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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
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 Tuesday, 24, 2009.
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Wearing hijabs is not part of our Bangladeshi culture

There are some very good letters in the East London Advertiser today, praising Canada for barring George Galloway and asking Bethnal Green to do the same, lamenting the arson attack on the Sikh Temple in Bow, and this from a resident of Bangladeshi origin.
THERE has been an explosion of wearing hijabs among Bangladeshi women in the East End of London for the last 12 years and wearing the Jelbab (full-length coat) in Britain generally.
But this is alien to Bengali culture. Visit Bangladesh and you would hardly see anyone wearing them.
How did the British Bengali Muslims adopt this Arab costume? You might have assumed that the British-born Muslims should have been more westernised and the Bangladeshi students more conservatively dressed.
But it's the other way round in London!
During the last 15 years, Arab Islamic sects like Hisb'ut-Tahrir, Salafi and Al-Mujahirun established bases in this country and in East London, targeting British-born Asian Muslims in university campuses, community centres and mosques.
I noticed with great sadness, living in the East End for the last 30 years, the Arab influence slowly creeping into our rich Bengali culture in this supposedly Westernised country.
I blame the Government for allowing these organisations their bases and unwittingly creating thousands of extremists and terrorists.
But the mosque leaders don't care, as long as they wear the hijab!
 Miah Old Bethnal Green Road,

Posted on 03/24/2009 4:27 AM by Esmerelda WEatherwax
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Government suspends links with Muslim Council of Britain over Gaza

From The Guardian. The Guardian and the Islamic press are reporting this as having happened, The Times reports that it may happen.
The government has suspended ties with Britain's largest Muslim group and demanded that one of its leaders should be removed from office for allegedly supporting violence against Israel.
The news comes on the eve of the launch of a major government strategy aimed at fostering closer ties with Muslims to help counter the threat of Islamist terrorism.
The launch tomorrow of Contest 2, the government's revised counter-terrorism strategy, comes after ministers decided to stop engaging with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
The council's deputy secretary-general, Daud Abdullah, signed a declaration last month that the government and critics of the MCB have interpreted as calling for violence against Israel and condoning attacks on British troops.  Its a bit hard to interpret it any other way really, unless you are a guardianista, which I am not.
The new strategy makes some good points but it is tinkering with the symptoms not irradicating the source.
From The Telegraph
The Government's new anti-terror strategy will outline the changing nature of the threat from al-Qaeda as it is claimed that at least 20 Britons trained by militants in Pakistan are living in the UK.
Although the al-Qaeda leadership is seen to have fragmented, there is a growing fear of "self starter groups" who are inspired by the terrorist network.
The Government drew up its original anti-terror strategy in 2003, but has been force to redraft the document as the nature of the terrorist threat has changed.
It is now looking at ways of coping with a nuclear, chemical or biological attacks as well as the more conventional bombings.
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, said the Government was working closely with its Pakistan counterparts to try and tackle the problem.
Pakistan's intelligence services are said to have passed information on to intelligence officials in the UK about notable militants now based in this country.
"We are concerned about the way the threat is evolving," said Miss Smith. "We are concerned about these people travelling back and forth to Pakistan and training in Pakistan.
"We are working closely with the Pakistan government to track down individuals and more broadly to work against terrorism. We do need to work internationally as well as on a more local and national level."
The Government's updated anti-terror strategy - Contest 2 - is being billed as the most comprehensive approach to tackling the threat issued by any government in the world.
The original Contest strategy was divided into four strands - Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare.
Hugh always makes the point of how much Islam costs the west, money which could do so much good if it could be spent elsewhere.
The Prevent strand is expected to be particularly closely scrutinised after criticism that public money was not being well spent on discouraging extremism.
By 2011, Britain will be spending £3.5 billion a year on counter-terrorism. The number of police deployed on counter-terror work has risen since 2003 from 1,700 to 3,000, while the security service MI5 has doubled in size over the same period.
And
Ministers spend £90,000 a day on 'soft schemes' to tackle extremism
Ministers have been criticised for spending more than £100million on 'soft' schemes such as community projects, activities and websites to combat extremism.
The news comes as Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, announces the next stage of the Government's Contest strategy to fight terrorism.
Figures obtained by Conservative MP Patrick Mercer show that £100.2million - over £90,000 a day - was spent on Prevent in the three years to the end of this month.
More than £1.2million of this was spent on funding the Radical Middle Way, including £54,000 on its website.
Mr Mercer, the chairman of the Counter Terrorism Sub-Committee, said: "This is a great deal of money for which the Government cannot properly account."
Pockets have been lined and nests filled with golden eggs. 

Posted on 03/24/2009 4:49 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Arab imperialism

It has been noted many times at this site and elsewhere that Islam is a vehicle for Arab imperialism. In this context, Esmerelda's post on hijabs and Bangladeshi culture is particularly interesting. In it, a resident "of Bangladeshi origin" complains:

[Hijabs are] alien to Bengali culture. Visit Bangladesh and you would hardly see anyone wearing them. How did the British Bengali Muslims adopt this Arab costume?...I noticed with great sadness, living in the East End for the last 30 years, the Arab influence slowly creeping into our rich Bengali culture in this supposedly Westernised country.

Western, not Westernised, but let's not quibble. In Lancashire too, the colourful shalwar kameez worn by women of my generation has been replaced by hideous black abayas and niqabs. The Arabisation has gone hand in hand with a more severe form of Islam, not softened by Indian culture, whether Bengali or, in the case of the Lancastrian Muslims, Punjabi. Sadly, it is the more oppressive Islam that is the true faith.

