Saturday, December 31, 2005

Same Story?

Ynet reports that "IAF fires missiles at Palestinian cell trying to fire rockets at southern communities, kills 2, injures 1." Reuters is much vaguer, reporting that "Israeli artillery fire killed two Palestinians in Gaza after rocket attacks were launched from the area, Palestinian security sources said, as a truce declared by armed groups drew to a close." The Reuters story continues:
The men's deaths on Saturday were the first in the area since the Israeli army designated it a "no-go" zone, enforced by air strikes and artillery fire to curb rocket attacks on Israel by Palestinian resistance fighters.
That is about as close as it gets to a statement that the men killed were actually part of a Qassam cell. Isn't that a crucial detail of the story? Here is Ynet again:
Gaza residents initially said the three were family members who were in the area but have no connection to terror. However, Palestinian security officials later admitted those hit were members of a Qassam launching cell.
Update: Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting now has a story on this incident entitled "Israeli drone target civilians."

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What's with the Ynet story about a woman marrying a dolphin?

I have been seeing blog posts about this since Thursday. Isn't it a joke? Update: I got curious as to whether there were any other stories about it with different details. It turns out the AP had a story that included the following:
On Wednesday, she made it official, sort of. While she acknowledged the "wedding" had no legal bearing she did say it reflected her deep feelings toward the bottlenosed, 35-year-old object of her affection.

"It's not a bad thing. It just something that we did because I love him, but not in the way that you love a man. It's just a pure love that I have for this animal," she said.
OK, it seems that the answer is that it really happened, but that it was one of those goofy symbolic and/or meaningless things that celebrities do sometimes. Ynet did not decide to become the Onion although they did play up the jokey aspects of the story. (Hat tip: ParshaBlog)

Does anyone remember what this toy was called?

One of my children just received a toy which is a miniature version of a toy I remember from my childhood in the late 60's and early 70's. It had a handle, from which two parallel bars projected. The bars finally curved, and then joined at the ends, and there was disk that spun and rode up and down the bars. I just can't remember what it was called. Does anyone remember? Update: It was called a Whee-lo. Here is a link to a better picture of it than my crude drawing. Thanks to those who commented or sent e-mails.

Recent Holocaust Denial at Mehr

The article is entitled "Referendum in Palestine is a fair idea: expert," and it takes the form of an interview. The very first question adressed to the "expert," Mohammed Hegazi, is the following: "Why are Arab authors and intellectuals not willing to speak about the holocaust adequately?" We were wondering about that ourselves. Here is the answer:
Egypt is a dictatorship, one of the worst models you can imagine. The media has been government owned until fairly recently. When the system decided to allow some opposition newspapers, that was done only to improve its image, by giving the false impression of a free press. The rest of the Arab countries all have corrupt despotic governments. Scholars and free thinkers tend to shy off under such oppressive conditions. Opinions of Arab historians about the Jewish holocaust are not widely circulated, but they share the same views expressed by Mr. Ahmadinejad about the fallacy of the holocaust.
The next question concerns Australia, where the Egyptian-born "expert" resides: "How is the atmosphere in Australia for the free expression of views about the holocaust, given that Australia hasn't passed a law against revisionism?" The answer:
Like in most countries of the West, Jews control government and the judiciary in Australia. There are constant attempts to vilify those scholars who "offend" Jews by denying the myth of the Jewish holocaust. Some laws have already been passed under the guise of preventing "racial hatred". The crux of such laws is that you should not "offend" minorities, regardless of the historical correctness of what you say. They follow the same model Jews have imposed on many European countries. There are constant attempts to silence my colleague Fredrick Toben, who has been given a hard time in courts in order to dismantle the website of Adelaide Institute. So far, we continue to express our views on the site, with much caution, like our counterparts in other parts of our Jew-controlled world.
That reminds me, I need to report to my ZOG commander.

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A Children's Chanukah Party was the Real Target

This is from Ha'aretz by way of LGF:
The suicide bomber who killed an Israel Defense Forces officer and two Palestinians at an army checkpoint near Tul Karm yesterday was apparently planning to blow himself up at one of the many children's events taking place in Tel Aviv during this week's Hanukkah holiday, army sources said.

Had the bomber not been stopped at the checkpoint, the attack would have been far more deadly, said the sources.
This status quo is simply intolerable, and yet Israel tolerates it. Attack after attack is thwarted, but sooner or later the one which is too terrible to think about will happen, chas veshalom. We have to bear in mind that the there is no Palestinian political party which is not a terrorist group. All the attention paid to Hamas prospects in recent elections amounted to concern that the wrong terrorist group would win. So the Palestinian people itself as a collective entity is waging total warfare. There are Palestinians who simply want to get on with their lives peacefully, but their will does not prevail, and they are essentially irrelevant. Israel should take step after step towards responding in a total warfare mode until the attacks stop. The level of harshness necessary would be up to the Palestinians.

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Romping through the Korean News Archive: "Curative Plastic Sheets"

This one is from last April:
Pyongyang, April 11 (KCNA) -- Curative plastic sheets Nos. 1 and 2 have been developed by scientists in the textile field of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. They are polypropylene and polyethylene sheets treated in an electronic way. With the sheets one can cure various diseases by oneself in any places without medical apparatuses and medicines.

When they are pasted to the points to be treated, it helps recover the function of abnormal minute electric current, damaged cells and tissues in human body and activate metabolism.

Sheet No.1 is for external wounds such as gash, abscess and burn and sheet No. 2 for internal diseases such as contusion, bone fracture, neuralgia, indigestion, stomach cramps and inflammation.

The years of clinical test shows that patients who had long suffered from sore finger and tympanitis recovered health with one-time use of the sheet and obstinate simple necrosis patients with six-time use. And babies under six months cured pneumonia with the help of the sheets.
I wonder how hard it was to teach the babies to use them.


Condoleezza Rice Ynet Person of the Year

Israelis love Condi: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is the big winner in Ynet's 'People of the Year' survey.

Rice's parents, a priest and a music teacher, never guessed their gifted daughter would grow into a tough diplomat, let alone be mentioned as a 2008 presidential candidate.
Or win a Ynet survey.
Coming in at close second, with 3,630 votes, were musicians Bono from U2 and Bob Geldof, who produced the "Live 8 aid" concert. The choice may indicate that Israelis, too, are getting tired of hearing about politicians and terrorists all the time.
Bono and Geldof are not politicians?
The surprising third place (with 3,059 votes) went to
natural disaster victims, who this year seemed to make headlines more than ever before perhaps.

It started with the Asian tsunami, which claimed about 200,000 lives in 12 countries and left two million people without a roof over their head. Other disasters included floods in India, China and the Philippines, hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and the major earthquake that rocked Pakistan.
What will each one's share in the prize money come to?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

AP: "Palestinian Police Storm Gaza-Egypt Border"

This is really interesting:
Gaza Strip - Palestinian police angry over growing lawlessness in the Gaza Strip stormed the Gaza-Egypt border crossing Friday, shutting down the border and forcing European monitors to flee, Palestinian and European officials said.
Let us skip a paragraph and read further:
The European observers — responsible for monitoring the crossing and ensuring the terms of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement are upheld — fled the area, fearing the situation was getting out of control, the officials said.
Weren't the police angry about "lawlessness"? If the observers have to run away, that doesn't seem like much of a blow for law and order, does it? It gets more interesting:
The police are angry over the killing of an officer Thursday in a family feud in Gaza. They said that because they have received no orders from their officers on how to deal with the situation they are taking matters into their own hands, the witnesses said.
Is that what "angry over growing lawlessness" meant? What is going on here? Update: The "angry over growing lawlessness" bit is now gone. I guess spinning continued lawlessness as a reaction to lawlessnes was too much even for the AP. Here is a Washington Post link that perhaps won't change from hour to hour.

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The Fifth Night of Chanukah

There is a Chassidic custom to regard the fifth night of Chanukah as special. It is the first night when most of the lights are lit. A more technical version of this point is that it is the first night when following the opinion of Beis Hillel to start with one candle and add one every night results in more flames than following the opinion of Beis Shammai (to light all the flames on the first night and take one away each day). The fifth night of Chanukah can never fall on Shabbos, which might be regarded as something negative, but one way of looking at it is this: The light of Chanukah can even overcome the darkness of never falling on Shabbos. One of my favorite stories about the Lubavitcher Rebbe includes this thought. Read it here. Another story about the fifth night is here.

