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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 Friday, 3, 2012.
Friday, 3 February 2012
The Erotic Pleasure of Pain

Is flagellation for the purposes of sexual pleasure as English as cricket and buttered crumpets? Not if the forthcoming film about the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, called A Dangerous Method, is to be believed. It is portrayed in the film as being as Swiss as the cuckoo clock.

Actually, the “dangerous method” of the title is psychoanalysis itself, not the spanking to which Jung subjects one of his patients, played by Keira Knightley in the film – an episode for which there is not the slightest historical evidence, disreputable in some serious ways as Jung’s life undoubtedly was.

But spanking is not a particularly English vice. The English public school system is often blamed for the masochistic tendencies displayed by some prominent members of our upper classes, and the figure of the schoolmaster, trembling with erotic excitement as he flogs a series of boys, is supposed to be at the psychological root of a subsequent desire to be flogged. But this is more cliché than truth.

Just as you can’t mention our current epidemic of public drunkenness without someone piping up about Gin Lane, as if nothing happened in Britain between 1740 and 2010, so the name of the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne always comes up when the subject of flagellation is mentioned, as if the English were a nation of Swinburnes. But it is surely not by chance that the English vice is a species of the genus masochism, named not after an Englishman but an Austrian, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.

More than one patient in my medical career gave her profession as dominatrix. Some found their clients among the lower classes, and some among the upper. Those who flogged the lower orders tended to be older, smaller, weaker and less pretty; those who serviced the upper were beautiful in what might be called a strapping way.

One even had an international clientele: she would travel the world to whip judges and other members of the local establishment or intelligentsia. Whether the fact that she had flown in from thousands of miles away added to the sexual excitement she provided, or whether she was in demand for her special skills, I cannot say; but to judge by her address, she made a good living. She kept a bag of equipment ready at all times for immediate – emergency? – departure.

Whether or not the English upper classes are peculiarly susceptible to kissing the rod or the whip – T E Lawrence was another famous example – they are widely believed, both at home and abroad, to be so; and certainly there is a national fascination with the practice. You cannot go into a second-hand bookshop of any size without finding an old history or two of flagellation.

At first sight, erotic excitement caused by pain is paradoxical. Pain, after all, is what we were put on earth to avoid. But by the standards of sexual peculiarity, masochism (which exists on a continuum from mild and occasional to severe and invariable) is far from mysterious. At the end of the 19th century, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, the Austrian psychiatrist, classified the varieties of sexual perversion in his book Psychopathia sexualis. Masochism was the least of it: and many must be those who have experienced the strange pleasure of repeatedly pressing a painful place on their body.

Alfred Kinsey, the specialist in gall wasp behaviour turned human sexologist, investigated masochistic pleasures himself in ways that cannot be mentioned in a newspaper. And it is common knowledge and experience that not all the pleasures of sex are gentle ones.

The wife of a famous footballer once described him as an animal in bed, surely more convincingly than if she had called him a gentleman in bed. The footballer in question explained his liking for tattoos in part by reference to the pain that they necessitated. And the ultimate in masochism, far more extreme than flagellation, was that of a German who had an erotic desire to be eaten. Unfortunately, he found a man who had an erotic desire to eat someone.

No doubt Darwinists could explain the erotic pleasure of pain – they can explain everything, just as psychoanalysts could before them. An ability to withstand pain is a sign of toughness, of fitness to survive in a world in which pain is inevitable. A taste for pain, then, might – within reason – confer a reproductive advantage by demonstrating toughness to a sexual partner. Similarly, those who inflict pain demonstrate their dominance. (It is surely significant that the infliction of pain for erotic gratification bears the name not of an Englishman but a Frenchman, de Sade.)

Does childhood experience of corporal punishment predispose one to masochism? Has masochism disappeared from Sweden now that smacking children, let alone caning them, has been outlawed?

The answer is not certain; but the current vogue for Swedish crime novels suggests that not all sexual activity there is gentle. In any case, if people want to be flogged, why not? The dominatrixes (or is it dominatrices?) who were my patients added to the pleasure of the world, and one of them even contributed to our balance of payments.

Fist published in The Telegraph.
Posted on 02/03/2012 6:34 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Friday, 3 February 2012
The Erotic Pleasure Of Talking About Sex With A Sooterkins Of Wit

Now when Pantagruel asked those students from Paris what they did in lascivious Lutetia, you may remember  what one of the students replied (in J. M. Cohen's translation):

"We transfretate the Sequana at the dilucule and crepuscule; we deambulate through the compites and quadrives of the urb; we despumate the Latin verbocination and, as verisimile amorabunds, we captate the benevolence of the omnijugal, omniform, and omnigenous feminine sex. At certain intervals we invisitate the lupanars, and in venerean ecstasy we inculcate our veretres into the penitissim recesses of the pudenda of these amicabilissime meretricules. Then do we cauponizate, in the meritory taverns of the Pineapple, the Castle, the Magdalen, and the Slipper, goodly vervecine spatules, perforaminated with petrosil. And if by fort fortune there is rarity or penury of pecune in our marsupies, and they are exhausted of ferruginous metal, for the scot we dimit our codices and vestments oppignerated, prestolating the tabellaries to come from the penates and patriotic lares."

Posted on 02/03/2012 8:22 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 3 February 2012
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Jimmy (Irene Dunne)
Watch, and listen, here.
Posted on 02/03/2012 8:27 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 3 February 2012
Paul Weston's British Freedom Party

Here is the platform of the British Freedom Party, headed by the admirable Paul Weston:

20 Point Plan

1. Introduce a US style First Amendment guaranteeing Free Speech.

2. Leave the profoundly undemocratic European Union.

3. Abolish the Human Rights Act, which benefits only foreign criminals/terrorists.

4. Halt any further immigration for a period of five years.

5. Deport foreign criminals, seditious dual nationality Islamists and illegal immigrants.

6. Abolish all multicultural and equality quangos.

7. Halt and turn back all aspects of the Islamisation of Britain, including Sharia finance.

8. Drastically reduce crime – criminals should fear the consequences of their behaviour.

9. Repair the damage wreaked by the progressive educational establishment.

10. Promote British values and assimilation, rather than multiculturalism and division.

11. Rebuild Britain’s Armed Forces to 1980 levels.

12. Diminish the public sector and government interference in the private sector.

13. Withdraw troops from all areas where we are not directly threatened.

14. Cancel foreign aid to countries which do not deserve or need it.

15. End welfare payments to immigrants; they must pay for their housing and children.

16. Ensure no elderly person lives in fear, and can afford both heat and food in the winter.

17. Ensure that a no class-A drugs policy is enforced.

18. Promote morality, marriage, the family, the community and the nation state.

19. Allow pubs the choice of operating as smoking or non-smoking establishments.

20. Live by Christianity’s Golden Rule: “Do unto others as thou wouldst be done by.”

It sounds good.

