Thursday, 29 May 2008
Keep your books upstairs
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As flood stories go - and they've been going since shortly after "Adam were a lad" - the following is small beer. As they say, "no wrecks and  nobody drownded, fact nothing to laugh at at all".

But it's a sad business. Steven Jacobi - don't worry; I'd never heard of him either - writes in The Times:

I heard about last year's floods in the West of England while on holiday in Spain. The nationwide shroud of black cloud and the apocalyptic deluge had been forecast for several days. The trashing of Tewkesbury and the sinking of Stratford were not so much news as spectator events.

[...]

Or so I thought.

[...]

I called my landlord, from whom I rented the two rooms in which I wrote and stored my books. He confirmed that the office was under water. “I'm actually wading around in 3ft of the stuff,” he said, a little too playfully.

“How bad is it?” I asked.

“The bottom shelves of your books?”

“Yes.”

“First shelf: 100 per cent destroyed. Second: 100 per cent. Third: 100 per cent. Fourth: 90 per cent. Fifth: 90 per cent. Sixth: 50 per cent.”

“Only 50?” I brightened.

“Yeah. There was a painting propped up, just in front of it.”

“Was that damaged?'

“One hundred per cent.”

“What about the other room? The one with all the stuff on the floor.” Actually, the stuff on the floor was research for a novel I'd been working on. Eight months of research. Pages and pages of handwritten notes, photocopied articles, maps, copies of documents from KGB archives, and expensively purchased magazines.

“One hundred per cent.” I grimaced, made the not-so-difficult decision to cut short my holiday, and caught a plane to England.

By the time I arrived back at the office, the water had receded. Through the window, things didn't look so bad. Just a pile of decaying mulch around my desk. Also, I noticed, the carpet was strangely translucent, almost glistening, as if a giant snail had crawled over it.

However, on opening the door, I understood immediately that the situation was worse than I'd feared. Much worse.

First there was the smell, vinegary and pungent, something between manure and grease, possibly with a hint of mould.

[...]

I scrapped an entire set of Sight and Sound magazines, a wrecked printer, an encrusted computer, an antique typewriter (with a faulty “k”), 22 years' worth of photographs, eight diaries, 11 notebooks, more than 500 theatre programmes, two boxes of letters, plus 35 files of miscellaneous notes, clippings and ideas. These accounted for another 26 bin liners. Finally, I moved into the room containing my books. Over the next week, I made a list of the volumes I'd lost before heaving them miserably into the gaping jaws of various hastily acquired industrial sacks. In total, about 700 books found their way into 53 bags.

[...].

Unsurprisingly, I didn't feel much like writing. So I made a plan, giving myself a break, perhaps until the end of September, before trying again. September turned into October. October became November. But try as I might, I just couldn't face it.

I live on the ground floor - raised ground to be precise - and have no choice. Then again, I live on a hill, and so am unlikely to be flooded. But the moral here is: if you have an upstairs, put the things that matter there. The ground floor, particularly the first couple of feet, is for the stuff you don't mind losing. TV, DVD player, chairs, rugs - all these are replaceable; old photographs, precious books, maps, gifts, scrapbooks and diaries are not, and belong on a higher level.

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Posted on 05/29/2008 6:15 PM by Mary Jackson
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
Political Correctness Defined
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At Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer reports on the wisdom of DHS's Charles Allen and his objection to the phrase "War on Terror":  “[It] has nothing to do with political correctness[.]...  It is interpreted in the Muslim world as a war on Islam and we don’t need this.”

Earth to Chuck:  Political correctness refers to the resistance from descriptions of reality because of the way they may be perceived by groups to whom our elites have decided to be hyper-sympathetic.  That is, DHS's language purge is classic political correctness.  And to those of us who've been there, it's embarrassing.

If we strike "War" and "Terror," are Muslims comfortable with "on"?  Or does that offend all the moderate prepositions?

