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



















These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 5, 2008.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Accused terrorist a Muslim 'barracker'

From The Australian
AN accused terrorist was simply being a "barracker" for overseas Muslims when he criticised the lack of support being shown for Islamic "brothers" fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, his defence lawyer said today.
Greg Barns also conceded that comments made by his client Ezzit Raad about the 2005 London bombings, including that there should have been more victims, were "callous and appalling".
Political passion such as that displayed by Mr Raad, 26, in secretly recorded conversations and tapped telephone calls sometimes lead to such "shocking" comments.
Mr Barns told the Victorian Supreme Court that Mr Raad was trying to encourage fellow Australian Muslims to take a more active interest in what was happening in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya rather than "recruit terrorists". He said if Mr Raad had been a terrorist himself, he would have been urging violent jihad in Australia during the secretly recorded conversations. But at no point did he offer to do anything or obtain explosives or weapons, Mr Barns said.
Mr Barns said the jury might find it shocking that Mr Raad watched videos of hostages in Iraq being beheaded, but this was common amongst young Muslim men in Australia. Which doesn’t make it either right or decent.
Mr Raad has pleaded not guilty to knowingly being a member of a terrorist organisation and attempting to provide funds to it.
The trial before Justice Bernard Bongirono continues.

Posted on 08/05/2008 3:09 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Secret deal kept British Army out of battle for Basra

From The Times
A secret deal between Britain and the notorious al-Mahdi militia prevented British Forces from coming to the aid of their US and Iraqi allies for nearly a week during the battle for Basra this year, The Times has learnt.
Four thousand British troops – including elements of the SAS and an entire mechanised brigade – watched from the sidelines for six days because of an “accommodation” with the Iranian-backed group, according to American and Iraqi officers who took part in the assault.
US advisers who accompanied the Iraqi forces into the fight were shocked to learn of the accommodation made last summer by British Intelligence and elements of al-Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shia Muslim cleric.
The deal, which aimed to encourage the Shia movement back into the political process and marginalise extremist factions, has dealt a huge blow to Britain’s reputation in Iraq.
Under its terms, no British soldier could enter Basra without the permission of Des Browne, the Defence Secretary. By the time he gave his approval, most of the fighting was over and the damage to Britain’s reputation had already been done.
Senior British defence sources told The Times that Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, who ordered the assault, and high-ranking US military officers had become disillusioned with the British as a result of their failure to act. Another confirmed that the deal, negotiated by British Intelligence, had been a costly mistake.
The Ministry of Defence has never confirmed that there was a deal with al-Mahdi Army, but one official denied that the delay in sending in troops was because of the arrangement agreed with the Shia militia. #Lieutenant-Colonel Chuck Western, a senior US Marine advising the Iraqi Army, told The Times: “I was not happy. Everybody just assumed that because this deal was cut nobody was going in. Cutting a deal with the bad guys is generally not a good idea.”

He emphasised, however, that he was not being critical of the British military, which he described as first-rate.
A senior British defence source agreed that the battle for Basra had been damaging to Britain’s reputation in Iraq. “Maliki, and the Americans, felt the British were morally impugned by the deal they had reached with the militia. The British were accused of trying to find the line of least resistance in dealing with the Shia militia,” said the source.
“You can accuse the Americans of many things, such as hamfistedness, but you can’t accuse them of not addressing a situation when it arises. While we had a strategy of evasion, the Americans just went in and addressed the problem.”
Another British official said that the deal was intended as an IRA-style reconciliation. “That is what we were trying to do but it did not work.”  Please, we are not dealing with the IRA anymore.
US officials knew of the discussions, which continued until March this year. They facilitated the peaceful exit of British troops from a palace compound in Basra last September in return for the release of a number of prisoners. The arrangement fell apart on March 25 when Mr al-Maliki ordered his surprise assault on Basra, catching both the Americans and British off-guard.
The Americans responded by flying in reinforcements, providing air cover and offering the logistical and other support needed for the Iraqis to win.
The MoD spokesman said that the operation was launched at such short notice that the only support that could be given in the first few days was air power – in the form of Tornado ground attack aircraft – and logistics.
As somebody said in the comments, Des Browne the Secretary of State for Defence (which is not one of the top ministries any more) also moonlights as Secretary of State for Scotland. Gordon Brown dislikes the armed forces; he couldn’t even get the name of one of his best regiments right a few weeks ago. He referred to the Second Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, as the “Second Parachute Regiment”. A Prime Minister should know these things. He should know that the Parachute Regiment is divided into 3 Battalions known in their short form as 1, 2 & 3 Para especially when that regiment is fighting overseas. To be so ignorant is to show contempt. A comment at the time was that with defence cuts each Battalion is doing the work of a regiment these days so in a way he was correct.
I am glad that so many of the comments from the US still commend British forces themselves, and appreciate that they are again Lions managed, leadership being dead in the Civil Service now, by donkeys. 

