These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 14, 2008.
Friday, 14 March 2008
Afghanistan clerics upset as woman makes final of 'Pop Idol'
IN A first for post-Taleban Afghanistan, a woman has made it to the final three in the country's version of Pop Idol.
Lima Sahar, from the conservative Pashtun belt, is up against two male contestants tonight for a place in the final sing-off on Afghan Star, which has become one of the nation's most popular television shows.
Conservatives decry the fact that a woman has found success singing on TV, while others – younger Afghans – say the show is helping women progress.
Under the Taleban regime that was overthrown in 2001, women were not even allowed out of their homes unaccompanied, while music and television were banned.
With her hair tucked under a headscarf, Lima brushes off her critics, saying there can be no progress for women without upsetting the status quo. "No pain, no gain," she told reporters.
Lima saw off 2,000 other hopefuls who auditioned for the third series of Afghan Star, in which viewers vote by text message. The format is similar to Pop Idol – the singers perform in front of a studio audience and three judges, and past winners have been given recording deals.
Afghanistan's clerics' council has protested to the president, Hamid Karzai, over the show. "In the situation that we have in Afghanistan right now, we don't need a woman singer. We don't need Afghan Star. . . said Ali Ahmad Jebra-ali, a member of the council.
Haji Baran Khan, a farmer from Kandahar – the Taleban's spiritual birthplace and the city Lima now calls home – said a Pashtun girl singing on TV went against the country's culture.
"She is also affecting the minds of other good girls. She should stop singing," said Khan, whose three sons and two daughters told him about Lima's success.
She says she's just the latest in a long tradition of Afghan artists – albeit in a more modern form. "Artists are historical and cultural in our country. Artists have been around a long time," she told a news conference. "I came by the vote of the people of Afghanistan."
The three finalists represent each of Afghanistan's three main ethnic groups: Pashtuns, Hazaras and Tajiks. Shohabidin Mohammad, an ethnic Hazara who was at the event in Kabul, said he didn't believe ethnicity should play a part in the vote. But he acknowledged, somewhat sheepishly, he will vote for the Hazara finalist – Hameed Sakhizada. Standing beside him was Abass Nariwal, a fan of Lima's and, like her, an ethnic Pashtun. Another of her fans, Nematullah Khan, is a 25-year-old student at Kandahar University. "She took a bold step. She has a lot of courage," he said. "Whether she wins or not, she's a good example for our youth."
That is what bothers Mohammad Qasim Akhger, an independent political analyst. He says the most talented singers aren't necessarily the ones who get voted through.
"Now there is one Pushtun, one Hazara and one Tajik, so what will happen is that nobody will care about their talents; they will just vote for their tribe," he said.
A bit of an Oprah Winfrey dilemma there; do I support my ethnicity or my gender? As Mr Burns said, Ketchup? Catsup?
Posted on 03/14/2008 2:55 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 14 March 2008
A boy named Sue
Remember Dr Kevin de Cock, World Health Organisation expert on the effect of male circumcision on the rate of HIV infection in heterosexual men? Perhaps you had momentarily forgotten him, but if I have anything to do with it, nobody will be allowed to forget this man and his very funny name. Nor should we forget that the Marketing Director of Damart, a company that makes thermal underwear, is the aptly named John Bottomley. Make a space in your memory for Professor John Studd, consultant gynaecologist at Chelsea and Westminster hospital in London.More recently we have paid tribute to the late Alan Ball, who played ball, and scoffed at Ed Balls, who talks it. Finally, last week I mentioned Cardinal Sin, and, my all-time favourite, Air Chief Marshall Sir Jock Stirrup GCB AFC ADC DSc FRAeS FCMI RAF.
Did their names scar them for life? J. Marion Tierny says not, but then he/she would, wouldn't she/he?
During his 1969 concert at San Quentin prison, Johnny Cash proposed a paradigm shift in the field of developmental psychology. He used “A Boy Named Sue” to present two hypotheses:
1. A child with an awful name might grow up to be a relatively normal adult.
2. The parent who inflicted the name does not deserve to be executed.
Today [...] the case for Mr. Cash’s theory looks much stronger, and I say this even after learning about Emma Royd and Post Office in a new book, “Bad Baby Names,” by Michael Sherrod and Matthew Rayback.
