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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
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Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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by David P. Gontar
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by Theodore Dalrymple
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interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
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Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
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Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
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These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 13, 2012.
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
A Musical Interlude: Please Don't Mention It (Al Bowlly, Anona Winn)
Listen here.
Posted on 11/13/2012 11:19 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Should We Be Worried About Parasites from Cats?

You can never be slim or rich enough, said the late duchess of Windsor; but can you ever be too worried about your health? Epidemiologists are always finding new things for us to fret about, new threats in the environment for us to avoid if we can or bite our nails over if we can’t. It is, as the French say, their métier.

One of the latest scares is over a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoon parasite that until recently was thought to be harmless for everyone except for the fetuses of pregnant women and people with much reduced immunity, for example patients with AIDS or Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This parasite is, if not quite ubiquitous, very common, so if it really is harmful there might be a lot to worry about. This is no time for complacency: where health scares are concerned, it never is.

The definitive host of the Toxoplasma parasite is the domestic cat, but it can be passed on to other animals, especially those that provide us with our animal protein (although cattle are relatively resistant to infection), and it thus enters the human food chain.

A recent editorial in The Lancet contains a sentence that could become a locus classicus of epidemiological neurosis. Having pointed out “the widely held view that Toxoplasma gondii contamination in food and human infection in general should not cause public concern,” it goes on to say, “However, infections could have as yet poorly understood adverse consequences.” That no definite adverse consequences have not yet been discovered does not necessarily mean that they are not there; there is an old medical dictum that says that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Relaxation, about anything then, can never be justified.

But is there any evidence that infection with Toxoplasma gondii is actually harmful except to restricted groups (in whom, indeed, it can be very serious indeed)? The Lancet editorial refers to two pieces of research, one from Denmark and the other from the United States, that suggest that infection might do neuropsychiatric harm.

Danish researchers found that women who had antibodies against the parasite were more likely than those who did not to make suicide attempts, particularly by violent methods. (Although Denmark is a small country with a small population, it has a remarkable record of medical research on large numbers of people.) Altogether 45,788 women had their blood checked for antibodies against Toxoplasma while they were pregnant, and it was found that those who tested positive were 1.53 times as likely to attempt suicide as those who did not; moreover, the risk increased with higher levels of antibody.

In the United States, researchers found that people who suffered from bipolar affective disorder (both mania and depression) had an increased prevalence of seropositivity for Toxoplasma.

As the editorial points out, correlation is not causation; it could be, for example, that people with certain behavioral propensities are more likely to become infected with Toxoplasma. But it also points out that the parasite, which enters the human brain, has genes that can modify the production of the neurotransmitters that according to modern neuro-scientific doctrine play a determining role in our mood and conduct.

Dogs can be infected by Toxoplasma as well as humans, and the infection sometimes causes them serious symptoms. They are infected by cat feces, and indeed without cats there would be no toxoplasmosis. No wonder that dogs act on a variant of Dick’s famous advice in Henry VI Part 2: The first thing we do, let’s kill all the cats.

First published in PJ Media.

Posted on 11/13/2012 4:42 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Lost In A World I Never Made, And Don't Much Care For

From the description of a high-tech company:

"The Company's portfolio includes amplifiers, attenuators, circulators, demodulators, detectors, diodes, directional couplers, front-end modules, hybrids, infrastructure RF subsystems, isolators, lighting and display solutions, mixers, modulators, optocouplers, optoisolators, phase shifters, PLLs/synthesizers/VCOs, power dividers/combiners, power management devices, receivers, switches and technical ceramics."

Posted on 11/13/2012 8:45 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Michael Mukasey: The Obama Administration And Terror

From Commenary:

Obama and Terror: A Four-Year Scandal

From the outset, the Obama administration’s handling of the most sensitive secrets of the war on terror has been worrisome. In April 2009, the Justice Department released previously classified memoranda that described the standards of the CIA’s interrogation program, thereby making known to our enemies the limits of what they might face if captured. The release also demoralized those within the intelligence agency who were told they could no longer rely on the memoranda—and would, therefore, be judged by a standard different from the one in place when they acted. 

Two years later, following the killing of Osama bin Laden, revelations about the intelligence recovered in the raid on his Pakistan compound rendered much of that intelligence useless, because terrorists found out what we had learned. A few months after that, administration officials confirmed to the media that the United States had been involved along with Israel in implanting a computer virus in Iranian nuclear-enrichment centrifuges that caused physical damage, thereby justifying by our own professed standards any retaliation Iran might undertake. And, most recently, newspaper reports have disclosed planning for retaliatory operations against the terrorists who murdered our ambassador to Libya and military and other personnel present in our consulate in Benghazi. 