Posted on 08/05/2008 3:51 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Big jessie

Matthew Syed writes on the tearful resignation of Michael Vaughan, England’s cricket captain. Being a big girl’s blouse is all right for southerners, but not for a Yorkshireman, who shouldn't flinch, even when the ferret in his trousers starts to bite:

 

Getting in touch with your feminine side is all well and good, but let’s admit that it really works only in the right accent. We don’t mind a Leytonstone–born David Beckham figure, or a Devon-born Phil Vickery crying his eyes out: that is what is supposed to happen amid the cosmopolitanism and general emotional incontinence of the urban South….But can we please get a grip north of Watford? It simply doesn’t do for a Geordie such as Paul Gascoigne to lose it in public, as he did at the World Cup in 1990. What is being a northerner about if not having a stiff upper lip, a hatred of emotional exhibitionism and an all-round contempt for southern namby-pambies?

 

I’m not sure that the stiff upper lip begins to quiver as you pass Northampton. It's a generation gap rather than a Watford Gap: I am softer than my parents and grandparents because I have an easier life. Then again, even in their day there were softies living in the posher parts of Cheshire.  

Posted on 08/05/2008 6:15 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Phony friends

In the old days friends and family annoyed us by not writing. Now they can annoy us by not phoning, not emailing and not texting. Technology isolates and snubs as much as it connects. From The Times:

 

For a few days I thought I was going deaf. Then I concluded that it must be a problem with my mobile phone. Why else would I keep getting so many missed-call messages? Why else would frustrated callers keep leaving me voicemails and apologise for having missed me again?

Then I realised what was happening: I was the victim of the latest trend in Los Angeles: “antisocial networking”. In other words: people wanting to give the illusion of staying in touch - while going to great lengths to eliminate the risk of any actual interaction taking place.

It's a symptom, I like to think, of a maxed-out population. After MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and a zillion other ways of remaining interminably connected with everyone you've ever met since birth, people just can't take it any more. They want peace. They want isolation. They want time alone to break wind and feel depressed about the economy. And so the very same software engineers who once brought us closer are now working on new ways to keep us apart.

Hence all those missed-call messages. Turns out they're made possible by a service called Slydial, launched a week ago and already proving to be hugely popular. To make it work, you call a freephone number (it only works in the US), listen to an advertisement, then enter the digits of the person you don't want to reach. It puts you straight through to their voicemail while delivering a missed-call message to their phone, thus creating the illusion that you at least made the effort to have a conversation. As ingenious as this is, however, I can see problems. For example: I used the service on Sunday to return a call from a friend I didn't much feel like talking to. Five minutes later, I received a text message. “Hey, did you just Slydial me?” it said.

Slydial is a rather convoluted form of “antisocial networking”. I can’t imagine wanting somebody to think that I had called them when I hadn’t. However, I have made use of Call Return – if I’m busy or feeling anti-social, I sometimes let the answerphone take the call, and then, if nobody leaves a message, dial 1471 to see who has called.

 

When you dial 1471, it gives the number of the last person to call you, unless that person has withheld his number by dialling 141 – a pervert’s charter if ever there was one. You may then press 3 to return the call. A telephone version of Russian roulette is to dial 1471-3 all in one go. Then, inevitably, you get through to somebody you have been avoiding for good reason.

Posted on 08/05/2008 6:43 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Today in the "Religion of Peace™"

On this day, Aug. 5th, in 2005, Iranian negotiators rejected an offer from the European Union to provide nuclear technology in exchange for dropping their nuclear weapon program.

Previously, on Oct. 24, 2004, Iranian negotiators rejected an offer from the European Union to provide nuclear technology in exchange for dropping their nuclear weapon program.
 
Subsequently, on July 31, 2006, Iranian negotiators rejected an offer from the G-6 to provide nuclear technology in exchange for dropping their nuclear weapon program.
 
And yesterday, on Aug. 4th, 2008, Iranian negotiators rejected an offer from the G-6 to provide nuclear technology in exchange for dropping their nuclear program. In response, Condoleezza Rice said that the U.S. would "begin again to prepare sanctions resolutions for the (U.N.) Security Council", surely a terrifying notion for the Iranians.
 
Since 1997, when Mohamed ElBaradei, an Egyptian Muslim, took over as director of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the IAEA has found no proof of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. The IAEA under Mohamed ElBaradei also found no proof of Pakistani nuclear weapons proliferation.