But I have one quibble.

I would like to suggest  a change in that last point, #20 of twenty, the familiar one about doing to others as thou wouldst be done by. That rule, maxim, policy,  just isn't working out for themuch put-upon Western world, nor for Christians, post-Christians, Judeo-Christians, elsewhere. .

I would prefer to see enshrined in the platform of the Freedom Party (and similar groups, in other countries), and lived by, too, an autres-temps-autres-moeurs update of the traditional Golden Rule:

"Do unto others as thou wouldst be done by, but only up to a point, and after that point has been reached,  do unto others as they have been doing to you."

Posted on 02/03/2012 8:52 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 3 February 2012
Assad Not About To Decamp

Syria's Assad set for long conflict

From Reuters:

February 3, 2012

By Mariam Karouny

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - With the enemy at the gates, Bashar al-Assad was dining out.

The sound of gunfire and explosions carried to central Damascus as his troops clashed in the suburbs last Saturday with rebels who had seized towns near the capital. Masked gunmen erected checkpoints on the city outskirts.

But Syria's 46-year-old president, outwardly unfazed, put on a show of business as usual for fellow patrons of the smart downtown restaurant where he spent the weekend evening.

"He hasn't changed his lifestyle," said a politician from neighboring Lebanon, a regular visitor to Syria, who has met Assad several times since the Syrian uprising began last March.

"He spent the evening at a Damascus restaurant," he added, speaking privately to Reuters about the president's movements on January 28, when the appearance of forces flying flags of the Free Syrian Army at the very edge of the capital had some, excitable, observers reckoning Assad's life expectancy in just weeks.

Memories of the late Muammar Gaddafi were quick to surface.

Yet there was more to his projection of insouciance than the bravado of madness or despair. Others, too, have described to Reuters a Syrian head of state fully abreast of events on the ground - not the mere puppet of hardliners that some have portrayed - "relaxed and phlegmatic", and determined to see off the challenge, offering some reforms, strictly on his own terms.

While few rate his long-term prospects highly, all is not lost, at least for now. Assad's troops swiftly drove back the more lightly armed rebels from the outskirts of Damascus and many foresee a long struggle yet for a country, at the heart of the Middle East, that is trapped in a "balance of weakness".

Pockets of territory are in open revolt, the economy is choked by sanctions and fellow Arab leaders have joined the West in demanding he quit. Yet Assad retains considerable strengths: he has military reserves; allies that include Iran and Russia; grudging consent from millions afraid of Iraq- or Lebanon-style chaos; and he can count on die-hard support within his Alawite religious minority, who fear a sectarian bloodbath if he falls.


Since people in the city of Deraa first took to the streets nearly a year ago, inspired by Arab Spring risings elsewhere to demand freedoms, and were met with the ferocity that is the mark of four decades of rule by Assad and his father, Syria has been virtually closed to reporters from the outside world.

With the Arab League pressing for openness, Syrian officials have now given journalists limited access. Reporting last week, under surveillance, from Damascus, Deraa and the rebellious city of Homs, Reuters nonetheless found Syrians willing to evade, or defy, secret police minders and to condemn the Assad government.

There was a climate of fear and despair, as businesses suffer and people talk of mysterious disappearances, blamed on shadowy forces fighting both for and against the status quo.

An outwardly diffident ophthalmologist with a London-born wife, who was thrust to the fore only by the car crash that killed his elder brother, Assad has promised reforms to the Baathist one-party state developed over 30 years by his father Hafez. But he has insisted strictly on his own terms and rejects the demand last month of the Arab League that he step aside.

"No, no, no. Never," his Lebanese acquaintance said. "He will not resign even if the war lasts 20 years." Assad, he added, was fully engaged with "events on the ground".

A Western diplomat quoted another recent visitor to the presidential palace as finding him "relaxed and phlegmatic", busy on his iPad, asking about the prospects for an Israeli strike against Iran and apparently confident he could outlast his foreign critics, just as his father did for 30 years.

But unlike the elder Assad, who crushed an armed Islamist uprising in the city of Hama 30 years ago this week, killing many thousands, Bashar faces opponents who are entrenched across the country and hardened by a military crackdown on protests.


A visit by a group of foreign journalists to the eastern suburbs of Damascus last week highlighted how much Assad's authority has eroded since the protests started, despite the shooting of thousands of demonstrators, mass arrests, torture and killings in custody and open warfare on mutinous army units.

A year ago, it was unthinkable for Syrians to criticize their leader in public. But here now, just 15 minutes' drive from central Damascus, masked gunmen fighting to overthrow Assad were manning a checkpoint across the road and stopping cars.

The scene evoked another country - Iraq during the sectarian conflict which followed the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, or Lebanon during its ruinous 1975-90 civil war.

The day after the journalists' visit, Assad sent more than 2,000 soldiers to seize back control from the rebels. The fighters were pushed back, but their defiance was infectious.

"There is no force on earth that will make me accept him as a president," said Hend, a housewife in her late 40s who spoke to Reuters in Barzeh, a district on the outskirts of the capital. Like most of the people Reuters interviewed in Syria, she did not want to be identified for fear of reprisal.

"He's not my president and never was," Hend added. "I just couldn't say so before."

Assad, appointed in a quasi-monarchical dynastic succession when his father died in 2000, rules a country which has been controlled by a network of at least 13 official security bodies.

Most Syrians can relate horror stories of the powerful intelligence services that have detained many tens of thousands of people. Memories of their suffering endure, perpetuated through the years of repression in a population that numbers 23 million, double what it was a generation ago in the late 1980s.


In Deraa, where the uprising first erupted, near the southern border with Jordan, Assad's forces have reasserted control militarily. But there is little evidence they have won over the hearts of the people.

Teenage girls leaving school shouted "Freedom! Freedom!" as journalists passed by. Many local people cast openly angry looks at security men who were accompanying the reporters. Graffiti calling on Assad to go was still visible, despite obvious attempts to paint over it.

The security detail in plain clothes appeared uncomfortable escorting visitors up to the Omari mosque, focal point of the Deraa revolt, and most hung back and watched from a distance.

The message from Deraa seems clear: a military offensive can silence people but it will not dampen their anger. Rather the reverse, in a town where it was the arrest of schoolchildren who daubed slogans inspired by Egypt's uprising that sparked revolt.

"When the dust of battle clears, the blood spilt on the streets will make it difficult for Assad to rule as he did before," said a Syrian opposition figure during a secret conversation with Reuters in Damascus.

"Those who are against him now will always be against him."

