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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 4, 2008.
Friday, 4 July 2008
The Incomparable Dame Janet and The Wonderful Kathleen

Contrast and compare The Dame singing this with the Wonderful Kathleen – note those pure top As - singing the same thing (in a slightly truncated version, I’ll grant you).


Somewhere in between these two we must slot in that magnificent diva Barbara Hendricks, despite her ever so slightly eccentric take on the rhythm of this piece. Perhaps, and just for fun (considering the liberties he took with it), we should also consider the late, great Pavarotti's version.



Posted on 07/04/2008 5:34 AM by John Joyce
Friday, 4 July 2008
Case dismissed: Lord Chief Justice lays down law on Sharia
On the subject of the Lord Chief and his speech to the East London Muslim’s yesterday, while the text of his speech will not be on the Judiciary Website for a few days, Frances Gibb The Times Legal Editor has more details of his speech and her report gives a different emphasis. Which I feel may be nearer what Lord Philips actually said, proves that I am right to want to see a transcript before commenting fully.
Miss Gibb (who who knows her stuff, was probably either there in person or was given an advance draft) says
Britain's most senior judge declared last night that there was no place for Sharia courts in this country and insisted that all residents were governed by the laws of England and Wales.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, told an audience of several hundred at the London Muslim Centre in Whitechapel that those who chose to live in England and Wales had to accept the laws as they found them.
“There is no question of such [Sharia] courts sitting in this country or such sanctions being applied here.
“So far as the law is concerned, those who live in this country are governed by English and Welsh law and subject to the jurisdiction of the English and Welsh courts,” he said.
His (defence of Sharia principles was to this extent) A Muslim was free to practise his or her own faith and live his or her life in accordance with those principles, yet not be in conflict with the law.
sanctions imposed in some Muslim countries - such as flogging, stoning, cutting off hands, or killing - that would conflict with our laws. “There can be no question of such sanctions being applied to or by any Muslim who lives within this jurisdiction,” he said.
Muslim men and women were entitled to be treated the same way as all others, but there was another side to that coin.
“Those who come to live in this country and benefit from the rights enjoyed by all who live here also necessarily come under the same obligations that the law imposes on all who live here.”
The comments (of the Archbishop of Canterbury on the accomodation of Sharia law) were made at a lecture that Lord Phillips had chaired. He said that the Archbishop's lecture had been profound and “one not readily understood on a single listening”. He had certainly not suggested that Muslims might be governed by their own system of Sharia. Rather the Archbishop had suggested that it might be possible for individuals to opt to resolve certain disputes under their own choice of jurisdiction.
People were free to choose a system of mediation or arbitration for the resolution of their disputes - whether Sharia or any other religious code.
Any sanctions or failure to comply with the agreed terms of any mediation would, however, be drawn from the laws of England and Wales. Divorce could therefore be effected only in accordance with the civil law of this country.
I made the analogy yesterday with the governance of football in the country by the Football Association.
Last night the Lord Chief Justice had the perfect opportunity and location to offer his own contribution to the debate - and nail what he saw as some of the misunderstandings about Dr Williams's comments into the bargain.
He did so with some vigour: the Archbishop had not suggested that Muslims could be governed by their own system of Sharia, he said, but that they could choose to live their lives in accordance with Sharia principles - and not be in conflict with the law.
Crucially, though, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers made clear where the line was drawn: first, any such adherence did not mean Muslims were outside the law. “Those who live in this country are governed by English law and subject to the jurisdiction of the English courts.” Secondly, neither the behaviour of violent extremists who perversely invoked Sharia, nor severe physical sanctions imposed in some Muslim countries, such as flogging, stoning or cutting off of hands, could ever be applied to or by any Muslim within this jurisdiction.
The Lord Chief Justice's speech went far wider, though, than the issue of Sharia within British society. He looked at other contentious issues: does the law discriminate against people - and if not the law, what about the judges themselves?
