Sunday, 27 August 2006
Loving sneakers
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Yes, Virginia, there is a site for sneaker fetishists.




This sneaker described thusly:

The Ubiq Qwerty has come up with some new colorways that use canvas and suede materials on the upper. The colorways are warm and simple for the upcoming seasons. As you may have noticed, the back of the shoe has a unique stitching pattern on it that ends with some hanging beads. Very interesting idea.

I think I need to take a cold shower.
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Posted on 08/27/2006 6:33 AM by Robert Bove
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Sunday, 27 August 2006
Freed Fox reporters "chosen by Allah"
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As reported by Nidal al-Mughrabi:

GAZA (Reuters) - Militants in the Gaza Strip released two kidnapped journalists from the American Fox News Channel on Sunday after the men appeared on a videotape saying they had converted to Islam, Fox said.

Fox said correspondent Steve Centanni, a 60-year-old American, and New Zealand-born cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, were in a hotel in the Palestinian coastal strip.

They hugged colleagues inside the hotel lobby before running up the stairs to a higher floor, Fox News footage showed.

"Our heroes are home," Fox anchorman Shepard Smith said in a live broadcast from New York.

The two reporters were seized on August 14 by a previously unknown group called the Holy Jihad Brigades.

In a videotape released earlier, Centanni and Wiig were shown separately sitting cross-legged, reading statements announcing that they had converted to Islam. At times in the video they were wearing long Muslim robes.

"I changed my name to Khaled. I have embraced Islam and say the word Allah," Centanni said.

Wiig called on leaders of the West to stop "hiding behind the 'I don't negotiate with terrorists' myth".

The Holy Jihad Brigades claimed responsibility on Wednesday for the kidnapping and had warned the United States to free Muslim prisoners to prevent the two captives facing unspecified consequences. That deadline expired on Saturday.

The United States had said it would not make "concessions to terrorists".

Palestinian officials had earlier expressed optimism the men would be freed soon.

A separate statement from the captors had said the two journalists had to chose either Islam, a tax imposed on non-Muslims to be paid to a Muslim ruler, or war.

"They chose Islam and that is a gift God gives those whom he chooses," the statement said.

The kidnapping was the longest-lasting abduction of foreigners in the Palestinian coastal strip in more than a year.

The Hamas-led government had called for the men to be freed while several prominent militant groups in Gaza had denied involvement.

Previous kidnappings of foreigners had usually ended after a few hours, or at most a few days, of captivity.

This is a graphic example of the truth that there always is a sword nearby when somebody converts to Islam.  I wonder if the reporters know the penalties for aspostasy?

 
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Posted on 08/27/2006 6:00 AM by Robert Bove
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Sunday, 27 August 2006
Basayev's Secret Chechen Bride?
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 This Chechen worman is said to have secretly married and cooperated with the notorious (and now deceased) Muslim terrorist Shamil Basayev. She has now been kidnapped, possibly by pro-Kremlin forces in Chechnya. The New Duranty Times has the story:

Ms. Ersenoyeva’s mother said her daughter had not voluntarily married Mr. Basayev, who remained unapologetic and defiant after sending female suicide bombers to Moscow and onto passenger jets, and who had planned the lethal hostage sieges in a Russian theater and a public school. She agreed to marry him, her mother said, only because the separatists had threatened to kill her two brothers if she did not do as they said.

“She was a smart girl, but she was used,” her mother, Rita Ersenoyava, said in an interview in the village of Stariye Atagi, south of here, from where she said her daughter was taken for conjugal visits with the terrorist leader. “Now she is gone. I have lost hope. I have lost a golden child.”

Whatever the circumstances of Ms. Ersenoyeva’s marriage, whether she was Mr. Basayev’s occasional hostage or willing wife, her disappearance has offered fresh glimpses into two Chechen netherworlds: the secretive life of Mr. Basayev and the murky circumstances of abductions in the Caucasus, which have persisted even as the pace of combat in Chechnya has slowed.

Ms. Ersenoyeva’s mother said her daughter was first taken to Mr. Basayev in late November, after Kheda Saidullayeva, the wife of the president of the separatists’ government-in-hiding, told her that she must marry a fighter. The name given was Ali-Khan Abu Yazidov.

Ms. Ersenoyeva agreed. On Nov. 29, a driver, Kazbek, picked her up and drove her to a house in Grozny, the Chechen capital. She entered a room where she was told her fiancé would be waiting, and found Mr. Basayev, her mother said.

“He told her: ‘Do not be afraid. I will not do anything bad to you if you do what I say. I do not need you to kill anyone. I need your brains and your head.’ ”

Mr. Basayev already had had at least three wives, a Chechen woman who was killed in the 1990’s, an Abkhaz woman he met while fighting as a mercenary leader against Georgia and a Cossack he was said to have married on Valentine’s Day, 2005.

He and Ms. Ersenoyeva were quickly married in an Islamic ceremony and spent three nights together, her mother said. When she left, her mother said, Mr. Basayev gave her tasks on the Internet, including downloading information from a separatist Web site.

But those were details the mother found out later.

When Ms. Ersenoyeva came home, her mother said, she said only that she had eloped and that her husband was away. Much of Chechen society is ordered around male-dominated rituals, and men kidnapping their brides is a tradition that persists...

Ah, young love....

