Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Did you know that Cindy Sheehan "reinvigorated the anti-war movement"?

If the AP says it, it must be true:
Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq who reinvigorated the anti-war movement, was arrested and removed from the House gallery Tuesday night just before President Bush's State of the Union address, a police spokeswoman said.
So that's where all that vigor came from!

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IRIB: "Arab League to blockade [sic] Denmark"

That's what it says, but it seems they don't quite have a firm command of the word "blockade." From Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting:
The Arab League announced that the alliance will adopt a common policy against those Scandinavian countries which permit the printing of blasphemous articles against Islam and Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

The Arab League is currently consulting member states to adopt a strategy against Scandinavian states whose press publish sacrilegious articles against Islam under the pretext of freedom of expression.
We all know it was just a pretext.
"The strategy will range from political and economic punitive measures against Scandinavian nations. The Arab League is also keen on coordinating its strategy with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to take effective steps to force the Scandinavian states to abide by international law, and observe the prerequisite for co-existence in the international community which calls for respecting other religions," Arab League official said in Algiers.
The references to "respecting other religions" are richly ironic.

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J-post: "Iran Already Has the Bomb"

There's a comforting thought:
Rafi Eitan suspects that Iran already has enough enriched uranium fissionable material to manufacture at least one or two atom bombs of the Hiroshima type. "Otherwise Iranian President Ahmadinejad would not have dared come out with his declaration that Israel should be wiped off the map," repeating it in various versions. His efforts at denying the Holocaust in which six million Jews were slaughtered prove that there is method in Ahmadinejad's madness. "Don't treat him like a madman," Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz recently cautioned.

Eitan's assessment of the situation is especially important because of his extensive intelligence experience in Israel's struggle for its existence, even before its establishment in 1948. Eitan was among those that laid the operational foundations for the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Mossad.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

IRNA: "EU wants to give time to Hamas for reflection"

From Islamic Republic News Agency:
European Union foreign ministers called on the Islamic movement in Palestine, Hamas, Monday to recognize the Zionist state and to renounce violence before the West can take up contact with it.

The ministers, in a statement issued Monday evening, "underlined that violence and terror are incompatible with democratic processes and urged Hamas and all other factions to renounce violence, to recognize Israel's right to exist, and to disarm."
Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plasnik, whose country holds the current EU Presidency, told journalists that "we continue to make clear to Hamas what our expectations are...a government committed to a peaceful and negotiated conclusion to the conflict with Israel." Plasnik said EU ministers had not discussed a timeframe for Hamas' period of reflection, but EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Walner earlier said it could be as long as three months.
I recommend a "period of reflection" for the EU.

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Jewish Press Gets It From All Sides

SerandEz recently had a post deploring, with some justification, an article in the Jewish Press that seemed to suggest that Jack Abramoff would have been more honest if only he had been an FFB. Orthomom picks up the same theme in a post entilted "Editorial Idiocy." In the meantime Yeshivah World has started an "open forum" thread inviting people to "Kindly voice your opinion's regarding this filthy kefira loaded newspaper." So instead of defending the New York Times, perhaps DovBear would like to defend the honor of that venerable Jewish institution, the Jewish Mess.

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Tehran Times: "New challenges for Hamas"

Here is an editorial from someone who feels that the downside of the election victory is that Hamas might go soft on jihad:
The glorious victory of Hamas in last week’s parliamentary election is one of the most significant events in the political history of Palestine. However, it has also raised some concerns, both in Palestine and abroad.

Some political analysts believe that the entrance of Hamas into the parliament and cabinet may undermine the resistance activities of the movement, which clearly enjoys great popularity in Palestine.

Hamas, which was established in 1987 in order to liberate the occupied territories of Palestine, has become very popular both within and outside Palestine over the past two decades.

The organization’s rejection of the Oslo Accords and all other compromises with Israel and its insistence on the establishment of an independent Palestinian government with Beit-ul-Moqaddas as its capital have helped Hamas acquire a high status in the Islamic world.

In addition to their struggle against Israel, Hamas members also confronted the greed of the old guard of the Fatah movement and the financial and administrative corruption of the Palestinian Authority. As a result, they were often persecuted by the political parties of the Palestinian Authority.

So, what has changed in the occupied territories that has enabled Hamas to win such a majority in the Palestinian Parliament, which puts it in a position to claim the post of prime minister and select the new cabinet? Are Hamas officials better political negotiators than the professional politicians of the Palestinian Authority?

Someone should be held accountable for the death of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, Abdul Aziz al-Rantisi, prominent Hamas member Ismail Abu Shanab, Yahya Ayash, and other Palestinian martyrs.

The U.S. and Israel will definitely impose unacceptable conditions on Hamas, calling for it to disarm all political groups, recognize Israel, and condemn all jihadi movements. Hamas must never bow to these demands.

Therefore, the Hamas victory in the election is just one side of the coin, because it will soon face many obstacles set up by other Palestinian parties, the West, and Israel.

Also, it seems that the Hamas victory in the election will also pave the way for the victory of extremist parties like Likud, which is currently led by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the upcoming Israeli parliamentary election.

In the Knesset election, either Likud or another extremist Zionist party will certainly assume power in Israel, and these parties are strongly opposed to any kind of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Therefore, there is little hope that the Palestine crisis can be resolved through diplomacy under the current circumstances.

At this sensitive juncture, with the Islamists coming under pressure from all sides, Hamas must vigilantly and diligently uphold the rights of the Palestinian nation.

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Bill Handel replies to CAIR

According to the Drudge Report:
Handel will apologize IF the Council on American-Islamic Relations:

1) Decries all acts of terror (described specifically, not generally)

2) Agrees that Israel is a sovereign nation with the right to defensible borders

3) CAIR has no ties of any sort, financially or otherwise, to any terror orgs or individiuals.
There is a non-sequitur quality to this reply. Handel would seeming just explain that the sketch does not warrant an apology for reasons x, y, and z. Actually, however, this is very clever. If this show-down is going to focus attention on CAIR, Handel seems to be using it to call attention to the usual equivocation that these kinds of questions usully elicit from them. I wonder what would be involved in the demanded denunciation of terror? A list of specific attacks? By the way, I remember that the local representative of CAIR got a very respectful treatment on the John and Ken show, also on KFI. That probably won't happen again. (Hat tip: LGF)

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More on the Cartoons

From SeattlePI.com:
Libya said Sunday it was closing its embassy in Denmark to protest drawings of the prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper as anger over the controversy spread across the Middle East.

"Due to Danish authorities not taking a responsible stance in this concern, Libya has decided to close its (embassy) in Copenhagen," said a statement from Libya's Foreign Ministry. The statement said other measures would be taken but did not elaborate.

Update: Bill Clinton has now condemned the cartoons.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

IRIB: "Blair invited to holocaust meeting"

From Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting:
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi Sunday proposed the British Prime Minister Tony Blair to attend the Holocaust seminar to be held in Tehran in spring.

Talking to domestic and foreign reporters at his weekly press briefing, he said if Blair attends the seminar, he can hear and raise issues which he cannot hear in London.
Right, Holocaust denial is completely unknown in London.
"What was published as a document in the United Nations on Saturday is the stance of the Islamic Republic of Iran on Holocaust," he said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has described the Holocaust as a "myth" and suggested that those who sympathize with alleged Jewish victims be generous enough to give some of their territories to the Jewish state.

"If the British Prime Minister presents an article to the seminar, we will give time to other to hear his views."

Pointing to remarks made by Blair who has invited President Ahmadinejad to observe documents related to the Holocaust, Asefi added, "we should see when the president has time. We should make decision on this basis."