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Posted on 05/29/2008 6:37 PM by Andy McCarthy
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
Those Bizarre Gibson Girls
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SAN ANTONIO - The Texas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that children taken from a polygamist sect's ranch should be returned to their parents, saying child welfare officials overstepped their authority.

The high court affirmed a decision by an appellate court last week, saying Child Protective Services failed to show an immediate danger to the more than 400 children swept up from the Yearning For Zion Ranch nearly two months ago.

"On the record before us, removal of the children was not warranted," the justices said in their ruling issued in Austin.

The high court let stand the appellate court's order that Texas District Judge Barbara Walther return the children from foster care to their parents. It's not clear how soon that may happen, but the appellate court ordered her to do it within a reasonable time period.

The children were taken into custody after someone called a hot line claiming to be a pregnant, abused teenage wife. The girl has not been found and authorities are investigating whether the calls were hoaxes.

Child welfare authorities have argued that all the youngsters should be removed from the ranch because the sect forces underage girls into marriage and sex. Members of the sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, claim they are being persecuted for their religious beliefs, including that polygamy brings glorification in heaven.

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Posted on 05/29/2008 4:59 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
Hamburg 'honour killing' suspect now faces rape inquiry
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From The Local, German edition
The 23-year-old Afghan-German arrested in the suspected honour killing of his 16-year-old sister last week is now under investigation for rape, police said on Thursday.
We are looking into other suspicions of rape in another incident," said a spokesperson for the public prosecutor's office in response to media reports.
German daily Die Welt reported Thursday that the man had met a young Afghan woman online, who he drugged and raped with an accomplice in Hamburg. He allegedly gloated about the incident online.
The man admitted to police that he killed his sister last week because she had turned away from her family, DDP reported. The family immigrated to Germany from Afghanistan 13 years ago, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported in its online edition. Both siblings have German citizenship.
The girl died early on Friday morning of multiple stab wounds in Hamburg's Sankt Georg district.
The man had already been prosecuted for assaulting his sister and others. He was sentenced in March on an assault charge to one year and five months without possibility of probation.
The man had requested his March sentence be deferred, prosecutors said. He was notified in writing on Wednesday - a day before the stabbing - that the request had been rejected.
Police were also investigating earlier claims that he assaulted two of his sisters, including the girl stabbed last week.
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Posted on 05/29/2008 4:11 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
A Musical Interlude: Living In Clover (Ray Noble Orch., voc. Al Bowlly)
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Posted on 05/29/2008 4:08 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
Too Little Too Late
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Researchers said that the belief among political leaders that it was possible to find ways to fully avoid the serious threats of global warming was "false optimism".

The current food crisis, as a result of rising costs, rising demand and drought in food-producing regions, should serve as a "wake-up call" as to what the impacts of climate change could be, they said.

The forthcoming G8 summit and UN climate talks should be used as an opportunity to commit to even greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Both the G8 and climate scientists, including those involved in the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have issued calls for emissions to be cut to at least 50 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050.

But even if the world managed such cuts, considered the "most stringent achievable target", a billion people could be short of water, floods and storms could increase and large numbers of species become extinct, the scientists who led the IPCC's impacts assessment warned in Nature Reports Climate Change.

Tougher proposals – for an 80 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – would be required substantially to reduce the harm caused by climate change, said the report's authors – Martin Parry, Jean Palutikof, Clair Hanson and the Met Office's Jason Lowe.

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Posted on 05/29/2008 3:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
Today's Hedgehog News
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Assault by hedgehog in Australia.

More hedgehog news here.

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Posted on 05/29/2008 3:25 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
Explaining Islam
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MEMRI: Following are excerpts from an interview with former Saudi information minister Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani, which aired on Iqra TV on May 25, 2008.

Interviewer: How come calls for dialogue with [the West] were only made following 9/11?

Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: The main reason is that we have inadvertently given in to this accusation, and accepted the fact that 9/11 was pinned on us, as if Islam calls for such a thing, but when acts worse than 9/11 were perpetrated by Christians and Jews...