 

 
Previous Days in the "Religion of Peace™":
Posted on 08/05/2008 6:47 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Mullah Krekar takes Norway to the European Court of Human Rights

This is from Monsters and Critics. The only other English language report is in the Arab Times. Aftenposten has not yet got the story on their English language page, but their report is here in Norwegian.
In November 2007, Norway's Supreme Court ordered Mullah Krekar's deportation to Iraq
for national security reasons after he was found to have links with the Islamic Ansar al-Islam organization, the reports said.
Krekar was Tuesday quoted in Oslo daily Verdens Gang as saying he wants the Strasbourg
-based court to assess if he had been subjected to inhumane treatment or not.
He said felt he was in 'internal exile' and has been denied the opportunity to work, study or be part of society. 'I have no rights, no work permit and no right to medical help,' he said.
His lawyer Brynjar Meling said Krekar had no passport
or freedom of movement.
He also noted that Krekar may risk the death penalty or torture if deported to Iraq. 'For nearly six years, my client has not been able to work, travel, or even pick up a package at the post office or open a bank account since he lacks any form of identification papers,' said Meling.  Because of this, Krekar's wife has been forced to support him, he added.
Meling maintains that Norway has violated three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights: Article 3 banning 'inhuman or degrading treatment,' Article 8 demanding respect for 'private and family life,' and Arcticle 13 providing the right to defend one's human rights before a national court.
Krekar was granted asylum
in Norway in 1991, but in February 2003 was ordered to leave for violating his refugee terms and his alleged links to Ansar al-Islam.
The US considers Ansar al-Islam to be an ally of the al-Qaeda terrorist network. The initial deportation order was not been carried out due to the security situation in Iraq.
It was not yet clear Tuesday whether the European Court of Human Rights
would consider Krekar's case.
Every time I see a picture of him I hear “Ra, ra, Rasputin, lover of the Russian Queen . . .etc”

Posted on 08/05/2008 6:51 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
A Musical Interlude: Bend Down, Sister (Leo Reisman Orch. & voc.)
Posted on 08/05/2008 7:22 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Lest You Think We Worry Unduly, Take A Look
Posted on 08/05/2008 8:42 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
US Revokes Visas for Gaza Fulbright Students

Several weeks ago we posted on the efforts by Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) to get the State Department to screen the so-called Gaza Fulbright Scholars that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had demanded Israel release them to come to visiting scholar programs here in the US. The effort was splashed over the front pages of mainstream media like the New York Times and on cable TV news stories. Today, Arutz Sheva Israel National News has this report indicating that four of the Gaza Fulbrights had their visas revoked and turned back. Doubtless,  they were rejected because of connections to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups.  We will bet that this story is 'buried in the Times" if it appears at all.  So Bravo to Rep. Mark Kirk for taking the leadership on this effort, forcing the State Department and DHS to do the right thing and prevent four of these Gaza Fulbrights with terrorist backgrounds  from entering the US.
 

(IsraelNN.com) The United States has revoked the visas of three Fulbright scholars from Gaza who received them in the face of Israeli resistance.

Visas for the three Hamas Authority scholars, as well as a fourth who was planning to go to the US under a different program, were revoked last week after “additional information” was received, according to State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos.

One of the four students was already in Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C. when the decision was reached, forcing him to board another plane back to Jordan without ever having left Dulles Airport.

The Visiting Fulbright Scholar Program is funded by the U.S. Government and awards grants to foreign scholars to come to the United States to lecture or conduct postdoctoral research. Nearly 800 scholars come annually for an academic year or term.

Security Concerns
The three were part of an original group of seven who were blocked by the Israeli government from leaving Gaza to travel to Jerusalem for interviews with US officials in May. At the time Israel cited security concerns.

“We decided that we needed to take a closer and harder look at them,” said Gallegos, adding that the revocation “does not preclude the applicants from reapplying for visas in the future.”

The State Department spokesman would not discuss the nature of the information that had prompted US officials to revoke the PA scholars’ visas after having gone to so much trouble to issue them...

Posted on 08/05/2008 9:01 AM by Jerry Gordon
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Solzhenitsyn - not a bundle of laughs

So farewell, then
Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Or is it
Alexandr? I can't
Say Alexandr, though. Anyway
What was your
Catch phrase?

© E. J. Throbb, aged 17¾

He didn't really have one.

I read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich when I was about fifteen. Shortly afterwards, I read Primo Levi's account of life in Auschwitz,  If This Is A Man. Morally they are equivalent; indeed Solzhenitsyn's was braver, given the circumstances under which he wrote it. It is very good that he wrote it. But Levi's book is much better written. As Andrew O'Hagan puts it in today's Telegraph:

Being outraged, and being right, and being a brave witness, are not the same things as being a good writer, and Solzhenitsyn's writing fails to outlive its subject.

As Rebecca says, he was no Tolstoy, but he seems, in his denunciation of the West, to have some of Tolstoy's preachiness. Andrew Cusack:

Giving the 1978 Commencement Address at Harvard University, Alexander Solzhenitsyn delivered a sharp and stunning rebuke to the modern West, repudiating its liberalism, materialism, and supremacism.

“There is this belief,” Solzhenitsyn said, “that all those other worlds are only being temporarily prevented by wicked governments or by heavy crises or by their own barbarity or incomprehension from taking the way of Western pluralistic democracy and from adopting the Western way of life. Countries are judged on the merit of their progress in this direction. However, it is a conception which developed out of Western incomprehension of the essence of other worlds, out of the mistake of measuring them all with a Western yardstick. The real picture of our planet’s development is quite different.”