Another opposition activist said Assad, who he described as wary of triggering tougher international action against him or of giving too much power to his army commanders, had held back so far from using the overwhelming force at his disposal.

"The regime could finish things off militarily," he said. "But it doesn't want to pay the political price.

"Eighty percent of the army is still in the barracks. He doesn't want to give the army command greater powers."

Ever since the long-overlooked second son took on his late father's mantle, there has been persistent speculation about the balance of power within the secretive ruling family and its entourage and over whether Bashar had liberal leanings that were held in check by the likes of his feared younger brother Maher.

However, diplomats, officials and other observers generally concur that the president is today a force in his own right, committed to hanging on to power on his own terms.


What that determination could mean in terms of continued conflict was visible in Homs. It is ravaged by fighting between Assad's forces and rebels, as well as clashes between majority Sunni Muslims and members of Assad's favored minority Alawites.

Loyalist soldiers and rebel gunmen manned sandbag barriers and checkpoints in rival power bases. Streets were deserted and strewn with litter. Walls were marked by bullet holes.

Just a few streets from a government checkpoint, the rebels' green, white and black flag fluttered. A burnt-out armored vehicle sat deserted, sandbags were scattered, signs of a fierce battle in which the army seemed to have taken casualties.

Graffiti told a story of stand-off:

"Down with Assad" was written on one wall;

"God, Syria and Bashar only" declared a slogan opposite.

Journalists were taken by officials to visit a military hospital and a single street before being told to leave after just 10 minutes - authorities could not ensure their safety. Two weeks before, a French journalist was killed in clashes in Homs.

Despite the close attention of government minders, one young man dared to approach a Reuters reporter in full view of them: "Come with me," he whispered. "I'll show you what the security forces are doing to the city.

"They will come after me later," he added. "But I don't care. My life is nothing compared to the sacrifices of others."


The defiance in Homs compares with the pervasive sense of foreboding in Damascus, where many people are simply staying at home as much as possible, alarmed by stories of mysterious gunmen in the streets and unexplained disappearances.

One man, Nabil Haddad, spoke of one such incident he had heard of, which has evoked fears of the kind of civil war that saw hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees flee across the border to Syria over the past decade:

"My friend was stopped at a checkpoint outside Damascus," said Haddad, who is in his 30s and works in business. Speaking at a restaurant in the capital's walled old city that is popular with the moderately well-off middle classes, he went on:

"Men in civilian clothes told him his wife should go with them to the police station, and he should go and get her papers from home.

"So he did, and then went to find her at the police station - only to be told the police had not erected any checkpoint on that street and had never heard of his wife."

Throughout the capital, luxury and boutique hotels are almost empty, while market traders say business has dried up.

The year of unrest, coupled with Western sanctions on Syria's crude oil exports, has plunged the economy into deep trouble, depriving Assad of $2 billion in oil revenues and suffocating tourism, another vital source of income.

Trade has collapsed and businesses have closed or slowed operations as parts of the country have been shut down by the violence and basic functions of the state like tax collection have ground to a halt in some areas.

The Syrian currency has fallen nearly 20 percent, to 58 pounds to the dollar. Economists say authorities are reluctant to keep spending billions of dollars to support it.

Away from the banks, on the black market, the fall has been steeper. The rate is now 70 per dollar. "We're worried that soon it will be 100. This will be a disaster for all of us," said one trader in the ancient Hamidiyeh market, which a year ago bustled with tourists but now looks forlorn and deserted by customers.

Now, Iranian tourists, many of them on pilgrimages, are almost the only foreigners. Merchants say business has collapsed and Syrian shoppers are tense and gloomy.

"Everything we are getting is local now. We cannot find imported goods," said Fadwa Fahham, a Damascus housewife who complained food prices have doubled and heating fuel is scarce.

In the gold souq, shopkeepers say sales have fallen. Those who do come are not buying for a special occasion, but to invest in something that may hold its value in a time of crisis.

"These days people are buying to save for worse times ahead," said one of the jewelers, who did not want to be named.

"We are now like Lebanon - we are an arena for conflict," said Khaled, another resident of Damascus who spoke to Reuters privately. "There are political interests at play and every country has a say now in Syria's crisis."

Assad's supporters are confident their president will crush the revolt, which they say is destroying the country. They speak of a silent majority upon which Assad can count.

His forces are still overwhelmingly stronger than anything his opponents can muster, Western and Arab powers have ruled out military intervention of the kind they deployed in Libya, on the fringe of the Arab world. And he enjoys support from Iran and Russia, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council.

But Moscow could reconsider its political and military ties with Syria, which date back to the Soviet era, if it judges that Assad's position is untenable. And even his sympathizers in the region expect Syria to slide deeper into conflict.

"For sure, Syria is heading for civil war, sectarian war - if it hasn't already broken out," said the Lebanese politician who is broadly supportive of Assad's rule.

"The Alawites see it as a battle for survival."

For the time being, Assad's support base remained solid, despite the defection of thousands of army conscripts and growing numbers of officers, many from the Sunni majority.

"It's not a disintegrating state," the Lebanese politician said.


But the prospect of an extended stalemate between the two sides, described by an opposition figure in Damascus as a "balance of weakness", fills many Syrians with dread.

"Before, I used to wonder when I watched the news from Iraq, how could this happen? How could people kill each other?" said Ali, a student in the capital. "But now I know that is possible - because it might happen here."

Even some of those who supported the early protests, exhilarated by the calls for reform and inspired by their Arab neighbors, say the bloodshed - and emergence from the shadows of hardline Sunni Islamists who disdain secular liberals and religious minorities alike - cast a shadow over their uprising.

Nonetheless, after two generations of repression under the Assads, they believe there is no going back now, however long - and it may indeed be long - it takes.

"The dreams of my father were crushed by the regime. Now that we have the courage to challenge the regime, the bullies have stolen the revolution. It does not represent me now," one leading pro-democracy activist said - quietly - in Damascus.

"But whatever happens, I will not accept Bashar".

Posted on 02/03/2012 11:01 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 3 February 2012
That Enunciatory (But Not Ineluctable) Modality Of The (All Too) Visible Homi Bhabha

From the unblushing Harvard Crimson:

Homi Bhabha Receives Civilian Honor From India

Harvard professor Homi K. Bhabha won one of India’s highest civilian honors this week, according to an announcement made last Wednesday by the Indian government. Bhabha, the director of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard and an acclaimed author on post-colonial studies, was one of 27 recipients of the Padma Bhushan this year.

“I was totally surprised,” said Bhabha, who said that he didn’t find out about the award until a cousin called him with the news [not only "surprised" but "totally surprised"  -- so why not "I was, like, totally surprised"?]

Bhabha attributed his honor to his work exposing people around the world to post-colonial studies, a field that explores the relationships between European countries and their former colonial domains.

