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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Real Nature of Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
As Far As The Eye Can See
by Moshe Dann
Threats of Pain and Ruin
by Theodore Dalrymple
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
















Saturday, 20 December 2014
France: Police Shoot Dead Man Who Attacked Officers
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From Sky News

Police have shot dead a man who stabbed three officers in a police station in central France. The 20-year-old reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" ("God is greatest" in Arabic) as he carried out the attack in Joue-les-Tours, near the city of Tours, on Saturday.

He ran into the station and pulled out a knife and stabbed three officers who tried to calm him down, Le Figaro newspaper said. He wounded a female police officer, injuring her cheek and ear, and then stabbed two other officers.

A police officer pulled out a gun and shot him twice, killing him instantly, the newspaper reported.

The Burundi-born man had a criminal record and was known for his "radical Islamic views", Le Figaro said. Anti-terror investigators are probing the incident, a source told AFP news agency.

The source said the man "shouted 'Allahu Akbar' from the moment he entered until his last breath".

He was not on any terror watch lists run by France's main domestic intelligence service, the General Directorate for Internal Security. But the source said his brother was known to security agencies for his radical beliefs and had at one point planned to travel to Syria.

"The investigation is leading towards an attack on police forces on radical Islamist motives," another source told AFP.

A police spokesman said the three officers are in a stable condition.

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Posted on 12/20/2014 1:44 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 20 December 2014
Do Drug Trials Often Fail to Reveal the Harmful Side Effects They Discover?
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The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: that is what one swears to tell in a court of law. One lies there and then. It is a noble ideal that one swears to, but one that in practice is impossible to live up to. Not only is the truth rarely pure and never simple, as Oscar Wilde said, but it is never whole, even in the most rigorous of scientific papers.

Not that scientific papers are often as rigorous as they could or should be. This is especially so in trials of drugs or procedures, the kind of investigation that is said to be the gold standard of modern medical evidence.

Considering how every doctor learns that the most fundamental principle of medical ethics is primum non nocere, first do no harm, it is strange how little interest doctors often take in the harms that their treatment does. Psychologically, this is not difficult to understand: every doctors wants to think he is doing good, and therefore has a powerful motive for disregarding or underestimating the harm that he does. But in addition, trials of drugs or procedures often fail to mention the harms caused by the drug or procedure that they uncover.

This is the royal road to over-treatment: it encourages doctors to be overoptimistic on their patients’ behalf. It also skews or makes impossible so-called informed consent: for if the harms are unknown even to the doctor, how can he inform the patient of them? The doctor becomes more a propagandist than informant, and the patient cannot give his informed consent because such consent involves weighing up a known against an unknown.

A paper in a recent edition of the British Medical Journal examined a large series of papers to see whether they had fully reported adverse events caused by the drug or procedure under trial. It found that, even where a specific harm was anticipated and looked for, the reporting was inadequate in the great majority of cases.

But in fact the reality was probably worse than this: for many of the harms done by drugs or procedures are not anticipated, not inquired after and therefore not recorded. Moreover, most (though not all) trials last only a short time, and the drugs or procedures may have long-term ill effects that short-term follow-up by definition cannot reveal. Many side effects of drugs do not manifest themselves until years after prescription and become obvious only in retrospect; indeed, they may never be acknowledged, because no one has ever looked for them.

The same edition of the journal points to two other problems with informed consent, to say nothing of proper treatment. The first is that the way doctors give information can affect a patient’s decision, because words have connotations as well as denotations. To say that 90 percent of people survive an operation is implicitly to recommend it; to say that 10 percent of people die after it is implicitly to advise against it.

Another problem is that trials of drugs that are supposed to be double blind – neither the patient nor the investigator knowing who is an experimental subject and who a control – are often less blind than is supposed, leading to bias in the results. For example, in trials of statins against placebo, the investigator may notice that a patient’s low density lipoprotein may have fallen, guess that he is taking statin rather than placebo, and hence minimize his complaints. He may also inadvertently communicate his guess to the patient. The benefits of statins will then be overestimated.

Accentuate the positive, underplay the negative. At least it’s good for business, if not for the patients.

First published in PJ Media.

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Posted on 12/20/2014 1:43 PM by Theodore Dalrymple
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Saturday, 20 December 2014
A Musical Interlude: Old Man Time (Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Durante)
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Listen, here, to their Mutability Canto.

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Posted on 12/20/2014 9:03 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 20 December 2014
Houthis Against Al-Qaeda In Yemen -- Each Is Worse Than The Other
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And if you were a woman, and not brainwashed by Islam, which side would you want to prevail?

Story here.

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Posted on 12/20/2014 8:45 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 20 December 2014
Brendan O'Neill: Those Unable To Face Up To Islam Instead Make Europe Unwelcoming For Jews
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Posted on 12/20/2014 8:36 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 20 December 2014
French Television Channel i-Tele Removes Zemmour In Order To Shut Him Up
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Not being able to find anyone -- or a whole group of opponents, who often appear together for a televised gang-up -- capable of convincingly refuting the propos of Eric Zemmour, the Grande Armee de la Pensee Unique has decided to simply remove Eric Zemmour from the lesser screen, and to hope that somehow that will deal with the problem.

The fantastic tale here.

And a few days ago, Ivan Rioufol read the writing on the wall, as the Regulators of French Thought prepared to deal with Zemmour in the only way they know how.
 

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Posted on 12/20/2014 8:32 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 20 December 2014
Hamas Benefits from Absurd Judicial Decision
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In Oliver Twist, published in 1838, Charles Dickens has one of his characters, Mr. Bumble, declare, “If the law supposes that, the law is an ass, an idiot.”  One hundred and seventy-six years later Mr. Bumble would have used the same words in referring to a decision of the General Court (GC) of the European Union. On December 17, 2014 GC ordered the EU to remove Hamas from its terrorist blacklist.