I disagree. Non-Western countries should indeed be measured with a Western yardstick, and, in the main, they should be found wanting. The mistake we should not make, particularly in dealing with the Islamic world, is to imagine that they think as we do. Perhaps this is what Solzhenitsyn means - it is at best unclear.

Someone who has taken refuge in the West, and found recognition and comfort there, is as entitled to denounce it as anyone else. He is, literally,  free to do so. Someone fleeing the West for the Islamic or Communist world would probably not be so free - I say "probably" because such a flight has yet to take place. However justified some of his criticisms, Solzhenitsyn was biting the hand that fed him. "A plague on both your houses," rings a little hollow when one of the houses was a Gulag.

Posted on 08/05/2008 9:26 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Those Gazan Arabs, Those Fulbrights Denied

The story of the American rejection of the four Gazan Arabs who wish to eneter the United States for Fulbrights  -- like the story about the original rejection of the seven Gazan Arab recipients of Fulbrights --  that was previously splashed all over the front page of The Times -- has not, as predicted in the piece, been  buried. What has been  buried is not the story but one of the most important elements in the story: that is, the reason, the obvious reason, why these particular four are of such concern to Israel, which has repeatedly shown itself altogether too understanding and sympathetic to Gazan Arabs, and "West Bank" Arabs, who even if they may differ as to timing and tactics (the difference between the Slow Jihad of Fatah and the Fast Jihad of Hamas), do not differ one whit on the ultimate goal: the disappearance of the Infidel nation-state of Israel, which they regard as a permanent offense to Islam.

There will be no hint of what it might be, what it could possibly be, this "new evidence" that Israel presented to the Americans, but clearly if the Israelis did so, they feel strongly about this. And why should the United States not honor these well-founded worries of a loyal, and permanently imperilled, ally. And what about the fields of study of these particular four -- has anyone chosen to note that they are not intending to study the history of art, or Elizabethan literature, but subjects where the knowledge acquired can be dangerous to Israel.

What would we think if, say, the Germans awarded fellowships in nuclear science to members of Al Qaeda? What would  the British think if the same Germans awarded, oh, von Humboldt Fellowships to those who, in Pakistan, were allied with those responsible for the bombings in London?  Would Americans, would British people, think that Germany was showing remarkable and indeed, intolerable indifference  to, not merely our  sensibilities, but to our safety?
 
And in all the front-page stories that The Times has devoted to a handful of Fulbright winners, One Big Thing has been missing, has not been mentioned at all. Do you know what that is? It is that in 2003,   in Gaza, Gazan Arabs murdered three American officials who had come to Gaza providing security for others who had come to vet candidates, among the Gazan Arabs,  for Fulbright fellowships. The story was not only in The Times, but was written by John Burns, one of its most important reporters. Those who have been writing about the "Fulbright Deniers" ever since surely know all about that previous Times story which can be googled by putting in the words "Gaza" "Fulbright" and "killings." The killers are known. They have never been picked up, much less punished, for the murder of those Americans. Given that, there are many Americans who not only think no Fulbrights should be awarded, now, to any Gazan or "West Bank" Arabs, but to any Arabs and Muslims who support, directly or indirectly, those murders, and who also stand in the way of the punishing of the murderers. And the State Department, and Condoleezza Rice, whose departure one waits for as impatiently as one waits for the departure of Olmert, seems to have forgotten those murders, seems not to know how the American government should be reacting to the failure to pick up the murderers and to charge, and then to punish them.
 
She disgusts, of course. But so, perhaps even more, does The Times which has devoted so much attention, and lavished so much sympathy, and expressed such anguish, about those it enjoys calling "Fulbright scholars" but who bear a distinct resemblance, in their beliefs and attitudes and fields of study, and what they might do with the knowledge they acquire, once they return to the Middle East (or, come to think of it, what they might do in the Western world), of such people as A. Q. Khan, and the Iraqi Sunni women who studied in England, the ones known as "Dr. Anthrax" and "Dr. Germs," or like Ms. Siddiqui, once a student at Brandeis and MIT, who took the scientific training she had so generously and innocently been given, and returned to Pakistan, and then went on to Afghanistan where, just the other day, she attempted to murder some American soldiers as they approached her.
 
Write to The Times. Ask why the reporters and editors, despite all the attention they have given the story, have continued to forget to mention those Americans who had come to interview applicants for those Fulbright fellowships in Gaza, and were murdered.
Posted on 08/05/2008 11:25 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Pseudsday Tuesday

I don't know much about art; in fact I scarcely know what I like, although I have a pretty good idea what I don't like. I have two rules for paintings: either their subject must be recognisable, or they must have lively colours. I can't think of any painting I like that breaks these rules.

