Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Rema on Kapparos

Typically before Yom Kippur, Rav Yosef Karo, the Mechaver, the author of the Shulchan Aruch, is quoted all over the J-blogosphere as objecting to Kapparos. Most of us are Ashkenazim, and it is very important to note the comment of the Rema that immediately follows (Orach Chaim 604):
Some of the Ge'onim wrote about this custom and many of the later authorities also wrote about it. It is also the custom in all of these [the Ashkenazi] countries, and one should not change it because it is a custom and a tikkun.
So, as the Rema writes, it is a venerable custom and the halachic tradition which has come down to most of us approves of it. As far as other common objections are concerned, I have never noticed that the "ze chalifasi" part bothers the chickens very much. The shechita part is like any other chicken shechita: it is over in a second, and it is the same thing that happens to any other kosher-slaughtered chicken.

If you are queasy about witnessing chicken slaughter, as far as I know it is perfectly OK to do Kapparos with money, but too many people are approaching the subject without intellectual integrity. If you are trying to write about it without actually ever having seen it, there is a good chance that you are not describing it accurately. The chicken is not "swung" or "twirled," but rather moved in a fairly sedate circle over the person's head. Then the person who performed the ceremony waits in line to have the shochet shecht the chicken.

That's it. A well-organized public Kapparos is not a spectacle of poor suffering Chickenity, but rather a ceremony that gives humans a chance to combine introspective self-improvement with charitable giving.

Gemar chasimah tova to everybody.

Reader Comments:

Your point is valid.

However, there are other reasons to avoid doing kapporos with chickens, beyond that of the Rashba (because of darkei haemori) that have been expressed by later Ashkenazic authorities, which are applicable in some cases, such as 1) The shochet may be pressured, stay up all night, etc., causing sheila of unkosher slaughtering (if I recall correctly the Chofetz Chaim mentions this concern), 2) Sometimes chickens are reused or are not given to tzedokkoh as promised, 3) questions of tzaar baalei chaim when the chickens may be mistreated.

These problems may be more prevalent today, when it is often done in a large city environment, than in the small shtetl of years ago.

So the bottom line is, that those who eschew chickens and instead just do it with currency, have on what to rely.
anonymous | 10.01.06 - 7:47 am | #

Since you mention Darchei Ha'emori--the idea that the ceremony will appeal to people as an occult practice--that seems to me to be the least of anyone's worries nowadays.

As far as your other reasons are concerned, I said "well organized."
Big cities also make choices available.
Yitzchak Goodman | Homepage | 10.01.06 - 9:53 am | #

" Since you mention Darchei Ha'emori--the idea that the ceremony will appeal to people as an occult practice--that seems to me to be the least of anyone's worries nowadays."

If something is derived from that it is problematic, despite not living among Emori today.

Re 'well-organized' - the fact is that many are not done too well, outside the ivory tower.
anonymous | 10.01.06 - 1:43 pm | #

If something is derived from that it is problematic, despite not living among Emori today.

The idea comes up that insisting on a white chicken is darchei ha'emori. (See the Nosei Keilim.) That seems to imply that otherwise the custom is fine.

the fact is that many are not done too well, outside the ivory tower.

That's true of a lot of things. Be selective. Gut gebentched yahr.
Yitzchak Goodman | Homepage | 10.01.06 - 4:31 pm | #

Friday, September 29, 2006

IRNA: Holocaust-denial, cartoons, Pope, etc.

You have to wonder if the various Ayatollahs are so uniformly supportive of Ahmadinejad behind the scenes.
Substitute Friday prayers leader of Tehran Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati on Friday praised President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for vigorously defending stances of the Islamic Republic abroad, including the UN, and advised all those travelling overseas to set him as a model.

"One should be zealous, faithful and confident enough to speak at the UN; the president stood there and raised his speech, once again questioning crimes of Israel, the US and Britain, especially the Holocaust; he should be a model for those who go abroad representing the Islamic Revolution; they should be watchful not to be deceived," said Jannati in his second Friday prayers sermon to large groups of worshipers at Tehran University campus.

The major cleric also lauded the president for turning down requests for presence in the US Council on Foreign Relations.

"He was invited to the US Council on Foreign Relations but he did not accept, announcing that they should come to the hotel (of his residence) to meet him; this signifies dignity, independence and being a revolutionary."

He urged assisting the president in his drive to tackle price hike, unemployment and administrative corruption.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Ayatollah Jannati harshly criticized the world Catholic Church Leader Pope Benedict XVI for his Islamophobic remarks.

"Pope disgraced both himself and the system he represents," said Ayatollah Jannati, who heads the Guardian Council.

"His comments showed either that he was unaware of Islam, or is a mercenary for others."

In an address to the staff and students of University of Regensburg, when the pontiff made his remarks during his visit to his birthplace in Bavaria, Germany, recently, the Pope made insulting remarks about Islam, its Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and some of its religious rituals by quoting a 14th century Christian emperor.

Ayatollah Jannati questioned, "What a benefit have those, being behind the case of Denmark, gained that Pope is now following their path?"

The Iranian cleric was referring to the defamatory cartoons on Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) published in the Danish press almost one year ago.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

You just can't get good centrifuges these days

Here at World Arrogance Headquarters we're grateful for any good news we can get. This is from the Washington Post's David Ignatius by way of RealClearPolitics:
Intelligence analysts believe that Iran is encountering technical difficulties in mastering the complex process of uranium enrichment. That means the West may have a bit more time than previously expected to pursue a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff.

The problem, according to intelligence officials, is that the centrifuges that are supposed to enrich uranium are overheating. Some are breaking down and must be replaced. As a result, Iran has not ramped up its enrichment effort as quickly as analysts had expected.

This assessment is based on recent conversations with analysts from several Western nations that are watching the Iranian program closely, and on an unpublished report by the International Atomic Energy Agency that was completed Aug 31. To me, it's the equivalent of adding some extra time to the clock in a tense football game. The urgency remains, but there is an opportunity for a few additional plays before the game is over.

"There's time, purely from the point of view of the technical development of the threat, to let diplomacy play out in the case of Iran,'' says Harvard professor Ashton B. Carter, who closely follows the Iranian nuclear issue.

The technical difficulties involve the Iranian uranium-enrichment facility in Natanz, north of Isfahan in central Iran. The Iranians broke IAEA seals at Natanz in January and began enriching uranium. It's a highly complex process, in which uranium gas is injected into the linked array of centrifuges that spin at roughly the speed of sound. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced April 11 that the Iranians had succeeded in enriching uranium to an initial level of 3.5 percent, and in June, Iran told the IAEA it had achieved 5 percent enrichment. That's far below the 90 percent level needed for a nuclear weapon, but it suggested that the Iranians were on their way to mastering the technology . . .

But problems surfaced this summer. The Aug. 31 IAEA report, marked "Restricted Distribution,'' noted that since June, Iran had been feeding uranium into a small 20-centrifuge test cascade "for short periods of time,'' and that it had conducted various tests in June, July and August of the initial 164-centrifuge cascade. "The installation of a second 164-machine cascade is proceeding,'' the report noted, but it added that Iran planned to test the second cascade in September without injecting uranium.

What happened to slow the expected pace? IAEA analysts have told U.S. and European officials that it appears the centrifuges are overheating when uranium gas is injected. "The Iranians are unable to control higher temperatures and after a short period, they must stop because of higher temperatures. So far, they haven't been able to solve this," says one Western intelligence official who has been briefed on the IAEA findings. In addition, this official said, some centrifuges "are simply crashing -- 10 or so have broken down and must be replaced."
Elsewhere on the enrichment front . . .