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I wanna be a chordate

20, 20, 20 more blogrolls to go, I wanna be a chordate
Don't wanna skeleton that's exo, I wanna be a chordate
Put me in your round-up, put me in your post
Hurry, hurry, hurry, before this blog is toast
If I get recognition, I won't give up the ghost
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

20, 20, 20 more blogrolls to go, I wanna be a chordate
Don't wanna skeleton that's exo, I wanna be a chordate
Don't wanna be a mollusc, don't wanna be a worm
Hurry, hurry , hurry, before I'm back to germ
I wanna walk on leggies, don't wanna creep or squirm
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

20, 20, 20 more blogrolls to go, I wanna be a chordate
Don't wanna skeleton that's exo, I wanna be a chordate
Some people's blogs get comments, I want one of those
Hurry, hurry , hurry, before we come to blows
I can't control my fingers, I can't control my prose
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be a chordate
Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be a chordate
Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be a chordate
Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be a chordate

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Tehran Times: "Pistachios, poets and power"

Here is an odd editorial from Iran (also available at Mehr News):
They're beating their war drums and chanting Iran. They cry tears of steel and wail about the noble need to invade and conquer. They caress their powerful tools of destruction and quiver with anticipation of success. They can't imagine that their dreams are about to become nightmares.

They know nothing of Iranian pistachios. These large, tender and exquisite nuts have been pleasing and nourishing the Iranians since long before Europeans walked on the American continent. The aggressors know nothing of the fury they will unleash should they damage a single pistachio tree.

The Iranians embrace a similar reverence for their dates. These dates have sweetened their palates since long before the word candy existed in the English language, since long before there was an English language. The Iranians have joked and flirted with these dates, evoked smiles and laughter from their children with them, thanked their loved ones for sweet pleasures with them. They are not going to put up with anyone desecrating their dates.

What do the aggressors know of pistachios or dates?
It goes on in the same vein about Persian rugs and poetry. The author never names the "agressors," but he must not mean the US--we have lots of pistachios and dates in California. According to Mehr, the author, Joel Miller, "is based in Sweden and is the author of the book 'From DNA to ABC.'" Miller concludes:
Do the aggressors have any idea what it means to attack a nation of poets? That their steel and fire has no power against poetry? That whatever destruction and suffering they bring to Iran will become ingredients in their own nightmare of defeat?

Of course they don't. They don't even know the significance of a pistachio.
I am somehow reminded that after 9/11 you could get California pistachios dyed red, white, and blue. How jingoistic of me to think of this!

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North Korea to sell Iran Plutonium?

Via Iran Focus:
THE drab compound that houses the Iranian embassy in Pyongyang is the focus of intense scrutiny by diplomats and intelligence services who believe that North Korea is negotiating to sell the Iranians plutonium from its newly enlarged stockpile — a sale that would hand Tehran a rapid route to the atomic bomb.

It would confound the international campaign to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions by restricting its ability to make bombs through the alternative method of enriching uranium.

The risk is viewed with such gravity in Washington that the United States has launched a concerted diplomatic and covert effort to prevent it, according to diplomats based in Pyongyang and Beijing.

The belief that Iran and North Korea are talking about plutonium stems from a recently reported offer of oil and gas from Tehran in exchange for nuclear technology.

The discovery by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2004 that North Korea had sold an estimated 1.7 tons of uranium to Libya established a precedent for the sale and showed how hard it is to stop, diplomats say.
Ayein sham.

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Another Gushy Article about Progressive Splat in the LA Jewish Journal

Check out the first paragraph:
When Rabbi Sharon Brous leads a worship service, Jews dance and sing and pray — and talk politics. Her Los Angeles-based Ikar is not a traditional congregation but rather, as she describes it, a “spiritual community” of “modern, progressive Jews” who “boldly reclaim the essence of our tradition” by engaging in soulful worship and social justice.
They "engage" in "social justice" as part of the service? Supposing it isn't bold essence reclamation? What if it's just splat?
Brous, 32, is one of a growing number of young Jews across the country who are creating unconventional sacred communities, unbound by expectations of what a synagogue is supposed to be.
I guess I just like those expectation-bound shuls. Why is rhetoric about bold unconventional blah blah blah always so trite? The article goes on to describe some sort of joint conference with "emergent" Xians.
At the conference, designed to introduce these visionary Jewish leaders to their Christian counterparts, Jews and Christians broke off into groups. Lau-Lavie took a walk with a Christian emergent from Atlanta, during which they discussed their paths toward God.
Two visionaries, three last names?
Still, some of the Jewish leaders expressed unease about collaborating with a group that, ultimately, might believe that the second coming of Jesus depends on Jews’ converting to Christianity . . .

Jones, the Emergent leader, tried to dismiss the concern. “The goal of a dialogue with peers of another faith is surely not to convert them,” he said.

At this point, anyway, the dialogue is just beginning. The first date is over, and now both groups must decide whether to lean in for the kiss, as Synagogue 3000 research director Landres put it. The Jewish leaders say they would like to meet again — but next time, just among themselves. They need to get to know one another before they can collaborate with emergent Christians, they say.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

NY Times on North Korean Counterfeiting and the IRA

In the near future we are likely to see references to Northern Ireland in the course of editorials which advocate negotiating with Hamas. This should give pause to those who think this way, but it won't:
Critics point out that the penalties, which outraged North Korea, were imposed suspiciously close to an apparent breakthrough in the six-party nuclear talks on Sept. 19, when North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees . . . .

"The timing is just a coincidence," said Mr. [David L.] Asher, who was coordinator of the department's North Korea working group until last year. "The administration wanted us to prove this. They didn't want this to end up like Iraqi W.M.D.s," referring to the so-called weapons of mass destruction that the Bush administration never found in Iraq.

In particular, Mr. Asher said, the administration waited until September to give the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies time to finish two elaborate undercover operations focusing on members of China's notorious Triad criminal syndicates. The operations, which ended in August, netted $4 million worth of supernotes with narcotics and counterfeit versions of name brand cigarettes.

The operations, called Royal Charm and Smoking Dragon, arrested 59 people suspected of being gang members, including some lured into the United States when federal agents posing as organized crime figures invited them to a staged wedding. Before they were arrested, some of the suspects even offered to sell federal agents shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, Mr. Asher said.

He said he did not know if the missiles had been made in North Korea.

Other details of North Korea's counterfeiting operation trickled out in October after the arrest in Northern Ireland of Sean Garland, a leading member of a faction of the Irish Republican Army, on charges he circulated more than $1 million worth of fake $100 notes in Britain and Eastern Europe.
Even watch a clerk in the check-out lane hold a bill up to the light? I guess the "supernotes" would pass the test. Kim Jong Il's birthday is coming up, by the way (February 16). There ought to be some sort of blog-carnival to celebrate.

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Mehr News: Cartoons = "Islamophobia"

The article's title is "Iran criticizes 3 Nordic countries over Islamophobia":
In three separate letters to the foreign ministers of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway on Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki criticized some of the daily newspapers of the three Nordic countries for insulting Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him and his household).

Mottaki stated that Islamic countries, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, feel deep concern and regret about the steady rise in anti-Islamic attitudes and Islamophobia in some European countries.

He also underlined the necessity of respecting the values of all divine religions within the framework of all religious doctrines as well as all legal principles and international human rights accords.
"Divine religions" is an interesting phrase. I wonder if that includes Judaism.
Addressing his three European counterparts, Mottaki pointed to the final resolution of the recent extraordinary session of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Mecca, in which all measures meant to tarnish the image of Islam were censured as manifestations of racism and discrimination.
The OIC said so? Why didn't you tell us before?
He also referred to the resolutions of the United Nations Human Rights Commission on the need to confront any kind of insult to religions as well as the UN General Assembly’s resolutions about dialogue among civilizations, in which insulting religions was condemned.

In conclusion, Mottaki asked the three foreign ministers to seriously pursue the matter and to inform the Islamic Republic of the measures taken in this regard.
I wonder what would make them happy? Depriving Salman Rushdie of his bodyguards?