The Times has a weekly series for people like me: Modern Art Explained. Today's painting is Conjugal Life by Roger de la Fresnaye:

Recognisable? Pretty much. Lively colours? Yes, very. I like it. In fact I'd go as far as to say:

Cubism can have a hard, analytical austerity. But the aristocratic painter Roger de la Fresnaye experimented  with more lyrical aspects of this modernist aesthetic. He turned its broken glass panes into patterns of bright colour. In this painting, the harmony of rich tones evokes a sense of the marital relationship it depicts. Man and woman lean together: counterpoints of dark and light amid the interwoven shapes of their shared world of possessions. The style may be modern, but the subject matter is traditional. Cubism’s fractured geometries become as decorative as the patterns in a kaleidoscope.

Surprisingly enough, I didn't write the above paragraph. Those are the words of Rachel Campbell-Johnson, The Times art critic. But I think it is what I would have said if I had any idea what I was talking about.  As I don't feel at all confident in my judgement, I was relieved to have "got it right".

But have I got it right? Is this a painting one is "supposed" to like? Readers' responses varied:

Clearly "Section d'Or", but more decorative, less structural than most, with prismatic colours a la Delauney. A pleasant work if not a great one...

 This debate is exactly why I love art, semiotics constructs our reading of the image, regardless of whether what we take from this painting is what the artist intended, it is the fact of the act of obtaining that 'something' which is far more important. 

The woman is a model who,even in repose, is balancing books on her head.

 My favourite response is from a Jeremy Stapleton. Notice the bathos in his last sentence:

It seems that the subjects are both homoerotic males surrounded by block male colours. Forget the golden Rabellasian hair - their noses are penile, the shadow on the nude is beard-like, and only a renegade breast adds a touch of the feminine to this louche, dissolute scene. These are men with problems and they aren't sure what they can do about them.

It takes one to know one.

Posted on 08/05/2008 12:59 PM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Those Fulbright-Related Murders By Gazan Arabs Still At Large

October 16, 2003

3 Americans Slain in Blast In Gaza Strip

 
By JOHN F. BURNS
 
A powerful remote-controlled bomb detonated beneath an American diplomatic convoy in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, killing three American security specialists assigned to the American Embassy by a private military contractor and wounding an American diplomat. The bombing was the first fatal attack on an official American target since the current Palestinian uprising began three years ago.
 
The explosion shortly after 10 a.m. hit one of three armored Chevrolet Suburbans carrying American diplomats and a security detail to Gaza City for meetings with Palestinian candidates seeking Fulbright scholarships for graduate studies in the United States.
 
The bomb was buried in a part of the road where asphalt had been worn away, and the first journalists at the site said they had seen gray wiring with an on-off switch that ran about 200 feet to an abandoned concrete building. The Jerusalem Post later cited Israeli security officials as saying the bomb had contained at least 150 pounds of explosive and had been detonated by a cellphone.
Roadside bombs have often been used by Palestinian militant groups on Israeli targets. But American officials said the tactic had been used only once before on Americans, in Gaza in June, with no injuries.
 
Palestinian leaders and militant groups were swift to disavow any connection with the bombing, and were clearly concerned that it would serve to alienate Americans from Palestinians. The United States and senior European Union and United Nations officials demanded that the Palestinians do more to crack down on violent militants.
 
An American official, given anonymity, said the bombing might indicate that Americans were now targets. The United States Embassy urged Americans to leave the Gaza Strip, and an F.B.I. team was sent to investigate the bombing.
 
In decades of conflict, attacks on American officials in Israel and the Palestinian territories have been almost unknown, notwithstanding Palestinian militants' anger at American support for Israel.
The bombing on Wednesday showed every mark of a carefully planned operation. The vehicles had traveled only three miles into Gaza, near the entrance to the sprawling Palestinian refugee camp of Jabaliya at the intersection of the communities of Beit Hanun and Beit Lahiya, when the blast occurred.
 
From the wreckage, it appeared that the explosion had occurred directly beneath the driver's seat of the second of three American vehicles, ripping off the engine, as well as the front axle and wheels. The blast, which left a crater about 15 feet wide and 5 feet deep, threw the vehicle into the air and cast it to the ground upside down, in a tangle of crumpled steel. Debris, blood and human tissue were spread over a wide area, with the bodies of one of the Americans thrown nearly 40 feet away, according to witnesses at the scene.
 
The Americans who were killed were identified by the State Department as John Branchizio, 37, from Texas; Mark Parson, 31, from New York State; and John Martin Linde, 30, from Missouri. The three men were employees of DynCorp, a Virginia-based defense contracting company, who were assigned to the American Embassy in Tel Aviv. The men were traveling in the same car as the wounded diplomat, who was not identified. The diplomat was taken to the Soproka University Medical Center in Beer Sheva, where hospital officials said he was in stable condition after surgery.
 
In a conflict that has killed more than 800 Israelis and nearly 2,500 Palestinians, the attack on the Americans prompted widespread condemnation.
 
But at the site, angry young Palestinians raised cries of 'Allah u Akbar!' or God is Great, and stoned a team of American investigators and later some Western reporters.
Palestinian officials also reacted with anger, if for a different reason.
 