Why do the Muslimahs of London's East End wear the hijab, while the Muslimahs of Bangladesh do not? Perhaps, ironically, modernity is to blame. East End Muslims have access, via internet and satellite television, to pure Arab forms of Islam. Bangladeshi Muslims may be more ignorant of the true Islam, and their version of it is tempered by local cultural accretions.

Whatever the reason, Islam is Arabising London's Muslims. This racism - for that is what it is - has gone unquestioned, while attempts to impose British culture and dress would have been pounced on. Hugh Fitzgerald has long argued that Iranians should be persuaded to take pride in their Persian ancestry. Perhaps London's Bengalis should be encouraged to take pride in their Bengali culture and to reject Arab cultural imperialism. Where is the Commission for Racial Equality when - for once - you need it?

Posted on 03/24/2009 5:07 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Mehr Licht

Fibonacci-quasicrystal quantum-well structure emits more efficiently

In a one-dimensional (1-D)  periodic Bragg stack of light-emitting quantum wells (QWs), the standing-wave pattern has nodes at the QW positions, which for normal (perpendicular to the Bragg-stack planes) light output leads to inefficient emission. To combat this situation, researchers at the University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), the A. F. Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute (St. Petersburg, Russia), and the Universität Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe, Germany) are researching QW structures with active thicknesses of two values (A and B), but whose order is based on the Fibonacci sequence -- in other words, a 1-D Fibonacci quasicrystal. In such a structure, not all QWs coincide with nodes.

The researchers grew a gallium arsenide/aluminum gallium arsenide-based structure with A and B values of 82 and 134 nm (optical thicknesses of 0.36λ and 0.59λ); the A:B ratio is based on the golden mean. They also grew a similar but periodic structure (optical thicknesses of 1/2). Photoluminescence experiments were carried out with 780 nm light from a continuous-wave Ti:sapphire laser. Strong photoluminescence occurred at the Bragg condition only for the Fibonacci case (even though the quasicrystal's long-range order produces an excitonic polariton stopband similar to those in photonic crystals).

 

Posted on 03/24/2009 8:07 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Israel, the United States, And Iran

Iran targets the US

Mar. 22, 2009
Yoram Ettinger , THE JERUSALEM POST

The prevention of a nuclear Iran constitutes a top US national security priority. It sheds light on a special aspect of US-Israel relationship: defiance of mutual threats.

Iran pursues nuclear capabilities to advance strategic goals, which are led by the super-goal: hegemony over the Persian Gulf and its natural resources. Those who undermine the super-goal are considered super-enemies, targeted by super-capabilities. Hence, Teheran would use its nuclear power/threat, first and foremost, to force the US and NATO out of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. It would then turn it against Iraq - its arch rival since the seventh century - and against Saudi Arabia, which is considered an apostate regime. All Gulf states are perceived by Iran as a key prize, required in order to control the flow and the price of oil and to bankroll its megalomaniac regional and global aspirations (e.g. leading Islam's drive to dominate the globe).

The Jewish state constitutes a non-Gulf basin target for Iran, not a primary target. Moreover, Israel is expected to retaliate in a traumatic manner, which would paralyze much of Iran's military and civilian infrastructure. Therefore, Iran would not sacrifice its super-goal (forcing the US out of the Gulf and subjugating the Gulf states) on the altar of a secondary-goal (obliterating the Jewish state).

FOR THE US AND ISRAEL, the preferred option against Iran is preemption rather than retaliation. Recent precedents suggest that the two countries benefit from leveraging each other's unique experience, as well as from bold unilateral military action against rogue threats.

In September 2007, the IAF destroyed a Syrian-North Korean nuclear plant, extending the US's strategic arm. It provided the US with vital information on Russian air defense systems, which are also employed by Iran. It bolstered the US posture of deterrence and refuted the claim that US-Israel relations have been shaped by political expediency.

In 1981, Israel destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor, providing the US with a conventional option in 1991 and 2003, preventing a mega-billion dollar, mega-casualty nuclear war. In 1970, while the US was bogged down in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, Israel forced the rollback of a pro-Soviet Syrian invasion of pro-US Jordan. It prevented a pro-Soviet "domino effect" into the Persian Gulf, which would have shattered US economy.

In 2009, Israel shares with the US its battle-tested experience in combating Palestinian and Hizbullah terrorism, which are the role model of anti-US Islamic terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. US GIs benefit from Israel's battle tactics against car bombs, improvised explosive devices and homicide bombing. An Israel-like ally in the Persian Gulf would have spared the need to dispatch US troops to Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE and NATO commander Alexander Haig refers to the Jewish state as the largest cost-effective, combat-experienced US aircraft carrier that does not require US personnel, cannot be sunk and is located in a most critical region for US national security interests.

While the US has been Israel's indispensable ally, Israel's battle experience has been integrated into the US defense industry. For example, the F-16 includes more than 600 Israeli modifications, sparing the US a mega-billion dollar and a multi-year research and development budget. A litany of state-of-the-art US military systems have been upgraded in a similar manner, enhancing US national and homeland security and expanding US employment and exports.

Iran's nuclear threat is a symptom of endemic Middle East violent unpredictability and Muslim hostility toward Western democracies. It calls for an upgraded US-Israel win-win relationship, which requires a strong Israel as a national security producer. A weak Israel, pushed into a nine-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean, pressured to concede the mountain ridges of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, relying on foreign troops and guarantees, would become a national security consumer. It would be a burden rather than an asset to the US in a bad neighborhood, which is crucial for vital US interests.

Iran would benefit from an ineffective Israel. However, the US would have to deploy to the eastern flank of the Mediterranean real aircraft carriers and tens of thousands of US servicemen, costing scores of billions of dollars annually, denied the benefits of Israel - the largest US aircraft carrier, which does not require a single US sailor.

The writer is chairman of special projects at the Ariel Center for Policy Research.

