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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
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The Impact of Islam
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by Ibn Warraq
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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Farewell Fear
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The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
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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
by Norman Berdichevsky
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
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Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky



















These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 2, 2008.
Sunday, 2 March 2008
We killed too many, say Bali bombers - Mossad or the CIA or maybe the KGB tampered with our bomb is their excuse.
Three Islamic radicals behind the bombings in which 202 people died talk in prison to our writer about faith, mass murder and their impending execution by firing squad
On the prison island south of Java . . . the white walls and silvery barbed wire of the jail, a permit check, a search; then a steel door opened and we went into a room where the condemned men waited for us.
Imam Samudra, 38, was the planner who chose the targets in Bali and organised two suicide bombers to carry out the attack. He wore a fine blue robe, leading his three young children around by the hand and chatting to his wife and his mother, both veiled.
Ali Ghufron, better known as Mukhlas, 48, was the financier who once met Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan while making his own pilgrimage from theologian to jihadist. He sat crosslegged on the floor, lecturing to his friends.
Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, 46, dubbed “the smiling bomber”, was the village mechanic who bought the explosives and the Mitsubishi van used as a car bomb. He rose from the floor, kissed me on both cheeks and said, “Salaam aleikum [peace be upon you],” with a cheery grin.
There were 202 people killed on the night of Saturday, October 12, 2002, when the crime planned by these men was carried out on the peaceful, mainly Hindu holiday island of Bali.
The first suicide bomber walked into Paddy’s Bar and set off a bomb in the middle of a crowd of customers. The second bomber waited for people to flee into the street then detonated the Mitsubishi, packed with more than a ton of explosives, outside the Sari Club.
The victims were incinerated or flayed, died of shock or perished from burns and injuries later. They included 28 Britons.  For Australia, with 88 dead, it was a national tragedy, the greatest peacetime loss of life in the country’s history. It was a political and economic calamity for Indonesia, which lost 38 of its citizens, Muslims among them.
The three men in the room with us were caught, tried, convicted and sentenced to death.
“Are you a Muslim?” Samudra demanded in English, coming over to sit on the floor opposite me, a challenging look in his eyes. No, I replied.  “Are you a believer?” he asked. Yes, I said. Well then, he said, he would consent to talk if I truthfully reported all he said.
What of their legal case, I asked. “I am at the mercy of almighty Allah,” Samudra replied. “I don’t care.”
Did he deny the charges? “People called me the mastermind of the Bali bombing,” he said. “Maybe right, maybe wrong. My only mission was to help the Muslims.”
And then he said something extraordinary. He claimed the bombers had never meant to kill so many people. What happened at Paddy’s Bar and the Sari Club was “unacceptable”, he said.
Had he made the bomb? “No, no, no!” he said, shaking his head. “I didn’t help to make it, and who made the bomb and when I don’t know.”
The second explosion was much bigger than they had expected, he said.
The only explanation, he suggested, was that “the CIA or KGB or Mossad” - those familiar bogeymen of the conspiracy theorist – had somehow tampered with the bomb. “It is very possible,” he claimed.  “I learnt about explosives in Afghanistan,” he continued. “As you know, I may be an expert.”  (Can’t be much of an expert if he couldn’t keep his  handiwork tamper free?)
The truth may never be known. Investigators think the actual bomb-maker was a militant named Dulmatin. Police in the Philippines are conducting DNA tests on the body of a man killed in a gun battle with special forces on January 31, which informants say is Dulmatin’s.
Samudra’s fastidiousness about mass murder, which some scholars attribute to an element of Islamic theology, did not extend to any remorse. Two months before the bombing, he said, he had studied tourist literature to narrow down the list of targets.
Once on the scene, he said, “I observed Zionists. I knew they were using it [the bar] and then also I know I could spread this, with Australia, with Aussies.” No Israelis were killed in the attack.
His targets, he said, were “antiMuslims, especially people from the USA, Australia, members of Nato, elements of what people call the alliance because they know it’s a crusader army”.
What would he say to the families of his victims?
“To Muslim people I would say pardon - but Muslims only. While the unbelievers - they must be entering into hell. Allah says to all unbelievers that this road will bring you to hell,” he said.
Samudra denied that Bin Laden had paid for the bombing, saying, “The money came from other people.
“Some try to make a link between Al-Qaeda and us. Now I don’t know about this. We are not linked. The only link is iman [faith] and aqida [teachings],” he added.
For Samudra the bombing was a victorious act; not a suicide mission but a “martyrdom operation” in a war that, he says, is now being fought out on the internet - “the most important way to spread jihad”.
Samudra remains extremely dangerous. Police say that while in jail in Bali he used a smuggled laptop computer to communicate with militants to organise a second suicide attack in 2005 that killed 20 people.
“Your country, the United Kingdom, will lose of course because Allah says that only Muslims will win,” he said.  “I call you to Islam,” he said to me. “Islam is peace. Tomorrow belongs to Islam.”
It was almost a relief when Amrozi came over, sat down and squeezed my leg in a friendly manner. “My smile is my weapon,” he explained. “It makes my enemies upset. This is a very special weapon for jihad.”
Amrozi said he had read 500 books while in custody, mainly on Islam, and that he studied developments pointing to the imminent ruin of the United States, sometimes without any need of news media.
“I have received a sixth sense from Allah, which indicates to me one or two days in advance anything massive that may happen in the world,” he confided.
The reverie was broken by guards calling us out. Our time was up. 
There is a transcript of an extract from the interview here.
The dialogue was in English with occasional Bahasa Indonesia and Arabic phrases translated where audible. Imam Samudra refused to use the female translator present, although she wore modest dress and headcovering.
The comment on the interview is worth reading for it's analysis of how jihad justifies the killing of innocents and the definition of Crusader.
Posted on 03/02/2008 12:55 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 2 March 2008
With love on Mothering Sunday

