Friday, 24 March 2006
Language of diplomacy...
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From AP via Yahoo! News: "A Frenchman Speaking English? Mais Non!"

When top business executive Ernest-Antoine Seilliere announced to the meeting of the EU's 25 government leaders that he would "speak in English, the language of business," Chirac had heard enough.

As opposed to the language of love: German (efficient, precise love).

Together with French Finance Minister Thierry Breton and Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, Chirac promptly quit the ballroom where European leaders were meeting and returned only after Frenchman Seilliere, the head of the UNICE business lobby, stopped speaking.

"We people speak in both French and English around the table in the European council and obviously a lot of business is conducted in English," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday. But he did not want to blow the incident out of proportion.

"People do get up and go for all sorts of reasons," he said.

*Polite cough.*

Typically officials at EU gatherings speak in their native tongue, and their remarks are translated.

The incident occurred at the start of the two-day summit on economic issues, often pitting free marketeers from the Anglo-Saxon model against those, like the French, backing a more closely supervised economic system.

Seilliere was warning against protectionism in his speech, but French officials said Chirac's decision to leave had nothing to do with the content, only the language.

The diplomat denied that Chirac had officially left the meeting. "He didn't leave the summit, he just briefly made himself absent."

Euphemisms: The universal "language of (attempted) diplomacy."

European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet, also a Frenchman, spoke in his native language.

Paris has long led a losing battle to keep French a dominating force in politics, business and diplomacy, only to see English make ever deeper inroads.

Could it be that the use of the French language is waning because the ideas stated by those who would speak it as these gatherings, fail to resonate with anyone, once translated into the other participants' languages?

It even has to fight the tide of "Franglais" at home — the use of English terms in the language of Moliere itself.

And the EU has bulged from six members, of which three spoke French, to 25 now, many of whom increasingly use English. Questions at the EU press briefings used to be exclusively French, now English dominates.

The EU provides plenty of guarantees for all official languages of the member states and has an army of translators to back it up.

Even if the language issue was important enough for Chirac to walk out, some barely noticed.

"That was not dramatic at all," said Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson.

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Posted on 03/24/2006 10:15 PM by Marisol Seibold
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Friday, 24 March 2006
Hello Hamid? Condi here.
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Echoes of Dr. Strangelove: Condoleeza Rice On the Phone With Hamid Karzai:


"Hello?... Ah... I can't hear too well. Do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little?... Oh-ho, that's much better... yeah... huh... yes... Fine, I can hear you now, Hamid... Clear and plain and coming through fine... I'm coming through fine, too, eh?... Good, then... well, then, as you say, we're both coming through fine... Good... Well, it's good that you're fine and... and I'm fine... I agree with you, it's great to be fine... a-ha-ha-ha-ha... Now then, Hamid, you know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with that Sharia of yours... The Sharia, Hamid...... The Islamic Sharia... Well now, what happened is... ah... well, you know, our people, Hamid, they're just a little funny on the subject...just a little funny in the head, and they don't always understand...just a little funny in the head... you know... just a little... funny. And, ah... they've gone and done a silly thing... Well, I'll tell you what they've done, Hamid. They've been protesting, Hamid....No, we have to let them, we don't have a choice....That's right, Hamid. No, really, they do have that right....Well, Hamid, I'm afraid they want us to stop supporting your government....Yes, Hamid, your government. They don't like your....No, Hamid, I don't think it is fair. I know you're trying....You don't like them, either, Hamid? I understand. I completely understand....Well, it's like this, Hamid. Some of them think that if that convert is killed...they don't see why our government should keep supporting your government. Ah...yes, I know it's none of their business. Yes...but they think it is, Hamid.... They think that everyone should have the freedom to....Well, let me finish, Hamid... Let me finish, Hamid... Well listen, how do you think I feel about it?... Can you imagine how I feel about it, Hamid?... Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello?... Of course I like to speak to you!... Of course I like to say hello!... Not now, but anytime, Hamid. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible is happening... It's a friendly call. Of course it's a friendly call... Listen, if it wasn't friendly... you probably wouldn't have even got it... They will not be able to turn our policy around for at least another few months, Hamid... I am... I am positive, Hamid... Listen, I've been all over this with your ambassador. It is not a trick... Well, I'll tell you. We'd like to give your judges a chance to declare the man insane...Yes! That's right, Hamid. So you won't have to kill him. Is that all right, Hamid? Would that be....You don't have to get mad, Hamid. I am not insulting Islam, Hamid... No, not at all. I mean i-i-i-if we're unable to stop his execution, Hamid, then... I'd say that, ah... well, ah... we're just gonna have to stop helping you, Hamid....I know you need them, Hamid. But they're our boys...and our planes, and our equipment. And our money.... C'mon Hamid, be reasonable. No, Hamid, we don't owe it to you... No, Hamid, it is not something we have to give you, or else...Stop talking like that, Hamid. That's not nice....Of course we won't leave till you tell us we can go. No, not in Iraq either. Promise....Okay, can you calm down? Did you calm down? ....Yes, I know it's a religion of peace, Hamid....Yes, and tolerance. Peace and tolerance, Hamid...Both together, yes, Hamid....No, I won't forget that for a minute, Hamid. I promise. Not for one minute.... Okay, are you calm, now? Hamid, can you please calm down? ....All right, we'll listen now. Who should we call?... Who should we call, Hamid? The sheiks at Al-Azhar? Al-Qaradawi...? Someone in Saudi Arabia? Hamid, are you Sunni or Shi'a?... Why do I ask? Well, Hamid, I think it matters, doesn't it? Not sure, but I think you guys have some differences, isn't that right, Hamid?...You tell me, Hamid. You tell me what I should think you think...whatever you say goes...No, Hamid, I am not making fun of you. Believe me, Hamid....Hamid, listen, in these things you're the boss, okay? ...Oh, yes I should have known. Right, our ambassador in Iraq, he's one of you, isn't he? And he's a Sunni... Right, Hamid. I just forgot. Sorry. I should have known....No, Hamid, I'm not being sarcastic....No, Hamid....Hamid, does that mean you are all Sunnis over there, or are you like in Iraq? Any Shi'as over there? Could that judge be a Shi'a judge? ....No, I'm sorry, Hamid. I didn't mean any disrespect. Just trying to figure it all out.....Yes Hamid, it is complicated for us here.... Why does it matter? Well, you tell me, Hamid. Does it matter? Should it matter, Hamid? Should I think it should matter? I mean, do you get executed if you are a former Sunni or just if you are a former Shi'a?...What's that, Hamid? Oh, it doesn't matter? Not the least little bit? Not even the teeniest little bit? Same punishment? Gosh, Hamid, you guys really take it seriously, don't you?... No, Hamid, I didn't mean that. No, Hamid, I didn't mean to insult you. It's fine...Yes, Hamid. Yes, I apologize. I sincerely apologize. I won't say that again....No, Hamid, I'll never do it again...How sincerely, Hamid? Very sincerely, that's how sincerely...Is that alright?... No, the President won't either. No, I can guarantee it, Hamid. I promise, Hamid... Yes, Hamid, I'll have him call you and tell you him...Of course not...Yes, I know how you feel... No one in the American government will ever ever make fun....uh, you, sorry, you faded away there... So what's the best person to call about this, Hamid? Oh, you'll call them first, will you?... Uh-huh... Listen, do you happen to have the phone number on you, Hamid?... Whe-ah, what? I see, just ask for Cairo information... Ah-ah-eh-uhm-hm... I'm sorry, too, Hamid... I'm very sorry... All right, you're sorrier than I am, but I am as sorry as well... I am as sorry as you are, Hamid! Don't say that you're more sorry than I am, because I'm capable of being just as sorry as you are... So we're both sorry, all right?... All right."

