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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 Monday, 7, 2009.
Monday, 7 December 2009
A Little More On Zakir Naik, Whose Video Below You By Now Have Watched In Horrified Fascination

From a Muslim website: 


About Dr. Zakir Naik


A medical doctor by professional training, Dr. Zakir Naik is renowned as a dynamic international orator on Islam and Comparative Religion. Dr. Zakir Naik clarifies Islamic viewpoints and clears misconceptions about Islam, using the Qur'an, authentic Hadith and other religious Scriptures as a basis, in conjunction with reason, logic and scientific facts.

Dr. Zakir is popular for his critical analysis and convincing answers to challenging questions posed by audiences after his public talks. In the last 6 years (by the year 2002, Dr. Zakir Naik has delivered more than 600 public talks in the U.S.A., Canada, U.K., Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, South Africa, Mauritius, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Guyana (South America) and many other countries, in addition to numerous public talks in India.

He has successfully participated in several symposia and dialogues with prominent personalities of other faiths. His public dialogue with Dr. William Campbell (of USA), on the topic, “The Qur’an and the Bible in the light of Science” held in city of Chicago, U.S.A., on April 1, 2000 was a resounding success.

Sheikh Ahmed Deedat, the world famous orator on Islam and Comparative Religion, who had called Dr. Zakir, "Deedat plus" in 1994, presented a plaque in May 2000 awarded to Dr. Zakir Abdul-Karim Naik for his achievement in the field of Da'wah and the study of Comparative Religion with the engraving "Son what you have done in 4 years had taken me 40 years to accomplish, Alhamdulillah."

Dr. Zakir Naik appears regularly on many international T.V. Channels in more than 100 countries of the world. He is regularly invited for T.V. and Radio interviews. More than a hundred of his talks, dialogues, debates and symposia are available on video cassettes, video CDs and audio cassettes. He has authored books on Islam and Comparative Religion.


His Contact Info:

Dr. Zakir Abdul-Karim Naik
President, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF)
56/58 Tandel Street (North), Dongri, Mumbai - 400 009 (India)
Tel: (0091-22) 23736875 (8 lines). Fax: (0091-22) 23730689

Posted on 12/07/2009 12:12 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 7 December 2009
Minaretting madness

Hands up who remembers the Wombles? Mike Batt and the inestimable Chris Spedding on guitar?
Who remembers their 1974 hit Minuetto Allegretto, based on Mozarts Symphony No 41?
Womble to your partners, young Wombles were told, If you minuetto allegretto, you will live to be old.
I want to change the words.
If we minaretto allegretto we will live to regret it.
This is the latest news this morning from
the East London Advertiser.

WORK begins this week on erecting a giant 90ft ‘iconic’ steel tower next to a mosque in the middle of the Brick Lane conservation area in London’s East End.
The structure which will resemble the shape of a minaret is being erected inches from the wall of the Jamaal mosque, a converted former synagogue founded originally as an 18th century Huguenot church, after planning permission was given by Tower Hamlets council.
Council Leader Lutfur Rahman visited the site last week when the base was completed, where he met Muslim community leaders.
The steel structure will dominate the skyline of the Georgian conservation area around Spitalfields, the historic Huguenot weaving district, and is being billed by the Town Hall as “a new iconic East End landmark.”
 . . . paid for by £8.6 million ‘planning gain’ cash from the nearby Bishops Square development on the ‘City Fringe’ near Liverpool Street station.
“It’s important developers give something back to the community,” said Cllr Rahman.

The claw back is the largest payment ever received by a local authority from a developer (it is indeed a mighty development a stones throw from Liverpool Street Station) and will be used elsewhere in Tower Hamlets including a new building for the Osmani Youth Centre,
Sorry but if it is shaped like a minaret, is built next to a Mosque, at the instigation of the local Muslims, and is intended to dominate the skyline then its a minaret. Built with money paid over for public use. A minaret. When the local library service is under pressure such that the borough nearly lost the East End History collection. When the borough has the highest proportion of children receiving free school meals in London, it is that poor. Public money is spent on a minaret for the mosque.
Look at the faces in the picture left. The smug men at the front and the nervous looking chaps (engineers, council employees?) pushed to the back.

Switzerland voted to ban the
building of minarets after 4 towers appeared in the whole of the country.
One in four Swedes would be in favour of a ban in Sweden where there are only 5 mosques with 6 minarets.
In Denmark the countries first two purpose designated mosques are not yet finished.
I forgot this, until reminded by JW that(currently and rising daily) 77% of Londoners would like to see the end of minarets, not to mention the mosques under them.  
In East London, just a quick look through my photo collection of where I have been in the last year, with camera handy and time to spare I can point you to 8 minarets on 4 mosques.  There are more. This doesn't include elsewhere in east london, the rest of London (Regents Park springs to mind, and Harrow) Yorkshire, Lancashire, Birmingham, Luton . . .
Cllr Rahman may intend his minaret to 'dominate' the skyline but thankfully the Hawksmoor built Christ Church Spitalfields (left) has been saved by a fantastic restoration effort and its tower and spire remain at 202 ft.
I tell you now, you won't beat that.
Below, a sample of other minarets of East London. From left to right.
One of the two minarets of Lea Bridge Road Mosque Leyton. The scud missile of Queens Road Mosque Walthamstow. The Suleymaniye Mosque Kingsland Road Shoreditch. Three minarets of the East London Mosque Whitechapel, where other work is in progress.

