Sunday, 29 April 2007
Cute pidgin pie
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Over-hyped, over-written and overrated as Zadie Zmith’s novels may be, at least they are written in proper English. Proper English is a necessary, if not a sufficient condition of a good English novel, you might suppose. Not anymore. The latest piece of ethnic chick lit to be fêted by the critics is written in Chinglish. From The Independent:

A Chinese author who deliberately wrote in "bad English” [has] been shortlisted for the prestigious Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction.

Except it wasn’t “deliberate”, was it? She just couldn’t speak English properly:

Xiaolu Guo, 33, a Chinese writer whose romantic comedy A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers is written in deliberately incorrect English and is based partly on her own experiences, has been nominated for the £30,000 award, which recognises international women's writing.

The book's central character is a Chinese woman who calls herself Z after she finds that no one in England can pronounce her name.

Guo, who was born in a Chinese village and wrote her first novel in English only five years after moving to London, based the book on a diary she had written when she first arrived in Britain.

"The English I spoke four years ago was different and much more basic than the English I speak now," said Guo. "I wanted to use my broken English to write a novel. It was a natural process. It's not intellectual."

You don’t say. Jonathan Mirsky, whose review in The Spectator has the same title as this blog piece, is suitably dismissive:

Slight. A slight story, slightly poignant, slightly drawn characters, occasionally slightly funny. It also has a grating aspect that is not slight: its language. The central character, a young Chinese woman in London, tells this story, I don't know why, in fractured English. So there is a lot of this: 'Patty Surly' for Patisserie, 'Queue Gardens' (get it? ) and when she is in Italy talking to a lawyer, he is described as an 'Avocado'.

Enough already. In 50 years of listening to Chinese learning to speak English I never heard this kind of thing: 'I not meet you yet. You in future.' Astoundingly, half way through this book there is a passage in a different typeface, signed 'Editor's translation'. It confesses, 'I am sick of speaking English like this. I am sick of writing English like this.' This is a misdirected torpedo below the waterlines of readers trying to suspend disbelief while coping with the cutesy narrative.

Ethnicity and foreignness do not make a dull work interesting. But they get many a dull and mediocre work published. Conversely, if an author lacks an interesting ethnicity, he may not get published unless he pretends to have one, as Theodore Dalrymple argues in his excellent article An Imaginary Scandal.  Perhaps before long even Shakespeare's work will be given an ethnic makeover to make it less elitist. No? Sorry to say this has already happened. Here is Ferdinand Mount in The Spectator:

In the production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Roundhouse, the play is performed in seven Indian languages plus English (mostly rather broken). The actors flit up and round scaffolding, swirl and swaddle themselves in brightly coloured scarves and burst through paper screens to a rapturous reception from the audience. Now and then fragments of Shakespeare’s words break through. The programme says rather severely that Indian audiences, let alone English ones, are not to mind if they cannot understand three-quarters of what the actors are saying, because

their unreasonable expectation of mono- lingual drama arises not only from habituation to that mode, but also from the tyranny of literary studies dependent on the reading of books printed necessarily in one, ‘pure’ language, even more so when that language is the revered Bard’s very own English.

I like those inverted commas round ‘pure’, suggesting that those who prefer to hear stuff in their own lingo are imperialist racist fascists. The director of the production, the gloriously named Tim Supple, concedes that ‘the original text has a special quality, whether Shakespeare or Schiller.’ That’s nice of him. But, the Supple One continues, ‘on the other hand, I can’t accept the superiority of any language’. Not even a language you can understand? Ah well, these insubstantial pageants do fade. Still, the punters loved it.

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Posted on 04/29/2007 7:26 AM by Mary Jackson
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Sunday, 29 April 2007
Egyptian Sandmonkey Quits
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Posted on 04/29/2007 7:15 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Sunday, 29 April 2007
NBC's "Dateline" + Cho Seung-Hui = ?
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Perhaps it's nothing, perhaps it is something.  Phil Mushnick speculates on the connection here.