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Posted on 03/24/2006 6:24 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 23 March 2006
Nobody does it better - makes me feel sad for the rest. Ken Livingstones does it again!
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With his suspension for insulting a Jewish reporter lifted pending appeal London's Mayor Ken Livingstone strikes again.

From This is Local London

LONDON mayor Ken Livingstone has defended his insult against two Jewish billionaires in a new racism row.

Yesterday he slated David and Simon Reuben, the businessmen behind the massive Stratford City development in east London a key part of the 2012 Olympic facilities.

"Perhaps if they're not happy they can always go back (to Iran) and see if they can do better under the ayatollahs," Mr Livingstone said during a press conference at City Hall.

The Reuben brothers are not Iranian, but were born in India from Iraqi Jewish parents..... 

 The Times  picks up the story

Yesterday Mr Livingstone declined to apologise to the Reubens and instead flippantly said: “I would offer a complete apology to the people of Iran to the suggestion that they may be linked in any way to the Reuben brothers. I wasn’t meaning to be offensive to the people of Iran.” He said he had not been aware the brothers were Jewish and from their names would have thought they were Muslims.

He thought two men named David and Simon Reuben were Muslim.  Is he a complete fool, or is he so arrogant that he takes us for fools?  The Times comment  that he is a lout.  I wouldn't argue with that.

I can't quite work out what the Brothers Reuben have, or have not done regarding the Olympic building project that is so heinous. They apparently own part of the Stratford City site which is integral to the Olympic developement.  I remember Stratford City when it was Stratford market, a not very good market as street markets went, next to the bus station. This, by the way is Stratford atte Bow we are talking about, where Chaucer's Prioress came from.  She who spoke bad French (which failing persists as I prove).  Not Stratford on Avon where Shakespeare came from which is more scenic.

The Brothers Reuben, who were born in Bombay, came to the UK in the 1950s and started with a scrap metal business,  may have reservations about the 40,000 capacity mosque (I was going to say seater, but that's not accurate, 40,000 prostrater perhaps) that is being planned. They may be holding out for the best price for their land. I don't know.  I do know that it will bring a lot of disruption to the area and I don't expect it to bring permanent jobs of the sort that provide stability and long term prosperity. 

London Assembly member Brian Coleman said Mr Livingstone's ayatollah jibe was his "latest anti-Semitic remark".

Suggesting that the Reubens, who are Jews, go to a radical Islamic regime in Iran was "shocking, outrageous and grossly offensive to the entire Jewish Community".

        David and Simon Reuben.

 

Ken Livingstone

        Ken Livingstone.  Would you buy a burnt out bendy bus from this man?

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Posted on 03/23/2006 3:05 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 23 March 2006
Saletan silliness
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William Saletan has a very silly article over at Slate this morning arguing that gay marriage shouldn't be threatened by the "hyperventilating conservatives" who see it as a gateway to polygamy.  His reasons?  That one on one relationships conform better to "human nature" and polygamy inherently unstable due to the jealousy factor. 

If you're going to make the "human nature" argument one might extend that to gay marriage as well, seems to me, but the argument that polygamy is inherently unstable is completely specious.

Muslims have been practicing polygamy for 1400 years and Fundamentalist Mormons have been practicing polygamy continually in this country since the 1830s (that's 175 years).  How much longer must they carry on in order to prove their stability?    He claims,

"Women shared [note the past tense - RB] husbands because they had to. The alternative was poverty. As women gained power, they began to choose what they really wanted. And what they really wanted was the same fidelity that men expected from them.

"Gays who seek to marry want the same thing. They're not looking for the right to sleep around. They already have that. It's called dating. A friend once explained to me why gay men have sex on the first date: Nobody says no. Your partner, being of the same sex, is as eager as you are to get it on. But he's also as eager as you are to get it on with somebody else. And if you really like him, you don't want that. You want him all to yourself. That's why marriage, not polygamy, is in your nature, and in our future."

Gays may be seeking relationship stability through marriage, but it is unlikely they will find it there.  Meanwhile, polygamy will continue so long as there are people who believe it to be divinely sanctioned.

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Posted on 03/23/2006 10:19 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 23 March 2006
Slantendicular
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In an earlier post I refer to the claim that using an unfamiliar word can increase your brain power. If this is true, my IQ has suddenly shot through the roof. In an article in today's Times there are a number of words which must be unfamiliar to most of us outside Norfolk. (That is Norfolk, England, of course. Very flat, as they say.) Like the made-up words in Round the Horne, they sound a bit rude but aren't. Here's the story:

WHEN Norfolk schoolchildren are tussling in the playground, the shout will no longer be: “That girl’s teasing me!”

 
Instead, a victim might say: “I’m having a little bit of squit alonga the mawther.” To add extra spite, the bully would be called “slummican great mawther” — a fat young girl.

Tired of the misconceptions about the way people in Norfolk speak and concerned that their dialect — now spoken by only older members of the community — is slipping into oblivion, an action group called Friends of Norfolk Dialect (Fond) has successfully lobbied for schools to teach an appreciation of the local tongue.

That should put some colour back into the cheeks of the fond lover.

The project, called Lost in Translation, which is supported by Norfolk County Council, has received £24,600 from the Local Heritage Initiative — an offshoot of National Heritage — and will be introduced in 11 schools from April...

Tim Groves, a teacher at Sheringham Primary, said that most children would have had contact with the dialect only through their grandparents, but that with exposure, it was easy to understand.

Well, I have been to Sheringham and one or two other places in Norfolk. It is, as they say, very flat. It is also cold, and appears to be in a time warp, but is none the worse for any of this. However, my trips would have been greatly enhanced by a knowledge of the local dialect. Here are a few handy phrases to help you get by in Norfolk:

Do we go play on the titty totty tittermatorter?
Let’s go and play on the very small see-saw

That angle is slantendicular/on the huh
That angle is not quite perpendicular/not straight

I’ve got suffin goin about. I’ve got the uppards and downards
I don’t feel well. I’ve got diarrhoea

I have a tizzick
I have a troublesome cough

He’yer fa’ got a dickey, bor? 
A Norfolk greeting, literally: “Has your father got a donkey, boy?” The correct reply is . . .

Yis, an’he want a fule ter roid ’im,will yew cum?
Meaning “Yes, and he wants a fool to ride him, will you come?”

"Slantendicular" is a wonderful word, slicing right through the formality of the Latin-derived model and making it English and homely. Use it today, please. But why "uppards", in the context above? And as for the first one, I believe we have a rival to "gruntfuttock", but this one is real.

