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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
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
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
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:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 22, 2012.
Friday, 22 June 2012
Afghan women in shelters are prostitutes, says justice minister

From the Telegraph

Afghanistan's justice minister Habibullah Ghaleb has claimed women in shelters for domestic violence victims are prostitutes. His comments at a conference organised by the Afghan parliament's Women's Affairs Committee provoked outrage among human rights campaigners and demands for President Hamid Karzai to sack him.

Mr Ghaleb told delegates that 250 women living in 12 foreign-funded shelters were being encouraged to disobey their parents.

"Mostly they were encouraging girls, saying, 'If your father says anything bad to you don't listen to him, if your mother says anything to you don't listen to them. There are safe houses for you where you can stay.' What safe houses? What sort of immorality and prostitution was not happening at those places?" he said.

Baroness Ashton, the EU foreign minister, said she was "deeply troubled" by his comments which sabotaged efforts to protect women from violence and sexual abuse.

Posted on 06/22/2012 6:44 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 22 June 2012
Ignorance; a science at last!

 “A multitude of books is making us ignorant.” - Voltaire

What we believe, or think we know, often gets in the way of what we do not, or should, know. These tensions; facts versus ignorance, truth versus error, and good intentions versus unintended consequences are now a unique field of cautious inquiry; in short, the study of what we don’t know.

The first attempt to formalize the study of ignorance came recently with historian Robert Proctor of Stanford University who coined the neologism “Agnotology” to describe what he believed to be culturally produced ignorance. His purpose was to expose junk science used by tobacco companies. Proctor’s best contribution may be rhetorical, however. Science has lots of junk in the trunk, as do many other disciplines. Where method masks error, historic examples are legion.

Phrenology, graphology, and astrology were all, at one time, considered sciences. And reason or precedent is often used to promote falsehoods. Even Galileo capitulated when confronted with the received wisdom of the church. Luther and Calvin promoted predestination, the devil’s influence, and anti-Semitism at the expense of reason, choice, and free will. Edison clung to direct current long after the truth of Tessler’s alternating current was known. William Randolph Hearst promoted the errors of National Socialism until Kristallnacht. And like a politician, Einstein was for nuclear weapons much longer than he was against them. Alas, Bob Proctor seems to be more concerned with the willful misuse use of science or method, rather than the study of the vice and virtue of ignorance.

That vacuum was filled, in part, recently by Stuart Firestein at Columbia University who now attempts to explain the large scientific role of ignorance in a small book. If brevity is the soul of wit, Firestein hits the mark. He criticizes the traditional brick building, or hypothesis based, approach to science and recommends more metaphors, more questions - and more humility. Socratic nostalgia is not novel, but any use of metaphors or modesty is sure to annoy empiricists. With artistic aplomb, Firestein invokes the metaphorical black cat in a dark room.


When or if we turn on the lights, we often find that there are no cats. For Firestein; what we don’t know should drive analysis, not hypotheses or assumptions about what we think we know.

Firestein is on to something. Any inquiry might be the search for a better metaphor. Indeed, what we often think of as “fictional” usually does a better job with facts. There may be more truth in a single poem, play, or novel than might be found in a thousand tedious scientific papers; which probably explains why good art has so many repeat customers. And entertainment is never the enemy of erudition. A kernel of fact is often wrapped in a husk of wit.

Insight also appears in unlikely places, like on the E Ring at the Pentagon. It was at a Department of Defense press conference that Donald Rumsfeld delivered his now infamous soliloquy about “not knowing what we don’t know.” The Defense Secretary was trying to explain how decisions are often made in half-light, with imperfect information. Unfortunately, he was talking to journalists, a profession unencumbered by facts or humility. What Rumsfeld implied, but was too polite to say, was that Intelligence or national security science doesn’t always give a policymaker what he needs. With this, “Rummy” was definitely on to something too.

Of all professions; national security, economics, and the social disciplines may be the modern safe havens for ignorance. And every error in fact or false argument need not be refuted in detail to recognize abuse of method. Scientific Agnotology usually comes in one of two flavors: the truth that we ignore; or the nonsense that we accept as fact. Fortunately, error has distinctive tags. Junk science has created a host of euphemisms, a politically correct Esperanto that gives the game away.