 (Yes I know Mother's Day in the US isn't until May. )

 

Posted on 03/02/2008 2:19 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Independent expert: IDF bullets didn't kill Mohammed al-Dura
A report presented to a French court last week by an independent ballistics expert maintains that the death of Mohammed al-Dura, a Palestinian child seen being shot in the Gaza Strip during the first days of the intifada in September 2000, could not have been the result of Israeli gunfire, corroborating claims that the shocking footage was doctored.
The ballistics expert, Jean-Claude Schlinger, presented his conclusions after reviewing the footage, which shows Dura and his father cowering by a wall after being caught in the crossfire between Palestinian gunmen and Israel Defense Forces soldiers at the Netzarim junction.
The case revolves around a libel suit brought by the France 2 television channel and its Middle East correspondent, Charles Enderlin, against Phillipe Karsenty.
On November 22, 2004 Karsenty wrote on his Web site, Media Ratings, that Dura's death had been staged and that France 2's conduct "disgraces France and its public broadcasting system."
In his report, Schlinger wrote, "If Jamal [the boy's father] and Mohammed al-Dura were indeed struck by shots, then they could not have come from the Israeli position, from a technical point of view, but only from the direction of the Palestinian position."
He also wrote, "In view of the general context, and in light of many instances of staged incidents, there is no objective evidence that the child was killed and his father injured. It is very possible, therefore, that it is a case [in which the incident was] staged."
Schlinger confirmed these statements in a telephone conversation with Haaretz.
Schlinger has served as an adviser on ballistic and forensic evidence in French courts for 20 years.  In his examination, he recreated the incident emphasizing the angle from which the shots could have been fired, the types of injuries and the types of weapons used by the IDF and the Palestinians.  According to his report, there is no evidence that the boy was wounded in his right leg or in his abdomen, as was originally reported.
Regarding the injuries reportedly suffered by the father, Schlinger wrote that "If the injuries are genuine, they could not have occurred at the time of the events that television channel France 2 reported."
Regarding the angle of the shots, Schlinger wrote, "Assuming that the shots came from the Israeli position, only the lower limbs could have been hit, because the rest of the body was protected by the house at the location."
This is the first time that an independent ballistics expert, not representing the State of Israel, undertook to examine Karsenty's claims.
Posted on 03/02/2008 6:37 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Limerick quiz

Does anyone, apart from me, get the joke in this limerick? It was posted by reader Miv Tucker in the comments to my saucy limerick post.

There was a young curate of Salisbury,
Whose behaviour was quite halisbury-scalisbury,
For one day in Hampshire,
He took off his pampshire,
Though his vicar had told him to walisbury.

Esmerelda will get it straightaway, and is therefore banned from entering the competition.

Posted on 03/02/2008 6:55 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Brother Tariq To Speak In Australia

The Australian: CONTROVERSIAL Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan, who was refused entry into the US over alleged links to terror networks, is due to deliver a lecture on Islam at a conference sponsored by the Queensland Government on Monday.

Professor Ramadan - whose grandfather Hassan al-Banna founded one of the world's most radical Islamist movements, the Muslim Brotherhood, in 1928 - will be introduced by federal Labor Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs Laurie Ferguson at the Griffith University event, which has drawn $50,000 worth of sponsorship from the Bligh Government.

Muslim and Jewish leaders yesterday expressed concern about Professor Ramadan's second visit to Australia from Europe since 2004, with a former Howard government adviser on Islam, Ameer Ali, urging national security authorities to keep him under close surveillance.

But Mr Ferguson dismissed the US Government's decision to block Professor Ramadan's entry into the country in 2004 - where he was due to take up a lecturing post at Notre Dame University in Indiana - as an "over the top" measure.

Dr Ali said it was a common problem among Arabic scholars such as Professor Ramadan to alter their messages for different audiences.

"It appears that these people speak in different languages to different audiences and they don't convey the same message," he said.

"If he's allowed to go and mix with the local community, then they (authorities) have to monitor what he is saying." ...

Posted on 03/02/2008 7:42 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Ahmadinejad In Baghdad

AP (hat tip: Andrew Bostom): BAGHDAD - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday his landmark visit to Iraq opened a new chapter in "brotherly" relations between the two countries, which were once bitter enemies.