On the subject of "handy" words and phrases, here is an extract from a review of Rough Guide phrase books which tittered my torter something rotten. The review is entitled, "The Postillion Has Been Struck By Lightning":

This phrase has entered the language as a verbal eccentricity, the rather odd opening entry in one of the first published foreign language phrasebooks in Regency times. Perhaps it’s not as ludicrous as at first it seems. Consider, if you were doing the Grand Tour in 1800, rattling through some little Alpine mountain village, and a dreadful storm broke out, you might well want to tell the indigenous populace if a bolt from above had finished off your coachman.

I have a wonderful collection of phrase books. My favourite has to be a French one from the 1920s, which contains such memorable phrases as:

Do not starch my cummerbund.
This wine cooler has grit in it. Bring me another.
Polish my dancing pumps.
(Note the autocratic omission of ‘please’.)

Another great one is an Italian phrase book given to my uncle when he was in the army in Italy in 1944, which has these gems:


Please direct me to the German tanks.
This weapon is not loaded. (Bet that was a lie, whichever weapon he meant.)
I do not wish to come with you. (Another lie too, no doubt, in some circumstances.)
I shall dig a latrine here. (Let’s hope this was never used in the Vatican or La Scala, Milan.)

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Posted on 03/23/2006 5:49 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 22 March 2006
The Way It Is
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Obviously, I agree with the editorial elsewhere on National Review Online today that calls that the prosecution of Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan is an “affront to civilization.” I’m constrained to note, however, that if we are willing to live in a world where policy is premised on polite fictions (purporting to give you the out not to deal with hard realities) and expressed in airy ambiguities (relieving you of the obligation to speak clearly and candidly), we will be hard-pressed to be taken seriously when we suddenly call “Time-out!” for a moment of moral clarity.

The editors say the Afghan constitution “stipulates that other religions are free to perform their ceremonies ‘within the limits of the law’ (whatever that means).” To the extent the whatever that means parenthetical endeavors to sow ambiguity into the constitution here, it fails. There is no ambiguity.

Islam is the state religion of Afghanistan. The sharia presumptively governs whenever there is not an explicit law directly on point. There is no other law regarding apostasy, and in sharia regimes, apostasy from Islam is a capital offense. End of story.

The right of other religions to perform ceremonies has nothing to do with that hard fact. (See Paul Marshall’s excellent NRO piece on this, from November 2003.) Moreover, the within the limits of the law language, far from being ambiguous, manifestly underscores that public exhibitions of the rites of other religions will only be tolerated to the limited extent Islamic law abides them.

Ceremonies, in any event, are not germane to apostasy. Islam considers a person who has become a Muslim the same way it regards territory that has come under Muslim control at some point in its history — you can’t go back. Period. (See, e.g., “Palestine” v. Israel).

The editorial’s reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights doesn’t help. The Declaration is not a treaty. In the U.S., it was considered merely aspirational, not binding — even by Eleanor Roosevelt, one of its principal authors. That, by the way, is the way we want it because there are many things in the Declaration that we would find objectionable if imposed here. Even if it were a treaty, treaties do not create any rights enforceable by individuals against governments, including their own governments. (Again, we would not have it otherwise in our own country.) And the right of conversion, in Islamic countries, would be construed, consistent with sharia, only as a right to convert to Islam, not from Islam.

You reap what you sow. What is happening in Afghanistan (and in Iraq) is precisely what we bought on to when we actively participated in the drafting of constitutions which — in a manner antithetical to the development of true democracy — ignored the imperative to insulate the civil authority from the religious authority, installed Islam as the state religion, made sharia a dominant force in law, and expressly required that judges be trained in Islamic jurisprudence. To have done all those things makes outrage at today’s natural consequences ring hollow.

We can pull our heads up from the sand now and say, “No, no, no! We’re nice people. We didn’t mean it that way. That’s too uncivilized to contemplate.” But the inescapable truth is: the United States made a calculated decision that it wasn’t worth our while to fight over Islamic law (indeed, we encouraged it as part of the political solution). People who objected (like moi) were told that we just didn’t grasp the cultural dynamic at work. I beg to differ — we understood it only too well.

Islamic law does not consider conviction, imprisonment, or death for apostasy to be an affront to civilization. That’s the way it is.

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Posted on 03/22/2006 5:15 PM by Andy McCarthy
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Wednesday, 22 March 2006
Sorry, C J
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UK readers will probably remember a TV sitcom called "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin". Starring Leonard Rossiter, also of  "Rising Damp", and, as is less well known, "Le Petomane", this series is partly known, at least by me, for the line : "Progress! There's a word that begs the pardon. I beg your parsnips. I'm sorry, it doesn't beg the parsnips, it begs the question." However, it is more widely known for the embarrassing chair. Reginald and other employees would rise from this chair, in the office of CJ, the tyrannical boss, and start to walk out of the office, hoping that things would be different this time. But they never were. After a dramatic pause, there would be a loud rasping noise, a real Bronx cheer (or chair). "Sorry, CJ," an embarrassed Reggie would mutter, as he slunk out of the room.

Now it seems that life is imitating art. Art, that is. The Times, usually fairly sober, cannot resist a little joke in its headline, "Flatulent chair at bottom of teacher's sex bias claim":

THE deputy head of a large comprehensive was forced to sit in a chair that made rude noises every time she moved, an employment tribunal was told yesterday...

She said: “It was very embarrassing to sit on. I asked for a chair that didn’t give me a dead leg or make these very embarrassing farting sounds. It was a regular joke that my chair would make these farting sounds and I regularly had to apologise that it wasn’t me, it was my chair.”

But look on the bright side. If you did accidentally break wind, you could blame it on the chair. In fact, those prone to such outbursts could make a beeline for the chair first thing in the morning and indulge all day with impunity and gay abandon.

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Posted on 03/22/2006 9:18 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 22 March 2006
a note on apologies
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“Juma Al Salami, Assistant Under-Secretary of the Private Education Department affiliated to the Ministry of Education (MoE), met yesterday the regional manager of Pearson Education Company who came from the publisher's main office in London to deliver a written apology for offense caused to Arabs, Muslims and Islam by material included in a book called ‘The cultures of the world’.

“This book was circulated and distributed to a number of private schools in the country. The regional manager was accompanied by the director-general and representative of the company in the UAE. Al Salami accepted his apology.” -- From this news story.  More on this here and specific musical apologies here.

Louis Kahn.

Several menages. Product of one of those menages did the film. Best work by Kahn seen: library at Exeter. Of course, I haven't been to Malaysia.

The article above was about great recent writers (and one unrecent painter), who treated sympathetically of Jewish themes, characters, etc., or even expressed strong support for Israel. The theory was that in the need-to-apologize sweepstakes, what comes in first is this sort of thing, for it must madden the kind of Muslims who madden (those who are not the "Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only" Muslims) and therefore the apologies need to be delivered tootsweet. Had I a year or so I would have then continued with all those who had written (not all of the Christian) or painted on specifically Christian themes, Christian subjects. I don't mean simply a book where the characters are American or European and hence Christians. For example, I don't want the head of Oxford University Press to have to go off to Arabia and apologize for, well, "The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker" by Tobias Smollett just because Matthew Bramble, and his sister Tabitha, and his nephew Jerry, and his niece Lydia, and his maid Winifred Jenkins, and then of course Lt. Obadiah Lismahago, and finally Clinker himself, are all Christians and sometimes, in what they say, show it (as Winifred in her letters, writing "by God's grease" and so on.). No, I mean apologizes for C. S. Lewis, and The Pearl, and Donne's "Devotions," and Traherne of the "Ejaculations" and Herbert, and Bunyan and "Paradise Lost" and "Samson Agonistes" and "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity" and those pilgrims at Stratford-atte-Bowe on their way to Canterbury and... well, you know.