Indeed, if a national security study uses terms like kinetics instead of war, stability instead of victory, extremists instead of national or religious sponsors, local progress instead of global success, or speculative intentions at the expense of factual capabilities; the analysis is probably ignoring the obvious. Well-intentioned attempts at appeasement, maybe, but not science.

Economic claptrap is too easy. If spending is described as stimulus, taxes are described as investments, debt and deficits described as norms; then just drop your wallet and run. And beware when economists no longer refer to nations on the cusp of bankruptcy as PIGS. The pig metaphor is too painful. The pigs of social democracies don’t just eat anything; eventually they eat everything. The Euro buffet is about to collapse; but, the truth of economic peril is hard to digest and the bromides are impossible to swallow. Celebrating spending at the expense of thrift is the perennial red flag.

And the social sciences may be the worst; indeed, destination resorts for junk - and black cats, real or imagined. Foremost are those studies which conclude, or assume, that terror is a crime not a military tactic. Such science would have you believe that the purveyors of beheadings, amputations, decimations, honor killings, and suicide bombs who chant “allahu, alkahu akbar” are driven by the same motives that inspire pickpockets and hubcap nippers. Labeling terrorists as criminals is a logical, albeit perverse, extension of the shibboleth that criminals are victims.

Religion is the big black cat lurking in the dark corners of modern terror, insurgency, and regime change; always present, yet seldom seen. Indeed, attempting to study internal or external conflicts of the Muslim world without considering Islam, if we can mix a few more metaphors, is a little like trying to understand vanilla without the beans. Feigned ignorance of the menace of a politicized religion is underwritten by sweeping assumptions about moral equivalence and moderation – another pair of truant cats.

Ironically, the history of poverty is similar to the history of ignorance. The relationship is not causal, just analogous. Poverty was long thought to be the engine for achievement. Literature is festooned with Horatio Alger tales. And in another day, ignorance was also the engine of inquiry, the desire for knowledge. Socrates and Barzun didn’t ask questions because they didn’t have answers.

Alas, the natural incentives of want and need have been anesthetized by well-intentioned government programs that inhibit the very initiative that might eliminate penury. And ignorance is nurtured by a school system where social stasis, or a jockstrap, trumps knowledge or performance. The low expectations generation, the paternalists, are now in charge; grappling impotently with strategic and social dilemmas.

So we continue to flail in the dark at those black cats, real or imagined; speaking a political Esperanto, the correct language of cultural pretense. We know where the lights are, yet we dare not turn them on. Nevertheless, putting ignorance in the cross hairs may help.

New science is like working in a vacant lot. Move enough rocks and the ugly things crawl away. We have lived with error for so long; maybe a study of ignorance is the Braille we need to find the lights. Ignorance, after all, is indeed a much bigger subject than any science.


G. Murphy Donovan went to primary and secondary schools in the east and south Bronx. He was home schooled for ignorance and poverty.  


Posted on 06/22/2012 7:44 AM by G. Murphy Donovan
Friday, 22 June 2012
Flame And Its Feats Of Derring-Do

From Reuters:

 'Flame' can sabotage computers, attack Iran


Flame computer virus not only does espionage, but also sabotages computer systems, likely was used to attack Iran.

BOSTON - The powerful Flame computer virus is not only capable of espionage but it can also sabotage computer systems and likely was used to attack Iran in April, according to a leading security company, Symantec Corp.

Iran had previously blamed Flame for causing data loss on computers in the country's main oil export terminal and Oil Ministry. But prior to Symantec's discovery, cyber experts had only unearthed evidence that proved Flame could spy on conversations on the computers it infects and steal data.

Symantec researcher Vikram Thakur said on Thursday that the company has now identified a component of Flame that allows operators to delete files from computers, which means it can cause critical programs to fail or completely disable operating systems.

"These guys have the capability to delete everything on the computer," Thakur said. "This is not something that is theoretical. It is absolutely there."

Flame was deployed at least five years ago and is the most sophisticated cyber spying program ever discovered. Researchers have been racing to better understand its capabilities ever since Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab uncovered Flame last month after the security firm was asked by a United Nations agency to look for a virus that Iran said had sabotaged its computers, deleting valuable data.

Last week, researchers at Kaspersky Lab linked some of the software code in Flame to the Stuxnet cyber weapon, which was widely believed to have been used by the United States and Israel to attack Iran's nuclear program. Symantec later also said Stuxnet and Flame shared some code.