The first photograph is from the East London Advertiser - the others by E Weatherwax. 

Posted on 12/07/2009 1:53 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 7 December 2009
Remembering the Wombles

For those of you who don't remember the real litterpicking Wombles (of Wimbledon Common are we) , the 70s band they spawned (I have posted short clips before), or who remember the period but didn't get the programme where you lived this is TOTP from October 1974.
It could be anybody dancing in costume on that occasion - there were appearances where Mike Batt and Chris Spedding, real musicians, were actually attempting to play under the fluff.

Come on Chaps! One, two, three.

Posted on 12/07/2009 3:48 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 7 December 2009
Cliché corner

"The dustbin of history" is a clapped-out cliché. But where should we put it?

Posted on 12/07/2009 8:08 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 7 December 2009
A Musical Interlude: Remember My Forgotten Man (Joan Blondell)

Watch, and listen, here.

Posted on 12/07/2009 8:23 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 7 December 2009
Three Cheers for Ugly Brits

Caitlin Moran in The Times on how beautiful people all look the same:

Are you ugly? Are you, though? Perhaps not ragingly munty, but just a bit . . . wonky? Disappointing. A pretty mouth, maybe — pillowy, billowy, clever — but with eyes a bit like pigeon? Beautiful colouring — brown-eyed, Titian-haired — but with the kind of over-quilted nose that makes people want to squeeze it, shouting “honk!”? Or do you have one of those chins that looks like it’s eroding, into the pounding North Sea of your neck?

Either way, the good news is: you’re British! So you’ll fit right in. Hardly anyone will notice your sub-standard face or unsatisfactory profile, because this is one of the ugliest countries in the world!

That’s according to dating website , anyway — who, last week, reported that they have to refuse more membership applications from Britain than anywhere else in the world. Out of 295,000 hopeful attempts from the UK last year, only 35,000 were deemed to meet beautifulpeople’s pulchritude criteria. A mere one in eight men, and three in twenty women, were granted entry — the last being particularly shocking, given the amazing lies women can tell with the application of make-up, hairpieces, Spanx, Wonderbras, and the amazing pheromone spray you can get from the small-ads in the back of Viz.

Obviously, on reading about, I immediately tried to join the service myself. For who would not want to find out if they are actually, clinically attractive — as judged by face-looking-at professionals?

Alas, however — I spent the subsequent hour futzing around the site, wholly failing to understand how to open an account. Clearly this was quite dispiriting, as I’d kind of presumed beautifulpeople. com would be run, and used, by the kind of lunk-headed jocks and cheerleaders I have superciliously looked down upon all my life, while reading books of 400 pages or more. Discovering that I was too thick to use a website designed for the kind of people witless and un-self-analytical enough to refer to themselves as “the beautiful people” was a sobering moment. Chances are, the website I need is called

So who is getting on I’ll tell you — it’s the Scandis. 65 per cent of Swedish men, and 76 per cent of Swedish women, who applied to the site were accepted. Either way you slice it, this is dispiriting news for us. Either our Scandinavian cousins are genetically vastly hotter than us, or they have a far lower proportion of really ugly people deluded enough to apply to Whatever the truth, we don’t come out looking so good.

Or do we? You know what — just as we constantly debate whether we should opt into the European economic model, and give up sovereignty of the pound, so I think we need to debate whether we will opt into the European appearance model, and give up sovereignty of our faces. Actually it’s not just the European model, but the Western model: all that tanning, symmetricality, Tippex teeth and blonde hair — that I’m still childish enough to refer to as “yellow hair.”

I can’t be the only person who finds that Duncan from Blue/Kelly Brook kind of thing . . . meh. I don’t want to sound racist about incredibly attractive people, but they all look the same to me. My gaze just slides off their faces, and seeks out something more interesting and nuanced — such as a pile of magazines, or an air-vent. If anyone with that kind of beauty committed a murder, and I was the only witness to them fleeing the scene, I would be hopeless during the photofit.

“He looked like, I dunno, some people off Beverley Hills 90210, or out of Westlife or something. His eyes were in the usual place. His chin was totally standard. I don’t know!”