And then think of all the apologies that would require Philippe de Montebello and Pierre Rosenberg and the entire staff of the Courtauld Institute to rush to the Muslims, with their Iznik tiles, and Qur'anic calligraphy, and beg, beg, beg forgiveness for the horrors of Western art which, now that Muslims by the millions are living all over the West, we really should begin to think of putting into permanent storage, and we will. Oh, anything is possible it this new world of ours.

Obviously every single Madonna or other subject with a Christian theme, which means much of Western art, and certainly all of Tuscan and Umbian art in the first 5 or so rooms devoted to Western Art at the National Gallery (save for the odd picture of St. Peter and St. Andrew in a boat), and, indeed, almost every major Italian painter from the period 1200-1700, not to mention all those anonymous Byzantines, would not only have to be apologized for, but probably, their works put in storage so as not to spoil museum visits by Muslim schoolchildren forced to endure such awful, brainwashing stuff.

My point was really this: almost everything in Western art (save for those pure landscapes since Patinir, which excludes those paintings which are portraits, of the Duke of Montefeltro or paintings of St. Luke painting the Virgin and Child that contain, in the background, a parallelogram of valley, with a tiny river running through it, or a hill with a line of cypress, landscapes Umbrian or Flemish or imaginary), would have to be apologized for. However, some good news. Abstract art, color-field stuff, all kinds of drip-dry that the Eli Broads and Charles Saatchis of this world have, in the past, favored (not to mention a plasticized balloon-dog by Jeff Koons, woof, woof!) are just fine -- by the Muslims. Just not by us. One more difference.

You mention all these Hollywood people, apparently on the assumption that if they are Jews that is enough for the purposes above. But I chose from the very best recent writers (none of them Jewish), whose views and sympathies and themes would be suspect, and would prefer not to dilute my list with the likes of Spielberg. However, now that I've rewound in my mind -- my mind is still in the VHS era, not yet having moved over to DVD's, sorry -- and am now playing back scenes from "Some Like It Hot" I take your point about Bernard Schwartz. But you know, I can think of a thousand reasons why the lawyers for the estates of Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond should rush to Riyadh to apologize for that movie. Just listing them would be fun.

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Posted on 03/22/2006 8:46 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 22 March 2006
Bostom: To Kill an "Apostate" (or Homosexual)
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Now that the issue of  Sharia mandated killing of apostates and homosexuals is finally being raised (after Sharia was enshrined in the constitutions of both Iraq and Afghanistan) Andy Bostom has a terrific and timely piece at Front Page:

This past week has provided two glaring examples of the pitfalls of allowing that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam,” as per the new constitutions of the vox populi elected governments in Afghanistan and Iraq. With major input from the U.S. State Department, both constitutions installed Islam as the official state religion and made ancient Islamic religious law, Shari’a, a primary guiding source for these legal systems. As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy noted, the constitutions,

…also contained some human rights provisions, which is what…enthusiasts said we should be focusing on rather than all that nettlesome religio-cultural stuff…The State Department maintained that it [the Afghanistan constitution] also contained strong human rights provisions and was thus becoming a framework for the emergence of a peaceful and vibrant democracy
With grim predictability, an Afghan Muslim convert from Islam to Christianity, Abdul Rahman,  was arrested, charged with “apostasizing” from Islam, and according to the March 19, 2006 statement of the presiding judge, Ansarullah Mawlavezada, faces the death penalty. Apostasizing from Islam to any other religion is punishable by death under the Shari’a. And as Ibn Warraq described in his unique study of Muslim apostates, the Shari’a mandates often fill in the “lacunae” of Islamic constitutions regarding punishment for apostasy from Islam. Mr. Mawlavezada explained that, although, “We are not against any particular religion in the world...in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law…[apostasy from Islam] is an attack on Islam. ... The prosecutor is asking for the death penalty.” In an effort, one assumes, to convey his “Islamic reasonableness”, the Afghan prosecutor, Abdul Wasi, further noted “…that he had offered to drop the charges if Rahman changed his religion back to Islam, but the defendant refused.”
 
According toa March 16, 2006 report from a London-based gay rights group, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the supreme religious authority for Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq and an icon for Shi’a worldwide, has apparently decreed that gays and lesbians should be put to death “in the worst manner possible”. Confirmation of this claim is provided at Sistani’s own official website, specifically this page, item 5, from a question and answer section, which translates:
 
Q: What is the judgment on sodomy and lesbianism?
A: Forbidden. Those involved in the act should be punished. In fact, sodomites should be killed in the worst manner possible.*
 
Al-Sistani has been lionized as a moderate healing force in Iraq, worthy of consideration for a Nobel Peace Prize (such informal “nominations” coming from across the political spectrum, i.e., both the New York Times’ Tom Friedman, and National Review’s Richard Lowry). His frank “ruling” which sanctions the brutal murder of homosexuals, in conjunction with the good Ayatollah’s earlier pronouncements on the debasing uncleanliness of non-Muslims (i.e., his adherence to the orthodox Shi’ite doctrine of najis) might dampen his Nobel prospects—although one can’t be too sure in our moribund contemporary world...
Read it all.
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Posted on 03/22/2006 7:09 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 22 March 2006
Derbyshire must read
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John Derbyshire has an excellent reply to Rich Lowry's wild front page story all about us "To Hell With Them Hawks," at NRO:

My first reaction after reading Rich’s piece was actually, I am sorry to say, a quip:

Q: What’s the difference between a Lowrian “Let’s Try to Democratize Them” hawk and a Derbyshirean THWTH?

A: About a year.

(...)

As I said, though, I find it hard to take any of these historical analogies seriously. This is not 1945 or 1968. Still less is it 1815. Historical analogies will not help us much here. We have to make judgments about the quantity and quality of our resources, the size and nature of our enemy, and the temper of our people. Then we have to choose one of the only three possible broad approaches to the threats we face.

(1) Stand proud and secure, a commercial republic jealously guarding our own territory, but not trespassing on other peoples’. This is the posture we nowadays call “paleocon.” As a friend of this persuasion put it to me: “Nobody is mad at Switzerland.”

(2) Strike out at those who insult us and harm our interests — preemptively, when we believe we have cause. Do so without apology or regret. Only do so, however, with punitive or monitory intent, or to remove some plain visible threat (e.g. nuclear-weapon plants), and do not stay around to get involved. This is usually called the “Jacksonian” approach, though this is not perfectly accurate, since Old Hickory was not in the least averse to a spot of territorial expansion.

(3) Go out into the world proselytizing for rational, consensual government — “democracy.” Attempt to actually impose it, when opportunity arises. As President Bush said in his report to Congress the other day: “We seek to shape the world, not merely be shaped by it." This is commonly called “Wilsonianism,” though the usage here needs even more qualifying than “Jacksonian” does.