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Arab News Editorial on the Danish Cartoons

Can you imagine a lively editorial from an Arab or Muslim newspaper on this story? This certainly isn't one. Instead, we get a sort-of stern murkiness:
The publication of the Danish illustrations of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and their republication in Norway offers not one but two separate offenses to the Muslim world. The most obvious is that not only was the Prophet depicted in ten of the twelve cartoons, but also that one of the illustrations portrayed him as a terrorist. The second offense is that people in Denmark and Norway and no doubt in most of Europe and North America seem blissfully unaware of precisely how outrageous these images are to Islamic sensibilities.
Let's see, the second offence was not recognizing the first offence. The cartoons were a mild (by Western standards anyway) exercise in Muslim button-pushing meant to determine if freedom of the press still extends that far. And judging from recent Norwegian apologies, the jury may still be out on that question. So what does it mean to say that Westerners do not realize precisely "how outrageous these images are to Islamic sensibilities"? Outraging sensibilities was the point. Ah, but then there is the "second offense." Does that amount to saying that the Westerners failed to recognize that Muslim sensibilities are indeed the ones that must never be outraged? Then we are treated to a paragraph that seeks to dispose of the Muslim-terrorist connection:
The civilized world, including every single Muslim country, is part of the struggle against the international terror of Al-Qaeda and its offshoots.
Including Iran? Syria? Hamastan?
Every reputable Muslim leader has condemned their crimes and made it absolutely clear that the terrorists’ claims to be acting in the name of Islam are utterly false. Muslim communities, in the West, especially in the US, Spain and the UK, where there has been direct experience of Al-Qaeda’s depravity, have gone out of their way to state unequivocally that they deplore without reservation these barbarous acts. In the wake of the London bombings, it seemed that the message that Muslims were not terrorists was getting across. The British authorities with Muslim and other faith leaders worked hard to calm anger and maintain a proper sense of proportion. Yes, the bombers were all Muslims, but they were dupes of the heinous doctrines of a few evil teachers. Muslim communities have declared this again and again. Yet the doltish notion that every Muslim is a terrorist clearly persists in some quarters. A cartoonist in Denmark believed he could raise a smirk among his readers by perpetuating this distortion by depicting the Prophet in a scabrous manner.
Or he just pushed another button.
What is so deeply disappointing is that the Danish and indeed Norwegian authorities have failed to adequately condemn the publication of the image or to directly apologize for the hurt it has caused to everyone in the Muslim world. Instead, we have heard the usual responses about freedom of speech and governments having no control over the press and media. Setting aside the possibility that these publications — like many in Europe — may in fact be the direct beneficiaries of public government subsidies and tax breaks, this issue of an “independent” media is a red herring. No one is talking about censorship.
But everyone is talking about censorship. Censorship was the theme of the whole exercise, not just an after-the-fact excuse.
What Muslims are saying that with every freedom comes a responsibility. Hopefully out of ignorance rather than malevolence, something deeply painful to the entire Muslim world was published in a Danish newspaper. That in itself was an irresponsible use of the freedom of the press, which in no country anywhere is an unlimited freedom allowing journalists to vilify, libel or lie.
Up until possibly now it has been precisely an "unlimited freedom to vilify" and insult and all sorts of other impolite things. It seems that upholding this freedom is going to involve more courage than it used to.
Yet what has made matters worse is that the only regret felt by the Danish authorities seems to be over the difficulties the cartoon has created for them. It would be such a simple matter to recognize that the newspaper had exceeded decent norms and therefore to condemn not only the cartoon, but the provocative and unenlightened message within it. This is a very sad business.
Again, the point was to discover whether "exceeding decent norms" involves a new sacred-cow culture in our formerly freewheeling midst, and all the editorial can talk about is recognizing that an insult did in fact occur. And it is indeed a "very sad business," but it also has its humorous elements.

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4 Hostages Resurface, Colleagues Blame US and UK

From Reuters:
Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams said: "We are so grateful and heartened to see James, Harmeet, Norman and Tom alive on the video tape dated January 21. This news is an answer to our prayers. We continue to hope and pray for their release.

"We continue to believe that what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments in their illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people. We continue to call for justice and human rights for all who are detained in Iraq."
Statements of this sort amount to rhetorical ransom payments.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Tehran Times: "Intifada at the ballot box"

Catchy title:
The Hamas victory in Wednesday’s Palestinian parliamentary election gave a democratic voice to the Intifada and shocked the world.

Hamas won the election mostly because of the popularity of their resistance against the occupation and the fact they presented an alternative to the long years of corruption and mismanagement by a Palestinian Authority dominated by the Fatah faction, and the ensuing poverty.
The corruption issue comes in second place here, right?
The occupiers have been talking of “peace” without really moving in the direction of peace. The Zionists have been negotiating with the Palestinian Authority off and on for years under different names, including the Road Map for the Middle East. Unfortunately, the Palestinians have gained nothing from this process.

Meetings in Madrid, Oslo, Washington, and many other places have produced no concrete results. Therefore, the people of Palestine came to the conclusion that they can only attain their rights through resistance because Israeli officials are not sincere. After all, the establishment of the Zionist regime was itself a deceitful act.

"The voters chose to punish the Palestinian Authority as represented by Fatah for its mismanagement during the last decade," said Nashat al-Aqtash from the West Bank's Bir Zeit University. "You must also add to that the fact that there is no political solution on the horizon and the occupation persists."

Israel was forced to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, which is called the world’s biggest open-air prison, due to the relentless resistance to the occupation, and not as a goodwill gesture. Israel withdrew from Gaza and is instead reinforcing its grip on the West Bank by ordering the construction of more settlements.

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Aljazeera: Bill Handel upsets Muslims

Of interest to Southern California readers:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations on Friday asked for an apology from KFI-AM 640 host Bill Handel, who allegedly made fun of the deaths during a 12 January segment he called the "Annual Stampede Report" . . . In March 2004, KFI issued an on-air apology after CAIR filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission following a skit that claimed Muslims have sex with animals, don't bathe and hate Jews.
This is too classy a blog to make any of the obvious jokes that follow from the above sentence. See also LGF.

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Buy Your Wife Flowers for Shabbos

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

BBC: "California declares smoke 'toxic' "

California has become the first US state to classify second-hand tobacco smoke as a toxic air pollutant.

The decision by the California Air Resources Board puts drifting smoke in the same category as diesel exhaust, and could lead to tougher regulation.

The agency said many scientific studies had linked passive smoking to a range of cancers and respiratory diseases.
You never get a sense in these stories that the writer thinks the level of exposure makes a difference. Is a person sitting in the non-smoking section of a restaurant endangered by the existence of the smoking section? If people are willing to vote for politicians who enact smoking bans, why can't they just avoid restaurants that have smoking arrangements they don't like?
California pioneered smoking bans in the workplace, and later in restaurants and bars.

John Froines, chairman of the Air Resources Board's Scientific Review Panel, said Thursday's ruling put "California way ahead".
Do you ever get the impression that the left looks forward to a future in which pot is legal, but tobacco is illegal?

Update: Somebody lit up a few feet away from me--call Poison Control!

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Iran Congratulates Hamas

From IRIB:
The Islamic Republic of Iran on Thursday congratulated the popular Palestinian Islamic Resistence [sic] Movement, Hamas for its election victory and praised voters for choosing "to continue the struggle and resistance against occupation".

"The Islamic Republic of Iran congratulates Hamas and all the Palestinian soldiers and the great Islamic people," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a statement.

The Hamas Election Victory as Audio-visual Aid

There are certain events that I call "audio-visual aids." They remind us of things that anyone knows who follows the news, but they give a certain immediacy, a certain sensory correlative to the truth--they suggest that there is hope for the inattentive. The election victory of Hamas is just such an audio-visual aid. So was the interception of the Korine A in 2002, carrying 50 tons of Arafat-paid-for weapons, including plastic explosives. 9/11 was the most dismal audio-visual aid of all.

Today the overhead projector of history is again showing us something very important concerning the true prospects for a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Without a military victory, those prospects are as nil as the prospects for negotiating with Osama bin Laden.