The law, he noted, had developed to stamp out discrimination in all its forms and now offered freedomand equality: landladies could no longer hang up a sign saying: “Bed and breakfast. No blacks or Irish.” People living here would receive equal treatment before the law and were free to practise their religion of choice, he said.
However, he made clear that such freedoms and rights bring obligations. Those, he said, who live in Britain “must take our laws as they find them”. Lord Phillips noted that although the law was secular, it was founded on one ethical principle that the Christian religion shared with most, if not all, others: “that one should love one's neighbour”. So the law here set out to prevent behaviour that harmed others. By contrast, behaviour that was contrary to religious principles and harmful only to those who commit it was not generally against the law.
If there was a gap, it was one the Archbishop also left open: can there be fair settlement of private disputes under Sharia between parties who may be unequal; where, for instance, women's rights are not equivalent to those of men? Sharia in the provision of financial services is one thing; in the family arena another.
Yet his final message was clear. It is not enough to say that everyone is entitled to equality before the law; people who enforce the law or apply it have a duty to ensure that all citizens receive it.
In this his views accord, to some extend, with those I heard the Bishop of Rochester expound in his lecture to Civil Servants in April when he said that
. . .  in his view the question the question of Sharica should be raised in the context of religious conscience. Lawmaking can take into consideration that believers have to follow their conscience. Beyond that, in the way that Sharica law is constituted it can go no further without tremendous conflicts. We cannot have bigamy as a crime for one, but not for another. Likewise law about divorce, children, inheritance and evidence are in conflict. Believers may bring the moral code behind their faith but this is not the same as accommodation in another legal system.
Had the Frances Gibb articles been the first on-line yesterday, and with the headlines she gives I think the ensuing debate would have taken a different turn. Lord Philips seems to have been quite definite that Muslims are under English law and that Sharia law is for personal consumption only.
I will however continue to look out for the full transcript.
Posted on 07/04/2008 4:36 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 4 July 2008
British Muslims 'feel like the Jews of Europe'
British Muslims feel "like the Jews of Europe" because of a growing culture of hostility against them, a Government minister has warned.
Shahid Malik, the UK's first Muslim minister, said it has become legitimate to target Muslims in the media and society in a way that would be unacceptable for any other minority.
The MP for Dewsbury, West Yorks, said many British Muslims now feel like "aliens in their own country" as society turns a "blind eye" to their persecution.
Mr Malik, a minister in the Department for International Development, said this has the negative effects of segregating society and undermining efforts to deal with extremism and terrorism.
The 40-year-old said he had himself been the target of a string of racist incidents, including hate mail, the firebombing of his family car and an attempt to run him down at a petrol station.
Mr Malik said: "I think most people would agree that if you ask Muslims today what do they feel like, they feel like the Jews of Europe.
"I don't mean to equate that with the Holocaust but in the way that it was legitimate almost - and still is in some parts - to target Jews, many Muslims would say that we feel the exact same way.
"Somehow there's a message out there that it's OK to target people as long as it's Muslims. And you don't have to worry about the facts, and people will turn a blind eye."
The facts. If only Muslims were like the Jews of Europe.
Muslims are responsible for terrorism or threats of such in nearly every country they have settled in an effort to spread Islam globally. 
Jews as a community have always been peaceful and law abiding wherever they settled. The Irgun Zvai Leum were of their period, for a purpose and in a distinct place.  
Jews are an asset to every country they settle. How many Nobel prizes for real scientific discoveries have been awarded to Jewish researchers? Muslims make up a disproportionate number of convicted prisoners, the unemployed and those on state benefits in Great Britain and many other countries of north west Europe.
Jews have a sense of humour that enables them to deal with the enormous difficulties that history has thrown at them collectively.
Muslims only whine and wail about Islamophobia, sue hairdressers or now complaint about being treated like the Jews. I notice they pick the Jews as a comparison and not the Irish. I wonder why not? 
Posted on 07/04/2008 5:48 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 4 July 2008
Creepy Sci-Fi Plan: Floating Cities