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JTA: Montreal Jewish Community Growing due to Exodus of Jews from France and Argentina

The article puts an odd stress on the good fortune of the Montreal community:
Facing an uncertain future with an aging population, low birth rate and the loss of younger members for jobs elsewhere, Montreal's Jewish community suddenly has a more optimistic outlook.

The Argentine economic crash of 2001-2002 and the upsurge in anti-Semitism in France linked to the Palestinian intifada have been a boon to Montreal's Jewish community.
The profiles of individual immigrants mix ominous details with qualifying statements:
Karine said she was relieved to be in Quebec, away from the recent stresses the family faced in France, though she said they had left more for the children's sake than for their own.

"The environment is bad for them in Paris," she said. "The Jewish schools have security barriers around them and the children are afraid to go to school."

Karine and Jean Charles frequently encountered verbal anti-Semitism, taunts about "Jews being rich and things of that nature, but never anything more aggressive or threatening," she said. "The future did not look bright for us and our children, however, so we choose to leave."

"In Canada," she said, "We can live our Judaism openly, unlike in France."
We might ask how long Canada and America will remain safe for Jews. See this from Daniel Pipes.

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"Might of Singlehearted Unity Displayed in 2005"

This is from the (North) Korean News, of course. This has to be the year-end article to end all year-end articles:
Juche 94 (2005) is a proud year when the entire officers and men of the Korean People's Army and people powerfully demonstrated once again the might of single-minded unity centering around the leader and the Party. Leader Kim Jong Il clearly indicated the road ahead of the general onward march of the Songun revolution this year to celebrate the 60th anniversaries of the Workers' Party of Korea and national liberation and wisely led the army and people in the van of the march.
The most Songun sentence:
Infinitely inspired by the devotion of Kim Jong Il, the whole Party, the whole army and the entire people made signal successes in all fields, political, military, economic and cultural, and thus celebrated the 60th birthday of the WPK as a grand festival of victors.
While the author was writing that last sentence he was thinking "If only I could have a potato to eat." Can you guess where the author's stomach growled in this next sentence?
All the successes made by the single-minded unity show the unswerving will of the servicepersons and people to build a great prosperous powerful socialist nation without fail in any adversities, rallied close around the leader.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Mentalblog has a brief review which finds the new Matisyahu CD very disappointing. Life-of-Rubin provides links to live versions of some of the songs.

Jewish Worker has been posting interesting Divrei Torah about Chanukah.

Al gives the Israeli Sonic Boom strategy the full sob-story treatment.

Elder of Ziyon flags "MEMRI's top 10 Muslim conspiracy theories in 2005." He also has a round-up of Holocaust denying articles from Iran's Mehr News Service.

Captain's Quarters notes that after the ransoming of Susanne Osthoff, "the market has suddenly turned brisk for German hostages."

Yeshivah Orthodoxy flags an interesting story about Chareidi pedestrian habits.

Update: Oh, and AbbaGav has a cogent deconstruction of the odd contemporary doctrine of proportionate force.

Life in the Bad Old Juche-less US

From the (North) Korean News:
The Constitution of the United States proclaims those who were born in the country or naturalized as the citizens of the country and stipulates that to restrict their special rights and privileges shall be banned. But worst racial and national inequality and sexual inequality in the U.S., where the state laws are put above the Federal ones, bring the falsity of the "equality" of the people to light.
Some states prohibit black people from studying together with white people by law . . .

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Kim Jong Il gets a Floral Basket and all we get are Qassams!

From the (North) Korean News:
Pyongyang, December 26 (KCNA) -- Leader Kim Jong Il was presented with a floral basket by Mahmoud Abbas, chief of the Palestinian National Authority, on the occasion of the New Year Juche 95 (2006). It was conveyed to an official concerned today by a staff member of the Palestinian embassy here.

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Iran Accuses US of "Nuclear Apartheid"

From Iran Focus:
Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki blasted on Monday “nuclear apartheid”, saying that the Islamic Republic had just as much “right” to carry out nuclear activities as the United States did.
His sentiments were echoed by the Ayatollah Tutu and Nelson Mandelejad.

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How did he get himself to write that sentence?

From a current AP story:
The offices of Al Aqsa — a group with links to the ruling Fatah party — were targeted because militants used them to meet, plan and recruit, the army said. But Palestinians said the offices, empty during the airstrike, were used for social and educational purposes.
Offices of the Al Asqa Martyrs Brigades? "Social and educational purposes"? Why didn't the author's brain explode?

Monday, December 26, 2005

Tookie Update: Stadium formerly named after Arnold almost renamed Crips Stadium

This is possibly the last Tookie-related post which will ever appear here. (No matter, though, there is always Kim Jong Il.) From the New York Times:
The Schwarzenegger name has, as it were, been erased. The new name is now simply Stadion Graz-Liebenau (a district of Graz), though there were other proposals. One was to name the stadium after the Crips, the gang that Mr. Williams founded, but that idea did not get widespread support. Another was to name it Hakoah, after a Jewish sports club that was banned after Hitler annexed Austria in 1938.
Ok, I'm stretching the meaning of "almost"--hey, the idea only lacked "widespread support"! (Hat tip: Getting Nothing but Static from MSM)

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Dar Al Hayat: "Denial of the Holocaust: Ailment is Seizing our Authorities"

This is from the Lebanese Dar Al Hayat site, and the author is Hazem Saghieh. How do you say "Yasher Koach" in Arabic?
Mahdi Akef has joined Khaled Mashaal, who, in his turn, had joined Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in denying the existence of a Nazi holocaust targeting the European Jews. The issue is no longer tackled or discussed, except in intellectually and educationally regressed milieus. When its relators are Arabs and Muslims, the issue takes another dimension, which is the inability to achieve any real progress, then proceed to contest history with myth . . . .

Most importantly, the "culture" of denying the holocaust - which is, among other things, the outcome of a defective education - has grown to occupy a dominant position in the life of the Arabs and Muslims. Although the issue was about to come to an end and be confined to narrow margins that gather utter extremism with utter retardation, the heavy poisoned Iranian rain blew on us and was welcomed, quite avidly, by the eager Arab Sahara.

The issue is now no longer restricted to narrow margins. The reason is that Nejad, regretfully and painfully, is the President of the Republic elected by millions of Iranians. As for Mashaal, he is one of the symbols of the organization that bit at Palestinian municipalities, and may now bite at its Parliament too, in case legislative elections take place, confusing the world over the way to avoid such a stalemate. As for Akef, he is the rising star in Egypt as his brethren have secured more than a quarter of the Parliament's seats. They could even have achieved more in better electoral circumstances.

Ushered by some writings of the former Syrian Defense Minister Mustapha Tlas, or some letters and discussions of Osama Ben Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the library of "Hamas", "Islamic Jihad", and "Hezbollah" abounds with long excerpts drawn from "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion", "the Jewish Danger", and other yellow pages intermingled with mythical visions and dreams related to literary works on grave and martyrdom.

This means that we are not to be envied at all. The ailment is swelling up from the heart of the societies to the decision makers therein. It is not a coincidence that the elements of the bloc spreading and disseminating the said "ideas" are those same elements who promise us a way out of the tunnel dimmed with occupations and darkness to a brighter and more glowing horizon. It is also not a coincidence that the same bloc comprises cases that blend between the desertion of the modernity culture and the recurrence of its pre-enforcement era, in authorities as well as in opposition . . . .

As for the preachers of democracy in the US, they better draw lessons from what is going on. No matter how heedless they may be, they know how the societies vote, when they are ailing and once they do.

Some parts of the article display the vagueness and difficult-to-follow writing typical of other productions of the Arab press (What does that last paragraph mean, for instance?), but over-all this seems like a laudable effort. For an example of that "poisoned Iranian rain," see the following, dated today, on the Iranian Mehr News site: "Israel has created a real holocaust for Palestinians: Sindi." Parting question: Should we take seriously the author's assertion that "the issue was about to come to an end"?

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And even more on Terrorism and Google Earth

A few days ago I excerpted a story that indicated that Israel might not be so vulnerable to terrorist uses of Google Earth. Here is someone who saw the same story and got mad, proclaiming "Google Earth caves in to Israel." And here is someone who says Israel's exemption from high-resolution scrutiny is imaginary after all.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

IRIB News: "Ahmadinejad congratualtes [sic] Christmas"

From Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting:
Tehran, Dec 25 - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a message to Pope Benedict XVI and heads of Chiritian [sic] states congratulated the advent of the new year and birth anniversary of the Jesus Christ, the messenger of justice and spirituality.