Ahmadinejad is the first Iranian president to visit Iraq. The trip not only highlights his country's growing influence on its Arab neighbor in the post-Saddam Hussein era, but it also serves as an act of defiance toward the U.S., which accuses Iran of training and giving weapons to Shiite extremists in Iraq.

The Iranian leader went from Baghdad's airport to a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who gave him a red-carpet welcome. The two kissed four times on the cheek in the traditional fashion and a band played the two countries' national anthems.

"We had very good talks that were friendly and brotherly. ... We have mutual understandings and views in all fields, and both sides plan to improve relations as much as possible," Ahmadinejad said in a news conference with Talabani at the Iraqi president's residence, located across the Tigris River from the new U.S. Embassy in the fortified Green Zone.

Talabani said the two discussed economic, political, security and oil issues and planned to sign several agreements later. But he said the issue of borders, including the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway between the two countries, was not discussed.

Iran has denied U.S. charges that it aids militants, and Ahmadinejad stressed that his country wanted a stable Iraq that would benefit the region.

"A united Iraq, a sovereign Iraq and an advanced Iraq is to the benefit of all regional nations and the people of Iran," he said.

The news conference appeared to end abruptly after a reporter asked Ahmadinejad about the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, which was allied with Saddam during the bitter 1980s war between the two countries. The group has opposed Iran's Islamic republic and has operated out of Iraq. The U.S. and European Union list it as a terrorist organization.

Talabani interjected, saying: "This issue has been discussed earlier and the presence of those as a terrorist organization is constitutionally not allowed. We will endeavor to get rid of them out of the Iraqi territory soon."

After discussions with Talabani, Ahmadinejad went to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Both of the Iraqi leaders have made official visits to Iran since taking office...

Posted on 03/02/2008 7:53 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 March 2008
What The Doctors Of Policy Should Order

'We demand the...withdrawal of Danish and Dutch soldiers from Afghanistan,' said Mawlavi Shoaib, a religious figure and one of the organizers."
-- from this news article

Remove those Danish and Dutch troops. And the French, German, British, and Canadian troops, and any other Westerners, there to make the lives of Afghanis more tolerable. Let the country, led by a plausible lord of minor misrule, collapse. No aid money, no schools built that can then be bombed and then rebuilt by the Infidels, no nothing.

Keep those drones working. Keep some locals supplied with arms, if they look like they will fight other locals who are even more deeply affected by Islam, and therefore even more unpleasant and uncompromising in their attitude toward Infidels. Let Tadzhiks and Uzbeks in the north deal with their ethnic rivals, Pushtun, seen as the main supporter of the Taliban as they did in 2001, let the Hazara be given weapons to defend themselves from the uber-sunnis of the Taliban, and let hell break -- gently loose. All the while conducting non-stop propaganda, broadcast in any way it can be, to note that the "Arabs" came to "destroy Afghanistan" -- keep up this theme -- to "use the Afghanis" as cannon fodder while they, the Arabs, grow ever more fantastically rich (clips of skyscrapers in Dubai, clips of double-goateed Saudis waddling into London banks or gambling dens on Las Vegas, shots of camel races in the Emirates (with small boys from Asia tied on those camels), pictures of fabulous wealth and decadence. A propaganda war, designed to split non-Arab from Arab Muslims, complete with a list of all the ways that Arabs use Islam as a vehicle of Arab imperialism. What an idea -- using the truth to weaken the Camp of Enemy, instead of lying, in order to prevent both the enemy from taking offense, and your own people from becoming too dangerously well-informed about the nature of that ideology and hence, of the kinds of things that make sense, and those that don't.

Send weapons or spy-satellite intelligence, now to this group, and now to that. If necessary, bomb here, or bomb there. But no troops and above all no Infidel aid to save the locals from the consequences of the political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral failures of their own societies, rooted in Islam. Make that connection explicit, in analyzing the penchant for violence, the tendency to despotism, the inshallah-fatalism, the mistreatment of women and non-Muslims, the inability of Muslims to begin to understand what is morally unacceptable about their worldview, in which all loyalty is owed to fellow Muslims, no matter what atrocities they commit, and no loyalty at all is owed to non-Muslims, even if one has been allowed to settle within, and provided with every kind of benefit, by generous Western societies (see Denmark, see The Netherlands, see see see).

Repeat ad libitum, as directed by doctors of policy who have passed their Boards in Islam.

Posted on 03/02/2008 8:23 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 March 2008
New York Passes Law Protecting Journalists From Libel Judgments Overseas

The Times (hat tip: Dhimmi Watch): Politicians in New York have acted to protect the state’s writers and publishers from so-called libel tourism after an English libel judgment went against an American author.

The Libel Terrorism Protection Act was given a unanimous passage in the state Senate in Albany, the New York Law Journal reported. The new bill was introduced after the New York Court of Appeals ruled in December that the state’s laws did not protect Rachel Ehrenfeld, an American author, from a possible bid by a Saudi Arabian businessman to enforce a summary judgment issued by the High Court in London.