The best kind of faces are, clearly, the rarer ones. The unusual ones. The kind you’d have immense problems whittling from a lump of wood. Something quite lavish, with lots of details. Insanely baroque mouths. Eyes with heavy lids, or that disappear completely when you smile. Scars are good. Wonky bits. An “Indiana Jones’s hat” face — something that’s been whisked out from beneath the wheels of a truck at the last minute on several occasions, in the course of a great night out. Or shot at by mad locals. Faces that appear to have 5,000 moving parts, all going off in different directions at the same time. I’ve never understood why people patronisingly sympathise with those who “don’t take a good picture — but have a certain something when they get animated.” Surely it’s more impressive to be beautiful for 24 frames per second, than one frame a minute? That’s just ... face value, right there.

Caitlin Moran would have the advantage over me when picking out a murder suspect. My memory for faces, ugly or beautiful, is practically non-existent. I have a good memory for names, though. My mother, on the other hand, has an excellent memory for faces, but is hopeless with names. And it isn't as if pooling our resources would make either of us any better: "Which Betty?" "Ugly who?"

Posted on 12/07/2009 8:27 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 7 December 2009
Mustafa Akyol Becomes Hysterical, Nazi-Invoking, Over The Swiss Vote

Mustafa Akyol is one of those self-styled "reformers" of Islam, helping to lull Westerners, and possibly himself too, with the dreamy idea that any day now, despite all the failed attempts over the past 1400 years, Islam can somehow be changed so that it will be able to co-exist with other faiths without dominating them, and forcing the adherents of those faiths into positions of permanent humiliation, degradation, and physical insecurity. Akyol has had a good run among the softer minds in the West, who are always looking for signs of such Bright Young Muslim Reformers, never asking themselves how this "reform" is to be achieved or, even more important, how changes in the texts of Islam could possiby be accepted by the billion mostly very primitive people who believe in Islam.

Akyol likes to appropriate terms from Christianity. Thus, in describing his own project, of somehow convincing the world's Muslims to ignore the Hadith and Sira (and thus, presumably, to greatly diiminish the role of Muhammad -- an impossible task, but not for "reformer" Miustafa Akyol) -- and to stick on ly with the Qur'an, Mustafa Akyol calls this the wya of "sola scriptura," for all the world depicting himself as a Calvin or Zwingli on the Euxine Sea.

But when attacked, he becomes hysterically defensive -- about Islam, and about himself. You can find examples of how quickly he collapses, and the facade of sweet reason crumbles, by googling around. I think one or two of these exchanges may have been -- I can't remember -- with me.

And his reaction to the Swiss vote on minarets is instructive. LIke Dr. Zakir Naik, and so many other Muslims, he cannot understand why the minaret, a symbol of Muslim o'ertopping aggression, should be banned, why indeed any non-Muslims believe they have a right to interfere with, to contain or constrain, the symbols of Muslim aggression or, still worse, perhaps think they are justified in being alarmed about Islam and wish to constrain it, and its myrmidons, and bezonians, still further. He talks of "racism" when he knows perfectly well that Islam is an ideology, not a race, and his attempt to confuse the matter by talking about Turkish "racism" against Kurds as similar to the "racism" displayed against Muslims in Switzerland, when he should be talking about the position of non-Muslims, and churches, in the Musliim world. Mustafa Akyol avoids the obvioius, and he might, just might, be listened to with something other than complete disgust if, for example, he had chosen to demand, over these past years, that  the Hagia Sophia be made a working church again, as the hint of a glint of a campaign to make Turkey open to Christianity, the historic faith that was well-established in Anatolia before Islam arrived, and to show other Muslims the way of "tolerance" that Mustafa Akyol shows himself concerned about only when it comes to o'erweening minarets in the Oberland.

His article cuts right to the chase: the rhetorical  chase of the Third Reich. It is no longer the Swiss, you see, but "the Aryans" -- the Swiss as Nazis -- who banned the minaret. For only Nazis or their sympathizers could do such a thing, in the view, or the rhetoric, of Mustafa Akyol.

Take a look: 

Aryan supremacy reigns supreme in Switzerland


You must have heard that the open-minded people of Switzerland took to the polls last weekend to ban minarets – in a country where there are only four of them.

These days, the global news is full of stories and commentaries about this apparently democratic, yet shockingly illiberal decision. But if you really want to understand the undercurrents that led the majority of the Swiss society to this unbelievable point, I would suggest watching a 1940 film, “Der Ewige Jude.”

This was an anti-Semitic “documentary” produced by Fritz Hippler, who, under Joseph Goebbels, ran the film department in the Propaganda Ministry of the Third Reich. The 62-minute film, whose title means “The Eternal Jew,” was made to convince its German audience that Jews were dangerous creatures who, simply by their existence, threatened the civilized society of the Aryan peoples.