"Bullying powers planned to prevent Iranian nation from scientific progress through vast propaganda"

Hardly a day goes by in the Iranian Press without an article that sounds like this. From IRIB:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday said that bullying powers' objection towards IRI's peaceful nuclear activities is only a political pretext.

Addressing people of Karaj west of Tehran Province, the President underlined that nuclear energy is inalianable right of the Iranian nation.

Noting that America uses nuclear energy issue as a pretext to achieve its illegal goals, the President asked "what was America's pretext for plotting and imposing war against the IRI nation during last 27 years?"

Pointing to America's bid in equipping the Zionist regime with biggest nuke weapons arsons, President Ahmadinejad said that America's concern is not IRI'S nuclear activities bus it is worried about the Iranian nation's progress.

"Bullying powers planned to prevent Iranian nation from scientific progress through vast propaganda," Ahmadinejad added.

Reader Comments:

Pure bliss!
SnoopyTheGoon | Homepage | 09.29.06 - 4:51 pm | #

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tehran Times: "Lebanon awaits national unity government"

Look who's talking about "foreign-backed" parties! The word "Orwellian" is over-used, but this certainly qualifies:
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and a number of other Lebanese political leaders are in consensus that a national unity government must be formed in Lebanon at this critical juncture in the political life of the country.

The urgency of establishing a national unity government became apparent when regional and extra-regional powers along with foreign-backed Lebanese parties tried to ruin the great achievements of the Lebanese nation during the 33-day war against the Zionist regime by attempting to foment sectarian strife in the country.

However, the Lebanese people’s massive turnout for the celebration of Hezbollah’s victory in southern Lebanon was actually a national referendum for the continued existence of the Islamic resistance movement as the most important defensive force in Lebanon.

The massive turnout for the celebration was a telling response to all the foreign-backed Lebanese parties that oppose Hezbollah.

This referendum, which has confirmed the popularity of Hezbollah in Lebanon, shows that Hezbollah should play a more active role in determining the governmental and parliamentary structure of the country.

Unfortunately, rather than trying to maintain the achievements of Hezbollah, the current Lebanese cabinet headed by Prime Minister Fuad Siniora is trying to weaken the Islamic resistance movement.

Lebanese Defense Minister Elias al-Murr’s insistence on the disarmament of Hezbollah and the immediate deployment of UNIFIL peacekeeping troops will not improve the security situation in Lebanon, but, quite the contrary, will lead to a domestic and regional crisis.

Meanwhile, along with the United States and Europe, some regional countries seem oblivious to the danger of the Zionists’ nuclear weapons and are trying to enforce UN Resolution 1701, which calls for the disarmament of Hezbollah.

If carried out, such efforts will provoke a harsh reaction in Lebanon, paving the way for a new round of internecine strife.

In addition, the recent statement by the Amal movement and Hezbollah, which stresses the necessity of Hezbollah maintaining its arms as a defensive counterbalance against potential Zionist aggression, doubly emphasizes the convergence of Lebanese parties against all threats.

Such threats will remain as long as the Zionist regime has not fully withdrawn from Palestinian and Lebanese territories. Therefore, a premature disarmament of Hezbollah would only facilitate the reoccupation of Lebanon by Israeli forces.

Hezbollah’s decision to retain its arms will pose no problem for the Lebanese government but will actually serve the Lebanese and help to maintain national security.

Therefore, any measure meant to isolate Hezbollah only serves the interests of the Zionist regime.

Clearly, the establishment of a national unity government embracing all Lebanese religious groups is the best solution to the crisis.

If the current Lebanese government and UNIFIL troops try to disarm Hezbollah, Lebanon would be returned to the situation of the 1970s and 1980s, something the people will never tolerate.

The Lebanese are in dire need of national unity, which will allow them to reconstruct their country undistracted by petty domestic disputes.

However, this national unity can not be materialized unless the governmental structure of the country is altered in such a way so as to give all Lebanese political parties their rightful position.

Thus, the current Lebanese government should address the legitimate demands of the nation and take measures to establish an inclusive government.

(North) Korean News: "'Annual Report on International Religious Freedom' of U.S. State Department Upbraided"

Religion is the opiate of the masses, except for Islam?
Rodong Sinmun Wednesday lashes out at the "annual report on international religious freedom" issued by the U.S. State Department recently. It is the height of folly and effrontery to take issue with other countries over the "religious issue", itself having serious religious problems, declares the analyst.

Recalling that the U.S., after the "Sept. 11 incident", has murdered many Muslims in cold blood in its mainland, Afghanistan and Iraq and made no bones about insulting and overriding Islam and Islamic culture, the analyst goes on:

The United States is not a "religious judge" but a chief culprit in the repression and extermination of religion which should be put in the dock of a religious trial.

Truth to tell, it is not in a position to admonish other countries over the issue of religion. In the U.S. Constitution the nation is separated from the church and "religious freedom" is guaranteed. In reality, however, there is only "religious freedom" serving the reactionary ruling quarters. They hold heretical a religious view and religion which criticize or disapprove the American way of life. They even persecute, arrest and kill religionists harboring political discontent.

The world does not recognize the U.S. as a "religious judge" and it has never given it such authority. Nevertheless, the U.S. is intensifying interference in the internal affairs of other countries and pressure upon them, stringing out a high-flown jargon over the "religious problems" in the countries. Especially, it is engaged in a massive campaign against Muslims. The international community demands that the U.S., the real chief culprit in suppressing and exterminating religion, should stop behaving as a "religious judge" and stand in the dock of the religious court by its own motion. The U.S. had better clear itself of the prodigious religious flaws before discussing the "religious problems" of other countries.

"IRNA to interact with all legal political factions - IRNA new Chief"

This is a fascinating glimpse into IRNA's role as purveyor of propaganda. What do the references to "freedom of expression" mean? That Fayyazi is hoping for a tiny amount of independence? Merely that his superiors want him to pretend that he has freedom? We will probably never know.
IRNA new Managing Director Seyyed Jalal Fayyazi said here on Wednesday that IRNA would interact fruitfully and constructively with all legal political factions, particularly those who believe in Islamic principles, the way the Supreme Leader interprets them.

Speaking to an IRNA Political Desk reporter, Fayyazi added, "Keeping in mind that paving the path for freedom of expression and establishment of its foundations, freedom of thoughts, and free flow of information are the top priorities in my work plan, I would try to build an interaction between IRNA and the insider critics of the system, particularly with those who criticize rationally and based on facts, in order to materialize the eight objectives of the leader." Fayyazi added, "I seek the assistance of the country's three branches of power and ask them to cooperate with IRNA, as the mother media in the country, and the official information dissemination center of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

IRNA Managing Director focussing on professional approach that need to be pursued at IRNA, said, "IRNA must function based on precision in news dissemination, authenticity of the dispatches, rapid reflection of the events, and high quality work."

Fayyazi added in his first interview after accepting his new responsibility, "I look at IRNA as an international media that has presence at the entire world scene and can play an effective role in disturbing the prevailing one-sided flow of information and news at world media field."

On IRNA personnel, he said, "They are the main, and invaluable assets of this news agency and my most important mission is to take good care of this valuable staff here."

IRNA new Managing Director said, "Human resources are the main axis of sustainable development and therefore I would pay special attention to preserving the human prestige of my colleagues, improvement of the quality of their work, and solving their problems constantly."

Fayyazi said, "Although I do not have close acquaintance with many IRNA reporters, but as a person with twenty years of experience at media field, I am more or less familiar with the selfless efforts of the reporters, and I would try to safeguard this human resource effectively."