The bill is intended to amend New York’s so-called "long-arm statute" in order to give the state’s courts jurisdiction over a foreign libel claimant who won a judgment against an author or publisher with sufficient physical or financial ties to the state.

It would allow New York’s courts to declare that a foreign judgment was unenforceable if the courts decided that the libel laws in foreign jurisdictions did not protect freedom of speech and the press to the same extent as the laws in New York and the US...

In January, Democratic Assemblyman Rory Lancman and Republican Senator Dean Skelos introduced the “Libel Terrorism Protection Act” to remedy what they see as a deficiency in the law.

Mr Lancman said: “This legislation will give New York’s journalists, authors and press the protection and tools they need to continue to fearlessly expose the truth about terrorism and its enablers, and to maintain New York’s place as the free speech capitol of the world.”

Mr Skelos added: “The ability to expose the truth about international terrorist activities is critically-important to the global war on terror.

“These foreign courts are trampling the First Amendment protections guaranteed to American writers and journalists by our Constitution and this legislation will ensure that they cannot infringe upon our freedom.”

Senator Martin Golden, who supports the legislation, said: “Under the Libel Terrorism Protection Act, writers and journalists would have foreign defamation suits declared unenforceable in New York unless the foreign law provides the same free speech protections guaranteed under our Constitution.

“In effect, we are giving New Yorkers a chance to have their fair day in court.”...

Posted on 03/02/2008 8:49 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Mistranslation At The BBC

In this article about an article - the "Ha" in HaShoah -- a useful and, no doubt for some, a necessary clarification is provided.

"HaShoah" is not run-of-the-mill shoah. The same kind of thing can be found in every country or culture. Mere capitalization will do it. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, but lords of the realm are a dime a dozen. And while we all, like President Truman, can take (or leave) a daily constitutional, we won't let anyone tell us we can take or leave parts of the Constitution.

Par for the BBC course, even if Lyse Doucet has been moved to Pakistan, and Orla Guerin to South Africa, and Barbara Plett (who wept over Arafat) moved to...where is it? Afghanistan? The BBC is still scarcely distinguishable from an Arab outlet -- one of the slightly more plausible ones, based in London -- in its coverage of Israel and the attempts of that permanently beleaguered country to defend itself (defend itself through military means alone, for Israel's leaders are incapable of making its case, beginning with a correct analysis of what Israel faces -- a permanent, Lesser Jihad, its goals shared by the Slow Jihadists of Fatah and the Fast Jihadists of Hamas who differ not in ultimate goals, but only in timing and tactics).

Just listen to how the BBC World Service is covering Israel's attempts to wipe out rockets and their human launchers in Gaza, which begins with, and virtually ends with, the studied grief of "Palestinians" and of course the youngest most innocent victims that the BBC reporter can find, and then, almost as an afterthought, toward the end, a brief allusion to those rockets landing, hundreds of them, on Sderot, on Ashkelon. A moment's thought might have led a decent reporter to imagine what would be the reaction if hundreds of rockets were to land on an English city. Oh, in fact, we know the reaction, don't we? It is World War II, and those V-2 rockets are landing, and the R.A.F., and American, and Canadian pilots got into their bombers and headed off to fire-bomb whole cities, and didn't -- as the Israelis continue to do -- to take great care to attempt to limit their targets to the military.

One more example of BBC --- with Reuters, the source of this deliberate mistranslation, even worse -- mendacity. With many more examples to come. There is no end to this.

Posted on 03/02/2008 8:57 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Ramadan in Australia

Has Labor Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs Laurie Ferguson, who describes as "over the top" the American government's refusal to admit Tariq Ramadan, done any research on Tariq Ramadan? He is, after all, going to be presenting him, as a guest of honor, an Important Personage and Speaker. Surely he should know something about him, beyond the fact -- I'm sure he will say this, such people always do --- that Tariq Ramadan is "controversial" (laughter from the knowing in the audience, so self-satisfied in the way in which they have, by the mere act of inviting Tariq Ramadan, shown their intellectual and moral superiority to the troglodytes of Washington).

So what could he possibly read? Oh, I can think of two things. The first is "Brother Tariq" by the French writer Caroline Fourest, who studied him, and his words addressed both to non-Muslims, and to Muslims, every closely. The book is now out in English; perhaps someone can give Labor Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs Laurie Ferguson a copy.

And the excellent review-summary, by Paul Berman, in The New Republic, of Western treatment of Tariq Ramadan (including the intolerably naive article by Ian Buruma that appeared in The Sunday Times Magazine) is about eight pages.

Can Labor Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs Laurie Ferguson spare an afternoon to read an eight-page magazine article, and one book, about Tariq Ramadan?

Posted on 03/02/2008 9:04 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Poshlost'?

One of the Idols of the Age is that "People Are The Same The Whole World Over" or, in another variant, "Everyone Wants The Same Thing."

This kind of meaningless twaddle is what Nabokov called 'Poshlost', and it is the way the post-modernist way of reasoning is spread.
--from a reader commenting on this post

In his famous discussion of Poshlost' or "Poshlust" (as he initially enjoyed spelling it) Nabokov does give one example of politico-moral equivalence, where the "flowers of poshlust' bloom": "We all share in Germany's guilt."