Posted on 03/24/2009 8:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Hot Time in Haifa Prevented

Obviously driven to extremes by desperation, lack of employment opportunities and the humiliation of check points designed to prevent this kind of thing, those cute and cuddly peace-loving "Palestinians" sought to kill and maim as many Israeli shoppers as possible.

Had the terrorist plot gone according to plan, Saturday would have been a black day in the country's history.

Hidden in the trunk of a stolen Subaru, parked near columns holding up part of Haifa's Lev Hamifratz mall, were 100 kg. of explosives.

The explosives were packed into a number of bombs and mixed with ball bearings to make the blast even more deadly. The terrorists had hoped to detonate all 100 kg. simultaneously.

Nearby, blissfully unaware shoppers and moviegoers were exiting parked vehicles and entering the shopping center, located just north of the Checkpoint intersection.

A chilling scenario was sketched out by a police source on Sunday, who said the attackers could have been aiming to use their car bomb to set other parked vehicles on fire and trigger a chain reaction of exploding fuel tanks.

"Had the car bomb exploded, the majority of the cars in the parking lot would have gone up in flames. The gasoline in them could have exploded. This would have been a major terrorist attack," the source said...

Posted on 03/24/2009 12:50 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Munich: Heads of Muslim Organizations Arrested

Islam In Europe has more on that German investigation.

Two important German Islamic officials are involved in founding a criminal organization.  It involves financial transactions for Islamic and violent organization in Southern Germany.  Revenue from dubious transactions or "fraudulent financial structures" could have helped Islamists.  The investors for the Munich prosecution and the police estimate that there were direct links between the officials who worked in Cologne and Kerpen and activists in Munich and Ulm.

One of the defendants is active in leading a Munich mosque connected to the Sunni-extremist Muslim Brotherhood, says the Munich police.  Another called to support God's warriors by donating for weapons purchasing, already during the Bosnia War.  All together the police speaks of seven suspects in the Bavarian capital from across the Islamic spectrum.

According to German newspaper „Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, the prime defendant Ibrahim El-Zayat, who organized his extensive business from the Köln-Nippes neighborhood, played an important role in the range of German Islamic associations and manages real estate across Europe for Milli Görüs.  The 41 year old is also chairman of the Islamic Congregations in Germany (IGD).

Another defendant is the general secretary of Milli Görüs, Oguz Üçüncü.  In this role, the 39 year old is responsible for the organization which has branches throughout Europe, and is based in Kerpen.  At the instigation of the Munich prosecution  El-Zayat's and Üçüncü's offices and homes were searches.  Thirteen raids in Cologne, Köln, Bornheim, Kerpen, Hamm, Munich, Garching and Berlin, as well as one in Belgium, secured materials which are now being evaluated in Munich.

The investigators think that El-Zayat and Üçüncü together with the other suspects, worked together with the purpose of committing crimes with the aim of obtaining funds directed towards their political-religious and ultimately, Islamic, goals, and this already for several years.  There This includes several cases of fraud, forgery, embezzlement, money laundering and violations of the Banking Act.  

Though the Munich authorities stress that they are investigating individuals and not the entire Islamic community, Milli Görüs has for years played a leading role in the complicated organizational structure of the Muslim interests in Germany.  The organization, founded in Cologne in 1985, has a longstanding dispute with the Germany Interior Ministry which due to its traditional roots in the international, anti-democratic and anti-Western Milli Görüs movement, classified it as "Islamist".

The German association does not deny these roots but claims that is now firmly grounded on the Western liberal order.  A generational change is reflected within the organization, with fierce debate among the old guard and the new leadership, which was mostly born in Germany.  Üçüncü always appeared as the representative of this new self-image.

Similarly, Ibrahim El-Zayat is watched by the security services.  In an interview in „Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger" („
Der Herr der Moscheen", 20. 12. 2007) he said that the German public should finally acknowledge that the Muslim organization had changed throughout the years.  He can understand teh mistrust of the German public, but not the 'proxy war', which the authorities and politicians wanted to fight with the Islamic institutions, when the real danger was the fall of man and his environment.

A father to three daughter, he studied law and economics in Darmstadt, Marburg and Cologne, and speaks seven languages.  He leaves the decision regarding the headscarf to his daughters.  El Zayat's wife, Sabiha is a doctor.  She is the sister of Mehmet Erbakan, who was chairman of Milli Görüs in Germany for many years.

Now the Munich investigators connect him to these 'real dangers'.  When El-Zayat or Üçüncü are asked about the latest allegations, they answer simply that the accusations are without any basis and they do not want to say any more.

El-Zayat was repeatedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.  According to a media report, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt said that El-Zayat is their leader in Germany.  In reply El-Zayat said he naturally condemned 'all terrorism'.

The new allegations against the Islamic officials affect more than the two Islamic associations.  They also bring up criticism of the integration policy talks which Milli Görüs participated in.  A dominating power in the Islamic Council, the controversial association of former chairman Ali Kizilkaya participated in the Islam Conference of Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

Ibrahim El-Zayat's IGD is a member of the Central Council of Muslims, which also has discussions with Schäuble.  Observers who know El-Zayata describe him as a clever dialogue partner, but also as power oriented.  In the Central Council of Muslims he's considered a more powerful manipulator in the background, where with his radical positions he makes life difficult for moderate-conservative chairman Axel Ayyub Köhler.

The highly educated, sophisticated El-Zayat is also the mastermind behind the scenes in the 'Coordinating Council of Muslims in Germany" („Koordinierungsrat der Muslime in Deutschland") where the Islamic Council and the Central Council sit with the Turkish-Islamic Union, DITIB, and the Association of Islamic Cultural Centers (Verband der islamischen Kulturzentren, VIKZ), an organization fighting for the joint interests of Muslims in Germany.

DITIB and VIKZ were recently criticized for their connections with the politically controversial organizations.  The interior ministry, which indirectly negotiated with an organization which according to its constitutional jurisdiction it should watching, was also criticized, also for the fact that Milli Görüs sits in  various discussion tables on the local level. In Cologne, mayor Fritz Schramma even appointed the organization to the municipal "Council of Religions", where its representatives have access to papers dealing with extremists.

Posted on 03/24/2009 1:05 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Tunisian Pilot Convicted In Italy

In the U.S. this would be negligent homicide and he would get more than ten years. Islam in Europe (with thanks to "The Law")

A Tunisian pilot who paused to pray instead of taking emergency measures before crash-landing his plane, killing 16 people, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail by an Italian court along with his co-pilot.

The 2005 crash at sea off Sicily left survivors swimming for their lives, some clinging to a piece of the fuselage that remained floating after the ATR turbo-prop aircraft splintered upon impact.

A fuel-gauge malfunction was partly to blame but prosecutors also said the pilot succumbed to panic, praying out loud instead of following emergency procedures and then opting to crash-land the plane instead trying to reach a nearby airport.

When they say "pray" do they mean leaving the controls and doing the full Islamic routine in the aisle? It sounds like there was more involved than "Please God, don't let me crash this plane."

Posted on 03/24/2009 1:13 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
That Tunisian Pilot, And That Gedankenexperiment

The nine-year sentence received by a Tunisian pilot who reverted to Muslim type, and at a critical moment took time to pray to Allah, reminded me of a piece from June 17, 2007:

Sunday, 17 June 2007
Gedankenexperiment

"Beyond the bestseller lists, however, a new survey shows there is indeed a significant gap between Christians and those Americans who are in the "no-faith" camp. For instance, most atheists and agnostics (56%) agree with the idea that radical Christianity is just as threatening in America as is radical Islam." from the Barna Group survey Rebecca linked to earlier

Apparently the abandonment of religious faith can lead some to subscribe to other Articles of Faith, including the one that says "all religions are the same" or "all religions mean the same thing" or "all religions are equally dangerous."

Well, time for that old Gedankenexperiment, that Thought-Experiment. You normally fly, as an airline hostess or steward or, if you prefer, we can make this hypothetical one in which you are a regular passenger on a small commuter plane, NY-Nantucket.

Now over the years you have gotten friendly with the pilot (or if you are part of the crew, on a big plane, both pilot and co-pilot). Good, steady fliers. You like them. As it happens, one of them has recently gotten religion. He used to be a sometime churchgoer, but now he's really very serious about religion. On flights with layovers, he doesn't party, but goes to his room and reads his dog-eared Bible. He urges you, occasionally, to "look into it for yourself." He no longer drinks nor carouses, not that he ever did very much of it. In short, he's a little like Mitt Romney outwardly, not terribly entertaining, not the life of the party, and you think he's told you how proud he is that his son has gone off to do missionary work for a Pentecostal church in Africa, or possibly even some remote island in Indonesia.

Do you worry more about flying with him than you did previously? No.

Now vary the hypothetical. Same airline. Same pilot or co-pilot. Only in this case the pilot (and co-pilot) are not Christians who became even more devout, but were born into Christianity and have now discovered Islam, and become fanatical in their faith. Or perhaps -- this is, after all, a hypothetical -- were originally rather casual Muslims, possibly of Iranian background who fled Khomeini's Iran, or "secular" Muslims who came from India and went to school in the West, and who have now been seen reading the Qur'an, and re-reading it, and even -- you notice -- have grown beards.

Well, any problems with this? Anything about what these fellows read and re-read in their Qur'an, and what they may read or re-read in the Hadith and Sira that they do not carry about with them, but certainly have at home in book form, or can get on-line at a click or in a clin d'oeil, that makes you nervous, and more than nervous?

You know the answer to that.

And if you are an atheist (as i am) you should not be pretending to believe -- as the latter-day would-be successors to Bertrand Russell of "Why I Am Not a Christian" -- such people as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins with their one-size-fits-all indictment of all religions equally, would have you believe -- that Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and all the other varieties of those belief-systems we call, in the case of Islam most carelessly and inaccurately, "religions."

And if you pretend there is no problem, then I insist that the next time you have a chance to fly with a Muslim pilot, on a plane full of Infidels, you jump at the chance. How can we find out? Well, let's ask the airlines. I'm sure they will be glad to tell us what Muslim pilots they employ, on which routes -- so we can be sure to take advantage of, or to carefully avoid, their flights.

 

Posted on 03/24/2009 1:33 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Muslim Pilots, Muslim Doctors

The Muslim who has a sudden fit of fury at -- oh, at the world, at The System, at Infidels who are always to blame, because of any number of things going wrong -- needs to be kept far from where he can do damage. The co-pilot of the Egyptian plane who suddenly decided to bring the plane down, shrieking "Allahu Akbar" all the way, was prompted by his own depression, but the depression of a Muslim is likely to focus on the Final Cause of All Misery, which are Infidels. Why not, if you have decided to go down in flames, take a whole planeload with you? 

The Tunisian pilot, who in a moment of panic could think only of praying to Allah, because in the end it is Allah who will decide who shall live and who shall die -- the same fatalism can be useful on the battlefield -- and did so, instead of attempting to land the plane at the closest airport, offers another example.

But think too of the problem of Muslim doctors treating Infidel patients.It is amazing how many of the obstetricians in the United Kingdom are now Muslims, and one wonders if a Believer, if he really had it in for Infidels (that hour, that day, that week) and wishing not to increase their numbers, might if he were a doctor act in a way that some might call wilfully negligent. Would you feel any qualms -- any? -- about having a Muslim surgeon? A Muslim doctor conducted your colonoscopy? What about a heart operation? Brain surgery? No qualms at all about rough treatment? No worries about someone who claims that the day of a man's death is deterined by Allah, whimsical Allah, whose laws cannot be studied because he, Allah, obeys no laws, but can always create, on the spot, whatever he wishes.

False worries? Unnecessary worries? Why? 

Tell me again: would you have any concerns about flying across the ocean or over the mountains on a plane piloted by a Muslim? Great concern? Little concern? No concern at all? Be truthful. Only you will hear the answer.

Posted on 03/24/2009 1:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Estuary French

From The Times:

Stressing his youth, President Sarkozy makes informality a mark of office. He uses the familiar tu form of address to people he has never met. He mangles his pronunciation, in a manner reminiscent of Tony Blair's glottal stop. He makes grammatical mistakes, such as removing the ne from the ne ... pas construction. Purists are unamused. They condemn as philistinism the President's partiality for colloquialism.

The critics have a point. Language is a social medium. A politician who fails to speak it clearly and ignores grammar risks giving an impression of arrogance - as if only those in subordinate roles need trouble with linguistic convention. Politicians who lack the facility to speak their own language comprehensibly are ripe for mockery.

The train-wreck syntax of John Prescott's sentences undermined his pretensions to statesmanship. The tergiversations of Dan Quayle's speeches testified to the intellectual chaos underneath. Mikhail Gorbachev, an altogether weightier statesman, nonetheless struggled to win respect from metropolitan Russians owing to his provincial use of the mother tongue.

But there is a counter-example whom Mr Sarkozy might wish to cite in the month when France has rejoined Nato's integrated military command. The architect of the transatlantic alliance was Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign Secretary in 1945-50. A man of minimal formal education and boundless linguistic ineptitude, Bevin was a statesman of rare talent and originality of thought. To focus on deficiencies of language rather than achievements in policy is, after all, a hackneyed approach. In one of Bevin's pregnant phrases, it is just clitch after clitch after clitch.

Posted on 03/24/2009 3:43 PM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Pseudsday Tuesday

Writing an essay used to be easy. Here’s how it goes:

 

  1. Introduction: say what you’re going to say.
  2. Arguments for (or in favour of one of two things).
  3. Arguments against (or in favour of the other thing).
  4. Conclusion: say what you’ve said, which is, inevitably, that there are arguments on both sides. 

So an essay on apples versus oranges would go:

 

  1. Apple or orange? Tricky one.
  2. Apples are good. You can make cider out of them. Oranges are not the only fruit.
  3. There are always bad apples, and they spoil the barrel. Nell Gwynn swore by oranges, even though King Charles was partial to a nice pear.
  4. You can’t compare them. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

 

You can spice it up a bit, for example by starting off with an anecdote. “One day I was sitting under a tree and an apple fell on my head.” Another way to add gravitas is to insert a step between 3 and 4 – a step back, in which you assert that man does not live by fruit alone. Follow these steps and - Bob’s your uncle - there’s your essay.

 

It’s a good job I’m not a post-modernist. All the best ones start, like Žižek, in the middle – a middle that has no end. Geoffrey Galt Harpham, quoted in David Thompson’s discussion with Stephen Hicks, Professor of Philosophy and Executive Director of the Centre for Ethics and Entrepreneurship at Rockford College, Illinois.:

“[E]ven the earnest reader who begins at page one has the constant impression of having opened to a page somewhere in the middle. This sense of an endless middle is achieved by reducing the conventional middle to almost zero. The typical Žižekian unit of discourse - a wittily-titled passage of between five and fifteen pages - begins abruptly with the kind of confident assertion commonly associated with the conclusion; there is no phase of doubt, no pretence of unprejudiced inquiry, only a series of demonstrations, exemplifications, and restatements.”

David Thompson links to an exceptionally meaningless snippet from Derrida, which would appear to confirm this:

 

But also at stake, indissociably, is the differential deployment of tekkne, of techno-science or tele-technology. It obliges us more than ever to think the virtualisation of space and time, the possibility of virtual events whose movement and speed prohibit us more than ever (more and otherwise than ever, for this is not absolutely and thoroughly new) from opposing presence to its representation, ‘real time’ to ‘deferred time’, effectivity to its simulacrum, the living to the non-living, in short, the living to the living-dead of its ghosts.

Whether Derrida’s piece of derring-do is from the beginning, the middle or the end – and of what - hardly matters. Meaning, structure and logical argument are for the layman, who is not to be respected but to be bamboozled and condescended to. Stephen Hicks again:

 

In politicized forms, then, postmodernists will behave like the stereotypical unscrupulous lawyer trying to win the case: truth and justice aren’t the point; instead using any rhetorical tool or trick that works is the point. Sometimes contradictory lines of argument work. Sometimes your audience’s desire to belong to the in-group can be played upon. Sometimes appearing absolutely authoritative works to camouflage a weak case. Sometimes condescension works. And so on.

 

Read the whole discussion here.

 

Update: come to think of it, Churchill had no middle, but just the end of the beginning.

Posted on 03/24/2009 4:59 PM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
MEMRI's made of this

Gene at Harry's Place:

Apparently annoyed at the Middle East Media Research Institute’s embarrassing habit of translating and disseminating the antisemitic, conspiracy-minded crap on Iranian state TV, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei took time from his ungracious response to Barack Obama’s Nowroz message in order to give a backhanded shout-out to MEMRI.

Khamenei said, “My advice to the American officials - to the president and to the others - is to think carefully about these things. Give it to someone to translate it for you - but don’t give it to the Zionists to translate.”

MEMRI, which was founded by Israelis and is headed by a former IDF intelligence officer, is routinely dismissed by those who don’t like what it does as a Zionist operation.

That Khamenei would take time from his speech to express his irritation at MEMRI is a sign of how uncomfortable he and other Middle Eastern rulers become when messages intended for internal consumption get broadcast to the world. So keep up the good work, MEMRI.

Posted on 03/24/2009 5:32 PM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
The soft-spoken monster

A local story that became a national story was the shooting deaths of four policemen in Oakland, California.  Lovelle Mixon, a local gansta, was pulled over by two motorcycle cops on a traffic stop.  He shot and killed Sgt. Mark Dunakin, and mortally injured officer John Hege.  Mixon was tracked down to his sister's apartment.  When the SWAT team moved in, Mixon used an AK-47 assault rifle to shoot and kill Sgt. Ervin Romans and Sgt. Daniel Sakai, before other officers shot and killed Mixon.

The past couple of days has included interviews with Mixon's sister, who claimed to not know that Mixon was hiding in her apartment, nor that he had an extensive weapon collection. We were told by family members that he, Mixon, was "not a monster", that he was soft-spoken, and was "frustrated" by his inability to find a job.  His sister shared her outrage that the Oakland PD had gunned her brother down.  She complained that everyone was mourning the loss of the four officers, while no-one was mourning the young man cut down in his prime.  She built a shrine in his honor at the site of the shooting, as well as a second shrine for Oscar Grant, who was an Oakland resident who was shot and killed by transit police during a new year's eve brawl/riot, and who has been a rallying point for several protests.

Today's update includes a little more background on Mixon.  From CBS channel 5:

A parolee with an "extensive criminal history" who killed four Oakland police officers had been linked by DNA evidence the day before the shootings to the rape of a 12-year-old girl, according to Oakland Police.

The girl was raped on February 5th in the 2800 block of 73rd Avenue, near the sites of the officers' shootings, according to Oakland Police Lt. Kevin Wiley.  Officers took DNA samples from the girl at the time and six weeks later, the state DNA lab came back with a "hit" on gunman Lovelle Mixon, said Wiley.

[...]

Mixon's family members said he was upset that he was unable to find work, felt his parole officer was not helping him and feared he would be arrested for a parole violation.

Mixon was wanted for missing an appointment with his parole supervisor, state Department of Corrections spokesman Gordon Hinkle said. Parole violators typically face five to nine months in prison.

The parole agent for Mixon made three attempts to meet with him in late February before a no-bail parole revocation warrant was issued for Mixon's arrest, Hinkle said.

The parole agent first tried to visit Mixon on Feb. 18, but he wasn't around. The agent tried to visit again on Feb. 24 and told Mixon's mother that he was looking for Mixon, according to Hinkle.

[...]

Mixon was convicted of assault with a firearm in San Francisco in 2002 and was sentenced to six years in state prison.

Hinkle said Mixon was paroled on Oct. 6, 2007, after serving about five years but was returned to prison on Feb. 26, 2008, for violating his parole on Nov. 1, 2008, he said.

Mixon was a suspect in a murder case in Alameda County in late 2007 but police didn't have enough evidence to charge him in the case, according to Hinkle.

However, in investigating the murder case authorities determined that Mixon had violated his parole by possessing drug paraphernalia and engaging in identity theft, forgery, fraud and attempted grand theft, Hinkle said.

Now, as an atheist I understand that the doctrine of Christian universal love and forgiveness causes some to feel compassion for even the most forsaken, including someone like Mixon.  And I also accept that a sister or mother may be slightly biased in their assessment of a family member.  But I cannot help but think that, given all the good and bad that he did in his short life, the world would have been a better place had he never been born, or had he died as an infant.

We are all given one brief chance to make something of our life.  Each of our days is filled with choices we make, for better or worse, according to our values and morality.  Mixon not only wasted his own chance, he destroyed that chance for those around him.  He had stated his unwillingness  to return to prison;  let us hope that he finds roasting in hell for eternity to be more to his liking.

Posted on 03/24/2009 5:03 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
French Human Rights organization sues Wilders over New York Speech

Geert Wilders has become the lightening rod for legal attacks by leftist allies of Islamists in Eurabia.  Islam in Europe blog had  this report about a French Human rights group  that brought a cause of action under French law, concerning  truth telling remarks in his New York speech last September.

Note this bizzare basis for the French legal action and Wilders response.

"Wilders made statements about French Muslims, about Muslims in Paris and Marseilles, which incite to racial hatred," says lawyer Yassine Bouzrou.  He lodged the complaint on behalf of the organization, which is being studied by the public prosecution.  If Wilders is found guilty, he can be sentenced for one year in prison.

Wilders was not aware of the complaint yesterday evening.  "I hear this for the the first time," he said.  "The wold is becoming small with trials and procedures everywhere: from the Netherlands, Jordan and England to France. Dreadful.  But I'll naturally fight back judicially.  They won't prevail over me."
 
Last week the PVV head signed an official appeal against the UK's refusal to let him into the country.

The French complaint is based on
Wilders' speech in New York last September.  "Paris is now surrounded by a ring of Muslim neighborhoods," he said then.  "Many neighbourhoods in France are no-go areas for women without head scarves."

He called the riots in the suburbs in 2005 a "Muslim intifada".  Bouzrou came to the conclusion that the expressions are criminal.  "Wilders says in that speech also that one in three French Muslims supports suicide attacks.  With that he suggests that one in three French Muslims is a potential terrorist.  Where he does he get all of this?  How did he get ot it?  Wilders makes serious accusations which are based on nothing."

Bouzrou made the complaint for the French human rights organization ADDH.  They work together with the Collective against Islamophobia in the fight against Muslim hatred.

This is patently Kafkaesque and Orwellian.  Since when does a French court have extraterritorial rights to muzzle free speech in  the US.  Sources close to Wilders inform us that the Dutch Supreme Court is currently reviewing a motion to dismiss the case brought by  his lawyers.  A recent Dutch supreme court decision  has effectively de-crimninalized criticism of Islam the basis of the Amsterdam appeals court decision and criminal prosecution of Wilders.  Wilders will speak via a video recording at the forthcoming New English Review symposium scheduled for May 29th and 30th in Nashville.

 

Posted on 03/24/2009 5:35 PM by Jerry Gordon
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
The Solution to the AIG fiasco: federal regulation ala Canada

Anyone watching today's House Financial Services Committee hearings on the AIG bonus and Credit Default Swaps bailout debacle would have to wonder why major non-bank institutions like this global insurance giant  have not been subject to  some form of Federal oversight..  We posted on  the bonus and CDS matter, here.

Here's what Treasury Secretary Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman said during their testimony:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in a rare joint appearance before a House committee, said the messy federal intervention into American International Group, an insurance giant, demonstrated a need to regulate complex nonbank financial institutions just as banks are now regulated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

"AIG highlights broad failures of our financial system," Geithner told the House Financial Services Committee. "We must ensure that our country never faces this situation again."

Geithner suggested his Treasury Department's powers be expanded. Bernanke was noncommittal, even suggesting the FDIC.

One of the last regulatory initiatives of the Bush administration was to suggest some form of Federal insurance regulation.  That was before the public's attention was diverted by the compelling need  to do something about the banking system credit crisis.

Back in 2004, there was another insurance debacle that involved a son of Hank Greenberg, the long time head of AIG, Jeffrey Greenberg, over a matter of insurance broker commission splitting at the major brokerage and financial services firm Marsh & McLennan Cos. (MMC ) . Aa result of New York Attorney General investigations Jeffrey Greenberg had to step down as CEO of the insurance brokerage giant.

In a letter in response  to a Business Week article, "The secret world of Marsh Mac" and "A crazy quilt of rules," on the Marsh McClennan financial fiasco I wrote the  following:

The current "jolting" investigations spawned by Eliot Spitzer [former disgraced New York Governor] and Richard Blumenthal, attorneys general of New York and Connecticut, and by John Garamendi, insurance commissioner of California, come as no surprise to this former insurance regulator ("The secret world of Marsh Mac" and "A crazy quilt of rules," Cover Story, Nov. 1). Price fixing and side compensation deals for brokers are the result of the lack of cost-based competition. An unregulated oligopolistic insurance-brokerage sector inevitably leads to predator pricing. "Cartelized competition" is what we have in U.S. insurance markets. It is the product of a hoary U.S. law that needs overturning: the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945.

McCarran-Ferguson essentially exempted insurance from federal antitrust laws and regulations as "not being in the stream of interstate commerce." State regulatory systems have failed historically to redress these competitive imbalances that deprive insurance consumers of the requisite information to make informed choices. We need federal chartering of insurers akin to our bifurcated state and federal banking system, coupled with financial examinations equivalent to those of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Canada has had such a system for decades; so could we here in the U.S.

If that was the solution in the Marsh Mac debacle of 2004, it should have been a wake up call to the House Financial Services Committee in  2009 to  develop remedial legislation based on the  Canadian financial services regulatory model, I wrote about,  that avoided the US credit crisis debacle. 

Posted on 03/24/2009 6:06 PM by Jerry Gordon
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Is Timesman Roger Cohen, the new “Walter Duranty?”

Timesman Roger Cohen appears to be the latest embodiment of legendary Moscow bureau chief in the 1930’s, Walter Duranty.  Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his fawning reportage on Joe Stalin’s first five year plan and  collectivization of agriculture that resulted in the starvation murder of more than 5 million Ukrainian Kulaks.  Witness the implied comparison between Cohen and Duranty in this Wall Street Journal op ed comment by Bret Stevens today, “Will Obama Listen to Iran's Bloggers?  Stephens highlighted an interview with a courageous Iranian blogger, Kianoosh Sanjari, who survived the Mullah’s gulag and torture to tell the truth about the Islamic Republic’s supreme rulers. Sanjari is in the US seeking asylum. A comrade and fellow blogger, Omid-Reza Mirsayafi died in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. This was  just two days prior to Obama’s Nowruz (Persian New Year)  video appeal to Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei and the Iranian people. Note what Stevens said:

Mr. Obama's solicitous message, timed to the Persian New Year's celebration of Nowruz, met a blunt response from the Islamic Republic's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei: "He insulted the Islamic Republic of Iran from the first day," he said. "If you are right that change has come, where is that change?" To this, soi-disant Iran experts and latter-day Walter Durantys explain that it is merely Mr. Khamenei's opening gambit in what promises to be a glorious new chapter in Iranian-U.S. relations.

Let’s examine the Walter Duranty comparison vis a vis an op ed by Timesman Roger Cohen, “From Tehran to Tel Aviv” that appeared in Sunday’s New York Times.

I was in Iran in January and February. The visit convinced me that confrontational American high-handedness has been a disaster; that facile analogies between the Iranian regime and the Nazis dishonor six million victims of the Holocaust; that the regime’s provocative rhetoric masks essential pragmatism; and that the best way to help a young, stability-favoring population toward the reform they seek is through engagement.

Obama has now taken all the steps I called for then. The policy changes emerged from an interagency review of the failed Iranian policy of recent years. The shift demanded courage.

The hard part has just begun.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, responded to Obama with a scathing speech at the country’s holiest shrine in Mashad, recalling every past U.S. misdeed, describing prerevolutionary Iran as “a field for the Americans to graze in,” and demanding concrete steps — like a lifting of sanctions — rather than words.

View all that as an opening gambit. Khamenei also quieted the crowd when it began its ritual “Death to America” chant and he said this: “We’re not emotional when it comes to our important matters. We make decisions by calculation.”

That’s right: the mullahs are anything but mad. Calculation will demand that Iran take Obama seriously.

But Cohen gets down to cases in his real agenda to have Obama stick it to Israel.  Note this comment regarding discussions with an unidentified senior Israeli Official on the Iranian nuclear threat:

And where, I asked, is Israel’s red line? “Once they get to 1,500 kilos, nonproliferation is dead,” he said. And so? “It’s established that when a country that does not accept Israel’s existence has such a program, we will intervene.”

I think there’s some bluster in this. Israel does not want Obama to talk, talk, talk, so it’s suggesting military action could happen in 2009, within nine months.

Still, this much is clear to me: Obama’s new Middle Eastern diplomacy and engagement will involve reining in Israeli bellicosity and a probable cooling of U.S.-Israeli relations. It’s about time. America’s Israel-can-do-no-wrong policy has been disastrous, not least for Israel’s long-term security.

Cohen clearly doesn’t understand, as this Israeli official does, that Israel has ‘en brera’ (no option in Hebrew) to take out the Iranian nuclear threat. Appeasement and dialogue with the implacable Supreme Leader Khamenei could  bring a catastrophic nuclear Holocaust to the Jewish nation. Now, let us see what Stephens’s interview with Sanjari, the courageous Iranian blogger, has to say about the dangers of dialoguing with Iran’s Supreme Leader.

Shortly after Mr. Obama's inauguration, Mr. Sanjari put his name to an open letter to the new president, signed by several prominent young Iranian dissidents, calling on him "to pay special attention to the repressive, unaccountable nature of the regime" that now threatens and provokes the U.S. and our allies. Its conclusion is as fitting a tribute as any to Mirsayafi's notable and too-brief life:

"Mr. President, you marked your first day in the White House by ordering the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison. But in our country, many Guantanamos exist, only our Guantanamos are home to students, women's rights activists, labor organizers, political activists, and journalists. We, as former student activists who spent time in Iranian prisons under inhumane conditions, call on you and all those who defend human rights, freedom and equality to express solidarity to the people of Iran as they wage their struggle for freedom."

Perhaps, Stephens is correct: Roger Cohen of the Times may be the latest embodiment of Walter Duranty. How else could we explain Cohen’s abandonment of his own Jewish people at risk of nuclear annihilation by the same implacable totalitarian Mullahs who imprisoned Iranian blogger Sanjari and denied terminal medical treatment to the late fellow blogger Iranian freedom fighter Mirsayafi?
Posted on 03/24/2009 8:55 PM by Jerry Gordon
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
A Musical Interlude: Love Is As Old As The World (Adam Aston)
Posted on 03/24/2009 10:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Arab News: "Make sure your wife is not your sister!"

File this under the "you couldn't make this stuff up" category.  From Arab News:

MADINAH: Islamic law prohibits marriage with one’s wet nurse (for men), her husband (for women), her biological children and any nonbiological children she breast-fed. All such individuals are described as the person’s “mahram.”

Since there is no official system of documenting the names and identities of children who have been breast-fed by a woman, some young men and women sometimes end up accidentally marrying someone suckled by their own wet nurse. This can cause difficulties when couples find out later in life. If they have children, then things can be an even bigger problem.

“We were married for seven years before we discovered we were brothers and sisters. My mother-in-law had breast-fed me,” said Hayat, a schoolteacher from Madinah. “We were lucky as we had no children,” she said, adding that she and her ex-husband only learned that she had been nursed by his mother when an old family friend visited her home.

For such a "conservative" society, they're strangely "liberal" when it comes to suckling.  I can't imagine letting a family friend suckle our children.  That's just plain weird, by my Western cultural standards.  And we have seen how it is forbidden for women to work in an office with men ... UNLESS she unwraps the breastsicles and lets him have a go.  Women can't show their wrist or ankle (or face or belly), but they can apparently whip their breasts out to suckle random passersby. 

Hayat and her husband divorced and remarried, subsequently becoming parents with their new spouses. Hayat said she does not regret separating, as she did not really love her ex-husband in the way one loves their spouse. [And yet they stayed married for 7 years because...?]

The story of Umm Abdul Aziz is more tragic. She was married for 30 years and mothered nine children before discovering her husband was her foster brother. “It happened out of the blue. An elderly man came to my husband one day and told him that we had been suckled by the same woman. He even knew people who knew of this and could testify as witnesses. We were greatly shocked and deeply saddened,” she said.  [A family is destroyed based on the recollections of an elderly man of events that happened when these middle-aged parents were infants.  Oh well, Allah knows best!]

Umm Abdul Aziz said that since her children were old and some of them had traveled abroad to study, she and her husband felt it was needless to ruin their lives and decided to keep the matter a secret and continue living together as brother and sister and not as partners.

Siham, an Egyptian nurse, said she has breast-fed a number of her Saudi friends’ babies “to deepen the Arab bond among people of the two countries.” Discussing one particular case, she said she had helped a Saudi friend who could not breast-feed her baby girl. “After she was discharged from hospital, my Saudi friend also breast-fed my baby boy who is a month older than her daughter. They are now brothers and sisters although they are from two different countries,” she said.

Fatima suggested that each mother keep a record of all babies that she has fed so that each child will know his or her sister and brother. “Earlier, we used to live in small communities where people knew each other well. With the rapid growth in population and people often traveling from where they were born, it has become difficult for one to know one’s foster brothers and sisters,” she added.

Here's a suggestion:  keep your breasts inside your burqa.

Posted on 03/24/2009 11:56 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden

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