Daily Mail: ...This computer-generated image shows two floating cities, each with enough room for 50,000 inhabitants.

Based on the design of a lilypad, they could be used as a permanent refuge for those whose homes have been covered in water. Major cities including London, New York and Tokyo are seen as being at huge risk from oceans which could rise by as much as 3ft by the end of this century.

This solution, by the award-winning Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut, is designed to be a new place to live for those whose homelands have been wiped out.

The 'Lilypad City' would float around the world as an independent and fully self-sustainable home. With a lake at its centre to collect and purify rainwater, it would be accessed by three separate marinas and feature artificial mountains to offer the inhabitants a change of scenery from the seascape.

Power for the central accommodation hub is provided through a series of renewable energy sources including solar panels on the mountain sides, wind turbines and a power station to harness the energy of the waves. ...

Posted on 07/04/2008 7:53 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 4 July 2008
British Muslim Initiative/Hamas Threaten Harry's Place With Legal Action

David T. writes at Harry's Place (thanks to Alan):

The British Muslim Initiative is the sister organisation of the terrorist group, Hamas. Its President is Mohammad Sawalha: a man who the BBC identified as the mastermind of “much of Hamas’ political and military strategy”, and as responsible for directing “funds, both for Hamas’ armed wing, and for spreading its missionary dawah”.  Its senior members include Azzam Tamimi, the Hamas Special Envoy who once expressed a desire to commit a suicide bombing.

Yesterday evening, we received a letter from Anas Altikriti of the British Muslim Initiative, threatening legal action against us.

It is a great relief to be the subject of mere legal threats. In Gaza, where Hamas is in power, they prefer to settle disputes with political opponents by murdering them.

The reason that the British Muslim Initiate is upset with us is this. This weekend, Mr Sawalha attended a demonstration against a festival celebrating the re-founding of the State of Israel. He gave a speech, in Arabic, to Al Jazeera. In that speech, he stated that the purpose of his demonstration was to:

“express our resentment at the celebrations by the Jewish community”

He also made another statement, which has been the subject of some dispute. Al Jazeera initially reported the phrase in question as containing the word “????”. That word translates as “evil” or “baneful”, or some variant thereon. The next word was “????? “, which means “Jew” or “Jewish”. We translated the phrase, as it appeared, as “evil Jew” or “Jewish evil”.

(The arabic letters are not supported by our program at NER. They are replaced by question marks, sorry.)

Some time later, the word “????” was removed from the Al Jazeera report. It was replaced with the word “?????? ”, “lobby”.

The British Muslim Initiative then issued a bombastic “press release”, which it pasted in our comments section, claiming that we had:

“deliberately skewed the word ‘Lobby’ to turn it into some other word and make it seem as though it means ‘evil/noxious’”

It went on to describe Mr Sawalha as a promoter of “community relations and cultural dialogue”, and object to him being ”demonised” as  a “‘Jew-hater’ and ‘anti-Semitic’.” 

I do not know Mr Sawalha. However, if he is a senior Hamas activist, and a supporter of that organisation, I cannot imagine he has anything positive to contribute to “community relations”. Moreover, it is very unlikely that any British court would regard it as defamatory to describe a Hamas activist as a racist. Hamas is a proudly racist, and genocidal terrorist organisation.

A little later, an Al Jazeera reporter called Medyan Dairieh appeared in the thread, insisting that Mr Sawalha had spoken of the “Jewish Lobby”. He explained that the original report contained a spelling mistake. However, instead of apologising to Harry’s Place and to the British Muslim Initiative for his hopelessness as a journalist, he accused us of having “no common sense” for thinking that a Hamas activist would use the phrase “Evil Jew”.

I can form no conclusion on what precisely Mr Sawalha said at Sunday’s demonstration. The meaning of the words “????” and “????? ” have been extensively discussed in the comments of the thread below. Initially, defenders of Mr Sawalha claimed that in Arabic, “Jew” meant “Zionist”. When that argument fell apart, there was some debate as to whether the word “????? ” means “Jew” or “Jewish”. The defenders of Mr Sawalha insisted that the word could not be used to mean “Jew”. However, the leading dictionaries suggest that it can be used in this manner. There was also some disagreement as to how likely it was that a careless journalist would have mistyped the word “evil, “????” when intending to type the word “?????? ”, “lobby”.

It is possible that Mr Sawalha railled against the “evil Jewish Lobby”, rather than the “evil Jew”. What I find astonishing, is that the British Muslim Initiative thinks that it is somehow better to be caught out inveighing against - not the policies of the Israeli Government, not the “Israel Lobby”, not even against the “Zionists” - but against the “Jewish community” and the “Jewish Lobby”. It is clear from their letter that they see no problem with saying any of that. How bold of them.

Posted on 07/04/2008 8:39 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 4 July 2008
A Musical Interlude: Yankee Doodle Dandy (George M. Cohan)
Posted on 07/04/2008 10:05 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 4 July 2008
Are You A Mosquito Magnet?

Newsweek: After this weekend's barbeques and fireworks displays, you might wonder why some people wind up covered in mosquito welts and others are bite-free. It's not a coincidence. Each person's individual body chemistry determines how many mosquitoes will come calling.