Aryan aesthetics

Aesthetics was at the basis of the “Der Ewige Jude” argument. The movie presented extended scenes about life in Polish ghettos, focusing on the long hair, beards, skull caps and caftans of Orthodox Jews. Contrasting these Eastern-looking people with the blond, blue-eyed and heavily muscled German athletes, the film argued that there is a fundamental gap of values between the two.

“The Nordic concept of beauty,” it said, “is completely incomprehensible to the Jew.” The latter, according to the script, were “dirty” people who enjoyed living in “bug-infested homes.”

To further emphasize the argument of incivility, the film also focused on the Jewish religious practice of kosher slaughtering, in which animals are bled to death. “Their so-called religion prevents the Jews from eating meat butchered in the ordinary way,” the narrator noted, remarking on how dreadfully different this was from the “well-known German love of animals.”

“Der Ewige Jude” was not speaking without “evidence.” It “proved” all its arguments with carefully selected facts. When it argued, for example, that Jews are compelled by their “so-called religion” to hate and conspire against non-Jews, the film quoted a few passages from the Jewish scriptures that indeed said harsh things about the gentiles.

Finally, the film focused on current events of the era. It told how Jews were multiplying rapidly among the Aryan peoples, polluting their clean living spaces. “They spread from Eastern Europe like an irresistible tide,” it warned, “flooding the towns and nations of Europe.”

That was the year 1940. And we all know what tragically happened in the next five years.

Now, if you want to understand why all this Nazi madness is relevant to today, you just need to replace the word “Jew” in the paragraphs above with the word “Muslim.” You will get a narrative very similar to that told by the nascent anti-Islamic movement in Europe, including the Swiss People’s Party, the main champion of the recent minaret ban.

Of course, this parallelism has its limits. First, I should note that I do not, by any means, foresee a “Muslim Holocaust” coming. Probably no European nation will ever go that insane again, at least in the foreseeable future. Moreover, there are differences between the sources of the anti-Judaism of the early 20th century and the anti-Islamism of today.

The Jews had become the focus of Nazi hatred simply because of the latter’s vicious ideology. In the current hatred against Muslims, though, one has to acknowledge the part played by the reaction to some of the nasty stuff done in the name of Islam: terrorism perpetrated or inspired by Al-Qaeda, violent protests against satirical cartoons, the repression of women in some Muslim communities, etc., etc.

Yet, still, one needs the contribution of racism and xenophobia to move on from these serious problems among Muslims to go against Islam as such, and against all of its believers. The overwhelming majority of Europe’s Muslims are in fact peaceful and law-abiding people who are just trying to make ends meet. Banning the very symbol of their place of worship means telling them: “Hey, in our eyes, you are all dangerous. Your mere existence here is our problem.”

Yet another Semitic people to hate

I know this mindless paranoia well, because we have a similar problem in Turkey with the Turkish racists. They despise the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, for its indeed despicable acts of terrorism. But then they channel their reaction toward all Kurds, not really looking at whether they really support the PKK or not, and moreover, not asking why those who support the PKK do so.

“The problem,” their motto reads, “is simply the Kurds themselves.”

Turkish racism is ugly, to be sure, but so is the Swiss one. The core problem in the latter belief, as I said, renders down to the old idea of Aryan supremacy – the idea that European Nordic people, and their “civilized” way of life, are inherently superior to those of the Eastern Semites, who are “polluting” it.

In other words, anti-Semitism, an aptly coined term, continues. In 1940, the hated Semites were the Orthodox Jews whose darker skins, strange food, “dirty” beards, skull caps and long caftans were enough to make them deplorable to the Nazis.

In 2009, apparently, the hated Semites are now the Orthodox Muslims, whose darker skins, strange food, “dirty” beards, skull caps, long caftans, and, as a novelty, headscarves and chadors, are the problem.

Just too bad to be true."


Yes, of course. The Arabs like to say, idiotically, "we can't be antisemitic because we, you see, are 'Semites" too." And that ridiculous argument is now taken up by Mustafa Akyol. Now it is not only Arabs, but all Muslims, who are "Semites" -- that is, are Jews, are suffering as the Jews did. How true. Banning four minarets in Switzerland, that are symbols of Muslim power and aggression (and they are purely symbolic, they are not used, nor needed, for the Call to Prayer). is practically Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec.

That an "advanced" Muslim, one who has travelled and lived in the West, has received every benefit from the West -- didn't Daniel Pipes champion Akyol for a while,  in his attempts to continue to reach out, work with, and no doubt help obtain financial support for collaborative projects with,  "Muslim reformers"? -- one who grew up in the comparative mental freedom (because of Kemalism) of Turkey, should quickly become so hysterical, is telling.