The Council of the European Union in Luxembourg on December 27, 2001 adopted a common position as its response to combating terrorism. This meant freezing the funds of individuals and groups on a list adopted by the Council. The list included Hamas on the list and has maintained that group on the list since then. Other countries, including the U.S. in October 1997, and Australia, Canada, Japan, Egypt, and Britain regarding the military wing, have put Hamas on their terrorist list.

The GC is an independent court, attached to the European Court of Justice, composed of one judge from each of the 28 member states of the EU.  It is regarded as the second highest tribunal of the EU, and its decisions can be appealed on a point of law to the ECJ.  It took the case C 400/10, Hamas v. Council of the EU and delivered judgment.

But that judgment is bizarre if not hypocritical in making a political decision. The GC called its decision a procedural one, a “technical issue,” not a political one by it or by the EU countries. The decision, it said, did not “imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group.” It said nothing substantial about the status of Hamas. Yet, it challenged the very basis of the EU political decision that put the al-Qassam Brigades (the militant Hamas military wing) in its first terrorist blacklist in December 2001. As a result of a number of Hamas suicide bombings during the second Intifada, the EU added the political wing of Hamas to its terrorist list in 2003. Hamas in 2010 and again in 2013 appealed its designation as a terrorist group. It claimed that it had not been given a hearing when it was put on the terrorist list.

The GC had made almost exactly the same ruling on October 16, 2014 concerning the Tamil Tigers group in Sri Lanka. Arguing that that the decision was based on a technicality, it held that the blacklisting of the group, that had killed at least 40,000 Tamil civilians, was based on “factual imputations derived from the press and the internet,” and this was insufficient. In other actions, the European court has struck down EU decisions on sanctions of Syrian and Iranian companies. EU sanctions against Syria are imposed on people and companies who are responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria and persons associated with them. Nevertheless, the GC annulled the inclusion of some persons on the list.

The GC said that EU decisions on Hamas were not proper. They were based on factual elements that the EC may have derived from the press or the internet, not “on elements which have been concretely examined and confirmed in decisions of national competent authorities.” Therefore, the GC annulled the contested measures to keep Hamas on the list of terrorist groups but it held that they were to be maintained for a period of three months or until appeals against the decision were ended. The assets of Hamas will thus for the moment remain frozen in the EU.

The consequence is that the GC has made not simply a legal ruling, but indeed a political decision that is the responsibility of the EU governments.  The decision implicitly insulted the intelligence of the EU officials who had designated Hamas as a terrorist group. That designation resulted from the EU’s Council Common Position of December 27, 2001 that clearly defined those involved in terrorist acts as seriously damaging a country, seriously intimidating a population, attacking a person’s life which may cause death, and kidnapping or hostage taking.

One wonders what evidence the European Court needs as appropriate, or what it called “facts previously established by competent authorities” for a designation of terrorism to be made in the case of Hamas. Is the indiscriminate and disproportional firing by Hamas of thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians insufficient? Hamas has been guilty of all the offences mentioned in the Common Position. Plentiful evidence about Hamas will be forthcoming during a number of criminal cases concerning it that will take place in some European countries.

Ironically, the Court’s decision coincided with a massive rally celebrating the 27th anniversary of Hamas. In a speech on the occasion in Gaza City on December 14, 2014 Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, declared, “The illusion called Israel will be removed. It will be removed at the hands of the al-Qassam Brigades.” He reaffirmed the Hamas Charter that calls for the destruction of Israel.

The General Court hears cases brought against EU institutions. European Union now has to decide on its options, one of which is to appeal the ruling. It certainly must uphold the principles of the Middle East Quartet that Hamas must renounce violence and recognize the existence and legitimacy of the State of Israel.

By coincidence, the European Parliament on December 17, 2014 voted by 498 to 88 with 111 abstentions in favor of a watered-down, non-binding resolution. It called for the recognition of Palestinian statehood and a two-state solution.  It also called for this recognition to go hand in hand with the “development of peace talks which should be advanced.” The General Court has not been helpful in this advancement. By proposing that Hamas no longer be regarded as a terrorist group it has in effect given a green light to Hamas activity which still regards Israel as an “illusion,” and aims at the elimination of the State of Israel.

First published in the American Thinker.

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Posted on 12/20/2014 8:29 AM by Michael Curtis
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Saturday, 20 December 2014
Mohammad Rafiq Of Birmingham, And The British Underclass
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The 19-year-old girl whom 80-year-old Mohammad Rafiq apparently managed to control or enslave, the English cretins who for 50 pounds did his bidding and threw acid in the girl's face, the girl's half-sister who led the police astray -- an unedifying picture of the underclass in England today.

Here.

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Posted on 12/20/2014 5:53 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 20 December 2014
Arab States Have Yet to Transfer Funds Pledged for Gaza
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I'm shocked, shocked! From the Times of Israel:

Less than two percent of the $5.4 billion of aid pledged by international donors to help rebuild Gaza following Operation Protective Edge has been transferred, and none of the Arab states have come through yet on their promised share, according to Palestinian officials.

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Posted on 12/20/2014 5:32 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 20 December 2014
ISIS reportedly selling Christian artifacts, turning churches into torture chambers
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  Perry Chiaramonte writes in Fox News:

The Islamic State is turning Christian churches in Iraq and Syria into dungeons and torture chambers after stripping them of priceless artifacts to sell on the black market, according to reports.

Ancient relics and even entire murals are being torn from the houses of worship and smuggled out through the same routes previously established for moving oil and weapons in and out of the so-called caliphate, a vast region the jihadist army has claimed as sovereign under Sharia law.