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Posted on 08/27/2006 5:35 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Sunday, 27 August 2006
Kidnapped Fox journalists convert to Islam on video
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GAZA (Reuters) - Two kidnapped Fox journalists appeared on a new videotape released by their captors on Sunday in the Gaza Strip, in which the reporters said they had converted to Islam, the Fox News Channel said...

Both journalists appeared to be in good health in the new video. They were seized on August 14.

They were shown separately sitting cross-legged, reading a statement which Fox said was an announcement that they had converted to Islam. At times in the video they were wearing long Muslim robes.

Wiig called on leaders of the West to stop "hiding behind the 'I don't negotiate with terrorists' myth". He then read some words in Arabic.

Update from the NYTimes: "Kidnapped Journalists Freed in Gaza"

A separate statement from the captors had said the two journalists had to chose either Islam, a tax imposed on non-Muslims to be paid to a Muslim ruler, or war.

"They chose Islam and that is a gift God gives those whom he chooses," the statement said.

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Posted on 08/27/2006 5:03 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 26 August 2006
Where not to go on your next vacation
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South Africa's post-apartheid paradise is fraying at the seams:

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Watch your back in South Africa. They kill folks here. Murder them at a bewildering rate.

Robbers kill their victims, bystanders kill criminals, family members kill each other.

Gunbattles erupt on streets and in shopping malls. Passers-by whip out pistols and join in firefights between criminals and police or security guards. A recent flurry in high profile bloodshed even has police suggesting they are losing the fight with violent crime.

Plans for South Africa to host soccer's next World Cup, in 2010, has focused international attention on the crime rate, with organizers having to answer questions not just about whether they'll have enough stadiums and hotel rooms, but whether the 350,000 foreign visitors expected for the monthlong tournament will be safe.

Statistically a South African is 12 times as likely to be murdered than the average American and his chances of being killed are 50 times greater than if he lived in western Europe...

"The reasons seem to be unbelievably complex. There is no explanation that makes sense. The million dollar question is, 'Why?' If we could understand that we could start to fix it. But we can't. All we can do now is ask religious people to pray for us," he said.

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Posted on 08/26/2006 4:35 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 26 August 2006
A well-spent life
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At the risk of offending multiculturalist comissars: Among the riches Great Britain gave the world, one of the most glorious was the abolition of slavery (at least within range of the cannons of the Royal Navy).  Now, Walden Media--the folks who brought us Narnia and Holes--is making  Amazing Grace, a film of the life of William Wilberforce, due out in Spring 2007.  Wilberforce devoted his life to the abolition of slavery, and it was as a Tory member of the House of Commons that he introduced his first bill to abolish the odious institution in 1791.

Producers include  Terence Malick (Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line) and Patricia Heaton (CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond").  Michael Apted directs; Steven Knight is screenwriter.  Ioan Gruffud plays W.W.; Albert Finney is John Newton.

(Note: Please don't disabuse me of thinking I am the first person at NER to have discovered this movie was being made.)

Slavery is still with us:  sex slavery has never been bigger; slavery is still a feature of Islamic societies.  Hope that Amazing Grace is a great movie, one that gets people thinking about the persistence of slavery in this so-called modern world of ours.
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Posted on 08/26/2006 3:11 PM by Robert Bove
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Saturday, 26 August 2006
Stein-a-lypto
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Such a cheerful man,  Ben Stein.  Remember his take on Baby Boomer retirement plans?  I do.  (Did I say plans)?  Here's what he had to say:

The baby boom generation, the largest single age cohort in American history, roughly 77 million men and women, is in deep doo-doo when it comes to retirement preparedness. This generation, which has gotten its way and been denied very little in its history in terms of material things, has never been through a depression or even a really bad recession, and has not learned to save or deny itself anything to lay away funds for the day they stop getting a regular paycheck.

To be sure, there are multi millionaire boomers and boomers who have been prudent. But the average baby boomer household has financial savings of less than $50,000 not counting their homes. Counting their homes, it’s slightly over $110,000 total net savings.

Fewer than twenty per cent have meaningful defined benefit pension plans and as anyone at IBM or United Airlines or Delphi can tell you, the defined benefit corporate pension plan as a species in American life is rapidly getting extinct.

Social Security is able to pay for about 30% to 40% of most retirees’ lifestyles as they are presently lived, at the very best. Medicare is a train wreck.

This means something terrifying. When the boomers retire, as soon as they use up their savings, which will take the average family a few years more or less, they will have to cut their life styles in a more dramatic way than any age group in America has done since The Great Depression. The whole glorious dream of living on the golf course, of having a cabin and a boat on the lake, of traveling, of helping out the grandkids....well, it was just some people talking. The reality will be having to sell the family house, living under conditions of extreme stringency, waking up at four a.m. in fear, cutting pills in half, and bitter memories of what might have been.

For many of the oldest of the unprepared boomers, this is now inevitable. There’s no way out. But for the youngest members of the party, the option of saving like madmen is still open. Only it’s not an option: it’s mandatory. In index funds, annuities, mutual funds, real estate, bonds–but best, in all of these things at once.

It is very painful to be poor and old. It is horrible to live in fear and insecurity. But unless the boomers wise up right now, today, and start doing something about it, the future is grimmer than they would have ever imagined.