He also sincerely appreciated the efforts made by outgoing IRNA Managing Directors, Ahmad Khademolmelleh during his year-long chairmanship of the country's official news agency, as well as the work done by his deputies, managers, chief editors, and particularly IRNA reporters, whom he said are the "real capital of IRNA." Born in one of the villages in vicinity of Tabas, in now South Khorassan Province, in the year 1958, Seyyed Jalal Fayyazi is one of the founders of Qods daily, and was that newspaper's Managing Director and Chief Editor for sixteen years.

Fayyazi is also among the founders of the country's Islamic Journalists Association and Khorassan Province Media Home.

IRIB: "Palestinians prefer Hezbollah tactics"

This is Iran propagandizing on behalf of its proxy militia, of course, but there is no reason to think this isn't true:
Most Palestinians favor adopting the tactics of the Lebanese Islamic Resistance Movement Hezbollah against the Zionist regime's atrocities, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The poll was conducted jointly by the Truman Institute of the al-Khalil University of Qods and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.

The poll, conducted between Sept. 10-19, also found that a majority of Zionists favor talks with the Palestinian government, even if it is led by the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas alone.

The poll of Palestinians showed that 63 percent favored taking model from the tactics of Hezbollah by launching rockets at Zionist settled areas.

Polls said 67 percent favor talks with a unity government with Fatah alongside Hamas, and 56 percent backed talks with a Hamas-led government.

Reader Commets:

My guess is it's more like 100% want to fight like Hezbollah. And since it seems every generation of Arabs hates her more, I fear for Israel's survival.
Aaron | Homepage | 09.27.06 - 2:14 pm | #

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

IRIB: "Olmert claims occupied Jolan Heights"

This is an interesting case, apparently, of IRIB's recycling of another news agency's story with a few added insults:
Zionist regime called the occupied Jolan Heights an integral part of the fake regime.

The regime's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, whose ruling has already been shaking with scandals, said he would never hand it back to Syria, in comments published Tuesday.

"As long as I serve as prime minister the 'Golan' Heights will remain in our hands because it is an integral part" of the fake state, Olmert was quoted as saying by newspapers.

The regime usurped the strategic plateau in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed it in 1981.
Compare the above article to this one from AFP:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has called the occupied Golan Heights an integral part of Israel and said he would never hand it back to Syria.

"As long as I serve as prime minister the Golan Heights will remain in our hands because it is an integral part of the State of Israel," Olmert was quoted as saying Tuesday by Israeli newspapers.

Israel captured the strategic plateau in the 1967 Six Day War and unilaterally annexed it in 1981.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Iran takes firm steps to address obesity pandemic

I hope this post doesn't give California any bright ideas. From Iran Focus:
State Security Forces (SSF) in the western city of Hamedan have announced that they would crack down on people eating in public during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Flyers distributed across the city by the SSF and the Ministry of Justice state that anyone spotted to be eating food in public would be arrested and handed over for prosecution.

Residents told Iran Focus that they had been threatened by agents of the SSF that they would be forced to dig graves as punishment for eating in public.

The punishment is meant to force those arrested to consider the prospect of death and the afterlife in order to refrain from breaching Islamic regulations.

The month of Ramadan, which started on Monday in Iran and will last until October, is the period during which all healthy Muslims are required to fast during daylight.

In previous years, people caught eating in public in Iran during the holy month have been flogged in public or sentenced to jail time.

Canadian churches boycott bottled water

From Newsmax:
Churches in Canada are urging congregants to boycott an unlikely target of religious zeal – bottled water.

"Water is seen increasingly as a saleable commodity, to make a profit, as opposed to our perspective of it being an element of life and good for all creation,” said David Hallman, an official with the First United Church in Kelowna, British Columbia, which is one of the churches barring bottled water from its building.

The St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ottawa used to sell bottled water at its fundraising events, but will no longer do so, congregant Heidi Geraets told The Globe and Mail in Toronto. Water, she said, is "a sacred gift” from God, and people should not debase it by turning it into a commercial item.

Rural residents who live near wells or springs used by bottlers have fought with the bottlers over groundwater depletion in their area. Congregants who object to bottled water sympathize with their concerns, according to the Globe and Mail.

Environmentalists also object to the still-growing bottled water market. "I can’t stand the whole idea,” said Sarah Miller, a water expert at the Canadian Environmental Law Association, citing the added garbage from discarded bottles and the emissions from trucks that deliver the water.

Still others assert that it make little sense to buy water that can cost more than gasoline when in some cases it is merely slightly altered municipal tap water.

But Elizabeth Griswold, executive director of the Canadian Bottled Water Association, said she rejects the view that bottled water is morally questionable and said that the decision to buy or not buy it should be an individual and not a religious one.
"Individual" vs. "religious"--not a very rigorous distinction there. It never occurs to the people who write these articles to quote someone who is neither moonbat nor Bottled Water official. Let's have normal guy Fred Johnson explaining that he doesn't particularly seek out bottled water as his drink of choice, but that the tap water in his city tastes bad and that it is convenient to give water bottles to the kids to put in their lunches.

ISNA: "Ahmadinejad: Iran stance was the best in UN General Assembly"

ISNA is the Iranian Students News Agency. I think we have a candidate for Juche Sentence of the Day:
Iran's President last night returned from his 10 day trip to Senegal, Cuba, Venezuela and the U.S. to Tehran.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his return told reporters that Iran similar to the last year had expressed and forwarded the most adequate and lucid issues and that the General Assembly had been affected by these suggestions.

"This assembly has much importance and the global community considers it as an international institute," he said.

"In this assembly the righteous stances of the Islamic Republic of Iran were forwarded and similar to the past, what we had to say was new, effective and the best," emphasized the President.

"We can even say that they were the best expressed, because they absorbed all attentions to themselves," he added.

President Ahmadinejad went on to note that aside from meeting various world leaders at the sideline of this assembly and talking with Kofi Annan, he had tried to introduce and illustrate the true Iran.

Major setback in war on terror--Pakistan signs agreement with Al Qaeda

This item in the Weekly Standard is very distressing:
INTELLIGENCE ANALYSTS woke up on September 5 to unsettling news. The government of Pakistan, they learned, had entered into a peace agreement with the Taliban insurgency that essentially cedes authority in North Waziristan, the mountainous tribal region bordering Afghanistan, to the Taliban and al Qaeda. Just ten days later, the blow was compounded when the government of Pakistan released a large number of jihadists from prison. Together, these events may constitute the most significant development in the global war on terror in the past year--yet the media have taken little notice.

For four years, the Pakistani military engaged in a campaign to assert governmental control over Wazir istan. The cost to Pakistan has been considerable; some intelligence sources believe this fighting has exacted a higher death toll on the Pakistani military than U.S. forces have sustained in Iraq. It is in this context that Pakistan gave up on South Waziristan last spring, abandoning its effort to control that area. Thereafter, sharia law was declared in South Waziristan, and the Taliban began to rule openly.

Yet even in the wake of Pakistan's earlier surrender of South Waziristan, this new agreement, known as the Waziristan Accord, is surprising. It entails a virtually unconditional surrender of Waziristan.

The agreement is, to put it mildly, a boon to the terrorists and a humiliation for the Pakistani government. Even the circumstances under which it was signed point to Pakistan's impotence in the face of a determined adversary. Taliban fighters searched government negotiators and military officers for weapons before allowing them to enter the meeting, which took place in a soccer stadium in the North Waziristan capital of Miranshah. According to three separate intelligence sources, heavily armed Taliban were posted as guards around the ceremony, and al Qaeda's black flag hung over the scoreboard.