That unforgettable pinpointing may have led you to connect the word with other examples of easy moral equivalence, such as those I offered above. But the main meaning of the word has little to do with politics, and should be kept in mind. Nabokov again: Poshlost' "is not only the obviously trashy but mainly the falsely important, the falsely beautiful, the falsely clever, the falsely attractive." The cult of Diversity, which paradoxically relies upon, insists upon, the notion that People Are The Same The Whole World Over, is not an example of Poshlost'.

Historically false, and idiotic, but not an example of poshlost'.

Posted on 03/02/2008 9:45 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 March 2008
MSM News Share Continues Drop, Web Continues Climb

Reuters NEW YORK (hat tip: LGF):  - Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe traditional journalism is out of touch, and nearly half are turning to the Internet to get their news, according to a new survey.

While most people think journalism is important to the quality of life, 64 percent are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism in their communities, a We Media/Zogby Interactive online poll showed.

"That's a really encouraging reflection of people who care A) about journalism and B) understand that it makes a difference to their lives," said Andrew Nachison, of iFOCOS, a Virginia-based think tank which organized a forum in Miami where the findings were presented.

Nearly half of the 1,979 people who responded to the survey said their primary source of news and information is the Internet, up from 40 percent just a year ago. Less than one third use television to get their news, while 11 percent turn to radio and 10 percent to newspapers.

More than half of those who grew up with the Internet, those 18 to 29, get most of their news and information online, compared to 35 percent of people 65 and older. Older adults are the only group that favors a primary news source other than the Internet, with 38 percent selecting television...

Posted on 03/02/2008 9:54 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Spaghetti Junction quiz

A week ago I put up a second pasta quiz, viz:

If Spaghetti Junction is the answer:

...what is the question?

Courageous and interesting answers were posted by Greenmamba and the indefatigable Reactionry. All wrong, but all Quite Interesting, so they are awarded ten points each.

The correct answer, or rather the correct question, is:

What is the nickname of the junction of motorways which I drove through last Sunday on my trip to Communicado?

The answer is Spaghetti Junction, also known as the Gravelly Hill Interchange:

Gravelly Hill Interchange, better known as Spaghetti Junction,[1] is junction 6 of the M6 motorway where it meets the A38(M) Aston Expressway in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Its colloquial name was coined in the 1970s by a sub-editor of the Birmingham Evening Mail, Alan Eaglesfield, after he realised that an aerial picture of the complex system of intertwined loops and ramps reminded him of a plate of spaghetti. It provides access to and from the A38 (Tyburn Road), A38 (M) (Aston Expressway), the A5127 (Lichfield Road/Gravelly Hill), and several unclassified local roads.

The junction covers 30 acres (12 hectares), serves 18 routes and includes 4 km (2.5 miles) of slip roads, but only 1 km (0.6 miles) of the M6 itself. Across 5 different levels, it has 559 concrete columns, reaching up to 24.4 metres (80 ft) height. The engineers had to elevate thirteen and a half miles of motorway to accommodate two railway lines, three canals, and two rivers. 

The quiz was a little unfair. How the hell was anyone supposed to know where I was going, and via what motorway interchange? But I never said that the quiz was fair. Life isn't fair. And at least I gave the answer - a fellow contributor has yet to give the answer to his last but one hughmongously difficult quiz on Nabokov or whatever it was. Deafening silence. You can hear a Pnin drop.

Anyway, Spaghetti Junction is one junction. But there are many others, although not as many as there are roads and railways leading off them. Click here for Petticoat Junction, tipping your hat to Reactionry as you click.  Then there's Up the Junction, a gritty, controversial film by Ken Loach, based on a 1960s gritty, controversial book by Nell Dunn. (Are you Nelly Dunn? No, I've got a way to go yet.) Click below for Squeeze, performing their song of the same name:

It's a good tune, but there are some bad rhymes:

I never thought it would happen
With me and the girl from Clapham
Out on the windy common
That night I ain't forgotten

[...]

And she won't write a letter
Although I always tell her
And so it's my assumption
I'm really up the junction

I can't think of any other songs, poems, plays, films or books about junctions, but there must be some. I would imagine that most are about railway junctions rather than motorway junctions. You can't get romantic about South Mims.

Posted on 03/02/2008 9:33 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Malraux on Islam

André Malraux, June 3, 1956, quoted from Brussels Journal:

"The outstanding event of our time is the violence of the advance of Islam. Underestimated by most of our contemporaries, the ascendancy of Islam is analogically comparable to the beginnings of communism at the time of Lenin.

The consequences of this phenomenon are still unpredictable. At the outset of the Marxist revolution, people thought they could stem its tide through partial solutions. Neither Christianity nor organizations such as corporations or labor unions found a solution.

Likewise today the Western world is hardly prepared to confront the problem of Islam. In theory, the solution does indeed seem extremely difficult. Perhaps it would be possible in practice, if, limiting ourselves to the French aspect of this question, the solution were thought out and applied by a genuine statesman.