Such a card.  But don't think you non-Boomers out there are about to get off Stein-free.  What he has to say about the 10 or so major challenges facing the U.S. today applies, of course, to everybody.  (It's in the Sept. 2006 dead-trees number of The American Spectator and only available to subscribers.)  Here's a bit of Stein-a-lypto, the hard facts America is facing right now:

 • A totally fantatical, well-armed Moslem terrorist movement directed at us, paid for by us, soon to have nuclear arms.

•  A mainstream media that subverts the nation at every opportunity and preaches that we should have no pride in this, the greatest achievement of mankind by the grace of God.

•  A system of education that often (not always) does not teach decent values, does not teach pride in the free society, does not value life, does not value free speech, hates God, and generally acts as a Fifth Column for those outside the city who hate us.

•  A non-white and white underclass that refuses to do well in school, worships violence and materialism, creates babies in families that are not really families and are virtually guaranteed to fail and do poorly at raising children.

•  A Hispanic immigration flood that overwhelms schools, hospitals, law enforcement, and neighborhoods, and which gives great labor and superbrave fighting men, but also takes away social cohesion.

There's more, of course--and if you're a Steinian you can guess what it is.  Here's Stein's conclusion:

And no one is doing anything about this.  I love Mr. Bush and enjoy his courage, but the situation is a lot worse than he thinks.

Well, let us pray.

I'm glad Stein isn't president--too clear-eyed--but I think he'd make a fine press spokesman. 

Parting thought today re the gloomfest above:

It's been a long time since anybody asked me why I go to church Sundays.  Ominous, don't you think?  I mean, even the people who don't go, even the diehard atheists, know why one might go to church.  They think I'm misguided--not crazy.  From my point of view, they take a step in the right direction when they judge me thus.  An optimist, but not about the present age
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Posted on 08/26/2006 1:28 PM by Robert Bove
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Saturday, 26 August 2006
"Your audience is frivolous" and deserves the bird
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Christopher Hitchens does what many people have wanted to do to audiences over the years. Newsbusters has the story:

Transcript of the relevant portion of the discussion about Iran on the August 25 season premiere of [Bill Maher's] weekly HBO show aired live Friday nights at 11pm EDT/10pm CDT:

Christopher Hitchens: “Who wants a Third Word War? The Iranian President says that one member state of the United Nations should be wiped physically from the map with all its people. He says the United States is a Satanic power. Members of his government, named members of his government have been caught sponsoring deaths squads. He's lied, he's lied to the European Union about his nuclear program-”

Bill Maher: “But you know that a lot-”

Hitchens: “He says the Messiah is about to come back. Who's looking for a war here?”

Maher: “So does George Bush, by the way [audience applause]. That's not facetious [audience applause continues].”

Hitchens: “That's not facetious. Your audience, which will clap at apparently anything, is frivolous. [oohs and groans from audience, Hitchens gives them the finger] Fuck you, fuck you. [groans continue]”

Maher: “I was just saying what the President of Iran and the President of America have in common is that they both are a little too comfortable with the idea of the world coming to an end.”

Hitchens: “Cheer yourself up like that. The President has said, quite a great contrast before the podium of the Senate, I think applauded by most present, in his State of the Union address, that we support the democratic movement of the Iranian people to be free of theocracy -- not that we will impose ourselves on them, but that if they fight for it we're on their side. That seems to be the right position to take, jeer all you like.”

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Posted on 08/26/2006 1:18 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 26 August 2006
More on Pakistan's "Women Protection Bill"
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Apropos of Mary's post, "Rape - a hopeless case?", this critique at blonde sagacity, "Islam Despises Women: Example #3,496".

The "Hudood Ordinance", passed 27 years ago in Pakistan, is based on Shari'a law:

"The Hudood Ordinance criminalizes all extra-marital sex. Even when the woman claims that she was raped and not involved in adultery, she must have four pious male witnesses to prove rape, but only Muslim men can testify in cases involving Muslim women (non-Muslim rape victims may also produce four non-Muslim male witnesses). But if four witnesses are not provided by the woman but rape is proved by other means (e.g medical evidence) then the jury can punish the accused according to the Pakistani penal court.[1] For married couples, the punishment for adultery is death by stoning but this has never been carried out. Unmarried people receive 100 lashes.

This ordinance has sometimes been misused against rape victims if they are not able to provide four male witnesses, however the extent to which this occurs is currently disputed. In certain situations, the alleged rapist accuses the raped woman of confessing to consensual intercourse."

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is attempting to rewrite these laws, but is meeting fierce opposition by the Mullahs of the religion of peace.

"...It also sets no minimum age for sex with girls, saying only that they should have reached puberty. A powerful militant Muslim lobby regards this code as sacred and based on Koranic texts and shari’a law. No previous Pakistani leader, not even the country's first female leader, Benazir Bhutto, dared reform it.

But Gen Musharraf's allies in parliament sparked the fury of the militant opposition by introducing a Women Protection Bill. This would remove the requirement for four male witnesses to prove rape and set 16 as the age of consent for sex with girls.

When this measure came before parliament, Islamic radicals responded by tearing up copies of the bill and storming out. "This bill is against the Holy Koran," said Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the leader of the militant opposition. "We reject it and will try to block it in any possible manner." Other MPs chanted "death to Musharraf" and "Allah is great." (source)

They are that mad over the age being moved to 16? Is Islam the religion of pedophilia and peace? I guess so since a top leader said this reform was "an attack on Islam"...