"ISIS has a stated goal to wipe out Christianity,” Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice and the author of "Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can't Ignore," told FoxNews.com. “This why they are crucifying Christians -- including children -- destroying churches and selling artifacts. The fact is, this group will stop at nothing to raise funds for its terrorist mission.”

It’s not clear what items have been stolen, but the terrorist group has sought to destroy religious groups that don't embrace its twisted and violent interpretation of Islam, and has already blown up several revered Christian sites and monuments.

Last July, ISIS militants used sledgehammers to destroy the tomb of Jonah in Mosul. Around the same time, they were destroying Sunni shrines and mosques in the northern province of Ninevah, including the Shia Saad bin Aqeel Husseiniya shrine in the city of Tal Afar and the al-Qubba Husseiniya, as well as Christian churches in Syria. The group follows a strict interpretation of the Sunni faith which is against idolatry of anything other than God. ISIS has also threatened to destroy the holy sight of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Christianity, like Judaism and Islam, have powerful historical ties to the region, and some of its most treasured sites and relics are in Iraq and Syria, according to experts. Their destruction or dispersal is tragic, said Shaul Gabbay, senior scholar at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

“The Middle East is where the three monotheistic religions begun and anything that can inform us about the history and chronology of the development of religion is of unparalleled significance to the core identity of anyone who is Christian,” Gabbay told FoxNews.com. “This is where Abraham, the forefather of the three monotheistic religions, came from, where Moses led the Hebrews to the Promised Land and where Jesus Christ was born, walked, died and was resurrected.

“Anything physical part that exists from the past including more modern artifacts is of extreme value to Christianity both at the informative and educational level as well as the spiritual/faith level,” he said.

Experts believe Islamic State's trafficking in religious artifacts is both to make money and to culturally cleanse the region. The Islamic militants have converted churches in Qaraqosh and other Iraqi cities into torture chambers, according to the Sunday Times. One priest from the region, who gave his name as Abu Aasi from Mosul, told the newspaper earlier this month that prisoners were being held in the Bahnam Wa Sara and Al Kiama churches.

“These two churches are being used as prisons and for torture,” he said while in hiding. “Most inside are Christians and they are being forced to convert to Islam. Isis has been breaking all the crosses and statues of Mary.”

Christianity is believed to be practiced by just three percent of the population of Iraq. They lived in relative religious freedom while under Saddam Hussein's rule, but have faced persecution from Islamic State in the last two years. In particular, the Yazidi, a Kurdish Christian people, have been hounded and murdered by the extremist group, leaving many of them becoming refugees trying to escape the region.

“We know that ISIS considers several groups -- including Christians -- as 'infidels without human rights,'" Sekulow said. "ISIS jihadists commit violence against fellow Muslims in violation of Islamic law. They routinely commit war crimes and engage in torture in violation of international law; and they also kill and threaten Christian, Jewish, and other religious communities.”

“In short, ISIS is composed of religiously motivated psychopaths," he said.

 

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Posted on 12/20/2014 4:54 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 20 December 2014
The Saudis believe the the West is about to give in to Iranian demands. Crashing the price of oil is how it fights back
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Responses to the decline in world oil prices have been mystifying — flummoxing, in fact. The secretary general of OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), Abdullah Al-Badri, said last week that speculation was to blame for the decline by 15% since the last increase in production. He ceremoniously denied that there was any attempt by the cartel to discourage production from shale or oil sands, or to put political pressure on Iran or Russia. In general, the world’s media have bought into the theory that discouragement of production from new sources that would reduce oil imports, especially by the United States, is the real reason for increased production and reduced price.

But Al-Badri has a limited mandate to give the agreed official line of OPEC and has no authority to speak for the motives of the individual member states, and even less standing to mind-read the authorities in those countries and speak for them. OPEC is a slippery cartel at the best of times, many of whose members are virtually, if not actually, at war with each other; the member states don’t necessarily speak truthfully among themselves and anything uttered on behalf of the whole group should be treated with caution. Some member states, including Iraq, Libya and Nigeria, do not really speak for the oil-exporting regions in the country, and there are many other oil-producing countries that either do not export, or even if they do, are not in OPEC, including Canada, Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The explanation of speculation is nonsense, as no sane speculator would encourage the sale of oil at less than its real market value other than to himself, and where the claimed OPEC production is 30 million barrels a day, no unofficial speculation would cause the sort of gyrations in oil prices that have occurred. In general, the decline in China’s rate of economic growth, and conservation and alternate energy-encouragement measures in much of the West and the steady advance of increased domestic production in the United States, explain much of the price reduction. But there is no doubt that Saudi Arabia, as the world’s leading oil exporter, has increased production, whether it is advising Mr. Al-Badri of it or not, and there is no doubt that its motives are chiefly political.

Saudi Arabia has resigned itself to the fact that neither its oft-demonstrated ability to play the periodic U.S. resolve to reduce its dependence on foreign oil like a yo-yo by price-cutting until the impulse of self-discipline passes, nor the agitation of the environmentalists for restrained oil production, will work again. (Shale-sourced oil is relatively environmentally friendly.) President Eisenhower warned over the Suez crisis in 1956 of the dangers of relying on foreign countries for 10% of America’s oil supply; President Nixon did the same in 1973 during the Arab oil embargo, when the percentage of U.S. oil needs provided by imports had risen to 20%. In the late 1980s, President Reagan arranged for the Saudis to over-produce to bring prices back down by half, by selling Saudi Arabia advanced AWACS reconnaissance aircraft and America’s best interceptor jets and sophisticated air-to-air weapons systems. This was part of Reagan’s plan to squeeze the Soviet Union’s foreign exchange sources while spending them to the mat with his Strategic Defense Initiative. The nature of these arrangements really only came to light in the memoirs of some of those involved on the American side about 20 years later.