The recklessness with which the Obama administration has allowed these precious and deadly secrets to be revealed in the light of day—and in all cases for political reasons, to buff the president’s image—is a little-covered national scandal. And it is on display throughout the text of Daniel Klaidman’s Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 304 pages). There are several details in this book that Klaidman, a veteran Newsweek correspondent, could only have uncovered from leaks of classified information at the highest levels. At least two revelations have the potential to do real damage. Some of the details Klaidman reveals about the nature of the evidence gathered at Guantanamo Bay—gleaned from what was, until this book was published, secret surveillance of detainees—are bound to complicate prosecution of suspected terrorists who were held there, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who also personally beheaded (“with my sacred right hand”) the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. 

The other revelation involves foreign policy. We are told that a plan to release Yemeni prisoners from Guantanamo to the Saudis so that they could be put into the intermittently effective Saudi deprogramming regimen for al-Qaeda associates came undone when the Yemeni president affronted the Saudi king by suggesting Yemen was doing the monarch a favor in allowing the kingdom to take those Yemenis. This mildly titillating story may well make it more difficult for the United States to conduct diplomacy in a part of the world where it is not helpful to be the source of gossip that embarrasses those in power.

But leaving aside the sloppy handling of such sensitive information, the public has reason to be disturbed by Klaidman’s account of the way the administration made its decisions in the war on terror. For example, Klaidman reports that President Obama is unwilling to use conventional law-of-war detention, which could take terrorist combatants off the battlefield for the duration of the conflict. Because this is not a conventional war, we can’t predict when or how it will end and therefore detention could be indefinite—indeed, even perpetual. The possibility that a system of ongoing review might be put in place to assure at least that no prisoner is held beyond a time when he presents any realistic danger seems either not to have occurred to anyone, or to have been rejected as too similar to what was in place under George W. Bush. 

Harsh political reality thus far has prevented Obama from releasing prisoners at Guantanamo, notwithstanding his pledge to close that facility, indeed his order that it be closed—because they are simply too dangerous to release. He has determined that henceforth no new prisoners will be brought to Guantanamo and the only prisoners who remain there will be the legacy of his predecessor. Klaidman portrays the president as far more concerned with the imagined excesses of the war on terror than with the consequences of another attack. And he fears his possible successors as well. Discussing the possible use of detention power, Obama has supposedly said: “You never know who is going to be president four years from now. I have to think about how Mitt Romney would use that power.”

The options now in place for dealing with terrorists who obey no laws of war is that they will be either killed by remotely piloted drones or captured and tried and thereby treated better than lawful combatants who obey the laws of war. So the administration that wears its concern for human rights on the sleeve of its military has defaulted to kill rather than capture. The introduction of drone technology was the achievement of then Defense Secretary Robert Gates, initially motivated in part by budgetary constraints; however, the technology was not as developed nor its use as widespread during the Bush administration as it has become during Obama’s tenure. Thus, drones do not bear the dreaded Bush trademark. An administration that seeks at all costs to avoid being identified with its predecessor—even to the point of substituting the terms “unlawful enemy combatant,” used in legal literature for about a century, for “unprivileged enemy belligerent” and “foreign contingency operation” for “war”—feels comfortable, unlike its predecessor, having lethal force as its default enforcement method. 

The president’s take on Islamism emerges as a fabric of platitudes: Obama’s “cosmopolitan background…gave him a more visceral feel [than his predecessor had] for how much of the world lived—and how they viewed America.” He had traveled abroad to visit his relatives and spent three weeks in Karachi, “a sprawling, congested city throbbing with sectarian strife.” “These experiences helped shape Obama’s belief that what most people around the world desired was adequate food, shelter, and security—lives of dignity, free of the daily humiliations of poverty and ignorance. They were the basis for a coherent set of views about the roots of Islamic rage and the underlying conditions that breed Islamic extremism—the economic despair, the social and political dysfunction that lead young men to become terrorists.” As portrayed here, the president does not seem to have factored into his “coherent set of views” that Osama bin Laden was a millionaire many times over; or that Mohammed Atta, the lead operative in the September 11 attacks, was an upper-middle-class university student, as were other participants in that atrocity; or that those who plotted in 2007 to blow up the Glasgow airport were physicians, as is Bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri; or that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to detonate himself and his fellow passengers aboard an airplane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, was the son of a Nigerian cabinet minister; or that those implicated in plots in the UK are principally those born there who had no connection to a city “throbbing with sectarian strife.”

Nor does the book contain any hint that the president may have considered the possibility that “Islamic rage” and “Islamic extremism” may have some connection to Islam. 