These women must all suffer from Stockholm Syndrome to remain in this "religion".
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Posted on 08/26/2006 9:43 AM by Robert Bove
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Saturday, 26 August 2006
Rape - a hopeless case?
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The Women’s Protection Bill, currently being debated in Pakistan, proposes criminalizing marital rape. They haven’t a prayer. Or rather they have, but it goes like this:

 

Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them.

 

Even without the obstacle of a religious law that regards a husband’s rights over his wife as ordained by God for all time, the UK criminalized marital rape only in 1993. I mention this astonishing fact not to draw a facile moral equivalence between women’s rights in the UK and under Islam, but just because it is astonishing.

 

Why, in an advanced democracy with equal pay, a recent woman Prime Minister, free access to contraception and - for all practical purposes - abortion, and a transformation in attitudes to rape and sexual offences generally, did the idea persist for so long that a woman surrenders control over her body when she marries?

 

The arguments against such a law were not based on religion as they are in Pakistan. Nor did they necessarily arise from misogynist attitudes. The argument was simply that marital rape is difficult, if not impossible, to prove. Unless the couple are separated, and unless there are obvious signs of violence, this is undeniably true, and remains true whatever laws we pass. Marital rape is now a criminal offence, but I have not heard of a single conviction for it, and I imagine that its illegality has made no difference at all to its frequency. So should the law have been passed? Absolutely, yes, even if not a single case is successfully prosecuted.

 

All rape, other than stranger rape in a dark alley, is difficult to prove, with only around 5% of reported cases in the UK resulting in a conviction. Generally it comes down to the man’s word against the woman’s. It is sometimes assumed that the man is believed because of sexism or misogyny on the part of juries. However, to say this is to oversimplify.

 

I have served on a jury, although not on a rape trial. It is a fascinating, if sometimes frustrating experience. The most important concept that I took from it was that of “beyond reasonable doubt”, being the burden of proof required to obtain a criminal conviction. It is not enough for you to be confident that the defendant is guilty. The prosecution must have proved its case. If it has failed to do so, and if even the slightest doubt remains, you must acquit. In Scotland there is an intermediate verdict, between “guilty” and “not guilty”. The verdict is “not proven”, which means, in effect, “not guilty, but don’t do it again”. English law does not have such a verdict, so it is all or nothing.

 

Witness accounts conflict, even where witnesses are telling the truth as they see it. In cases where rape is alleged, a man may genuinely have believed that the woman consented, or he may have known that she did not, but this cannot be proved. Often, where both have been drinking, neither has a good recollection of what happened. If a jury acquits, it is not necessarily because its members disbelieve the woman, still less because they think she “asked for it”. Some people may think this, of course, but others may not, in all conscience, be able to say the prosecution case has been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

 

Short of convicting of rape any man who does not obtain a signed consent form, witnessed, of course, to preclude undue influence, it is difficult to see a solution to this problem. Many rapists will go unpunished, even if society reaches a state of total sexual equality and even if all rape trials are fair. And we are far from being in this Utopian state at the moment, even here in the West, which treats women better than any other culture in history.

 

We have come a long way in the last thirty years. A judge notoriously once said, “If a woman says no, she means maybe, if she says maybe she means yes, and if she says yes, she’s no lady.” This is nonsense. “No” means “no” whatever the woman is wearing, whatever she has had to drink and whatever her sexual history. In the Seventies a judge reduced the sentence of a lorry driver convicted of raping a hitchhiker on the grounds that, by hitchhiking alone, she was guilty of “contributory negligence”. This would not happen now. But if the lorry driver raped after a date, where both parties were drunk, the chances are that he would get away with it, and I cannot see that changing.

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Posted on 08/26/2006 9:00 AM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 26 August 2006
Bunga bangkai
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That's Indonesian.  It roughly translates as "corpse plant," AKA  amorphophallus titanum, a huge plant whose flower produces a stench that can be detected a half mile away.  I had the pleasure of seeing it recently at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden--but, alas, after the bloom was off the plant, and with it the stench.  Here it is being measured by a brave-nosed BBG employee:



© 2006 by Brooklyn Botanic Garden


Mark Tabbitt, horticultural taxonimist at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, says:

Called the corpse flower, the titan arum is the media celebrity of the genus Amorphophallus, which consists of about 170 tropical species distributed from Africa through Asia to Polynesia, the majority of them Asiatic. First discovered in 1878 by Odoardo Beccari while he was engaged in botanical study in western Sumatra, it was soon introduced into cultivation. Seed that Beccari sent back to Florence Orto Botanico germinated and was distributed to other gardens.

One seedling was sent to Kew, and after ten years it produced a seven-foot-tall flower head, along with a nauseous scent that came in eye-watering waves and was said to have made ill the artist responsible for illustrating it. The species has now flowered in several botanic gardens around the world, and it always attracts enormous media attention and large numbers of visitors. It flowers only rarely in cultivation. The appearance of its singular four- to six-foot-tall flower head at a botanic garden is always an event.

Notable not only for the stature of its flower-cluster, the well-named corpse flower also produces a revolting stench of putrefaction. In its native habitat, this scent attracts the carrion beetles and sweat bees that succeed in pollinating the numerous inconspicuous female flowers clustered in the lower half of the spike (spadix).