The current known facts of the problem lead one to believe that the various forms of Muslim dictatorship are soon to be established successively throughout the Arab world. When I say "Muslim", I'm thinking less of religious structures than of the temporal structures that flow from Mahomet's doctrine. As of now, the sultan of Morocco is out-dated and Bourguiba will only stay in power by becoming a dictator of sorts. Perhaps partial solutions would have been sufficient to stem the tide of Islam, if they had been applied in time...Now it is too late! The "wretched ones" have nothing to lose. They would rather preserve their wretchedness within the Muslim community. Their fate will probably not change. We have a vision of them that is too Western. To the benefits we claim to be able to bring them, they prefer the future of their race. Black Africa will not remain much longer untouched by this process. All that we can do is to become conscious of the gravity of the phenomenon and to try to slow down its progression."

Posted on 03/02/2008 10:10 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 March 2008
A Musical Interlude: You're The One I Care For (Bert Lown Orch., voc. Elmer Feldkamp)
Posted on 03/02/2008 10:22 AM by Hugh Fitzerald
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Limerick quiz - the winner iz....

Greenmamba. He correctly points out that Salisbury is Sarum. (Old Sarum was the name of the earliest settlement of Salisbury, and you can read about it here.) Once you know this, and that the abbreviation for Hampshire is Hants, it is a small matter to convert:

There was a young curate of Salisbury,
Whose behaviour was quite halisbury-scalisbury,
For one day in Hampshire,
He took off his pampshire,
Though his vicar had told him to walisbury.

To:

There was a young curate of Sarum
Whose behaviour was quite harum-scarum
For one day in Hants
He took off his pants
Though his vicar had told him to warum

"Pampshire" is a joke word formed by analogy with Hampshire.

This isn't really about pronunciation. I'm not sure if there's a name for it, but it's good fun.

There was a young fellow called Featherstonehaugh. I wonder what happened to him when he met Lady Cholmondesly who was ever so comely, but loved Lord Beaulieu, and ever so truly. There's a limerick in there somewhere.

Posted on 03/02/2008 10:09 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Why Don't They Meet With Apostates?

There is plenty to be said about Barack Obama, as about Hillary Clinton and John McCain, and their various misunderstandings of Islam, and consequently of the way to minimize the threat from those who take the duty of Jihad seriously, and who pursue it, with or without the instrument of violence.

And one may take issue with what one suspects are Obama's still carefully-unstated views on the subject, and his possible misunderstandings (that, like those of Paul Wolfowitz, may come from assuming one's personal experience in Indonesia is a substitute for learning about the texts and tenets of Islam, or about Islam as believed in not by the relatively "moderate" Muslims one might, as ambassador or schoolboy, have met in Indonesia), or the misunderstandings of his advisers (the names of such advisers mentioned so far do not inspire confidence on this score, but the advisors of the other candidates similarly inspire little confidence), and other matters, including the fact that many Muslims may believe that despite his assurances that he is a Christian he remains a "secret Muslim" (what is important here is not what Barack Obama declares, but what many Muslims may think, and consequently may act on the basis of this misunderstanding), and that in Western Europe, leaders meeting with someone whose precise relation to Islam they simply cannot quite gauge, may make them more rather than less hesitant to openly discuss the need for a united Infidel front against the menace of Islam.

These are all matters that need to be discussed. We should discuss the problem of having as the American president someone who, because of his name and background, his attendance at a Muslim school (however briefly), may lead others -- to think of him as, despite his churchgoing, to be a Muslim.

He can, of course, do all kinds of things to reassure us, and make clear to Muslims, that he is not one of them. He might, for example, have met -- and he has had a year or two in which to have done it, as the other candidates might also have done it -- to meet with Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

She is most impressive. She was living in Washington, practically down the street. Why have Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, not met with her? What's keeping them?

Posted on 03/02/2008 11:18 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Tariq Ramadan, The Pious Fraud

Ibn Warraq has a review of Caroline Fourest's book, Brother Tariq,  at City Journal:

In the 1990s, Western liberals, alarmed at the presence of Islamic fundamentalists in their midst, turned in desperation to Muslims whom they dubbed “reformers” or “modernizers.” They hoped that these figures would have a moderating influence on disaffected Muslim youths who refused to integrate into Western society. One such “reformer” is Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss-born academic. Ramadan has won the confidence of many in the West, including the British government, which asked him to serve on its task force for preventing Islamic extremism. But as Caroline Fourest shows in her superbly documented book, which first appeared in French in 2004, Ramadan is not a worthy figure.