“It might also be because my work has been both international and interdisciplinary,” said Bhabha, who has published books on literature, philosophy, and other subjects.

Bhabha, who has lived and worked in the United States for years, was among the minority of recipients this year who do not reside permanently in India.

I think [the Indian government] is beginning to understand India not only in the national context, but in the diasporic context as well,” Bhabha said. [and what better way to understand "the diasporic context" then to give an award to Homi K. Bhabha]

Students and faculty said that they have been impressed by Bhabha’s work at Harvard.

Divisional Dean of Arts and Humanities Diana Sorensen said that Bhabha has been influential in the humanities and the University at large. [I wonder if Helen Vendler would agree, or dozens of other professors who continue to do their work without stooping to the mumbo-jumbo of the mountebank's "post-colonial" patter].

He’s had a transformative effect as an interlocutor and convener, a visionary, and a brilliant intellectual,” she said.

“He has an air of erudition, but he’s also a friendly person,” said Amrita S. Dani ’13, who took a class taught by Bhabha during her freshman year. “He’s very good at making things accessible.” [see an example of how his prose makes things accessible in the comment put at the Crimson site by one "Shadrach Smith" below]

She said that Bhabha’s course influenced her decision to concentrate in history and literature with a focus on post-colonial literature in the Middle East. [which post-colonial literature is that? Arabia never had colonialism. The British were in Iraq for all of two decades, and were in Egypt only to reform the civil service under Lord Cromer, and then again, during World War II, to keep the pro-Nazi Egyptians -- such as Sadat -- from aiding the Germans. The French, like the British in Iraq, ended their Mandate after two decades. So where in the MIddle East is the "colonialism" that could conceivably have given rise to some fantasm called "post-colonial literature"? Poor Dina Amrita, who might, from her name, have possibly become interested in the most long-lasting and dangerous colonialism, or imperialism, of all - that of Muslims who, in conquering many lands and many peoples, and then islamizing them, made them forget, or made them despise, their own pre-Islamic histories, and the non-Islamic elements that, despite everything, managed not to be entirely extinguished].

The Padma awards recognize Indian citizens for “distinguished service of high order” in a variety of fields. Bhabha won in the “Literature and Education” category. Other Indian-Americans who have received the award include Fareed Zakaria, who will speak at Harvard’s commencement later this year.

Bhabha said that he was “deeply honored” by the opportunity that the award affords him to further his work.

“It gives you a platform,” he said. “I just hope that I use it judiciously, and that I use it generously.


ShadrachSmith 3 hours ago
Homi's most famous passage:

"If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities, and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to “normalize” formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality."

The man is a master of gibberish, so Harvard hired him.

Posted on 02/03/2012 1:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 3 February 2012
Kuwait: Hardline Islamists seize control of parliament

From The Telegraph

Kuwait's Islamist-led opposition has won a landslide majority in Kuwait's snap polls, with women and liberals the big losers. The Islamists secured 34 seats in the 50-member parliament, results showed today. All four of the female MPs who served in the previous parliament lost their seats. Liberals, who had five seats in the previous parliament, now have just two.

The snap election was called after the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state dissolved parliament following youth-led protests and bitter disputes between the opposition MPs and the government. The vote followed a fierce campaign amid heightened sectarian and tribal tensions that impacted on the results, with hardliners making gains and moderates losing.

Posted on 02/03/2012 1:45 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 3 February 2012
The Corrections

For the second time I take my red pen to a piece of anodyne reporting about Islam, this time from the well-intentioned but essentially clueless Harry's Place. That site regularly reports on Muslims behaving badly but labours, laboriously, under the misapprehension that this bad behaviour has nothing to do with Islam.

University Islamic Societies have been described as ‘conveyor belts‘ for extremism and terrorism. There may be some truth in this. After all, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, better known to you and I me as the underwear knicker bomber, who tried to make a martyr of himself by attempting to detonate a bomb in an airplane en route to the US was the president of UCL Islamic Society. Amazingly, Malcolm Grant, the vice-chancellor of the University, tried to later claim that campus extremism is ‘made up‘.

The ‘conveyor belt’ theory follows the line that young Muslims enrol into university as liberal-minded, impressionable nominal Muslim students only to be indoctrinated by extremist true Islam and turned into insular, backward-thinking, extremely conservative true Muslims. In turn, the mindset of these students can then be used by terrorist Jihadist recruiters to mould them into potential bombers Jihadists whose weapon of choice happens to be bombs. The rationale is convincing as this is precisely what is thought to have happened to Abdulmutallab.

All too often we see the end product of the conveyor belt. We see the Abdulmutallabs and extremists of this world when it’s too late. Ever seen what goes on in the middle? Have you ever wanted to know how well intentioned  apathetic young Muslims turn into their community’s worst nightmare? begin to take Islam to heart, generally with the tacit support of their fellow Muslims? I can give you a sneak peak.

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), the umbrella organisation that represents most Islamic Societies, likes to make-believe that it has no part to play in turning young Muslims into extremists Jihadists.

If that is the case, why is FOSIS hosting A basic understanding of taqiyya will tell you that it is perfectly logical for FOSIS to host an event with a vicious hate preacher preacher who is honest about Islam to an audience described as “exclusively for the leaders of London Islamic Societies”?

A concerned Muslim student who feels that the Jihad is going too fast and may be noticed provided us with a link (in case it is shut, have a look at this screenshot) inviting that person to a religious gathering. The concerned student had reason to be worried for Haitham al-Haddad would be speaking at that event.

Haitham al-Haddad is an extremist a Muslim who takes Islam to heart.  Let’s have a look at what this man believes in:

The Arab-Israeli conflict is one of our generation’s biggest challenges a Jihad which will end only if the Jews (AKA apes and pigs) are pushed into the sea.  To solve the conflict, it will take time, nuance and a lot of patience a thorough acquaintance with Islam and the immediate withdrawal of Western jizya But, that’s not how al-Haddad sees it. Like other extremists, he takes the far-right perfectly right view that the conflict is one against Muslims and Jews one of Muslims against Jews (ignoring perfectly aware of the fact that Israel’s population is one-fifth Arab has enemies within).

In a video on YouTube, al-Haddad’s fully Islamic advice to Muslims is to “be ready to pay the price for this victory from our blood”. You read that correctly. Whilst NGOs and governments across the world try to kid themselves they can bring both sides together in peace, Mr al-Haddad has told Muslims to be ready to die. Indeed, al-Haddad’s opinion on the Gaza conflict is, naturally, to tell Muslims, “to prepare themselves for jihad, all over the world.” And Allah knows best.

There is more, but my red pen is starting to dry up, and I need it to draw some unsightly pimples on the face of Mohammed, Pimples Be Upon Him.