President Obama is not the only actor in Klaidman’s book. There was, it seems, a struggle for the soul of his presidency between what Klaidman calls the “Tammany Hall” element, led principally by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and representing the forces of political expediency, and “the Aspen Institute” element, led by State Department legal adviser and former Yale Law School dean Harold Koh, representing the forces of high-minded idealism. 

Koh is shown wielding influence that far outstrips his rank because President Obama values his academic heft in pushing the debate leftward. He is described as having “an enormous intellect” and a background congenial to the president, a “former constitutional law professor himself.” 

Koh’s lofty disdain, moreover, for settled notions of process—he tried to get the deputy attorney general to take away from Solicitor General Elena Kagan the authority inherent in her office to determine the government’s litigation position in certain detainee cases because he disagreed with her views—appears to resonate with the president’s own approach to governance. Thus, in the summer of 2009, the president convened a meeting at the White House in which Koh was invited to brief him and certain others in the administration on issues relating to detention. This was a meeting to which others with a stake in that issue, including the CIA and the Defense Department, were not invited, apparently so that Koh could try to influence the president without the inconvenience of contrary views. 

Koh’s presentation as described here was less an intellectually disciplined briefing than a locker room pep talk, ending with, “Don’t let the past control the future.” Klaidman summons the characteristic eloquence of Vice President Joe Biden, in memorable prose uttered after the president left the room, to establish that the pep talk seemed to have worked: “‘You f—king did it,’ the vice president said, jabbing Koh in the chest. ‘You f—king connected with him, and that’s not easy.’” 

Although Klaidman blandly describes this episode as “a departure from protocol that ruffled some feathers,” it was actually a fundamental departure from basic rules of the road that normally define how decisions are taken on matters of national concern. Such rules—prosaically referred to as the “inter-agency process”—are designed to assure that those with a stake in any such decision participate in a way that assures both that the president will get the benefit of their advice, and that they will be able to go forward at least with an understanding of how and why a result they may oppose was reached. Disdain for that process results in not only sloppy execution, but also bad decisions, and it raises serious questions about the competence of those who are supposed to be in charge.

Such disdain, and such results, are on gaudy display here. A case in point is the decision made in November 2009 to abort the military-commission trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and transfer him to a civilian Article III court in Manhattan—this, when KSM already had announced his intention to plead guilty and proceed to sentencing and, presumably, martyrdom. Attorney General Eric Holder sought and received the authority to decide where the Guantanamo detainees would be tried once the prison was closed. This was true even in those cases in which military-commission proceedings had already commenced—notwithstanding that all detainees were in the formal legal custody of the Department of Defense, not the Department of Justice. Holder first made his leaning toward a civilian court known to Obama while the two were watching the fireworks on July 4, 2009, from a terrace at the White House. “It’s your call, you’re the attorney general,” the president responded. 

That result was in full accord with the preference of Harold Koh, expressed in terms not of rigorous jurisprudence, but of pop psychology. To try KSM in Manhattan, according to Koh, would “‘show confidence in our system,’ it would be a ‘redemptive act’ precisely because it is what the terrorists don’t want us to do.” Yet, whatever Koh’s “enormous intellect” may have revealed about what terrorists might want, actual events demonstrate that real terrorists often show a decided preference for making a hash out of legal processes by turning them into political theater. That was what we learned from the year-long circus that was the sentencing proceeding in a civilian court of Zacarias Moussaoui following his guilty plea as the so-called 20th hijacker. Tossing terrorists into the civilian legal system because they are purportedly afraid of it is rather like tossing Brer Rabbit into the briar patch because he purportedly was afraid of it—and it’s likely to yield the same success.

By the time Holder announced that KSM would be tried in New York, he had not discussed the decision with anyone who would face its consequences, notably local authorities in New York, who turned against it when they came to realize the chaos such a proceeding would bring to lower Manhattan. Klaidman describes some of the episodes that marked the course from the announcement of that decision in November 2009 to the announcement in April 2011 that it had been reversed. Along the way, Holder provided the curious assurance to the Senate that, the niceties of due process notwithstanding, a conviction in the KSM trial was assured. There was also the near acquittal of a defendant brought to New York from Guantanamo and charged in the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, a proceeding that was supposed to illustrate the near certainty of convictions in civilian terrorism trials but wound up so rattling Congress that it passed a statute barring the use of any funds to bring defendants from Guantanamo to trial in the United States. That is what necessitated Holder’s retreat.