In the wild, the species is threatened by unscrupulous collectors, but the most serious threat is the rapid destruction of its forest habitat in Indonesia.

As I said, I didn't make it to the exhibit until after the bloom was off--but I insisted on taking a pic of what was left of the Brooklyn titan.  As you can see, the exhibition was still fairly crowded:


© 2006 by Robert Bove

More fun facts from the BBG:

The first titan arum to bloom in cultivation was at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in London, in 1889—during the Victorian era. Young ladies were not permitted to view it because of its phallic appearance!

(I mentioned this to Javed, a Pakistani immigrant who owns a little photo shop in my neighborhood, and he quipped, "And, now only women go see it!"  Times, it seems, do change.)

For a time-lapse video of the growth and bloom of the BBG Titan, go here.
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Posted on 08/26/2006 8:26 AM by Robert Bove
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Saturday, 26 August 2006
9/11 Families For A Secure America defends Rachel Ehrenfeld
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According to Robert Locke: "Dr. [Rachel] Ehrenfeld wrote that [Saudi billionaire [Khalid] bin Mahfouz, the former owner and chairman of Saudi Arabia's largest bank, National Commercial Bank, had allegedly transferred $74 million from the bank’s Zakat (Charity) Committee to the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) and the Muwafaq "blessed relief" Foundation. Muwafaq was allegedly then the channel to al Qaeda itself."

She was subsequently sued by bin Mahfouz in British court for libel although she is an American citizen and he is a Saudi. The British court found in bin Mahfouz's favor. Dr. Ehrenfeld counter-sued in American court and now this letter was written on her behalf by the 9/11 Families for a Secure America asking the court to overturn the original British decision which seems to have been was upheld by a US district court. Contained in the letter is this illuminating exposition:

Many facts about the 9/11 conspiracy are beyond dispute and among them are these:

Individuals of Saudi Arabian nationality were among those who actually carried out the hijackings and murders on September 11.

Many of the “masterminds” who originated the plot, directed the planning of the attacks, and who comprise much of the leadership of the terrorist organizations involved are Saudi nationals. These Saudi terrorist leaders maintain operational control over terrorist acts of the organizations they head, and in addition are responsible for raising funds to pay for their activities.

The members of these terrorist organizations are believers in radical Islam which advocates the persecution and murder of non-moslems. One of the most extreme sects of radical Islam is that which is known as “Wahabism.” Many members of the terrorist groups responsible for the 9/11 attacks are either members or sympathizers of Wahabist cells.
Some members of the Saudi government and members of the Saudi royal family (essentially one and the same) and other wealthy Saudis are members of this sect. Despite claims by the Saudis that that they are allies of the United States the Saudi royals, government and associates have supported the spreading of Wahabism through financial support of Wahabist schools and ‘holy men’ in the West.

That financial links exist between members of the Saudi government and its ruling class to groups intent on the murder of Americans has been demonstrated by the 9/11 Commission and private researchers.
FBI Director Robert Mueller has told 9/11 family members that he “is not here to point fingers,” thus indicating that the chief investigative agency of the United States government is not interested in finding all the facts of the 9/11 mass murders.

9/11 family members and members of the public have expressed on numerous occasions that they lack faith in the desire of the members of the 9/11 Commission to fully expose involvement of officials of various governments in the 9/11 plot.

I find the statement by Robert Mueller especially troubling.

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Posted on 08/26/2006 8:14 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 26 August 2006
one tiny glimmer
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I just read through National Review's cover story, "Last Chance for Iraq?" in which they compiled a few short paragraphs from David Frum, Newt Gingrich, Mark Helprin, Lawrence Kaplan, Robert Kaplan, Michael Ledeen, Michael Rubin, Mark Steyn, Bernard Trainor and Ralph Peters. To a man they all decried potential civil war as proof of America's failure and pretty uniformly argued for increased troop levels and pointed fingers in varying directions and heaped varying levels of scorn upon those "losing the war."  But there was one bright spot. One sentence in an otherwise confused mess. That sentence belonged to Ralph Peters in which he said:

"A post-American-presence civil war in Iraq might not be the worst thing for our strategic purposes."

Eureka Ralph! Keep thinking in that direction and we'll put off the plate of worms part of our initiation ceremony for the "To Hell With Them Hawks" club.

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Posted on 08/26/2006 7:39 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 26 August 2006
"Peace and Justice"
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Bloomberg: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the Islamic republic isn't a ``threat' to any nation, including Israel, as he opened a heavy-water production plant that is part of the country's nuclear program.

Iran's nuclear ambitions are ``at the service of peace and justice,' Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students News Agency, at the opening of the Arak plant, which will produce heavy water used in nuclear reactors.

In an Islamic context, "peace" in a specific area can only come after the struggle against the unbelievers is completed, meaning in this context, after the nation state of Israel is no more. Then Islamic "justice" can be instituted as the remaining Jews become subjugated as dhimmis under Islamic Law.

We cannot assume when we speak the same words they mean the same things.