Fourest reveals Ramadan’s art of duplicity, which encompasses an entire repertoire of rhetorical subterfuges, from doublespeak and equivocation to euphemism and lies of omission. Ramadan claims that he accepts the law in Western democracies—so long as the law “does not force me to do something in contradiction with my religion.” He calls the terrorist acts in New York, Madrid, and Bali “interventions.” He claims to be a “reformist,” but defines the term to exclude the concept of “liberal reformism.” He tells a television audience that he believes in the theory of evolution, but neglects to mention that his book, Is Man Descended from the Apes? A Muslim View of the Theory of Evolution, argues for creationism. He criticizes Saudi Arabia as “traditionalist and reactionary,” but fails to mention that his own revered father helped the Saudis become the sponsors of Wahhabism. It’s no surprise that, according to the Belgian Permanent Committee for the Control of Intelligence Services, “State security also reported that the moderate speeches that Tariq Ramadan gives in public do not always correspond to the remarks made in confidential Islamic settings, where he is far more critical of Western society.”

Ramadan’s doublespeak is part of a carefully calibrated, long-term strategy of dissimulation, perfectly justified by the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya, a doctrine of “pious fraud” or religious dissimulation. That Ramadan is an impostor is evident even in the titles that he freely accords himself. He claims that he is “Professor of Islamic Studies (Faculty of Theology at Oxford),” and the biography in the inside flap of his Western Muslims and the Future of Islam describes him as “Professor of Philosophy at the College of Geneva and Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.” But as journalist Gudrun Eussner has shown, Ramadan is merely a research fellow at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, where has has given just three lectures. Nor is he a professor at Geneva, especially not at the university there. He was a teacher at a sub-university level in the Collège Saussure, and he served as a “scholarly associate” at the University of Fribourg, teaching a two-hour course every two weeks, “Introduction to Islam.”

That Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna—founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a fundamentalist fanatic who wanted to impose Islamic totalitarianism on the world—would not be fair to hold against him if not for his laudatory writings on his grandfather. In television interviews, Ramadan proudly displays a photograph of al-Banna. “I lay claim to this heritage since, if today I am a thinker, it is because this heritage has inspired me,” he told the Belgian Journal du Mardi in 2004. He was even more explicit in his interview with Alain Gresh of Le Monde diplomatique: “I have studied Hassan al-Banna’s ideas with great care and there is nothing in this heritage that I reject. His relation to God, his spirituality, his mysticism, his personality, as well as his critical reflections on law, politics, society and pluralism, testify to me his qualities of heart and mind. . . . His commitment also is a continuing reason for my respect and admiration.” In fact, Ramadan wrote a university thesis on al-Banna that was nothing short of hagiography. The jury at the University of Fribourg rejected it for being too partisan and unscientific.

In November 2003, in a televised debate with Nicolas Sarkozy, then France’s interior minister, Ramadan was asked about his brother Hani, who had justified stoning adulterous women to death. Instead of condemning the custom outright as barbaric, Ramadan replied, “I’m in favor of a moratorium so that they stop applying these sorts of punishments in the Muslim world. What’s important is for people’s way of thinking to evolve. What is needed is a pedagogical approach.” In other words, Ramadan wanted, as my dictionary entry on the word informs me, “a legally authorized postponement of the fulfillment of an obligation”—a temporary ban.

Fourest provides many examples of Ramadan’s brazen lies, but one stands out. It involves the al-Taqwa bank—founded by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, and shut down by the Swiss government in December 2001 for sponsoring terrorism, with links to Hamas, al-Qaida, and the GIA in Algeria. Ramadan claims that his family had no involvement with al-Taqwa: “We never had any sort of contact with the bank. The fact that our name appears in its address file doesn’t mean a thing.” This is untrue; Said Ramadan, Tariq’s father, was one of the founders of al-Taqwa. (Other al-Taqwa founders were active supporters of Hitler during World War II.)...

Keep reading here.

Posted on 03/02/2008 12:09 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Row over Nigeria nudity picture
A female Nigerian politician badly beaten by a local MP is standing by the publication of a revealing photograph showing her injuries in a hospital bed.
Habiba Garba told the BBC she wanted people to see the reality of violence against women in northern Nigeria.
But Kano State authorities say they have received complaints the picture breaks Muslim rules about nudity.
Labaran Abdu Madari, who beat Mrs Garba in front of witnesses and police last week, is in jail and yet to be charged.
Kano is one of 12 mainly Muslim northern states to have implemented Sharia law since Nigeria's return to civil rule in 1999.
The BBC's Mustafa Muhammad in Kano says the state-owned Triumph newspaper, which published the picture showing Mrs Garba's injuries, has a very small circulation and few people in Kano have heard about the incident.
But he says the editor of the paper may come under some pressure from government to resign for publishing it.
A photograph of the Triumph newspaper showing an injured Habiba Garba
On Monday, the Triumph published the picture of Mrs Garba's injuries showing the area just under her armpit and the scars on her torso.
The picture shows part of her naked torso, and as publishing nudity is forbidden under Sharia law it violates rights to privacy.
The government says it will investigate whether her consent was sought by the paper.  "If her rights have not been infringed we will drop it," Mr Sule said.
Mrs Garba had to have a blood clot removed from her abdomen, the Triumph reported.
"This attack is barbaric, animalistic," the paper quoted ANPP secretary Alhaji Rabi'u Bako as saying.
Posted on 03/02/2008 1:20 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 2 March 2008
A Painterly Interlude: Pinturicchio (La Disputa Con I Dottori)

Earlier mention today of the policy-doctors, the kind who are well-prepared and therefore do not deserve the pollice verso, prompts the posting of this painting, which casts its dazzling (abbagliante) spell all the way from the Cappella Baglioni in Spello:

http://www.comune.pisa.it/gr-archeologico/musvir/pinturicchio/dxg.htm

It could never have been produced, and would not last a minute, under Islam.