By scouring census records from 1790 to 1930, Mr. Sherrod and Mr. Rayback discovered Garage Empty, Hysteria Johnson, King Arthur, Infinity Hubbard, Please Cope, Major Slaughter, Helen Troy, several Satans and a host of colleagues to the famed Ima Hogg (including Ima Pigg, Ima Muskrat, Ima Nut and Ima Hooker).
But even if a bad name doesn’t doom a child, why would any parent christen an infant Ogre? Mr. Sherrod found several of them, along with children named Ghoul, Gorgon, Medusa, Hades, Lucifer and every deadly sin except Gluttony (his favorite was Wrath Gordon).
You can sort of understand parents’ affection for the sound of Chimera Griffin, but Monster Moor and Goblin Fester? Or Cheese Ceaser and Leper Priest? What provokes current celebrities to name their children Sage Moonblood Stallone and Speck Wildhorse Mellencamp?
“Today it’s all about individuality,” Mr. Sherrod said. “In the past, there was more of a sense of humor, probably because fathers had more say in the names.” He said the waning influence of fathers might explain why there are no longer so many names like Nice Deal, Butcher Baker, Lotta Beers and Good Bye, although some dads still try.
The authors also interviewed adults today who had survived names like Candy Stohr, Cash Guy, Mary Christmas, River Jordan and Rasp Berry. All of them, even Happy Day, seemed untraumatized.
“They were very proud of their names, almost overly proud,” Mr. Sherrod said. “We asked if that was a reaction to getting pummeled when they were little, but they said they didn’t get that much ribbing. They did get a little tired of hearing the same jokes, but they liked having an unusual name because it made them stand out.”
By the way, did you hear about the Irishman who thought Johnny Cash was change from a Durex machine? Until the early Eighties, British teenagers heard about him regularly. Then AIDS came in and for some reason "johnnies" were called by their official name.
Posted on 03/14/2008 5:46 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 14 March 2008
Savage Appeal: CAIR Acts As Foreign Agent Not Non-Profit
WND: Preparing an appeal of a dismissed lawsuit against the Council of American-Islamic Relations, talk radio host Michael Savage and his legal team have taken a new tack, investigating CAIR's foreign financial backers, WND has learned.
CAIR is registered as a nonprofit organization recognized as tax-exempt under IRS code section 501(c)(3), which restricts "lobbying on behalf of a foreign government." CAIR's website claims that it receives no foreign government support.
However, CAIR's headquarters near the U.S. Capitol until recently was owned by the ruler of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and the ruler's foundation has pledged $50 million to capitalize a long-term CAIR public-relations campaign.
"This should start to get interesting," said a member of Savage's legal team.
The UAE formally recognized the Taliban, and Dubai acted as the transit point for cash for the 9/11 hijackers and the staging ground for the entire plot. Two of the hijackers were Emirates, and one served in the UAE military.
Before 9/11, the ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, requisitioned (as then-UAE defense minister) C-130 military cargo planes to supply Osama bin Laden's former camps in Kandahar, Afghanistan, according to U.S. intelligence officials. Sheik Mohammed and other members of the UAE royal family joined bin Laden and Taliban leaders on hunting parties there.
His Al Maktoum Foundation – which until 2005 held the deed to CAIR's headquarters just three blocks from the Capitol – has held telethons to raise money for families of Palestinian "martyrs" during the intifada against Israel. It recently pledged a $50 million endowment for CAIR.
Despite enjoying major support from the UAE government, CAIR is not registered as a lobbyist or agent for a foreign government. Savage's lawyers are investigating whether the group has legal standing to boycott his radio show and attack his advertisers as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
"CAIR would have to register as a foreign agent if their activities were not hidden under the false claim that they are a civil-rights organization that enjoys tax-exempt status," said Daniel Horowitz, Savage's lead attorney in the case...