The principal impact of the reduction in world oil prices from around US$100 a barrel to the mid-50s, and of the cost of gasoline at the pump in the United States from $4.00 to about $2.60, has been severe pressure on the Russian currency (a 50% reduction against the dollar and euro), and the country’s whole financial system, causing severe inflation and drastic interest-rate increases in the usual effort of desperate regimes to maintain a semblance of a believable currency. The Russian ruble has never been a hard currency, even in the piping days of the Romanovs, and that country under Putin is, in economic (and some other) terms, not many rungs above a thugdom of the president and his cronies.

But oil speculators operating on their own accounts do not cause the Kremlin to put Holy Mother Russia on the rack of multi-point daily interest rate increases, causing large protests and some public disorder. This is a Saudi move that has ramified very seriously in Russia, far beyond its impact on new oil extraction techniques in the U.S.

If a $50 price is reached and maintained, it would negatively alter but not destroy the economics of heavy oil and probably reduce somewhat shale activity, where reserves are more quickly exploited and harder to estimate than traditional subterranean oil fields, even those that are off-shore. But a Saudi move on this scale, with the resulting self-inflicted reduction in their income, makes no sense for the marginal impact it will have on American future production and imports; it is a geopolitical move targeted much closer to home.

Al-Badri’s flimflam, for which there is much precedent in the history of OPEC (essentially, the cartel is a perpetual quarrel among thieves pretending to be price-fixing), naturally seeks to disguise the fact that Saudi Arabia is trying to discourage the use of Iranian and Russian oil revenues to prop up the blood-stained and beleaguered Assad regime in Damascus, to finance Iran’s nuclear military program, and to incite the continuing outrages of Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories against Israel. The exotic community of interest that has suddenly arisen between the historically Jew-baiting Saudis and the Jewish state is because the countries in the area fear, with good reason as far as can be discerned, that the UN Security Council members, plus Germany, may be on the verge of acquiescing in Iran’s arrival as a threshold nuclear military power. The oil-price weapon, in the face of the terminal enfeeblement of the Obama administration, is the last recourse before the Saudis and Turks, whatever their autocues of racist rhetoric, invite Israel to smash the Iranian nuclear program from the air.

It is perfectly indicative of the scramble that ensues when a mighty power like the United States withdraws, fatigued but undefeated, from much of the world, that Saudi Arabia, a joint venture between the nomadic and medieval House of Saud and the Wahhabi establishment that propagates jihadism with Saudi oil revenues, makes common cause with Israel in a way that inadvertently relieves much of the Russian pressure on Ukraine, which was not an objective in Saudi calculations at all. From the Western standpoint, this is a lucky bounce of the political football. But it is Saudi judgment of its self-interest opposite the contending factions in Syria and the hideous prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran that is discommoding the Saudi leaders, not the ineluctable exploitation by the United States of its own oil resources. It need hardly be added that any conventional definition of “speculation” has nothing to do with it; nor that the Western panic at the bonanza of a $500-billion reduction in the West’s energy costs or the obdurate failure of most Western commentators to understand the implications of the oil price reduction, are an unflattering reflection on the financial and political acuity of the pundits of our society.

***

It is the custom for me to sound a note of Christmases past in the last column before that festival, and I would like to write a word of greeting and grateful remembrance to my dear friend Monique, of many years ago. We spent several Christmases together and travelled very enjoyably in Canada, Europe and the Middle East nearly 40 years ago. I have heard nothing of her since the publication of the French version of my book about Maurice Duplessis, with which she greatly helped me, in 1977. They were good times, fondly remembered, and not a week has gone by in decades that I have not regretted that I have not kept in touch with her and thanked her adequately for all the happiness she brought to my life. I hope she is happy and well, and would be very excited to hear from her at the address below, as I have tried to find a contact for her without success. Merry Christmas and a happy and successful 2015 to Monique, and to all of you.

— Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, A Matter of Principle, and Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership. He can be reached at [email protected] .

First published in the National Post.

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Posted on 12/20/2014 10:37 AM by Conrad Black
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Friday, 19 December 2014
Ali Salem On Qutb, The Founding Texts Of Islam, And Non-Muslim Defenders Of The Faith
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Ali Salem, in The Wall Street Journal, here.

The comments on the piece are also worth reading.

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Posted on 12/19/2014 9:15 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 19 December 2014
A Musical Interlude: You Call It Madness (Russ Columbo)
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Listen here.

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Posted on 12/19/2014 8:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 19 December 2014
Celebrated Egyptian Writer Ali Salem: Israel Is Not The Enemy
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Story here.

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Posted on 12/19/2014 8:51 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 19 December 2014
Al-Qaeda Seizes Three Dozen Syrian Army Tanks
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Story here.

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Posted on 12/19/2014 8:43 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 19 December 2014
Hanukkah in Martin Place, Sydney, Australia: Lamps Shedding Light Amid Fields of Flowers
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For thirty years during Hanukkah a large Hanukkah lamp-stand has been set up in Martin Place, Sydney, Australia, and ceremonially lit amidst much celebratory partying.

This year, the ceremony and partying were cancelled because of the actions of a Muslim who - obeying the Quranic injunction to "terrorise them" and taking to heart the teachings and example of Mohammed who proclaimed (according to the canonical Hadiths) "I have been made victorious by terror") - attacked a cafe, held 17 non-Muslim Sydneysiders hostage, forced some of his hostages to display in the cafe window a black flag inscribed with the Shahada, and ultimately murdered two of the hostages before getting killed by police.

However, Sydney's branch of Chabad still set up the menorah, and its lights are burning steadily by night, one and two and three and four, one added each successive night, above the fields of flowers.  And amongst all those bunches of flowers there is a second, small menorah.