'I strongly condemn this awful crime which targeted American observers who came on a mission of peace and security,' Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, said from his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah. The new Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed Qurei, who has spent much of the last 10 days in a deadlock with Mr. Arafat over powers to crack down on militants, also condemned the attack.
 
In a telephone conversation with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Mr. Qurei said he had offered Palestinian condolences and cooperation in hunting down the bombers. The Palestinian news agency, Wafa, said Mr. Powell had insisted 'on the need for the Palestinian authority to do everything in its power to put an end to terrorism.'
 
The main Islamic militant groups that have staged suicide bombings and roadside explosions against Israelis were quick to deny responsibility for this bombing, and to reaffirm that they had no intention of widening attacks to include non-Israelis.
 
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have claimed responsibility for bombing Israelis in a similar way in the past.
A Hamas leader from the West Bank town of Nablus, Sheik Adnan Assfour, said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press that Hamas had not attacked foreigners 'because our battle is waged solely against the Zionist enemy.' An Islamic Jihad spokesman, Nafez Nazzam, said his group 'has no intention to extend a cycle of confrontation with any nation.' He added, 'Our battle is with the occupiers only.'
 
Israel was quick to point a finger at Mr. Arafat, whom it has threatened to 'remove' for his failure to uproot the militant groups. An adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Zalman Shoval, said the prospect now might be for more attacks on Americans. 'Once this sort of Rubicon has been crossed, we may see more of it,' he said.
 
One clue pointing to a deliberate attack on the Americans was that the vehicles in the convoy, gray-painted Suburbans with heavy steel armor, are widely recognized as the standard American Embassy transport here. Similar vehicles carrying Americans are seen several times a week. Although the vehicles bear no American flags, they carry black-on-white license plates with the number '22,' signifying the United States.
 
Few places in Gaza are considered more prone to Palestinian attacks than the road south from Erez, the Israeli crossing point where the Americans, minutes earlier, had lingered with other travelers in an air-conditioned building while their passports and other documents were checked. Littered with uncleared garbage, the road has been rutted by the treads of Israeli tanks. To either side, there are Israeli watchtowers, and the wreckage of buildings destroyed by the Israelis in crackdowns on suspected militants.
 
The area is a metaphor for the desperation of the Gaza Strip, where nearly a million Palestinians are bottled up in poverty by Israeli checkpoints and barriers thrown around Jewish settlements. Anger has crested to new heights in the last week in the wake of an Israeli crackdown in Rafah, a refugee camp on the Egyptian border south of Gaza City where hundreds of families have been left homeless after their houses were destroyed by Israeli troops searching for gun-smuggling tunnels.
 
At the site of the bombing, feelings ran high. Before the crowd began stoning foreigners, Jihad Salim, a young man in a white T-shirt, said many Palestinians would feel little sympathy for the United States. 'America has to pay for its foreign policy, which is against Muslims,' he said.
 
Posted on 08/05/2008 11:44 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Resistence Will Only Make Things Worse, You See

As predicted, the OIC is running interference in the UN against the International Criminal Court to prevent the prosecution of Sudan's Bashir. AFP:

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Islamic countries urged the UN Security Council on Monday to stall any move by the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Ministers from member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference "urged the UN Security Council to suspend indefinitely the move by the (ICC) prosecutor directed against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir," they said in a statement after a meeting at OIC headquarters in the Saudi city of Jeddah.

They decided that the OIC "should coordinate its efforts with the African Union, the League of Arab States, the Non-Aligned Movement and other political groupings to support steps in the UN and elsewhere aimed at defusing this dangerous situation."

The call echoed appeals by the African Union and the Arab League for the Security Council to defer any move against Beshir for a year amid warnings it risks stoking further unrest in conflict-ridden Sudan.

If you try to resist jihad, it will only get worse - the standard veiled threat.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo last month requested an arrest warrant be issued against al-Bashir over suspicions that he was involved in war crimes in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

If approved, it would be the first arrest warrant issued by the world tribunal against a sitting head of state.

South Africa and Libya asked the UN Security Council last week to use its powers to delay any action against al-Bashir for 12 months but the UN has said it would be wrong to do anything that might bring into question the independence of the ICC.

The ICC prosecutor accuses al-Bashir of personally instructing his forces to annihilate three non-Arab ethnic groups in Darfur and of masterminding murder, torture, pillage and the use of rape to commit genocide...

Posted on 08/05/2008 2:17 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Iraq's Oil Surplus Skyrockets

In March, Iraq's projected surplus was $60 billion. Just how long, before the long-suffering American Taxpayer says enough!? Stories like this do more to help Obama's campaign than anything else. McCain seems sublimely unconcerned with the amount of money America is pouring into Iraq, with no prospect for recovering any of it, despite these huge surpluses. Why should they spend their money when we are continuing to spend ours on them? James Glanz writes in New Duranty:

The soaring price of oil will leave the Iraqi government with a cumulative budget surplus of as much as $79 billion by year’s end an American federal oversight agency has concluded in an analysis released on Tuesday.