Posted on 02/03/2012 1:45 PM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 3 February 2012
When The American Agent Hadden Tried To Stop Israel From Attacking In June 1967

The cover story in the magazine section of the Sunday edition of The New York Times (Jan. 29, 2012), by Ronen Bergman,  is titled "Will Israel Attack Iran?" It is rivetting and revealing;  you can find the full text here.

There is something in it that Ihas been until now unknown to almost everyone in the Western world, and  that is the minutes of a meeting held, in early June 1967, between Israeli officials and the C.I.A. head in Tel Aviv,John. Hadden.

Here is the amazing passage:

In June 2007, I met with a former director of the Mossad, Meir Amit, who handed me a document stamped, “Top secret, for your eyes only.” Amit wanted to demonstrate the complexity of the relations between the United States and Israel, especially when it comes to Israeli military operations in the Middle East that could significantly impact American interests in the region.

Almost 45 years ago, on May 25, 1967, in the midst of the international crisis that precipitated the Six-Day War, Amit, then head of the Mossad, summoned John Hadden, the C.I.A. chief in Tel Aviv, to an urgent meeting at his home. The meeting took place against the background of the mounting tensions in the Middle East, the concentration of a massive Egyptian force in the Sinai Peninsula, the closing of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and the threats by President Gamal Abdel Nasser to destroy the State of Israel.

In what he later described as “the most difficult meeting I have ever had with a representative of a foreign intelligence service,” Amit laid out Israel’s arguments for attacking Egypt. The conversation between them, which was transcribed in the document Amit passed on to me, went as follows:

Amit: “We are approaching a turning point that is more important for you than it is for us. After all, you people know everything. We are in a grave situation, and I believe we have reached it, because we have not acted yet. . . . Personally, I am sorry that we did not react immediately. It is possible that we may have broken some rules if we had, but the outcome would have been to your benefit. I was in favor of acting. We should have struck before the build-up.”

Hadden: “That would have brought Russia and the United States against you.”

Amit: “You are wrong. . . . We have now reached a new stage, after the expulsion of the U.N. inspectors. You should know that it’s your problem, not ours.”

Hadden: “Help us by giving us a good reason to come in on your side. Get them to fire at something, a ship, for example.”

Amit: “That is not the point.”

Hadden: “If you attack, the United States will land forces to help the attacked state protect itself.”

Amit: “I can’t believe what I am hearing.”

Hadden: “Do not surprise us.”

Amit: “Surprise is one of the secrets of success.”

Hadden: “I don’t know what the significance of American aid is for you.”

Amit: “It isn’t aid for us, it is for yourselves.”

That ill-tempered meeting, and Hadden’s threats, encouraged the Israeli security cabinet to ban the military from carrying out an immediate assault against the Egyptian troops in the Sinai, although they were perceived as a grave threat to the existence of Israel. Amit did not accept Hadden’s response as final, however, and flew to the United States to meet with Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. Upon his return, he reported to the Israeli cabinet that when he told McNamara that Israel could not reconcile itself to Egypt’s military actions, the secretary replied, “I read you very clearly.” When Amit then asked McNamara if he should remain in Washington for another week, to see how matters developed, McNamara responded, “Young man, go home, that is where you are needed now.”

From this exchange, Amit concluded that the United States was giving Israel “a flickering green light” to attack Egypt. He told the cabinet that if the Americans were given one more week to exhaust their diplomatic efforts, “they will hesitate to act against us.” The next day, the cabinet decided to begin the Six-Day War, which changed the course of Middle Eastern history.

Amit handed me the minutes of that conversation from the same armchair that he sat in during his meeting with Hadden. It is striking how that dialogue anticipated the one now under way between Israel and the United States. Substitute “Tehran” for “Cairo” and “Strait of Hormuz” for “Straits of Tiran,” and it could have taken place this past week. Since 1967, the unspoken understanding that America should agree, at least tacitly, to Israeli military actions has been at the center of relations between the two countries.

Posted on 02/03/2012 4:09 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 3 February 2012
How The New York Times Covered The Shafia Verdict In Canada

A few days ago The New York Times ran a story about the Canadian trial, in which Mohamed Shafia, one of his wives, and his son were all found guilty of the carefully-planned murder of another of his wives, and three of his daughters.

Here is that story, as it appeared in The New York Times on January 29, 2011::

Afghan Family, Led by Father Who Called Girls a Disgrace, Is Guilty of Murder

OTTAWA — It began with a puzzling and grisly discovery in 2009: a car submerged in a 19th-century canal lock with the bodies of three teenage girls and a middle-aged woman inside. On Sunday, the father, the mother and a brother of the girls were each convicted of four counts of first-degree murder.

The verdict concluded a complex, three-month trial in which prosecutors described the crimes as “honor killings.” The defendants — Mohammad Shafia, 58; Tooba Yahya, 42; and their son Hamed, 21 — and the victims belonged to a family of Afghans who had moved to Canada two years before the crime, in June 2007, under a program for affluent immigrants. Both the woman in the car, Rona Amir Mohammad, and Ms. Yahya were married to Mr. Shafia.

During the investigation of the deaths, police wiretaps recorded Mr. Shafia repeatedly expressing the view, often in graphic, vulgar language, that the girls had disgraced his family by dating and by wearing revealing clothing. Other evidence showed that at least one of the dead girls was so frightened of her father that she sought help from the police to escape the household and be placed in foster care with her sisters, without success.

Mr. Shafia’s solution, prosecutors said, was to murder three of his seven children and Ms. Amir Mohammad, and to try, improbably, to make it look like an auto accident; they presented evidence that the car in the canal, a Nissan Sentra, was pushed there using the family’s Lexus, and that someone in the household had searched the Internet for advice on how to conduct a murder.

The jury delivered its verdict after 15 hours of deliberation. Afterward, Justice Robert L. Maranger of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice raised the cultural issues surrounding the case, which, while rarely mentioned directly in court, had become a widespread topic of discussion in Canada, particularly in Quebec, where the family lives.

“It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous, more honorless crime,” the judge told the defendants in a courtroom in Kingston, Ontario. “The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honor, a notion of honor that is founded upon the domination and control of women.”

All three defendants said they were innocent. Ms. Yahya said in court after the verdict: “I am not a murderer and I am a mother — a mother!” Her lawyer, Andrew Crowe, said she would appeal.

Under Canadian law, first-degree murder carries a compulsory sentence of life in prison, with no chance of parole for the first 25 years.

A Parks Canada employee spotted the Sentra in the Rideau Canal when he arrived for work at a lock station near Kingston in June 2009. Inside were Zainab, Sahar and Geeti Shafia, ages 19, 17 and 13, and Ms. Amir Mohammad, 53, who entered Canada claiming to be Mr. Shafia’s cousin when in fact she was his other wife.