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Posted on 04/29/2007 6:26 AM by Robert Bove
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Sunday, 29 April 2007
Grossly out of context? So sue me.
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From Mark C. Taylor, a religious studies professor:

For many years, I have begun my classes by telling my students that if they are not more confused and uncertain at the end of the course than they are at the beginning, I will have failed.

From author Alberto Manguel, in his recent New York Public Library speech requoted in the current Public Square (Manguel was one of the blind Jorge Luis Borges' readers):

We come into this world as readers with the impulse to decipher, to find narratives.  Stupidity is something that has to be learned.

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Posted on 04/29/2007 5:42 AM by Robert Bove
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Sunday, 29 April 2007
Islamic insurgents regroup and vow to 'fight to the death' for Somalia
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THE Somali government has declared victory over its rivals, but the most extreme elements of the Islamic insurgency remain intact, with fresh recruits, new funding, and intent on turning the country into a haven for al-Qaeda.
More than 1,400 people have been killed in the last month, 400 of them last week, in violence caused, in part, by the militants. The government, supported by Ethiopian troops, declared victory on Thursday, but the extremists appear to be infiltrating towns across the country.
At stake is the most strategically-located nation in the Horn of Africa; a lawless country at a crossroads between the Middle East and Africa and dominating important sea lanes. A UN-supported government has tried to exert control, but has influence over only a tiny part of the territory.
The government's failure has opened the door for a new takeover by radical Islamic elements who grabbed power for six months last year, filling the country's power vacuum with a strict religious government. Like the Taliban, former rulers in Afghanistan and hosts to Osama bin Laden, the Somali radicals, called the radical wing of the Council of Islamic Courts, harbour al-Qaeda terrorists, according to US officials.
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Posted on 04/29/2007 3:09 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 28 April 2007
World's Smallest Dog
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Dogs, like urine, feces, pigs and NON-MUSLIMS are considred "unclean" in Islam, which is probably why the black be-hijabbed check-out clerk at Offiice Depot today was very careful not to touch my hand when giving change or handing me the receipt.

This little fellow's name is Dancer and he's only 4 inches tall and weighs just 18 ounces.

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Posted on 04/28/2007 4:12 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 28 April 2007
Takfir Ideology, They Say
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The case for overthrow of an existing Muslim government is always based on its not being Islamic enough. New Duranty reports on the 172 arrests in Saudi Arabia:

...General Turki said the investigation was an continuing operation in the kingdom’s battle against an entrenched ideology that promotes terrorism and seeks to recruit young people. The official statement repeatedly referred to “takfir ideology,” a view that effectively allows one Muslim to declare another Muslim an apostate, or nonbeliever, and then kill him.

“We have never actually said we have reached an end,” General Turki said in an interview. “We always confirm that security forces’ efforts are not enough. Not unless you really tackle the ideology that is inspiring these people in order to be involved in these activities.”

The Saudi leadership was forced to address the rise of radical, violent Islamic thinking within its borders after the 9/11 attacks, where 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi.

But the kingdom has had its own history of violence and at one time — after the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by militants in 1979 — found security in supporting some of the most radical Sunni Muslim religious voices. At the time, Saudi officials were also concerned about the Islamic revolution in Iran, which brought a Shiite government to power.

But in recent years, the ideology promoted by Al Qaeda has called for bringing down the royal family, saying it is un-Islamic. Security was stepped up markedly here after the American Consulate in Jidda was attacked and a housing complex for foreigners was bombed.

In recent months there has been a failed attempt to blow up an oil installation, the murder of three French citizens and the beheading of a state security officer, all actions that the authorities here link to the struggle with the most radical ideology. Officials have decided that in addition to relying on the security forces, they will try to “re-educate” those suspected of terrorist links.

The approach has led to a joke going around Riyadh that says the best way to get a job and a new house is to join Al Qaeda — and then repent to the government. General Turki said that when officials change the minds of those caught, the prisoners also end up as useful informers.

“If they change their view, they work against the ideology, they help you, they tell you things,” he said. “They tell you how you can improve your actions to prevent the continuation of the ideology.”