Immediately after the Pakistani delegation left, al Qaeda's flag was run up the flagpole of abandoned military checkpoints, and the Taliban began looting leftover small arms. The Taliban also held a "parade" in the streets of Miranshah. Clearly, they view their "truce" with Pakistan as a victory. It is trumpeted as such on jihadist websites.

And with good reason. The accord provides that the Pakistani army will abandon outposts and border crossings throughout Waziristan. Pakistan's military agreed that it will no longer operate in North Waziristan or monitor actions in the region. Pakistan will return weapons and other equipment seized during Pakistani army operations. And the Pakistani government essentially paid a tribute to end the fighting when it agreed to pay compensation for property destroyed during combat--an unusual move since most of the property that was destroyed belonged to factions that had consciously decided to harbor terrorists.
The article also observes:
. . .Musharraf's retreat from Waziristan and release of prisoners suggest he may be losing his grip on power. And as bad as Musharraf has been of late, things would be far worse if, in a critical Muslim nation with nuclear weapons, a relatively pro-Western leader were replaced by al Qaeda-linked fundamentalists.
Needless to say, read the rest. (Hat Tip: IRIS Blog)

MENL: Syria preparing for war?

I don't know how credible this report is, but this is a major development if true:
Syria, buoyed by Hizbullah's success against Israel, has ordered his military to prepare for a regional war with the Jewish state.

Israeli intelligence sources said Syrian President Bashar Assad has ordered a series of measures meant to bolster the preparedness of his military. The sources cited increased training, exercises, procurement as well as an examination of Israeli ground and air battles in Lebanon in July and August.

"We see signs of a new strategy in the Syrian military based on the lessons from the Hizbullah war," an intelligence source said. "It could take months until the picture becomes clearer."

The sources said the Intelligence Corps has detected Syrian activities in the Golan Heights that could mark preparations for another war. They said Syria appeared to be planning to bring people to the Golan to serve as a human shield during any conflict with Israel.
(Speaking of Assad, Der Spiegel has this interview. h/t: Tikkun Olam)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

(North) Korean News: "Creativity, Attribute of Human Being"

This one chases its tail in extremely small circles:
The Juche idea expounds that creativity is an attribute of man, the social being who transforms the world purposefully and shapes his destiny. Man does not use the natural living materials as they are but changes them for use and converts the unfavorable living environment in his favor and creates what he needs.

Man makes the working tools and technical means with which he creates materials and cultural wealth. And man overthrows the old social system and establishes a new one.

It is an essential characteristic of man differing from other organisms to transform and develop the nature and society and carve out his destiny in accordance with his will and want.

Such characteristic is called the creativity of man.

Having creativity means that man has a creative ability.

When the creativity is called an attribute of man remaking the nature and society, the creative ability is the capability of man to transform the nature and society.

Unthinkable apart from creativity is the creative power, and vice versa.

The socialist system of Korea under which the working people are the master of everything provides them with all conditions so that they can enjoy a worthwhile creative life.

IRNA: "President expounds on improper relations dominating world equations"

I wonder if it was also gibberish in Farsi:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a meeting with members of the non-government research institute of the US Council on Foreign Relations, briefed them on the improper relations dominating the world equations, particularly in the post-World War II era.

At the meeting, the president underlined that given such relations are unjust and discriminatory, they cannot continue any more.

"Today, some world powers, in particular the US, should change their attitude, which has incited the fury and hatred of one billion Muslims and independent nations all over the world," he noted.

Turning the growing trend of the vigilance and awareness of world nations, Ahmadinejad stressed that today, the world needs justice, ethics and respect for human beings and that to achieve such a goal past relations should be revised and these principles should be accepted.

At the meeting, some of the participants raised questions about various issue, specially whether holocaust is a reality or a myth, Iran's access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, the Middle East and solution to Palestine crisis as well as the US policy on Iran.

Good career move of the day: Lockyer sues auto companies

Now that global warming is so far advanced that it is even affecting Mars, someone has decided to take on the real villains: the auto manufacturers.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California sued six of the world's largest automakers over global warming on Wednesday, charging that greenhouse gases from their vehicles have caused billions of dollars in damages.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind to seek to hold manufacturers liable for the damages caused by their vehicles' emissions, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer said.
The Press Release from the Attorney General's office explains:
The complaint alleges that under federal and state common law the automakers have created a public nuisance by producing “millions of vehicles that collectively emit massive quantities of carbon dioxide,” a greenhouse gas that traps atmospheric heat and causes global warming. Under the law, a “public nuisance” is an unreasonable interference with a public right, or an action that interferes with or causes harm to life, health or property. The complaint asks the court to hold the defendants liable for damages, including future harm, caused by their ongoing, substantial contribution to the public nuisance of global warming.
(h/t: California Insider).

It is interesting that the auto makers' offense is being framed as simply making the cars that emit the greenhouse gasses. According to the Press Release:
Those emissions, the complaint alleges, currently account for nearly 20 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States and more than 30 percent in California. The defendants rank “among the world’s largest contributors to global warming and the adverse impacts on California,” according to the complaint.
How do these statistics fit into the argument? Here is 20 or 30 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions that would not have existed if only they had not made any cars? Doesn't this have to involve some sense of what they should have done differently, and on what scale, and what difference it would have made?

As ridiculous as the anti-tobacco lawsuits were, the argument was not simply that cigarettes cause cancer and tobacco companies make them. The tobacco companies were accused of deceiving the public about the dangers of tobacco, marketing to children, etc. As these lawsuits become more commonplace, the lawyers seemingly don’t need to bother anymore to spell out any precise wrongdoing.

IRIB: "Hezbollah to celebrate victory"

Something to start your day on a cheerful note:
Lebanese people headed towards capital Thursday for a massive victory rally after Hezbolah great victory over the usurper Zionist regime month ago.

The people were taking the road to Beirut, on foot as well as by car, for Friday's magnificant show.

Villagers gathered in the southern port town of Soor for a 80-kilometre(50-mile) march to Beirut donned the yellow t-shirts of Hezbollah and caps marked "Nasrallah, we respond to your call".

Hezbollah officials said thousands were to take part in the march.

Organisers of the rally said their aim was to make it one of the biggest demonstrations in Lebanon's history, with supporters of Christian leader, General Michel Aoun, among several political groups taking part, As-Safir newspaper reported.

Along with Amal, the party of parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and Palestinian groups, "the main leaders of Hezbollah will be present, but we cannot say if sayed Hassan Nasrallah will be there, for security reasons," Spokesman Hossein Rahal said.

The Beirut demonstration, kicking off after Friday prayers, is to be held on a huge open plot, cleared by the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hezbollah.

Ayatollah to Military Graduates: "Take the honorable martyrs as your models"

That looks like a marching style with exaggerated arm-swinging. Either that or they're pushing imaginary shopping carts. From Mehr News:
The armed forces should be prepared to counter any type of threat by the enemies, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday in the northern city of Noshahr.

“Experience has shown that a peace-seeking nation which is walking the path of dignity, happiness, and human ideals should have the power to defend itself against international aggressors and coercers,” Ayatollah Khamenei told army cadets at their graduation ceremony.

Therefore, military strength, along with scientific, spiritual, cultural, and economic advancement, is one the prime goals of the Iranian nation, he added.

“The brave Iranian nation, especially the courageous and faithful youth, has not allowed the enemies to make any practical threats over the past twenty-seven years. However, the armed forces should always be fully prepared to counter any type of threat,” the Leader said.

Referring to the experiences of the Iranian armed forces, he told the graduating cadets, “You should use these invaluable experiences and take the honorable martyrs as your models.”