Any one of these can be misrepresented, and we may be sure that whichever one we settle on will be misrepresented. Number 1 can be portrayed as huddling fearfully behind high walls; number 2 as unilateralist bullying; number 3 as arrogant imperialism. Since these three are the only broad strategic approaches available to us, we must bear with the misrepresentations as best we can, and calmly decide which path best fits our abilities, interests, and national temperament. It seems to me that number 2, the THWTH approach, must be our choice. More than that: I think number 2 is so supremely consonant with our present requirements, capacities, and mood, that its gravitational pull will soon draw all thoughtful patriots into orbit around it — yes, including Rich Lowry. So that quip I started with was actually no quip: It was meant as a prediction. But you knew that.

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Posted on 03/22/2006 6:23 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 22 March 2006
YES, YES, YES ! ! !
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Good News from LondonFrom the BBC

A school which was told it unlawfully excluded a Muslim pupil for wearing a traditional gown has won its appeal at the House of Lords.

The Court of Appeal had said Denbigh High School had denied Shabina Begum the right to manifest her religion in refusing to allow her to wear a jilbab.

But in a unanimous ruling, judges at the House of Lords overturned that.

They said the school had "taken immense pains to devise a uniform policy which respected Muslim beliefs". It had done so "in an inclusive, unthreatening and uncompetitive way".  They said: "The rules laid down were as far from being mindless as uniform rules could ever be."  They added: "It appeared the rules were acceptable to mainstream Muslim opinion." .............Lord Bingham ruled that the two-year interruption of Begum's schooling was the result of her "unwillingness to comply with a rule to which the school was entitled to adhere".

In the report from The Times Lord Bingham said the school was fully justified in acting as it did when it sent Shabina Begum, then 14, home for refusing to adhere to the school uniform policy.

Lord Bingham said that the rules were acceptable to mainstream Muslim opinion and it was was feared that acceding to Shabina’s request would or might have significant adverse repercussions.

"It would, in my opinion, be irresponsible for any court, lacking the experience, background and detailed knowledge of the headteacher, staff and governors, to overrule their judgment on a matter as sensitive as this," said Lord Bingham.......

......Miss Begum told Sky News outside the House of Lords that the decision was "very upsetting" but she hoped that she had given others the chance to stand up for their religious beliefs.

Asked if she would take the case further through an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, she replied: "I'm doing my A levels at the moment, but where I go, we're not sure yet. We're not sure if will take it to the European Court or not."

"We" being her brothers and their Wahabi paymasters.

Thank the Lord, and the Law Lords for common sense.

And that's a little more paid off the Blair mortgages.

Shabina Begum wearing jilbab

Shabina in her Jilbab.

A shalwar kameez, also worn by Hindu and Sikh women and thus "not Islamic" enough for young Shabina.

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Posted on 03/22/2006 5:24 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 22 March 2006
Hell freezes over
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Something sensible in The Guardian, albeit on a frivolous subject. This makes a change, because The Guardian usually says silly things about serious subjects. Thanks to Harry's Place for alerting me to the Lucy Mangan's fatwah on the iPod:

It's not enough that I have to feign interest in people's offspring ("He got a toy out and said 'ugbublububla'? I am convulsed with joy") or people's cats (I have cats. I know for a fact that they tend to behave largely in the manner of furry lesser mammals. End. Of. Story) or even people's dreams ("Really? You found yourself in a purple hospital? And then something else of no narrative, emotional or spiritual significance was thrown up by the random firing of synapses while you slept? You should write these things down and post them on a website: witlessmaunderings.com).

No, now I have to dredge up, from somewhere in the farthest reaches of that howling, desolate land of shrieking winds and scouring dust where cower the remains of what I once could call a soul, the semblance of regard for - of all the pointless, tedious, deathless objects in this godforsaken world - people's iPods.

Quite when it became acceptable to thrust a piece of hardware at me and ramble on about its gigabytes, shuffle facilities, twin cylinders, low-carb options or whatever it is that spews from the mouths of besotted owners into my personal space like sewage into a popular sea resort and making me want to cut their hearts out with a spoon, I do not know. But I see now, dear friends, that the rage and despair etched on my puce and tearstained face was not eloquent enough to penetrate the imbecilic hides surrounding your fool selves, and so, on a day when the Office for National Statistics has added one of Satan's own devices to the national shopping basket and the diabolic helpmeets at Apple have wrapped a Hammersmith church in a gigantic advert for it, the time has evidently come for me to lay out my objections to the machine and its owners more clearly.

Yes, it is clever that something so small can carry so many tunes. But - and here's the thing - they can all do it. After you have seen one, I find, the innovatory aspect is fully grasped and it is time to move on. Please remember, what you have actually done is buy a jumped-up Walkman. Not an immutable aura of cool, not an unassailable reputation as a champion surfer of the bleeding edge of technology, not a life, not even a lifestyle. You have bought a pretty box that plays music. Add a plastic ballerina and some earrings from Claire's Accessories and nothing separates you from a 11- year-old girl in a stuffy bedroom in Woking waiting for her spots to fade and the fun to begin. Nothing at all.

Also, I prefer my exploitation by modern western capitalism to be hedged round with at least the simulacra of decorum, the courteous pretence of being engaged in a delicate and entrancing gavotte between genuine desire and beautiful fulfilment. As I understand it, the iPod nano is named after the three nanoseconds it takes to break and the four more it takes for Apple to bring out a replacement model. I don't know if there is a song, Crapping On the Consumer from a Very Great Height, by the Corporate Behemoths, but if so, I suggest you download it immediately and press play.

Lucy Mangan is a little unfair. The iPod serves God as well as Mammon. The Pope has one:

The Pope's new 2-gigabyte digital audio player already was loaded with a sampling of the radio's programming in English, Italian and German and musical compositions by Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frederic Chopin, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky and Igor Stravinsky. The stainless steel back was engraved with the words "To His Holiness, Benedict XVI" in Italian...

The iPod also contains an English-language radio drama on the life of St. Thomas a Becket .

What's more, monks have produced pray-as-you-go podcasts.

I don't yet feel comfortable with the word "podcast". Does anybody?

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Posted on 03/22/2006 5:39 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 22 March 2006
Good Lords!
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Common sense from the House of Lords:

Dozy bint

A school which was told it unlawfully excluded a Muslim pupil for wearing a traditional gown has won its appeal at the House of Lords.

The Court of Appeal had said Denbigh High School had denied Shabina Begum the right to manifest her religion in refusing to allow her to wear a jilbab.

But in a unanimous ruling, judges at the House of Lords overturned that.

They ruled there was no interference with her right to manifest her religion as she had chosen a school where such a policy existed.

Lord Bingham ruled that the two-year interruption of Begum's schooling was the result of her "unwillingness to comply with a rule to which the school was entitled to adhere".

This dozy bint and Hizb ut Tahrir stooge was prattling on the radio this morning about how her human rights had been denied. Yet Islam systematically denies full human rights to all women and non-Muslims.

Just imagine how much this case has cost the taxpayer. I am annoyed with myself for being grateful that she lost. It should never have come to court in the first place. Had she won, the implications for Muslim girls trying to break away from the constraints of their religion and their patriarchal families would have been disastrous. It would also have been an insult to the Hindu pupils at this and other schools. Hindus wear the colourful, practical and modest shalwar khameez. Muslims from the Indian sub-continent have also traditionally worn this, albeit with a headscarf. Shabina Begum is from Bangladesh, so this, rather than the Arab-style  jilbab, is the dress of her culture. She, and the brothers and Hizb ut Tahrir members who were pulling her strings, wished to emphasise the superiority of Arabs, as well as that of Muslims, over Hindus.