Hanukkah in the city of Sydney, 2014.

As reported by the Times of Israel, among others.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/menorah-honoring-terror-victims-erected-in-sydney/

'Menorah honoring terror victims erected in Sydney'

'Chabad sets up 32-foot menorah following deadly siege of Australian cafe.

(click on the link to see a picture - CM)

'Chabad set up a menorah in downtown Sydney as a tribute to the victims of a terrorist attack.

'The 32 foot menorah was erected late Thursday night in downtown Sydney, just hours after Chabad cancelled its annual candle-lighting ceremony in the wake of the terror attack that killed ended with three people, including the assailant, killed.  The Menorah has been used for Hanukkah lighting ceremonies for nearly 30 years.

'At the foot of the Menorah is a message that reads - "The Jewish community of Australia expresses our deepest sympathy for the families of the Martin Place tragedy. May the lights of the Festival of Hanukkah bring comfort and warmth to our nation".

'Erecting the menorah sends a message even in the absence of the lighting ceremony, said Rabbi Elimelech Levy, the director of Chabad Youth NSW and coordinator of the annual Hanukkah in the City celebration.

'"Whilst the event was cancelled, the presence of the giant menorah sends a powerful message that light will always overcome darkness", Levy said. "As we mourn the loss of life and the atrocity that has taken place, people of goodwill will continue to shine the light of freedom and communal harmony, which is what the Hanukkah menorah is all about."

Freedom, yes. But sometimes one must fight to defend freedom and indeed life itself, and that too is what Hanukkah tells us.  It tells us - "have faith and be brave!" - CM

'The menorah was scheduled to be erected Monday night, but was postponed because of the siege at the Lindt chocolate cafe.

'Man Haron Monis, a self-styled Iranian cleric (let's just leave out the "self-styled" - he was an Iranian cleric, a Shiite who decided to join the "strong horse" and become a Sunni Muslim - CM) held almost 20 people hostage before the 16-hour siege ended in a shootout.

'On Thursday two Chabad rabbis joined an interfaith gathering at the memorial site which has become a sea of tens of thousands of flowers.

'Rabbi Levi Wolff gave a yarzheit candle to Ken Johnson, the father of Tori, who was killed trying to subdue the terrorist.

"I told him that Tori is one of God's tallest candles, and that he has lit up a nation with his brave act", Rabbi Wolff told J-Wire, a local Jewish website."

And here is the J-wire story, by Henry Benjamin.

http://www.jwire.com.au/menorah-martin-place-2/

"Menorah in Martin Place

'The Chanukah celebration organised in Sydney's Martin Place, the scene of this week's siege, was cancelled in respect to those who lost their lives; but the giant menorah has been erected and carries a message to all Australians.

'Chabad has constructed the 10 metre high Chanukah Menorah in Martin Place in the same place it has stood annually for the last thirty years...

'After lengthy discussion and consultation with the authorities and communal leaders the decision was made to cancel the Chanukah Menorah Lighting Ceremony in Martin Place, scheduled for the third night of Chanukah, Thursday 18 December...

'In Martin Place the Menorah quietly sheds its light on one of the darkest moments of Sydney's history."

The large Menorah is answered by a smaller one placed amidst the flowers, in lieu of a wreath (click on the link immediately below, to see a picture).

http://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/2798646/jewish/A-Menorah-as-Memorial-to-Sydney-Terror-Attack.htm

"A Menorah as Memorial to Sydney Terror Attack.

'Emissary couple joins those paying their respects at Martin Place site.

'The Menorah stood out amid a sea of flowers as a gentle reminder that light can dispel darkness, and that goodness still exists.

'It was a message that Rabbi Levi Wolff, chief minister and spiritual head of Sydney's Central Synagogue, and a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, hoped to pass along Tuesday morning when he and his wife, Chanie, visited Martin Place, site of the recent terror attack on a local cafe. The area was filled with Australians paying their respects.

"Many of my congregants and [community] members work and own businesses within the area where tragedy struck, and my wife and I felt strongly that there needed to be a visual Jewish representation there today while the country was still mourning, and the eyes of the country and the world are on that very spot", said Wolff.

'Given that Chanukah, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil, was just a few hours away, Wolff said that bringing a menorah - his wife brought flowers as wel - was appropriate...'.

And, finally, some commonsense and clearheadedness from the rabbi of the synagogue of Coogee, east Sydney, which I found just now on the synagogue website.

http://coogeesynagogue.org/the-latest-newsletter/

'Coogee Synagogue Newsletter 27 Kislev - 19 December 2014.

"Think Again - # we'll walk with Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson'.

"I went to visit the makeshift shrine at Martin Place today.  The overall sombre tone in the air was one of sadness, grief, and a lot of forgiveness.

'I however felt anger and I wanted to shout out that this has been happening ot my people for so long; but it is unfair to judge someone else's grief.

Yes. anger.  At last, someone prepared to state that anger is appropriate.  Anger was what much of the public rhetoric surrounding this vicious little jihad raid has sought to suppress.  And anger - healthy anger, anger that fuels a courageous response to naked evil - is what Hanukkah is also about. - CM

'The absolute senseless deaths and the fact that a city was closed down, helped me to understand the commandment (Deuteronomy 25:17) - "Remember that which the Amalekites did to you".  It seemed that the Torah was condoning hate and anger against a particular group of people, the Amalakites and all its descendants, in every generation till the end of time. Every generation, it seemed, developed an Amalakite group to oppose and hate.

'But how can you command to hate?

'The Torah understood well the vagrancies of human nature; there is a time to love and there is a time to hate.

'Sometimes it is correct to have anger and hate, when faced with evil.