The case announced Friday showed just how much of a challenge the government faced. The number of people was large, officials acknowledged, and came just six months after another 136 people were arrested in a similar sweep and charged with plotting similar crimes, the general said...

“Al Qaeda is no longer an organized structure,” said Mr. Qassim, the retired judge. “It became an ideology and a system of work. This is Al Qaeda now.”

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Posted on 04/28/2007 3:58 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 28 April 2007
Catering to Muslims, American Style
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From the International Herald Tribune

...Companies in the Detroit area, where there is a dense population of Muslims, are leading the change. A McDonald's there serves halal Chicken McNuggets; Walgreens has Arabic signs in its aisles. And now, Ikea, which recently opened a store in the suburb of Canton that has had trouble attracting as many Muslim customers as hoped, has been touring local homes and talking to Muslims to figure out their needs.

The store there plans to sell decorations for Ramadan next fall and is adding halal meat to its restaurant menu. Catalogues will be offered in Arabic, and female Muslim employees will be given an Ikea-branded hijab, to wear over their head if they wish.

Marketing to Muslims is, of course, mostly intended to increase the companies' sales. But advertising has also long been a mirror of changes in society...

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Posted on 04/28/2007 1:35 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 28 April 2007
Is Obama For Comparable Worth Compensation?
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Subscribing to an idea so mind-bogglingly dumb and unnecessary should be disqualifying.  Michael Barone and Mickey Kaus discuss.

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Posted on 04/28/2007 1:00 PM by Andy McCarthy
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Saturday, 28 April 2007
Iraqi group vows to kidnap Harry
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This is from icSouth London
A Shia commander in Iraq has claimed that the Mahdi army has people inside British bases who will leak information about Prince Harry's arrival in the country.
"One of our aims is to capture Harry, we have people inside the British bases to inform us on when he will arrive," Abu Mujtaba, a commander in the Mahdi army, the Shia militia loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, told the Guardian.
He added: "Not only us, the Mahdi army, that will try to capture him, but every person who hates the British and the Americans will try to get him, all the mujahideens in Iraq, the al Qaida, the Iranians all will try to get him."
His comments will provoke further debate about whether the Prince should be sent to Iraq, for his own safety and that of his comrades.
After one of the bloodiest months so far for British troops in Iraq, speculation has continued about whether Prince Harry's arrival there would increase the risk of attacks on his colleagues in the Blues and Royals.
Friends of the 22-year-old Prince told the BBC he would be "very disappointed" if he was not allowed to go but would stay with the Army.
He has told people he is not afraid to die (at 22 we are all going to live for ever) but is anxious about the risk to his comrades.
The Prince's heart has always been set on being a long-term career soldier but he could find himself having to reassess his position within the Army if he is prevented from going to Iraq or confined to a less risky desk job in the region.
He is caught in a cleft stick here. If he doesn’t go there will be the suggestion of one rule for the rich, and the children of privilege being protected. If he does go, and the men of his unit do suffer because of it then there will be the suggestion of the child of privilege having to have his own way.
The most sensible comment I read was the one that pointed out that a soldier is bound by discipline to obey orders. (although that is not an excuse to commit war crimes)
Therefore the decision should be taken by senior command and Prince Harry should obey it, whatever it is. My personal opinion is that he ought to be deployed on active service. That is what a soldier is for and traditionally kings and princes have led their countrymen into battle. Of course the enemy want to capture him – that’s the downside of being a prince. So far as the risk to his men is concerned I suggest that a troop of volunteers is formed.
But the decision should be his commanding officer’s, not his family, not the politicians, not the press, and he should obey.
I hope that the Ministry of Defence have taken note of the claim that there are spies within British Army bases who report to the Mahdi Army, and presumably other organisations. I don't doubt this, although how efficient and widespread they are is something else.
 