These episodes included a squabble among Holder, Koh, and Emanuel at a White House meeting that ended with what Klaidman describes as the president’s attempt “to lead his team to higher ground,” but winds up in the telling as a descent into bathos. The president read aloud from the oration of the judge who sentenced would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid; the judge told Reid he was “not a soldier” and “no big deal” and then reached through fractured paraphrase for the eloquence of John F. Kennedy (“we will bear any burden, pay any price, to preserve our freedoms”) and Abraham Lincoln (“the world is not going to long remember what you or I say here”), only to achieve principally the grandiloquence of Douglas MacArthur (“See that flag, Mr. Reid?…That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten”). As Klaidman describes it:

Obama put down the speech and looked around the room. He didn’t fix his gaze on anyone in particular; he just stared for several moments. Then he spoke. “Why can’t I give that speech?” Without another word, he rose and walked out of the room.

No less disconcerting is Klaidman’s account of how the attorney general decided to open—or reopen—an investigation into whether CIA agents had committed crimes when they questioned some high-value detainees using “enhanced interrogation techniques.” That dreadfully inartistic term falsely suggested the concealment of unspeakable criminality, but in fact, the techniques were analyzed in detailed legal memos by Justice Department lawyers that, although revised at least once, concluded uniformly that they violated no standards applicable when the memos were written. Even more notably, these techniques had not been used since 2003. Holder, over the objection of every living former CIA director and the then incumbent director, Leon Panetta, released those memos.

When the public outrage Holder expected failed to materialize, he pressed on with investigations of the intelligence officers who carried out the interrogations. Career prosecutors in the eastern district of Virginia had investigated each instance of claimed unlawfulness and had concluded that none merited prosecution, drafting detailed memoranda describing their conclusions and the reasons for closing each of the investigations. Holder, by his own account in testimony, and by the account in this book, never read those memoranda. Moreover, he was well aware that such an investigation could damage morale within the agency, not to mention the damage it could cause to the careers of those under investigation regardless of the outcome—which came years later when the reopened investigations were closed again for lack of evidence of illegality. 

What motivated him to press the issue? By Klaidman’s account, Holder was influenced strongly by an article in Vanity Fair by Christopher Hitchens, who had volunteered to be waterboarded and videotaped his experience of the procedure. Waterboarding was the most celebrated and severe of the CIA techniques and had been imposed on precisely three senior al-Qaeda terrorists. After his own experiment, Hitchens wrote an article pronouncing the technique torture.

The word torture, in addition to being a handy epithet, is defined in the applicable statute that criminalizes torture as acting under color of law with the specific intent to cause “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” “Severe mental pain or suffering” is defined as “prolonged mental harm” resulting from any of several causes, including “severe physical pain or suffering” or the threat thereof, or the threat of imminent death; “severe physical pain or suffering” is not defined. Hitchens, a talented journalist and critic whose renown as a drinker matched his renown as an atheist, never claimed to have consulted the applicable law or to have experienced any prolonged effects from his ordeal; he simply announced that what he had experienced was torture. According to Klaidman, Holder watched the video of Hitchens’s experience, which showed that Hitchens had “lasted for fewer than 10 seconds before asking for mercy” and was “both mesmerized and repulsed.” 

Klaidman says Holder was so dogged because he carried a lingering sense of guilt from the time of his service as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration when he had helped bring about the pardon of Marc Rich, a financier charged with tax evasion whose wife had contributed huge sums to the Clinton campaign and library. (Notably, although unmentioned in this book, Holder failed on that occasion as well to consult with prosecutors in his own department who had brought the Rich prosecution.) 

So there you have it. The chief law-enforcement officer of the United States knowingly damaged morale in the nation’s principal intelligence agency by reopening investigations previously closed by career prosecutors within his own department without bothering to read why they did so. Holder acted on the strength of a fewer-than-10-second simulation of waterboarding performed on a writer devoid of any acquaintance with the law, and on his own guilty conscience over a previous lifting of tax-evasion charges in a case in which he also did not bother to determine why career prosecutors in his own department had acted. In so doing, he moved with exquisite efficiency to undermine faith simultaneously in law enforcement and national security. 

Klaidman does not disclose his sources for the account he presents, although the book is preceded by two pages entitled “A Note on Sources,” in which he outlines the steps he took to assure accuracy. The only source he appears to deny using directly, and it is a fairly casual denial, is the president himself: 

Occasionally I write about the emotional state and interior thoughts of President Obama and his top aides. In doing so, I am not taking literary license. Those accounts are based on reporting—either from specific comments the president has made that directly express his state of mind, or from reasonable inferences from sources I have interviewed who have observed and spoken to him.

The president is portrayed often as maddeningly detached and above the fray, but it is impossible to believe that the accounts of private conversations between him and members of his administration were not cleared with him.

One obvious source is Holder. This emerges not only from such apparent accounts as his one-on-one discussion with Obama about bringing KSM to trial in the United States—a story that could have had only two authoritative sources—but also from less obvious data points. For example, the account of Holder’s friction with Rahm Emanuel consistently portrays Emanuel as unprincipled and narrowly political and Holder as idealistic and thoughtful—always a telling indicator in a behind-the-scenes account. 