The UAE's $50 million endowment, pledged in 2006, puts in jeopardy CAIR's current IRS status, Savage's lawyers argue. They say CAIR more resembles a foreign-controlled lobbying group – "a paid agent for an Arab state tied to 9/11" – and the UAE may be working through CAIR to shut down debate about Islam on the American airwaves through the intimidation of media and their advertisers.
According to federal law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act requires registration as an agent of a foreign principal when an organization acts on the order, request or under the direction or control of a foreign principal, or whose activities are directed by a foreign principal when that person engages in political activities for or in the interest of such foreign principal, or acts in a public-relations capacity for a foreign principal.
The UAE endowment to CAIR was earmarked for public-relations efforts to repair the image of Arabs and Muslims in America after public outrage doomed a Dubai bid to run U.S. ports.
Lawyers now argue that CAIR, in turn, may have used UAE funds and other foreign support to attack "The Savage Nation" show for criticizing Islam, and to target its advertisers, including Wal-Mart, GEICO and Sprint Nextel.
"If the image of Islam and Muslims is not repaired in America, Muslim and Arab business interests will continue to be on a downward slide in the U.S.," CAIR Chairman Parvez Ahmad was quoted in the Arab press as saying after meeting with the UAE minister of finance in Dubai and receiving the funding pledge.
What's more, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a UAE press release: "The endowment will serve as a source of income and will further allow us to reinvigorate our media campaign projecting Islam and its principles of tolerance."
In addition, the press release stated that UAE also "endorsed a proposal to build a property in the United States to serve as an endowment for CAIR."
The Arab press said CAIR was acquiring land for a new $24 million seven-story building...
Posted on 03/14/2008 7:14 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 14 March 2008
Rice: Abbas Said He Didn't Mean It, Send Another $100 Million
How much longer will we have to endure this farce?
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized Saudi Arabia for not doing enough to counter extremism and defended Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas while testifying before the US Congress on Wednesday.
"I am confident that President Abbas is somebody who is committed to the negotiated solution of this issue, and recognizes that only a negotiated solution is going to result in a Palestinian state," Rice said in response to a question on comments Abbas made in a recent interview, quoting him in part as saying, "I am opposed to armed struggle because we cannot succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different."
Many interpreted those comments as supporting armed struggle.
"We have all had the experience of perhaps saying things that we wish we hadn't said, and I can just tell you that this is somebody who for many, many years now has rejected violence as a means to statehood," Rice said, noting that Abbas had later said the comments were taken out of context. "I can't account for his comments. I think they were extremely unfortunate. We made that very clear to him."
Rice said the State Department had also made clear to the Saudis that they needed to do more on the issue of ending incitement and standing against extremism...
Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the US House appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, which called Rice to testify Wednesday, argued that Saudi Arabia should be doing more to help Palestinians on the ground, particularly by using some of its oil revenue to build homes and expand job opportunities.
"When you have the oil-producing countries getting $105 a gallon, the fact that they can't show some evidence on the ground and create jobs is mind-boggling," Lowey said. "Unless the Palestinians are supported by Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates and all the other countries in the region, it's going to be very difficult for them to take that final step."
Lowey has also expressed reservations about giving extra aid to the Palestinians in light of Abbas's recent comments, and put a hold on $150 million in aid allocated last year for that and other reasons. However, she recently indicated a shift in position.
"I remain skeptical about the political will of a Palestinian leadership that all too often lapses into inflammatory rhetoric that belies their stated commitment to peace," Lowey said in a statement sent out late Tuesday. But she also said that "I have received some clarifications on the statements made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that called into question his commitment to the peace process. I also spoke with Secretary Rice on her meetings with Palestinian leaders last week, and she has briefed me on the assurances she received from President Abbas."
In light of that information, she said, she was releasing $100m. Another $50m. is still awaiting Rice's certification before it can be sent to the PA.
The Bush administration's 2009 foreign operations budget, about which Rice was ostensibly testifying, contains a $75m. allocation in economic assistance for the Palestinians, as well as $25m. for law enforcement and combating drugs...