Posted on 12/07/2009 9:34 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 7 December 2009
CAIR Issues 2009 Hate Crimes Report

Even though it is clear that the Emperor has no clothes, CAIR continues on as if no one notices. From the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report:

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has issued its 2009 annual report on hate crimes, once again using a new category to report an increase in incidents. According to the CAIR announcement:

An annual report released today by a prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization shows an increase in the total number of bias-related incidents, but a decrease in anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2008. The report by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), titled “Seeking Full Inclusion,” offers a summary of incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination and harassment reported to the group during the 2008 calendar year. It also examines the use of Islamophobic rhetoric in the 2008 presidential election and highlights a number of issues of concern to the American Muslim community, including watch lists, surveillance of mosques and new FBI guidelines that allow religious and ethnic profiling. “In 2008, Muslims continued to face barriers to their full and equal participation in American society. Certain individuals and institutions persisted in profiting by smearing Islam. American Muslims continued to fear profiling, surveillance and undue scrutiny by law enforcement and other authorities.” CAIR and its affiliate chapters nationwide processed a total of 2,728 incidents in 2008. That figure represents a three percent increase in reported cases from 2007 (2,652 reports) and an 11 percent increase over cases reported in 2006 (2,467 reports). It is the highest number of civil rights cases ever recorded in CAIR’s annual report. (Note: The higher number of cases is due in part to inclusion of a new category of cases related to mailed, faxed and e-mailed threats and hate messages.) According to CAIR’s study:

-The occurrence of reported civil rights complaints increased at mosques and Muslim organizations, rising from 564 cases in 2007 to 721 cases in 2008. This represents a 28 percent increase from 2007 to 2008.

-There were 118 reported cases of discrimination in schools in 2007 and 153 in 2008 — a 31 percent increase.

-Anti-Muslim hate crime complaints fell by 14 percent in 2008, decreasing from 135 total complaints in 2007 to 116 in 2008.

“The decline in reported hate crimes leads to cautious optimism, while the reported increase in incidents at Muslim institutions and at schools reminds us that continued vigilance and stepped-up community outreach efforts are necessary,” said CAIR Legislative Director Corey Saylor, one of the report’s authors. Saylor said the report also offers recommendations for action by the Obama administration, Congress and American Muslim institutions. The Obama administration is asked to 1) review and revise guidelines issued by then Attorney General Mukasey in late 2008 that allow racial and religious profiling, 2) to reduce the size of the watch lists, and 3) to implement effective means by which travelers who believe they have been profiled may seek redress. President Obama is also asked to visit an American mosque. CAIR is recommending that Congress pass the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) and the Fair, Accurate, Secure, and Timely Redress Act of 2009 (FAST Redress Act of 2009), and not offer a “legitimizing platform” to anti-Muslim bigots.

CAIR last year issued a similar caveat when it released its 2007 annual civil rights report when it first added the new category.

There are reasons to distrust any such work done by CAIR who in the past has manipulated hate crime statistics for its own political purposes, wildly exaggerated the U.S. Muslim population, and has been accused of playing fast and loose with other mosque surveys. Documents released in the Holy Land Trial have revealed that the founders and current leaders of CAIR were part of the Palestine Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as identifying the organization itself as being part of the U.S. Brotherhood. A recent post discussed an interview with the Deputy leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in which he confirms a relationship between his organization and CAIR. Investigative research posted on GMBDR had determined that CAIR had it origins in the U.S. Hamas infrastructure and CAIR and it leaders have a long history of defending almost all individuals accused of terrorism by the U.S. government, frequently call such prosecutions a “war on Islam.”

U.S. Brotherhood organizations have frequently claimed that U.S. Muslims are the victims of organized campaigns of hate and discrimination. However In 2007, the last year for which FBI statistics are available, 133 hate crimes against Muslims were reported, a drop of 23 . Hate crimes against Jews were recorded at 1010 (increase of 43) and 135 against Catholics/Protestants in that year.

For full CAIR hate crimes report, go here

Posted on 12/07/2009 2:55 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 7 December 2009
Cautiously Pessmistic On Copenhagen

Scientists: Dim Outlook for Climate Summit

As world leaders gear up for what is being billed as an historic climate meeting in Copenhagen, scientists offer a grimmer outlook on the outcome that is supposed to replace the last major global climate deal, drawn up in 1997.

"I don't have high hopes," said Josefino Comiso, a senior scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "But I hope that the participants could get to a good plan on how to minimize greenhouse gas emissions."

Comiso told LiveScience that more research is needed to convince the public and "climate skeptics" that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming. Other scientists say the United States needs to take more of a leadership role.

In addition, the climate-change problem is complex and deeply rooted in multiple sectors, including the economy and its push for consumption along with population growth, according to one climate scientist, who also thinks human nature and our love of material goods could need a fix.

"We need to change our mind frame - our values," said Rasmus Benestad of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. "Perhaps quality time, love, family values, friendship and respect are preferable to material goods and status? Or maybe we humans are too vain. In this problem, I think we are seeing the worst of ourselves in the mirror. We see power struggle and corruption."

