The single greatest contribution to Shakespeare scholarship in recent memory.
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays:
Presents the most compelling and original reading of Hamlet since A.C. Bradley;
Dispenses once and for all with the psychoanalytic interpretation of the play;
Explains the actual meaning of the Oedipus myth;
Provides the "smoking gun" which establishes Shakespeare's true identity;
Explodes the fable of Shakespeare's appearance; and
In the process of correcting misreadings of Shakespeare's poetry and drama, Hamlet Made Simple offers vital insights and indispensable guidance on how this challenging writer can be fairly and productively approached today.
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays is the definitive exposition of Shakespeare in our time. Nothing else compares.
This book, that combines wit with learning, will delight all who love Shakespeare and commentary on Shakespeare.
— Theodore Dalrymple, author of Life at the Bottom and Farewell Fear
Professor Gontar has provided us with a fresh, energetic, searching and sometimes acerbic look at Shakespeare, and, especially, some of his modern critics. Equally adept at expositing the texts and engaging the most distinguished readers, Gontar always encourages us to re-examine our own preconceptions as a way of discovering and reappropriating Shakespeare's genius in our day.
— Dr. William R. Long, author of Wisdom Seeking: Thirty Days with the Book of Proverbs
As a contemporary of the future, Shakespeare is forever. Prof. Gontar offers original and penetrating insights into the fabric of Shakespeare’s plays and into the souls of their unforgettable characters.
— Jimmie Moglia, author of Your Daily Shakespeare
Where protests about Sharia, Jihad and Dhimmitude go unheard, concerns about parking and traffic may save the day. Good old England. Megamosque latest from the London Evening Standard:
Plans to build Britain’s biggest place of worship — a “monolithic, overly dominant and incongruous” mosque in east London — are set to be thrown out despite 25,000 letters in favour.
The mosque, which could take 12,000 people — four times as many as St Paul’s Cathedral — would be as big as Battersea power station and become the HQ of Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat. However, officers for Newham council recommend the plan is refused.
The sect, to which the July 7 bombers and shoe bomber Richard Reid have been linked, could now be forced to leave the Abbey Mills site altogether in Canning Road, near the Olympic Park, after a 13-year battle.
Alan Craig, campaign director of MegaMosque No Thanks and a former Newham councillor, said: “Now it’s up to the planning committee to follow the recommendation to reject. The building would be ugly, it would add nothing to the area and we have huge concerns about the group behind it.”
Tablighi Jamaat first submitted plans to use the site, which has several prefab buildings, in 1999, arousing intense opposition from the start. In 2001, it agreed worship there would be on a temporary basis only, but when permission expired in 2006 the group continued to use the site.
In 2010, the council issued an enforcement notice but Tablighi Jamaat won its appeal last year and more than 5,000 people a week now worship at the site. The giant new mosque would have 40ft minarets, a visitors centre, a library and a 300-space car park.
The council’s special strategic development committee meets next Wednesday to decide. The planning office received 3,000 letters opposing the scheme. Only one per cent of the 25,000 letters of support were from people living in the local consultation area.
Critics claim Tablighi Jamaat preaches “separation and segregation”. The group maintains its main objective is peaceful missionary work.
The Anjuman-E-Islahul-Muslimeen of London UK Trust, Tablighi Jamaat’s charitable trust and the site’s owner, said it will appeal if the plan is thrown out. Newham council said: “Officers have made a recommendation for refusal, which will be considered.
“Our planning policies promote the development of the Abbey Mills site for a mix of residential, employment and community uses, to help create a new local centre near West Ham station and regenerate the area. It is not considered this application is consistent with these policies.
“There are also concerns about the size of the proposed buildings and impact on parking and traffic.”
We knew Rita, Meter Maid was lovely, because the song told us so. But a counter-jihadist? Even if she does "look a little like a military man"? Mind you, there's some serious fitna going on towards the end of the song ...
Iraqi officials say bombings have killed at least 38 people and wounded more than 100 others.
Authorities say back-to-back explosions rocked the city of Hillah, while another bomb blast erupted in the Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Karbala. Thursday's bombings come just two days after car bombs targeted a Shi'ite procession in Baghdad, killing 12 people.
Both cities are part of Iraq's Shi'ite core located in the country's south. Shi'ites participating in religious events are often targeted by Sunni Muslim extremists.
Shi'ite Muslims marked the Ashura holiday near the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala on Saturday. Shi'ite pilgrims flock to the holy city during the 40-day mourning period after Ashura.
Elsewhere in Iraq, authorities say a suicide bomber killed three people when he drove his car into a checkpoint in Fallujah. To the north, a car bomb targeting a police patrol in Mosul killed two people.
Any fresh U.S. move to cut the gold trade with Iran would not bother Turkey, as Turkey is not an EU member and is only affected by multinational agreements, Economy Minister Zafer ÇaÄŸlayan has said, downplaying U.S. efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic.
His statement came after reports that the U.S. Senate was working on a new package of Iran sanctions concerning goods including gold, which may become effective next month. The sanctions would end “Turkey’s game of gold for natural gas,” Reuters quoted a senior Senate aide as saying yesterday.
Early next month, the U.S. is expected to revise an exemption scheme for its energy embargo on Iran, in which Turkey was included for six months in June.