Successful peace negotiations ratify circumstances that already exist. The circumstances for peace in the Palestinian conflict must be forced into existence by Israel--they cannot be negotiated into existence, and they cannot be created by withdrawal, not even by unilateral withdrawal. Some entities can be negotiated with and some cannot. The distinction should be made based on the evidence. Today we were given a very large and important piece of evidence.

Update: See the round-up at Boker Tov, Boulder. For gallows humor on this story, see AbbaGav.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

AP Reports Apparent Win by Hamas

Officials in the ruling Fatah Party said Thursday that Hamas captured a majority of seats in Palestinian legislative elections, shortly after the militant group claimed victory.

The Fatah officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they expected Hamas to win about 70 seats, which would give the Islamists a majority in the 132-seat parliament. They spoke on condition of anonymity because counting in some districts was continuing.
Update: Ha'aretz has reported the same thing. Related: Hitler came to power in Germany after the Nazis got about 37 percent of the vote.

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Willis Carto, Neo-Nazism, and Holocaust Denial Timeline

1955 Willis Carto founds neo-Nazi organization called the "Liberty Lobby." Its publishing arm is called "Noontide Press"

1963 Carto takes over The American Mercury magazine

1968 Carto and William Pierce found National Youth Alliance

1974 National Youth Alliance splits--Carto's half is called "Youth in Action"--Pierce's half is called "National Alliance"

1976 Noontide Press publishes Arthur Butz's Holocaust denying "Hoax of the 20th Century"

1978 Pierce publishes "The Turner Diaries"

1979 Carto founds the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review. By 1981 the American Mercury has been retired. Many of the writers from Carto's version of the Mercury appear in the pages of the Journal of Historical Review, the IHR's fake academic journal

1995 Oklahoma City bombing (inspired by "The Turner Diaries")

December, 2005 Ahmadinejad denies Holocaust, IHR writers begin to be mentioned in Iranian government publications

Jan 25, 2006 Butz recaps argument of Hoax of the 20th Century in Mehr News

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Two Bellicose (even for them) Items from (North) Korea News

U.S. Imperialists Threaten Peace in Korean Peninsula, Says Rodong Sinmun

A large-ish excerpt:
The United States has kicked up frantic war rackets against the DPRK from the first day of its occupation of south Korea. Due to the U.S. imperialists' policy of aggression and new war provocation moves, Korea is always under the tense situation in which a war may break out any moment. The presence of the U.S. troops in south Korea clearly proves that the U.S. imperialists are the main force threatening peace in the Korean Peninsula. It is owing to the war provocation moves of the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops stationed in south Korea against peace and reunification that a durable peace has not been achieved in Korea and its peaceful reunification has been delayed.

The U.S. ambition for aggression on the DPRK has become all the more frantic today to stifle it militarily and dominate the whole of Korea. The U.S. is escalating military tension in the Korean Peninsula and bringing about the danger of a nuclear war, while kicking up a nuclear racket against the DPRK and resorting to "sanctions" and "human rights" offensive against it.

If a war breaks out in the peninsula, the Koreans will suffer irretrievable nuclear disasters. Anybody will fall a victim to it and the existence of the Korean nation itself will be in danger.

U.S. and S. Korean Warhawks' Moves for War against DPRK Flayed

Another large-ish excerpt:
The warmongers of the south Korean military, at the instigation of their American master, are busy developing and introducing latest war hardware, while talking about "sort of capacity of independently executing a war" and "acquisition of combat power for deterring the north". The commentary terms the above-said moves unpardonable criminal acts to throw hurdles in the way of finding a peaceful solution to the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the U.S., escalate confrontation and tensions on the Korean Peninsula and unleash a nuclear war against the DPRK at any cost . . . .

The Bush group uttered that the U.S. is not hostile to north Korea but respects its sovereignty. But it, in actuality, has made careful preparations in all aspects to mount military attacks on the DPRK anytime.

The outcries let loose by the U.S. trigger-happy circles are little short of declaring that the U.S. has already completed the preparations for a preemptive nuclear attack on the DPRK.

A war may break out on the Korean Peninsula any moment.
No jokes this time.

AP: More Islamic Cross-dressing from Michael Jackson

This is via SFGate. Jackson's jihad against normalcy continues:
Pop star Michael Jackson was spotted shopping in a Bahrain mall on Wednesday, hiding his face behind a veil and donning a black robe traditionally worn by women in the Gulf.

He was with three children, apparently his own, who also had their faces covered by dark scarves. An unidentified woman accompanied them.

Related: Professor Faivish Mandelbrot, in a new article in the "Journal of Psychology, Sexuality, and Motown," suggests that Jackson exemplifies a new sort of hitherto unstudied sexual and religious orientation. He proposes that a person who displays Jackson's distinctive ambiguities in regard to gender and Islamitude be termed a "transfidel."

Update: Arab News has a version of the Jackson abaya story entitled "From King of Pop to Queen of Arabia." How blogosphere-like of them! An excerpt:
“I was surprised to see how well he was wearing his abaya. The abaya was completely covering his body and was closed from the front so you couldn’t see what he was wearing underneath. His hijab was on perfectly with not a strand of hair poking out. And his niqab covered his whole face with only his eyes visible, but he had aviator sunglasses to take care of that.”

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Opinion Journal: "A vote for Hamas isn't necessarily a vote for genocide." Say what?

My first response to this article (by Khaled Abu Toameh, "the Palestinian affairs writer for the Jerusalem Post") was outrage, and the first draft of this post was entitled "The Same Aliens that control Jimmy Carter have taken control of Opinion Journal." On soberer consideration, perhaps what Toameh means is "A vote for Hamas isn't necessarily a *conscious* vote for genocide." Toameh would seem to be saying, not that Hamas isn't the party of genocide, but that a vote for Hamas isn't necessarily, well . . . a vote for Hamas.
Hamas's decision to focus on financial corruption, nepotism and anarchy is regarded by many Palestinians as wise. Had the Islamic movement put the destruction of Israel and the continuation of suicide bombings at the top of its platform, it would not have attracted such support: The majority of Palestinians are either exhausted by the intifada or simply don't believe that the elimination of Israel is realistic. And many who cast their ballots for Hamas in the municipal elections were quick to explain that this should be seen as a vote of protest against the Palestinian Authority rather than affiliation with fundamentalists and suicide attacks. Even some Christians in Bethlehem and Ramallah are not afraid to admit that they voted for Hamas.
Still, we get paragraphs like the following:
The rampant corruption of Arafat and the top brass of the Palestinian Authority--the only ones who are accused of mishandling the billions that the international community, including the U.S., poured in after Oslo--has been a boon to Hamas, which has attended to the provision of services to a desperately impoverished public. True, Hamas is a terrorist movement responsible for gruesome killings of innocent civilians.
So is the PLO/PA. Hamas is also a totalitarian movement whose charter affirms that the Protocols of Zion is true.
However, the movement that was founded in 1988 also runs a vast network of social, educational, health and economic services, especially in Gaza.
The government of Nazi Germany also provided social services.
In other words, Hamas has been doing exactly what the Palestinian Authority should have been doing all along.
The problem here is that the existence of these specific choices is being treated as a given. Who asked the Palestinians to have the PLO and Hamas for political parties?

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Iran Blames Canada for Terrorist Bombings!

Not the ones which just occurred in Ahwaz, but ones which occurred in the same place last year. From Iran Focus:
After a spate of similar bombings in Ahwaz last year, a string of top government officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, hinted at a British government role in the attacks, which followed a spate of popular uprising in the volatile region that left dozens of residents killed or wounded. London has repeatedly denied any involvement.

In November, the country’s intelligence chief told reporters that Tehran had finally proven the role of the United Kingdom in the October bombings.

Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ezhei, a radical Shiite cleric who runs Iran’s dreaded secret police, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), said that all those responsible for carrying out the November bombings had been arrested and had direct links to Britain.