Ayatollah Khamenei said that the future of the country is very promising, adding that all friends and enemies now acknowledge the glory of the Islamic Republic.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

George Galloway on John Reid's heckler

You may have read about a recent speech by John Reid, the British Home Secretary, and his Islamist heckler, Abu Izzadeen. George Galloway (by way of MPAC-UK) now weighs in on this story with a conspiracy theory--in the form of a letter to Reid:
Dear Home Secretary,

I have been watching open-mouthed the altercation you have provoked in East London with your ill-judged, patronising and provocative foray into territory you clearly barely understand. There is much that will be said about the child-like - Patricia Hewittesque! - performance you gave your audience. I want to concentrate on the altercation.

The man who harangued you - Abu Izzadine - is a well-known and violent extremist from an organisation your own government has proscribed. Yet he was allowed within punching distance of the British Home Secretary. How ? Why ?

This is the same man who led a group of fanatic thugs in the brief "hostage-taking" of myself and my daughter and several innocent members of the public during a general election meeting last year. This is well known to the Special Branch and senior police officers in East London - the very people in charge of your security today.

This man has appeared on many occasions on television and in the press as a dangerous extremist who has praised the terrorist attacks on July 7th and 9/11. His comments were amongst those adduced in your own government's case for the proscription of the Al Ghuraba organisation.

There are only two conceivable explanations as to how this man, at this sensitive time, was allowed to hijack your Potemkin Village performance today.

Either our police and security services are so fantastically incompetent that Bin Laden himself might have slipped in to beard you at your podium. Or someone somewhere wanted to engineer precisely this confrontation to show you in a certain light and to portray the Muslims of Britain in the most aggressive violent and extreme way possible, as a justification for the utterly counter-productive policies you are following.

Which is it ?

Because, as you know, I am not a believer in conspiracy theories I am leaning towards the first explanation. If I am right then yet again the Metropolitan Police have proved almost comically incompetent. The sight of a small, slight, helmeted police officer being dwarfed by a giant ranting fanatical thug - talk about a thin blue line! - as all that stood between you and a violent attack will certainly have provided food for thought and encouragement to the country's enemies. Yet again the justification for continuing in office of Sir Ian Blair must be called into question.

But if I am wrong, and this all turns out to have been some Nixonian "dirty tricks" operation..then of course the questions raised are much more profound and dangerous.
Although, as we all know, he's no "believer in conspiracy theories."
I await your response with interest.

Yours sincerely
George Galloway MP
MPAC-UK's title for this little gem was "Did John Reid Rent The Heckler?" Gotta love 'em.

State Department: Enrich Palestinians, not Uranium

This disgusting news is by way of Middle East Newsline:
The State Department has decided to link Iran's nuclear weapons program with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Officials said the department has drafted talking points for officials and ambassadors that connect any coalition against Iran's uranium enrichment program to efforts to achieve Israeli-Arab peace. They said the United States would support an international drive to stabilize the Palestinian Authority and establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"A key response we're getting in our efforts to form a coalition against Iran is that the Israel-Palestinian conflict cannot be ignored," an official said. "Our response is that there could be a dual track that employs the same international assets to solve both issues."

On Sept. 15, State Department counselor Philip Zelikow said the Bush administration has linked Iran and the Arab-Israel conflict. In an address to the Washington Institute, Zelikow, senior policy adviser to Secretary State Condoleezza Rice, said an international coalition against Iran depended on what he termed progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
Perhaps a Palestinian delegation could travel to North Korea to help with the Taepo-Dong 2 Missile?

Islam Online: "Some Gov'ts Stoked Pope Crisis: Scholar"

Tariq Ramadan has been accused of only being reasonable when it serves his purposes, but here he is in reasonable-mode:
A prominent Muslim scholar on Wednesday, September 20, accused some undemocratic Muslim governments of stoking anger over Pope Benedict XVI's criticism of Islam.

"Certain governments exploit this kind of crisis to enable a frustrated public to let off steam," Tariq Ramadan wrote in an opinion piece in the Swiss daily Le Temps, said Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"When one has deprived people of their fundamental human rights and freedom of expression, it costs nothing to let them express their anger."

The pope has sparked outrage in the Muslim world after quoting a Byzantine emperor who wrote that everything Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) brought was "evil and inhumane".

People across the Muslim world have taken to the streets in massive protests with mounting calls for the pontiff to apologize for his offensive remarks.

Ramadan, who published more than 200 books on Islam, suggested these angry crowds "give the impression that there is no debate amongst Muslims."

"We can question the short-cut in the thinking about the relationship between Islam and violence," said the Muslim scholar.

"But is it wise for Muslims to take offence and 'forget' that for the past five years they have been questioned daily about the meaning of jihad and the issue of violence?"
Of course, Ramadan could not leave it at that:
The high-profile Muslim scholar, nonetheless, slammed the pope's words as excluding Muslims from being part of the European identity.

He said Benedict's remarks defined European identity as being rooted in Christianity and Greek philosophy while excluded Islamic contributions.

"Europe should come to terms with the diversity of its past," he stressed.
The Muslim world could also acknowledge its debt to Judaism.

IRIB: "Beshir reveals Zionist plot in Darfur"

And now for something completely the same:
Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir lambasted a Zionist plot to dismember his country and plunder its resources.

Sudanese president on tuesday rejected any talk of sending a UN force to Darfur that has already left a black record in Africa, saying that only peacekeepers under African Union command could operate in the region.

He added he would accept the current 7,000-strong African Union (AU) contingent there provided the additional troops were African.

"We will not accept any African forces under UN command," he added. Beshir suggested that Sudan might be prepared to accept non-African advisers to the AU force.

Beshir however slammed what a Zionist plot to dismember Sudan, place it under a de facto UN trusteeship and plunder its abundant resources, particularly its oil reserves.

He charged that those who sponsored the Security Council resolution had ulterior motives and were trying to dismember Sudan to ensure the security of the Zionist regime.

"Sudan is a target. all the (Muslim) countries of the region are now being targeted," he said. "There is a plan to redraw (the map of) the region. Every state in the region should be weakened to guarantee 'Israel's' security."

He said that humanitarian agencies are exaggerating the extent of the suffering of Darfur civilians to secure increased funding.
And in the meantime Hugo Chavez denounced the Big Satan.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sudan: UN Peacekeepers plot to help Israel

From Reuters:
Sudan's president said on Tuesday his country would never allow U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur and charged that the West wanted to dismember his country in order to help Israel.

"It is very clear there is a plan to redraw the region," especially after the invasion of Iraq, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir told a news conference on the sidelines of a ministerial U.N. General Assembly session.

"The main purpose is the security of Israel. Any state in the region should be weakened, dismembered in order to protect the Israelis, to guarantee the Israeli security," he said.
There's another one for the barely newsworthy file. (Hat tip: LGF)

Arutz Sheva: "Gazan Muslims Form Group to Attack Christian Targets"

This is all due to the occupation, no doubt:
The group, which calls itself the “Army of guidance,” sent an announcement to news agencies based in Gaza saying that “every place relevant to Christian will be a target until the cursed infidel – the Vatican – apologizes to Muslims.”

Hardline Islamic groups were offended by the Pope’s citing of a Byzantine emperor who criticized Islam’s founder Mohammad’s command to spread Islamic faith by the sword.

Last Friday, the 1,400 year old St. Perfidious Greek Orthodox church in Gaza was among seven Christian targets burned or vandalized Friday throughout PA-controlled areas.
There's a St. Perfidious?
Pope Benedict XVI has refused to apologize for merely citing quotations, but said he was “deeply sorry” for the Muslim reaction to his words – which he stressed do not constitute his own opinion.