"In the world of aggression and discrimination, human being [sic] is [sic] in dire need of hearing the call of divine prophets," the President said.

He hoped for global peace and tranquility based on justice and sprituality for the new year.
No comment.

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Palestinian Poll Results--65 percent support Al Qaeda operations in US and Europe!

Another item from IMRA (reporting results from the FAFO research organization):
69 percent of Palestinians see violent action as a legitimate means in the current political situation (occupation), and half of them believe that suicide attacks are necessary to force Israel to make political concessions.

. However, 57 percent believe that the Intifada should stop and as many as 74 percent think that attacks from Gaza should cease.

. Support for Al Qaeda actions in the world includes 65 percent support to Al Qaeda actions in the USA and Europe, 32 percent support for Al Qaeda actions in Iraq and 13 percent support for Al Qaeda actions in Jordan.
Isn't that delightful?

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More on Google Earth and Terrorism

This is actually a positive development, from Globes Online by way of IMRA:
Since Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) began offering satellite photographs of locations everywhere in the world in April 2005, countries have feared that high-resolution photographs of sensitive sites would expose their weak points to terrorists.

Israeli sources told "Globes" that Israel was very sensitive to exposure of strategic locations in satellite photographs. However, legal restrictions in the US and understandings between Israel and other countries are reducing Israel’s vulnerability to enlarged photos of locations liable to become targets of mega-terrorism.

An independent survey of the Google Earth site for satellite photographs shows that the search engine limits the resolution for available photos of Israel sites, whether strategic or civilian. This restriction does not exist for photographs of sites in other countries.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

O Kwanzaa, O Kwanzaa come light the Kinara

Did anybody notice that Kwanzaa coincides almost exactly with Chanukah this year? They start on the same day, but Chanukah lasts one day longer. Did you know that they light a candelabra thingy called a "Kinara"? (Do they add a candle every day?) Readers at the Official Kwanzaa Website are told
First, you should come to the celebration with a profound respect for its values, symbols and practices and do nothing to violate its integrity, beauty and expansive meaning. Secondly, you should not mix the Kwanzaa holiday or its symbols, values and practice with any other culture. This would violate the principles of Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) and thus violate the integrity of the holiday.
According to a site called The International Kwanzaa Exchange:
It is important that the Kinara not be confused with the menorah.* The Kinara holds seven candles to reflect the seven principles which are the foundation of Kwanzaa.
Perhaps they would have been happier with another symbol?

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Interesting Paragraph from Mickey Kaus

This is via InstaPundit:
Amnesty for illegal wiretappers? Aren't the parameters of the great eavesdropping debate becoming clearer? 1) The administration bypassed the special FISA court, not because it would somehow have been too time consuming to obtain warrants, but because warrants wouldn't have been granted under the "probable cause" standard; 2) the warrants wouldn't have been granted because the wiretaps were quasi-data-mining wiretaps, trolling phone calls of 10% likely suspects for tipoff phrases like "Brooklyn Bridge;" 3) that's probably illegal; 4) but it's also probably a good way to stop terror plots--it hardly presents a "false choice;" 5) the solution is to make it explicitly legal--lower the standard for search warrants, allow mass warrants for whole bundles of phone calls, while retaining some judicial supervision. ... Explicit legalization seems the obvious solution because the "privacy" interest involved--the danger that government has "listened in on some people who turned out not to pose a threat"--is, if not trivial, several orders of magnitude lower than the threat itself. Privacy interests have always been overblown in the American civil libertarian scheme of things, and they're becoming more overblown now that email communications are routinely introduced in court, while cell phone conversations get picked up by amateur scanners. "Reasonable expectations of privacy," as the lawyers put it, are simply lower in the age of blogs and Webcams and surveillance videos than in the age of dial telephones. ... I wouldn't be all that upset if the Feds ran every damn phone call through the Echelon-style NSA computers. Do you have a problem with that?
What do you think?

Mehr News: "Historians, researchers back Iranian president’s view on Holocaust"

This is from Iran's Mehr News Agency:
Following the statement by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who on December 14 called the Holocaust a myth, the Mehr News Agency contacted a number of leading independent historians and scholars from different parts of the world to ask them their views on the idea.
Supportive e-mails from the "leading independent historians and scholars" follow. Who are these "leading independent historians and scholars"? Arthur R. Butz, Serge Thion, and Horst Mahler! Google those names. The Mehr News site currently also has a story entitled "Holocaust supporters shun rational discussion and debate: Paul Fromm" Obvious conclusion: Iran has openly aligned itself with the Neo-Nazi movement.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Dry Bones Shmendrik Awards 2005

IRIB News: Happy Birthday, Hamas!

This is entitled "Hamas celebrates 18th birthday" from the Islamic Republic of Iran Boradcasting site:
Thousands of Hamas supporters on Friday braved the rain in Gaza city to celebrate the 18th birthday of the creation of the Islamic Movement.

Descending on the city centre from all over the Gaza strip, Hamas members and supporters began amassing in the square of the unknown soldier following the main Friday prayers.

Leaders of the faction were scheduled to address the crowd, which clutched hundreds of green Hamas flags, pictures of the movement's heroes and placards trumpeting its glory.
Hamas is now able to purchase liquor and cigarettes in many states.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Iran objects to actual mentions of human rights in human rights talks

This is from Iran Focus:
Iran is to halt its human rights dialogue with the European Union after the bloc condemned what it described as continued abuses by the Islamic regime, foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in comments published Thursday.

"During the current year, the EU has put forward human rights resolutions with political intentions, and naturally this trend will leave no place for Iran to continue human rights talks," Iranian media quoted Asefi as saying.

He said Iran backed the idea of a dialogue in principle but had warned the EU it was not prepared to continue the talks under such conditions.

"In principle, Iran welcomes talks and cooperation based on mutual respect," he said.

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New Stalin Statue

From Interfax:
Russian human rights organizations criticized the decision to set up a monument for Soviet-era leader Josef Stalin in North Ossetia.

"This may only be regretted. It's good the monument will not appear in Moscow," Human Rights Movement leader Lev Ponomaryov told Interfax on Wednesday.

"Stalin is one of the bloodiest dictators. Most people remember him as an embodiment of the peak of communist terror. Stalin was exterminating his own people," Ponomaryov said . . . .

It is not the first statue of "the Father of the Nations" to have appeared in Russia in 2005. Stalin's bas-relief was restored in Kaliningrad and busts of Stalin were set up in Krasnoyarsk and in Yakutia's Mirny.
What's next? Statues of Pol Pot in Cambodia and Hitler in Germany?


More Denial from the Nile

This is from Reuter's via LGF:
The head of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition force in parliament, echoed Iran's president on Thursday in describing the World War Two Holocaust of European Jews as a myth.

"Western democracy has attacked everyone who does not share the vision of the sons of Zion as far as the myth of the Holocaust is concerned," Mohamed Mahdi Akef said in a statement . . . .

Last week the deputy leader of the Brotherhood, Mohamed Habib, asked about Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust, said reports of Nazi attempts to wipe out European Jews might have been exaggerated.

"We don't have confirmed things to enable us to prove this matter or refute it. It needs documentation but what one can be sure of is that there were attacks on the Jews but not by means of gas chambers or perhaps not in these numbers or on this scale," Habib told Reuters in an interview.