The House of Lords may seem like an odd institution to Americans. Yet on two occasions, this, and the mauling of the ludicrous religious hatred legislation, it has proved to be a voice of common sense. Long may it continue.

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Posted on 03/22/2006 5:14 AM by Mary Jackson
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Tuesday, 21 March 2006
A left-handed axe to grind...
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It's fascinating that, at one point or another, most societies, from Arabs to Romans to Inuits, seem to have been leery of the southpaw in their midst. Arguably, we were the first minority, the first "other" in our communities, as Ben Franklin adroitly pointed out in "A Petition of the Left Hand":

I address myself to all the friends of youth, and conjure them to direct their compassionate regards to my unhappy fate, in order to remove the prejudices of which I am the victim.  There are twin sisters of us; and the two eyes of man do not more resemble, nor are capable of being upon better terms with each other, than my sister and myself, were it not for the partiality of our parents, who make the most injurious distinctions between us.

I'm very thankful to exist in a place and time where left-handedness has been stripped of much of the stigma and superstition that used to accompany it, and still accompanies it in some places. Still, I think I just scraped by at the end of that era, having memories of a kindergarten teacher handing me the right-handed scissors and insisting to me, "You're right-handed!" I thought that to be a simple factual error, and protested, not knowing what the big deal was.

From Fox News: "What Makes a Lefty: Myths and Mysteries Persist"

Lefties have long suffered. In India and Indonesia, as well as in most Islamic countries, eating with the left hand is considered impolite.

Chinese characters prove extremely difficult to write with the left hand. Not so long ago, teachers slapped the wrists of left-handed American elementary students.

Humans have shown the ability to learn to use their non-preferred hand after injuries, when required to perform manual labor, or in the face of cultural pressure.

Yet preference for handedness appears to take root in the womb, or even earlier.

...

Brain damage from trauma in the delivery room is another explanation.

"Proud lefties cringe at the thought of it," said the left-handed Wolman.

"The genetic model has wider support among the laterality community than brain damage at birth or levels of hormones in the womb," Wolman said. "At the end of the day, everyone seems to go back to the gene."

Yeah, let's go with the gene...

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Posted on 03/21/2006 9:45 PM by Marisol Seibold
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Tuesday, 21 March 2006
Sense and nonsense in "The Times"
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Sense from Libby Purves on the revolting French youths:

Much employment law is good and necessary. People have families, mortgages, commitments. It is not fair for richer and more powerful people to treat them cavalierly. But what the French proposal opens up is the idea that if you are under 26 you probably don’t have such heavy commitments and chiefly need to get a foothold and show your mettle (why else is there such a boom in unpaid “internships” that once would have been jobs?). Loosen up the regulation, and you might get a brave new world in which young employees lead a precarious but exhilarating life, proving themselves during their first couple of years. Or, alternatively, a cruel and snubbing world in which honest young things are repeatedly chucked on the scrapheap.

The hard fact is that sometimes a knockback, a sacking, a humiliation is salutary. My best bosses in early life were not the ones who were the kindest, but the ones who rejected articles or radio features and made me do them again. Alan Coren, I may shockingly reveal, was a holy terror: his “Nah! Not funny!” resonates in my ears to this day. As a freelance I have lost plenty of jobs; on each occasion the impulse is to mutter “ bastards!” but then work out just why they went off me.

It’s hard, being a young worker. Losing your job is awful. But it is worse not to have one in the first place. And if the system really did loosen up, creating ever more openings, there should always be another one to go to.

Quite. It would never occur to me to think that an employer owed me or my colleagues a job.  If any of us consistently underperformed, there would be no company to employ us. Can't the French "youths" see this?

Nonsense from Prince "I feel your pain" Charles on Islam:

People who are reasonable and responsible and feel things in the heart need to work even harder, I think, and speak up louder about the vital importance of understanding that, at the end of the day, the three great Abrahamic faiths do share an awful lot more in common than perhaps people realise.”

He added: “It’s tolerance, it’s understanding of what other people hold sacred, which I think is so vital — the old wisdom that is contained within the scriptures of ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you’.

Which bit of the Koran does that come from? Fundamental to Islam is the division between believers and infidels and the unequal treatment of the two groups. Charles - stick to talking to plants.

Sense from Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality and Monty Python fan, on the cult of victimhood:

It is ... unjust that by making equality a competition between entire groups of people, some individuals — whether defined by their race, gender or sexual orientation — seem to be doomed to oppression or failure. But not all women are underpaid, and not all African-Caribbean boys fail at school. Some ethnic minority business people I know are so successful that they write even larger cheques for charities than for political parties....

It would be easy to erect a Pythonesque league table of suffering. But that isn’t what Britain needs. We need to provide the skills to those who want to work but can’t, and the incentive to those who can but won’t. This is why those of us who have spent a lifetime in the equality business are having to think again.

Phillips has been talking a lot of sense lately. It is, of course, patronising to ascribe automatic victim status to certain groups. It also means that those who shout loudest get what they want at the expense of other, more deserving groups.

Nonsense from Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent, on Islam and apostasy:

THE Koran is contradictory on the fate of those who deny the truth of Islam.

Fourteen passages refer to apostasy and, of these, seven refer to punishment, generally to be given in the next life.

 
Sura 40 says that those who reject the scriptures will have iron collars and chains placed around their necks, be dragged into scalding water and burnt in the fire. Elsewhere the Koran seems to indicate a degree of tolerance. Verse 2.256 states: “There is no compulsion in religion.” Two further suras, 10 and 18, include passages indicating that people who do not wish to believe should not be forced to.

But the Hadith, or sayings of the Prophet, condemns unequivocally those who renounce their religion. One passage advises the death penalty for murder, adultery and apostasy. Another cites Muhammad as saying: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.”

According to Mufti Abdul Barkatullah, senior imam at North Finchley Mosque, North London, Islam simply took over biblical tradition and practice in this regard. Jesus promised in John xiv,6: “No one comes to the Father except by me.” Several other passages in the New Testament condemn non-Christians to eternal punishment. Mufti Barkatullah cited the Inquisition as an example of Christian intolerance.

This is misleading. It ignores the doctrine of abrogation, whereby earlier, more tolerant Koranic verses were replaced by later, more violent ones. It downplays the importance of the Hadith, which are integral to Muslim belief. And the comparison with Christianity, where punishment for unbelief is strictly for the next world, is disingenuous. And the inquisition? Well, unlike the Monty Python team, I always expect the Spanish Inquisition in this context. How long ago was it? And what is the authority for it in the New Testament?

So there you are. Sense and nonsense in "The Times". And the nonsense is about Islam.

And now, as the Pythons might say, for something completely different. Slippers are no longer fashionable:

Grandad will be outraged. Slippers have been declared out of fashion by statisticians in an official audit of the nation’s shopping habits.

I have never worn slippers in my life. Slippers are for wimps. Barefoot is best, even outside. However, if I'm going somewhere really posh, I put my clogs on just to be sociable. 