"It becomes a mitzvah to express the core emotion of disgust and abhorrence, in the face of evil.

"It is why the Bible references evil in so many passages and on so many occasions, as if to remind us that evil does exist and that it is our task to oppose, resist and confront the wickedness of evil.  The Torah finds good reason to "Remember that which the Amalakites did".

'The alternative is tyranny, repression and bigotry. Winston Churchill famously said, "All it takes for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing".

I am not sure who precisely said those words, but they are true irrespective of who said them. - CM

'This week Australia awoke to the news for the first time confronted with the insidious brutality and viciousness of evil terrorism on its own soil.

"We had two hostages dead, many injured, and the entire nation left bewildered.

'The images of a black Muslim flag juxtaposed with Lindt's Merry Christmas greeting and terrified cafe staff pressed against the window.

'It was news that Jews are only too familiar with.

'One can only remember the pain of 9/11, Bali (the Bali jihad bombing in 2002 - CM) and the brutal deaths only three weeks ago in Har Nof.

'Terrorism is the targeting of civilians in the name of a philosophical ideology, a cause that is somehow more virtuous than life itself. But how can a cause be greater than life? Life is godly and sacred, so how can you have a cause that is greater than God and Allah himself.

Dear rabbi: here alone, you slipped up in an otherwise refreshingly honest commentary.  You should not have mentioned allah, because allah commands and loves death, the death of its followers and the death of the despised non-Muslim untermenschen who in the Quran are described as "the worst of beasts".  The remote and capricious and despotic allah of the Muslims - who is admiringly described as "the best of deceivers", who does not love his grovelling slaves and does not keep covenant - has nothing whatsoever in common with the life-giving, covenant-keeping, invincibly faithful YHWH of the Bible, the Holy One of Israel. - CM

'Nothing, no ideology can justify terrorism.  It is good that our Bible condemns Amalek and the awfulness of Evil.

Yes.  I would argue that in our time and indeed for the past 1400 years one of the most thoroughgoing and dreadful and extravagantly-murderous manifestations of "Amalek" has been the Ummah, or mohammedan mob, the Empire of Islam. - CM

'What happened in Martin Place on Tuesday was pure and simple evil.

Yes. - CM

"To be sure it was an act carried out by a crazy self-styled imam, but it was fuelled by the ideology of fanaticism, hatred and jihad.

In other words, to cut a long story short: Islam, which Winston Churchill in his book "The Story of the Malakand Field Force" summed up as "the religion of blood and war".  The first chapter of that book - especially the portions that deal with Islam, and jihad - should be required reading for all non-Muslim religious, political and military leaders, world-wide. - CM

'But the whitewash of Sheik Haron Monis has begun in the media; he is being portrayed in the news as a "lone madman" and "violent criminal". These descriptions are not strictly untrue, but first and foremost he was a terrorist fuelled by fanatical ideology.

That is: he took Islam fully to heart. - CM

'He brought Sydney and most of the nation to a standstill. Australia has never seen anything like this before.

'When it comes to those of us who mourn Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson, it is no consolation that he was mad, crazy, and that he acted alone.

Or that he is believed to have acted alone; we do not know for sure that that was the case. He saw himself as part of the Ummah; he had crossed over from the Shiite to the Sunni branch of that body. - CM

'Monis was a Muslim extremist (a devout Muslim - CM) who had a Facebook following in the thousands, and cleverly planned this terror act in the Lindt cafe with bullet-proof windows, opposite Channel 7 [news headquarters - CM].

'His deed struck down two people who will now never come home to their loved ones, cut down in their prime, who were yesterday full of hopes and dreams for the future.  And there are others who will bear the scars for the rest of their lives, most of them invisible.  One does not simply "return to normal" after such an experience.

'Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson are heroes.  They died trying to save others, but they were just regular normal good people. Tori had been the manager of Lindt cafe for the past two years and Katrina Dawson was a successful lawyer married with three young children, living in our city of Randwick.  She and her husband were good friends of some of our co-religionists. There is only a small degree of separation amongst us.

'There seems to me to be an unseemly haste in declaring our solidarity with the Muslim community,

(hear, hear! - CM)

who have certainly rightly condemned this act.

At least in public. What the Muslim mob in Australia may be saying to one another in private, when the dirty unbelievers are not listening, might be another story; I hope that AFP and ASIO are keeping a weather ear open on all their wiretaps.  The good rabbi, though wiser than many others in Australia, is here being rather too trusting. - CM

'But where is the anger of (at - CM) the Amalakites?

'The # I'llridewithyou campaign seems to be a response of victimhood, and that Australians are somehow to blame and we are at fault for causing anti-Muslim bigotry.

You nailed it, rabbi. - CM

'There has been an outpouring of grief and mourning by the placing of flowers at Martin Place.

'The Jewish custom is to light a candle.  We light a yahrtzeit candle and place the memorial candle in a prominent position when remembering a loved one. The candle is a metaphor that life never ceases and that the soul is not extinguished.

'As we light our Chanukah candles it too becomes a metaphor of defiance against tyranny.

Yes! Yes! Yes! Let us defy and resist all those who would drag planet earth down into the bottomless pit of a global caliphate ruled by despots and subject to the institutionalised sadism of the unlaw that is the Sharia of Islam, total and totalitarian. - CM

'The Chanukah light is our response to darkness.  It illuminates the message of hope and the battle for life.

'We refuse to live in fear, and we will continue to buy our coffee in Lindt cafes and our chocolate in Max Brenner stores.

'When we light our Chanukah candles this year here in Australia we are going to light one for the memory of #I'llwalkwithToriJohnsonandKatrinaDawson, whose souls will never be extinguished.

As always, 

l'chaim, and see you in shule.

Elozer Gestetner."

'Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson: May their memory be a blessing."

Seconded, rabbi. -  C

 

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Posted on 12/19/2014 7:36 PM by Christina McIntosh
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Friday, 19 December 2014
Ivan Rioufol: Hollande And His Way Out
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The nonsense about France as a nation whose immigrants have been a source of strength, a bit of national luck for which the French should be grateful, the wonderful integration of Muslims into France -- all this is too absurd for Rioufol to bother to refute. He simply repeats the nonsense Hollande has spouted, for all to laugh at. But what will Holland do? And will the Muslim voters, 86% of whom voted for him when he first ran, be his secret source of strength, in the undoing of France?

Rioufol, and comments on Rioufol, here.

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Posted on 12/19/2014 5:39 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 19 December 2014
Advent Calendar XIX
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The levitation merchants in Trafalgar Square outside the National Gallery are usually Yoda, the Grim Reaper or Gandalf the Grey. But in honour of the season Santa Claus (he doesn't look dignified enough to be a Father Christmas) has looked in. 

It takes all sorts.

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Posted on 12/19/2014 2:39 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 19 December 2014
A Maccabee for All Seasons - Jewish, Christian, Literary and Rastafarian
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by Geoffrey Clarfield (December 2014)


This year the Jewish festival of Hanukkah lasts from December 16 until the 24. It will be celebrated for a full eight days with one candle lit each night until all eight shine on the eighth day. Jews in the US, Israel (where it is a national holiday) and around the world, celebrate Hanukkah to commemorate the miracle of the oil, when their ancestors in Judea, the Maccabees, after having successfully fought off Hellenistic invaders who forbid the Jewish Temple rituals, discovered a tiny amount of sacred oil which managed to light the Temple sanctuary in Jerusalem for a full eight days.  more>>>

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Posted on 12/19/2014 1:51 PM by NER
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Friday, 19 December 2014
Muslim charities lose government help over 'extremism'
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From the BBC

Two Muslim charities have lost their grants after the government claimed they had links with Islamist extremism.

A spokesman for Birmingham-based Islamic Help, said it was "surprised, dismayed and angered" by the action. The Muslim Charities Forum (MCF), said the decision was based on "unfounded allegations".

The Department for Communities and Local Government said it would not fund any group "linked to individuals who fuel hatred, division and violence".

In a written statement the Secretary of State for the department, Eric Pickles, claimed Islamic Help had invited "an individual with extremist views" to speak at an event, and that the MCF - an umbrella organisation for Muslim charities - had "failed to reassure us that they have robust measures in place to investigate and challenge their members."

A spokesman for Islamic Help said the speaker alleged to have extremist views had not been identified to them.

Mr Pickles said only programmes which "uphold fundamental British values" would receive aid.

Both Islamic Help and the MCF had received the money through the Faith Minorities in Action project, which was set up by the DCLG in March last year.

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Posted on 12/19/2014 6:28 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 19 December 2014
'We have killed all the children. What do we do now?'
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From the Telegraph

Taliban militants who stormed a Pakistan high school killing more than 130 students followed instructions from a commander, according to transcripts given to local newspapers by the authorities.

“We have killed all the children in the auditorium,” one of the attackers told his handler. “What do we do now?”

The handler replied: “Wait for the army people, kill them before blowing yourself.”

The Taliban have released several pictures of their jihadist murder team. One is below, from AP via the Telegraph.

The conversation was one of the last between the seven attackers and their Taliban boss, according to security officials. Shortly after, two of the suicide attackers charged special forces soldiers arriving at the Peshawar Army Public School. Five other attackers blew themselves up inside the school.

More than 100 of the deaths in the attack were in the school auditorium, where several classes of senior boys were having a joint first aid class. Many of the survivors described the attackers going through the auditorium, pulling boys from under desks where they were hiding and shooting them. Others ran into militants who were blocking the doors.

“Did the attackers have prior knowledge of the congregation in the main hall?” a security official was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper. “ don’t know this yet. This is one of the questions we are trying to find an answer to.”

At least two of the children killed in the attack were beheaded, according to medical staff. “One 13-year-old boy came in without his head. It was missing,” said a senior doctor who was among staff who received the dead and injured at the Lady Reading Hospital. He said his throat appeared to have been cut with a sharp knife.

Another health worker, Anwar Ali, said a second boy from grade six also had his head missing. “He has received multiple bullet injuries in his whole body,” Mr Ali said. “His head was missing. It seems that he was beheaded by the militants.”

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Posted on 12/19/2014 1:36 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 19 December 2014
British teenagers of 14 offered cash to become jihadi brides
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From the Telegraph, and the London Evening Standard 

British girls as young as 14 are being helped to join Islamic State fighters in Syria as jihadi brides in increasing numbers by London-based “facilitators”, the Standard had learnt. Teenagers are being helped with applying for passports, given funding and sometimes even accompanied to the region after being groomed online.

Pockets of east London in particular are becoming hotbeds for organised groups of men and women helping young IS supporters to get to the Syrian conflict zone, the Standard has learned.

Haras Rafiq, an expert at British counter-terrorism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, says the organisation is “aware” of groups working across London but particularly in the east of the capital.

He said: “The average age is being reduced. Some of the girls getting out there are only 14. There are people here who have facilitated passports. Girls who are under a certain age are being accompanied by an adult over 18, usually a woman, to go help them. Help them apply for a passport, and even take them out there. The main areas they are working out of are in east London.”

 

Mr Rafiq said the attraction for these girls is escaping their “regressive” home lives.

He added the roles this girls play once in IS are primarily domestic. But Mr Rafiq added they are also given the job of acting as the “morality police” and attend radicalisation classes where they learn how to “brainwash” potential new recruits online.