The unspent windfall, which covers surpluses from oil sales from 2005 through 2008, appears likely to put an uncomfortable new focus on the approximately $48 billion in American taxpayer money devoted to rebuilding Iraq since the American-led invasion.

Over all, the report from the Government Accountability Office estimates, Iraqi oil revenue from 2005 through the end of this year will amount to at least $156 billion. And in an odd financial twist, large amounts of the surplus money is sitting in an American bank in New York — nearly $10 billion at the end of 2007, with more expected this year, when the accountability office estimates a skyrocketing surplus...

Posted on 08/05/2008 2:37 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Ibn Warraq Interviewed On Shire Network News

Brian of New York writes:

Our guest is author and activist Ibn Warraq, who has been writing and speaking against Jihadi Islam for decades. His work on what the Koran really says, and what the core of Islam is really about is the kind of writing and thinking that Islam's phobia of self criticism makes impossible from within Islam.

He's the author of many books, such as Why I am Not A Muslim and editor of The Origins of the Koran, The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, What the Koran Really Says, and Leaving Islam.

His latest work is "Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism".

Posted on 08/05/2008 4:01 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Muslim bride 'beaten every day by husband and mother-in-law' after being flown from Pakistan for arranged marriage

From the Daily Mail
A young Muslim bride was constantly beaten and treated like a slave after arriving in Britain from Pakistan following an arranged marriage, a court heard.
Sania Bibi, 20, was allegedly forced to work 17-hour days as she cooked, cleaned and washed clothes for her husband Haroon Akhtar's family.
St Albans Crown Court heard Mrs Bibi had not seen her husband in person before their wedding in northern Punjab on April 1, 2006.
Akhtar allegedly returned to the UK two weeks later without having consummated the marriage and his mother Zafia Bibi, 49, and father Ali Akhtar, 55, followed, taking jewellery their daughter-in-law had been given at the wedding.
Mrs Bibi  -  who claimed not to have seen the jewellery since  -  travelled to Britain on September 7, 2006, and went to live with them in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.
But she said on her arrival she discovered her husband's two brothers, older sister and her three young children were also living in the house.
Her clothes and shoes were confiscated and she was given pyjamas as work clothes.
She was allowed to change into normal clothes only when guests came. She also claimed she was never allowed to have money and was banned from answering the door or using the phone.
Mrs Bibi told the court on Monday that she and her husband had sex for the first three days following her arrival.
But this stopped suddenly and she was moved into a box room where she slept on a sofa. Within days, she alleged, she had been put to work for the entire family.
'(My husband) said he had brought me here as a servant to work,' she said. 'He said, "You are not good enough for me" and he would get married a second time and he would have children through his second marriage and I would have to take care of these children.'
The court heard the first beating happened a week after her arrival.

The jury was told the beatings happened every day, usually before her husband went to his job in IT and on his return.
Once, Zafia Bibi allegedly became angry that the housework had not been done properly and called her son, who attacked his wife in the bathroom before throwing her down the stairs.
Mrs Bibi said she confided in relatives during a visit to Blackburn, but they told her: 'Now that you are married you have to stay there and it is family honour. You belong to that family. You no longer belong to us.'
Haroon Akhtar denies five charges of causing actual bodily harm. He and his mother deny putting a person in fear of violence between September 1, 2006, and January 9, 2007.
Zafia Bibi and Ali Akhtar deny theft of Sania Bibi's jewellery. The case continues. Domestic violence occurs in all cultures. I have come across a very few cases like this one where the mother-in-law (although not the father-in-law) is as handy with her fists as her son. But it think it is only in Muslim families where the battered wife’s own relatives refuse to take her back “because she is no longer their property”. 

Posted on 08/05/2008 4:10 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
MasterCard Creates an Islamic Debit Card

From Business Week.
MasterCard Worldwide and EonCap Islamic Bank (a member of Malaysia's Eon Bank Group) have jointly launched what they are billing as the world's first Islamic debit MasterCard—the EonCap Islamic Debit MasterCard.
The EonCap Islamic Debit MasterCard is basically a debit card with ATM functions as well. It also works on PayPass systems, which enables a person to swipe it on a terminal without the card leaving the cardholder's hand. It is referred to as blending traditional purchasing power with modern technology and is Shari'ah compliant.
According to the comment the patronage of the OIC member countries is big support to the scheme.

Posted on 08/05/2008 4:29 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Re: Islamic debit card

From the Business Week article linked in Esmerelda's post:

The EonCap Islamic Debit MasterCard is basically a debit card with ATM functions as well. It also works on PayPass systems, which enables a person to swipe it on a terminal without the card leaving the cardholder's hand. It is referred to as blending traditional purchasing power with modern technology and is Shari'ah compliant.

"It is designed to appeal to both Muslim and non-Muslim individuals who prefer better financial control as the card ensures that purchases are automatically deducted from the cardholder's account and approved only if enough funds exist within the account. It helps track spending, comes with worldwide acceptance at more than 26 million locations and can be used at an ATM for e-banking," says Fozia Amanulla, chief executive officer of Eoncap Islamic Bank.