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Of slogan-bearing trees and infinite happiness

More from the N. Korean News. I know, I know, I do this too much. This one is a minor masterpiece:
Pyongyang, December 21 (KCNA) -- Leader Kim Jong Il received a letter on Dec. 19 from Kim Yong Ok, a lecturer of the room for the education of servicepersons through trees bearing slogans at the navy unit 153 of the Korean People's Army, who got burnt while sacrificingly protecting slogan-bearing trees on Mujae Hill a few years ago. She returned home after being given medical treatment in a foreign country thanks to the benevolent solicitude of Kim Jong Il. Kim Jong Il personally met Kim Yong Ok during his field inspection on Dec. 10, 2004. Seeing the scar of a burn on her face and hands, he took a benevolent step for restoring her face and hands at a best hospital of the world . . .
Recalling the unforgettable days when she felt the warm loving care of Kim Jong Il, she presented a letter to him who had her restored as a most beautiful flower in the Songun era at the expense of much money.
And that isn't even the letter:
She said in the letter:
Seeing us being hospitalized at the highest class room for nearly one year with payment of a fabulous medical fee under the peculiar expectation and concern of the country, even doctors, who had treated only rich men of different countries at the world's famous orthopedic hospital, repeatedly asked me that they were really a daughter and sons of workers and farmers and families of servicepersons. I loudly answered that I am a daughter of Kim Jong Il. I told doctors and foreigners that I had given up marriage after getting burn as a girl, that the whole country gave me medical treatment and helped me get married to a navy officer and that Kim Jong Il told officials to send me to the most famous hospital in the world to restore my face and hands. Deeply moved to hear me, they said that Kim Jong Il is best in the world, socialism of Korea is best and you are his daughter living in blessings. When I told them that Kim Jong Il is the sun in the sky and the future of Korea under the shining sun is always rosy and bright, they stood up to clap, shouting "Kim Jong Il-Sun!" and "Sun-Kim Jong Il!"
Wouldn't anybody! The article concludes:
In the letter she expressed her firm determination to convey to all the people and servicepersons the legendary story of love shown by Kim Jong Il to her as a wife of an officer and make her debut on the stage of the 9th contest of art groups of families of servicepersons to loudly sing of the infinite happiness of being a member of families of his servicepersons.
"Kim Jong Il-Sun!" "Sun-Kim Jong Il!"

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How did *he* get in here? My results on Lamed Zayin's Orthodoxy test User Test: The Orthodoxy  Test.
Left Wing Modern Orthodox: 5%
Right Wing Modern Orthodox: 37%
Left Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi: 76%
Right Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi: 57%

This means you're: Right Wing Yeshivish

What does it mean?

You know the difference between a Borsalino and a Stetson and your gedolim cards selection is almost complete. You never ever wear jeans, period. The gedolim are probably so proud of you. Why can't all other Jews just be frum like you?

Guess I'm just a rose among the blogothorns--just kidding! Let's see, I do know about hats, and it is true that I never wear jeans, but I don't have any Gedolim cards. I should probably be impressed that my being a Chabadnik didn't skew the results even more. (Hat tip: Orthomom)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Stalin tried to create Apemen

This is from by way of Newsmax:
THE Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently uncovered secret documents.

Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s Russia's top animal breeding scientist, Ilya Ivanov, was ordered to turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a super-warrior.

According to Moscow newspapers, Stalin told the scientist: "I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat."
This fits with Elder of Ziyon's theory about Ahmadinejad . . .

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Terrorism and Google Earth

This disturbing item is from the Daily Telegraph site by way of Daily Alert:
Google Earth allows users to zoom in on almost any location in the world to such close range that cars can be recognised. The site even provides latitude and longitude co-ordinates for buildings . . . .

But since its launch, allied forces servicemen in Iraq have suspected that terrorists are using it, along with GPS (global positioning system) units - available in the high street for as little as £150 - to carry out attacks on their bases.
There's another genie out of the bottle.

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Not a Bad Idea, Actually

From the BBC:
Saddam Hussein has been beaten and tortured by the Americans, he has alleged at his trial in Baghdad.

"I have been beaten on every place of my body, and the signs are all over my body," he told the court.

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N. Korean News: "Halt to U.S. Infringement on Sovereignty of Other Countries Called for"

More from the little Juche coupe:
It is imperative to decisively check the U.S. violation of sovereignty of other countries if human rights abuses are to cease worldwide and their cause is to be uprooted, says Minju Joson Tuesday in a signed commentary. Referring to a series of hideous human rights abuses by the U.S. in Iraq, the commentary says that one of its important reasons is that the U.S. deprived the Iraqis of state sovereignty.
The news analyst goes on:
The reality in Iraq proves that state sovereignty is essential for human rights.
In other words, unless Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il can do whatever they want, none of us is free.
This is the very reason why the Koreans have resolutely stood against the U.S. pressure in order to defend the socialist country even under such hard and difficult conditions.
Ready for the next sentence?
It is self-evident that unless the U.S. violation of sovereignty of other countries is thoroughly checked, such human rights abuses as those practiced in Iraq will take place and the world will turn to a barren land of human rights.
Think they can't top that one?
The U.S. should not be allowed to infringe upon sovereignty of other countries in order to ensure world peace and stability and grant people genuine independent rights.
Had enough? Take that!
The U.S. had better stop all its criminal moves to realize its ambition for world supremacy including its anachronistic human rights strategy.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Chanukah Protest Against Iran--Such a Swell Idea?

According to Emanuele Ottolenghi in a current article in National Review Online (flagged by MOT News) the following proposed protest was "recently launched by two London activists, and is already gaining support and sympathy elsewhere." She explains:
. . . here's an idea that ordinary citizens can adopt as a reminder to governments that in the end, for any hope to survive, we need freedom to triumph over tyranny. This year, Hanukkah coincides with Christmas. On December 27, the third night of Hanukkah, Hanukkah candles should be lit in public ceremonies across the streets, in front of Iranian embassies around the world. Jewish communities should organize a lighting ceremony in all those capital cities where Iran has an embassy, and in New York it should be done in front of the U.N. building, right beside the Iranian flag. According to Jewish law, anyone can light the Shamash, the candle that is used to light all others. Prominent leaders with bipartisan support should be invited to perform this symbolic act to reaffirm the light of freedom over the darkness of tyranny. And other public figures should endorse this initiative as a message to the Iranian authorities.
I am probably going to get slammed for being faint-hearted, but we should be very careful we don't inspire reprisals against as many as 25,000 Persian Jews still in Iran.

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Ynet: "Arabs plan mock trial for Bush, Sharon"

Here's hoping that a large work-accident occurs close by:
The Arab Lawyers Union, a Cairo-based organization which includes twenty-four national bar associations of Arab countries, has decided to hold a moot court hearing against “war criminals who harmed Arabs and Muslims,” the Arab media reported Tuesday . . . .

In the “indictment,” Prime Minister Sharon is accused of crimes against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, while Blair and Bush are held accountable for “war crimes” in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The mock trial will be held at the Union’s headquarters in Cairo in February with organizers expecting to lure personalities like Nelson Mandela, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad, and former Algerian president Ahmed Ben Bella to act as judges.

The Union’s head Abed Al-Azim Al-Mughrabi said London Mayor Ken Livingstone, British MP George Galloway and the Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Ekrama Sabri will also be approached to act as juries.

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Speaking of Munich, remember how Germany let some of the terrorists go? Well, they're doing it again.

This is from CNN:
A Hezbollah militant sentenced to life in Germany for murdering a U.S. Navy diver during the 1985 hijacking of a U.S. jetliner has been freed, officials said.

The German government denied on Tuesday the release was related to the freeing of a German hostage in Iraq.
(Hat tip: Dhimmi Watch) The Jewish Virtual Library article about Munich has the details of the earlier capitulation.

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The Graying of Black September: A Shot from the Other Side on Munich

At Michelle Goldberg opines as follows:
Political critics are berating the movie for suggesting that the violence wracking the Middle East is a cycle that both sides have a part in perpetuating. Spielberg, ironically, is accused of being insufficiently Manichean, and the charge threatens to ossify into conventional wisdom before the movie's audience can get to theaters to see how misguided it is. . . . The analogy to our own time is obvious, and in some ways the argument about "Munich" is really one about America. Post-9/11 political correctness, which demands that stories about terrorism and counter-terrorism be limned in starkest black and white, seemed to have dissipated these last few years. In the debate over Spielberg's movie, though, it's returning with a vengeance. The result is not just the mischaracterization of a movie -- it’s the resurrection of the taboo against depicting the war on terror in shades of gray.
I haven't seen the movie, but she is definitely mischaracterizing the hostile reviews. I understand the hostile reviews to be complaining, not about shades of gray, but to the insistence that everything always be gray, and not only that, the same shade of gray. The objection, as I understand it, is to an inability to imagine any kind of complexity other than that which renders Black September gray.

Monday, December 19, 2005

JTA: "Reform movement: Surveillance ‘of great concern’"

Can you spot the weird perfunctory attempt to give this some sort of Jewish relevance?
The Reform movement expressed “great concern” over reports the Bush administration authorized domestic eavesdropping of American citizens without court approval.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, said Monday that the administration had circumvented safeguards designed to ensure civil liberties in times of national security.