“The U.S. sanctions stand for the U.S.,” ÇaÄŸlayan said at a Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON) meeting held in Istanbul. “We have multilateral international agreements. These deals, which we are a party to, are binding for us. The statements by the EU are not binding since we are not a member [to the bloc],” ÇaÄŸlayan said.
Turkey’s gold exports to Iran in the first nine months of this year were estimated at $6.4 billion. A halt in such trade in August was replaced by $3 billion worth of exports to the United Arab Emirates, which sector sources said also went to Iran.
“Turkey’s gold exports to Iran [directly and through the UAE] soared significantly this year and contributed around $7 billion to the improvement of the current account deficit,” said BGC Partners chief economist Özgür AltuÄŸ in a written statement yesterday. “It appears that the U.S. administration is keen on reducing Turkey’s gold exports to Iran. At this stage the method of the sanctions is unclear but even this approach shows that Turkey might be forced to reduce its gold exports.”
The legislation “would bring economic sanctions on Iran near de facto trade embargo levels, in the hope of speeding up the date by which Iran’s economy will collapse,” the Senate aide said. The code will also impose bans on insurance for shipments of a broader range of goods, aides said.
Deputy PM admits trade
The discussion heated up after Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan’s statements last week. Iranians are buying Turkish gold with the Turkish Lira, which is deposited into bank accounts in exchange for Turkey’s natural gas purchases, he said Nov. 22 during a parliamentary session. “As Iran cannot transfer the payment to [its own banks] in foreign exchange, the country buys gold with the lira and then takes the gold to its country. I do not know how Iran transports the gold but this is the root of the matter. The gold export to Iran in reality becomes a kind of payment for the natural gas we buy from Iran in deed,” Babacan said.
Currently, Turkey’s state-controlled Halkbank is responsible for money transactions with Iran for the oil and gas Turkey buys from its eastern neighbor.
The sanctions legislation, which has not yet been unveiled, is part of a crowded calendar as the Senate races to deal with deficit reduction, the defense bill and other pressing issues by the end of the year. The package would build on current U.S. sanctions passed almost a year ago that have slashed Iran’s oil revenues.
Kim Jong-Il was famously five foot two in heels, and his son -- how amazing that in this Democratic Republic, the best man for the job just happened to be his son -- is a shoe-in for "sexiest man alive". Tom Chivers in The Telegraph:
"You can tell by the way that I use my walk,
I'm a woman's man, no time to talk"
This week a Chinese newspaper, the People’s Daily, noted that the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un had been named “the Sexiest Man Alive For 2012” by The Onion, a US website. The Communist Party-affiliated paper’s website quoted glowing reports of “his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame” – and to celebrate his victory, they published a collection of photos, showing him squinting sexily in the sun, sitting sexily astride a horse, and in various other sexy poses. What it failed to notice is that The Onion is a spoof website.
It would be easy to say this shows a failure of humour. How can you not spot the joke, given that the previous winners of the award included the Unabomber and Bashar al-Assad?
But it’s unfair to single out the Chinese, and not just because the Kim Jong-Un photo gallery was probably put together by a time-pressured 24-year-old on the web desk. Jokes are always being lost in translation: in September, another Onion article headlined “Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad to Obama” was reprinted as fact by an Iranian news agency.
We don’t even need the language barrier. This year, a British tourist made a dreadful joke on Twitter about “digging up Marilyn Monroe” ahead of a flight to America, and was met at LAX airport by a gang of hard-faced Homeland Security agents who searched his bags for shovels.
Live television makes these misunderstandings particularly awkward. An Australian reporter once tried out a joke about the Dalai Lama going into a pizza shop and asking that they “make him one with everything”. Unfortunately, the joke’s audience – the Dalai Lama – was nonplussed, and the clip went viral on the internet.
The comedian Stewart Lee has written about the problems of translating jokes, with regard to a nation we think of as especially humourless: Germany. It has no culture of stand-up comedy; this is, says Lee, because of how the German language works. Much British humour relies on the pullback-and-reveal, in which the teller sets up an assumption for the listener, then subverts that assumption at the last moment. “I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandpa,” the opening might go. “Not screaming in panic like the guy in his passenger seat” is the reveal – the joke being that Grandpa was not, as you assumed, in his bed.
The German language, says Lee, is not set up for that: its less flexible structure makes it harder to hide the important bit at the end. Similarly, German compound words are unhelpful for the double meanings of English innuendo or misunderstanding-based comedy. It’s not that Germans lack a sense of humour or that we have a particularly good one, it’s that the two languages work differently. And if Germans don’t understand us, it’s not surprising that English-language jokes translate badly into Chinese.
In some respects, Chinese humour resembles ours. It has lots of puns, and the Chinese comedies known as “Duikou” use a joker and a straight man, in the style of Morecambe and Wise. But the cultural references simply don’t translate. One joke in which a woman stands up and sits down repeatedly on a bus hinges on the fact that because Mandarin can be read left-right or right-left, “Stopping at the next bus stop” is easily mistaken for “When the bus stops, stand up”.
And what if you're on the other bus? Or a left-footer?