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Posted on 08/26/2006 7:14 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Friday, 25 August 2006
more on that UK poll
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From Friends of Micronesia:

The UK press is awash today with the results of a YouGov poll conducted for the Spectator Magazine typical of which is this report from The Telegraph. Fortunately YouGov has made the raw figures available on their website too and they are very interesting and especially in how they break the results by social class, age and geography. These differences are barely mentioned in the main stream reports.

There are a couple of key differences I want to draw out:

  • differences between ABC1 (higher) and C2DE (lower) social classes;
  • the importance of the the "don't know" answer.

 

Social Class

One of the questions asks the following

Do you believe that most British Muslims are moderate? Total ABC1 C2DE
Yes, they are moderate 50 55 43
No, they are not 28 27 30
Don’t know 22 18 27
That looks like a pretty big difference to me from 43% to 55% believing that "most British Muslims are moderate". Looking more closely we see that the difference is mostly down to the Don't know answer. Could it be that those people further from the so called "elites" are not believing the religion of peace line that the main stream media is pushing whenever it can? They truly don't know: they hear other polls where frighteningly large minorities of British Muslims justify suicide bombings (whether in the UK or elsewhere). That is not moderate but they can't quite make the leap to realise how core to the religion violent Jihad is.

Don't Know

The sizeable numbers above in the Don't Know category are significant.

Do you feel safer now than you did before 9/11? Total
Safer 6
Less Safe 46
No Difference 46
Don't Know 2
When the same group of people were asked a question that is much more about how they feel (and not how they feel about other people) they have a definite answer and a very low % of don't knows. The don't knows in the first question really are people who have doubts about how to feel.

I'm seeing a lot of confusion in the answers. There is a question about whether the UK should follow the US foreign policy, Europe's or its own. The answers almost contradict another answer: in response to Islamic Terrorism the UK's foreign policy should stay the same or get tougher say an amazing 77% (or 82% in the North of England). That is a lot higher than the number of MP's who don't want to support Blair anymore with a tough line against Iraqi or Iranian terrorists.

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Posted on 08/25/2006 5:55 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Friday, 25 August 2006
Heather Mac Donald?s Answers to Metaphysical Questions
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Q: Why is there anything?

A: I don’t know and I don’t care.

Q: Where is the universe?

A: I don’t know and I don’t care.

Q: Why was I created only to be later killed?

A: I don’t know and I don’t care.

Q: What is Mind or Consciousness?

A: I don’t know and I don’t care.

Q: Why am I concerned about justice?

A: I don’t know and I don’t care.

Q: Is God possible?

A: I don’t know and I don’t care.

Q: Why do you matter to yourself?

A: I don’t know and I don’t care.

Q: How can sterile matter be the source of Love?

A: I don’t know and I don’t care.

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Posted on 08/25/2006 5:47 PM by Mark Butterworth
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Friday, 25 August 2006
Needed: Handbook for Infidel Debaters
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A Handbook for Debaters (Islamic) certainly exists. It consists of all the wiles and evasions and misstatements and tu-quoque (Zionists! Americans in Iraq! Stealing Our Oil! and so on) that have been used, that come so naturally, to societies where, as one Christian informant who spent the first 40 years of his life in Haleb told me, a Muslim will not even trust his own brother to enter his house when the man in the family is away, where one lives in a miasma of rumor and fear and mistrust, and where the most implausible things are believed, as why would they not be, when one is raised in a society suffused with an attitude entirely inimical to free and skeptical inquiry?

But no such Handbook for Infidel Debaters exist, nor a handbook for those who conduct radio programs.

Perhaps one can suggest that a few basic points should be raised, and answers -- clear answers -- demanded of any and every apologist for Islam who wishes to appear on any show.

These should focus on several matters:

1) The division of the world between Believer and Infidel, Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb. Passages from the Qur'an, stories from the Hadith, should be in possession of the radio talk-show host, or interviewer, so that there will be not mere silence, or a mere expression of "that isn't true" or "that can't be true" but rather, so that a point-by-point offering of the textual evidence can be presented.

2) The duty of Jihad, called by some the Sixth Pillar of Islam, and when it is a collective and when an individual duty (quotes at the ready), and what the goal of Jihad (to spread Islam until it dominates everywhere, and everywhere Muslims rule) is constantly dinned into the minds of listeners. Furthermore, Infidel debaters and talk-show hosts should have ready a list, taken from Muslim sources, of the varied instruments of Jihad: qital or combat (including what can reasonably be described as terrorism), the "money" or "wealth" weapon, Da'wa, and demographic conquest (have figures on the size of Muslim families, on the demands made by the Muslims within the Lands of the Infidels for changes to the Infidel legal, political, and social institutions, and also figures on the growth of Muslim populations in the Western world since, roughly, 1960 or 1970 -- broken down by country). And don't forget to include the triumphalist remarks about conquest through demography, made by everyone from Boumedienne at the United Nations in 1974, to a mild-mannered Pakistani accountant writing an article in the newspaper "Dawn."

3. Ask the Muslim interlocutor about the figure of Muhammad, and about the description of him as "uswa hasana" (a phrase used three times in the Qur'an, twice in relation to Abraham, once about Muhammad), or "al-insan al-kamil." Ask if he, Muhammad, is indeed regarded as the Perfect Man, whose behavior, whose words and deeds, are a model -- the Sunnah -- for Muslims to emulate, and emulate in every way. If that is conceded, then proceed to list some of the things with which Muhammad is associated: the Khaybar Oasis attack, the decapitation of the Banu Qurayza, the seizure and enslavement of women, the murder of Asma bint Marwan and Abu Akaf, the marriage and sexual intercourse with nine-year-old Aisha, and so on.