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Posted on 04/28/2007 10:49 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 28 April 2007
Armstrong's Vaporings
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Karen Armstrong perpetuates the oft-repeated lie that Islam and Christianity are equivalent as she smears Robert Spencer in her review of his last book, The Truth about Muhammad, in the Financial Times:

Ever since the Crusades, people in the west have seen the prophet Muhammad as a sinister figure. During the 12th century, Christians were fighting brutal holy wars against Muslims, even though Jesus had told his followers to love their enemies, not to exterminate them. The scholar monks of Europe stigmatised Muhammad as a cruel warlord who established the false religion of Islam by the sword. They also, with ill-concealed envy, berated him as a lecher and sexual pervert at a time when the popes were attempting to impose celibacy on the reluctant clergy. Our Islamophobia became entwined with our chronic anti-Semitism; Jews and Muslims, the victims of the crusaders, became the shadow self of Europe, the enemies of decent civilisation and the opposite of ”us”...

Let's look at this first paragraph. Crusades (it all started with the Crusades). Christians fight brutal wars against Muslims (not the other way around which has been going on for 500 years previous) - they defy Christ by resisting Islam (this one really gets my blood boiling). Monks stigmatize Muhammad (his official bio had nothing to do with it - the Monks made it all up). Ill-concealed envy (???) Antisemitism equals Islamophobia. Jews and Muslims are equally victims of the evil Christians. (ergo Muslims are the new Jews.)

God wot what rot.

Spencer deftly defends himself  here.

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Posted on 04/28/2007 8:40 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 28 April 2007
The government they deserve
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Simon Sebag Montefiore compares Yeltsin and Putin in The Spectator. (The Spectator is generally subscription only, but some articles, including this one, are free for a week.) The article is worth reading in full, but I have selected short passages to emphasise a point that struck me with some force.

The West is pathetically naive about Russian reformers. We long to believe they are real liberals, but no liberal will ever rule Russia. Peter the Great was a reformer — but a brutish tyrant too. So-called ‘experts’ in the West even believed Stalin was a prisoner of Politburo hardliners. We embraced the hardline Leninist Khrushchev (whose crude clownery and decent instincts sometimes resembled Yeltsin’s). When the KGB chief Andropov became leader, his love of jazz made him a ‘liberal’ in our eyes. Gorbachev remains the West’s favourite brand-name, but even he was not a liberal. His reforms aimed to make communism efficient, but he failed because he lost control. Historians will judge that Yeltsin was of a similar stature to Gorbachev. Both are reviled in Russia today, and they hated each other. Yet together in 1989–93, they ensured there would be no civil war — no terror as there was after 1917. That was no mean achievement...

Ironically, it was Yeltsin’s courtiers and oligarchs who in August 1999 chose ex-KGB  Lt-Colonel Putin to be the next president.

Putin waged pitiless war on Chechnya. He diminished the freedom of the press, emasculated Parliament and broke the oligarchs, while using the riches and political-economic muscle of an oil-boom to restore Russian power. But the reinvigorated secret-police, successors of Lenin’s Cheka, Stalin’s NKVD and later KGB — ruthless, intolerant, xenophobic — became the enforcers of stability and the managers of economic and political power alike. A recent study shows 25 per cent of today’s elite are ex-secret-policemen, 78 per cent connected to them.

Russians are happier with strong rule — 80 per cent approve Putin. Whether he changes the Constitution to remain President or leaves for one term to return later, Putin will dominate for years to come. But his success is based on Yeltsin’s achievements, and failures. Yeltsin was Russia’s first democratic leader, possibly her last. No one can take away the experience of Yeltsin’s freedoms, but Russian democracy will never follow Western models: other authoritarian ‘controlled democracies’ — Turkey, Taiwan, Mexico — ultimately developed into democracies. But it took decades.

The bold emphasis is mine. I do not know enough about this subject to judge the overall merits of this piece. However, I can see that that author's absolute conviction about the Russian character stands in contrast to the more balanced argument in the rest of the article. Russians, it seems, do not suit democracy. They naturally prefer tyranny. Give them democracy and the country descends into anarchy.

Is this fair? I hardly know. However, I think it is a matter of culture, rather than immutable character. Put a Russian in a Western country, and he will like Western democracy well enough. South Koreans are the same people as North Koreans, and yet they embrace capitalism and something resembling democracy.

