand, it's "I say, old chap" and prints of riding to hounds; on the other, bicycles on the ceiling and pictures of famous writers, most of whom chose to live in England. What sort of world are these people trying to recreate?

There is nothing wrong with a bar. My favourite place to enjoy a pint in our disunited kingdom happens to be Kay's, in Edinburgh's New Town, which is not really a pub. But, as a rule, a pub offers more pleasure than a bar because, as Richard Boston noted in his excellent study of drink and drinking, Beer and Skittles, wherever it is situated, it creates a world of its own, whereas a bar is usually no more than an extension of whatever street it is on.

Other than that, there is no general law that explains how or why a good pub works. We all know of outstanding pubs in unlikely places, and poor ones that, with a more sympathetic hand on the tiller, would be so much better. But there are certain things that lend character, and the starting-point is proper ale, which must also be kept properly.

A pub cannot be a proper pub unless it offers at least one hand-pulled ale, and if that ale happens to be Timothy Taylor's Landlord of Keighley, Joseph Holt's of Manchester, Bateman's of Wainfleet or Harvey's of Lewes, so much the better. These are the champion ales of England, and the great ales of England rank among the finest beers of the world. Brakspear's of Henley-on-Thames also belonged to that select group until the grotesque decision to turn the brewery into a swanky hotel.

But Boston, while a student of ale, also highlighted the amount of voluntary activity in a pub as a key to its success. He called it "the marrow test", alluding to the marrow that was brought into one pub by a regular, and placed on the bar for others to guess its weight.

In pubs, human games are always better than electronic ones, and conversation always trumps a television, though televisions should not be outlawed unless they become the focus of attention.

Is there such a thing as an ideal pub? Probably not. Good pubs are shaped by local forces, and by the people who use them. They are not necessarily for the benefit of outsiders, who should not feel threatened if they are welcomed less warmly than they might like, though there is no excuse for surly behaviour. The presence of so many Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and French people behind our bars in recent years has exposed the sloppiness of many local bar staff, particularly in London, where the trendy gastro-pubs, with their Annabels and Tobys, can be such a bind.

Nevertheless, I shall propose a pub, discovered on exhaustive travels around this country over many years of thirsty research, that comes as close to the ideal as makes no difference.

It is situated between Derby and Belper, and overlooks the water meadows of the River Derwent, close by the most glorious countryside in a county that may justly claim to be England's most beautiful.

If you came at night, "like a broken king", you would find a rambling, stone-flagged inn that has not changed much in the past 50 years.

It serves half a dozen ales, many from jugs behind the bar, and you can wash them down with a variety of cobs (including cheese and beetroot) and superb pork pies. It's off the beaten track, and takes some finding, but should you see signs for the Holly Bush, follow them and see what an English pub can still be, in the right hands.

And don't forget to put some mustard on your growler. It makes all the difference.

Readers passing through North London are welcome to join me for a drink at the best pub in the world: The Spaniards on Hampstead lane.

This place is over four hundred years old and is seriously haunted. It is mentioned in Dickens and was visited by Dick Turpin, Jack Sheppard (recidivist escapee from London prisons), Blake, Constable, Byron, Joshua Reynolds and – from the sublime to the ridiculous – Susan Sarandon. No angle inside is a right-angle and no wall is straight. The floor slopes bizarrely and there are secret passages where the wind howls. Outside is a beautiful garden, where you can get a dog wash. Click on the picture to see how wonderful this place is.

In winter some may prefer an even cosier pub with home cooked meals, in which case, join me at The Flask in Highgate, where only the other day Maureen Lipman stopped for a quick one. My treat, on one condition – the drink must contain alcohol. Drinking orange squash in a pub is certifiable behaviour.

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Posted on 12/30/2006 6:22 AM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Cartoonobit from Chris Muir
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Posted on 12/30/2006 6:03 AM by Robert Bove
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