Interviewer: Such as?

Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: Attacks within America itself... Why wasn’t the attack on the White House labeled a “Christian” or “Jewish” attack? [What attack on the White House?- RB] We’ve been dragged into accepting that 9/11 was an Islamic attack. This group [Al-Qaeda] carried it out, and unlike this group, we do not sanction the killing of any human being, because according to the Koran and the guidance of the Prophet, we are not allowed to harm any dhimmi as long as there is a covenant between us. [We're not dhimmis yet - RB] We have accepted the blame...

Interviewer: Who has?

Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: The Islamic world has accepted the blame, and apologized by saying: “We are sorry for what Islam did.” Islam did not do this! Why don’t you say that it was carried out by a group that made a mistake, like the men and women among you who make mistakes every day? Why do you pin this on Islam, as if the religion of Islam calls for terrorism, which is absolutely untrue. We were dragged into this, and then they began attacking us, people with vested interests started maligning Islam, and we’ve begun to give in. So we had no choice but to declare a “Jihad” that includes dialogue with the other side, and to explain the facts accurately, so they would know what Islam is all about, what the Koran is, and who the Prophet is.

[...]

The [Judeo-Christian] religion is monotheistic. They did not create it. This religion was sent down to Jesus and Moses...

Interviewer: But Islam got rid of it, in order to remain all on its own.

Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: It was not Islam that got rid of it. It was caused by the contamination that occurred in this religion. They changed, altered, and distorted their holy books, and Islam came to rectify this. Islam has not changed a thing in the teachings of Moses.

[This is an important point for Westerners to understand. This is how Muslims justify claiming Moses and Jesus as prophets while at the same time throwing out their historic record, the Bible - RB]

Interviewer: So one of the basic principles of this dialogue is to accept that the [Jews and Christians] have a religion.

Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: Yes, and we respect this religion, but we say to them: “You’ve changed it, and you know that the books you have are not the divine gospel and the divine Torah. You have changed them. You yourselves admit that your books were written by priests and others who altered them. We want to bring you back to the original religion.”

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Posted on 05/29/2008 3:08 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
Nashville's Little Kurdistan
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NPT (thanks to Ann Corcoran at Refugee Resettlement Watch) NASHVILLE, Tennessee — May 19, 2008 — For the past thirty years, Kurdish immigrants in Nashville have started the first Kurdish Mosque in the United States and opened businesses, restaurants, markets and bakeries, building what is now the largest Kurdish population in North America. On Wednesday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m., Nashville Public Television (NPT) introduces the city to this thriving community with the premiere of NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS: LITTLE KURDISTAN, USA, the first in a new series of documentary programs under the NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS banner.

“As refugees, Kurds have overcome significant barriers to survive and flourish in Nashville,” says Will Pedigo, the program’s writer, producer and director. “They arrive as outsiders; estranged from their homeland and strangers in their new home. With this documentary, and the future installments in the Next Door Neighbors series, we hope to encourage Nashville to make strides towards a greater awareness of its diversity and provide an avenue for interaction among all our neighbors.”

Translation: Nashville is obviously full of ignorant southern hicks whom we need to educate about the mutlicultural wonderfulness of having thousands of Muslims living in their midst.

The first significant wave of Kurds arrived in Nashville in 1976. They have since established a vibrant community recognized by Kurds nationally for its strong cultural and traditional heritage. The half-hour NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS: LITTLE KURDISTAN, USA examines how these Kurds have adapted to life in Nashville and provides insight into the struggles refugees face as they build new lives in a new home. The documentary explores what it means to be Kurdish, and reflects on the journey Kurds make as they become Kurdish-Americans trying to assimilate into American culture and still hold on to their traditions. In addition to meeting a variety of Kurdish immigrants and Kurdish-Americans, viewers will also visit Azadi International Foods for fresh-baked Kurdish bread, go inside the Salahadeen Center, the first Kurdish Mosque in the United States, and hear about life in Nashville from younger generations of Kurds.

The NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS series looks at Nashville’s status as a new destination city for refugees and immigrants, and explores the rich diversity of people now calling Nashville home. Across the United States, mid-sized cities like Nashville are experiencing unprecedented growth in their international populations. Together these communities are redefining the traditional international city on a smaller local scale.

Elizabeth Noble and I have an article on the "rich diversity" of Muslims in Nashville here.

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Posted on 05/29/2008 1:56 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
The $300 Billion Arabs Are Coming
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The Evening Standard (thanks to Alan): RISING oil prices and falling property prices are reshaping London at a pace not seen since the oil price quadrupled to $12 a barrel in 1974 and the resulting recession slashed real estate values.

Last week, Kuwait bought an office block in the City for £400 million, roughly the income from six million barrels of oil at today's prices. In May 2007, the block would have cost £540 million, roughly the income from 17 million barrels of oil at last year's prices. This 11 million-barrel saving comes from oil prices doubling to $130 a barrel and the price of City property falling by 25 per cent. The beneficiary, in this case, was St Martins, the state of Kuwait's long-time UK property arm. It purchased the new 500,000 sq ft site in Lime Street from British Land.

The rulers of the Gulf states have long enjoyed a love affair with London. When the sun gets too hot in their native lands they like to flock here, to their palatial houses in the centre of town, in Mayfair and Belgravia, and out in areas such as Coombe Hill in Kingston and St George's Hill in Weybridge. Their adoration of racing sits nicely with the highlights of our summer season, of the Derby followed by Royal Ascot.

Right now, fleets of limousines are being polished, gardens are being spruced up and swimming pools cleaned in preparation for the annual invasion.

This year, though, extra spice has been added to the romance. They have moved beyond owning mansions, cars and bloodstock to buying up some of our plum commercial parcels of real estate. The soaring cost of oil has meant that for them, London, their favourite playground, has become one giant Monopoly board. If they alight on a property they like they can acquire it. Nothing is beyond them - they are that wealthy...

Middle East buyers spent £8.9 billion on office, retail and industrial property in the UK in the year to May 2007, according to property agents DTZ. They have an unexpected cash surplus of around $300 billion to spend, thanks to rising oil prices. At the same time, buyers without access to oil money are largely being driven out of the market, thanks to the credit crunch.

The huge surge of Gulf riches is affecting the London market in two ways. The first comes from a quickening in the number of deals for existing real estate. "There is definitely a lot of activity out there but it tends to be below the surface," says a leading City investment agent, who does not want to be named because the principals he does business with like to keep their affairs quiet.

These "investment" deals involve nominee companies, fronted perhaps by banks or firms of lawyers. They buy occupied blocks of offices or shops from landlords. The unnamed nominee could be anyone from a member of the Saudi royal family to an oil-enriched Russian. The really big deals tend to be done by the so-called sovereign wealth funds. The big daddy fund of SWFs is the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (Adia) with assets of $875 billion. It owns Berkeley Square. So far this year, Adia has spent £640 million on three blocks in Knightsbridge and the ExCel exhibition centre...

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Posted on 05/29/2008 10:29 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
James Baker: The Bin Laden Family's Favorite Politician
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In this Christopher Caldwell's book review of Steve Coll's book, The Bin Ladens, was an interesting nugget about the ties between the Bin Ladens and American politicians especially James Baker, the Bushes, The Carlyle Group and Jimmy Carter (third paragraph):

...Muhammad bin Laden, Osama’s father, emigrated from the canyons of the Hadhramawt, in present-day Yemen, in the 1920s. He arrived in Jidda, one-eyed and semiliterate, at a time when Saudi Arabia had hardly any paved roads and the king kept his treasury in a tin trunk. Muhammad was charismatic. His workers, with whom he prayed and sang at job sites, revered him. He was scrupulously honest, as Arabian lore holds Hadhramis to be, and his company keeps this reputation still. Most important, Muhammad would serve the greedy and capricious Saudi princes in ways that Bechtel and other foreign contractors balked at — doing humiliating jobs from digging gardens to fixing air conditioners. The grateful royals made him their main palace- and highway-builder in the boom years after the war. By the time Muhammad died in a plane crash in September 1967, his company was worth an estimated $150 million, and he had fathered 54 children by about 22 wives.