Though touted as an apology by the Vatican’s own PR team, Islamic leaders continue to demand submission from the leader of Catholicism.

The chief Islamic Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein called the Pope’s statements, insufficient and demanded a “clear apology” Tuesday. He condemned attacks on churches but insisted the Pope himself is responsible for the Muslim violence.
Related: Elder of Ziyon has posted some Arab cartoons blaming you know who for the Pope's comments, and this item at Huffington Post is going to make DovBear real happy.

Some Popenkoller, some Hizbullah beneficence, some Zionist crimes--it's all part of the fun at IRIB!

Zionists bury nuclear waste in Iraq
Infromed Iraqi sources revealed on Tuesday an agreement signed recently by the Zionist regime and America on the burial of the regime's nuclear plant wastes in western Iraq's al-Anbar region.

According to Qodsna, the source said on condition of anonymity that according to the agreement, the Zionist regime's trucks and airplanes will transfer their nuclear wastes from the 1948 occupied Palestine to Iraq.
Hezbollah gives new life to Lebanon
Standing in his grimy and smoke-stained welding shop, Ahmed Jumaa is eager to help rebuild Bint Jbeil, the South Lebanon town devastated by the Zionist regime's 34-day aggression on Lebanon.

Life has returned to the South with the great reconstruction efforts of the popular Islamic Resistance Movement, Hezbollah.

"Hezbollah turned up very quickly after the war," Jumaa told AFP.
Ahmadinejad encourages independency

Iran and Venezuela have shown they can work together and achieve progress, the Iranian president said, adding the success they have achieved is not only for their two nations but serves as an inspiration to free nations all over the world even at this initial stage.

"We exchange experiences and in all scenes; we will stay together and be an example of brotherhood and cooperation for the world to emulate." President Chavez, for his part, said Venezuela will achieve its goals alongside Iran as demonstrated in the project which they were inaugurating, adding that he considered it an honor to work in the economic field with the Islamic Republic . . .

Further in his remarks, Chavez told President Ahmadinejad that although he had just arrived in the country, it seemed as though the Venezuelan people had known him for so long.
Your visit seemed so long, Mahmoud.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fars News: Ayatollah in escalation-mode

This has a number of interesting features: Jihad defined as "Sacred Defense," conspiracism, the phrase "Arch Satan," and the reference to focusing "objections and attacks."
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei Monday stressed that the recent statements made by Pope Benedict XVI helps to the realization of the policies of the hegemonic powers for fomenting religious crisis between Muslims and Christians.

Ayatollah Khamenei expressed deep regret over the insulting statements made by the world Christians' leader against Islam and, noting the righteous reaction by the world of Islam in this regard, he said that the issue must be viewed from two angles.

"Firstly, these utterances have insulted Islam and dropped some accusations at it, and secondly, such words help to the realization of the policies of the hegemonic powers for fomenting religious crises between Muslims and Christians," he continued.

The Leader added, "Accusing Islam of disrespecting rationality resembles denial of the sunlight, because no other divine book has stressed the need for contemplation and reflection as much as Islam has, and the radiant civilization of the Islamic Ummah (nation) has also been founded on the basis of Islamic recommendations about science, reflection, contemplation and insight."

Elaborating on Jihad (i.e. Sacred Defense), he said it is not fair to present Jihad in a flawed manner while one has not realized its true meaning and concept by himself.

He said Islamic Jihad is not meant to impose beliefs on others, "rather it is a fight for freedom by nations against those powers who try to make a slave of man."

Pointing to several verses of the Holy Quran, the Supreme Leader reminded that Islam has instructed man to treat others in a delicate and deserving manner, and further asked, "Considering such verses, how could one accuse Islam of violence?"

"Yet, more important and more regrettable dimension of Pope's remarks is the help that he has extended by such words to the world arrogance," the Supreme Leader stated.

Noting the efforts made by the US for inciting pessimism and hatred between Muslims and Christians, the supreme leader said that Washington seeks to distort the true image of Islam in a bid to paint an ugly picture of the Muslim minorities in the west and suppress Islamic societies on the pretext of sponsoring terrorism.

"Continued life of World bullying states is conditional on fomenting religious crisis in the international community and the Pope has practically rendered help and assistance to these policies," he asserted.

Meantime, Ayatollah Khamenei said that the Pope seems to have uttered such words because of his lack of due attention to the objectives and intentions underlying promulgation of such forged notions.

He further reminded the recent insults directed at Islam and Islamic sanctities through the publication of some cartoons in the west as well as the insulting words uttered by some American and European politicians and press against Islam, and described such measures as intense efforts of the US to launch a new Crusade, stressing that the Pope's statements form the latest chapter in this story.

"We expect nothing from Bush as he serves the interests of looter companies and powers of the world, but it is of much regret and surprise that a senior Christian cleric makes such utterances," the Iranian Leader pointed out.

To conclude his words, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution called on the world Muslims to pay due attention to the policies underlying the Pope's statements, adding, "The Arch Satan is playing a role in this story too; everyone must pay attention that all objections and attacks must be directed at those who benefit from and misuse these unfair statements of the Pope in order to pursue their arrogant policies."

IRIB: "We can run world through logic"

You have probably already read about Ahmadinejad's Time interview, which is available at the Time site. This IRIB article presents the whole interview but none of the supporting material. The interviewer is amazingly bad. He asks blandly and predictably, for instance, if Iranian Jews were "hurt" by Ahmadinejad's Holocaust remarks. Why not anticipate that Ahmadinejad is going to link his Holocaust-denial to an image of Israel as a giveaway to European Jews and ask about all the Iranian Jews who moved to Israel to escape oppression?
TIME: What were your impressions of New York during your visit to the U.S. last year?

Ahmadinejad: Unfortunately we didn't have any contact with American people. We were not in touch with the people. But my general impression is that the people of the United States are good people. Everywhere in the world, people are good.

TIME: Did you visit the site of the World Trade Center?

Ahmadinejad: It was not necessary. It was widely covered in the media.

TIME: You recently invited President Bush to a televised debate. If he were sitting where I am sitting, what would you say, man to man?

Ahmadinejad: The issues which are of interest to us are the international issues and how to manage them. I gave some recommendations to President Bush in my personal letter, and I hope that he will take note of them. I would ask him, Are rationalism, spirituality and humanitarianism and logic?are they bad things for human beings? Why more conflict? Why should we go for hostilities? Why should we develop weapons of mass destruction? Everybody can love one another . . .

TIME: You have been quoted as saying 'Israel' should be wiped off the map. Was that merely rhetoric, or do you mean it?

Ahmadinejad: People in the world are free to think the way they wish. We do not insist they should change their views. Our position toward the Palestinian question is clear: we say that a nation has been displaced from its own land. Palestinian people are killed in their own lands, by those who are not original inhabitants, and they have come from far areas of the world and have occupied those homes. Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular way. Do you have any other suggestions?

TIME: Do you believe the Jewish people have a right to their own state?

Ahmadinejad: We do not oppose it. In any country in which the people are ready to vote for the Jews to come to power, it is up to them. In our country, the Jews are living and they are represented in our Parliament. But Zionists are different from Jews.

TIME: Have you considered that Iranian Jews are hurt by your comments denying that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust?

Ahmadinejad: As to the Holocaust, I just raised a few questions. And I didn't receive any answers to my questions. I said that during World War II, around 60 million were killed. All were human beings and had their own dignities. Why only 6 million? And if it had happened, then it is a historical event. Then why do they not allow independent research?

TIME: But massive research has been done.