Current and former US and Western national security officials told Reuters this week that the United States played a role in creating Flame. The Washington Post reported that US and Israel jointly developed Flame and used it to collect intelligence to help slow Iran's nuclear program.

Iran complained about the threat of cyber attacks again on Thursday, saying it had detected plans by the United States, Israel and Britain to launch a "massive" strike after the breakdown of talks over Tehran's nuclear activities. . It was not clear if the cyber attack referred to Flame, or a new virus.

Symantec declined to comment on who the firm believes is behind Flame.

If Symantec's conclusions are validated, that means Flame could be used as a weapon to attack computers that run critical infrastructure systems, including dams, chemical plants and manufacturing facilities, security specialists said.

Boldizsár Bencsath, an expert on cyber warfare with Hungary's Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security, said there was at least a 70 percent chance that Flame was used to attack Iran in April.

"Of course it can be used for sabotage," said Bencsath, who began investigating Flame several weeks before it was first reported to the public. "It may have been used to attack critical infrastructure and it may be used in the future."

Sean McGurk, a former Department of Homeland Security official who helped direct the US effort to protect critical infrastructure from cyber attacks, said that Flame was not the first piece of malicious software designed to sabotage systems by deleting data.

What makes it unique, he said, is that the data-wiping moduleworks alongside a suite of other programs including the espionage tools that have previously been identified.

"It could render computing devices useless," said McGurk, who is now chief executive of a consulting firm known as NExt Generation Micro LLC.

That presents a threat, he said, because computers are used in all sorts of industrial control systems, affecting everything from critical processes at manufacturing plants to the pressure inside water networks. "Cyber elements can have catastrophic impacts," he said.

Posted on 06/22/2012 8:15 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 22 June 2012
A Musical Interlude: I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire (Ink Spots)
Listen here.
Posted on 06/22/2012 8:20 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 22 June 2012
Caroline Glick On The Muslim Brotherhood, The Military,Egypt, And Israel

From the Jerusalem Post:

The Muslim Brotherhood's Useful Idiots

June 22, 2012,
facebook revolution.jpg
You have to hand it to the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. They know how to play power politics. They know how to acquire power. And they know how to use power.
Last Friday, the day before voters by most accounts elected the Brotherhood's candidate Mohamed Morsy to serve as Egypt's next president, The Wall Street Journal published a riveting account by Charles Levinson and Matt Bradley of how the Brotherhood outmaneuvered the secular revolutionaries to take control of the country's political space.
The Brotherhood kept a very low profile in the mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square in January and February 2011 that led to the overthrow of then-president Hosni Mubarak. The Brotherhood's absence from Tahrir Square at that time is what enabled Westerners to fall in love with the Egyptian revolution.
Those demonstrations led to the impression, widespread in the US, that Mubarak's successors would be secular Facebook democrats. The role that Google's young Egyptian executive Wael Gonim played in organizing the demonstrations was reported expansively. His participation in the anti-regime protests - as well as his brief incarceration - was seen as proof that the next Egyptian regime would be indistinguishable from Generation X and Y Americans and Europeans.
In their report, Levinson and Bradley showed how the Brotherhood used the secularists to overthrow the regime, and to provide them with a fig leaf of moderation through March 2011, when the public voted on the sequencing of Egypt's post-Mubarak transformation from a military dictatorship into a populist regime. The overwhelming majority of the public voted to first hold parliamentary elections and to empower the newly elected parliament to select members of the constitutional assembly that would write Egypt's new constitution.
As Egypt's largest social force, the Brotherhood knew it would win the majority of the seats in the new parliament. The March 2011 vote ensured its control over writing the new Egyptian constitution.
In July 2011, the Brotherhood decided to celebrate its domination of the new Egypt with a mass rally at Tahrir Square. Levinson and Bradley explained how in the lead-up to that event Egypt's secular revolutionaries were completely outmaneuvered.
According to their account, the Brotherhood decided to call the demonstration "Shari'a Friday." Failing to understand that the game was over, the secularists tried to regain what they thought was the unity of the anti-regime ranks from earlier in the year.
"Islamists and revolutionary leaders spent three days negotiating principles they could all support at the coming Friday demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square. They reached an agreement and the revolution seemed back on track."
One secularist leader, Rabab el-Mahdi, referred to the agreement as "The perfect moment. A huge achievement." 
But then came the double cross.
"Hours before the demonstration, hard-line Salafi Islamists began adorning the square with black-andwhite flags of jihad and banners calling for the implementation of Islamic law. Ms. Mahdi made frantic calls to Brotherhood leaders, who told her there was little they could do." 
THE DIFFERENCE between the Brotherhood and the secularists is a fundamental one. The Brotherhood has always had a vision of the Egypt it wants to create. It has always used all the tools at its disposal to advance the goal of creating an Islamic state in Egypt.
For their part, the secularists have no ideological unity and so share no common vision of a future Egypt. They just oppose the repression of the military. Opposing repression is not a political program. It is a political act. It can destroy. It cannot rule.
So when the question arose of how to transform the protests that caused the US to abandon Mubarak and sealed the fate of his regime into a new regime, the secularists had no answer. All they could do was keep protesting military repression.
The Brotherhood has been the most popular force in Egypt for decades. Its leaders recognized that to take over the country, all they needed was the power to participate in the elections and the authority to ensure that the election results mattered - that is, control over writing the constitution. And so, once the secularists fomented Mubarak's overthrow, their goal was to ensure their ability to participate in the elections and to ensure that the parliament would control the constitution-writing process.
To achieve these goals, they were equally willing to collaborate with the secularists against the military and with the military against the secularists. To achieve their goals they were willing - as they did before Shari'a Friday last July - to negotiate in bad faith.
While instructive, the Journal's article fell short because the reporters failed to recognize that the Brotherhood outmaneuvered the military junta in the same way that it outmaneuvered the secularists. The article starts with the premise that the military's decision to stage an effective coup d'etat last week spelled an end to the Egyptian revolution and the country's reversion to the military dictatorship that has ruled the state since the 1950s.
Levinson and Bradley claim, "Following the rulings by the high court this week [which canceled the results of the parliamentary elections and ensured continued military control over the country regardless of the results of the presidential elections], the Brotherhood's strategy of cooperation with the military seems failed."
But actually, that is not the case. By permitting the Brotherhood to participate in the elections for parliament and the presidency, the military signed the death warrant of its regime. The Brotherhood will rule Egypt. The only thing left to be determined is whether its takeover will happen quickly or slowly.
To understand why this is the case, it is important to notice what happened in Turkey. When the Islamist AKP party won the 2002 elections, the Turkish military was constitutionally authorized to control the country. As the guardians of Turkey's secular state, Turkey's military was constitutionally empowered to overthrow democratically elected governments.
Ten years later, Turkey is a populist, authoritarian, Islamic state. Half the general officer corps is in prison, held without charge or on trumped up charges. Turkey's judiciary and civil service are controlled by Islamists. The AKP is filling the military's officer corps with its loyalists.
When you know what you want, you use all the tools at your disposal to achieve your goals. When you don't know what you want, no matter what tools you hold, you will fail to achieve your goals.
The Egyptian military today is far weaker than the Turkish military was in 2002. And it has already been outmaneuvered by the Brotherhood. The only way for it to secure its hold on power is through brute force. And the generals have already shown they are unwilling to use sufficient force to repress the Brotherhood.
The regime's decision to outlaw the parliament and decree the military above the president was not a show of strength. It was a panicked act of desperation by a regime that knows its days are numbered. So was its decision to delay announcing the winner of the presidential elections.
When Morsy declared victory in the presidential elections on Sunday, he did so surrounded by members of the just-dissolved parliament. His act was a warning to the military. The Brotherhood will not allow the ruling to stand.
It is possible the Brotherhood will stand down in this confrontation with the military over the parliamentary election. But the military will emerge vastly weakened. And when the next round of confrontation inevitably arrives, the military will have even less clout. And so on and so forth.
THE INEVITABILITY of the Islamic takeover of Egypt means that the peace between Israel and Egypt is meaningless. Confrontation is coming. The only questions that remain are how long it will take and what form it will come in. If it happens slowly, it will be characterized by a gradual escalation of cross-border attacks from Sinai by Hamas and other jihadist groups. Hamas's sudden eagerness to take responsibility for the mortar attacks against southern Israel as well as Monday morning's murderous cross-border attack are signs of things to come.
With the Brotherhood ascending to power, the security cooperation Israel has received from the Egyptian security forces in Sinai is over. And the regime won't suffice with doing nothing to stop terror. It will encourage it. Just as the Egyptian military sponsored and organized the fedayeen raids from Gaza in the 1950s, so today the regime will sponsor and eventually organize irregular attacks from Sinai and Gaza.
In the rapid-path-to-confrontation scenario, the Egyptian military itself will participate in attacks against Israel. Egyptian troops may take potshots at Israelis from across the border. They may remilitarize Sinai. They may escalate attacks against the US-commanded MFO forces in Sinai that are supposed to keep the peace with the goal of convincing them to withdraw.
Whether the confrontation happens tomorrow or in a year or two, the question of whether the military remains the titular ruler of Egypt or not is irrelevant to Israel.
In their attempt to maintain their power and privilege, the first bargaining chip the generals will sacrifice is their support for the peace with Israel. With the US siding with the Brotherhood against the military, maintaining the peace treaty has ceased to be important for the generals.
This dismal situation requires Israel's leaders to take several steps immediately. First, our leaders must abandon their diplomatic language regarding Egypt. No point is served by not acknowledging that the southern front - dormant since 1981 - has reawakened and that Israel's peace with Egypt is now meaningless.
Recall that it was under Mubarak's leadership that the Egyptian media reported that the Mossad was deploying sharks as secret agents and ordering them to attack tourists along Egypt's seacoast in an effort to destroy Egypt's tourism industry.
Since Israel doesn't need to actually do or say anything to cause the Egyptians to attack, we might as well be honest in our own discussion of the situation. At a minimum, frank talk will ensure that the steps we take on the ground to meet the challenge of Egypt will be based on reality and not on an attempt to ignore reality.
Straight talk is also important in the international arena. For the past 30 years, in the interest of protecting the peace treaty, Israel never defended itself against Egypt's diplomatic assaults on its very right to exist. Now it can and must fight back with full force.
At a minimum, this will enable Israel to wage a coherent diplomatic defense of whatever military action it will eventually need to take to defend itself against Egyptian aggression.
As to that aggression, we don't have any good options on the ground. We cannot operate openly in Sinai. If we retaliate against missile attacks with air strikes, the Brotherhood-led Egyptian government will use our defensive action to justify war. So we need to massively expand our ability to operate covertly.
Aside from that, we must equip and train our military to win a war against the US-trained and-armed Egyptian military.
However the Egyptian election results pan out, the die has been cast. We must prepare for what is coming.