Consider as well how Klaidman accounts for Holder’s absence from the famous photo of the president, an open-mouthed Hillary Clinton, and others gathered in the White House Situation Room watching in real time the operation that killed Bin Laden:

The operational planning surrounding Bin Laden was known to only a tiny circle of national security officials, on a need-to-know basis. One person who was not brought into the loop was the attorney general. He was Obama’s closest friend on the cabinet and the proposed raid raised important legal questions. But Obama determined that the mission would be a “Title 50 operation,” conducted under the auspices of the CIA. As a covert action, there had already been a legal finding prepared, so additional Justice Department approval was not required.

This excuse makes no sense. Title 50 is that part of the U.S. Code that sets forth, among other things, the authorities of the CIA. It authorizes the agency to enlist the military in the conduct of covert actions when finding that such an action is appropriate has been signed by the president. In this case, that put Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, in command, directing the operation carried out by Navy SEALs overseen by Admiral William McRaven.

But the Bin Laden operation bristled with legal questions, or at least questions that lent themselves to the kind of analysis that lawyers bring to bear, beyond those answered simply by finding that such an operation could be authorized. These included questions relating to mounting such an operation in a country that was a nominal ally of the United States, and ones related to risks, if any, of collateral damage.

Indeed, a memorandum from Panetta that surfaced after the operation disclosed that McRaven’s forces were authorized to do only what had been briefed to the president—without specifying what that was—and that if anything not included in that briefing was encountered, they were required to seek further guidance. The possible need for additional guidance that could have engaged legal questions was and is apparent. That the naked finding necessary to authorize the operation had been made simply does not suffice to explain the attorney general’s absence.

Here’s what does make sense, even though Klaidman does not connect these dots. Holder, he tells us, was regarded by many in the White House as a loose cannon. And his legal pursuit of intelligence officers made certain that his fellow cabinet members at the State Department and the CIA would have every reason to distrust him. That is a far more plausible explanation for Holder’s absence than the suggestion he was kept out of the loop because the he did not have a need to know. That notion simply does not hold water.

In the end, like all insider accounts written with the cooperation of insiders, what we have in Kill or Capture is a portrait the Obama administration wants available as he seeks reelection. This is how Obama and his men wish to be perceived. So beyond the question of whether everything really happened as Klaidman describes lies the key question: Does this portrait of the people close to Obama and the process by which they managed the war on terror recommend four more years of stewardship?

About the Author

Michael B. Mukasey, a lawyer in private practice in New York and former federal judge, was the attorney general of the United States from November 2007 to January 2009.

Posted on 11/13/2012 9:09 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Pseudsday Tuesday

I realised that my nephew was never going to be much of a ranter when he tried to insult his mother: "Mum is an OGRE ... er, I mean ogress." Rage should never be checked by pedantry, although correcting someone's grammar when they are in full-rant mode is a fun way to provoke them.  Nor should pedantry get in the way of an orgasm, as I fear it might in Tom Wolfe's Back to Blood, reviewed in the TLS by Stephen Abell:

Sex unquestionably brings out some of the flaws in Wolfe’s prose. For example, its effortfully mimetic approach, where the writing enacts the sounds it is describing. This is from a superfluous trip to the “Honey Pot” (an unimaginative strip club), where Wolfe wants to leave us in no doubt about the pole-straddling gyrations of the woman on stage: “BEAT thung CROTCH thung TAIL thung CRACK thung PERI thung NEUM thung”. Or its obsession with transcribing sounds to needless effect (which creates sentences that make it look as if the author has fallen asleep against his keyboard): “unhh, ahhh ahhh, ooom-muh, ennngh ohhhhunh”. There is crass imagery (“his big generative jockey was inside her pelvic saddle”) and glib alliteration (“lascivious looks of men lifting the lust in the loins”). And there is the relentlessly anatomical categorization: “pectoral glories”, “mons pubis”, “their montes veneris”.

I was nearly there, but that plural killed it. Those Mounties get everywhere.

Posted on 11/13/2012 10:30 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
What, Really, Do NPR And The BBC Know About Israel And The Arabs?

Yesterday, November 12, both NPR and the BBC reported on Israel returning Syrian fire, first with a warning shot, and then, when Syrian mobile artillery again fired into Israel, with a non-warning firing that, of course, hit its Syrian target.

Here is how NPR dealt with it:

At 12:03 p.m., an NPR reporter informed the national NPR audience that the war of 1973 was "the last time the two [Israsel and Syria]exchanged fire."