Posted on 03/02/2008 2:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Dozy bint of the week

Naomi Klein, who has made a huge amount of money decrying money-making, turns her dozybintine mind to Islam, specifically in the context of the Barack-Obama-goes-native photo. Where is she peddling her bintish bletherings? The Guardian, where else?

Substitute another faith or ethnicity, and you'd expect a very different response....

There is a reason for that. Other faiths do not demand that their adherents convert, kill or subjugate non-believers. Ethnicity is neither here nor there. Islam is not a race.

Substitute another faith or ethnicity, and you'd expect a very different response. Consider a report from the archives of the Nation. Thirteen years ago Daniel Singer, the magazine's late Europe correspondent, went to Poland to cover a presidential election. He reported that the race had descended into an ugly debate over whether one of the candidates, Aleksander Kwasniewski, was a closet Jew. The press claimed his mother was buried in a Jewish cemetery (she was still alive), and a popular TV show aired a skit featuring the Christian candidate dressed as a Hassidic Jew. "What perturbed me," Singer said, "was that Kwasniewski's lawyers threatened to sue for slander rather than press for an indictment under the law condemning racist propaganda".

We should expect no less of the Obama campaign. When asked during the Ohio debate about Louis Farrakhan's support for his candidacy, Obama did not hesitate to call Farrakhan's antisemitic comments "unacceptable and reprehensible". When the turban photo flap came up in the same debate, he used the occasion to say nothing at all.

Farrakhan's infamous comments about Jews took place 24 years ago. The orgy of hate that is the "Muslim smear" is unfolding in real time, and it promises to greatly intensify in a general election.

[...]

The core of Obama's candidacy is that he alone - having lived in Indonesia as a boy and with an African grandmother - can "repair the world" after the Bush wrecking ball. That repair job begins with the 1.4 billion Muslims around the world, many convinced that the US has been waging a war against their faith. This perception is based on facts, among them the fact that Muslim civilians are not counted among the dead in Iraq and Afghanistan; that Islam has been desecrated in US-run prisons; and that voting for an Islamist party resulted in collective punishment in Gaza. It is also fuelled by the rise of a virulent strain of Islamophobia in Europe and North America.

Klein calls stopping the jizya to the "Palestinians" because they elected a party which demands the total destruction of Israel "collective punishment". Her mind, and her heart - where there's no sense there's no feeling - match her surname.

Posted on 03/02/2008 2:05 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Across Eleven Time Zones, It's Medvedev By A Landslide

Posting from December 17, 2007, updated:

Povodyr'
 
In Russian, it can mean "guide." It can also mean -- refer to but not reference -- the man who leads around a trained bear, on a leash, from town to town, and has him dance, and collects money from the on-lookers.  A Russian friend brought back from Moscow a few years ago not an old lubok (a Russian version -- but predating -- the French images d'Epinal) but a modern attempt at something similar. It depicts such a scene: the dancing bear, the povodyr', the gawking on-lookers:  “Medved' plyashchet a povodyr' den'gi beryot" (The Bear dances, while his Master takes the money) is the caption.
 
The Russian word for Bear, you have already been informed, is "medved." The new candidate for President of Russia is a mild-mannered young economist named "Medvedev." You can supply for yourself the name of the povodyr' in question. It's a word bound to come in handy, especially if you are watching Mat'-Rossiya from the beautiful -- and safe -- distance.

Addendum on March 2, 2008:

Vsya Rossiya v Tome "P": Pobeda, Politika,Povodyr', Prostranstvo, Pushkin, Pytka.

 Yes, you can learn a lot from the right volume of Brockhaus and Efron.

 

Posted on 03/02/2008 2:46 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 March 2008
To Burn Or Not To Burn?
Posted on 03/02/2008 4:45 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Musical Interlude: Billie Holiday
Posted on 03/02/2008 4:59 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Extreme creationists

Good egg Damian Thompson reports:

Extreme Creationists have been given the use of a lecture hall at University College, London, to preach against evolutionary science. Tomorrow’s event has been organised by the college’s Islamic Society as part of “Islamic Awareness Week”. Is that why UCL doesn’t have a problem with it?

[...]

One of the main themes of my book Counterknowledge is the spread of Islamic Creationism. Guardian and Independent readers are comfortable with the notion that Creationism is the preserve of swivel-eyed American fundamentalist Christians. They are much less comfortable with the reality that Islam is the main engine of Creationism in the world today.

British universities are filling up with science and medical students who reject the single most important discovery in biological science. Sooner or later we’re going to have to face the consequences.

Posted on 03/02/2008 6:42 PM by Mary Jackson

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