Barriers may be mathematical as well as linguistic:
Sunni Arabs In Iraq Mass-Murdered Kurds While Shi'a Arabs For Now Merely Oppress Them
From Al Ahram Daily:
Widening divisions in Iraq
The Iraqi Kurds and the country’s Shia-led government have postponed their fight over disputed areas, but the divide is sharpening, writes Salah Nasrawi
People evacuate a victim at the scene of a bomb attack in Kirkuk, north of Baghdad. Three parked car bombs exploded Tuesday morning simultaneously in the city of Kirkuk, home to a combustible mix of Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Turkomen who all claim rights to the city, killing and wounding scores of people, police said. (photo: AP)
The political divide in Iraq is widening as Kurdish leaders continue their criticism of Shia Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki despite efforts to defuse tensions following a military stand-off along the frontier with the Kurdish provinces in northern Iraq.
The row underscores a bitter falling-out between the Kurds and the Shias whose political coalition has been in power since the removal of the Sunni-led regime of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in the US-led invasion in 2003.
Tensions between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq have risen after Al-Maliki formed a new military command covering disputed territories in September in order to address the deterioration in security in the areas, which have been the scene of terrorist attacks in recent months.
Last week, the Kurdish region sent reinforcements to these areas, where its troops are involved in a stand-off with the Iraqi army and security forces. Kurdish military commanders later said that their Peshmerga military forces were fully prepared to defend the region against any assault by government troops.
On Monday, senior military officials from both sides reached a preliminary agreement to pull back their forces to their “previous positions” and “reactivate joint security committees for coordination in the disputed areas.”
A statement from the office of Al-Maliki, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces, said the two sides had agreed to “start pacifying the situation.”
The deal was brokered by Iraq’s parliamentary speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi after talks with Kurdish President Massoud Barzani on Friday. Washington has also reportedly intervened to end the stand-off and ease tensions, with news agencies reporting that Monday’s meeting was attended by Lieutenant-General Robert Caslen, head of the US military mission in Baghdad.
The agreement was probably good enough to de-escalate the stand-off, but it has left open the future of the Dijla Operations Command that triggered the dispute over the areas the Kurdish region wants to incorporate over the strong objections of Baghdad.
These areas, larger in size than the three provinces of Kurdistan and including the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, have been policed by Kurdish security forces since the US invaded Iraq.
Hours before the agreement was signed in Baghdad, Nechirvan Barzani, premier of the Kurdistan Regional Government, said the Kurds would not accept any solution that placed Kurdish security forces in Kirkuk under the new command.
Other Kurdish leaders were even more sanguine, with Kurdish President Jalal Talabani reprimanding the commander of Iraq’s ground forces, General Ali Ghaidan, for sending troops to the disputed areas.
Kurdish news outlet Rudaw quoted a senior Kurdish official on Monday as saying that Talabani had threatened Ghaidan, also commander-in-chief of the Dijla Operations Command, to be put on trial if he did not withdraw the Iraqi troops from the disputed areas immediately.
Also on Monday, Barzani was quoted by Al-Jazeera.net as saying that Kurdistan would win any war with Baghdad, if one ever broke out. Al-Jazeera said that Barzani had also accused Al-Maliki of planning to invade Kurdistan.
“Al-Maliki’s expiry date has come, and it is impossible to work with him any longer,” Al-Jazeera.net reported. “He is procrastinating, outmaneuvering and violating all the agreements,” Barzani added. “He says something and then does the opposite.”
Another Kurdish leader said that the Peshmergas would “fight in defence of their gains and the experiment of the region of Kurdistan. The people of Kurdistan will never be subjected again to the mercy of dictatorship and chauvinism,” Braham Saleh told a gathering in Kurdistan on Monday.
The latest flare-up began last week when Iraqi troops clashed with Kurdish soldiers belonging to Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party (PUK) in Tuz Khurmato some 150km south of Erbil, the Kurdish provincial capital.
The clashes left one civilian dead and several wounded, including two PUK fighters and 13 Iraqi security men.
Following the skirmishes, Barzani urged Iraqi Kurds to be prepared for “any unwanted eventualities”. Soon afterwards, Kurdish troops and tanks were dispatched to the disputed areas.
Kurdish military officials said the reinforcements would hold their positions unless Iraqi forces made a move. Mahmoud Sankawi, a Peshmerga military commander, said his troops were prepared to confront those he described as “occupying forces”.
The reinforcements and the rhetoric prompted Al-Maliki’s office to warn the Peshmergas “not to change their positions or approach the [federal] armed forces.”
The Iraqi army and the Peshmergas have previously come close to military confrontation, only to pull back after reaching an understanding through intermediaries.
In August, Washington intervened to help end a stand-off between Iraqi troops and Kurdish forces that were on the verge of a confrontation over policing the border with Syria.
The Kurds charge that the Dijla Operations Command is a threat to them and an attempt by Al-Maliki to seize control of the disputed territories.
For his part, Al-Maliki says the command is necessary to keep law and order in three of Iraq’s most volatile provinces, Diyala, Kirkuk and Salaheddin, which border Kurdistan.
However, the conflict illustrates how far relations between the old allies have deteriorated, testing Iraq’s federal union nearly a year after the US withdrawal.
Relations between the country’s Kurds and Shias have also worsened over other long-running disputes. Tensions rose after Al-Maliki started showing signs of wanting to expand his power base, and a row erupted in December after Iraqi Vice President Tarek Al-Hashemi fled Baghdad for the autonomous Kurdish region, in order to avoid prosecution at the hands of the Shia-led central government on charges of terrorism and running death squads.