The idea that people get the government they deserve is a counsel of despair. Theodore Dalrymple disputes it in a thoughtful piece about Zimbabwe:

there is no more heartless saying than that the people get the government they deserve. Who, en masse, could deserve an Idi Amin or a Julius Nyerere? Certainly not the African peasants I encountered. That such monsters could quite explicably emerge from the people by no means meant that the people deserved them.

Here, in sharp contrast, is Rod Liddell:

The general rule for African countries is that when some obscene, homicidal and incompetent tyrant is at last somehow overthrown, the civilised world breathes a sigh of relief and the new regime is, for a while, garlanded in roses. Suddenly, from being a basket case, the country is referred to by the international relief agencies, the NGOs and Western politicians as ‘the one bright spot in Africa’, because the incoming tyrant has announced that they will get the economy back up and running, stamp out corruption and maybe hold an election or two in a few years’ time. The aid pours in and so does the goodwill. And then, after a bit, everybody begins to realise that the new boss is just as bad — if not actually many times worse — than the old boss. The economy is buoyed for a bit by the aid and the goodwill and the new climate of hope and optimism, but then it is noticed that the corruption has got a bit worse. Those promised elections never actually come about — or if they do take place, stuff happens during them which you tend not to see during elections in the UK, like shootings, the police beating up opposition supporters and ballot boxes being stuffed or burned. Within a short while — it can vary from between three or four months to three or four years — the phrase ‘basket case’ is being mouthed again and Western governments begin shaking their heads and thinking about sanctions.

This has happened in almost every African country over the past 50 years.

These days I am more inclined to the Liddell view, and am starting to despair of Africa. However, put an African in a decent, Western democracy and he will be neither more nor less suited to it than someone born into such a democracy.

There is one major exception: Islam. Belief in Islam, wherever the believer is from, is completely incompatible with democracy, except where democracy means nothing more than majority rule. The Shias in Iraq used the recent elections to gain power - power for their brand of Islam. And in Turkey, since most Turks are believing Muslims, democracy unchecked will lead to Sharia. Secularism must be enforced by the army. Furthermore, when Muslims settle in Western countries, they do not adapt and adopt Western values, but bring Islam with them. Islam may hibernate and emerge only with the next generation, but it is there, unchanged and hostile, waiting for each new generation to discover.

More than any other people, Muslims get the government they deserve. Leave them to it, and keep them out.

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Posted on 04/28/2007 6:16 AM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 28 April 2007
San Fran Sun Set
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photo by Mila Zinkova

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Posted on 04/28/2007 6:46 AM by Robert Bove
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Saturday, 28 April 2007
The U.S. Constitution Is Not A Suicide Pact, But ...
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the European Human Rights Convention is.  This from today's Telegraph:

Terror suspects cannot be deported

Two Libyans found to pose a danger to national security are likely to be released on bail next week after a court ruled that they could not be sent back to their own country.  Siac, the special anti-terrorist court, said it was "quite satisfied" that one of the men, an Islamic extremist identified as "AS", would resume terrorist violence when he was able. The other, "DD", was also unlikely to modify his behaviour, Siac added. A map in a car at his home had marks on footpaths under a flight path to Birmingham Airport.

But the court found a "real risk" that the two men could be tortured or ill-treated in breach of the European Human Rights Convention if they were deported, despite an agreement with Libya signed in 2005. Siac warned that if they were put on trial there was also a risk of their being denied a fair hearing.

The court's finding, that it would be unlawful for John Reid, the Home Secretary, to send the men back to Libya is a major setback. They are likely to be freed within days after Siac granted them bail in principle, pending an appplication by the Home Secretary for permission to appeal. Mr Reid's lawyers had opposed bail on the grounds the Libyans would abscond if let out of Long Lartin maximum security prison, where they have been under immigration detention. However, Mr Justice Mitting, the Siac chairman, said keeping them in detention after they had won their appeal would be on the 'cusp of legality'.

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Posted on 04/28/2007 6:48 AM by Andy McCarthy
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Saturday, 28 April 2007
Albanians wha hae!
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Libertarian Scot David Farrer here mulls over how he's going to vote in the upcoming UK-or-no-UK referendum, remains perplexed.