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Posted on 03/21/2006 5:09 AM by Mary Jackson
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Monday, 20 March 2006
EU-topia
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I loathe the EU and all its works. Fortunately The Telegraph generally agrees with me. Here is Daniel Hannan, a Conservative MP:

Two years from now, the European constitution will be in force - certainly de facto and probably de jure, too. Never mind that 15 million Frenchmen and five million swag-bellied Hollanders voted against it. The Eurocrats have worked out a deft way of getting around them. Here's how they'll do it.

First, they will shove through as many of the constitution's contents as they can under the existing legal framework - a process they had already begun even before the referendums. Around 85 per cent of the text can, with some creative interpretation, be implemented this way.

(The) outstanding items will be formalised at a miniature inter-governmental conference, probably in 2007. There will be no need to debate them again: all 25 governments accepted them in principle when they signed the constitution 17 months ago.

We shall then be told that these are detailed and technical changes, far too abstruse to be worth pestering the voters with.

The EU will thus have equipped itself with 100 per cent of the constitution, but without having held any more referendums. Clever, no?

Don't take my word for it: listen to what the EU's own leaders are saying. Here is Wolfgang Schüssel, Chancellor of Austria and the EU's current president: "The constitution is not dead."

Here is Angela Merkel, leader of Europe's most powerful and populous state: "Europe needs the constitution… We are willing to make whatever contribution is necessary to bring the constitution into force."

Here is Dominique de Villepin, who, in true European style, has risen to the prime ministership of France without ever having run for elected office: "France did not say no to Europe."

And, on Tuesday, our own Europe minister, Douglas Alexander, repeatedly refused to rule out pushing ahead with the bulk of the text without a referendum.

For the purest statement of the Eurocrats' contempt for the voters, however, we must turn to the constitution's author, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.

Here is a man who, with his exquisite suits and de haut en bas manner, might be said to personify the EU: so extraordinarily distinguished, as Mallarmé remarked in a different context, that when you bid him bonjour, he makes you feel as though you'd said merde.

That's a good one. I hadn't heard it before.

"Let's be clear about this," pronounced Giscard a couple of weeks ago. "The rejection of the constitution was a mistake that will have to be corrected."

"Corrected". What a sinister word. It makes Mark Twain's - was it Mark Twain? - "The people have spoken - the bastards" sound so human.

In swatting aside two referendum results, the EU is being true to its foundational principles.

Born out of a reaction against the Second World War, and the plebiscitary democracy that had preceded it, the EU is based on the notion that "populism" (or "democracy", as you and I call it) is a dangerous thing.

Faced with a result that they dislike, the Euro-apparatchiks' first instinct is to ask, with Brecht: "Wouldn't it be easier to dissolve the people and elect another in their place?"

To complain that the EU is undemocratic is like attacking a cow for being bovine, or a butterfly for being flighty. In disregarding public opinion, the EU is doing what it has been programmed to do. It is fulfilling its prime directive.

Sadly, we British are also exhibiting one of our worst national characteristics, namely our tendency to ignore what is happening on the Continent until too late.

You can say that again. And I will. 

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Posted on 03/20/2006 3:55 AM by Mary Jackson
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Monday, 20 March 2006
A small point, but telling.......to this cat lover.
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I have written before so it is well known that I am not the biggest fan of Cherie Blair nee Booth, wife of our PM, human rights lawyer and frustrated judge.  Episodes like her arguing for that "dozy bint", the jilbab wearing Shabina Begum, or her greedy buying of houses and extortionate lecturing fees to pay for them do not endear her.

I hadn't picked up at the time that it was alleged that  her dislike of cats was the reason that Humphrey the Downing Street Cat had to be re-homed in 1997 shortly after Tony Blair became Prime Minister. Humphrey strayed into Downing Street in 1989 when Margaret Thatcher was PM. At that time he was believed to be about 1 year old. He remained during John Major's period in office and earned the title Chief Mouser to the Cabinet.  However after the Blairs went to live at number 10 he disappeared.

Rumours went round that because of Cherie's alleged dislike of cats the evil Alistair Campbell had him put down.  To prove that he was alive and well and living in Suburbia with a Cabinet Office official the press were invited to inspect him and take photos.  It has just been reported that he  died there last week at the ripe old age of 17 (at least)

Humphrey the cat
Neither of them look very comfortable with each other do they?

[ image: A bemused Humphrey wonders what all the fuss is about]

   Proof of his comfortable retirement from 1997.

*   *   *   *
The practice of keeping an office or works cat to keep down mice has died out in the last 20 years. I know that one Midlands prison had a cat into the 90s, at another London prison the cats were rehomed when the use of sniffer dogs became more common and many officers blamed their absence for the mouse plague which followed. The small hospital where my mother was treated kept 2 cats one of which slept on the radiator outside her ward.  When the hospital closed due to NHS rationalisation the cats went too.  Health and Safety etc.  Then the cancer department of the big NHS Trust opened a family home style hospice unit and realised the value of a friendly, purring, strokable cat. And goldfish. And a parrot. 
Cats are not for everyone.
But I like them.
Meow!
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Posted on 03/20/2006 3:18 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 19 March 2006
Counter-Jihad not "War on Terror"
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"My son just joined the Marines, what exactly are they fighting and dying for?....all this Muslim double talk crap."  -- from a posting at JW

Tell your son it is not because of some gobbledygook about a misnamed "war on terror." It should properly be defined as a counter-Jihad, a war to prevent the spread of a belief-system, and the aggressive proponents of that belief-system, that threatens the laws, customs, manners, and understandings of all Infidels. Tell him to learn as much as he can about the tenets of Islam and the history of Islamic conquest. Send him the books of Spencer, Bat Ye'or, and others. Have him educate others. The generals apparently are too old to learn new tricks, and are too much, some of them, careerists (for who gets to rise in the ranks, if not those who parrot the party line), and are stuck in the esposito-michael sells-armstrong mud of apologetics.

As for that "Muslim double talk" -- the "war on terror" is nonsense that comes not from Muslims, but from Infidels. Ask yourself if, had you been alive in World War II, you would have been satisfied to hear a Fireside Chat in which FDR said "our war against the blitzkrieg" proceeds in France and Italy. No, you wouldn't. And you would know why.

Because the Administration initially failed to learn enough about Islam -- lack of knowledge can be excused up to 9/11/2001, but is not excusable, in any government officials, whose first duty was to remedy their own considerable ignorance -- it never understood that the only argument that made sense in invading Iraq was not that there was a necessary connection between Al Qaeda (merely one among many similar groups, and not even now the most important or necessarily the most dangerous) and Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was most interested in Saddam Hussein. They he was interested in his friends and relatives from Tikrit. Then in the Sunnis of Iraq. Then in being King of the Sunni Arabs. The idea of Islam conducting a world-wide Jihad was simply beyond his ken, not that he wouldn't have minded it, just so long as he could be King of the Caliph's Castle -- in order words, Mr. Big.