“Throughout the centuries, Jewish communities have known the consequences of unchecked government power,” Saperstein said. “For this reason, the Reform Jewish movement now calls on Congress to assert its role in the ingenious system of checks and balances established by our founding fathers through full and fair hearings on the administration’s use of domestic spying.”
Well, I guess you can describe rapacious petty noblemen and blood-libel enraged mobs as "unchecked government power," but it seems like a bit of a plunge into abstraction if you ask me. I think I like liberals better when they are not pretending to speak for Judaism.

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Bibi Wins the Right to Lose to Sharon

I am somehow reminded of Bob Dole in 1996:
Former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has won the leadership of the right-wing Likud party . . .

Likud is currently in third place in opinion polls for the country's forthcoming general election, with Mr Sharon's newly created Kadima party leading the way.
He wouldn't be the ideal PM by any means, but he might be marginally better than Sharon. We won't get to find out.

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Denial from the Nile

This is from MEMRI:
In an article titled "Israel's Lies" in the Egyptian government evening paper Al-Masaa, columnist Hisham Abd Al-Rauf wrote that there were no massacres of the Jews during World War II, and that the gas chambers were intended for disinfecting clothing. Hitler, he wrote, was not against the Jews, and had even permitted Jews to emigrate to Palestine during his first years in power.
This, of course, is in support of Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial. (Hat tip: MOT News)

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Mehr News: "No Pogroms Here"

The Iranian Mehr News Agency has an interesting article today meant to defend Iran against the charge of anti-Semitism following the repeated denials of the Holocaust uttered by their beloved president. "No Pogroms Here" is actually their title. The following paragraph deals with the exodus of Iranian Jews after the revolution:
A small Jewish community has been living in Iran for over 2500 years, and they have never been persecuted. Today they number about 25,000. The Iranian Jews have synagogues, observe their religious rituals, and have complete freedom of religion . . . .
However, after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, many Iranian Jews feared that the anti-Zionist stance adopted by the new government would lead to persecution. Due to this apprehension, about 25,000 Jews left the country in a few years. At the time, seeing that half of Iran’s Jewish community had immigrated to other countries, some biased Western commentators said that the Iranian Muslims were hoping that all the Jews would leave. Yet, quite the contrary, many Iranians wanted the Jews to stay because they believed that a mass exodus of all the country’s Jews would have given the rest of the world the impression that Iran had become a prejudiced country. In the end, the Jews who stayed saw that they would not be persecuted.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Jewish population of Iran went from 80,000 down to about 11,000. Wikipedia mentions up to 30,000 remaining. And what about that "complete freedom of religion"? It is worth quoting the Jewish Virtual Library article at length:
Despite the official distinction between "Jews," "Zionists," and "Israel," the most common accusation the Jews encounter is that of maintaining contacts with Zionists. The Jewish community does enjoy a measure of religious free dom but is faced with constant suspicion of cooperating with the Zionist state and with "imperialistic America" — both such activities are punishable by death. Jews who apply for a passport to travel abroad must do so in a special bureau and are immediately put under surveillance. The government does not generally allow all members of a family to travel abroad at the same time to prevent Jewish emigration. Again, the Jews live under the status of dhimmi, with the restrictions imposed on religious minorities. Jewish leaders fear government reprisals if they draw attention to official mistreatment of their community.

Iran's official government-controlled media often issues anti-Semitic propaganda. A prime example is the government's publishing of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious Czarist forgery, in 1994 and 1999. Jews also suffer varying degrees of officially sanctioned discrimination, particularly in the areas of employment, education, and public accommodations.

The Islamization of the country has brought about strict control over Jewish educational institutions. Before the revolution, there were some 20 Jewish schools functioning throughout the country. In recent years, most of these have been closed down. In the remaining schools, Jewish principals have been replaced by Muslims. In Teheran there are still three schools in which Jewish pupils constitute a majority. The curriculum is Islamic, and Persian is forbidden as the language of instruction for Jewish studies. Special Hebrew lessons are conducted on Fridays by the Orthodox Otzar ha-Torah organization, which is responsible for Jewish religious education. Saturday is no longer officially recognized as the Jewish sabbath, and Jewish pupils are compelled to attend school on that day. There are three synagogues in Teheran, but since 1994, there has been no rabbi in Iran, and the bet din does not function.
The Mehr article ends as follows:
Iran is not a racist country. In fact, Iran has been recognized as one of the pioneers of the anti-racist struggle. Iran is not an anti-Semitic country. History does not lie.
Interesting last sentence.

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Step right up, get your missles!

From Middle East Newsline by way of Daily Alert:
Israel's military has assessed that Hamas supplied Palestinian insurgency groups with enhanced Kassam-class short-range missiles for attacks against Israel.

Military sources said Hamas has relayed scores of extended-range Kassam missiles to such groups as the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad and the Fatah-aligned Popular Resistance Committees. The sources said these groups have fired the Hamas missiles toward Israeli targets to determine the range and accuracy of the projectiles.

"Formally, Hamas has pledged to honor a ceasefire arranged by the Palestinian Authority," a military source said. "So, rather than fire the Kassams themselves, they give them to their terrorist allies."

On Thursday, Palestinian gunners infiltrated former Jewish communities in the northern Gaza Strip and fired an extended-range Kassam missile toward Israel. The missile landed in the industrial zone of the city of Ashkelon, which contains a naval base, port and oil terminal.
Did any intelligent person doubt before the Gaza pull-out that such things would happen?

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Arab News: "Kingdom Sets Free 400 Detainees"

This is probably bad news.
Saudi Arabia has released nearly 400 detainees, held for security reasons, after providing them with intense counseling and making sure they are free of deviant thoughts, the Saudi Press Agency reported yesterday quoting a security official.
They appear to have a lot of faith in the power of re-education.
Dr. Muhammad Al-Nujaimi, head of the department of civic studies at King Fahd Security Academy in Riyadh, said the 400 were set free during the past months.

In a previous statement, Interior Minister Prince Naif had spoken about plans to release some detainees after they repented and decided to return to the right path.
The article does attempt some sort of assurance that this does not mean releasing terrorists:
Prince Naif, however, emphasized that the government would not set free those militants arrested for planning terrorist attacks across the country. "They are still under investigation and will be transferred to court for trial," the SPA quoted him as saying.

Prince Naif said the ministry's counseling program, which started two years ago, was aimed at providing advice to those held in connection with security incidents that had taken place in the country in recent years. A number of prominent scholars, intellectuals, social scientists and psychiatrists are taking part in the program.
OK, as long as social scientists are involved.

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Trondheim to Boycott Israel

Remember the Trondheim Hammer Dance from Monty Python? This is from IMRA:
The Norwegian Provincial Government of Sor-Trondelag voted by a majority on Saturday to boycott the Israeli goods.

In a press release issued by the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, said tha [sic] the government, includes Trondheim, Norway's third largest city and comprises almost 20 percent of Norway's population, decided to completely and totally prohibits the purchase or sale of Israeli products in all municipalities in the province.
(Hat tip: IRIS Blog)

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Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting: "Galloway supports Iran nuclear plans"

As far as George Galloway is concerned, this is not exactly news, but it is interesting that this is appearing in the Iranian press at the moment. An interesting bit of reasoning:
"What is forbidden, should be applicable to all. It is not possible to consider something improper for others and at the same time proper for ourselves," he added.
So much for non-proliferation! Moving right along, what could be more delightful than telling hostile paranoid foreign regimes that your own government is conspiring against them?
The Bitish MP referred to such moves merely as pretexts and said that Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair attempt to attack Iran and that these are just pretexts and mechanisms used by them.
More interesting reasoning:
"If the killing of several individuals in London, New York and Paris is taken as terrorism, taking the lives of thousands of innocent people in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon should also be declared as terrorist acts."
Only "several" people died in New York? Amazing.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Following More Than One Opinion in Halacha

There are many famous examples of machlokes--differing rulings--in halacha. For instance, Beis Hillel ruled that we should start with one candle and add a candle every night of Chanuka. Beis Shammai ruled that we should start with eight candles and remove one every night. In this case the two opinions are totally contradictory, and we follow the opinion of Beis Hillel. We might wonder: Are there instances in which we follow more than one opinion at the same time?

Sometimes a person is said to fulfill all opinions by following the strictest one. For instance, there are various opinions about where one is allowed to shave the beard, and one can just refrain from shaving altogether and not go against any of these opinions.