According to Joe Conlon, a medical entomologist who advises the American Mosquito Control Association, the insects can detect their targets from nearly 100 feet away. But what are they seeking? Mostly the scent of carbon dioxide and lactic acid, two compounds that indicate to the hematophagous — or blood-sucking — pests that their next landing pad is nearby. (It's worth noting that when a female mosquito latches on to you, she's not looking for food; instead, she sucks out blood to help fertilize her eggs... that's why males don't "bite").

Carbon dioxide and lactic acid are released whenever we breathe or sweat, but the emission rates vary by person. Larger people and pregnant woman, for example, have higher levels and are more likely targets. According to Susan Peskewitz, a mosquito researcher and entomology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the scents of these compounds coupled with body heat are the biggest attractors. So if you've recently exercised, watch out: the combination of lactic acid (which builds up when muscles are exerted), sweat filled with carbon dioxide, and an increased temperature make you an ideal host.

With more than 300 bodily compounds that influence insect attraction, scientists haven't figured out every body chemistry combination that the bugs like. They're also not sure whether perfumes or floral smells affect attraction. But because mosquitoes drink dew, they may have a preference for artificially sweet-scented bodies. Some research has also shown they prefer landing on darker fabrics than light ones, so stay away from black or blue clothing and make sure your shirt isn't too tight; if it is, the insects will siphon right through it. ...

Posted on 07/04/2008 1:19 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 4 July 2008
That Ravishing Valley, That Chugging Choo-Choo

Entrusted with the task of finding a painting for the somer season, when soft was the sun, I hit upon George Inness’s railroad-commissioned painting, in 1855, of the Lackawanna Valley. It's at the site's main page. It can't be missed. It depicts a steam engine making its way up the slow incline of the Lackawanna Valley, headed  not directly toward the viewer, in what is still placid green, still largely free of what -- we know -- is to come. The choo-choo itself appears, without railroad cars behind it, and the smoke from its tiny engine echoes the smokestack on the roundhouse in the valley below, and the tinier smokestacks on a handful of  factories also below.


One is reminded of the first few illustrations in that well-known American children’s book, The Little House, those in which the Little House itself is  in the countryside, a countryside that will, as the pages turn and the story be told, be dug into, be built upon, and then built up upon, more and more and more, and the sky darken, and the roads and cars appear, and then a subway system, and then apartment buildings will be constructed, on both sides of the tiny, still cheerful Little House,  now surrounded by dark smoky city surroundings, until one fine day the descendants of the original inhabitants of the Little House arrive to rescue it, which rescue consists of moving it on a flat-bed truck and taking it far far into the still-verdant and unspoiled countryside, and setting it into a spot very much like the one in which the Little House was first situated. And the moral of the story? Not clear, because we do not know, or perhaps we are not to ask, what will happen when that place, too, is built up, and built up, in the same way as before, and the country itself begins to run out of its own countryside.


It is the theme of relentless industrialization, or rather of what Louis Marx called The Machine in the Garden. There’s the choo-choo (that’s the Machine) and there is that  how-green-were-my-valleys valley of the languid Lackawanna (that's the Garden). Indeed, in Louis Marx’s book, this painting – I discovered after it was put up here – serves as Plate 2 in "The Machine in the Garden." And I further discovered, after choosing this painting (and obtaining the agreement of the Management) that Nicolai Civosky, formerly the curator American and British Art at the National Gallery (Washington), in his own study of Inness, judged this painting to be the finest of Innesss’s earlier works and one of the finest he, Inness, ever painted. I also found and while standing in a used-book store, quickly read the long entry on “The Lackawanna Valley” in “Landscape Painting in America” by Wolfgang Born, a refugee from Nazified Vienna who published “Landscape Painting in America” in 1947 and dedicated it “To The Memory of My Mother,” a dedication which made flit across my brain the uneasy thought of the not-inconceivable inconceivable circumstances of his mother’s death. Born describes how Inness has deliberately lightened up things, in an example of what might be called Luminism avant la lettre.


The Choo-Choo or, as such narrow-guage steam engines are called in Russia, Kukushka,  choo-choos its way, a Little Engine That Could, across the landscape. It hasn’t yet grown to full estate; the valley in question has already begun to yield the coal in the groaning seams below – and across the state, at the same latitude – sits Titusville, and an even more sinister discovery, that of oil.


But in the world of the painting in the world of the painting. No one yet senses what is inevitabaly to come, or how that very Lackawanna Valley might yield all of its green thoughts, and green shade, to smoky Scranton (and out-of-work Scranton, in turn, will become in the minds of other, still much later,  viewers not a real place, but the mythical home of Dunder Mifflin, that cross the comedy writers bear between Dunster House and Houghton Mifflin).