(I don't have a horse in that race, but I can see the quandry:  Stay in the UK or break up the Union, the EU is ready to scoop up the pieces.)

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Posted on 04/28/2007 5:33 AM by Robert Bove
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Saturday, 28 April 2007
Age-old problem of sexual harrassment solved
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At least it has been in toon territory.
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Posted on 04/28/2007 5:08 AM by Robert Bove
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Saturday, 28 April 2007
Turkey - Military issues harsh warning over secularism
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Thanks to Sean for this link to the Turkish Daily News
In an unusually strong statement, the Turkish Armed Forces say it is the defender of the republic's secular system. “It should not be forgotten that the Turkish armed forces are a side in this debate and are a staunch defender of secularism. "When necessary, it will display its attitudes and actions very clearly. No one should doubt that,” the statement says.
The powerful Turkish military said late Friday that it was watching a parliamentary presidential vote with concern and issued a harsh warning against questioning the country's secular system and said it would “openly display its position and attitudes when it becomes necessary.”
Hours earlier, the ruling party's presidential candidate failed to win enough votes in a first round of balloting in Parliament, reflecting the deep rift between the Islamic-rooted government and the secular establishment.
“The problem that has recently stood out in the presidential election process has focused on the issue of questioning secularism. The Turkish armed forces are following this with concern,” the general staff said in a statement late in the evening.
The military also complained about a series of public events where it said Islam had encroached on secular traditions. In particular, it mentioned a competition for children to memorize the Quran during the April 23 Children's Day, a festival initiated by the country's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as a secular event. The competition was cancelled after the program was publicized.
The military statement also said girls dressed in Islamic outfits were seen reciting prayers at an Islamic event in the southeastern city of Şanlıurfa on April 22, as the organizers attempted pull down Turkish flags and pictures of Atatürk.
“Those who are engaged in such activities do not refrain from exploiting our people's holy religious sentiments and try to hide their real intentions, which amount to challenging the state, behind religion,” the military statement said.
“This radical Islamic understanding, which is against the Republic and has no goal but to erode the basic qualities of the state, has been expanding its span with encouragement” from politicians and local authorities, the statement claimed.
Read the rest here.
Meanwhile as reported by the BBC
The European Union  (and I hope this is naivety on their ill informed part and not an agenda)  has warned Turkey's military not to interfere in politics, amid a row over the Islamist-rooted ruling party's candidate for president.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said the controversy was a test case for the military to respect democracy. 
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Posted on 04/28/2007 4:26 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 28 April 2007
An unsuitable job for a woman?
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I have just been having a quick look at the Gulf News and after looking at the new rules for ex-patriate housewives who want to take up a job in the UAE,
An expatriate woman who is sponsored by a father or husband can work in any job, even if she is listed in the resident visa as housewife.
Some companies are ready to employ women on their father's or husband's sponsorship but some prefer that the woman they employ be sponsored by the company. Women need an approval from the husband or father if they wish to work.
I took up the invitation to follow a link to the Xpress, to Meet the Censors.
Under strict instructions the men go about striking every image of excessive flesh with black lines. They see it before everyone else doesn’t.
This is the scene every morning at the Jashanmal Newspapers and Periodicals Division (NPD). “We start at 4.30am and by 6.30am we must finish the censoring and begin to load the trucks,” says Abdul Rahim A.P., Distribution Manager for Jashanmal. There are 14 people working the floor and 14 people in the back office to make sure things go smoothly. Sometimes with publications like FHM we may need to censor 50 pages or so; that takes about 15 minutes per copy, so we usually decide not to distribute the issue”.
“I believe what we are doing is important, not just to protect the cultural values of the country but also I wouldn’t want these pictures getting in the hands of children.”
What to censor is decided not by NPD, but by the National Media Council (NMC).
“These days things are more lenient than before, we only make sure there is nothing that may offend Islam, our culture or the Rulers,” says Adnan Al Mousawi, Head of Media Censorship Unit at the NMC, who has been doing this for 22 years now.
Every morning, over a cup of tea, he scans 50 newspapers for inappropriate content.  “I really have to watch out for the British tabloids,” says Menon.
“Publications like the Observer, the Independent and the Sun commonly display lewd pictures. The editorial is usually skipped, unless it’s something really vulgar or gossip about one of the ruling families, but that only happens once every six months or so”.
“Ten years ago we used to stop one or two publications daily, but it’s been years since we last stopped a publication,” said Al Mousawi.  “In serious cases we request a decision from the Ruler’s Court on how to handle the matter. Usually the publications reach the market within 24 hours from when we first inspect them.”
This is probably not considered a suitable job for an expatriate housewife, even with her husband’s permission.
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Posted on 04/28/2007 3:29 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 27 April 2007
The Fate of Non-Islamic Artifacts
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Some 35,000 petroglyphs located in Pakistan's Indus River area will soon be flooded by a giant dam. An archaeologist from Heidelberg is trying to save as much as he can before encroaching modernity destroys the remote area's cultural history. --from this news item