Another pattern of following more than one opinion is illustrated by the famous machlokes about the order of the parshios in the shel rosh tefillin. We follow the opinion of Rashi, but some people also put on tefillin in accordance with the opinion of his grandson, Rabbeinu Tam. People who do this are still really following Rashi's opinion because they say the berachah on the Rashi's tefillin.

Another example of following more than one opinion at the same time is the text of the Modim deRabbanan in Shemoneh Esrei, which combines wording from several opinions about what to say. You could say that this is an example of following several opinions in rapid succession.

An especially interesting example involves the placement of a mezuzah. The Gemara states that a mezuzh put up "k'min nagar" is pasul (Menachos 33a). Rashi says that this means that a horizontal mezuzah is pasul while Rabbeinu Tam objects to the idea of a vertical mezuzah. In practice we put up the mezuzah on a slant.

At this point I would like to ask for contributions to this discussion. Can anyone think of other examples of following more than one opinion at once?

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Leftist Ahmadinejad

The influence of leftist ideologies on Islamist thinking has been noted many times, especially in Iran. A current article in Iran Daily entitled "Gov’t Focused on Problem Resolution" provides a few examples:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday his government has focused attention on resolving the people’s economic and everyday problems as well as the dilemma of unemployment . . . . He stressed that the elite should try to make people accept the notions of justice and serving public interests.
“If we neglect this cause, then some may abuse the prevailing atmosphere, resort to machinations and run a capitalist system in the name of justice,“ he said.
From later in the article:
Ahmadinejad said he has visited deprived areas of the country in line with the policy of promoting social justice.
This isn't meant as a giant indictment of the left; I just find it interesting.


Attempted Assassination of Ahmadinejad

Debka File gives the following details:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s motorocade was ambushed, one of his bodyguards killed and a second injured near Zabol, in the restive southeastern province of Baluchistan Friday.
Debka adds:
On Nov. 18, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 230 revealed that certain power-groups in the Islamic regime have put out a contract on the blabbermouth president, fearing that as champion of the most way-out factions of the Revolutionary Guards, he may be gathering momentum for a coup.
This is not surprising considering the open holocaust denial recently espoused by Ahmadinejad. Holocaust denial, after all, is a feature of a hysterically paranoid and conspiracist worldview. Any Iranians in positions of power must live in fear of being accused of collaborating with the conspiracy. LGF links to the following:
One of the bodyguards of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was killed and another wounded when an attempt to ambush the presidential motorcade was thwarted in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, according to a semi-official newspaper and local residents.

“At 6:50 pm on Thursday, the lead car in the presidential motorcade confronted armed bandits and trouble-makers on the Zabol-Saravan highway”, the semi-official Jomhouri Islami reported on Saturday.

“In the ensuing armed clash, the driver of the vehicle, who was an indigenous member of the security services, and one of the president’s bodyguards died, while another bodyguard was wounded”, the newspaper, which was founded by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wrote.
The article referred to is here. Elder of Ziyon has an "Iran Nuke Roundup". Update: More from EOZ.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

My Little Juche Coupe, or More Totalitarian Songun Engrish

This little number from the North Korean News is called "Historic Meeting in Realizing Songun Ideology." Nothing like a mighty treasure-sword of ever advancing Songun revolutionary fervor to get you in the right mood for Shabbos:
Pyongyang, December 15 (KCNA) -- The validity of Songun idea, the mighty treasure-sword for accomplishing the socialist cause has been proved in the revolutionary practice. President Kim Il Sung, founder of the Songun idea and outstanding leader of the Songun revolution, carried his Songun ideology into practice at the Mingyuegou Meeting held in December 16, Juche 20 (1931).
Juche is named after the month in which it was thought of? A little later in the article:
The theory that the people are precisely the state, rear and regular army was ascribable to the Songun idea of the President that the entire people should frustrate the counterrevolutionary violence with arms in their hands so as to retake the sovereignty of the nation and defend it forever in reliance upon arms. Since then the Korean revolution has covered the only way of victory under the banner of Songun.
The concluding sentence:
Bright future is in store for the Korean people who are advancing forward under the banner of Songun.
A good paraphase for that last sentence might be "We now have the starvation problem relatively under control."

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Linkim veLinkim

The Chicago Tribune has an item that may be of interest to people who give out a lot of tzedakah in shul: "What to give panhandlers? Little group has an answer"

The Village Voice has an interesting summary of President Bush's recent speeches.

AbbaGav asks "When they flee the Iranian Bomb, which refugees will be pitied?"

Vodkapundit notes an interesting news site.

An item at Cleveland Jewish News: "Yarmulke incident causes concern at Orange High School"

Recent posts on halacha: Jewish Worker on Tefilas Haderech, Chardal on acquiring a Rav, more from Hirhurim on Eruvin in Brooklyn, and don't forget the excellent Rif Yomi Blog.

Update: Charles Krauthammer has an important new essay on Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad: "Man, in the grip of corrupt gov'ts "

This is from Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting:
Mankind today is in the grip of corrupt and bullying governments, said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the city of Nikshahr in Sistan-Baluchestan province on Thursday.
Wonder who is referring to. Could it be the big Satan and the little Satan? It certainly couldn't be *his* government . . .
Addressing a large gathering of residents in the provincial city, the president said discerning people of this world have exhausted their patience with respect to its situation.
I wonder what he thinks the solution is?
"Islam is mankind's only way to salvation," stressed the president, who is in this southeastern province for a three-day visit.

"As the last and most complete religion of the world, Islam alone has all the answers to every question of the human being," Ahmadinejad stated.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Whatever Happened to the 4 Peace Activist Hostages in Iraq?

Here is a recent item about them.

Canada Gets Its "First Humanistic Rabbi"

Eva Goldfinger.
Her ordination took place in October at the Farmington Hills, Mich.-based International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism (IISHJ), where she also serves on the faculty.

To people affiliated with the Secular Humanistic Jewish movement, which dates back to 1963, there is nothing contradictory about her new designation and the “secular” aspect of the movement.

“People think ‘secular’ with a small ‘s,’” the 55-year-old psychotherapist said in a recent interview. In this case, she explained, “secular” refers to a Jewish social activist background.

“People think we don’t care about our Jewish heritage, and we’re very concerned about our Jewishness and the continuity of Judaism. We’re just not interested in the continuity of a Judaism that’s monolithic, or only about one way to be Jewish.”
Can you spot the Either-Or fallacy? Perhaps they should name their movement "Non-Monolithic Judaism."
The Humanistic way of being Jewish upends some of the cornerstones of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism. Although services include Jewish cultural and ethical elements, there are no prayers, and there is no mention of God. The Torah is considered “special” for its literary and historical value, but Humanistic Judaism doesn’t consider it God-given.
This story is actually rather sad. Non-Monolithic Judaism obviously institutionalizes the last moment before the plunge into complete Jewish oblivion.
On joining the Humanistic Jewish community here, she immediately took an active role – teaching and creating services “that don’t serve God but are affirmations of what we are and what we need to be.”
I wonder why they call them "services"? [Idea for a comment thread: what else could they call their ceremony watchamacalits?]

In the late 1980s, Rabbi Goldfinger was ordained as a madrichah (leader) of the movement, in part as a step toward becoming an officiant at marriage ceremonies, including intermarriages and same-sex weddings.

The IISHJ’s rabbinic program – which used to require a PhD in Jewish studies but now requires only a master’s degree– was not instituted until 1991.

“We were resisting,” she said.

The term “rabbi” had “too many authoritarian connotations,” she added. “That’s not how we like to see ourselves.”
We must avoid being authoritarian monoliths at all costs.


Tehran Times: "Israeli Plot in Lebanon"

Guess who's responsible for the recent assassinations in Lebanon?
Following the assassination of Hariri, the UN ratified Resolution 1636, which called for the establishment of an international investigative commission under the supervision of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and headed by UN investigator Detlev Mehlis. This resolution transformed the Lebanon crisis into an international crisis. Paying no heed to the critical situation in Lebanon, Mehlis made some accusations against Syria.

Although the Hariri assassination case has still not been legally resolved, obvious measures are being taken to politicize it.

Under such circumstances, the Zionist regime is trying to manipulate the critical political atmosphere in Lebanon in order to foment anti-Syrian sentiment by arranging a series of terrorist operations against the country’s political and media figures, including the assassinations of journalist Samir Qassir and politician George Hawi and the attack that seriously injured television reporter Mai Shedyak.

In the 1970s, the Mossad killed many Lebanese and Palestinian political figures in similar terrorist operations.