And right now, when we see that Little Steam Engine That Could, we are not hysteron-proteronically fearful of what’s to come, as we might have been twenty years ago, or fifty, but instead fond of the little fellow, and wish him well, and hope that trains make that comeback they so richly deserve, and put the automobile back in its place.

Why, some of us may even make a mental note to ourselves that if we ever travel to Russia, we must go and visit the Narrow-Gauge Railway Museum in Pereslavl where, for all I know, working at the museum or living in the city of that museum, the one  that contains old parovozy, steam engines, and displays exhibits devoted to celebrated choo-choos and kukushki, may perhaps be relatives of Nicolai Cikovsky and, come to think of it, of Wolfgang Born too -- both of them examples of immigrants who, true refugees, from Nazis and from Communists, were uncomplicatedly loyal to this country, and though they did not do it for that reason,  in becoming gifted and learned students and connnoisseurs of American art, expressed their gratitude, year-round and not just on July 4, to this country and to what counts the most in preserving the liberty that attracted to this country its best and most deserving immigrants, that is, the Constitution composed by some political geniuses in Philadelphia whose like, alas, has not been seen again.  

Posted on 07/04/2008 1:40 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 4 July 2008
A Musical Interlude: A Good Man Is Hard To Find (Bessie Smith)
Posted on 07/04/2008 2:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 4 July 2008
The Little House
Posted on 07/04/2008 3:09 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 4 July 2008
A Disney Interlude: The Little House (narrated by Sterling Holloway)
Posted on 07/04/2008 3:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 4 July 2008
Two schoolboys were allegedly disciplined after refusing to kneel down and "pray to Allah" during a religious education lesson.
Two schoolboys were allegedly disciplined after refusing to kneel down and "pray to Allah" during a religious education lesson.
It was claimed that the boys, from a year seven class of 11 and 12-year-olds, were given detention after refusing to take part in a practical demonstration of how Allah is worshipped.
Yesterday parents accused the school of breaching their human rights by forcing them to take part in the exercise.
One, Sharon Luinen, said: "This isn't right, it's taking things too far. I understand that they have to learn about other religions. I can live with that but it is taking it a step too far to be punished because they wouldn't join in Muslim prayer.
"Making them pray to Allah, who isn't who they worship, is wrong and what got me is that they were told they were being disrespectful."
Another parent Karen Williams, 38, whose 12-year-old daughter is a classmate of the boys, said: "I am absolutely furious my daughter was made to take part in it and I don't find it acceptable.
"The teacher had gone into the class and made them watch a short film and then said 'we are now going out to pray to Allah'.
"Then two boys got detention and all the other children missed their refreshments' break."
The alleged incident, at the Alsager school, one of Cheshire's top performing schools, happened on Tuesday afternoon. The teacher, Alison Phillips, the school's subject leader in RE, is understood to be staying away from the school until the furore dies down, although she has not been suspended.
She is said to have got prayer mats out of the cupboard and also asked children to wear Islamic headdresses.
Deputy headmaster Keith Plant said: "I have spoken to the teacher and she has articulately given me her version of events."
Sources at the school said the incident could have been down to Miss Phillips instigating a role play and not properly briefing the pupils, all aged around 12, what she was doing.
A spokesman for Cheshire County Council said they were investigating. He added: "The headteacher contacted the authority immediately complaints were received. Enquiries are being made into the circumstances as a matter of urgency and all parents will be informed accordingly.
If this short film demonstrating orthopraxic Islamic prayer drill is the one that my child watched recently then it stands alone as a piece of information and there is no need for any practical exercise afterwards. I am impressed that the children have the courage of their convictions to protest at something they saw to be inappropriate.
We have not heard the teacher’s version but what on earth can have been in her mind? Performing salat is not in quite the same league as playing with a dreidel during Hannukah or eating a hot cross bun.  
Posted on 07/04/2008 3:40 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 4 July 2008
Obama's Mystery Birth Certificate

Yesterday, there was an interesting post at Israel Insider questioning whether Daily Kos had been involved in forging the Barack Obama birth certificate Kos posted a few months ago when questions started circulating about where Obama was actually born. A similar looking certificate is now posted at Obama's "Fight The Smears" site. If he was born outside the United States, he would not be eligible to run for President despite one parent (his mother) having been a citizen.