The failure to understand Islam meant that all sorts of goofy or messianic ideas were proposed and, in being proposed, believed. The belief that "democracy" is a plant easy to transplant to stony soil, with no thorough investigation of why Islam appears to favor despotism, since only Lebanon (with a large and powerful Christian presence) and Turkey (with 80 years of Kemalism, i.e. systematic constraints put on the political power and influence of Islam) have shown signs of tolerating, to some degree, a version of democracy. Not the full-fledged Western version, but at least the head-counting and to some degree, some legal protections against the force of Islam and the Sharia.

The failure to understand Islam meant that we would try to help Iraq, rather than to simply remove the dictator, and leave Iraq to dissolve, as it inevitably would, no matter what the Americans did (this was perfectly foreseeable in 2004, and had nothing to do with what the American policy was, or how long its presence lasted -- civil war became inevitable when the Sunni despotism was removed over the 60-65% of the population that is Shi'a, and deeply resentful, justifiably, with its previous treatment, and by the 20% of the population that is Kurd, not ethnic Arab, which is deeply resentful, justifiably, with ditto.

And the failure to understand Islam was accompanied by a failure to recognize, fully, the depth of that Shi'a resentment, and the depth of the Sunni rage at the perceived loss of power, and the depth of Kurdish desire to move from local autonomy to Independence. Very few intelligent people employing their intelligence in Washington. The Administration was wrong, and so -- horribly -- have been almost all of its critics.

Except here, where the most consistent, unrebuttable, criticisms, based not on a desire to appease or ignore the menace of Islam, but to take it, and the instruments of Jihad, all into account, and to figure out the thousand ways, little and big, from threatening Iran not only with destruction of its nuclear facilities but, as a delayed result, with dissolution (the Azeris, the Baluchis, the Kurds, the Arabs all rising), or in Europe, supporting intelligently those who, in each country, have perceived the menace and understand the kind of things that need to be done, but still lack political power.

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Posted on 03/19/2006 2:48 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 19 March 2006
Our man in Kabul
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Smooth Karzai, oleaginous Karzai, Our Man In Kabul Karzai, forever blotted his copybook when he emerged from the anti-Infidel antisemitic rant of Mahathir Muhammad at a meeting of the O.I.C., and declared the speech "splendid." That was it. He could have remained silent. He could have said, with studied ambiguity, "a speech about Muslim weakness that provokes thought." He could have said "it is a speech that is certainly controversial." He could have said "No comment." He could have had an aide say "Mr. Karzai is currently unavailable" or "Mr. Karzai will not be able to speak to you now, for he has a pressing meeting."

But no. Karzai praised that awful speech. And the most attractive purple-and-green robe, the most sincere smile, the outrage at the Taliban, will simply not do enough to offset the hint of his "sorry-just-can't-go-the-whole-distance" and "I-have-to-remain-in-the-end-true-to-Islam-and-to-the-Mahathir-Mohameds-of-this-world" attitude.

Sorry, that's no longer acceptable. The West, the Infidels, can't accept that.

And as for the judge in Andy's posting below, his name sounds familiar (is there a hint of a Sufi whirling-dervish or mevlevi contained in his name?). Possibly he has been involved in previous examples of Sharia-based intolerance. The Afghani equivalent of Judge Khalkhali?  Thought so.

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Posted on 03/19/2006 12:39 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 19 March 2006
French riots
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The riots in France may seem to have nothing to do with the general unpleasantness, unease, and disruption of life that the large-scale presence, and demands, of Muslims has caused.

What, after all, is the proposed law about? It is about giving work to the unemployed. Which unemployed? Oh, all the unemployed, of course. But with special attention to the young Muslims whose failure to enter the work-force, it is claimed and even believed by some, is what prompts their murderous hostility to the circumambient society, to the Infidel nation-state, and to non-Muslims (few dare to look at the texts, the attitudes, the atmospherics of Islam for an alternative explanation). But it is understood that employers will not wish to be saddled with young employees who reveal, as they most likely would, either the kind of unfitness for work, as some young non-Muslims would, or perhaps fitness but a dangerous attitude of hostility toward non-Muslim workers, or give signs of other cause for alarm (perhaps unwillingness to do what an Infidel shop-steward, or employer, demands).

This does not mean that the rioters are Muslim. This does not mean that the law in question is prompted only by considerations of giving Muslims a chance to be hired. But the unstated, but clear connection, of the disruption to general understandings of what France is, what its social and economic covenant is, even the possibility of retaining the system of entitlements with a large, growing, and unintegrable population that has been completely unscrupulous in its exploitation of the welfare state set up, paid for, administered, and maintained, by Infidels who never thought that the system would be bled of resources by a discrete and hostile population.

Here is what today's, the Sunday edition of The New Duranty Times, reports:

"In Lyon, French youths protesting the law clashed with Turks demonstrating against the construction of a memorial to Armenian victims of a 1915 massacre, Reuters reported. The youths shouted, 'Fascists!' and "Go home!'"

Now that is mere reporting. What should we make of it? Nothing? Something? When French students suddenly shout at Turks "Go home!" is there anything else going on? Is this merely indignation over a Turkish protest at an Armenian memorial? Or is it something else, an as yet confused, not quite comprehended, expression of a "Go home" intended not so much for Turks as for Muslims in general, to whom those students were shouting, or thinking, or not even consciously thinking but feeling -- "Go home!" Leave us in peace.

For that Muslim presence, a presence that consists of a fast-breeding population, supported with free education, free medical care, subsidized housing (I have seen that housing, and it is far beyond what is available as public housing in America), and itself inclined to inshallah-fatalism and to a hostility directed at Infidels that makes many, though not all, Muslims, difficult for employers and co-workers alike, and bring tension to the workplace, is what is responsible for the collapse, in France and elsewhere, of the social compact and the entitlements, that are now leading to economic ruin. That same large-scale presence forces the French state to defend its laicity, to worry about the indiscipline and riotous behavior by Muslims that in so many places, has caused such havoc in French public schools -- once the pride of France. And when, to the physical danger to teachers, and to fellow, but non-Muslim students, one adds the refusal to allow the government-manded curriculum to be followed either because it is deemed by Muslims anti-Muslim (reading Voltaire for example), or treats of subjects to which they are indifferent or hostile (the Kings of France, the Holocaust and World War II from any perspective that appears to deplore the former, and celebrate the Allied victory in the latter).

And when one adds to this the mistreatment of women, both Muslim women, and those "brigittes" who are regarded as fair game for every sort of degradation, so that many places are now simply unwalkable by women at night, or during the day, when one realizes that Muslims have been encouraged by their belief-system to regard Infidels as a source for loot, whose property rightly belongs, and can be taken by, the "best of people," the People of Allah, the members of the umma al-Islamiyya, not because "property is theft" as Proudhon said, but because "Infidel property is not really their property at all -- it belongs to Allah and to his people, and taking it whenever possible is licit because it is, essentially, helping oneself to the Jizyah that must be paid (for one example of a Norwegian imam preaching this openly, read Bruce Bawer's "While Europe Slept").

There are events. They are reported. And then there is the significance of those events -- their true meaning, or the meaning that is often hidden within. That is the duty of the columnist, the analyst, the person who makes sense of things. The New Duranty Times, and almost all of the major press, fails to report much of the news about Jihad and dhimmitude. And it also fails to connect events that may seem to have nothing to do with Islam, but when looked at more closely, may in fact have a connection.

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Posted on 03/19/2006 12:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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