In no time at all, that Muslim spokesman will be spluttering. "How dare you? How dare you bring up these things? I'm leaving. I'm not coming back."

Induce the hysteria, just the way an obstetrician induces the contractions. Make those mental contractions begin early in the program. Have the mask of sweet reason pulled off as soon as possible.

Go to it.

It will be most effective.

And surely, many who visit this website could produce such a guide, not only to be made available for debaters and talk-show hosts on radio and television, but for those who simply show up at this or that occasion for "dialogue" at a mosque, or at some presentation during "Islam Week" at some campus, or at some political gathering, those who, entirely clear-thinking and unintimidated, appear expressly in order to throw a truthful spanner in the lying works.

A Political Koran is a good start.

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Posted on 08/25/2006 4:00 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 25 August 2006
Speaking of debates...
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A little while later Laura Ingraham referred to the case in Malaysia where Lina Joy, a convert to Christianity, is having such a hard time, including death threats. I explained that this resulted from the traditional Islamic death penalty against apostates, and quoted Muhammad's dictum, "If anyone changes his religion, kill him." Ingraham then asked Dr. Omeish if Sharia indeed mandated death for apostasy. He said flatly that it didn't, whereupon I said, "He's lying!" but I don't know if my mic was on. - Robert Spencer

The trouble with debates on radio is that, aside from the constant interruptions, either for commercials or for assorted breaks of a non-commercial nature, is that one is constrained by time, so much so that seldom are such debates occasions for much more than possibly landing one unforgettable punch, or leaving the audience with one thing to consider that will explode, like a depth charge, the other side's preposterous presentation (as was done the other day with the celebrated rock star and Islamic expert and now top-notch economic analyst, Mark LaVine, when at the end of his absurd flogging, on NPR, of "Heavy Metal Islam" -- his book-length analysis of why a rock band in Beirut matters so very much, someone came in and noted that inshallah-fatalism, and not the terrible Infidels, nor even the terrible local Muslim despotisms, explained the economic paralysis of the Muslim world).

What can one do when one's opponent simply lies, and hopes that some will believe it? Omeish knows, he has to know, that according to Islamic doctrine, those who apostasize from Islam, and do not heed the demand that they return to Islam, can and should be punished by death. He surely knows not only of the many examples cited by Robert above, but of many others that never reached the Western press.

What does one do when someone flat-out lies on your show? What should Laura Ingraham do? She should invite Robert on again. She should play, at the beginning, the question posed by Robert to Omeish, and his answer. Then she should allow Robert the full segment allotted to him to carefully list, one by one by one, all of the cases he cites in his written reply, and after each one, play again that little exchange in which Omeish is asked whether apostasy is punishable by death, and Omeish's "No." Again and again and again.

And then let Robert remind everyone of what Muhammad, in the Hadith, in the most authoritative collection of those Hadith (properly ahadith, but now by convention in English "Hadith" for the singular and plural), clearly stated:

"The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims" (Bukhari 9.83.17). He said flatly: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Bukhari 9.84.57)."

Then ask again, does Dr. Esam Omeish, president of the Muslim American Society, wish to rebut in any way either the quotations, preserved in the Hadith collection of Bukhari? Does he wish to deny the assembled evidence of many cases, in many different Muslim countries, of severe punishments being meted out to apostates, including death in those countries that are most intent on observing, or coming close to observing, the Shariah?

Invite Dr. Esam Omeish to make a statement. If he cannot tell the truth, if he persists in lying about this major doctrine in Islam, a doctrine which essentially denies freedom of conscience, and demonstrates the collectivism, the hatred for individual freedom, that is at the heart of Islam, then he should not be listened to by any Infidel, on any subject, ever again. And all those talk-show hosts or others who might be tempted to have him on should be made aware of this Big Lie, the goebbelsish lie, offered to yet again fool those Infidels whom he holds in such obvious contempt, for he has no notion that they, those credulous fools, might actually dare to study the texts of Islam, might dare to find out for themselves what Islam says about apostasy.

Those days are over. Not because our government has instructed us -- it hasn't. Not because the press has been so wonderful about explaining what Islam is all about -- it hasn't. Not because departments of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies are full of people willing to tell the truth about the doctrines of Islam, the tenets, the attitudes, the atmospherics, which it inculcates or promotes or emanates.

No, it is because having realized the discrepancy between what Muslims say and do, and what they and some of their non-Muslim apologists claim Islam is all about, simply has become too great to be ignored, and is no longer ignored, and it will be impossible to stop Infidels from finding out. It must be a hellish prospect for Muslim propagandists. After all, the texts of Islam are right there, just waiting to be read, merely a click away on the Internet. It is only a matter of people reading them. It is only a matter of finding out what the word "dhimmi" means, and the word "Jizyah," only a matter of reading, say, the growing literature on the status of non-Muslims under Muslim rule, over 1350 years (and the same kinds of mistreatment can be found today, from Hindus in Bangladesh to Christians in the Sudan and Egypt and Iraq).