Those children, Osama included, grew up in the shadow of a court society. Royal favor was all. Since the Saud family sent its sons to Princeton and Georgetown, Muhammad educated many of his own sons in the West, too, starting with Salem, his impious and ribald successor. Coll’s account of Salem is doting. When the austere King Faisal was assassinated in 1975, the sybaritic King Fahd took power. Hedonism and consumerism became for Salem what piety had been for his father: common ground with the royal family. Knowledgeable about private planes, luxury cars and new gadgetry, Salem became, as Coll puts it, a “royal concierge.”

Salem was purposeful. Those royals he shopped for were the same ones who decided on lucrative construction contracts. Salem assigned each of his brothers a prince to cultivate, while he worked on accumulating powerful cronies in the United States. A wheeler-dealer, Jim Bath, who had served in the Texas Air National Guard with George W. Bush, was his route into the upper reaches of Texas politics — the Bushes, the Bentsens and particularly James Baker, later secretary of state, whom the bin Ladens’ lawyer called the family’s “favorite politician.” Since Salem’s own death in a plane crash in 1988, the family’s present patriarch, Bakr, has nurtured his American ties, both as an investor in the powerful Carlyle Group and as a donor to Jimmy Carter’s causes. The bin Ladens, Coll writes, came to own “an impressive share of the America upon which Osama declared war.” ...

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Posted on 05/29/2008 10:10 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
A Musical Interlude: Constantinople (Leslie Sarony)
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Posted on 05/29/2008 9:12 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
Jockeying For Position In The UFO Priesthood
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An undeniably strong emotional force exists among many people who feel alienated from society at large to be among the "chosen" - chosen to the the bearer of the "great truth," a new and startling, world-changing reality. Often the fantasy involves catapulting these otherwise unaccomplished and unremarkable men over the heads of their hard-working, but benighted brethren to levels of authority involving privileged access to this new truth - a new priesthood, a priesthood with secular power.

Rocky Mountain News: A video that purportedly shows a living, breathing space alien will be shown to the news media Friday in Denver.

Jeff Peckman, who is pushing a ballot initiative to create an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission in Denver to prepare the city for close encounters of the alien kind, said the video is authentic and convinced him that aliens exist.

"As impressive as it is, it's still one tiny portion in the context of a vast amount of peripheral evidence," he said Wednesday. "It's really the final visual confirmation of what you already know to be true having seen all the other evidence."...

Peckman, 54, said the video was among the reasons he was "compelled" to launch the proposed ballot initiative, which has generated news as far as South Africa.

"It shows an extraterrestrial's head popping up outside of a window at night, looking in the window, that's visible through an infrared camera," he said. The alien is about 4 feet tall and can be seen blinking, Peckman said earlier this month.

In a statement, Peckman said "other related credible evidence" proving aliens exist will be shown at Friday's news conference, too.

In 2003, Peckman authored an off-beat ballot initiative that would have required the city to implement stress-reduction techniques. The "Safety Through Peace" initiative failed, but garnered 32 percent of the vote.

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Posted on 05/29/2008 6:50 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
Breaking Faith With Britain
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The Bishop of Rochester, The Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali has written a long article for the new magazine Standpoint which is published today. Shorter versions have been published in the press in advance; I have been waiting for the full version.
It is too good to edit so I won’t. Read it all here.
Not everyone is happy with Bishop Michael's wise words however - he seems to have rattled a few people. Possibly because the truth hurts . . .
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Posted on 05/29/2008 6:54 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
1453
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May 29th 1453 - the fall of Constantinople.