Posted on 03/14/2008 8:04 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 14 March 2008
Squirrels - grey squirrels anyway - are just rats with bushy tails. However, reading Beatrix Potter warped my mind, and I think of them as red (which our rare and dwindling native squirrels are) and rather cuddly. It goes without saying that I warmed to this little creature. From The Times:
With striking white fur this rare albino squirrel has caused a stir in a rural village near Ashford, Kent. Known by residents as “Whitey”, the snowy creature can be glimpsed racing up trees and scrurrying though undergrowth. Despite his less-than-camouflaged appearance, he has proved almost impossible to photograph. It took Peter Low, 59, a recruitment consultant, six frustrating months before he finally managed snap the animal in his garden. Albino squirrels are extremely rare, with some experts claiming that their existence is a one in 100,000 phenomenon.
Posted on 03/14/2008 10:26 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 14 March 2008
News Of The Day
Two different “extremist groups” claim responsibility for a bomb that exploded in Colombo, Sri Lanka, this Friday, a week before Pan-Asian Yogurt Competition was due to open. Pakistan-based Sipaha-e-Sahaba claims bomb, which killed 137, mainly Western, tourists, was to protest the planned participation in the games of predominantly-Shi’a Iran. Meanwhile, Xinjiang-based Al-Way-Wer-Wizu Al-Jihad Al-Islami claims it was responsible for the bomb, because China, which had been expected to attend the Games, is “not part of Asia but of Dar al-Islam.”
U.N. declares World Palestinian Day, after a resolution to that effect passed the General Assembly by a vote of 161-3 (Israel, U.S., Micronesia) with thirteen countries (Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Italy, Costa Rica, Serbia, Colombia, Botswana, Singapore) abstaining. Planned observances for that day are said to include a mandated two minutes of world-wide silence, lectures in schools in all member states of the U.N. on the “Naqba” and “The Real Holocaust” to be taught by “Palestinians” who will be flown at U.N. cost to major cities around the world, and a world-wide Telethon on recently-established U.N. satellite television channel that, it is hoped, will raise tens of billions of dollars for Hamas to supplement a new, world-wide “Palestinian Relief Tax” that will be imposed by the U.N. on its member states to directly fund projects in Gaza and the “West Bank.”
Meanwhile, Israeli government says it is very very sorry it inadvertently cut electricity supplied to Gaza to 94% of what it had been supplying, says it will not happen again, fires minister in charge of Supplying Gaza With Everything Nice and offers to re-stock with the latest releases the DVD stores in Gaza’s “refugee camps.” 138 Grad rockets land on Sderot, Ashkelon, and Tel Aviv, killing 4 Israelis and wounding 238. At a hastily-called special press conference at U.N. headquarters, an ashen-faced Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and a somber-faced Condoleeza Rice both warn Israel that any response should be “proportionate” and not result in more than “four, or possibly five, casualties.”
Revolt in Taqiyya Province of Northern Kumquat continues. Crack cocaine troops of elite government force are still fighting, but many are said to be defecting to the “extremists” who promise to find a clause in the Qur’an that will legitimise their drug habit and thereby resolve any self-esteem issues they might have and also ease entry into Paradise. Hosannah Bin Laden, 23rd son of Osama Bin Laden, implicated in the unrest. State Department, however, denies Al-Qaeda involvement, says it has “solid information” that it is another group “that has a different name” so “we think fears of any Al-Qaeda connection are baseless and silly.”
Team of French archeologists announces finding Alexander of Macadamia’s tomb in western Afghanistan “par Hazares.” Nicolas Sarkozy announces that eight billion euros (about 12 billion dollars) will be spent by the French government during the next two years, on mosques that “will not have a single Saudi-paid imam” and madrasas “that will not have any texts other than the Qur’an, this is my solemn promise to the people of France.” Le Monde hails the move, claiming that “this is the solution, this represents the true integration that we have all been waiting for.” Noted French intellectuals Alain Finkielkraut and Pascal Bruckner both accept permanent positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
Megawatt resigns job as energy czar of Sukarno main island of the Indonesian archipelago, agrees to run for president on the “Justice and Unity” ticket against “the Islamists” whose campaign consists of telling voters that until “people of Indonesia fully implement Shari’a Allah will continue to send them earthquakes.” Bookmakers in Singapore and Sydney give her little chance of winning.