The warning comes after a girl of 15 was rescued from joining the conflict in Syria after Met counter-terrorism officers stopped the plane she was on as it was taxiing down the runway at Heathrow. The girl, from Tower Hamlets, had bought a ticket to Istanbul without the knowledge of her parents. But she was prevented from travelling to join Islamist fighters after Scotland Yard detectives learnt of her plans earlier this month. 

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Posted on 12/19/2014 1:15 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 18 December 2014
Taliban Spokesman: At Peshawar, We Followed The Teachings Of The Prophet
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With details from Sahih Bukhari, here.

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Posted on 12/18/2014 9:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 18 December 2014
Advent Calendar XVIII
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When I did an Advent calendar in 2008 I included a passage from The Dean’s Watch by Elizabeth Goudge. The book tells the story of the friendship that grows up between Adam Ayscough, the Dean of the Cathedral City, and Isaac Peabody the clockmaker. The book, which is set in the 1870s in a Cathedral City which is mostly Ely in the Fens, culminates in the events of Christmas. In 2008 I copied out a paragraph describing Christmas Morning.

This passage takes place earlier; the week before Christmas. Some years previously the Dean rescued a young boy, Job Mooring, from the life of a chimney climbing boy and arranged his education in the City orphanage. Job has promise as a craftsman and Isaac has taken him on as his apprentice.  Polly the housemaid is an old friend from the orphanage, and now they are growing up their friendship has become courtship.

“Last Christmas” said Job “I did not know what Christmas was.”  When he had first come to Mr Peabody he had not wanted to look back for he had felt like somebody just awake after a nightmare, and afraid to think about it lest it catch him again, but now the evil had receded so far that he liked to set it as a backcloth to the procession of his shining days. “I did not know what it was” he repeated. “Shall I put the shutters up?”

“Another five minutes said Isaac. “I don’t like to close too soon before Christmas.”

“Thirty minutes late now” said Job but he laughed and leaned his arms on the counter, content to wait. He was tired and so was Isaac, for it had been a busy day with people in and out buying Christmas presents, but they had enjoyed it to the full and their tiredness was of the pleasant kind that invests the thought of supper and bed with the haloed glory.  

Isaac did not call himself a jeweller but he did in his odd moments make pinchbeck brooches, heart-shaped lockets and ear-rings whorled or delicately pointed like shells or stars. He also made eternity rings set with imitation jewels whose first letters spelt words like regard, dearest and adored, adjectives nicely graded to express the degree of feeling which ravaged the breast of the enamoured male at the moments of purchase, and these as well as his clocks had a great sale before Christmas. Job had proved as expert as Isaac at making these trifles but one of the rings that he had made was not for sale. It was in a leather heart-shaped box in his pocket, burning a hole there until such time that he could give it to Polly as her Christmas present. As well as jewellery he had created flights of little birds, angels and stars, and silver reindeer with golden antlers to hang upon the Christmas trees that were sold in the market.

There had been moments during the past week when it had scarcely been possible to move in the shop for excited children, papas, mammas, uncles, aunties and nannies, but now most of the pretty trifles had been sold and the ticking of the clocks, that for days had been drowned by the babel of voices and laughter, had come back into the silence as the singing of birds comes back when the wind dies at dusk. It was dark now beyond the bow windows of the shop, the sky clear after a passing shower and spangled with stars above the crooked roofs of Cockspur Street. The windows of the houses were small squares of orange and gold reflected in the shining cobbles. The lamplighter has passed down the street and the muffin man had passed up it, but now there was no one about, not even a cat. Yet they waited in the lamplight, leaning on the counter, and listened to the voices of their clocks as other men listened to a harpsichord or the slap of small waves against the hull of a boat. It was to them the music of their hearts , that pulsed in time to the heart-beat of the celestial clock.

The celestial clock is a metaphor, but it is also the name Isaac had given to the best clock he had ever made. If you want to know how it ends you will have to read the book. It’s still in print.

My daughter took this photograph in Ely last Christmas. The shops don't fit the exact description of Cockspur Street but they have a feel of the type.  The great octagon of the Cathedral dominates Ely just as  the ‘great Rollo Tower’ dominated the City of Adam Ayscough and Isaac Peabody. 

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Posted on 12/18/2014 4:12 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 18 December 2014
Husain Haqqani, Denouncing One Kind Of Pakistani Denial, Is Forced To Exhibit Another Kind
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Husain Haqqani, married to one of the Ispahani girls (I'm not sure if it's the one who was briefly married to Leon Wieseltier, or one of her sisters), is a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States.  He knows, and has written about, how meretricious the Pakistani rulers, generals and zamindars alike, have been with the United States, how for  decades they have inveigled tens of billions of dollars in American aid, and used that financial and military suport partly to support Muslim terrorist groups in Kashmir, and  in Afghanistan, and allowed the most fanatical Muslim groups the freedom to open madrasas, to win followers, to threaten non-Muslims and those Muslims who did not share their fanaticism, and now they are discovering that they, too, are the object of those fanatics' hatred.

 

Husain Haqqani can't openly discuss what's in the Qur'an, in the Hadith, in the Sira. He has to confine himself to denouncing the Pakistani "deep state." But surely he knows, somewhere inside he knows, that no real reckoning can take place, because Islam remains Islam, and its mind-forged manacles will always keep the Pakistanis, even if they turn, temporarily, against the Taliban, in thrall to that ideology that will keep resupplying the Taliban, and Lashkar-e-Toiba (under whatever name it chooses to go by), and a dozen other similar groups, too similar to go to the bother of distinguishing one from the other.  Islam is the cross that Muslims must bear, but we, who are not non-Muslims, are under no obligation to allow Muslims into our lands, and thus to share that burden.   

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Posted on 12/18/2014 2:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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