And it is a documented fact that the Mossad is experienced in organizing terrorist attacks that leave no trace of their involvement. Now, what is the Zionist regime’s objective in assassinating Lebanese figures and what will its next step be?

The Zionists are definitely trying to increase suspicions about both Syria and the Lebanese resistance forces in order to undermine political and intellectual relations between Damascus and Beirut.

Foe their next step, the Zionists will try to disarm Lebanon’s Islamic resistance forces, mainly because Israeli troops were forced to withdraw from southern Lebanon in the year 2000 due to the military pressure of these forces. Thus, the Zionist regime is currently trying to establish itself in the Lebanese political scene by organizing its lackeys in the country.

Undoubtedly, assassinations of influential political figures in Lebanon will continue and will not be restricted to a specific group since the Zionist regime does not differentiate between Christians and Muslims or between Sunnis and Shias in its efforts to destabilize Lebanon.
Hey, at least we're an equal-opportunity conspiracy.

Iran Daily: "Iranian Solves Einstein Mystery"

On a more lighthearted note from Iran:
TEHRAN, Dec. 13--A young Iranian lady researcher from Shiraz, Bahareh Kamali-Sarvestani, has successfully in solving the mystery of Albert Einstein’s atomic modules after half a century.
According to the US-based Daily News, upon learning of Kamali-Sarvestani’s feat, the head of an American research center, Rosita Jason, involved in related researches, hailed the 25-year-old Iranian lady “as the birth of another Einstein“.
I wonder what the heck this is talking about. I did a Google search using "Einstein" and "atomic modules" as my search terms, and all I got was this story.

Jason said the creation of atomic modules could be considered the biggest revolution of the 21st century and described the innovation by Kamali-Sarvestani as the work of a genius.
Prior to this discovery, Kamali-Sarvestani had designed and created a blood clotting material for hemophiliacs.
Albert Einstein believed that with the use of nuclear energy, vehicles could be designed to fly 30 meters above the ground.
You have to wonder if this still strikes them as futuristic.

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Big Media Takes More Notice of Ahmadinejad's Holocaust Denial

The title link is to the AP story, and the BBC story is here. The problem with the coverage you are now going to see is that it will focus on the standard aspects of this kind of story--the reactions of other world leaders and so forth--and do an extremely poor job of giving the reader background on holocaust denial, Neo-Nazi propaganda, and the Arab and Muslim world. The fact is that Ahmadinejad is repeating ideas that have been percolating through the Arab and Muslim world, even in the supposedly moderate regions, for decades. Holocaust denial is not just a prominent theme of Neo-Nazi propaganda, but rather its central pillar. Beyond making denier claims, Ahmadinejad also exhibits denier mannerisms--endless posturing as a victim of censorship, for instance. Freedom of speech allows Holocaust deniers to operate quite openly in the U.S., and one has to wonder if Ahmadinejad even knows it. It will be interesting to see what further coverage is like.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Arab News: "Virtue Commission Says Officers Required to Wear Nametags"

RIYADH, 13 December 2005 — Authorities said yesterday that the case of a man and his wife who were allegedly beaten by members of the religious police is still under investigation, Arab News has learned. They also emphasized the requirement that members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice to wear identifying badges.

According to reports, the undercover officers, who were driving an unmarked white sedan, thought the couple were not married and followed them home to arrest them.
I hate it when that happens.
The man filed a report to the Riyadh Police Department two days ago saying that he was approached by two men in a white car that grabbed him and assaulted him as he got out of his car near his home. He said that the car the two men were riding in was a private one, and not the well-recognized GMC Suburban with the logo of the religious police on it.

He also said that he asked his wife to quickly run inside their building for her own protection, but that the men ran after her grabbing her abaya before she finally managed to get into one of the neighbors’ apartment after screaming for help.
Probably just some "other pious people" . . .
[Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ghaith, the head of the commission] also said that by visibly displaying their nametags, members could differentiate themselves from other pious people who offer advice in public areas, but are not authorized to go beyond that.

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More from the Muslim Press on the Construction at the "Al-Buraq" Wall

This is from the U.K. Muslim News site:
The construction works are planned to be financed by several ministries; phased over five-year period. These include propping up what is called as "Heshmonaem Tunnel" - a tunnel that passes under Al-Aqsa mosque - and building a befitting infrastructure for it, in addition to air-conditioning installation; restoration works of Al-Buraq wall, setting up additional arrival halls to receive the tourists who come to visit Al-Buraq square; constructing a heritage centre - dedicated to show a fabricated heritage that might will help them to deceive the foreign visitors into believing Jerusalem as a historical place of the Jews; building a police station; carrying out a marketing project to encourage the Jewish soldiers and students visit the Islamic holy square of Al-Buraq along with Al-Aqsa mosque.

Also, an Israeli government statement mentioned that Al-Buraq wall which is allegedly called by the Israelis as the "Wailing wall" would be part and parcel of the Jewish religious and historical heritage.
The logic of vituperation is interesting. In this example it is only an allegation that Israelis call it the wailing wall, not just an allegation that it was part of the Beis Hamikdosh.

Monday, December 12, 2005

IRNA: "Haddad: Freedom of speech observed in Iran at highest level in world"

Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel said here at a gathering of Iranians residing in Moscow, "In our religion and country no one's status is above Almighty Allah and freedom of speech is observed so highly in Iran that anyone can express his idea based on reasons and logic." The Majlis Speaker added, "We do not shut anyone's mouth up due to such reasons and have always reminded this point to those foreigners that claim human rights are ignored in Iran."
He emphasized, "I myself teach Nitche's thoughts at the universities, and you know he denies the existence of God in his thoughts, but no one has ever criticized me on the case."
The usual test, Mr. Haddad, is not whether you can teach Nietzsche, but whether you can criticize the government.
The Islamic Majlis Speaker said, "That is our approach about freedom of speech, but the Zionists, the West and even the United States [d]o not even permit anyone to express a single sentence against their claims, including on the Holocaust during the World War II." Haddad Adel who was speaking in response to a question on "international effect of IRI president's recent remarks in Holy Mecca", added, "Mr. Ahmadinejad's comment included no new issue and the others have often expressed them."
You're right there, Mr. Haddad, holocaust denial from Iranian Islamists is nothing new.


Daniel Pipes has a round-up of French attempts to explain the recent riots.

Elder of Ziyon conspires with "Fun Fatah Facts."

Captain's Quarters sets sail with "The Last Hours of Tookie."

Seattle Indymedia marches out with an article entitled "Seattle Residents March for Human Rights, Against Imperialist Militarism," actually using the expression "running dogs."

On the Mainline explains them funny letters at the top of the blog.

Backspin describes a "Double-dipping terrorist"

Update: Lileks has a funny summary of 2005.

Al-Manor TV: "Israel announces a suspicious plan to develop the Wailing Wall, Qurei warns Jerusalem is in real danger"

More on those rascally Zionists!
In a new attempt to wipe the Islamic traces off the Muslim holy site, the Israeli government announced a plan to develop what the Israeli call the Wailing Wall. The Israeli government said in a statement that the site is part of the religious, cultural and historical heritage of the Jewish people, and these links should be strengthened under a five-year development plan to develop Jerusalem, the capital of Israel according to the statement.

The so-called Wailing Wall stands below a raised compound known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, the mosque compound which is the third holiest site in Islam.
Israel captured the eastern part of Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and claims the whole of the holy city as its capital a position not recognized by the international community.

Meanwhile Palestinians protested elsewhere another aspect of the continuous Israeli plan to grab their land. The top Roman Catholic official in the Holy Land planted an olive tree on the planned route of Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Abood and prayed for the wall's removal, saying it served no purpose.
Give that guy a Dhimmi of the Year Award!

What You Mean "We," Kimosabe?

This is from the Cleveland Jewish News: Naomi Harris Rosenblatt, author of a book on Biblical woman, speaks on behalf of all us Heebs:
“What got me sitting in my basement, (writing) for three years, obsessed with this book?” she asks in a rich, almost musical voice. “I’m a missionary among the Jews. We Jews arrogantly call ourselves the people of the book, but we are illiterate when it comes to that book. We get a smattering of biblical stuff till we’re 13, and that’s it. At exactly the time when young people are looking for an anchor about who and what they are, they stop studying the Bible.”
In Rosenblatt's world, "We Jews" doesn't include anyone who learns Shnaim Mikra Ve'echad Targum. Hey, Fellow Person of the Book, you just relegated me to the margins!