The family stopped in Kingston on the way back to their home in Montreal after a brief holiday trip to Niagara Falls; they bought the Sentra secondhand the day before the trip. Mr. Shafia and Ms. Yahya told police and reporters that Ms. Amir Mohammad and the girls had taken the car on a late-night joy ride organized by Zainab, who did not have a driver’s license. But the police were immediately suspicious.

Evidence presented at trial did not establish exactly how the woman and three girls died. But there were indications that the four victims were already dead when the car went into the canal.

The prosecution built part of its case on conflicting statements and missteps by the defendants — they booked accommodations for only six people in Kingston, even though the family numbered 10 before the killings — but the most compelling evidence came from police wiretaps.

“I say to myself, ‘Would they come back to life a hundred times, for you to do the same again,’ ” Mr. Shafia said about his daughters on one recording. “They violated us immensely. There can be no betrayal, no treachery, no violation more than this.”

Defense lawyers argued that the remarks were prompted by the discovery days after the deaths of a photo album showing the girls with boys, although the family displayed what appeared to be the same album to television crews shortly after the deaths.

A diary kept by Ms. Amir Mohammad, who apparently could not bear children, indicated that Ms. Yahya treated her as a servant, and described beatings by Mr. Shafia and by his son Hamed when Mr. Shafia was away on business trips. Evidence at trial suggested that he was also brutal to the girls and feared by them.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 31, 2012

An article on Monday about guilty verdicts in a murder trial in Canada involving a family of Afghan immigrants quoted incorrectly from a comment by the trial judge, Justice Robert L. Maranger. The judge said, “It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous, more honorless crime.” He did not say “more despicable, more heinous, more despicable, more honorless crime.”


Do you notice anything missing from the orignal piece that was significant, and that was omitted, and omitted without any indication that it was omitted even though it was part of a sentence that now ends with some of its words missing? No, you probably don't, and that's understandable. We ordinarily do not practice the art of close reading on mere journalism, and in any case, if you rely on Paper X to give you the news, chances are you don't also check how Papers A, B. C, not to mention Papers Y and Z, cover the same story. And many readers of The New York Times do not understand  how, when it comes to everything to do with Islam (and with the Jihad against Israel, and Israel's attempts to defend itself), The New York Times is constantly meretricious in its coverage, and it continues to get away with it, and the smug self-satisfaction of its editors and reporters continue to infuriate and  disgust those readers who, being well--informed and scrupulous about how the New York Times allows itself to behave. Of course, there are other readers, too many readers, who keep trustingly and unwarily believing what they read in The New York Times, despite its record of misreporting on all the most important questions of the past century, including both the Soviet Union and  Nazi Germany, in the 1930s.

Here is what Judge Robert L. Mangerer, is quoted by The New York Times as saying in court:

"It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous, more honorless crime,” the judge told the defendants in a courtroom in Kingston, Ontario. “The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honor, a notion of honor that is founded upon the domination and control of women.”

It's true. He said that. But he also said something else, something that was memorable, and true, and which, had readers been able to learn of it, might have made an impression on those readers, might have given them pause and caused them to think about things that The New York Times editors, and many (though not all, to judge by some of my private correspondence) of its reporters, does not want them to think about, actively tries to prevent them from thinking about.

Here is a fuller account of what Judge Robert L. Mangerer said, as it appeared in many hundreds of reports on the trial, but not in the account published by The New York Times. I have reprinted below the remarks of Judge Maranger, as reported in The Globe and Mail (Toronto):

Mr. Justice Robert Maranger, who presided over the Shafia trial, is seen here in 2008. - Mr. Justice Robert Maranger, who presided over the Shafia trial, is seen here in 2008. | Fred Chartrand/The Globe and Mail

Remarks to the court by Shafia judge

Globe and Mail

The following remarks were made to the court on Sunday by Mr. Justice Robert Maranger:

You have each been convicted of the planned and deliberate murder of four members of your family.

It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous crime.

The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your twisted notion of honour, a notion of honour that is founded upon the domination and control of women, a sick notion of honour that has absolutely no place in any civilized society.

There is nothing more honourless than the deliberate murder of, in the case of Mohammad Shafia, three of his daughters and his wife, in the case of Tooba Yahya, three of her daughters and a stepmother to all her children, in the case of Hamed Shafia, three of his sisters and a mother.

For these crimes, for these murders, the sentence is mandatory as set out in the Criminal Code of Canada: imprisonment without eligibility of parole for a period of 25 years and that’s the sentence of the court for each of you.


Let's look again at what appears in the Times' account of what Judge Maranger said:

It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous, more honorless crime,” the judge told the defendants in a courtroom in Kingston, Ontario. “The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honor, a notion of honor that is founded upon the domination and control of women.”    [The New York Times, Jan. 29, 2012]

Now let's look again at the account in The Globe and Mail of what Judge Maranger said:

"It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous crime.

The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your twisted notion of honour, a notion of honour that is founded upon the domination and control of women, a sick notion of honour that has absolutely no place in any civilized society."

Now I have a question for Ian Austin (assuming he iscorrectly reported, as did hundreds if not thousands of other repoorters) :

Why do you think the editors of The New York Times put a full stop -- inaccurately -- after the phrase "the domination and control of women," and left out the memorable and eloquent phrase that in fact ended the sentence uttered by Judge Maranger: "a sick notion of honor that has absolutely no place in any civilized society."

And then I have a question for the editors of The New York Times:

What was your reason for lopping off that final phrase  -- "a sick notion of honor that has absolutely no place in any civilized society" -- not even bothering to indicate that some words have been omitted, but replacing the honest comma after "women" with a meretiricous period? What gives you the right to do this to tthe words of Judge Robert Maranger, and thereby  to misinform your readers, by denying them even the possiblity of reading that last and important phrase in that sentence,the one that connects Muslim honor killings -- with that "sick notion of honor" to the idea that the kind of people who believe such things, and who further believe that they have a right -- as they do in Islam -- to dispose of their children, even to murder them if the reason is islamically justified -- apparently have "a sick notion of honor that has absolutely no place in any civilized society."

Is it too much to expect an answer? .

Posted on 02/03/2012 4:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 3 February 2012
A Musical Interlude: My Very Good Friend The Milkman (Fats Waller)
Listen here.
Posted on 02/03/2012 5:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 3 February 2012
Paris, Rome, now London

Pictures from the Daily Mail of Muslim prayer on the streets of London around one of the nearest mosques to the City of London. It is incorrect that this is the only Mosque in the area, I know of two others in adjacent streets - Brick Lane and Redchurch Street..