“All the elements behind the bombings and disruptions in Ahwaz have been identified and arrested. The cases against some of them after being completed in the Ministry of Intelligence and Security were sent to the judiciary and are in their final stages”, Ezhei said.

“Some of those arrested are still at the disposal of the Intelligence Ministry for further questioning and interrogation”, the intelligence chief said.

“Some of these networks had direct links to foreign elements including the British government”, he added.

Iran has also blamed Canada for another spate of bombings in Ahwaz earlier last year. Tehran has not produced any documents yet to substantiate its charges against London and Ottawa.
Those dastardly Canadians!

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Iran Blocks BBC Site

For the not-surprising file, from the BBC:
The Iranian authorities have started to block the BBC's Persian language internet site, for the first time.

The BBC says the level of traffic to the site from within Iran has dropped sharply over the last three days.

No official explanation has been given. The BBC has expressed concern at the action, saying it deprives many Iranians of a trusted source of news.
Perhaps I should try to have Judeopundit translated into Farsi.

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Guardian: Chimps really type of human?

Apparently, some scientists are deciding that chimpanzees are closer to humans than to other apes, even prompting some to advocate placing humans and chimps in the same genus:
In 1991, the Pulitzer prize-winning ecologist Jared Diamond called humans "the third chimpanzee", setting us alongside the common chimp (Pan troglodytes) and its less aggressive but astoundingly promiscuous cousin, the bonobo (Pan paniscus). By 1999 confusion over the biological status of chimpanzees prompted scientists in New Zealand to join forces with lawyers to petition the country's government to pass a bill conferring "rights" on chimpanzees and other primates. The move drew derision. Roger Scruton, the moral philosopher, asked: "Do we really think that the jails of New Zealand should henceforth be filled with malicious chimpanzees? If not, by what right are they to be exempted from punishment?" New Zealand granted great apes legal protection from animal experimentation. British Home Office guidelines also forbid experiments on chimps, gorillas and orang-utans.

In 2003, researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit again ignited the debate when they found that 99.4% of the most critical DNA sites are identical in human and chimp genes, prompting the lead researcher, Morris Goodman, to declare that chimps and humans should be brought together under the same umbrella genus, Homo.
I wonder if chimps will be eligble to join PETA.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Robert Fisk calls Munich "absolutely brilliant"

Figures, doesn't it? Here is an excerpt:
Steven Spielberg's Munich is absolutely brilliant. I can hear readers groaning already. It won't open in Britain until next Friday. But in the United States, Arabs have condemned the movie about the Israeli assassination of Palestinians after the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics as an anti-Arab diatribe that dehumanises an entire people suffering dispossession and occupation . . . .

Spielberg's movie has crossed a fundamental roadway in Hollywood's treatment of the Middle East conflict. For the first time, we see Israel's top spies and killers not only questioning their role as avengers but actually deciding that an "eye for an eye" does not work, is immoral, is wicked. Murdering one Palestinian gunman - or one Palestinian who sympathises with the Munich killers - only produces six more to take their place. One by one, members of the Mossad assassination squad are themselves hunted down and murdered. Avner even calculates that it costs $1m every time he liquidates a Palestinian.
(Hat tip: Martin Kramer)

Related: The Counterterrorism blog offers an eloquent letter from the father of a suicide bombing vicitm about the movie "Paradise Now."

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Your Immortal Feat's Too Big

Remember all those news stories about Kim Jong Il's "secretive" trip to China? It turns out he was performing "immortal feats" there. From the (North) Korean News site:
Newspapers here today come out with editorials saying that spectacular successes and immortal feats registered by leader Kim Jong Il during his visit to China will shine long along with the history of the DPRK-China friendship. Rodong Sinmun says that Kim Jong Il's recent China visit offered a momentous occasion as it provided a new landmark in boosting the unbreakable friendship and solidarity and developing the sincere and comradely cooperation between the parties and peoples of the two countries despite the whirlpool of the turbulent 21st century.

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Al-Jazeera: "Castro offers eye care for US poor"

As you read this, remember, this is from Al-Jazeera:
Fidel Castro, the Cuban president, has offered free eye operations to impoverished Americans and asked the US government to let them travel to his country for treatment.

Castro made the offer late on Sunday as he criticised American policies toward his country during a three-hour appearance on state television and announced a protest march for Tuesday outside the American embassy in Havana.

Because travel to Cuba by most Americans is prohibited under US sanctions, Castro asked US authorities to give Americans official permission to travel to Cuba for the operations.

"We're ready to send an airplane to Florida to pick them up," Castro said. Cuba would foot the costs of flights, accommodation and the surgery, Castro said.

Cuba has all the equipment and specialised personnel considered among the best specialists in the world, he said. He asked if the US government would prohibit those people from travelling to the island and "sentence them to blindness".
I may be missing something, Fidel, but why waste all that airplane fuel? We have good eye doctors in the US--If you are worried about the poor's access to them, why don't you just send cash?

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IRIB: Athletes form Human Chain in front of Uranium Conversion Facility

From Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting:
Large number of Iranian athletes, many of them holders of national titles in different fields of sports, on Sunday afternoon held demonstrations in front of the center for research studies at Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in Isfahan and formed a symbolic human chain to display national support for civilian nuclear program.

The demonstration took place simultaneously with national conference of the Physical Education Organization in Isfahan.

The athletes chanted slogans of 'nuclear energy is our legitimate right', 'Death to US', and 'Death to Israel'.

They acknowledged their support for the national nuclear program. Executive Director of UCF Behrooz Aqa-Ebrahimi Samani delivered a brief statement to the athletes and said that nuclear energy has a variety of civilian utilities.

"The civilian application of nuclear energy serves welfare while military application causes destruction of human community," he said.
Then they all started chanting "Death to the human community" until Aqa-Ebrahimi called out "Silence, you idiots!"
"The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution has said on several occasions that Iranian religious leaders and Iranian culture never permit the use of nuclear energy for any other purpose other than civilian," Aqa-Ebrahimi said.

He said that Iranian scientists have made clear their objection to the use nuclear energy for military purpose and they will spare no efforts to help Iran attain self-sufficiency in the field of nuclear energy.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran calls for elimination of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)," he said.

Iran is the vanguard in opposing use of nuclear technology for military purpose, Aqa-Ebrahimi said.

He said that technology of processing uranium has become a national industry and Iran needs nuclear energy for civilian and peaceful purposes.
And then the athletes started chanting "Death to Israel" again.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006


Boston.com: "US briefs Seoul on N.Korean counterfeit suspicions." From the same source: "The anti-anti-American"

LGF: "Hitler Runs for Office in the PA"

Canadian Jewish News: "Saada dismisses boycott call" The Montreal Muslim News mentioned in the article is interesting. Visit it, and you are greeted by a link to this.

The New Yorker has a review of “Go for Zucker,” a German "Jewish comedy."

Martin Kramer's Sandbox Blog has more about anti-Semitism at Columbia University.

J-post: "Israel gears up for possible Hamas victory" See this also from Jihad Watch.

Hevel Havalim 54 is at Jack's Shack.

Update: Oh, and AbbaGav has the minutes of a meeting of the "Sheik Yassin Elementary School PTA"

More: Asharq Al-Awsat: Amir Taheri reviews "Neoconservatism: Why We Need It" by Douglas Murray

Ynetnews.com: Norway Boycott Fizzles

Too busy doing the Trondheim Hammer Dance, I guess:
Large food chains in Norway say there has been no reduction in the sales of Israeli products in the wake of boycott calls by the Socialist Left Party, a poll undertaken by Dagsavisen newspaper shows.

According to a report in the Norway Post, consumers in the stores who took part in the survey said they are not interested in boycotting Israeli products even if they have heard of the call for a boycott on Israel.