This is no different from my Barclays Connect card, a Visa debit and ATM card, which takes money out of my bank account immediately without charging interest. The Barclays Connect card has been around for twenty years. As it happens, it is Sharia compliant - unlike "Islamic insurance" and "Islamic bonds" - but so is my cat.

There is nothing specifically Islamic about this debit card. This is a mere marketing ploy. Islam is a brand.

Posted on 08/05/2008 4:47 PM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Two Dozy Bints

(h/t Mary for the term "dozy bint")

Whatever happened to needlework, mah jong, or high tea? These octogenarians from very different backgrounds share a common passion for wasting their precious few remaining years.
From the Qatar Gulf Times:
 
"82-year-old grandmum memorises the Qur'an"
 
An interview with Umm Saalih, a grandmother who memorised the entire Qur'an at the age of 82.  As Read by Dr. Saleh as Saleh

Q1: What was the reason that drove you to memorise the Qur'an after so many years?
A:
I always hoped to memorise the Qur'an from the time I was young. My father always used to invoke Allah for me to become one of the memorisers of the Qur'an, like himself and like the elder brothers of my family who memorised it. So I memorised in the beginning about three parts and then after I completed the age of 13, I got married and became busy with the household and the children. After I had seven children, my husband died. They (the children) were all young so I took the time to raise them and educate them, and then after they grew up and got married, I had more time for myself. Therefore, the first thing I directed myself to focus upon was the Qur'an.
[…]
 
Married at 13, seven children, widowed soon after. Allahu Akbar!
 
Q3: Tell me about your way of memorisation.
A:
We (Umm Saalih and her school-going daughter) assigned 10 verses target daily. So each day after Asr, we used to sit together. She read and I repeated after her three times. Then she explained the meaning to me, and after a while, she repeated that three times. The next morning, she repeated them to me before she went to school. She recorded also the recitations of Ash-Shaykh al-Husary, Rahimuhullaah, repeating each verse three times and thus I continued to listen most of the time. Therefore, the next day we would go to the next 10 verses if my memorisation was good. Otherwise, we would postpone taking additional verses until the day after. Moreover, we assigned the day of Friday to review the memorisations of the entire week. And this was how the journey began.
Over four and a half years, I memorized 12 juz according to the way I described to you. Then this young daughter got married. When her husband knew of our task concerning the memorisation, he rented a house close to my house, so that he could allow the continuation of the memorisation. […]
 
Believe it or not, the interview, and her description of how she memorized a book does not get any more interesting than this. It is interesting though that her daughter bothered to explain the meaning of the verses to her mother, since Allah does not require the Believer to understand the meaning of the words they are memorizing; for non-Arabic speakers, Allah is just as pleased if they memorize a sequence of meaningless sounds in a foreign language.
 
Moving on, the bint behind door #2 is Holocaust (*) survivor and self-hater, Hedy Epstein.
 
(*) [The Holocaust suffered by Jews when they were killed by the millions in Nazi Germany, not the "holocaust" suffered by "Palestinians" when Israel refused to release a few terrorist prisoners from jail to receive Fulbright scholarships at the behest of Condi Rice.]
 
Also from the Qatar Gulf Times:
 
"Activists fear sabotage of Gaza boat mission"
 
NICOSIA: Activists hoping to break the blockade of the poverty-stricken Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip from the sea said yesterday they fear Israel may try to sabotage the venture.
Two boats carrying 40 activists are set to sail from Cyprus 370km to the north in a bid to break the siege, but organisers are keeping the logistics to themselves for security reasons.
"We have a fear that Israel will do something here to sabotage the trip," Greta Berlin, a spokeswoman for the US-based Free Gaza Movement, told reporters in Cyprus.
[…]
 
Are the "Palestinian territories" poverty-stricken? Even after the approximately $1 billion in foreign aid that is dumped in there every year? Or is it a case of uneven distribution of wealth, where Suha Arafat is forced to eke by on a mere $22 million per year, while others survive on even less?
 
The activists are determined to raise awareness about Gaza's plight.
"That's what goes with the territory of non-violent resistance - it means a willingness to be put in harm's way," said 57-year-old Israeli Jeff Halper.
"The fact that ordinary people have to get on two boats is an indictment of the international community."
Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but tightened the noose on the territory after the Hamas takeover.
The activists, mostly American and British, include Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein who will celebrate her 84th birthday either at sea or in Gaza.
"I hope to go to Gaza – there is no reason why not. Whether Israel will let it happen is another question," she said.
[…]
 
Believe it or not, the "logic" behind this publicity stunt doesn't get any more logical than this. While Umm Saalih spends her golden years destroying her own brain by memorizing the hateful Qur'an, Hedy Epstein goes her one better, spending her time enabling the destruction of an entire nation.
Posted on 08/05/2008 6:12 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
A Musical Interlude: Goodnight, Sweetheart (Russ Columbo)
Posted on 08/05/2008 9:47 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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