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Posted on 05/29/2008 5:12 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
And the question is. . . ?
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From the Tehran Times
NEW DELHI (APP) -- The Muslim Organizations in India have launched strong protest and demanded action against a Professor who set a blasphemous question in the History Paper of MA in Ranchi University.
Despite passage of three weeks, Muslim residents of Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkand, are seething in rage and demanding to know the identity of the professor who committed blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
The language used in the paper so incensed the Muslim students that they immediately assembled in large numbers and attacked the university building where the examination was being held. Police had to resort to baton-charge to bring the situation under control and tension prevailed in the city where communal rioting was feared. So unlike our own Law Society Part IIs. Perhaps I would have passed them were it feared that a riot would be provoked.
Later delegations from the Muslim community met the administration and university officials to demand action against the perpetrator of the crime. The university officials refused to disclose the name of the culprit who set the inflammatory question, for reasons of his personal security even though he had been debarred from the examiner panel.
Coming in the wake of blasphemous occurrences in Holland and Denmark, framing of a blasphemous question, totally irrelevant to the course of study, is indicative of the insensitivity shown to religious feelings of the 15 percent Muslim segment of the Indian population, opine observers.
I can’t find the original story on the Associated press of Pakistan website. The question remains. What was said about Mohammed that was so reprehensible? Have the university authorities been reading Mary’s quiz? The world needs to know.
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Posted on 05/29/2008 4:28 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 29 May 2008
Cardinal urges Muslim leaders to oppose violent jihad
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Muslim leaders must be more outspoken about violence in the name of religion, a senior Vatican official urged yesterday.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Pope's principal adviser on Islam, said that while the majority of Muslim clerics condemned acts of terrorism, they needed to be more vocal about jihad, especially because of its frequent appearances in the Qur'an.
The cardinal made the remarks after a lecture, given in London to an audience of students, Catholic clerics and figures from other religions. It was one of several public appearances during a rare visit to the UK.
He said: "In the Qur'an you have several interpretations of jihad - violent and holy. Most Muslims are condemning war made in the name of religion. The problem is that in the Qur'an you have good and bad jihad, so you choose.
"There is no worldwide authority who can interpret the Qur'an, so it depends on the person you have in front of you. Sometimes you should like religious authorities to be more outspoken about violence in the name of religion. But Muslims believe the Qur'an is the divine word of God, so it is a problem."
The Cardinal is president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and has been tasked with improving relations between the Vatican and Islam.
Tauran, the former Vatican foreign minister, has not shied away from difficult issues since his 2007 appointment. He has criticised countries, notably Saudi Arabia, which do not allow freedom of religion.
The meeting, organised following an appeal from hundreds of Muslim scholars for closer ties with Christianity, will not be attended by representatives from Saudi Arabia or Iran, two regimes that place severe restrictions on religious freedom. "Of course we would like to see someone from Saudi Arabia. But we will meet them in another context. We talk to the interlocutors who come, we do not choose them."
His remarks came as the Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, (Writing in the newly launched political and cultural magazine Standpoint) said that radical Islam threatened to fill a "moral vacuum" in Britain arisen as a result of a decline of Christian values.
I have a copy of Standpoint on order and will comment on it in due course.  
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Posted on 05/29/2008 4:07 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 28 May 2008
A Musical Interlude: My Kinda Love (Bing Crosby)
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Posted on 05/28/2008 9:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Red and Steel
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I went to visit my outlaws today – my husbands parents.
Coming towards me on the opposite side of the village street – a small red Reliant Robin being driven by an elderly lady who must have been well into her 80s, and from the little of her which could be seen over the steering wheel under 4ft 10inches. I am 5ft and from the seat of my little Skoda I towered above her.
On the way home on the dual carriageway of the A12, overtaking me I thought what the **** is that? No it wasn’t the old lady. It was a time machine.
A stainless steel DeLorean.
I have never seen one on the road before.
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Posted on 05/28/2008 4:32 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 28 May 2008
UNRWA, Your Time Is Up
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UNRWA is at this point a wholly-owned subsidiary of the PLO, or the "Palestinian" Authority, or of the Arab League, or of the two slightly-diuverting branches of the PLO,  the Fast Jihadists of Hamas and the Slow Jihadists of Fatah, who share the same ultimate goals (an end to a non-Muslim nation-state called Israel, with its Jews being forced to cry "give me dhimmitude or give me death") but differ only on tactics and timing.