Ahmadinejad: They put in prison those who try to do research. About historical events everybody should be free to conduct research. Let's assume that it has taken place. Where did it take place? So what is the fault of the Palestinian people? These questions are quite clear. We are waiting for answers.
The claim that people are "put in prison" for doing "research" is a common denier pseudo-answer when the subject of Holocaust scholarship is raised. Ahmadinejad has used this tactic numerous times. I think it reflects on the interviewer's incompetence that Ahmadinjead can just throw out this claim one more time without being forced to go beyond it. Even Mike Wallace's interview was better than this.

IRNA: "Elham: Pope's explanations are good but inadequate"

The Gholam of Tehran speaks!
Government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham said on Monday that Pope Benedict XVI has provided 'good but not enough' explanation on his recent remarks regarding Islam.

Addressing his weekly press briefing, Elham urged the world Catholic church leader to correct his claims on Islam.

"It would be proper for the Pope to announce more transparently that the points had been wrong," said Elham.

He said there is no difference among religions and they invite all into monotheism.

"All religions seek justice, peace and perfection of human beings; it seems that Zionists, backed by the US, have in their crimes against humanity been trying to use religions as a shield; some, however, should be alert not to fall in their trap."He defended Islam against Pope's recent blasphemous claims.

"Islam is the religion of peace, justice and human dignity and Pope's claims stem from ignorance as a result of unfamiliarity with the rich religion."
He's on a diet.

Tags: Pope, Islam, Iran, Israel,

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Iran Focus: "Iran launches new 'Youth Police' at start of school year"

If you follow the news on Iran, it seems that they are constantly getting more oppressive.
A new security organ has been set up to aid police inside schools in Tehran beginning from the start of the new academic year, the chief of police in the Iranian capital announced.

Brigadier General Morteza Tala’i announced the formation of a new “Youth Police” which will be present in schools across the Iranian capital.

The announcement appeared in the Saturday edition of the semi-official daily Kayhan.

The new security organ will include youths of various ages.

“This initiative was taken to help prevent any possible crimes [inside schools]” Tala’i said.

The State Security Forces (SSF) commander in Tehran said that the organ would operate both inside and in the vicinity of the schools.

The SSF are already assisted by the Bassij force, affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards, in cracking down on social dissent.

Daily Muslims: "Is American Democracy Too Feeble To Deal With 9/11?"

You may recall that the publishing house of PC-USA, the folks responsible for a recent Israel divestment controversy, published a 9/11 conspiracy book. Here is someone from the Counterpunch crowd, Paul Craig Roberts, who approves of it. And, of course, the review gets picked up by Daily Muslims:
I would be more confident of the survival of democracy and civil liberty in the United States if, on this fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a majority of Americans were reading David Ray Griffin's challenging new book, "Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11."

It is an inexpensive book and available quickly from online booksellers. A person only needs to read the first 56 pages to realize that the official account of the collapse of the three World Trade Center buildings has many problems and that defenders of the official account have no hard evidence upon which to stand.

On pages 57-75, Griffin summarizes the inconsistencies in the 9/11 Commission's incredible tale of flights 11, 175, 77, and 93. The official account is a story of improbable incompetence and failure.

On pages 76-82, Griffin concludes that the failure of the 9/11 Commission Report to produce a believable account or even to acknowledge the most important known facts is itself a conclusive case that the report is a cover-up.

Griffin believes that 9/11 was a false flag operation to provide the neoconservative Bush regime with a "new Pearl Harbor" excuse to launch its imperial ambitions for hegemony in the Middle East and beyond. On pages 85-106, Griffin provides an excellent summary of the neocon agenda and how it was enabled by 9/11.

Griffin expects no further investigation from Congress, official commissions, and government agencies, such as the National Institute for Standards and Technology. Although Griffin calls on the New York Times to take up the investigation, he does not expect any investigative interest on the part of the media, which has served as a propagandist for the government's story . . .

Few Americans understand that an enormous amount of energy was required to produce such a total collapse of the buildings and to pulverize so many tons of concrete, furniture, and office equipment into fine dust. What was the source of this energy, and how did it act so suddenly? The damage to the buildings from airliners was asymmetrical and the fires were scattered. WTC 7 was not hit by an airliner. Yet, all three buildings collapsed symmetrically as if there was no resistance and all structural support crumbled almost instantly . . .

All of this suggests to me that there is something to hide. If Professor Jones, for example, is wrong about there being insufficient energy in the official account to explain the destruction of the buildings, discussions and debates with his academic peers would bring this out. There is no justification for the university administration to intervene in a matter of scientific inquiry, or for people who know nothing about science to serve as gatekeepers for neoconservative ideologues by branding skeptics "conspiracy theorists." "Conspiracy theorist" is used to suppress debate about 9/11 just as "anti-semite" is used to suppress debate about Israel's policies . . .
Sort of like the way the word "nutcase" is used to supress discussion of whether the Danish cartoons and the Pope's recent comments were a Zionist plot.
My role in this is as a reporter. I do believe that 9/11 was used by the Bush administration to launch aggressive wars in the Middle East and that it is not the administration's intent to end the aggression in Iraq. Whether 9/11 was merely convenient for the administration or whether the administration had a hand in it, I do not know.

I am reconciled to the fact that our free democratic society is incapable of producing an inquiry that can arrive at the truth about 9/11.

Fars News: "Castro Praises Ahmadinejad's Bravery"

This calls for a bit of the Inter-Axis Mutual Admiration Theme Song:

It's a beautiful day in this axis-hood,
A beautiful day for an axis,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

Won't you please,
Won't you please,
Please won't you be my lackey?
TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Cuban Leader Fidel Castro stressed that the courageous stances and decisions adopted by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the face of global issues are proof to the fact that the Islamic Revolution is continuing its path mightily.

Castro made the remarks in a meeting with Ahmadinejad at a hospital in the capital city of Havana on Saturday.

During the meeting, the Cuban Leader praised the principled stances of Ahmadinejad and the anti-colonial direction of the Islamic Revolution.

"Your brave stances and decisions adopted in the face of global issues prove the fact that the Islamic Revolution is continuing its path very powerfully," Castro reiterated.

He further underlined the need for resistance by all independent states against the pressures and expansionist policies of the United States, adding that the US stances are increasingly becoming vulnerable, and final victory belongs to the resistant and independent countries of the world.

For his part, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lauded the life time and independence-seeking campaigns and struggles of Fidel Castro and prayed to God for immediate recovery of the Cuban leader.

He also stressed resolve of Iranian and Cuban officials to reinvigorate and develop the existing ties.

Pointing to the United States' extensive interventions in the domestic affairs of the other countries and its military and non-military aggressions against other states, Ahmadinejad described Liberalism as a failed school of though, experiencing its demise, and added that world hatred for the arrogant attitude and expansionist policies of the US is on the increase, while the United States which is the symbol and manifestation of imperialism is moving on a steep slope towards annihilation.

Linkim 9/17/06

Haveil Havalim 87 is up!

David Warren asks "Apologize for what?"

Bernard Lewis feels no "certitude" of victory in the War on Terror. (h/t: Martin Kramer)

Brussels Journal perceives "The Moral Victory of The Pope."

Jules Crittenden asks whether Amnesty International is "turning over a new leaf." (h/t: Power Line)

Simply Jews notes that certain Hamas pronouncements are "Lost in Translation."

Under Progress offers "Popegate and the Muslim response."

Abu Aardvark looks back on the Cartoon Jihad and notes that "The Islamist bandwagon over the Pope's remarks which I expected is moving much faster this time."

Kishkushim reports on a letter about the Pope's comments from Chief Sefardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar.