Ares Demertzis sends in the latest on this controversy also from Israel Insider.

A senior official in the State of Hawaii's Department of Health, Director of Communications Janice Okubo, confirms that the image published and circulated by the Obama campaign as his "birth certificate" lacks the necessary embossed seal and signature. Backing away from a quote attributed to her that the image on the campaign site was "valid," she told the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times in an article published yesterday: "I don't know that it's possible for us to even say beyond a doubt what the image on the site represents."

Barack Obama has claimed in writing to have a valid printed document: In the first chapter of his book Dreams From My Father, describing his origins, he wrote about finding a local Hawaiian newspaper article about his Kenyan father: "I discovered this article, folded away among my birth certificate and old vaccination forms, when I was in high school." ...

Amy Hollyfield of the St. Petersburg Times, and a reporter for the paper's "Politifact" blog, said that she has been seeking the birth certificate "for months." She was frustrated: "Hawaii birth certificates aren't public record. Only family members can request copies, so when the campaign declined to give us one, we were stalled."  ...

Hollyfield brings up other issues that her readers raised, although she does not address them or explain them [bracketed comments from Israel Insider]:

  • Where is the embossed seal and the registrar's signature? [Required for validity]
  • Comparing it to other Hawaii birth certificates, the color shade is different.
  • Isn't the date stamp bleeding through [in reverse] the back of the document [image] "June [6] 2007?" (Odd since it was supposedly released in June 2008.)
  • There's no crease from being folded and mailed. [Hawaii requires printing and mailing, according to Okubo. Electronic images are never released, she assured us, nor are they valid.]

Here is the image of the Obama birth certificate released to the public:

Here is a real one scanned:

Posted on 07/04/2008 5:27 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 4 July 2008
To Boldly Go...

The hugely successful Voyager spacecraft – fine products of American know-how – are still sending information back to Earth over thirty years after they were first launched. In this article can be found some preliminary details of Voyager 2’s latest achievement.


The beginning of the transition zone between the heliosphere (the solar wind bubble) and the rest of interstellar space is known as the 'termination shock'. Scientists report that Voyager 2 crossed this boundary closer to the sun than expected, suggesting that the heliosphere in this region is pushed inward, closer to the sun, by an interstellar magnetic field. These findings help build up a picture of how the sun interacts with the surrounding interstellar medium.


Voyager 1 is already well into the Heliosheath and has sent back much interesting data, but to have this data confirmed by Voyager 2 is invaluable. Some further background information on the Voyagers can be found in this older article.


Considering that the scientists, engineers and technologists reckoned that these craft when they were launched might only last five years, their continued existence and usefulness is all the more remarkable. If we’re lucky, very, very lucky, one or both will cross the heliopause into interstellar space and send back to us the first real data (as opposed to theory) about conditions in interstellar space.


For me, this is nail-biting stuff. I’m willing them on. They’ve got to make it! If mankind ever makes it into interstellar space our safety there on that first trip will, in no small measure, depend upon the data sets sent back to us by these tiny probes launched in 1977 by the USA to carry out an entirely different task from that now entrusted to them.


This really is science at the cutting edge. So, this fourth of July raise a glass to these two little American probes as they continue their voyages into the unknown, into the history books, and, as they massively extend human knowledge of the Universe in which we live, realise that this is tremendously exciting and wonderful – literally wonderful.

Posted on 07/04/2008 7:36 PM by John Joyce
Friday, 4 July 2008
Azzam Tamimi At The Islam Expo In London

Islam Expo in London has, as part of its Outreach, a course called "Understanding Political Islam." The course is described thus:  

"A two-day specialist course organised by British Muslim Initiative and supported by Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, Conflicts Forum, Demos, Forward Thinking and The Cordoba Foundation.

Although much attention has been directed to the violent and radical forms of Islamism -particularly since the 9/11 terrorist attacks-, its more peaceful, mainstream manifestations continue to be largely overlooked."

One of the main participants is Azzam Tamimi, friend and collaborator of John Esposito, frequent guest on the BBC, and also a supporter, and possibly a member, of Hamas.

Here is a sample of Azzam Tamimi in his "peaceful, mainstream manifestation":

Posted on 07/04/2008 7:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 4 July 2008
A Musical Interlude: I Surrender, Dear (Ambrose Orch., voc. Sam Browne)
Posted on 07/04/2008 10:07 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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