The personnel of UNRWA, save for a camouflaging handful at the top, are all Arabs -- all "Palestinian" Arabs, adept at promoting the Arab cause, and in misusing funds, and demanding still more, as those funds are used to promote that cause -- the cause not of Arab well-being, but of Arab rage, and Arab propaganda, against the scarcely-to-be-discerned-on-a-world-map tiny Infidel nation-state of Israel.

No one ever dies, practically, who has ever been on the UNRWA rolls, and all kinds of local Arabs, who never lived, and therefore never left, "Palestine" -- in Lebanon, in Jordan, in other places, all saw the UNRWA gravy-train and signed right up as that shape-shifting thing, "refugees."

UNRWA is corrupt and corrupting,  a crock, a disgusting if so far successful effort to monopolize the attention and money of the U.N. and the soi-disant "international community" for the sake of the Jihad against Israel, while real refugees, who are not the children or grandchildren of Arabs yet are permitted to hand down, forever it seems, the doubtful-in-the-first-place self-description of themselves as refugees, when of the hundreds of millions of other, much more worthy-of-attention refugees who exist, right now (and have existed during the past fifty years), none of them have received the same kind of monomaniacal attention, and the endless billions of Western aid, and been the cynosure of all those ngo'ed and quango'ed and international-community eyes, and come to be regarded by some dopes and of course the perennial antisemites who make up a small, but nonetheless very committed group -- Jimmy Carter, for example, belongs to both groups, though he would deny membership in at least the latter and assume that no one would think him, a "nuclear engineer," a member of the former.

About 560,000 Arabs actually left Mandatory Palestine in the months before the Arabs attacked the nascent state of Israel, and then during that war. And, during that period and in the few years following, where Jews in all the Arab countries were subject to intermittent pogroms, about a million Jews fled, with certainly far more than 560,000 of them coming to Israel. That is what is called an "exchange of populations," and it happened after World War I, with Greeks in Turkey and Muslims in Greece, and after World War II, during the Partition, with Muslims going to Pakistan (West and East) and Hindus going to India from the territories assigned to Pakistan.

Those Arabs -- or some of them --  who did leave may well believe, at this point, that they really do constitute a separate "Palestinian people," but most of them know perfectly well that they are simply the local Arabs, sharing the same language, religion, culture, and all the other identifying characteristics of a people, with Arabs of the same cult in Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and so on.

And they know, some of them, that their own connection to the land that Israel now possesses is quite recent, for in the nineteenth century the Ottoman vilayats that went later into forming the Mandate for Palestine were reduced to ruin and desolation, and the biggest town, Jerusalem, had a mere 15,000 residents. When the Zionists arrived, this was a late-19th century equivalent of the oil boom in the Gulf, and Arabs swarmed in, before and during and after World War I, and continued to arrive -- more of them arrived as illegal immigrants than did Jews, who were kept out, in many cases, by the unsympathetic British authorities. How many Arabs know this? How many, for that matter, Israelis know this? And, of course, how many in the "international community" know much, know anything, about the land ownership (with 90% of the land being owned by the Ottoman state, land that then devolved to the Mandatory Authority, held essentially in trust for the intended beneficiary of the Mandate for Palestine --- there were other mandates for the Arabs, and besides, they already had vast swaths of territory under their control, as all of the Arabian peninsula, that never fell within the League of Nations' Mandate system -- under the Mandate system ) which was, or became, the state of Israel.