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Irony at Arab News

From a current Arab News editorial on Iran's nuclear ambitions and Israel's response:
How ironic it is that Israel, the latest country to criticize Iran for its nuclear program, is the only country in the Middle East which possesses nuclear weapons. And with its violent history of mistreating the Palestinians, its occupation of a part of Syria, and Egypt and Lebanon in the past, and its 1981 air attack on the Iraqi nuclear research center, there is ample historical and present-day evidence that Israel is the country that cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons.
Let's see, occupying territory in a defensive war and then negotiating its return in the case of Egypt, occupying territory from which it was being attacked and then later withdrawing in the case of Lebanon, and using conventional weapons to prevent the Middle East's former most dangerous madman from obtaining nuclear capability: all that makes Israel "the country that cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons"--to the point that it is "ironic" that it is alarmed by the nuclear program of a Holocaust-denying state which holds public parades celebrating its new missiles' ability to reach the Zionist entity. Just making sure I understand.

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IRIB: Iran Holocaust Conference Starts Tomorrow

From Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting:
An international scientific conference will be held in Tehran Monday to discuss the Holocaust issue.

Initiated by Qod News Agency (Qodsna) and co-organized by the Iranian Society for the Defense of the Palestinian Nation, the conference will aim to shed light on the Western claims of mass killing of Jewish people.

Named 'holocaust, fact or myth?,' the conference gathers experts in the Palestinian issue from the Middle East regions.
Not WWII Historians?
The Zionist regime took a further step in recent days to give legitimacy to its violation of human rights in the occupied lands by initiating and approving January 27 as the day to remember holocaust victims in the United Nations General Assembly.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has called for member countries to publicize the claim and train their citizens to respect the holocaust issue.

Paradoxically, hundreds of Western scholars are rotting in jail on charges of denouncing the claims over holocaust.
Hundreds? All scholars? And they don't rot when not in jail?

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Firm Selling Pro-FARC and Pro-PFLP t-shirts, with proceeds to go guess where?!

From the BBC via Backspin:
A Danish fashion firm is to sell T-shirts inspired by rebel fighters, with proceeds to go to militant groups.

The T-shirts have as logos the initials of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
I wonder if they sell Jimmy Carter t-shirts?

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Opinion Journal: FISA outdated as "Horse-and-buggy"

The Walstreet Jounal's online Opinion Journal has an important piece from Victoria Toensing, chief counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee under Reagan. According to Toensing, "FISA is as adept at detecting--and, thus, preventing--a terrorist attack as a horse-and-buggy is at getting us from New York to Paris." She relates:
In 1985, I experienced the pain of terminating a FISA wiretap when to do so defied common sense and thwarted the possibility of gaining information about American hostages. During the TWA 847 hijacking, American serviceman Robert Stethem was murdered and the remaining American male passengers taken hostage. We had a previously placed tap in the U.S. and thought there was a possibility we could learn the hostages' location. But Justice Department career lawyers told me that the FISA statute defined its "primary purpose" as foreign intelligence gathering. Because crimes were taking place, the FBI had to shut down the wire.
Ayein sham.

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A few sentences on Jill Carroll

It now seems that Jill Carroll is about to enter the Limbo occupied by Norman Kember and his companions. She doesn't, apparently, have the good fortune of being in cahoots with the kidnappers.

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Three Clerics, Four Last Names

From the Canadian Jewish News:
Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl says he is convinced that the Jewish community must do all it can to develop a relationship with the Islamic community.

The senior rabbi of Beth Tzedec Congregation, Canada’s largest synagogue, spoke last month at a major Islamic conference in Toronto and has since taken part in a live question-and-answer session on an Islamic website (www.islamonline.net).

Imam Hamid Slimi of the Toronto-based International Muslims Organization invited Rabbi Frydman-Kohl, whom he had met at a Canadian Jewish Congress-sponsored interfaith dialogue, to speak at the fourth annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention.
Don't you love the name Slimi?
More than 12,000 North American Muslims attended the event, held at the National Trade Centre Dec. 23 to 25. Rev. Bruce Gregerson of the United Church of Canada spoke at the same session as Rabbi Frydman-Kohl, which was a benefit concert for victims of the October earthquake in Pakistan.

The rabbi said that, prior to the invitation, he and Imam Slimi had already discussed commonalities between the two religions, including “ways that we acknowledge God when we eat.”
And the way that we both have last names, although I have twice as many as you do.

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Boston Globe: "Islamist women redraw Palestinian debate on rights"

Interesting that the Globe's headline wants to cast this a "redrawing" of a "debate on rights":
With her textured handbag, heavy mascara, and a veil revealing only her eyes, Alaa Awdeh sounds like the ultimate feminist. Women, she believes, should have equal rights in Palestinian society, especially the right to die in the armed struggle against Israel.

''That's what I am looking for, to sacrifice my life," said Awdeh, 18, an Islamic studies major at Al Najah University in Nablus and enthusiastic member of the youth wing of Hamas, the radical Islamic group.
You could just turn on the gas, Alaa.
Islamic women like Awdeh have redrawn the debate over women's rights in Palestinian society. In the past, the fight was between secular feminists and men who wanted to protect their monopoly on political and social power. Now the debate is between Western-style feminists and religious women who want to share political power without changing the traditional role of women in the family.
So who do the men debate with now?
This month's campaign for the Palestinian legislative election set for Wednesday has thrust that debate into the open.

Hamas has attracted legions of women followers of Islam, giving them control over Hamas-funded educational and job-training programs, and encouraging them to finish school and attend university, but at the same time restricting their legal rights to those laid out in the Koran.

Hamas candidate Muna Mansour, 44, is a former high school physics teacher whose husband, a Hamas founder, was killed in an Israeli helicopter strike in 2002 against Hamas militants considered responsible for attacks against Israel. She considers herself a modern woman, supporting her family and campaigning for office, but also a devout Muslim for whom the Koran can ultimately resolve any policy question.

''We are Muslims," Mansour said. ''If others try to pass a law which contradicts Islam, we say Islam is the solution."

For instance, Mansour said the Koran says that girls should go to school and pursue careers, but also that married people who commit adultery should be stoned to death, an incongruous blend of seemingly contrasting values.
Not if you don't buy into the idea that these women represent some sort of striving for equality. The Globe article is accompanied by a classic picture, by the way.

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Islam Online: Assad Accuses Israel of Killing Arafat

Here is an accusation that has been heard before:
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad stressed on Saturday, January 21, that his country’s sovereignty must be respected in the probe into the murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri and accused Israel of assassinating late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat . . .

"Of the many assassinations that Israel carried out in a methodical and organized way, the most dangerous thing that Israel did was the assassination of President Yasser Arafat," he told an attentive gathering.

"This was under the world's gaze and its silence, and not one state dared to issue a statement or stance towards this, as though nothing happened."

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Asefi: Iran only gives "spiritual help" to Palestinians

From Islamic Republic Of Iran Broadcasting:
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi Saturday dismissed the anti-Iran statements of the Zionist regime's war minister Shaul Mofaz as "baseless."

Asefi said "the statements indicate the Zionist regime's desperation."

He stressed that "the support given by the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Palestinian people and their cause is merely spiritual," adding that not only Iran but all Muslim and freedom-loving states supported the legitimate struggles of the Palestinian people.

The Zionist regime's war minister Mofaz accused Iran on Friday of having been behind the suicide bombing of a sandwich store in Tel Aviv which wounded 30 people.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Al-Jazeera: "Iran starts transferring foreign assets"

Having your foreign assets frozen can take all the fun out of having nuclear weapons:
The governor of Iran's central bank has confirmed that the country has started to transfer assets held in foreign accounts.

Ebrahim Sheibani told the ISNA students' news agency on Friday: "We transfer foreign reserves to wherever we see as expedient. On this issue, we have started transferring. We are doing that . . . "

Sheibani told reporters earlier this week that Iran stood ready to repatriate the money it held abroad should this prove necessary.