In speech to World Affairs Council former Secretary of State Colin Powell, discussing events surrounding the creation of the new nation of Kosovo, describes as “incomprehensible” the continuing balkanization of the Balkans.
In speech to Foreign Relations Council Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, discussing the “pressing need” for a “two-state solution,” deplores as “incomprehensible” the inability of “our Israeli friends and, frankly, of our very good Palestinian friends, to make peace” when “it is so clearly in everyone’s interest.”
In speech to a V. F. W. meeting in Indianapolis, President George Bush, discussing Iraq, describes as “incomprehensible” the continuing strife in Iraq where, he notes, “democracy” has “firmly taken root” and “thanks to the sacrifices of men and women like you” and “equally important,” where the “free market is now a vibrant reality” and promises that “we will stay to fight the extremists, just as long as it takes, but I assure you not a moment longer, so that ordinary moms and dads in Iraq can get on with their peaceful and ordinary and democratic and free-market lives.”
David Axelrod reacts angrily to description of the church that Barack Obama attended for twenty years as a “black church,” claiming that “such divisiveness has no place in American political life” and at a press conference in Washington he demands, “not only on behalf of Barack Obama, but of black people everywhere” an immediate apology from wire services, newspapers, and the Clinton campaign. Asks that all copies of the sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright also be removed from the Internet as their uploading onto the Net is “both misleading and racist” and quotes candidate Barack Obama as describing the appearance of those tapes as “suspicious and divisive and deeply troubling” and as insisting that “such divisiveness has no place in American political life.”
University Professor Cornel West announces that he has decided to award the first Princeton Prize for the Preservation of Bland Mines jointly to Tavis Smiley and Homi Bhabha.
In nation-wide survey, American high school seniors overwhelmingly choose John Lennon, Nelson Mandela, and Batman as the three most important figures of the twentieth century.
King Fahd Prize (the “Islamic Nobel”) for Religion awarded to Islam for Outstanding Achievement in “Most Peaceful” and “Truest” categories. Jimmy Carter and Ken Livingston share award in category of Infidel Most Likely To Be Spared.
In the business news, the Nasdaq Composite Index has again been feeling poorly, while the Hang Seng has recovered its old bounce. Murders and acquisitions continue in the energy sector, fueling speculation of growing unrest in Dubai and Belgravia. On-line no-load Integrity outpaces S & P 500 for a second straight quarter, while profit taking drops pending latest labor statistics on consumer confidence in pork bellies and Ben Bernanke. Hedge-fund heads remain uneasy and none will speak for attribution about the true state of the economy, described by CNN’s Lew Dobbs as “a slide from the subprime to the ridiculous.”
In the city, patchy fog, precipitation likely, and in the greater metropolitan area weatherman reports a forty perchance scent of snow.
Posted on 03/14/2008 10:45 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 14 March 2008
Horatia Alger, Or, The Ruined Maid
Ashley Alexandra Dupre behind Eliot Spitzer sex scandal cashes in
-- from a headline in The Times of London
“O ‘Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!
Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?
And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?”—
“O didn’t you know I’d been ruined?” said she.
—”You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,
Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;
And now you’ve gay bracelets and bright feathers three!”—
“Yes: that’s how we dress when we’re ruined,” said she.
—”At home in the barton you said ‘thee’ and ‘thou,’
And ‘thik oon,’ and ‘theäs oon,’ and ‘t’other’; but now
Your talking quite fits ‘ee for high compa-ny!”—
“Some polish is gained with one’s ruin,” said she.
—”Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak
But now I’m bewitched by your delicate cheek,
And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!”—
“We never do work when we’re ruined,” said she.
—”You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,
And you’d sigh, and you’d sock; but at present you seem
To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!”—
“True. One’s pretty lively when ruined,” said she.