In the shadow of the glass and steel skyscrapers of London’s Square Mile, hundreds of Muslims kneel in the street for Friday prayers. Yesterday’s hour-long service a stone's throw from the heart of the financial district proved so popular that worshippers filled the streets around the tiny community mosque.

City workers in pinstripe suits mixed with Muslims from the local Bangladeshi community, cramming into the streets beside a Bentley and other parked cars.

The Brune Street mosque, in Spitalfields, East London, is the nearest mosque for Friday prayers for many City workers and others from Brick Lane and Whitechapel.

It is a one-room community mosque with a maximum capacity of 100, so when some 300 turn up for Friday midday prayers locals have become accustomed to seeing worshippers kneeling in the surrounding streets, all facing Mecca.

One worshipper said: ‘It’s grown and grown in recent years. It started off as just one room in the mosque, but now people come from all over the City and there just isn’t the room for them in the building. . . You wouldn’t know unless you were looking for it, but it’s right in the middle of the City.’

Posted on 02/03/2012 5:38 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 3 February 2012
Afghans: How Dare The Americans Leave Before They Have "Fixed Afghanistan"?

From The New York Times:

Afghans Fear Downturn as Foreigners Withdraw

January 31, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — The anticipated withdrawal of most international forces is still two years away, but already Afghans who have depended on the decade-old foreign presence for their livelihoods are feeling tremors as the first troops leave and spending and aid money dries up. Many fear that the rumblings could be a harbinger of far worse things to come.

The withdrawal of tens of thousands of foreign troops and international aid workers — and the billions of dollars in aid they have brought to the country — has all the potential to undo the fragile progress Afghans have made under the international occupation and, some fear, even set off a new round of insecurity and civil unrest. So dependent is Afghanistan that in 2010, international assistance amounted to roughly 97 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to a commonly cited World Bank estimate.

That foreign money, and the end of the Taliban government, lured back Afghan refugees and moneyed entrepreneurs alike, and it has lifted important parts of the economy to unnatural highs.

“The investors, they are still trying to sell their properties to collect their cash money and move their families back abroad,” said Toryalai Babakarkhail, 45, a former brick kiln operator who now runs a small real estate business here.

Already real estate prices, salaries, store sales and factory orders are shrinking, leaving Afghans in nearly every quarter to wonder what will happen next — to them, their society and their economy.

At the Milli Factory, 150 men and a few women hammered, glued and bent over dimly lighted sewing machines on a recent afternoon. They once turned out 1,500 pairs of boots a day, exclusively for the Afghan security forces — light brown for the army, black for the police. But even those orders were paid for by the international coalition, and already they have stopped.

Farhad Safi, the company’s chief executive, said Milli had received no new boot orders for eight months. As the international coalition withdraws and Afghanistan is forced to pay for more of its own equipment, the government is buying Chinese and Pakistani boots — which are lower in quality but cost 15 percent less, Mr. Safi complained.

“These products we are producing are for our stocks,” he said.

Such a turnaround could reverse the fortunes of Milli and all those who work at the factory, where employees can earn $240 a month, a good salary here.

It could do the same for many other parts of the Afghan economy that flourished as about $54 billion in aid and military spending poured into Afghanistan over the past 10 years.

That money generated thousands of jobs for Afghans. It also produced a new elite in cities like Kabul, who clogged the streets with cars and created wealthy neighborhoods, like Ahmad Shah Baba Maina, a few miles to the east of Milli Factory, where electricity towers sprouted and six-floor apartment blocks rose amid the muddy hovels.

From a prefabricated tin shack on the edge of the neighborhood, Mr. Babakarkhail, the real estate broker, trades property to company directors, government ministers, members of Parliament and others in a class that has benefited from the infusion of foreign cash.

Outside his shack, a salt cart trundled past, pulled by a horse, its driver calling out through a loudspeaker — a reminder of how the neighborhood bridges the old Afghanistan and the new, and how easily the country could slide back.

Already, the housing bubble is deflating. A typical house normally costs $30,000 to $230,000 depending on size and location, but deals dried up and prices dropped by $10,000 to $50,000 last year as people worried about the pullout, though prices bounced back in December, Mr. Babakarkhail said.

The same tremors are being felt about 20 miles away on the icy hills north of Kabul, where Miraj Din, 48, who used to deliver food and firewood in a wheelbarrow, now manages Mumtaz’s Car Salesroom, selling imported cars to the country’s elite.

Last year, he sold about a dozen cars a month, but this year he is selling only one car a month as Afghans with enough money to buy these fancy vehicles delay their purchases or move their money abroad, he said.

Sixty cars, including a blood-red Mercedes-Benz and a gold 2006 Toyota with “Amarican” scrawled on its windscreen for $18,000 — one of the cheapest in the lot — gleamed in the sun.

“Now people think the 1980s and 1990s crisis will start again and people will fight,” Mr. Miraj said.

Fueled by reconstruction and defense assistance, total output for the Afghan economy, adjusted for inflation, has roughly doubled over the past nine years. Because of population growth, the increase in real gross domestic product per capita was about 50 percent.

But by 2018, on some assumptions, 90 percent of all that outside aid could be gone, the World Bank predicts. [aid from non-Muslims should never have been squandered on Muslim Afghans in the first place -- it does not make them less hostile, it does not cause them to begin to question Islam but protects them from the economic desarroi that stems from Islam]

The optimists in Kabul hope that Afghanistan’s decade-long progress will help it weather this decline — that the Afghan security forces, paid and trained until now by the international coalition, will be strong enough to keep the country secure and the Taliban at bay despite signs that the insurgency has strengthened, and that capital investments in infrastructure, including electricity, bridges, roads, new schools and clinics, could be a catalyst for private-sector enterprise.

But this rural country of 30 million people, where life expectancy is only about 45 years and infant mortality is among the highest in the world, will have to adjust slowly from the boom in services and construction to something more durable and modest.

With currently little export growth and scant large-scale manufacturing, some officials hope that there will be a renaissance in agriculture and regional trade or even a substitution effect from construction to manufacturing.

“Contractors currently dependent on work offered by foreigners will hopefully be able to use the skills they have learned and turn them to more productive activities, including, perhaps, for building businesses that could manufacture goods for sales abroad,” said Josephine Bassinette, the World Bank’s acting country director for Afghanistan.

As aid is withdrawn, the World Bank forecasts that growth could fall to 5 or 6 percent for the next few years. But the slowdown could be more severe if security worsens, if Afghans cannot maintain their new infrastructure or if the government fails to garner royalties from contracts for the country’s mineral wealth.

The government calculates that these mineral resources, including big copper, iron and other deposits in provinces like Logar to the east or Bamian in the heart of the country, will play a large role in Afghanistan’s post-transition future. But any delay in extracting the minerals, or sharing the wealth among average Afghans, would serve only to underscore the gap left in the economy as international spending is withdrawn.