The BBC reported the story -- you can still see it up at the BBC website -- this way:

12 November 2012

Syria crisis: Israeli tanks 'hit Syrian units' in Golan

Israel and Syria have not fought since 1973, but remain in a state of war

Israel's military says its tanks have scored "direct hits" on Syrian artillery units after Syrian mortar shells fell near an Israeli army post.

It comes a day after Israel fired warning shots after it said a Syrian shell hit another of its army posts on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The episode is the most serious between the two countries since the Arab-Israeli war of 1973

So the NPR  reporter tells us, with authority, that Israel and Syria last "exchanged fire" in 1973.

And the BBC report tells us that the little exchange over this weekend --- two firings exactly by Israel, one of them a warning shot, and by Syria, three or four artillery shells that are likely to have been the result of incompetence and negligence rather than of deliberate provocation -- "is the most serious between the two countries since the Arab-Israeli war of 1973."  And, asserts the BBC reporter urbi et orbi, "Israel and Syria have not fought since 1973."

Alright, I'm  going to paraliptically pass over the many many errors and evidences of near-criminal negligence by both the BBC and NPR, over many years, in their coverage of the Arab-Israeli wars, or more accurately, of the without-end Muslim Arab Jihad against the Infidel nation-state of Israel, a Jihad carried out by many means, of which battlefield violence, qital, is only oneiinstrument, and not the most effective. I'm not going to mention, in praeteritio-fashion, about the failure of both the BBC and NPR to ever mention the reason for being of the Mandate for Palestine. I'm not going to discuss their failure to ever mention the Mandates system, or to quote from the Mandate for Palestine itself. Right now is not the moment to discuss the feailure of the BBC and NPR to explain to their audiences what such words as "dhimmi" and "jizyah" mean, or to discuss the duty incumbent on Muslims to engage, directly or indireclty, in Jihad in order to ensure that not this or that bit of land, but the entire world, ultimately comes under the domination of Islam, and rule by Muslims -- the very thing without knowledge of which the Jihad against Israel remains confusing, misunderstood, misinterpreted. And I won't bother to note that the failure, over decades, of the BBC and NPR to explaiin to their audiences about Muslim treaty-making, that is about the Truce Treaty of Hudaibiyya as a model for all subsequent agreements made by Muslims with non-Muslim powers, keeps people from grasping why it was, and why it always will be, that the agreements made by Muslim Arab states with Israel have almost always been broken, in ways large and small, and it is only the deterrent power of Israel's military that keeps the peace, more or less, between Israel and the Musilm Arab states that surround it.

No, I'm only going to mention that when the BBC claims that "Israel and Syria have not fought since 1973" and when NPR claims that Israel and Syria last "excchanged fire" in the 1973 war, both are attempting to express (here connoisseurs will recognize a celebrated review, by A. E. Housman,  of S. G. Owen's edition of Persius and Juvenal) the fact that one of the largest air battles in history took place between Israel and Syria in 1982, and that in that battle, 85 Syrian planes were shot down with not a single Israeli loss. And it was that battle that has insured quiet on the Israeli-Syrian front ever since, and it is the memory of that battle that will keep those errant mortar rounds from Syrian artillery from being repeated.

What does NPR, what does the BBC, know about the facts having to do with the history of the Jihad against the Infidel nation-state of Israel by its Muslim Arab neighbors?

Apparently, not very much. Howlers abound.

I've offered you the latest, but my notebook -- and yours too, I suspect -- is brimful with others.

Ignorance of the nature of Jihad and of Islam is not only an obvious threat to Israel, but prevents the formulation of policies -- foreign and domestic -- that adequately reflect an understanding of the ideology of Islam, and the attitudes and beliefs of its adherents.

This can't go on. This can no longer be tolerated. It never should have been.

Posted on 11/13/2012 9:48 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
The Telenovela: As The World Turns
Posted on 11/13/2012 12:15 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Journalists attacked for reporting on Christmas tree controversy

From the Copenhagen Post

The on-going controversy over the Christmas tree and the housing association in Kokkedal, a town north of Copenhagen, took another turn this weekend, when two journalists from TV2 News escaped unharmed after their van was attacked by 25 masked individuals.

The journalists had gone to the Egedalsvænget housing complex to report on a petition that was gathering signatures of those who had lost confidence in the housing association’s board.

The board had voted against paying 8,000 kroner for the annual Christmas tree and party, but had earlier in the year approved the payment of 60,000 kroner for a party celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid. Five out of nine of the board members are Muslims.

After the men arrived and exited the van, the attackers promptly began throwing bricks and cobblestones at it. The attackers shouted slurs at the journalists, such as “Neo-Nazi”, and told them to leave.

Following the attack that damaged the windows, doors and the dashboard of the van, the head of TV2 News condemned the treatment of his journalists.