Those Arabs who were called, however inaccurately, the "Arab refugees," after the Six-Day War started to be called "the Palestinians" for obvious propagandistic effect. And those "refugee camps" are not, as the name suggests, places full of transitory tents. They are whole cities, even in "impoverished Gaza" (where  "the worst human rights crisis in the world" according to the well-known antisemite Jimmy Carter, is currently to be seen, and he knows this, because the "Palestinians" including those who staff UNRWA -- there's always a non-Arab, for camouflage purposes, at the top, but the whole thing is Arab-run, Arab-doominated, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Arab war effort against Israel).

Almost all of the Arab states have decided not to allow, uniquely among their "Arab brothers," the "Palestinians" to acquire citizenship or, in Lebanon, to hold jobs. They would, ideally, like those "Palestinians" to be as ostentatiously wretched as possible (even though plenty live very well, their UNRWA dole supplemented by all kinds of activities, not all of them criminal in nature). And while even some of the "Palestinians" have publicly (well, publicly to fellow Arabs) discussed how the Arab states urged the Arabs of Mandatory Palestine to flee, and therefore have a responsbility to help pay for them, no Arab states, though many are swimming in gold, have felt the slightest need to help those "Palestinians."

Of course, the invention of that “Palestinian people” – and the careless way in which Israelis, too, contribute to the propaganda of their enemies by appearing to accept that very notion – did a great deal to harm Israel (and the rest of the West) by providing a “national-liberation” cover for what was, is, and always will be a classic Jihad against an Infidel nation-state, a Jihad not to end, nor its supporters assuaged, by a further reduction in the size of Israel.

The Arabs sometimes have a habit of letting things slip. Zuheir Mohsen, the leader of the terrorist group As Saiqa, happened to give an interview to James Dorsey for the Dutch newspaper Trouw in March 1977:

"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.

For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."

Read the U.N. records, the records of what every Arab said, threatening or cajoling, from 1948 or well before 1948, right up to the Six-Day War, and even for a short period beyond, and it is only then that, out of the blue, comes this phrase “the Palestinian people.”

Before all that “Palestinian people” business, and before Israel came into the possession of the unallocated parts of the mandate, the “West Bank” and Gaza, that Jordan and Egypt had seized in 1948-1949, without Ben Gurion, unduly cautious, had not had the wit to seize back, there were far more people who had not been subject to a decades-long onslaught of Arab propaganda, and saw things more clearly.

One such person was Elfan Rees, the Adviser on Refugees to the World Council of Churches on Refugees, who in 1957 wrote  in “The Refugee Problem Today and Tomorrow”:

”I hold the view that, political issues aside, the Arab refugee problem is by far the easiest postwar refugee problem to solve by integration. By faith, by language, by race and by social organization, they are indistinguishable from their fellows of the host countries. There is room for them, and land for them, in Syria and in Iraq. There is a developing demand for the kind of manpower that they represent. More unusually still, there is the money to make this integration possible. The United Nations General Assembly, five years ago, voted a sum of 200 million dollars to provide 'homes and jobs' for the Arab refugees. That money remains unspent, not because these tragic people are strangers in a strange land, because they are not; not because there is no room for them to be established, because there is; but simply for political reasons."

And that is where things stand now. These are the shock troops of the Jihad, and they are no longer, if they ever were, a “tragic people,” but have managed to turn themselves into people – just look at every photograph of those car-swarms in Gaza, and those Hitlerian rallies, and those Der-Stuermer like photos and television shows that the “Palestinian” Arabs feed themselves, battening on a steady diet of hysteria and hate.

And as long as they are the spoiled children of the “refugee” world, as long as they hog the money and the limelight at the U.N. and in all of its constuent succursales and meetings (in Durban on “Racism” that turned into a kind of  lynch-mob against Israel, on Cairo on “the family” that turned into a kind of lynch-mob against Israel, and so on), several hundred millions real refugees, not political pawns, including a great many who are refugees because they are non-Muslims or non-Arab Muslims who have been fleeing the discrimination, persecution, and murder that Musliim Arabs have inflicted on them, will never get the attention they rightly deserve.

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Posted on 05/28/2008 4:35 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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