Iran, which could face UN economic sanctions over its atomic programme, has bitter memories of its US assets being frozen shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

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IRIB: "Blast shook heart of Tel Aviv"

From Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting--this isn't exactly news, but it is interesting to see how it is covered in Iran:
A member of Palestinian resistance movement Islamic Jihad carried out a martyrdom seeking operation at a sandwich stand in Tel Aviv on Thursday.

A member of Palestinian resistance movement Islamic Jihad carried out a martyrdom seeking operation at a sandwich stand in Tel Aviv on Thursday, wounding at least 22 Zionists.
Is there something familiar about that last sentence? Interesting definition of Zionist: anybody who happens to be in the way when a martyrdom seeker blows up.
The Palestinian martyr targeted a small, open-air sandwich stand on a busy pedestrian mall near Tel Aviv's old central bus station. He wore a backpack and pretended to be blind before detonating his explosives, according to a witness.

A spokesman for the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing [Never know when the Guardian is going to pick up your story--YG.] of the Islamic Jihad, named the martyr bomber as 22-year-old Sami Abd al-Hafiz Antar from the West Bank town of Nablus.

The blast tore down the ceiling of the restaurant.

Senior Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh said he could neither confirm nor deny his group was behind it.

"Regardless of who carried out the attack, it was a natural response against the continued Israeli assassination of fighters and killing of innocents," he said.

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Mehr News: "Nuclear weapons contrary to tenets of Islam"

More from Mehr:
The Supreme Leader lauded Iranian scientists for their advances in the civilian application of nuclear energy and noted that the UN nuclear body has acknowledged that Iran has become a member of the world’s nuclear club.

"We are not seeking nuclear weapons. Western states are well aware that manufacturing nuclear weapons runs contrary to the political and economic interests of the nation and is a violation of the tenets of Islam," he added.
The funniest part of the sentence is the bit about Western awareness. And still those rascally Western states pretend to be worried!

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Islam Online: All Prophetic Teachings Lost Except for You-know-who

From an artile entitled "The Finality of Prophethood" in the "Shari`ah Corner" section of the site:
Not one of the earlier books (Torah, Psalms, Gospel, etc.,) exists today in its original text, and even the followers of these books confess that they do not possess the original books. The life stories of the earlier prophets have been so mixed up with fiction that an accurate and authentic account of their lives has become impossible. Their lives have become tales and legends, and no trustworthy record is a available anywhere. Not only have the records been lost and their precepts forgotten, but it cannot even be known with certainty when and where a certain prophet was born and bred, how he lived, and what code he gave to mankind. In fact, the real death of a prophet consists in the death of his teachings.

Judging the facts on this criterion, no one can deny that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his teachings are alive. His teachings stand uncorrupted and are incorruptible. The Qur’an—the book he brought to mankind—exists in its original text, without the slightest alteration of letter, syllable, jot, or title.
Interesting, no?


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Colorado Smoking Ban

I don't smoke, but I am always fascinated by smoking bans and the sort of thinking they evoke. Cindy Rodriguez, writing in the Denver Post, explains:
This is the year Colorado will ban smoking from all restaurants, bars and nightclubs, giving the majority of Coloradans who don't smoke the right to breathe carcinogen-free air.
That's an interesting way to describe a law that takes away the freedom to make one's own smoking and non-smoking arrangements. Another interesting bit:
"You are more likely to die of secondhand smoke at work than from a terrorist attack," Rep. Jack Pommer, a Democrat from Boulder, said during a news conference Wednesday morning.
I don't know what I find more surprising: the idea that someone has exactly quantified the risk of dying in a terrorist attack or the idea that this is an argument for anything. Another bit:
It makes sense, considering polls show that eight out of 10 people in the state don't smoke. Why should we continue to allow smokers to impose their unhealthy habit on the rest of us?
How many people can't stand the idea of eating in the non-smoking section of restaurant that also has smoking section? And if they are the majority, why didn't the institutions that allow smoking go out of business years ago?

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Totalitarian Tunes

From (North) Korean News:
"The Sun and Youth", a concert of youth and students for pledging loyalty, was held at the Central Youth Hall on Jan. 17 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League. The performers put on the stage poem and chorus "Glory to the General", tale and chorus "On the Road of Fight to Follow the General", chorus and dance "We Are Successors to the Revolution", chorus "Dear General, Where Are You" which is an immortal masterpiece, male quintet and chorus "Let Us Become the Army of the General", chorus and dance "The Song of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League" and other numbers.
The performers and audiences hardened their determination to fully demonstrate the revolutionary stamina and valor of the Songun young vanguard in the general march to implement the tasks set forth in the joint New Year editorial and accomplish the revolutionary cause of Juche, remaining loyal to the leadership of Kim Jong Il, the Songun brilliant commander of Mt. Paektu.
The Juche sentence overcomes all obstacles, filling out a whole paragraph.

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This would have been a really horrible one, ch"v, if not for Hashem's kindness

From J-post.com on the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv:
Police said the explosion went off in the restaurant's bathroom, possibly prematurely as the bomber tried to prepare the explosive device. At the time of the blast, most of the customers were sitting outside, relatively far from the bomber.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

JTA Article about J-Blogosphere

If you are a very far-gone J-blogger, the only question of interest is what blogs got mentioned. Here they are:

Religious Action Committee of Reform Judaism Blog
Velveteen Rabbi
Rabbi Z blog
Orthodox Anarchist

Bit underwhelming, n'est ce-pas?

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Brit Min Hadash--No, this isn't a joke

From New Jersey Jewish News:
Leslie Farber will mark her 50th birthday with a new Hebrew name — and a new Jewish ritual at the frontiers of gender identity.
Don't you like that phrase, "the frontiers of gender identity"? It suggests that new gender identities are being developed all the time and that we now have achieved the most advanced gender identities in history.
Farber is a transgender female, a personal injury attorney with the given Hebrew name of Eliezer Zechariah who only recently began defining herself as a woman.

Farber’s friends will gather to formally welcome her into their midst as a woman with a brit min hadash, a ritual naming ceremony created for the occasion.
"Min Hadash" could also mean "new species." ("Can you do a budgie job on a terrier straight away?")
The Montclair resident and member of the Montclair Reconstructionist synagogue B’nai Keshet will take the Hebrew name Aliza. The former Larry adopted her English name legally in July 2004.
When these ceremonies are described, why do they always sound like parodies?
[T]he ceremony is likely to include a minyan of 10 women offering readings, including those referring to the biblical figure of Miriam, and a candle lighting and Kiddush. In addition, Farber will sit in a “Miriam’s chair,” and guests will be served eggs, a symbol of life and womanhood. Throughout the ceremony, liturgy will be recited using feminine forms of address — for example, instead of the traditional blessing formula of “Baruch ata…’, the participants will say “Brucha at.”
Oh well, at least they aren't using a "Vashti's chair" or a "Lilith's chair."

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Arnold's Mere Presence Profanes MLK Breakfast

This is from SFGate.com:
Local labor leaders are fuming over Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's last-minute appearance at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in San Francisco -- and a lot of their anger is directed at former Mayor Willie Brown.

"We've spent a year and a half, and millions of dollars fighting this SOB," San Francisco Labor Council head Tim Paulson said of the governor. "For him to come to this breakfast was an absolute insult."
St. Tookie was frowning that day.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Shatner Sells Kidney Stone

This is from the AP via SFgate.com:
An online casino has a piece of Capt. Kirk.

Actor William Shatner has sold his kidney stone for $25,000, with the money going to a housing charity, it was announced Tuesday.

Shatner reached agreement Monday to sell the stone to GoldenPalace.com.
Shatner is Jewish, by the way.

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Meta-Tikkun, or Hope for the Hyphenated

People with hyphenated last names, admirers of Vashti, and keepers of eco-kashrus have a notion that there is mitzvah, or at least a precept, called "Tikkun Olam." There is even a "Tikkun Olam" blog. Avi Shafran in the Jerusalem Post addresses this popular delusion:
There are indeed 613 mitzvot, or commandments, in the Torah, but none of them is tikkun olam - a phrase that, of late, is as frequently invoked (Google reports 226,000 references) as it is erroneously defined . . .