“It is a bubble economy, and people will lose jobs when it deflates,” said Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

Standing on a stony forecourt beside a highway into Kabul, Ghulam Sarwar, 40, a stocky man with a thin mustache, fled the Taliban for Pakistan but returned to start a business renting out cranes and earth-moving equipment for $200 to $300 a day to the military bases and nongovernmental organizations in the capital.

His business depends directly on foreign spending, and he has few illusions about the future.

“The Afghans, they can’t build anything for themselves or they would have built these things long ago,” Mr. Sarwar said. “I have no expectation for the Afghans.”

No one knows when, but a painful slowdown seems to be coming to Afghanistan.

One barometer of economic confidence might be Mohammad Atta’s store on what Westerners call “Toilet Street” in downtown Kabul, where the windows show off faucets, basins and the Western-style toilets favored by foreigners.

In the construction boom of the past few years, Mr. Atta sold 50 Western-style porcelain toilets each day, he said, as modern hotels and guesthouses went up, but now he is selling 10 a day.

On a recent morning, two contractors entered his store to argue that they wanted a better water pump for the money they had paid, but Mr. Atta waved them away impatiently.

“Ten is not enough,” he said. He complained that the international coalition of the United States and its allies was leaving before it had finished its job of securing peace and fixing Afghanistan.

He held up his glass of tea. “They make a glass whole, and then they drop it and let it fall apart,” Mr. Atta said. “When they are here there is more demand, but when they leave it will change everything.” [so the Americans should stay, iat great expense, and in great danger, in order that Mohammad Atta can continue to sell "faucets, basins and the Western-style toilets" from whcih he derives his income]
Posted on 02/03/2012 6:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 3 February 2012
A Letter In The Wall Street Journal: Who Is Entitled To An Opinion On Global Warming, And Who Is Not?

Letter published in The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 1, 2012:

Check With Climate Scientists for Views on Climate

Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition? In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field and on published, peer-reviewed work. If you need surgery, you want a highly experienced expert in the field who has done a large number of the proposed operations.

You published "No Need to Panic About Global Warming" (op-ed, Jan. 27) on climate change by the climate-science equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology. While accomplished in their own fields, most of these authors have no expertise in climate science. The few authors who have such expertise are known to have extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert. This happens in nearly every field of science. For example, there is a retrovirus expert who does not accept that HIV causes AIDS. And it is instructive to recall that a few scientists continued to state that smoking did not cause cancer, long after that was settled science.

Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally that our planet is getting hotter. And computer models have recently shown that during periods when there is a smaller increase of surface temperatures, warming is occurring elsewhere in the climate system, typically in the deep ocean. Such periods are a relatively common climate phenomenon, are consistent with our physical understanding of how the climate system works, and certainly do not invalidate our understanding of human-induced warming or the models used to simulate that warming.

Thus, climate experts also know what one of us, Kevin Trenberth, actually meant by the out-of-context, misrepresented quote used in the op-ed. Mr. Trenberth was lamenting the inadequacy of observing systems to fully monitor warming trends in the deep ocean and other aspects of the short-term variations that always occur, together with the long-term human-induced warming trend.

The National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. (set up by President Abraham Lincoln to advise on scientific issues), as well as major national academies of science around the world and every other authoritative body of scientists active in climate research have stated that the science is clear: The world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible. Impacts are already apparent and will increase. Reducing future impacts will require significant reductions in emissions of heat-trapping gases.

Research shows that more than 97% of scientists actively publishing in the field agree that climate change is real and human caused. It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks that climate change clearly poses. In addition, there is very clear evidence that investing in the transition to a low-carbon economy will not only allow the world to avoid the worst risks of climate change, but could also drive decades of economic growth. Just what the doctor ordered.

Kevin Trenberth, Sc.D.

Distinguished Senior Scientist

Climate Analysis Section National Center for Atmospheric Research

La Jolla, Calif.

Kevin Trenberth, Sc.D, Distinguished Senior Scientist, Climate Analysis Section, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Richard Somerville, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

Katharine Hayhoe, Ph.D., Director, Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University

Rasmus Benestad, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, The Norwegian Meteorological Institute

Gerald Meehl, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Michael Oppenheimer, Ph.D., Professor of Geosciences; Director, Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy, Princeton University

Peter Gleick, Ph.D., co-founder and president, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security

Michael C. MacCracken, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Climate Institute, Washington

Michael Mann, Ph.D., Director, Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University

Steven Running, Ph.D., Professor, Director, Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group, University of Montana

Robert Corell, Ph.D., Chair, Arctic Climate Impact Assessment; Principal, Global Environment Technology Foundation

Dennis Ojima, Ph.D., Professor, Senior Research Scientist, and Head of the Dept. of Interior's Climate Science Center at Colorado State University

Josh Willis, Ph.D., Climate Scientist, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Matthew England, Ph.D., Professor, Joint Director of the Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia

Ken Caldeira, Ph.D., Atmospheric Scientist, Dept. of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution

Warren Washington, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Terry L. Root, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University

David Karoly, Ph.D., ARC Federation Fellow and Professor, University of Melbourne, Australia

Jeffrey Kiehl, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Donald Wuebbles, Ph.D., Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois

Camille Parmesan, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, University of Texas; Professor of Global Change Biology, Marine Institute, University of Plymouth, UK

Simon Donner, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Canada

Barrett N. Rock, Ph.D., Professor, Complex Systems Research Center and Department of Natural Resources, University of New Hampshire

David Griggs, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Monash Sustainability Institute, Monash University, Australia

Roger N. Jones, Ph.D., Professor, Professorial Research Fellow, Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University, Australia

William L. Chameides, Ph.D., Dean and Professor, School of the Environment, Duke University

Gary Yohe, Ph.D., Professor, Economics and Environmental Studies, Wesleyan University, CT

Robert Watson, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Chair of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Steven Sherwood, Ph.D., Director, Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Chris Rapley, Ph.D., Professor of Climate Science, University College London, UK

Joan Kleypas, Ph.D., Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research

James J. McCarthy, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University

Stefan Rahmstorf, Ph.D., Professor of Physics of the Oceans, Potsdam University, Germany

Julia Cole, Ph.D., Professor, Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona

William H. Schlesinger, Ph.D., President, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Jonathan Overpeck, Ph.D., Professor of Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona

Eric Rignot, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Professor of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine

Wolfgang Cramer, Professor of Global Ecology, Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology, CNRS, Aix-en-Provence, France

Posted on 02/03/2012 7:01 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 3 February 2012
Friday Movie: Night Train To Munich
Watch the movie here.
Posted on 02/03/2012 7:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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