Still hope

Even with these drawbacks, including the monumental need to change human nature, Comiso and others see this meeting as a step in the right direction.

"I am personally hopeful that the upcoming summit can result in agreement on a framework to guide further negotiation and decision-making," said Peter Backlund of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo. "I don't think it likely that the summit will result in an agreement that legally binds nations to specific emission reduction goals."

The results could just set the stage for next year, establishing "a strong process so that a binding treaty can be achieved in COP 16," said Kevin Trenberth of NCAR. (The Copenhagen meeting, also known as COP 15, is the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.)

In fact, the 11-day talks in Copenhagen have already upped the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in 1997 (though didn't go into effect until 2005). The United States, India and China will be at the table this time.

That's big, scientists say.

"With key countries like the U.S., China and India declining to participate because of the requirements, there was no way such a protocol would work," Comiso said, referring to the Kyoto Protocol.

While both China and India have ratified Kyoto, neither country is subject to emissions limits under the terms of the treaty, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the United States never signed the agreement.

But is increased participation this time around enough?

"Not really, because I do not see too many of the brave and intelligent leaders. Barack Obama - although perhaps promising - is not enough," Benestad said. "The climate issue is so complex and has tentacles into so many different issues."

Act locally

For those who believe actions speak louder than words, a key to curbing climate change would be for the United States to make real strides in cutting emissions domestically.

"In the case of the U.S., I believe that domestic legislation on targets and timetables for emission reductions must be agreed and enacted before the U.S. can agree to a legally binding international agreement," Backlund said.

Some of those changes are easier said than done, however.

"I think that in principle there are technological and infrastructure fixes to the problem," Benestad said, citing one example as TGIF (Thank God It's Friday). Four-day workweeks have been shown to result in less energy use. "But the problem is deeply rooted in how our economy works, based on ever-increasing consumption (an irrational concept), he said. "It's also closely related to the human population growth on Earth, and common justice."

Too many people

More than 6.8 billion people breathe in the air and otherwise consume resources across the globe. That number is projected to hit 9 billion by 2043.

"Population is a major issue and not being addressed," NCAR's Trenberth said. "China and India talk about the disparity in emissions per capita. They are correct but it is total emissions that count."

China's coal-related carbon dioxide emissions are projected to reach 9.3 billion metric tons - or 52 percent of the world's total - by 2030. India's emissions are projected to reach 7 percent of the world's total that same year, with the United States expected to come in at 14 percent of the world's total by 2030, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The technology fix

Perhaps the back-and-forth between politicians is just that, some figure.

"My view is that the problem is more likely to be solved by technological innovation than by the political process, not that they are entirely independent, since, for example, politicians can decide to promote innovation," said Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric science at MIT.

One idea off the bat is nuclear energy, Emanuel said in an e-mail interview.

"The solution to the problem is greatly retarded by the lack of scientific and technological awareness in certain societies, notably the U.S, where superstitions and political passions often trump sound reasoning," Emanuel said. "For example, we could make great strides toward energy independence and reduction of greenhouse emissions by undertaking a serious program of nuclear energy, which can easily supply our energy needs for 100 years. This, coupled with innovation in electric vehicles, would solve much of the problem."

But even if we were to stop emitting greenhouse gases all together, many of their effects would still emerge, say many scientists. And for that, adapting to such an environment is necessary.

"I am also pleased to see the increased attention being paid to adaptation," Backlund said. "Commitments to help developing countries with adaptation funding would be very helpful, as would commitments by developed nations to increase funding for the research that is needed to support effective adaptation."

An example of adaptation would be building up beaches to prevent

sea level rise

from inundating low-lying

coastal areas

Posted on 12/07/2009 11:59 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 7 December 2009
Saudi grad student murders Professor at SUNY-Binghamton


Last Friday afternoon, a 46-year old Saudi graduate student Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani, entered the office of Professor Richard Antoun at SUNY-Binghamton, stabbing him fatally.  Al-Zaharani was arrested and is in Broome County Jail charged with second degree murder.  77 year old Professor Antoun was a Middle East Studies expert who had formally retired and been given emeritus status in 1999.   Was this brazen act by Al-Zahrani an expression of Inshallah- ‘the will of Allah?’  
Well, not according to the statements issued by SUNY-Binghamton President Lois De Fleur and New York Governor David Patterson given their comments in a WorldNetDaily report:
University President Lois DeFleur issued the following statement Friday: "This afternoon, in an act of senseless violence, the Binghamton University community lost one of its long-time faculty members. ... Our hearts go out to the Antoun family and we will provide them with as much assistance as we can in this time of sorrow."

New York Gov. David Paterson also released a statement about the victim: "He touched the lives of many students and was respected by his colleagues. Though he will be missed on campus, he will live on in his writing, his research and his students, whose lives he forever changed."