“—I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,
And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!”—
“My dear—a raw country girl, such as you be,
Cannot quite expect that. You ain’t ruined,” said she.
-- Thomas Hardy
Posted on 03/14/2008 11:23 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 14 March 2008
An impossible standard
Criticism, even harsh criticism, can often be a compliment. It can be an indirect statement that its object is held to a higher standard for a reason – because he is better than the others. We criticise performance in a Premier League footballer that we would praise in an amateur.
When people criticise disproportionately the less-than-perfect behaviour of British or American soldiers, it is because, whether they acknowledge it or not, they know that British and American soldiers are better behaved than African or Iraqi soldiers.
There is one consistent exception to this rule: Israel. Israel is held to a much higher standard than any other country, without the attending implicit compliment of being considered morally superior. One might expect that Israelis would have long since given up trying to be ethical; after all one may as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb. What do the “Palestinians” have to do to be condemned? And what do the Israelis have to do to be praised?
A short, low-key letter in today’s Times prompted these observations, which are hardly original, but which I wish were more widespread. The letter was from a Walter Felman and was about Israelis saving Palestinian children. Yes, that’s right. Israelis save Palestinian children. Who knew?
Sir, David Byers writes of a baby brought through the Erez crossing from Gaza for treatment in an Israeli hospital and describes it as a rare occurrence (times2, Mar 11).
It is anything but rare. Practically every Israeli hospital has been treating children from the West Bank and Gaza for many years. An example is the Wolfson Medical Centre in Tel Aviv, which, through its Save a Child’s Heart programme, has successfully treated well over 850 Palestinian children suffering from congenital heart disease. There is nothing political in the work, they are from the nearest developing country to Israel, and represent about 40 per cent of children from Africa, China and Eastern Europe who owe their lives to this programme. The centre’s slogan is “a child is a child”. Hundreds of children and their mothers can attest to Israeli medical teams saving Palestinian children’s lives.
Posted on 03/14/2008 11:29 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 14 March 2008
You're The Top
Posted on 03/14/2008 12:46 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 14 March 2008
A Musical Interlude: Please Don't Mention It (Anona Winn, Al Bowlly)
Posted on 03/14/2008 12:51 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 14 March 2008
CONNECTED: Iraq and al Qaeda
As several of us have noted countless times, there are influential elements of the Intelligence Community who are unmovably vested in the absence of a meaningful relationship between Saddam Hussein's regime and radical Islam. By some calculated leaks to friends in the mainstream media, they've once again managed to put an Orwellian spin on an important study, claiming the new Pentagon report on Iraq's terror shows, as the New York Times and ABC put it, "no link" between Saddam and al Qaeda. They are trying to write the narrative before anyone can read what the report actually says.
What it says is breathtaking. Today's required reading should be Steve Hayes's post over at the Weekly Standard's blog and Eli Lake's article in the New York Sun. There is simply no doubt that there were serious ties between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda elements — most especially, Egyptian Islamic Jihad (run by al Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman Zawahiri, who merged formally EIJ into al Qaeda in 1998).
To give a taste, Steve provides this from the new report's abstract. Once you read it, you might ask yourself (if you didn't already know where the New York Times and the rest of the MSM are coming from), how anyone could read it and conclude "no link":
Captured Iraqi documents have uncovered evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist and Islamic terrorist organizations. While these documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network, they do indicate that Saddam was willing to use, albeit cautiously, operatives affiliated with al Qaeda as long as Saddam could have these terrorist-operatives monitored closely. Because Saddam's security organizations and Osama bin Laden's terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some way, a "de facto" link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust. Though the execution of Iraqi terror plots was not always successful, evidence shows that Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime.
The inexplicable shame of this is why the administration has silently allowed the anti-war Left and its own internal dissenters to solidify the "no connection" lie into a conventional wisdom that has irreparably eroded public support for the war effort.
Add to the required reading list: Ed Morrissey from his new haunt at Hot Air.
Posted on 03/14/2008 12:55 PM by Andy McCarthy
Friday, 14 March 2008
Whatever next: a map of Utopia?