The destruction of pre-Islamic and non-Islamic artifacts, which took place everywhere that Islam conquered, continues to this day. The Bamiyan Buddhas were not a unique event, but merely an event that happened to take place in the last decade, rather than a century or two ago, because the explosives, and technical know-how (Pakistani and Saudi "engineers") had become available.

The Nazi soldiers, who left explosives in trees along the streets of Florence as they retreated, and were obviously hoping to blow up a good part of that city, are the only ones comparable to the Muslims in their willingness to destroy art and artifacts.

The entire city of Constantinople might have been destroyed, had the Young Turks had their way.

In Alan Moorehead's "Gallipoli" (the anniversary of that battle just passed) one reads the following:

"...the more ruthless of the Young Turks had already made their own arrangements for destroying the city rather than let the Allies have it. If they themselves had to go then all should go. They cared nothing for the Christian relics of Byzantium, and regarded patriotism as a higher thing than the lives of people who lived in the tumbledown wooden houses in Galata and Stamboul and along the Golden Horn." (p. 73).

"They cared nothing for the Christian relics of Byzantium..."

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Posted on 04/27/2007 6:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 27 April 2007
An Ephemeral Perception of Defeat
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"While Iraq certainly is a huge opportunity missed (as has been pointed out on DW/JW and NER many times), actual defeat there would mean less in the long run than Muslims' perception of defeat there."-- from a reader

This business of thinking that an American withdrawal from Iraq would lead to a "perception of defeat" is misguided. That "perception" will last, at most, a few weeks or a month. As the Sunnis continue their attacks on the Shi'a, without the Americans around to hold the Shi'a militia back, those militia, their ranks swelled, will attack back in the only way that they know, being fellow Muslim Arabs, that the Sunnis will understand. It will be most unpleasant -- for the Sunni Arabs and for the Shi'a Arabs. But not for the Infidels.

And the Sunni Arabs, who are at this moment, in Cairo and Amman and Riyadh, moving heaven and earth to get the Bush Administration to keep its forces in Iraq to prevent a final Shi'a takeover of Baghdad and of all of Iraq, outside the Kurdish north, save Anbar and parts of Diyala Province, leaving the Sunni Arabs with nothing at all, removing fabled Baghdad and the Land of the Two Rivers, site for 500 years of the Abbasid Caliphate that looms so large in Arab history-haunted psyches (history-haunted because for Arabs, the only history is that which begins, and ends, with Islam, and with the "greatness" of high Islamic civilization, centered on the Abbasid Caliphate, first in Samarra, and then four hundred years in Baghdad, until Hulego and the Mongols arrived -- and according to some Sunni stories, were helped to enter Baghdad through the treachery of those "Rafidite dogs," worse than Infidels, the Shi'a -- the very
Shi'a who have now won, now control, and will never give up control, of Baghdad and most of Iraq.

Oh, the "perception of [American] defeat" will not last very long. Not at all.

It will, the end result, be recognized as the terrific blow to the Camp of Islam that it is.

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Posted on 04/27/2007 6:24 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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