Antoun received a doctorate from Harvard in 1963 and joined the Binghamton faculty in the early 1970s. He was "a sociocultural anthropologist who has conducted research among peasants in Jordan, urbanites in Lebanon, peasant farmers in Iran and migrants in Texas and Greece," according to the university’s website. He retired in 1999 as professor emeritus.

"He dedicated his life to trying to understand the people of the Middle East," the professor's sister Linda Miller, of Holden, Mass., told the New York Times. "He never said an unkind word to anyone in his life.”Miller’s husband, the Rev. David J. Miller, said that Antoun had been married to his wife, Rosalyn, for 17 years and had a son, Nicholas, 40.
Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein drew our attention to possible evidence of moral blindness this time from the Broome County prosecutor:
Here is evidence of official denial. “Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen said in a statement that "there is no indication of religious or ethnic motivation." Mollen didn't know whether al-Zahrani had an attorney.

Mollen said al-Zahrani and the professor had "known each other for quite some time."
One possible motive might have been the denial of additional funding by SUNY-Binghamton for al-Zahrani’s continued doctoral studies.
Was al-Zahrani simply following Allah’s will last Friday?  No one in officialdom, the fourth estate or among the participants gathered at Temple Israel in Vestal, New York yesterday at an interfaith dialogue in which the late Professor Antoun was scheduled to participate, wanted to address that issue.
Mohammed Asghar, a co-founder of Former Muslims United had this disturbing view of what the attack at SUNY-Binghamton could foretell:
Muslims believe, and it is a fact, that if you want to weaken a nation, eliminate its intellectuals, professors, scientists and prominent citizens and that nation would fall victim to its enemy after a certain period of time.
Pakistan had used this tactic in the then East Pakistan in 1971. Its army gathered many of the professors of the Dhaka University, which was then known as the "Cambridge of the East," and killed all of them. As a result of that carnage, Bangladesh has not only strayed from the path of nation building, it is still struggling to find a "real" leader to take it out of the abyss it is in today.
Muslims would continue to kill our professors and intellectuals to further their cause of spreading Islam all over the world. You should expect to hear or read about more murders in days to come.
This afternoon in a recorded segment for an anti-Jihadist weekly presentation, on Orlando radio station WEUS, my colleagues, Bob Allen and Vito Esposito and I discussed the SUNY-Binghamton murder as the latest in a skein of possible Jihadi attacks. Those include the killing of an Army recruiter at a mall in Arkansas last June, Major Nidal’s mass shooting at Fort Hood last month and now this murder of Professor Antoun. We remarked that the perpetrators, the Muslim convert in Arkansas, the American born devout Muslim Army psychiatrist and now the Saudi national graduate student at SUNY-Binghamton were all following the will of Allah-the imperative to commit Jihad against infidels.
In an email exchange, I noted, that in both the Fort Hood and SUNY Binghamton cases, the immediate response by officials was to say that the ‘real victim’ was the death of diversity and that religious motivation had not been established.
Whether al-Zahrani killed Professor Antoun out of frustration over of his lack of funding or he chose to engage in Jihad should be part of the Antoun murder investigation.

Posted on 12/07/2009 8:40 PM by Jerry Gordon
Monday, 7 December 2009
Marlene Dietrich - a fair Kopf, but what's all the Fuß about?

H/t Clark in the comments to my last Marlene Dietrich interlude.

Kopf. Fuß. Bis.
Kopf. Fuß. Bis.
Und so fort.
Und so weiter.

What is thiß that roareth thuß?
Can it be a motorbuß?

Posted on 12/07/2009 2:55 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 7 December 2009
Iranian police shoot at unarmed protesters during Tehran demonstrations

From The Telegraph
Iranian police fired tear gas and live bullets as they fought back thousands of unarmed protesters on the streets of Tehran.
There were bloody clashes as young people launched a fresh wave of anti-government protests on the country's official Students Day.
Police used warning shots, baton charges and gas but failed to stop rallies, sit-ins and campus marches across the capital.
Universities in several cities, including Tehran's top seats of learning, were sealed off as guards checked identity cards of people trying to join the student demonstrations.
Earlier in the day, the authorities detained 23 members of a protest group of grieving mothers. They included the mother of Neda Agha-Soltan, known as the "Angel of Freedom", who was shot by pro-government militia at the height of demonstrations against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election in June.
Hajar Rostami-Motlaq has enraged the authorities by condemning pro-government students who accused British agents of killing Miss Soltan.
She was later released but friends expressed concern for other members of the protest group, Mourning Mothers of Iran, who were rounded up at a weekly protest in Tehran's Laleh Park.
Television pictures showed hundreds of men and women gathering in front of Tehran university gates, pulling at the padlocked fence and making hand gestures of "V" for victory.
Images of the crowds taken on mobile phones were sent to the West despite attempts to suppress news of the demonstrations by confining the staff of foreign news organisations indoors.
"Security forces are beating demonstrators, men and women. Some of them are injured and bleeding," said one Tehran eyewitness.
"There's anxiety that there will be violence and shooting. I shout slogans and demonstrate but try not to provoke any clash with the security," said Kouhyar Goudarzi, a student. "We are worried."
Iranian students were commemorating three scholars who were killed by Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlavi's security forces on Dec 7, 1953, as they protested the sacking of nationalist prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh.