Redefinition of time-honored Jewish words and concepts, unfortunately, is nothing new. "Torah" and "mitzva" and "halacha" (Jewish religious law) and "observance" have all fallen victim to Jewish Newspeak. But there is a particular irony to the trendy twisting of tikkun olam to refer to the issue du jour of the politically progressive.
He goes on to point out one of my favorite facts: the Rambam uses a variation of the phrase "Tikkun Olam" in a discussion of extra-judicial killing! The article has already evoked a negative reponse here.

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Counterterrorism Blog on Bin Laden Death Claims

I thought Bin Laden was on dialysis myself. It is interesting that this turns out not to be true:
What is somewhat amusing about these two erroneous claims [of Bin Laden's death] is that they are apparently both based upon the same faulty premise--that Usama Bin Laden suffers from a serious kidney or liver ailment. This is not say that Bin Laden is in perfect shape--indeed, he has his own share of long-term medical problems. However, there is virtually no evidence to suggest that his ongoing condition has been critical enough to fundamentally disrupt or incapacitate him from participating in the planning of military operations, nor the coordination of terrorist financing.


Pakistan Admits Some Terrorists died in Attack

From the AP. Compare a still fairly recent BBC story:
The US has not commented on the attack on the Pakistan village on Friday that killed 18 civilians.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Disturbing Events in Hebron

This is from Israpundit, quoting Shlomo Wollins of IsraelReporter:
Amazingly, there are virtually no adult protestors...me, Rebbetzin Levinger, and 1,000 kids! There has been and will be serious violence. All are expecting this closure order to result in a violent expulsion after the court ruling in morning.

Little kids were seriously traumatized today...some trapped (away from their parents and care givers) in the community playground alone!! Behind riot police and German riot horses. One child I know will not leave his mother's side for moment and won't go out for any reason. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, no main stream media source (either Israeli or international) reports this damage.
Follow the links there. See Arutz Sheva and Smooth Stone also.

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Dershowitz on Munich

This is from the Boston Globe, and the title is very apt: "Terrorism: Confusing cause, effect." A sample paragraph:
In the final scene of the movie, Avner asks his Mossad handler why Israel killed the Black September terrorists instead of arresting them. The answer, never given in the film, is that the arrest method had failed. Arrested terrorists were never tried and imprisoned for long. Between 1968 and 1975, 204 terrorists were arrested outside of the Middle East. By the close of 1975, only three were still in prison. George Habash, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (a Marxist terrorist group responsible for some of the Palestinians' most brutal mass killing), noted that Europe's refusal to imprison terrorists meant that, when it came to plotting hijackings and bombing, ''success [was] 100 percent assured."
Dershowitz goes on to discuss PFLP member Leila Khaled, who was arrested and released after two different hijackings!

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Newsmax: "Kim Jong Il Peddling Fake Viagra"

He's just a Songun son of a gun:
Author Peter Brookes, writing in the New York Post, says that North Korea "has become a gangster nation, pocketing $700 million to $1 billion a year from counterfeiting U.S. greenbacks, trafficking illicit narcotics, smuggling contraband smokes and even peddling knockoff Viagra.”
A current story at the (North) Korean News site entitled "Kim Jong Il's Leadership, Key to Victory" puts it this way:
His great Songun idea lighting the way for realizing the independence of the popular masses, extraordinary commanding art making it possible to defeat any formidable enemy and the creative power turning impossibility to possibility and creating thing out of nothing are the source of victory for the Korean army and people.
You see, context is everything . . . .

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IRIB: "Hamas rejects talks with Zionists"

From Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting:
Tehran, Jan 16 - The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, rejected Monday any talks with the Zionist regime and said 'the mouth of gun' is the only way to deal with the enemy.

The movement's office in Tehran issued a statement, denounding to certain misleading reports and propaganda in Western and Zionist media and also by its rivals claiming that Hamas will be ready to talk with Israel after the upcoming parliamentary election in Palestine.

'Such efforts are aimed at affecting the election, undermining the resistance spirit and promoting compromise among Palestinians,' it added.

The statement called for vigilance by independant media in takling with such baseless and unfounded reports.
Hey, I'm always vigilant!

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Surprising bit of Democratic Sanity on Alito

This is from the AP:
A Democrat who plans to vote against Samuel Alito sided on Sunday with a Republican colleague on the Senate Judiciary Committee in cautioning against a filibuster of the Supreme Court nominee. "I do not see a likelihood of a filibuster," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "This might be a man I disagree with, but it doesn't mean he shouldn't be on the court."
So vote for him.
She said she will not vote to confirm the appeals court judge, based on his conservative record. But she acknowledged that nothing emerged during last week's hearings to justify any organized action by Democrats to stall the nomination.
She is simply displaying enlightened self-interest, but even that surprises me.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Iran Daily: "Martyrs Symphony Under Production"

I am reminded of those symphonies that used to be written in which the second theme from the first movement represented Soviet man overcoming all obstacles:
Iranian composer Shahin Farhat, whose works include compositions for ’Imam Reza (AS)’, ’Persian Gulf’, ’Damavand’ and ’Iran’ symphonies, is currently producing a piece to commemorate the martyrs. Farhat told ISNA on Friday that upon completion of the symphony, he will dedicate the piece to those who sacrificed their lives for the country. The symphony is Farhat’s tenth work and it is divided into epic, dramatic and lyric sections.
Other planned works include a sonata for centrifuge.

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Do You have an Indigo Child?

Here is the NY Times on something I hadn't heard of:
Indigo children were first described in the 1970's by a San Diego parapsychologist, Nancy Ann Tappe, who noticed the emergence of children with an indigo aura, a vibrational color she had never seen before. This color, she reasoned, coincided with a new consciousness . . . .

"To me these children are the answers to the prayers we all have for peace," said Doreen Virtue, a former psychotherapist for adolescents who now writes books and lectures on indigo children. She calls the indigos a leap in human evolution. "They're vigilant about cleaning the earth of social ills and corruption, and increasing integrity," Ms. Virtue said. "Other generations tried, but then they became apathetic. This generation won't, unless we drug them into submission with Ritalin."
The article also quotes a number of sensible-sounding skeptics. Here is more from a believer:
Problems in school are common for indigos, said Alex Perkel, who runs the ReBirth Esoteric Science Center in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, a bilingual (Russian-English) center dedicated to "the knowledge of ancient esoteric schools and Eastern science," according to its Web site (www.esotericinfo.com).

Last year the center organized a class for indigo children but canceled it when families dropped out for economic reasons.

"A lot of people don't understand the children because the children are very smart," Mr. Perkel said. "They have knowledge like our teachers. They don't want to go to school, No. 1, because they don't need the knowledge they can get from school. So parents bring them to psychologists, and psychologists start giving them pills to take out their will and memory. We developed a special program to help them understand that they came to this planet to change the consciousness because they have guides from a higher world."
The higher beings guiding my children seem to want them to throw toys out of the upstairs window. (Hat tip: Joseph Hertzlinger)

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Electronic Intifada likes Munich

Here is a sample:
In the film's powerful conclusion, Avner meets Ephraim in Brooklyn. Avner fruitlessly asks for evidence that the men he killed were involved in planning Munich, bringing to full circle the theme of accountability set up earlier in the film by a Mossad accountant repetitively asking Avner to save his receipts. Avner offers an olive branch, saying it's written in some old books that one should invite a stranger into his house to break bread with his family. Ephraim does not accept the invitation, and the scene poignantly illustrates Avner's - or, rather, Spielberg's - disillusionment with the State of Israel, which consistently violates the law as well as Jewish values while waging the conflict it has only aggressively perpetuated.
(Hat tip: Martin Kramer)

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