“It’s completely outrageous that things like this happen, but I’m glad it was only our hardware that was attacked and that our personnel were unharmed,” Jacob Nybroe told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “But it’s disappointing that we can’t cover the news everywhere in Denmark.”

. . . not everyone on the board can agree on why the proposal to have a Christmas tree was rejected. “No-one wanted to take on the responsibility of getting it,” one board member, Ismail Mestasi, told the press. “A vote was taken and it ended as it ended. I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I was asked to get the tree. And I didn’t want to.”

The police announced that they were now investigating an accusation of racism made against the board regarding its decision. “It needs to be determined to what extent the decision by the Muslim members of the board to first vote 'yes' to a 60,000 kroner Eid party, then 'no' to a 8,000 kroner Christmas tree to celebrate Christian traditions, violates laws by discriminating against Christians and their traditions,” police spokesperson Karsten Egtved wrote in his report.

Posted on 11/13/2012 1:56 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Muslim gang 'white rape' claim prompts row

From the BBC

Tory MP Kris Hopkins has sparked a row in the Commons by claiming gangs of Muslim men are raping white "kids". The Keighley MP claimed police had felt they needed "permission" to go after abusers due to "political correctness".

He said MPs should not avoid talking about the issue or the BNP and others will hijack it. Mr Hopkins insisted he had been right to raise the issue, telling MPs: "Time and time again it's a white girl being raped by Muslim men and if we deny that fact in this House then the BNP and everybody else climbs on board . . . We shouldn't get away from the fact that there are gangs of Muslim men going round and raping white kids".

He said the previous MP in his constituency - Labour's Ann Cryer - was right to raise similar concerns.

But Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi warned about "playing into the hands" of far right groups with such accusations. She said the fact that the victims of abuse were white - in the cases Mr Hopkins was referring to - was "coincidental not deliberate . . . the common factors in all cases of abuse was the vulnerability of the victims and the fact that the perpetrators were 'nearly all men'. . . They (the victims) are always young girls, or young boys, or children and... the victims in these cases are always the vulnerable ones. It's never the child who has got a secure happy family life,"

Last year, Ann Cryer said she had been made aware of a problem in her constituency in 2003 after she was approached by about six mothers who said their daughters were being groomed for sex by Pakistani men. She said she tried to intercede with the community by asking a councillor to speak to Muslim elders, but they said it was not their affair.

Posted on 11/13/2012 3:42 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
What Makes A Nice Girl Like That Decide To Go Into A Profession Like Acting?

It wasn't being one of Qaddafi's Praetorian Bodyguard that did her in, nor her joining the rebels against Qaddafy. No, it was her desire, once in Cairo, to enter showbiz. Naturally that shamed the family, and what else could her brother do but kill her? What would you have done?

From AP:

Female Gadhafi bodyguard killed in Egypt

By SARAH EL DEEB | November 13, 2012

Egyptian authorities are investigating the killing of a former female bodyguard of ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, She was found stabbed to death in her Cairo apartment.

Egyptian officials said Tuesday Zahraa al-Bouaishi, 31, was found dead in a pool of blood in her apartment in Nasr City district in Cairo over the weekend.

Authorities suspect al-Bouaishi's brother. The officials said al-Bouaishi was planning to begin an acting career in Cairo, considered a disgrace by some in her family. The officials were speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Al-Bouaishi defected from Gadhafi's regime, then helped the rebels and international allies with information about some of his forces' weapons caches. She later moved to Cairo from Tunisia.

Posted on 11/13/2012 8:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
A Musical Interlude: Don't Put Your Daughter On The Stage, Mrs. Worthington (Noel Coward)
Listen here.
Posted on 11/13/2012 8:46 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Israel Would Consider Ending Its Adherence To The Absurd Oslo Accords

Memo to Jerusalem:

Start talking about Jihad, and the immutability of Islamic doctrine. Start talking about the Treaty of Hudaibiyya, the basis for all Muslim treaty-making ("Truce Treaties" not "Peace Treaties") with non-Muslims. Start using the phrase "Palestinian Arabs" and stop using the phrase "Palestinians." Start making sense.

From the Jerusalem Post:

Israel: We will annul Oslo Accords when Palestinians seek upgraded UN status

Israeli diplomats instructed to say Israel will consider partial or full cancellation of the Oslo Accords if the United Nations General Assembly adopts the resolution to upgrade the status of Palestine.

By | Nov.14, 2012

Israeli ambassadors around the world were instructed to deliver a message to the presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers of the countries in which they serve, stating Israel will consider partial or full cancellation of the Oslo Accords if the United Nations General Assembly adopts the resolution to upgrade the status of Palestine to that of a non-member observer state in the organization.