Posted on 06/22/2012 9:10 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 22 June 2012
One More Dead-Eyed Muslim Would-Be Mass Murderer

Moroccan man pleads guilty to attempted bombing of U.S. Capitol

Amine El Khalifi is pictured in this police photograph released to Reuters February 21, 2012. Authorities arrested El Khalifi on February 17, 2012 near the U.S. Capitol as part of a terrorism investigation, saying he sought to use explosives, according to the U.S. Justice Department and Capitol Police. REUTERS/U.S. Marshals Service/Handout


Jun 22, 2012

(Reuters) - A Moroccan man pleaded guilty on Friday to attempting to bomb the U.S. Capitol building in Washington in February, 2012, and could face up to 30 years in prison.

Amine El Khalifi, 29, an illegal immigrant living in Alexandria, Virginia, struck an agreement with prosecutors under which he pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court in Virginia.

He was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against property owned and used by the United States, intending to detonate a bomb and to shoot people.

"I plead guilty," he said, standing before Judge James C. Cacher for the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. El Khalifi, dressed in a gray penitentiary jumpsuit and with a beard that reached several inches below his chin, appeared relaxed as he chatted with his lawyers before and after the court proceedings.

El Khalifi was arrested in a parking garage near the U.S. Capitol on February 17 wearing a vest he believed was full of explosives supplied by al-Qaeda, U.S. officials said. He had believed he was working with al-Qaeda militants when in fact his contacts were undercover U.S. agents, they said.

He also had with him a semi-automatic weapon which he said he would use to shoot people before detonating the bomb inside the U.S. Capitol building, according to the complaint. Both the bomb and the gun had already been rendered inoperable, the FBI said.

El Khalifi had been the subject of a lengthy undercover investigation by the FBI. They said he had become known to them in January 2011 when a confidential source told authorities that El Khalifi met with others in Virginia and agreed with statements that the group needed to be ready for war, according to court documents.

Posted on 06/22/2012 2:21 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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