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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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Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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by Theodore Dalrymple
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interviews by Jerry Gordon
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Emmet Scott
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Ibn Warraq
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De Nidra Poller
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Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
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Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
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These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 27, 2010.
Monday, 27 December 2010
Nine charged with conspiracy after UK terrorism raids

From the BBC

Nine men have been charged with conspiracy to cause explosions in the UK and with preparing for terrorism, West Midlands Police have said. They will appear at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court later.

Twelve men were arrested in raids co-ordinated by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit on 20 December. Three have been released without charge. Those charged are accused of conspiring on dates between 1 October and 20 November to cause an explosion. They are also accused under 5(1) of the Terrorism Act 2006 of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism on dates between 1 October and 20 December. 

The men charged from Cardiff are Gurukanth Desai, 28, of Albert Street; Omar Sharif Latif, 26, of Neville Street, and Abdul Malik Miah, 24, of Ninian Park Road.

Those charged from London are Mohammed Moksudur Rahman Chowdhury, 20, of Stanliff House, Tower Hamlets, and Shah Mohammed Lutfar Rahman, 28, of St Bernard's Road, Newham.

The four charged from Stoke-on-Trent are Nazam Hussain, 25, of Grove Street; Usman Khan, 19, of Persia Walk; Mohibur Rahman, 26, of North Road, and Abul Bosher Mohammed Shahjahan, 26, of Burmarsh Walk.  

Posted on 12/27/2010 2:58 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwaxe
Monday, 27 December 2010
More on alleged Terror Threat at Tyson's Shelbyville, Tennessee Plant

Apparently, Tyson's foods strengthened security in the wake of allegations of terrorist warnings in the women's washroom at the Tyson's Shelbyville poultry processing plant in middle Tennessee. We had posted on the Nashvile Channel 4 TV news report just prior to the Christmas holiday. Some heightened concern were raised about food processing safety given warnings by the US Department of Homeland Security about possible ricin attacks by al Qaeda on food service facilities and buffets in the Middle East. More immediate concerns about Somali food processing workers in the poultry and meat packing industries throughout the US can be attributable to public health screenings showing high incidence of TB and at least one related TB death among Tyson Somali Muslim workers at their former Emporia, Kansas facility, see here.. Shelbyville has been rife with absorption problems with Somali Muslim plant workers, hired on after Tyson's was caught in a raid by federal labor officials and fined for hired illegal hispanic aliens. The problems have been chroniclled in an AP-award winning sries by Shelbyville Times Gazette journalist, Brian Mosely, see our NER articles here.and here.

The absorption problems for Somali Muslims were also the subject of a controversial documentary, "Welcome to Shelbyville" that premiered in October and scheduled to be shown in US legations around the world in third world countries and on PBS this spring as part of the "Open Lens" program series.

I will discussing Somali Muslim refugee absorption and home grown terrorist issues and current allegation later today on Radio Jihad, at 5:30PM EST with co-hosts Vito Esposito and Alan Kornman.

Here is the Shelybille Times- Gazette report:

Alleged threat prompts more Tyson security

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Shelbyville police are providing an armed off-duty officer for the Tyson Foods facility after alleged threatening messages reportedly were made.

Nashville television station WSMV reported claims made by an unidentified woman that someone wrote "all Americans must die" on a bathroom wall -- an act that was reportedly preceded by a fire in a woman's restroom last week.

However, while Shelbyville police chief Austin Swing told the TV station that no official report has been made about the alleged incidents, the department is providing an armed off-duty officer after Tyson requested it.

When contacted for comment about the alleged incidents, Tyson public relations representative Gary Mickleson only said the company "would rather not comment on the TV report."

"We will say that as part of our core values we work hard to treat our people fairly and to make sure any employee-related concerns are properly addressed," Mickleson told the Times-Gazette in an e-mail late this week.

Swing could not be reached for comment due to the holidays.

The woman who made the claims to the television station explained that she did not see the writing herself, but heard the story secondhand from others.

She told reporters from WSMV that she wanted to remain anonymous to protect a family member who works at Tyson.

The anonymous source claimed a security guard was stationed at the woman's bathroom door after someone allegedly set it on fire last week.

The written threat was reportedly made sometime this past week, the woman claimed, adding that workers were scared and wondering how the company would respond to the alleged incidents.

Swing told WSMV that Tyson had not asked officers to make any kind of official report, but instead requested the city to provide an armed, off-duty officer to patrol inside the poultry processing plant throughout the holidays.

He said it was his belief that Tyson had already removed the alleged message and is conducting its own investigation into the incident.

The unidentified woman claimed to the TV station that guard had been doubled outside the facility and that some inside the plant are concerned.

"They've complained for years, as to why these people are being hired in our food department when we are worried about our safety as Americans, you know, and that's something we all need to think about," she told the station.

Posted on 12/27/2010 7:03 AM by Jerry Gordon
Monday, 27 December 2010
Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer - Baby Its Cold Outside

Posted on 12/27/2010 9:57 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 27 December 2010
When Predators Don’t Prey

The older I grow, the more wisdom I see in the Confucian dictum that the correct use of words is the key to the restoration of the health of a polity.

During the recent Irish financial crisis, for example, a French official described the Irish tax on company profits as “almost predatory.” What did he mean by this? That the Irish state, perhaps, was taking 70, 80, or 90 percent of a company’s annual profits?

No, he meant that Ireland’s tax rate was 12.5 per cent—that is to say, just over a third of that in countries such as France and Germany. As a result of this almost Tyrannosaurian predation, many companies wanting to invest in Europe had chosen to do so in Ireland.

Is it not a strange world in which predation means refraining from taking from others what is rightfully theirs and putting it into your own pocket? Look, then, at all those terrible predators on the street who so unscrupulously fail to relieve us of our wallets when we walk among them! As for those predatory German firms that make better products than anybody else, words fail me to describe their sheer dishonesty!

Originally published at City Journal.

Posted on 12/27/2010 8:39 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Monday, 27 December 2010
Two Literary Journeys

I think it is unquestionable that of the two Homeric epics, it is the Iliad which is the finer work of artistry, a judgment shared by the author of On the Sublime, who likened the Odyssey to a setting sun, “whose grandeur remains without its intensity.”  That said, it is probably the Odyssey which captures the ethical ideals of the ancient Greeks more unambiguously, particularly in the way it emphasizes the necessarily communal basis of any such ideals. The work is essentially one long hymn to the centrality of home, understood as both place – “Ithaca, crown of islands” – and, more significantly, the network of one’s relationships of mutual dependency, the sphere of one’s duties, and therefore the foundation of one’s moral identity.  One cannot begin to enter into the imaginative world of the Odyssey until one grasps the extent to which love of home motivates Odysseus and his son Telemachus; none of their major actions in the story is the least bit intelligible except in the light of such motivation.  It is of the first importance to the proper interpretation of the epic, that when we read of the flight from Ogygia, or the journey to the underworld, or the passage by Scylla and Charybdis, we are witnessing the adventures of a man intent on reaching home, who willingly encounters those perils precisely because they are unavoidable trials on the path to his home.

When we first encounter Odysseus in the story, we find him peering longingly across the sea, weeping with nostalgia for the kingdom from which he has been absent some twenty years.  He is detained in Ogygia against his will, by the beautiful and ageless goddess Calypso.  Homer represents her island domain as a kind of demi-paradise, adorned with every natural luxury the mind could conjure (including the relentless erotic attentions of the goddess herself), and so astonishing in its outward beauty that the messenger god Hermes, alighting there to deliver an order of Zeus, is dumbstruck in wonder, though he himself resides in the precincts of immortal Olympus.  This depiction of unlimited natural abundance is presented to us in direct contrast to an earlier description of the island of Ithaca, for when Menelaus offers Telemachus a gift of horses to take with him upon his departure from Sparta, the young prince replies that there is no room for horses to graze in his homeland, on account of its rocky barrenness.  Yet it is to this place – which is, objectively speaking, vastly inferior to the place of his present dwelling – that Odysseus desires, with all his heart, to return.

That return is – as Odysseus knows it must be – fraught with every sort of suffering and misery which can afflict a man.  The catastrophic condition of the hero is best illustrated by the fact that he is repeatedly required to declare himself a suppliant – to the Cyclops Polyphemus, to the river-god on the coast of Phaeacia, and to King Alcinuous and Queen Arete.  To be a suppliant means to reveal oneself as utterly without power, and it is the contrast between this helplessness and his former (and future) regal authority that impresses upon us, the readers, the depths of the man’s wretchedness.  But the cause of that wretchedness is simply his absence from his home. There is no kingship without a kingdom; there is no identity outside of one’s communal relations.  So when Odysseus tells Polyphemus that his name is Nobody, he is devising another masterful ruse, to be sure, but he is also attesting to the fact that, at this point in the story, exiled from the soil in which were planted the roots of his own self-understanding, he has become divorced from his true self, – in the words of Keats’ Saturn, he is “gone away from his own bosom.”

We can say with confidence, then, that for Homer and his Greek audience, Odysseus’ condition in the course of his journey home is represented as the most miserable state in which a man can find himself.  The wanderer, the exile, the suppliant – these are the words one uses when one wishes to identify the very nadir of human fortunes.  And it is precisely for this reason that a very fruitful contrast may be made between the great epic poem and that standard of the American tradition, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, because in this latter work, the very same state of wandering and homelessness is depicted, in rather unambiguous fashion, as the very height of human happiness, and the necessary precondition for moral flourishing.

The river journey of Huck and Jim is, like the journey of Odysseus, beset with danger and hardship, but it is danger and hardship that is encountered in a flight away from home – away from Huck’s abusive father and from Jim’s enslavement.  The novel ends with Huck stating his intention of “lighting out for the Territory” to avoid being civilized by Aunt Sally, so that even as the story concludes, he remains effectively without a home.  The raft, which was for Odysseus the vehicle of his torment by the offended god Poseidon, becomes for Twain’s two heroes the scene of salvation, the means of liberation from their oppressive past:  “We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all.  Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t.  You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.”  It is when they leave their raft behind, and wander among the people who live along the Mississippi River, that their troubles begin, whether at the homestead of the Grangerfords, or the Phelps’ farm.  According to Twain’s vision, it is the communal world of men that is the arena of agony, the secluded exile of the river-journey that is the scene of repose.

Most significantly, it is from the time which he shares alone with Jim that Huck comes to grasp the common humanity of this man, whom all the rest of the world perceives as mere property.  None of the adults in Huck’s world – from his obscene father, to the conniving King and the Duke, to the apparently learned but truly obtuse doctor who treats the gun-shot wound of Tom Sawyer – can see beyond Jim’s race to recognize the person.  Huck himself fails to do this consistently until near the book’s conclusion.  But when he is finally able to gain this insight, it is as a direct consequence of attending to his own instinctive decency, and, most crucially, by divesting himself of the prejudices of the community in which he was raised.  The prerequisite for Huck’s moral growth is a departure – intellectually, as well as physically – from his home, and everything that defines it.

So we can fairly say that the journey of Huck and Jim is a journey of liberation, but what they are liberating themselves from is their community.  Their good fortune lies in the fact that they have successfully affected that severance by the story’s end.  In the same way that the Odyssey effectively serves as a celebration of the well-ordered community, we can say that Twain’s novel serves as an encomium to the moral primacy of the individual.  And of course, it is precisely because this uncompromisingly individualistic ethos lies at the heart of the book that it has attained its status as the great American story, as seminal to our culture and thought as the Odyssey was to the culture and thought of the ancient Greeks.  But it is this very fact which should disturb us.

Consider Alasdair MacIntyre’s history of the Aristotlean-Thomistic tradition of moral inquiry.  What MacIntyre emphasizes – first in After Virtue, and later, with greater elucidation, in Whose Justice? Which Rationality? -  is the way the Homeric epics inaugurated this particular tradition, by bequeathing to subsequent thinkers a vocabulary and conceptual schemata of ethical and political thought.  Foundational concepts like dikae and time are employed for the first time by Homer, and receive their significance from the way they shape the actions of his heroes.  Later authors, as various as Thucydides and Aristotle, will reexamine and reinterpret these concepts in highly disparate ways, but their starting point will always be the work of Homer, and this indicates that his poetry served subsequent thinkers as, among other things, a guide to political reasoning, understood broadly as the art of constructing a well-ordered community.

But quite clearly, Twain’s novel could never serve us in the same manner.  On whatever other grounds we may value his book, it should appear quite obvious that it bequeaths to us no such conceptual legacy, and possesses no such political relevance.  It could never initiate any serious tradition of inquiry regarding the nature of justice or honor in a well-ordered community, because its underlying theme is a hostility to community as such, and a conviction in the intrinsically malign influence of man’s communal life.  Political reasoning can begin from no such premises.  So we must say that when we engage in serious political reasoning, we will have no cause to refer to Twain’s book.  And what is true of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is equally true of Walden, of The Great Gatsby, and a host of other books which we are accustomed to regarding as classics of our national literature.  The fact is that we Americans inherit a literary tradition which has very little wisdom to impart to us concerning the right ordering of our communities.  What Homer was to the Greeks, what Dante was to the Italians, what Shakespeare was to the English – the well-spring of civilized values and the foundation of authentic moral inquiry – no author has ever been to us.  And I think our politics has suffered as a consequence.

It is highly significant that our national literary hero is an untutored adolescent, who believes that an individual can flourish in the absence of a home and its significant relationships.  We have, until this day, indulged in our individualistic reveries, imagining that we are always free to “light out for the Territory” and leave the ills of communal life behind us.  What surprise can there be, then, that we have a political discourse which is often misguided and ineffectual?  What we need is a new national story, one that captures in a manner unique to our history and location, the abiding truth that what is most desirable to human creatures is a home, and that all of our journeys remain incomplete until they have led us to this destination.

First published at Front Porch Republic.

Posted on 12/27/2010 11:01 AM by Mark Anthony Signorelli
Monday, 27 December 2010
Brian of London on the EDL

Brian of London writes in Israel National News:

The English Defence League (EDL) has attracted some attention in Israel because of the incongruity of non-Jews waving Israeli flags at demonstrations dubbed “far right” by the press and the Israeli Embassy in London’s virtually unprecedented step of condemning a pro-Israel local group in another country. The irony is compounded by the fact that this happened immediately after the EDL held a large pro-Israel rally outside the embassy.

This distancing was presumably motivated by the attacks on the EDL in much of the British media and fear that failure to denounce the group will increase anti-Israel feelings in the United Kingdom, already at an all-time high. In fact, however, the people attacking the EDL are already Israel’s enemies while this group is one of its few friends nowadays. Moreover, the accusations of the EDL being a racist or fascist group are simply not true.

Indeed, the slander against the EDL is another example of how special treatment for Islam and radical Islamists compared to the repression of forces criticizing them so often prevails in Britain today. Here’s a little case study of how things work.

On December 11 the EDL held a demonstration in Peterborough. The EDL proclaims itself as “dedicated to peacefully protesting against radical Islam” and on that December day they largely fulfilled this role. Around 2,000 people marched through the town and listened to speeches. A handful of counter-demonstrators claiming the EDL are “fascists and racists” were kept at bay by the police. The day passed with fewer arrests than a typical Saturday night in any English town.

But not according to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. Ten days later, an EDL leader was arrested and charged under Section 4b of the Public Order Act with “Racial Aggravation” in relation to a speech he gave in Peterborough. That speech can be viewed on YouTube: <>.

One doesn't need to condone the speech’s content or agree with it to acknowledge that it is a normal expression of free speech. But there are also additional points of interest to this case.

The man who gave the speech is Guramit Singh, a Sikh whose family comes from India. During his talk he noted that he has been called a "racist" for criticizing Islam, though he is from the same ancestry as Pakistani or Indian Muslims. Indeed, many or most Sikhs are actually the descendants of Muslims.

Singh also explained that he was particularly passionate that day because it was the anniversary of his grandfather being killed fighting in the British army during World War Two. He was angry that some Islamists burned poppies, the symbol of honoring Britain's war dead on November 11, British Remembrance Day. This is an emotional issue in the UK. I don’t need to point out to readers in Israel how we would feel if the Israeli authorities allowed aggressive Islamic demonstrations outside military cemeteries on Yom Hazikaron.

Singh says nothing trying to inspire violence, whereas it has been shown that some mosque sermons in the UK are directly inflammatory (including derogatory statements about Christianity and Judaism). I wouldn't be in favor of arresting Muslims who said something I don't like or agree with either, though I'd be happy to see the statements publicized so more people are aware of the things being said.

But consider the double standards at play. When a television program played examples of mosque sermons demonizing Christians and Jews a few years ago the police filed a complaint with the media watchdog against the program makers, and nothing against the sermon-givers. The program makers eventually sued the police and won considerable damages.

Meanwhile another EDL leader, who goes by the pseudonym of Tommy Robinson, has been arrested on three separate and apparently trumped-up offenses. One of these is related to the Remembrance Day poppy burning incident. The first charge is that when Robinson grabbed a flag from an Islamist protestor during the struggle the pole might have accidentally hit a police officer. At his first appearance in court on November 22, the judge expressed surprise that the police had placed restrictions on his freedom of association and voided them.

In addition, Mr. Robinson has been charged with some vague financial irregularities. The authorities have frozen his bank accounts, virtually shut down his business, and demand that he ask permission before he can spend any money to pay for his living expenses. He and his pregnant fiancée was arrested by heavily armed police. He has made a detailed accusation that the police have been shopping for informants to give false testimony against him.

One tactic being used against the EDL is a court-imposed “Anti-Social Behaviour Order” or ASBO. In one case, two men were ordered not to engage in any EDL-related activity—including even posting anything on the Internet, for ten years. In effect, this is a specially created law used only against the EDL in which the rights to free speech and peaceful protest are simply taken away from them.

Why is there so little protest against this repression? The answer is that once demonized the EDL and its members can simply be deprived of democratic rights. This is bad enough without Israel’s government or Jewish groups adding to the slander and untruth about the most visibly active pro-Israel organization in the United Kingdom today.

What makes all of this even more ironic is that radical Islamist groups, including those engaged in incitement against Jews and Israel, are treated with kid gloves by a police force and court system that is literally too frightened to take them on. Here’s one example: recently, a group of extremists on trial for doing massive damage to a factory making goods for Israel were released after the judge told the jury to find them not guilty since, he said, conditions in the Gaza Strip were so terrible as to justify their vandalism.

The erosion of civil liberties combined with what at times seems like an anti-Israel lynch-mob atmosphere especially in much of the media and on campuses cannot be good for British Jews or for Israel.

Brian of London made aliyah in 2009 after deciding that the anti-Israel lynch-mob atmosphere in London would not be good for his children. By day he runs a business in Tel Aviv in addition to writing and broadcasting on the Internet on sites such as Israellycool and Israpundit.

Posted on 12/27/2010 12:10 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 27 December 2010
Christmas bomb plot: nine men remanded over plan to 'blow up Big Ben and Westminster Abbey'

Nine alleged terrorists plotted a Christmas bombing campaign targeting sites that included the London Stock Exchange and Big Ben, a court heard. They are alleged to have carried out reconnaissance missions before deciding on their possible targets.

Police were said to have found a list of six sites, including the full postal address of the Stock Exchange, Boris Johnson’s London mayoral office and the US embassy. Defendants were seen studying the tower of Big Ben, before inspecting Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and the Church of Scientology.

Among the details were the addresses of the Dean of St Paul’s Chapter House and of two rabbis at separate synagogues.

A reconnaissance trip is alleged to have been made from Trafalgar Square, down Whitehall to Westminster Bridge where Big Ben was studied intently.

The first defendants to appear before Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle were Mohammed Chowdhury, 20, and Shah Rahman, 28, from east London. Mr Chowdhury, wearing a white hooded top with shoulder-length hair and a goatee beard, was the first to confirm his date of birth and home address. Neither he nor Mr Rahman, dressed in a pale blue T-shirt, black jacket and long beard, showed any emotion as the case against them was explained.

Their behaviour was in sharp contrast to that of Omar Latif and Abdul Miah, who appeared in the dock alongside Gurukanth Desai. Mr Latif, 26, and Mr Miah, 24 whispered and laughed while in the dock, with Mr Latif winking and giving a thumbs up as he was led from the court. All three, from Cardiff, were in matching dark blue fleeces. The court heard that Mr Miah, whose wife is expecting a baby in April, and Mr Desai, a 28-year-old father of three, were brothers.

The last four men to appear in court, including the youngest of the group, were from Stoke-on-Trent. Usman Khan, 19, Nazam Hussain, 25, Mohibur Rahman, 26, and Abul Shahjahan, 26, were brought into the dock in pairs, and listened impassively to the court proceedings.

All nine men, who are of Bangladeshi origin, were remanded in custody and are due to appear at the Old Bailey on Jan 14.

Posted on 12/27/2010 4:55 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

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