Canadian Jewish News: "31% of Canadians blame Israel for 9/11"

This is disturbing although not surprising:
Thirty-eight per cent of Quebecers think 9/11 was at least partly the result of Israel’s actions in the Middle East, the highest of any region of Canada, according to a poll commissioned by the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies (ACS).

Overall, 31 per cent of all Canadians, including Quebecers, hold the same opinion. When Quebec responses are deducted from the national total, about 27 per cent of the rest of Canada think Israel’s actions were a “primary cause” of 9/11.

ACS director Jack Jedwab said the more than 10-point spread on this question between Quebecers and other Canadians is significant.

In addition, the great majority of Quebecers, more than three-quarters – well above the Canadian average of 63 per cent – believe the Sept. 11 attacks were also at least in part caused by U.S. foreign policy . . .

Jebwab said the Jewish community should be concerned that a sizeable minority of Canadians overall are ready to blame Israel for 9/11. “It will be a big challenge to change their minds. A lot of work and dialogue is needed to help people better understand why the Jewish community, legitimately, feels differently.”
There is quite a bit more to the article.

SANA (Syria): "Arab Team for Moslem-Christian Dialogue Voices Resentment Over Pope's Statements"

More reactions to the Pope's comments:
The Arab Team for Moslem-Christian Dialogue voiced resentment Over Pope's Statements voiced strong resentment over the latest statements of Pope Benedict XVI on Islam.

The Team, in statement in Beirut signed by its Head Judge Abbas al-Halabi and Secretary General Dr. Riad Jarjour, said that these statements were insult to the Moslems and Christians alike and a stab to their coexistence based on mutual respect, solidarity and fraternity.
The Team has a "Head Judge"? Shouldn't it have a Quarterback?
The Team questioned the real reasons behind this unprecedented discourse, particularly when the Pope quoted false paragraphs from other people.

The group said they were looking for an immediate initiative from the Pope in person to correct things and dissipate all doubts to prevent any negative reactions. They also call on Arab Moslems and Christians to exercise self-control and wisdom.
What would "self-control and wisdom" involve for an Arab Christian at this time? Not leaving the house?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Mehr News: "The Pope’s new crusade"

This one is a tour de force of propaganda:
Pope Benedict XVI’s recent irresponsible remarks about Islam and his apparent affront to Prophet Muhammad (S) indicate that the drum of the Crusades against Islam is being beaten again.

The increasing wave of Western offensives against Muslims, which began with U.S. President George W. Bush’s remarks and continued with the publication of disrespectful cartoons in a Danish newspaper, is part of a plot to start a new crusade against Muslims.

Undoubtedly, this propaganda is not accidental and purposeless, but rather within the framework of a comprehensive strategy to implement the theory of clash of civilizations put forward by U.S. theorist Samuel P. Huntington.

Regrettably, following the suspicious 9/11 attacks, the West is increasing the psychological and propagandistic pressure on Muslims to prepare the ground for the expulsion of Muslims from the United States and European countries.

The Pope’s rude remarks are actually code words for the start of a new crusade, heralding a dark future in relations between Islam and Christianity.

Although the remarks show the Pope’s ignorance of the sublime tenets of Islam, it seems unlikely that the leader of the world’s Catholics would make such sensitive comments without consulting with cardinals at the Vatican who are experts in Islam.

If Islamic countries’ leaders had responded wisely to Bush’s repeated insulting remarks, such statements definitely would not have been repeated by Christian leaders.

Meanwhile, soon after the Pope’s scurrilous remarks, Britain’s Daily Telegraph published outrageous insults directed at Prophet Muhammad (S) and Muslims.

The newspaper claimed that Muslim soldiers in the early days of Islam used to behead prisoners of war.

All this shows that some Christian leaders are still angry about the Christian defeat in the Crusades for Bait-ul-Moqaddas and are seeking to pit Islam against Christianity again.

These provocations are meant to pave the way for the neocolonial powers to regain dominance over the oil-rich Middle East.

If this situation continues, the world will witness the mass expulsion of Muslims from Western countries under the pretext of the campaign against terrorism.

Another aim of such propaganda is to facilitate the implementation of the new Middle East plan so that the Zionist regime can become the Hong Kong of the Middle East and fill Islamic countries’ markets with Israeli goods.

This is the same new Middle East plan that former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Perez discussed with U.S. leaders after Israel and Palestine signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. Perez published his theories in a book with the same name.
Henry Holt and Co., 1993.
Although it seems that this plan cannot be implemented easily due to the vigilance of Muslims, the level of such offensives meant to force Muslims out of Western countries will increase, creating the prelude for a clash of civilizations.

Indeed, in view of the fact that religious wars have always kept nations in a state backwardness over the centuries, such a clash of civilizations would not benefit Christians or Muslims.

At this juncture, initiating a dialogue between the religious leaders of the West and the East is the only way to prevent a religious confrontation.
I like the call for "dialogue" at the end. Every conspiracist rant should end with one.

AlJazeera: "'Guerrilla' artist challenges capitalism"

And this guy isn't "self-obsessed"?
Banksy, the British graffiti artist and prankster, opened his first Los Angeles show in an obscure warehouse, bringing his subversive humour and anti-capitalist message to a city better known for wealth and self-obsession.

"Barely Legal," a free three-day event billed as a "vandalised warehouse extravaganza," opened with the excitement and puzzlement that has come to be the hallmark of the elusive "guerrilla artist."

Banksy keeps his identity secret but has built up a cult following in Europe over the last four years, placing his work in top museums, zoos or on the streets.
The article is accompanied by a picture of the artist (next to the West Bank Wall?) with the caption: "Banksy caused controversy by painting the West Bank barrier." His identity is revealed in the inevitable Wikipedia article, which also has more about the Wall.

Sharp rise in traffic fatalities expected after California enacts cell phone ban

I don't know about you, but my ear piece lives under a pile of CD's, sunglasses, and other paraphernalia. If I have to hunt for that thing while driving, it's going to be very dangerous. Here is the AP:
California on Friday banned motorists from talking on cell phones unless they use a headset or speakerphone, although the law will not take effect until July 1, 2008, to allow time to educate the public.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed the measure, urged Californians not to wait until then to put down their phones while driving, citing government data showing those who held their phones while driving were involved in 15 times more accidents than those with hands-free setups.
How many phone-holders are there, anyway, compared to hands-free folks?
"The simple fact is that it is really dangerous to talk on a cell phone and drive at the same time," Schwarzenegger said. "It's very important for people to know ... stop using the cell phone right now, because you are putting people at risk."
Arnold, you're terminated.

Amir Taheri: "A Mini Cold War is starting in the Middle East"

Taheri is typically very interesting:
For years, Assad vacillated between endorsing reform and leading a new crackdown. Initially, he had convinced some that he might opt for reform- among them British Prime Minister Tony Blair who invited Assad and his British-born wife to a red carpet reception in London and a banquet with the queen.

Now, however, Blair is convinced that Assad is no longer a partner for the West in reshaping the Middle East. That view is shared by France's President Jacques Chirac who has campaigned to bring Hariri's assassins to justice. In July, Chirac broke diplomatic habits by publicly branding Assad as "an obstacle to peace and stability" in the region.

Why is President Assad taking such a gamble?

He appears to have bought into Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's strategy of "waiting Bush out" as discussed when the two met in Damascus last January. The current Iranian policy is based on the assumption that once Bush is out of office, the US will revert to its traditional policy of accommodating the status quo rather than seeking to change it.

Iran has thrown its support behind Assad by supplying him with cut-price oil, cash gifts worth $400 million, a range of weapons including missiles, and a contingent of Islamic Revolutionary Guards that could, if needed, act as a Praetorian Guard.
Read the rest.