The vote on the Palestinian proposal will take place on November 29, the anniversary of the vote in the UN approving the Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) announced on Monday in a meeting with the foreign ministers of the Arab League in Cairo. The Partition Plan was to replace the British Mandate over Palestine with two national states, one Jewish and one Arab. In 1977, the United Nations recognized November 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

If the General Assembly votes on the issue, the Palestinians are expected to win a large majority, with about 150 of the 193 member nations voting for the proposal. As opposed to the decisions of the UN Security Council, General Assembly decisions cannot be vetoed. In practice, the only side who can delay or prevent the vote on the Palestinian status upgrade are the Abbas and the Palestinians themselves. The Israel effort will focus on enlisting as many countries and world leaders as possible to pressure Abbas and deter him from completing the move in the UN, said a senior official in the Israeli Foreign Ministry who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the subject.

However, the likelihood of Abbas agreeing to halt the process is quite low, especially as the telephone conversation Abbas had with U.S. President Barack Obama did not deter him, said sources in the Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister's Office. "Despite everything, we are continuing to act and try," said the senior Foreign Ministry official.

On Sunday, the Foreign Ministry and sent an urgent cable to all Israeli representatives around the world, asking ambassadors to deliver a number of messages to senior officials in those countries as soon as possible. "You are asked immediately at the beginning of the work week to contact the foreign ministry, prime minister's office, national security adviser or president's office and request to do all possible to halt the Palestinian initiative because of its far-reaching consequences," the cable to the ambassadors said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman held three days of meetings in Vienna with the Israeli ambassadors to the European Union nations, and the cable to all ambassadors was sent out on Sunday at the end of the meetings. Lieberman, who spent over 12 hours with the ambassadors over the weekend, told them they must respond harshly to the Palestinian initiative in the UN, up to and including forcing the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. But Lieberman did say: "Under no circumstances can we harm the Palestinian civilian population."

During the discussion with the ambassadors, Lieberman presented a list of possible steps to punish the Palestinians, such as stopping the transfer of tax money Israel collects for the PA, canceling the Oslo Accords, or canceling the Israeli work permits of thousands of Palestinian workers. A source in the Foreign Ministry said it was clear to all the participants that Israel is in a complicated position. "Almost any step we take in response to the initiative in the United Nations will also harm the Palestinian populace and also harm Israel's interests," said the official.

The cable to the embassies was signed by the head of the ministry's division for international organizations, ambassador Roni Leshno-Yaar, who leads the militant policy in the Foreign Ministry in all matters related to the Israeli attempts to block the Palestinian initiative in the United Nations. The cable was approved Lieberman and ministry director general Rafi Barak.

"The Palestinian resolution is a clear violation of the fundamental principle of negotiations," wrote Leshno-Yaar, "and is a violation of the agreements between Israel and the PLO. The adoption of the resolution will give Israel the right to re-evaluate previous agreements with the PLO and consider canceling them partially or completely, and would make progress in the peace process more difficult in the future," said Leshno-Yaar.

The efforts to dissuade the Palestinians are focusing mostly on the EU, said a senior ministry official. EU nations have relatively a lot of influence on Abbas in light of the large amounts of aid they provide the Palestinians, said a ministry official. The Israeli ambassadors were asked to coordinate their actions with the American ambassadors in their countries, and to start conducting background briefings with journalists and local opinion makers. The ambassadors were also requested to work on local members of parliament and influential members of the local Jewish communities to enlist them in putting pressure on the Palestinians against the move in the UN.

For Netanyahu, the UN vote trumps southern rocket fire

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees the vote in the UN as having extremely serious consequences for Israel. Netanyahu has held discussions on the matter almost every day over the past few days, and has been dealing with the matter no less than with that of the escalation and rockets in the south - if not more. Netanyahu is of the opinion that while the present round of fighting in the Gaza area can be controlled, the snowball effect started by the Palestinian initiative in the UN could be much harder to stop.

Monday evening, Netanyahu held a meeting with a number of his senior ministers to deal with the issue Israel fears the most: a scenario in which Palestine's new status as a non-member state would allow it to be accepted as a member of the International Criminal Court of the UN in the Hague and demand Israel and its leaders be tried for war crimes. Israel is not a member of the International Criminal Court, and as a result its decisions do not obligate Israel. But a prosecution against Israel or senior Israeli officials in the international court could initiate a wave of criminal proceedings against Israel around the world and encourage the implementation of various economic sanctions against Israel, such as a ban on imports from the settlements.

During the meeting with Netanyahu, Lieberman and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the Palestinian approach to the International Criminal Court would be "a declaration of war," which would require Israel to respond even more strongly than the Palestinian initiative in the General Assembly.

Posted on 11/13/2012 10:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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