Posted on 12/07/2009 3:08 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 7 December 2009
Littman: Address to UNHRC on Slavery

David Littman was the recipient of the "Hero of Silence" Order from the Israeli government for his undercover work in getting 530 little Jewish children out of Morocco and into Israel in 1961.


UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL (2nd Session: 19 to 30 October 2009)
Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards
President: Ambassador Idriss Jazaïry (Algeria)
STATEMENT: Representative David G. LITTMAN – Tuesday (@ 5:15pm) 27 October 2009
People under foreign occupation, slavery, genocide, etc.
Proposals on the format and nature of possible complementary standards to be elaborated
(Summary drafted from notes used to deliver a 4th oral statement on 27 October)
         [documentation provided below in [ ] brackets & notes were not pronounced in the 2 minutes statement]
Transatlantic Slavery / Arab Slave Trade / Slavery Today
Thank you, Mr President.
We would like to react strongly to what we have just heard from a distinguished African delegate, praising highly the Durban Declaration as a unique text, and stating that Western countries should be reminded constantly of the trans-Atlantic slavery trade and should pay a heavy compensation for what they had done over centuries.
Yes, we should not hesitate to recognise and condemn the horrors that accompanied  transatlantic slavery, the Inquisition, imperialism, colonialism and much more too, but it is strange that there is never an attempt to acknowledge what happened elsewhere.
The African Union does not address the infamous Arab Slave Trade, which – as we stated at the Durban II Conference six months ago – was committed against Africans by their Arab conquerors for over a millennium, and this continues today in some countries, especially Sudan. And there was also mass slavery for centuries elsewhere – in the Middle East, and the Balkans by the Ottomans with the Janissaries, and the Barbary Corsairs.*
The African Union, the Arab League, OIC [Organization of the Islamic Conference] and the NAM [Non-Aligned Movement] prefer to ignore these horrors in Africa today in Congo, Sudan, and elsewhere. They stick together and remain ‘united’. We wish to state here again, as we have done over the years, that it is necessary to call a spade a spade and a slave a slave! For many years it was a taboo subject to refer to the slavery of Christians and animists in South Sudan – one was expected, by Sudan**, to refer to ‘abducted persons’ – and now slavery continues in Darfur with the worst form of atrocities, and elsewhere. Why should this subject remain taboo?
Thank you, Sir.
* Documented extensively in Arab, Syriac, Greek, Armenian, Turkish and Indian texts.
** The delegate of Sudan requested a ‘right of reply’ and condemned the speaker for provoking “an insidious discussion.” The president then asked all speakers not to focus on their vision and to accept the mandate of this body and adopt “a convenient approach” – as the Ad Hoc Committee had a specific exercise and “this is not a general debate.” He said that he did not wish to interrupt speakers. The president did not interrupt any speaker and NGOs spoke whenever they wished.
Posted on 12/07/2009 3:06 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 7 December 2009
Wafa Sultan Speaks To Ahavath Torah Congregation

This is Rabbi Jon Hausman's Synagogue in Stoughton Mass., where Hugh Fitzgerald and I spoke last summer.

Posted on 12/07/2009 3:34 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 7 December 2009
Olav Thon Gives A Lesson

From Camera:


Anti-Israel Boycott Proposal Costs NTNU Funded Professorship

Olav Thon.jpg
Former NTNU Donor Olav Thon

Anti-Israel activists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway, have cost the university the support of one of its most prominent donors, real estate and hotel magnate Olav Thon, who according to is worth $2 billion. Thon has given the university 300,000 ($52,500) annually for the past few years to support an adjunct professorship.

Not any more.

Two days before the university rejected a proposal to divest from Israel, Thon sent a letter to NTNU stating that while he expected the school to vote the proposal down, he was cutting off future donations to the university.

According to this report (based on a google translation of a Norwegian newspaper article), Thon was not interested in supporting an institution where politics takes precedence over good research.

The $52,000 Thon gave to the school annually may seem like a small amount, but according to this report, he is setting up a charitable foundation to disburse his fortune after his death. The question for the fundraisers at NTNU is whether Thon will relent and allow this foundation to donate to the school after his death, or will his judgement be final?

The lesson for anti-Israel activists? Next time, go play with your own money and future, not somebody else’s!

Posted on 12/07/2009 8:57 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 7 December 2009
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Okay Toots! (Eddie Cantor)

Watch, and listen, here.

Posted on 12/07/2009 10:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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