IRIB News: "Zionists eye to develop Western Wall "

IRIB stands for "Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting." Here is the whole text of this charming little screed:
Qods, Dec 12 - The Zionist regime of Israel on Sunday announced a 15-million-dollar project to develop the Western Wall, located inside the al-Aqsa mosque area which is revered by all devine religions.

The Zionist regime Sunday clumsily attempted to cover its real aim of trampling the dignity of the mosque by calling the project a part of the religious, cultural and historical heritage of the 'Jewish people'.

The regime has planned guided tours for soldiers and students, and a centre built to showcase the spiritual heritage of the site, along with a huge parking lot and a police post. It has also planned tunnels leading off from the wall.

Zionist Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has claimed that five million people visit the site each year.
Don't you love the way the author puts the phrase "Jewish people" in quotes?

NPR has a Tookie Timeline

The suspense is building. Tookie's latest request for a stay of execution was rejected today, and he is scheduled to be executed immediately after Midnight tonight. Arnold has yet to make any public statement on clemency, but he is supposed to do so this afternoon. The timeline treatment is usually reserved for statesmen and artists, and I wonder if NPR is trying to project an elevated view of him, but I notice it contains the following, from 1987, six years after Tookie's conviction for four murders:
1987 -- Williams is placed in solitary confinement for 6 1/2 years after committing a string of violent incidents behind bars, including assaults on guards and other inmates.
The timeline ends as follows:
Dec. 13, 2005 -- Williams is scheduled to be put to death at one minute past midnight by lethal injection.
Update: No clemency from Arnold. So much for predicting the future.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

SF Chronicle: "Californians soul-searching in countdown to execution"

More on Tookie: Joe Garofoli seems eager to conjure up some sort of qualification for the fact that most California residents support the death penalty:
Pollsters regularly measure the public's opinion of the death penalty, but there is scant research on the soul-searching question that shrouds the case of Stanley Tookie Williams, the quadruple killer and gang founder who is scheduled to be executed Tuesday in San Quentin prison:

Do you believe that inmates have the capacity to reform?
Garofoli continues
. . . the cultural landscape has slowly been changing. From the Legislature's 2004 creation of a commission that is examining flaws in the capital punishment system, to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger adding the word "rehabilitation" to the title of the state Department of Corrections this year, there are signs of introspection behind the poll numbers.
I think this is called taking metaphors too seriously. Conversation, of course, is always a good thing. Call AAA if you are having trouble:
The public conversation was jump-started this fall with Oscar winner Jamie Foxx and hip-hop star Snoop Dogg touting Williams' post-incarceration redemption. Soon it will be hard for Californians to escape hard questions about the death penalty that go beyond the Williams case. California is on track to execute three people in the next two months, a sharp jump for a state that has put to death just 11 people in the past 13 years.
Gotta escape those hard questions . . .
"When there is an execution every 18 months or two years, people have been able to go back into their holes and not think about it for while," said Elisabeth Semel, a UC Berkeley law professor and director of the Death Penalty Clinic at Boalt Hall, which advocates for death row inmates.
Must get back in my hole, must not think about it, must avoid introspection and conversation . . . Feminist Environmentalists Demand "Climate Gender Justice"

The debate over climate change evolved into a battle of the sexes Monday at the 11th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal. The spokesman for a feminist-based environmental group accused men of being the biggest contributors to human-caused "global warming" and lamented that women are bearing the brunt of the negative climate consequences created by men.

"Women and men are differently affected by climate change and they contribute differently to climate change," said Ulrike Rohr, director of the German-based group called "Genanet-Focal point gender, Environment, Sustainability."

Rohr, who is demanding "climate gender justice," left no doubt as to which gender she believes was the chief culprit in emitting greenhouse gasses.
Before you jump to any conclusions, this has nothing to do with male consumption of larger quantities of cholent.

"To give you an example from Germany, it is mostly men who are going by car. Women are going by public transport mostly," Rohr told Cybercast News Service. Rohr was standing in front of her booth, which featured a banner calling for "creative gender strategies" from "rural households to global scientific bodies."

"In most parts of the world, women are contributing less [to greenhouse gasses]," Rohr continued. But it is the women of the world who will feel the most heat from catastrophic global warming, she said.

"At least in the developing countries, it is women who are more affected because they are more vulnerable, so they don't have access to money to go outside the country or go somewhere else to earn money and they have to care for their families," she said.
So there you have it. Never let it be said that this is not a progressive blog.

In Which I Predict the Future

Since there a number of current news stories which involve suspense, I thought I would offer some predictions:

1. Arnold got clobbered trying to be the Conservanator with his initiatives, and he once felt some weight-lifting camaraderie for Tookie, so Tookie is getting clemency.

2. Nothing makes Muslims happier than nauseating Dhimmi groveling, so the four peace activist hostages will be released, just as Giuliana Sgrena was.

3. Let us say that this last one is not even a prediction, but an observation about where the natural course of events seems to be leading: Aided by UN and EU spinelessness along with left-wing pacifism and obstructionism in the US, and in the extremely unlikely eventuality that Moshiach will not have arrived a year earlier, Iran will have nukes in one year, chas veshalom.

What do you think?

Look What Greets You at the Tehran Times Site

Why, it's an article entitled "Holocaust commemoration strengthens Jewish-Zionist power "! Update: It has turned up now at Mehr and it turns out to be by Mark Weber of the Institute for Historical Review.

The Shuffle Meme

I seem to have been tagged by Romach. The idea is to set one's iPod on shuffle and note what comes up. I don't own an iPod, and I don't own any secular music anymore. All my vinyl is gone, and the Jewish music CD's around the house were all purchased by my wife and kids. I do have a list of the 500 greatest rock/pop/soul/blues songs that I compiled once upon a time. So here is what I did: I used a random number generator to pick 15. Then I took the stack of Jewish CD's sitting next to my wife's CD player, chose some songs from them that I actually remembered from the titles, mixed them into the list, and deleted enough secular songs to keep the number 15. Here is what I came up with:

1. dust my broom/elmore james
2. i can't stand it/velvet underground
3. chop 'em down/matisyahu
4. sunny afternoon/kinks
5. dime-a-dance romance/steve miller band
6. mayim rabim/lanzbom and solomon
7. get me back on time, engine number 9/wilson picket
8. bereishit/moshav band
9. no particular place to go/chuck berry
10. tracht good/8th day
11. take the skinheads bowling/camper van beethoven
12. the maggid's niggun/simply tsfat
13. stuck inside of mobile with the memphis blues again/dylan
14. ohio jig/soulfarm
15. help me/sonny boy williamson

I have not heard some of the secular songs for 15 years, but I can actually imagine all of these on the same playlist. If I had gone into my kid's CD's, then the results would be totally bizarre: Elmore James followed by Shloimie Dachs!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

More on Spielberg's Munich Movie

The following review, by Leon Wieseltier in the New Republic, confirms my worst suspicions about the film, and it is very memorably written:
The real surprise of Munich is how tedious it is. For long stretches it feels like The Untouchables with eleven Capones. But its tedium is finally owed to the fact that, for all its vanity about its own courage, the film is afraid of itself. It is soaked in the sweat of its idea of evenhandedness. Palestinians murder, Israelis murder. Palestinians show evidence of a conscience, Israelis show evidence of a conscience. Palestinians suppress their scruples, Israelis suppress their scruples. Palestinians make little speeches about home and blood and soil, Israelis make little speeches about home and blood and soil. Palestinians kill innocents, Israelis kill innocents. All these analogies begin to look ominously like the sin of equivalence, and so it is worth pointing out that the death of innocents was an Israeli mistake but a Palestinian objective.
This is followed, unfortunately, by a reservation:
(I am referring only to the war between the terrorists and the counterterrorists. The larger picture is darker. Over the years more civilians were killed in Israeli air strikes than in the Palestinian atrocities that provoked those air strikes. The justice of Israel's defense of itself should not be confused with the rightness of everything that it does in self-defense.)
Nevertheless, the review is well worth reading in its entirety. I will quote one last bit:
The screenplay is substantially the work of Tony Kushner, whose hand is easily recognizable in the crudely schematic quality of the drama, and also in something more. The film has no place in its heart for Israel. I do not mean that it wishes Israel ill; not at all. But it cannot imagine any reason for Israel beyond the harshness of the world to the Jews.
(Hat tip: Life-of-Rubin)