It isn't that I'm bad at map-reading; it's just that initial hurdle of getting the thing the right way up. If I don't, then I head off in completely the wrong direction. Apparently you can get Sat Nav for pedestrians, but I wouldn't want that. I don't even want it in my car - it's too bossy, and I'd argue with it: "Turn right." "No, sod off"
Road maps are old hat. You can get all kinds of maps now, thanks to the internet, writes Ben MacIntyre:
A new golden age of cartography has suddenly dawned, everywhere. We can all be map-makers now, navigating across a landscape of ideas that the cartographers of the past could never have imagined.
Maps were once the preserve of an elite, an expression of power, control and, latterly, of minute scientific measurement. Today map-making has been democratised by the internet, where digital technology is spawning an astonishing array of maps, reflecting an infinite variety of interests and concerns, some beautiful, some political and some extremely odd.
If the Budget has made you feel gloomy, you can log on to a map that will tell you just how depressed you and the rest of the world are feeling. For more than two years, the makers of wefeelfine.org have harvested feelings from a wide variety of personal blogs and then projected these on to the globe. How happy are they in Happy Valley? How grim is Grimsby? You can find out.
Almost any measurable human activity can be projected, using a computer “mash-up”: a map of New Jersey based on episodes of The Sopranos; the spread of graffiti in a single town; the progress of the Tour de France; traffic accidents; the CO2 emissions for any given flight; or exactly how many people have been gored in the annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.
A new online map called whoissick.org allows American hypochondriacs to track who is ill with what and where at any given moment: in Los Angeles yesterday there was a nasty cough going about, but in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, half of those reporting their symptoms to the site claimed to have a stomach ache. A hilarious disclaimer adds: “whoissick is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.”
The new digital geography marks a return to an earlier form of cartography, when maps were designed to reveal the world through a particular prism. The earliest maps each told a story framed by politics, culture and belief. Ancient Greeks painted maps depicting unknown lands and strange creatures beyond the known world. Early Christian maps placed Jerusalem at the middle of the world. British imperial maps showed the great advance of pink colonialism spreading outwards from our tiny islands at the centre.
Maps were used to settle scores and score points, just as they are today. When Jesuit map-makers drew up a chart of the Moon's surface in 1651, craters named after heretical scientists such as Copernicus and Galileo were dumped in the Sea of Storms, while more acceptable thinkers were allowed to float in the Sea of Tranquillity. British maps of America before the Revolution showed the states extending endlessly westward, to reflect the King's dominion over the continent's as yet unmapped interior.
Maps have always tried to show where we are, literally or philosophically. The explosion of online mapping, however, offers something even broader: a set of maps that combine to express individual personality.
Oscar Wilde wrote that “a map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail.”
Posted on 03/14/2008 1:38 PM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 14 March 2008
A Literary Interlude: Disobedience (A. A. Milne)
Disobedience by A. A. Milne
Weatherby George Dupree
Care of his Mother,
Though he was only three.
James James Said to his Mother,
"Mother," he said, said he;
"You must never go down
to the end of the town,
if you don't go down with me."
Put on a golden gown.
James James Morrison's Mother
Drove to the end of the town.
James James Morrison's Mother
Said to herself, said she:
"I can get right down
to the end of the town
and be back in time for tea."
Put up a notice,
"LOST or STOLEN or STRAYED!
JAMES JAMES MORRISON'S MOTHER
SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN MISLAID.
QUITE OF HER OWN ACCORD,
SHE TRIED TO GET DOWN
TO THE END OF THE TOWN -
FORTY SHILLINGS REWARD!"
(Commonly known as Jim)
Not to go blaming him.
Said to his Mother,
"Mother," he said, said he:
"You must never go down to the end of the town
without consulting me."
Hasn't been heard of since.
King John said he was sorry,
So did the Queen and Prince.
(Somebody told me)
Said to a man he knew:
If people go down to the end of the town, well,
what can anyone do?"
(Now then, very softly)
C/0 his M*****
Though he was only 3.