What can they do? Imagine that you are a Muslim, trying to prevent a few billion aroused Infidels from reading the very texts (well, mainly the Qur'an, but not the more off-putting Hadith and certainly not the full biography of Muhammad, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil) at the very same time as you are trying, in your campaigns of Da'wa (the Call to Islam), to present to a subset of those Infidels -- the carefully targeted economically and psychically marginal -- passages from those texts, especially the Qur'an, in order to gather new recruits for the Army of Islam?

Quite a problem. So far the campaigns of desinformatsiya, disinformation, have been going smoothly because too many people were willing to deny the obvious, willing to avert their eyes, willing to grasp at assorted straws ("poverty" and "American foreign policy" being the two most obvious) and to promote impossible remedies (the "moderate Muslims" who would supposedly be our allies and do battle against those immoderate Muslims) and of course, that other impossible dream, the "Reform of Islam."

Omeish, Esam Omeish, has had his comeuppance. He did it to himself. He lied so brazenly, so completely, about something so easy to refute, instead of pulling the usual "well, I'm not sure about that" or "I am not familiar with that, let me look in to it" or any of the other absurdities that Muslim apologists, confronted by the truth and wishing at all costs not to admit to it, offer up and manage to satisfy, so they think, at least some in the endlessly credulous audience of Infidels.

Not any more.

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Posted on 08/25/2006 3:47 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 25 August 2006
Annoying Americanism of the week
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Every Friday, whenever I remember and can be bothered, I will harrumph about an annoying Americanism that is creeping into the Queen's English.

Americans "debate" a person. This is, of course, perfectly possible. You can debate Zadie Smith, discussing whether she is very overrated or ridiculously overrated. You can also debate why she is overrated. However, if an American were to talk about debating Zadie Smith, he might well mean having a debate with Zadie Smith, and the topic might be something other than Zadie Smith, at least to start with.

Recently this transitive use of debate to mean "have a debate with" rather than "have a debate about" has crept into British English. I don't like it at all. The rot set in when, probably via the management consultancy industry, we started using "impact", first as a verb, then as a transitive verb. At one time Zadie Smith's novels would have "had little impact on" a discerning public. Later, as a more gullible public started to celebrate black writers, however untalented, she "impacted on it" more and more. Now she "impacts" public taste.

Americans tend to use verbs transitively where we would not. For example, as well as saying "Zadie Smith writes incoherent and pretentious novels," they might also say, "Zadie Smith writes her publisher every week." As yet, British English has resisted this usage. I hope we continue to do so, otherwise I will be forced to write the editor of The Times, and perhaps debate other correspondents on the subject.

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Posted on 08/25/2006 10:30 AM by Mary Jackson
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Friday, 25 August 2006
about those Muslim charities
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"To what extent do Muslim charities — on the surface noble and selfless --"
-- from this article in the Times

Strike "on the surface noble and selfless." Muslim "charities" are devoted solely to Muslim causes; Muslim "charitable" giving is always connected to support limited to the umma, and used to reinforce its solidarity. This in no way prevents Muslims from trying to obtain as much aid as they can from Infidels, nor very occasionally, making a deliberately planned gesture of "charity" to Infidels -- that $10 million check by Saudi Prince Talal, he of the facial tics, a check designed to make up for that little business of all those Saudis participating in the attack on the World Trade Center, a check rightly ripped up by Mayor Giuliani -- or for that matter, donating small sums in a manner designed to elicit maximum attention and gratitude from Infidels, such as victims of the Katrina floods.

Why did The Times have to put in "on the surface noble and selfless"? Who thinks that Muslim groups soliciting funds for Muslims-only are any more "noble and selfless" than Hezbollah, handing out money and engaging in public works projects in Lebanon? The only truly "noble and selfless" charitable work done in the Muslim world has been that of the Christian monks in Algeria, who for their pains had their throats slit, and by other missionaries, and now by the American military, not only with its tens of billions of dollars in good works (lavished on ungrateful and hostile people) in Iraq, and to a much lesser extent, in Afghanistan, and then in Pakistan, where those field hospitals set up after the earthquake apparently not been removed, but have been treated by the Pakistanis as theirs by right, now pressed into service treating people for conditions having nothing to do with that earthquake. And of course Western journalists in Israel, though they never report on it, know perfectly well that the wards of Israeli hospitals are full of Arabs in the waiting-rooms, able to take advantage of the highest level of medical care offered to them free by the Jewish state, medical care that would be impossible to find anywhere outside of the best hospitals in Western Europe or North America.

Those Christian monks in Algeria, those American medics in Pakistan, those Jewish doctors in Israel, were and are and will be "noble and selfless" in their treatment of Muslims. Does anyone know of any example of Muslim charities, or Muslim individuals, the kind who take in the fantastic oil wealth, actually helping to aid, without any careful calculation of a public-relations goal(i.e., in order to improve the image of Muslims among Infidels), engaging in similar acts to benefit, day after day, without any show, non-Muslims? How could that be? Believers believe that the world is divided between Believers and Infidels; there is no point, it makes no sense, for the former to show munificence to the latter, unless of course it is done to further the spread of Islam, to help remove barriers or obstacles to that spread, which can justify even, here and there, the occasional well-publicized check, handed over, as Bin Talal did with Giuliani, beneath the blaze of lights and whirring cameras.

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Posted on 08/25/2006 10:08 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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