Iraqi Kurdistan has signed oil deals with major multinational companies that the Baghdad authorities have described as illegal, and trouble seems to be brewing again about Iraq’s so-called “disputed territories”.
Earlier this year, Barzani described Al-Maliki as a “dictator” and demanded that he be removed from power. Shia leaders have also sparred aggressively with Barzani, with one of Al-Maliki’s closest aides accusing the Kurdish leader of being a “a real danger” to Iraq.
Yassin Majid also said that Barzani “wants Erbil to hold a political role at the expense of Baghdad”.
On Saturday, Barzani turned down an invitation from Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr to meet with Al-Maliki to discuss the situation. In a statement posted on the Kurdistan Regional Government’s website, Barzani’s spokesman said he had refused because the matter was not personal, but rather a result of Al-Maliki’s “constant lack of commitment to the constitution”.
The political crisis and military stand-off have thrust the Kurdish-Shia alliance into the light of the day and in doing so has deeply unsettled much of Iraq. If the conflict is not handled carefully, there is the potential for clashes between the military forces under the two’s command.
“The Kurdish-Shia alliance is a lie. There was such an alliance during the opposition against Saddam, but it ended with the downfall of his regime,” said Sami Al-Askari, a senior member of Al-Maliki’s Daawa Party.
Why That U.N. Vote Will Not Further Peace, But Is One More Step In The Propaganda Jihad Of Arabs And Muslims
The Arab-Islamic bloc, the only bloc left at the U.N., has managed to do several things:
1) it has, thanks to Israeli negligence and inattention to words, been allowed to invent, out of the local shock troops of the endless Jihad against Israel, a "Palestinian people."
2) it has, thanks to the laziness of many of the world's journalists and diplomats and parliamentarians, been allowed to pretend that the Mandate for Palestine did not mean what it said, and that it had some purpose other than what it so clearly did have: the establishment of the Jewish National Home, on the territorty assigned to it by the League of Nations.
3) it has, thanks to the confusion and fear over Islam and its adherents, managed to make even some representatives of Western countries that should know better either abstain (Australia, Great Britain, Germany) or, even more intolerable, to vote for such a resolution.
4) the resolution simply ignores the history of the Mandates system, and the reason for the Mandate for Palestine, ignores the legal, moral, and historic claims of the Jews to the land which was assigned to them under the Mandate, ignores the fact that the acceptance, by the Zionist delegation, at a moment of great desperation and worry over the hundreds of thousands of Jews still in D.P. camps and without anywhere to go, of a proposal to divide Mandatory Palestine between a Jewish and an Arab state was rejected unanimously by the Arab states then voting, which rejection was then followed by the attack of the armies of five Arab states, does not mean that the November 1947 "acceptance" of such a division which was, in Anglo-American contractual terms, an "offer" that required, in timely fashion, an "acceptance" by the Arabs, not the rejection they gave, both verbally and through violence, and so that "offer" did not remain open for another sixty-five years, but was indeed extinguished by Arab behavior.
5) to understand this better, suppose the Israelis in sufficient numbers had grasped the nature of Islam, and understood, back in June 1967, that there was no "peace treaty" with the Arabs that could ever be anything more than a "truce treaty," that such a "truce treaty" would necessarily be breached by the Arabs, whenever they could breach one or more of its provisions, and that this would always be the rule because the Muslim Arabs dutifully took as their model of agreement-making with Infidels the agreement reached at Hudaibiyya in 628 A.D. between Muhammad and the Meccans.
And suppose that in June 1967, when the Western world was still governed by people with a better knowledge of history, including that of the Mandate for Palestine and the 1948-49 War, Israel had said it was now annexing that territory to which it had a superior claim -- that is, Judea and Samaria (or "the West Bank") but would be prepared to make an exception of Gaza (which, amusingly, retained its Biblical toponym, and indeed that toponym is used without attracting any of the reporters' sneers about "Israeli use of a Biblical term" as if that were illegitimate), following negotiations, and might also be willing to discuss the future of the Sinai -- a useful buffer against Egyptian military aggression that only became part of Egypt in the 1920s -- but woudl do so only after the Egyptians exhibited, over a long term, a change in attitude toward the Jewish state, as reflected in, inter alia, textbooks, newspapers, the press, television, and statements by influential Egyptians.
6) the rewriting of history -- that "Palestinian people," that "West Bank," and so on -- that helps to explain the U.N. vote, and suchlike insults to history and the truth, has been astonishing. More astonishg still has been the failure of Israeli leaders to recognize how important it is to regain the mental territory they have lost, to correct the record.
At the very least, they can signal that the gloves are off by starting to speak openly about Jihad, by describing the Arab effort at the U.N. as an example of the Jihad of "pen, speech," and beginning to talk about other instruments of Jihad other than qital, violence.
And the Israeli government should stop using the phrase "Palestinian people" and instead make it a point for all of its spokesmen to use only the phrase "Palestinian Arabs." Others will get the idea that the Israelis have stopped being patsies when it comes to propaganda on the world stage.
"Digital Humanities" Should Be Undigitally Re-Mastered
Apparently all the rage. Lots of newly-endowed fellowships and suchlike in "digital humanities."
What are "digital humanities"? Do they make sense? Or is this something like Cliometrics Gone Wild? Is it applying computers to the very subjects where they should not be applied, save in the most obvious and banal ways (i.e., in literary studies, constructing a concordance or counting how many times the word "metempsychosis" appears in Ulysses, or in history, running the entire records of the U.N., for twenty years -- 1947-1967 -- through the computer mill to find out just how many times an Arab representative used the phrase "Palestinian people" before the Six-Day War).
Or does the sudden appearance of "Digital Humanities" merely reflect the obvious: the money comes from someone who made it big in hardware or software, and he's convinced himself that the computer has many important uses in "the Humanities," and no one in the Development Office is going to turn down his money, so "Digital Humanities" it is, coute que coute, and everyone on the faculty had better get with the program and not say a word, or there will be hell to pay. For not being "collegial" and not working to further the institution's "mission" and all that other stuff on which decisions for promotion are made nowadays.
"Digital Humanities" need to be redimensioned, put in their place, and History, Literature, Art, Philosophy, be Undigitally Re-Mastered.
Fight back, you boys and girls with tenure. Really, what do you have to lose?
DOHA (Reuters) - A court in Qatar, which has supported Arab uprisings abroad, jailed a local poet for life on Thursday for criticizing the emir and inciting revolt - a sentence that drew outrage and cries of hypocrisy from human rights groups.
In his verses, Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami praised the Arab Spring revolts that toppled four dictators, often with the help of money and other support from the tiny, energy-rich Gulf state. But he also criticized Qatar's own absolute monarch and spoke, for example, of "sheikhs playing on their Playstations".
"This is a tremendous miscarriage of justice," said defence lawyer Nagib al-Naimi, who conveyed the verdict to Reuters after a trial held behind closed doors in the capital Doha.
At the prison where he has been held for a year, Ajami, 36, later told Reuters he believed the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, to be "a good man" who must be unaware of his plight. Lawyer Naimi said the defence would appeal. A royal pardon may also be a possibility.
Ajami was not himself allowed in court and Naimi said the defence was barred from making oral arguments, although he contested the prosecution case that Ajami called for revolution in Qatar - an offence which carries the death penalty.
For Amnesty International, Middle East director Philip Luther said in a statement: "It is deplorable that Qatar, which likes to paint itself internationally as a country that promotes freedom of expression, is indulging in what appears to be such a flagrant abuse of that right."
Amnesty described Ajami's arrest in November 2011 as coming after he published a poem named "Jasmine" - for the symbol of the Tunisian revolt in January last year that launched the Arab Spring. In a broad criticism of Gulf rulers, he had written: "We are all Tunisia, in the face of the repressive elite."
"PLAYING WITH PLAYSTATIONS"
Ajami "did not encourage the overthrow of any specific regime", Naimi said. He described the charges as having been "inciting the overthrow of the ruling regime", a capital offence, and criticising the ruler, which is punishable by up to five years imprisonment under the Qatari penal code.
Among offending passages from the poem, translated from Arabic, was the line: "If the sheikhs cannot carry out justice, we should change the power and give it to the beautiful woman."
In another section, Ajami accused a fellow poet of being "with the sheikhs, playing with their Playstations."
Naimi, who has been largely in solitary confinement, spoke to Reuters in the presence of prison guards and others: "The Emir is a good man," he said. "I think he doesn't know that they have me here for a year, that they have put me in a single room.
"If he knew, I would be freed," he said, noting the Qatari ruler's past promotion of a more open society, including his hosting of the groundbreaking television channel Al Jazeera, which has given a voice to many opposition groups abroad.
"This is wrong," Ajami said. "You can't have Al Jazeera in this country and put me in jail for being a poet."
Qatar, a close U.S. ally and major natural gas producer with a large American military base, has escaped the unrest seen in other Arab countries. The emir has taken a high-profile role at times in calling for human rights - for example, when he went to Gaza last month, the first foreign leader there in years.
Al Jazeera has assiduously covered the Arab revolts, though it gave scant coverage to an uprising last year in neighboring Bahrain - ruled by another Gulf Arab monarchy.
The Qatari government has also taken a prominent role in the confrontation between, on the one hand, Sunni Muslim-ruled Arab states like itself and Saudi Arabia and, on the other, non-Arab Iran and its Shi'ite allies in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere.
Qatar is backing the rebels in Syria's civil war. It supported the NATO-backed uprising in Libya and street protests that ousted rulers in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen. The emirate's maroon and white flag has been a common sight on the streets of Arab capitals where demonstrators have challenged autocracy.
But freedom of expression is tightly controlled in the small Gulf state, home to less than two million people. Self-censorship is prevalent among national newspapers and other media outlets. Qatar has no organized political opposition.
In October, Human Rights Watch criticized what it said was a double standard on freedom of expression in Qatar and urged the emir not to approve a draft media law penalizing criticism of the Gulf emirate and its neighbors.
In neighboring monarchy Saudi Arabia, human rights activist Ali al-Hattab said: "We are shocked by the verdict.
"Qatar has tried to help other countries like Libya and Syria become more democratic, but they won't accept it at home.
Hezbollah, Like Its Sponsor Iran, Cannot Believe The Depth Of Sunni Hatred
Shi'a of Hezbollah can't quite grasp why tan anti-Israel stance doesn't exempt other Shi'a -- in Syria, in Iraq, everywhere -- from Sunni hostility, hatred, and repeated attack. Hezbollah, and the Islamic Republiic of Iran, both keep thinking that if they are sufficiently menacing toward Israel, the Sunnis will accept them as real Muslims. They won't. They will, however, be delighted to watch hated Israel engage in war with the hated Iranian Shi'a, and the more devastating the weapons on either side, the happpier the Sunni onlookers will be. The Shi'a just can't bring themselves to recognize how they are viewed by Sunni Arabs. If they did, they might realize just how dangerous, for themselves, would be the attainment or near-attainment of nuclear weapons.
Hezbollah condemns string of bombings in Syria, Iraq
Lebanon’s Shiite party Hezbollah condemned a recent set of explosions targeting religious minorities in Syria and Shiite pilgrims in Iraq in recent days.
“The senseless killing and terrible blood shedding of innocent people is the execution of a western devilish will,” Hezbollah said in a statement issued on Thursday.
“We hold the Arab and western military support of gunmen responsible for the explosions in the Damascus suburbs.”
The statement added “is the humanitarian aid provided by some Lebanese figures contributing to bringing democracy, prosperity, and peace to the Syrian people?”
On Wednesday, simultaneous car bombs were detonated at daybreak in a pro-Syrian regime neighborhood of the mainly Christian and Druze town of Jaramana near Damascus, killing at least 54 people and injuring more than 120.
And on Thursday, bombs mainly targeting Shiite Muslims and security forces in Iraq killed 45 people and wounded 205 others in the deadliest day of violence to hit the country in more than two months.
Chris Patten, Self-Satisfied Spaniel And Insatiable Collector Of Sinecures
From The Spectator:
Nov. 12, 2012
One thing your otherwise excellent education seems to have left you deficient in mesdames is a crap detector.
Patten is a turd. Of the purest variety. His previous career - fake Tory, anti-Thatcher plotter, John Major sidekick, Hong Kong handover, destroyer of the RUC, EU kommissar, BBC chair, has been marked by his smears of failure as he has crawled along. Ask yourselves what the creep has done to get all the well-paid sinecures that seem to fall so easily into his fat belly. I'm a Cambridge person myself, but even I don't know what Oxford has done to deserve this appalling s**t. Not sure how you get rid of a Chancellor in Oxford, but public evisceration at the Martyr's memorial would be one way. I suggest that Cherwell starts a campaign.
Vulture sums it up perfectly. Fatty Pang is a self-obsessed guzzling turd of the highest order. He's gotten away with it for years and now he's been found out he will cling on for dear life. Just like the rest of these contemptuous, trough-snuffling parasites - whether it's those who lord it over us from Brussels or those who plant their well-fed but useless arses on the benchefs at Westminster.
One of several cuckoos in the Tory nest. He said the BBC fiasco was the saddest moment in his life so the tears he shed as he watched the communists march into our jewel in the East must have been crocodile.
Fat Pong, as the Sun so wittily describes him has TEN part-time jobs raking him in hundreds of thousands in addition to his BBC role. If you really think this does not stink, your moral compass ( as well as your brain cells) has gone AWOL. IT is indefensible corruption and POng must remove his stain from our life.
Patten was never meant to have any Beeb exec role
He is a figure head for their regulator
It is fortunate we are to have such a man who is willing to take on a role over and above to save the Beeb from Redwood and co
Listen to Harmans wise words
"He cross fertilises his media and academic roles excellently." Typo? I think you meant just "fertilises".
A shame then that you are such a stranger to truth.
Have you the courage to say who you consider my "UKIP/porn colleague" is or are you frightened of a defamation action, you vile coward?
You owe us both a full retraction and an unequivocal apology for this slur.
Telemachus, I'm intrigued. I agree about Patten's lifetime of public service....or should I say public self-service. He has more sinecures than Sir Chris Hoy has Olympic golds. But as for his apparent excellence as Oxford Chancellor, it is a largely honorific role in which he has been mainly invisible ....although no doubt more than willing to park his well-upholstered frame at High Table.
Patten has the ability to understand what the government of of the days requires: he is an excellent courtier . His report on the RUC was just what Blair wanted in order to obtain the supportof the IRA and his back benchers of irish descent. Patten would have made an excellent cardinal of the late Middle Ages to mid 18 century in Spain, France and Italy: other parts of Europe would have been too poor for his refined tastes. .
The very fact that the voice of neo-stalinism speaks in favour of this bloated sponger condemns Cameron's crass judgment both in appointing him and allowing him to remain.
When Fat Pang stood for election to the post of Chancellor, I made sure that I voted for someone else (the late Lord Bingham). The current fiasco does not surprise me: for years Patten has been a professional collector of sinecures, not least during the Blair years when he willingly functioned as Tony's Tethered Tory. His judgment is woeful, his workrate sedate but his appetite for public sector pay and perks is seemingly insatiable.
The election of Chancellor of Oxford University is fraudulent with only those physically present in Oxford can vote rather than London University which has postal ballots. The London sponsors who bussed Patten supporters into Oxford to vote to get him into place whilst he was also Chancellor at Newcastle University revealed the triumph of political chicanery over principle. Patten has no academic pretensions unlike Harold Macmillan or Roy Jenkins - he was simply a time-serving politician collecting his rewards as a Placeman-Courtier. Oxford University lacks self-respect and has failed miserably to honour those that deserve respect but has fawned over those that are politically connected or moneyed, and this Alumnus is disgusted.
Your last sentence shows how little you know about the Queens duties. It is much more than 'being there'. She has also never let us down. Look at her schedule this year. She turned up and did her job despite her husband being unwell on several occasions.
Patten is obviously past his sell by date, and certainly not capable of his role at the BBC.
As Yvetta says Patten has a long history as an israel-basher. Former EU Commissioner Bolkestein says of him (when Patten was a Commissioner):
"On another matter, if my memory is correct, when there were inquiries on the issue of Palestinian misuse of EU funds, Patten replied: ‘We are sure that all the money has been put to good use.'"
Patten consistently denied that EU money was being abused by the Palestinians.
Someone like Chris Patten, someone with his history, his smugness, his arrogance and his inner essential ignorance and stupidity, would I suppose be bound to exhibit a complete want of sympathy for Israel, and a deep sympathy for its mortal enemies, Hamas, the PLO, and so on.
Where's the Coverage? "Palestine" Doesn't Qualify as a State
There has been quite a bit of coverage of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asking the United Nations General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state. But the media has focused mostly on the political angle: which nations will support this gambit and which nationswill not support it. There has been coverage of the fact that the GA will almost certainly vote to approve and likely by a landslide. However, scant attention has been paid to the fact that "Palestine" does not qualify for statehood under international law. Other than CAMERA's backgrounder, we could find only one blog post on the subject.
According to article 4 of the United Nations charter membership is reserved for states (and "peace loving" states at that, but that's a whole other story). But Abbas is asking for "non-member state" status. This would presumably make it easier for "Palestine" to join the International Criminal Court with the intention of bringing cases against Israeli leaders. (This could backfire, of course, since Palestinian leaders would also be subject to the ICC – see "peace loving" above.)
The question remains, however, does "Palestine" qualify as a state? Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States provides the internationally recognized criteria of statehood:
The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a) a permanent population; b) a defined territory; c) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.
Does "Palestine" have a permanent population? If so, why do Palestinian leaders frequently demand that residents be allowed to become citizens of another state, Israel?
Does "Palestine" have a defined territory? According to article 17 of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, signed by Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the Palestinian Legislative Council does NOT have jurisdiction over "issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations: Jerusalem, settlements, specified military locations, Palestinian refugees, borders, foreign relations and Israelis". No jurisdiction over borders? No defined territory.
Does "Palestine" have a government? You could argue it has two: one government in areas of the West Bank and one in Gaza. And they don't even get along with each other. That's not an effective government by any stretch of the imagination.
Does "Palestine" have the capacity to enter into relations with other states? Again, not under the Interim Agreement. Article 9, paragraph 5-a states clearly:
...[T]he [Palestinian Legislative] Council will not have powers and responsibilities in the sphere of foreign relations, which sphere includes the establishment abroad of embassies, consulates or other types of foreign missions and posts or permitting their establishment in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the appointment of or admission of diplomatic and consular staff, and the exercise of diplomatic functions.
So on all four counts, "Palestine" does not qualify as a state and hence cannot be cannot be recognized as such by the United Nations General Assembly. But then, as Abba Eban said, "If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the Earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions."
No permanent population, no defined territory, no effective government, no capacity to conduct foreign relations, and yet... no coverage either!
Turkish Prime Minister ErdoÄŸan reiterates his comments on building a giant mosque on Istanbul’s ÇamlÄ±ca hill, opening up a controversy with academics who say the mosque project is show-off
No winners were announced in the design competition for the mosque. Two projects were given 2nd and 3rd places, with one being declared ‘applicable.’ AA photo
Academic and Islamic circles have reacted to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan’s insistence on building a mosque on Istanbul’s ÇamlÄ±ca Hill as part of a controversial project.
ErdoÄŸan has forged ahead with plans for two controversial mosque projects in Istanbul, one on ÇamlÄ±ca Hill and the other to be built in Taksim Square. [Taksim Square, Isiqlal Caddesi, Pera, Galata -- in other words, the heart of secular, accessible-to-Westerners Istanbul]
“The beauty of the [planned] mosque on ÇamlÄ±ca Hill is not that obvious on the model. But it will be very beautiful, trust me,” ErdoÄŸan told a group of journalists aboard a plane en route to the Spanish capital of Madrid from Ankara on Nov. 27.
The prime minister first proposed the idea of building a mosque on the top of Istanbul’s ÇamlÄ±ca Hill May 29. “This giant mosque in ÇamlÄ±ca was designed so as to be visible from all parts of Istanbul,” ErdoÄŸan said at the time. However, his idea has continued to draw reactions from academic and political circles since then.
Professor Afife Batur from Istanbul Technical University, who specializes in the architecture of the late-Ottoman and Republican periods, said the process was illegal from the start.
“We said it was an archaeological site, they removed the article regarding that area. We said at least do a proper project. They launched a project competition in an illegal way that we have never before witnessed in Turkish history," Batur told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday in a phone interview.
Competition to build a mosque
Üsküdar Municipality and a mosque-building association opened a design project immediately after ErdoÄŸan’s announcement, setting a grand prize of 300,000 Turkish Liras for the winning design.
The competition drew 62 projects but ended without a first-place winner being announced. Two projects were given second and third places, with one of them being declared “applicable.”
According to the winning project, the mosque will occupy a nearly 15,000-square-meter plot and have the capacity to hold approximately 30,000 people.
Ä°hsan EliaçÄ±k, a religious author known for his critiques of capitalism, said the project reflects ErdoÄŸan’s desire to build a “Sultan mosque” in Istanbul just like Süleyman the Magnificent and Mehmet the Conqueror did. “Turkey does not need even one small mosque since 110,000 mosques around the country are [now] empty,” EliaçÄ±k said.[that's a welcome bit of news]
“Social justice should come first. There are only seven or eight poorhouses in an Istanbul of 17 million people.”
Yet the prime minister has claimed many of the criticisms were groundless.
“They say the green area will be ruined. There is no green area there already,” ErdoÄŸan said, adding that a mosque would also be built in Taksim.
Manuel Valls, qui vient de publier les nouveaux critères assouplissant l'accueil des clandestins, met le pas dans ceux de ces prédécesseurs. Mais les dirigeants politiques jouent avec le feu, en persistant à mettre la France devant le fait accompli
A protester stares down police in Cairo during riots following President Mohammad Morsi’s power grab. (AFP photo)
"Article VI: The President may take the necessary actions and measures to protect the country and the goals of the revolution." Read that aloud slowly, and let the words roll around your tongue as they ooze out like dark, thick molasses.
It's the centerpiece of Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi's recent "Constitutional Declaration,” accruing to himself powers and authority—at least on paper—undreamt of by his autocratic predecessors Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak.
Anyone surprised by this naked and extremely aggressive power grab by the Muslim Brotherhood was either woefully naïve or grossly misinformed about its deep-seated authoritarian orientation and agenda. It is inevitable that it will attempt, if it can, to impose a dictatorship in Egypt more oppressive and thoroughgoing than anything in the past, as the declaration demonstrates.
Brokering the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza gave Morsi the domestic and international space to act decisively. He has proven, if nothing else, a ruthless political butcher, wasting no opportunity to bring the knife down whenever he can.
The Brotherhood is trying to mollify Egyptians with two extremely unconvincing sleights of hand.
First, attention is being directed to other, far more specific, articles. Some measures will be popular, such as replacing the widely reviled prosecutor-general and reopening or retrying cases involving abuses by members of the former regime despite the double jeopardy involved.
More alarm was caused by Article II, which makes all of Morsi's decisions since he took office "final and binding." It forbids any form of judicial review or legal challenge, including retroactively annulling any rulings already issued against them.
It is Article VI, however, that really establishes a new and unprecedentedly arbitrary dictatorship in Egypt, giving Morsi virtually unfettered powers. It's hard to imagine any executive action or decree whatsoever that couldn't be justified as "protecting the country and the goals of the revolution." At least in his own opinion, and that's the only one that counts, because, remember, his decisions are not subject to any checks, balances, lawsuits or other form of challenge whatsoever.
His word, quite literally, is law. In Egypt now, at least according to his declaration, there is no recourse at all.
The second sleight-of-hand the Brotherhood is using to try to mollify Egyptians is the idea that this is all simply "temporary," to be rescinded once there is a new Constitution in place and a new parliament elected. CK MacLeod reminded me of Carl Schmitt's observation that emergency decrees or temporary suspensions of the law are often the norm in political modernity, not the exception. Hitler, for example, never rescinded the Weimar Republic Constitution. He merely suspended it every four years following the Reichstag fire, until the Soviet army overran Berlin.
It's an apt point. Almost every autocratic Arab state has used "temporary" or "emergency" laws to justify dictatorial rule and human rights abuses. Israel, too, relies on "emergency" laws promulgated by the British mandatory authorities in 1945, particularly in the occupied Palestinian territories. So why should Muslim Brotherhood-ruled Egypt be any different? The tediously predictable answer is, left on its own, it won't be. It will be, if anything, more oppressive than the (also "temporary") nationalist one-party dictatorship that preceded it.
Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood will not relinquish these unprecedented dictatorial powers unless they are forced to. Even then, they will cling onto as much as possible. It's going to be up to the Egyptian opposition to unite and force their hands. It will be very difficult -- but the way things are going not impossible and possibly even not neccessary -- for Morsi's government to block new parliamentary and presidential elections supposed to take place in the foreseeable future.
If the Egyptian people are to avoid new and even worse dictatorship than they just overthrew, they must avoid political domination by the Muslim Brotherhood. But in order to achieve that, the opposition is going to have to unite and provide an alternative which they can support, not a morass of bickering.
The government and the Brotherhood have reacted to the protests against the declaration with a combination of violence and nonchalance. They clearly think this is a temporary storm they can weather, with the already secured support of their Salafist "frienemies." In terms of the fundamental state stability, they're probably right. Street protests probably won't be enough at this stage to undo the damage.
Protests and criticism at all levels, and as much litigation as possible, should be focused on discrediting or even undoing Morsi's declaration of dictatorship. But real hopes for Egyptian democracy in the long run depend on removing from power, presumably by the ballot box, the person and party brazen, power-mad and tyrannical enough to promulgate Article VI.
Assuming, of course, that there ever is another election in Egypt.