J.J. said to his M*****
"M*****," he said, said he:
Posted on 03/14/2008 1:51 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 14 March 2008
Poor Black Man
Jeremiah Wright tells us that he "knows what it is to be a poor black man." How much does Jeremiah Wright take in each week? And he tells us that Barack Obama, who takes in a million dollars a year, and has been the beneficiary of all kinds of white support, and was raised by a white mother and white grandparents, and who has been quite successful because of his amiability and air of furrowed-brow thoughtfulness and judiciousness -- it was that winning why-can't-we-all-get-along and let-me-be-a-careful-listener-rather-than-inject-myself personality, and not academic brilliance, that got him the presidency of the Harvard Law Review and made him master of all he surveyed in Gannett House -- does he too "know what it is to be a poor black man in America"? And Wright tells us further that Barack Obama "knows what it means to be a poor black man" because he was "raised in a single-parent household." But the Reverend Jeremiah Wright neglects to remind everyone that it was Barack Obama's loving and attentive white mother who was the single parent in that "single-parent household," her attentions supplemented by those of her equally white parents in Honolulu, while it was Obama's black father who early on, in Obama's infancy, decamped.
Posted on 03/14/2008 4:43 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 14 March 2008
All White in Barking
I don’t quite know what to make of All White in Barking the last of the BBC’s White season. It was made last year as part of the Storyville strand so did not necessarily fit whatever agenda, and they do have an agenda, that the BBC have with this White season.
It was less about white people in Barking (and Dagenham where I used to live and which makes up the other half of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham) and any perceived racism against non English newcomers, although there was an element of that, and more about the difficulties of dealing with too rapid change as one gets older.
Initially my defences rose at the opening credits “How far are we prepared to go to overcome our fear of foreigners” but there were intelligent twists.
There were four stories to follow.
Sue and her husband trying to get to know new African and Albanian neighbours.
Dave a BNP activist who loves his mixed race grandson, “because he’s my blood” but who has moved to Canvey Island because he perceives it as safer. Canvey Island is full of oil refineries with only one road off the island, and that liable to flooding; I wouldn’t want to live there.
Monty a Polish Jew and survivor of Auschwitz who has formed a relationship with Betty a Ugandan lady.
The proprietors of the traditional East Street butchers which closed last year after 60 years trading, when African butchers opened opposite.
Monty’s story deserved a programme in its own right. From the photo of him and other boys on the roof of a cattle truck the day Auschwitz was liberated to the annual reunion dinner of the Boys of ’45. The elderly friend at the dinner who, asked about Betty, black and not Jewish, said who should know better than they about persecution for their origins.
When the programme maker asked everybody in turn at Sue’s barbeque whether they would be happy for their sons to marry a white girl, or an African girl. And the Albanian man said that everybody he met in Barking who was a fellow immigrant had, like him come to the free world for a better life, but no, if his son wanted to marry a Serb then the boy was on his own.
Dave set up his BNP petition just by Dagenham Heathway station, outside the boarded up shop that I knew when it was Gateway Supermarket where I used to pick up cat food and tea bags on my way home from work. Later at his home he pointed out houses where Poles, Chinese, Lithuanian and Africans had moved in during the past year, and pondered how the old Italian lady who was unable to move out like him would fare. Which in some part confirms my feeling that it is the pace of change at fault and that foreigners he had known for years were not foreigners but neighbours.
When the shutters came down on the East Street butchers and the camera panned round the crowd I thought it was laid on a little too thick that all the faces shown were not just old, but tired, dazed and bewildered. As if the problem is not the pace of change but that old people can’t cope, and as a problem they will soon die off.
Sue crying at the grave of her son and explaining that she could never move far away now.
Finally the Boys of 45 drank a toast to the Queen and sang the national anthem and to the sound of their singing the scene turned to Dave on the beach at Canvey tossing bread from his burger to the sea gulls.
What will you do if Africans come here Dave?”
“Over there” he replied pointing to the sea. “Into the drink”
He was a sad and lonely old man.
Posted on 03/14/2008 5:52 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax