Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Linkim 1/31/07

Signs of the Times: "Just Like Bush, Chavez to Get Powers to Remake Venezuela - Bet He'll Do a Better Job With Venezuela Than Bush Has Done With the U.S."

Middle Earth Journal: "Chavez gets what Bush thinks he has"

Democracy Lover: "Chavez and Bush"

Israel Matzav: "'Progressive' Jewish thought and anti-Semitism"

Meryl Yourish: "More on the poisoned Zionist balloons in Lebanon"

Al Bawaba: "Palestinian FM: 'Israel should move to Canada'"

Eugene Goodheart: "The London Review of Hezbollah" (h/t: Martin Kramer)

Uri Avnery: The Jews did it!

Here Avnery makes a non-case that Israel poisoned Arafat.
"If Arafat were alive" one hears this phrase increasingly often in conversations with Palestinians, and also with Israelis and foreigners.

"If Arafat were alive, what's happening now in Gaza wouldn't be happening"--"If Arafat were alive, we would have somebody to talk with"--"If Arafat were alive, Islamic fundamentalism would not have won among the Palestinians and would have lost some force in the neighboring countries!"

In the meantime, the unanswered questions come up again: How did Yasser Arafat die? Was he murdered? If so, who murdered him?

On the way back from Arafat's funeral in 2004, I ran into Jamal Zahalka, a member of the Knesset. I asked him if he believed that Arafat was murdered. Zahalka, a doctor of pharmacology, answered "Yes!" without hesitation.
The fact that Zahalka is an Arab might have something to do with this also.
That was my feeling, too. But a hunch is not proof. It is only a product of intuition, common sense and experience.

Recently we got a kind of confirmation. Just before he died, Uri Dan, who had been Ariel Sharon's loyal mouthpiece for almost 50 years, published a book in France. It includes a report pf a conversation Sharon told him about, with President (George W.) Bush. Sharon asked for permission to kill Arafat and Bush gave it to him, with the proviso that it must be done undetectably. When Dan asked Sharon whether it had been carried out, Sharon answered: "It's better not to talk about that." Dan took this as confirmation.

The secret services of many countries have poisons that are all but undetectable. The Mossad tried to kill Khaled Mashal, the Hamas leader, in broad daylight on a main Amman thoroughfare. He was saved only when the Israeli government was compelled to provide the antidote to the poison it had used. Viktor Yushchenko, the president of the Ukraine, was poisoned and saved only when the specific suspicious symptoms were identified by experts in time. Recently, a former Russian spy, Aleksander Litvinenko, was murdered by lethal polonium-210. And how many cases have gone undetected?

Is there proof that Arafat was murdered by Israeli or other agents? No, there is none. This week I again ran into MK Zahalka, and both of us concluded that the suspicion is growing stronger, together with the conviction that Arafat's absence is felt now more than ever.

IF ARAFAT were alive, there would be a clear address for negotiations with the Palestinian people.

The claimed absence of such an address serves the Israeli government as the official pretext for its refusal to start peace negotiations. Every time Condoleezza Rice or another of Bush's parrots talks about the need to "restart the dialog" (don't mention "negotiations") for "the final status" or "the permanent settlement" (don't mention "peace"), that is the response of Tsipi Livni, Ehud Olmert & Co.

Dialog? With whom? No use to talk with Mahmoud Abbas, because he is unable to impose his will on the Palestinian people. He is no second Arafat. He has no power. And we couldn't possibly talk with the Hamas government, because it belongs to Bush's "axis of evil". So what do you want, Condi dear? [...]
And, of course, while they are saying this they are laughing diabolically to themselves. As a matter of fact, dear fellow-World-Arrogance-member reader, take a moment now to break into diabolical laughter. Our plans are going so well.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dimbulbs ban things

Is California going to ban incandescent bulbs? Note terms "groundbreaking" and "pioneering." From Reuters:
A California lawmaker wants to make his state the first to ban incandescent lightbulbs as part of California's groundbreaking initiatives to reduce energy use and greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

The "How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb Act" would ban incandescent lightbulbs by 2012 in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs.

"Meanwhile, they remain incredibly inefficient, converting only about 5 percent of the energy they receive into light."

Levine is expected to introduce the legislation this week, his office said.

If passed, it would be another pioneering environmental effort in California, the most populous U.S. state. It became the first state to mandate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, targeting a 25 percent reduction in emissions by 2020. [...]
In a related development, a suburb of San Francisco is considering a measure to ban smoking in private homes which are part of multi-unit dwellings such as apartment buildings. From the LA Times:
When the City Council of this San Francisco suburb voted to consider what could be the most stringent tobacco regulation in America, anti-smoking activists cheered. Banning smoking everywhere but single-family detached homes and their yards would be a big step forward, even in health-conscious California.

Then the blogosphere erupted. Side-by-side portraits of Councilwoman Coralin Feierbach and Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler were posted on a smoking-rights website. Threats were e-mailed to City Hall, and police and prosecutors were called in to investigate.
Were any low-key statements made questioning the wisdom of the ban?
A strict new ordinance is still set to be unveiled this winter for more public discussion and an eventual vote. But instead of just the flat-out ban on lighting up in apartments, condominiums and public places that captured worldwide attention, City Atty. Marc Zafferano said the first draft would be a menu of restrictions from which council members could pick and choose.

So although Belmont may not make the kind of history envisioned in the early headlines ("Belmont to be first U.S. city to ban all smoking"), it still could make history of another sort, by finding a line this tobacco-averse nation is unwilling to cross — at least for the moment — in pursuit of better public health.

"I don't know where the boundaries of a truly legally defensible ordinance are," acknowledged Councilman Dave Warden, who is pushing to pass "the strictest law possible."

"I really believe that we're really so close to the line that no one can really tell," he said.

Even though nearly two-thirds of Americans have smoke-free policies in their own homes, according to the 2000 census, restrictions on smoking in multi-unit buildings, in the very sanctity of one's own living room, constitute a new frontier in tobacco law. The Belmont City Council is "breaking new ground," said Jim Bergman, director of the Smoke-Free Environments Law Project, who has advocated for smoking bans in multifamily buildings. "I think the folks in Belmont have to be very careful in what they do on this one…. There is always a question of how fast do you move."

Twenty years ago, a proposal to prohibit smoking in condos and apartments "would have been a radical and crazy idea," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Today, it's an idea that's gaining growing acceptance, precisely because the science has evolved and changed."

But though the U.S. surgeon general declared last year that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, acceptance may not be here quite yet . . .
Besides all the references to "new frontiers" etc., this article displays a spooky avoidance of the question of whether second-hand smoke travels through walls. How is that declaration about "no safe level of exposure" to be interpreted? If there is only one smoker left on the planet and he lives in China, am I at risk here in California? (Hat Tip for both articles: Drudge)

IRIB: "Lebanon will be cemetery for enemies"

Hmmm, he wants to turn his country into a cemetery.
Secretary General of the Lebanese Islamic Resistance Movement (Hezbollah) Sayed Hassan Nasrallah vowed at a massive Lebanese people rally on Tuesday to defeat what he said were America-Zionists plots to provoke civil war in Lebanon, warning that the nation would be the "cemetery of invaders."

Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, addressing a huge crowd gathered for the Ashura ceremony, accused American President George W. Bush and the Zionist regime of "trying to defeat Resistance Movements in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq by starting civil wars."

"Lebanon will not be defeated. We will not allow it to be invaded... We have proved that we are capable of defeating (invaders)," he said to chants of "Death to Israel" from the crowd.

The Leader was referring what he hails as the "divine victory" of his Movement in last year's war against the Zionists. "Lebanon is a land that cannot be defeated or humiliated. Lebanon has always been the cemetery of invaders, and it will be the cemetery of any new invaders," he said.

"The future of Israel is death and the future of this Umma (Islamic nation) is life. Death to Israel," said Nasrallah.

"They are the ones plotting a new conspiracy for a civil war in Lebanon," noted Nasrallah. "The Islamic Resistance declares that it will not be dragged into internal strife and fighting."

"They (America) accuse Hezbollah of spreading chaos in Lebanon... When it is George Bush and (American Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice who are the ones spreading chaos by ordering (Israeli) wars on Lebanon," said Nasrallah.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Canadian Jewish News: "Canada considers more Palestinian aid"

Palestinian society in the West Bank and Gaza has been operating as a giant experiment to determine whether children can be raised to be the functional equivalent of the Unabomber. The experiment was "successful": the current generation of Palestinian children has been successfully raised in this way. This project now threatens civilization, and it would be madness to fund it any further, but here is an article about certain Canadians who don't get it:
The Canadian International Development Agency, an arm of the federal government, is on the verge of donating $12 million to $15 million in humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“Given the very difficult circumstances faced by the Palestinians, we’re considering providing support,” said CIDA spokesperson Greg Scott in an interview from Ottawa last week.

The news coincided with two related events: Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay’s trip to Israel, the Palestinian areas and Jordan, and Israel’s announcement that it will release about $100 million (US) in withheld Palestinian tax and customs revenues.

The proposed Canadian funds will be channelled through the Temporary International Mechanism –which is administered by the European Union and the World Bank – and will not reach the Palestinian Authority’s new Hamas government.
What about the Al-Aqsa martyrs brigades?
The Temporary International Mechanism was established last summer to ensure that international aid does not fall into the hands of Hamas, which defeated Fatah in last January’s legislative election in the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Hamas, which Canada and other western nations have branded as a terrorist group, formed a government in March, though Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas remains president of the PA.

After Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was sworn in, Canada became the first donor nation to cut off funding to the Palestinian government, boycott it and subject it to international economic sanctions.

Since then, the 3.5 million Palestinian inhabitants in the West Bank and Gaza have faced increasing hardship.

The aid will not be restored unless Hamas – which has taken credit for a succession of suicide bombings in Israel and the territories since 1993 – recognizes Israel, renounces terrorism and accepts previous agreements signed by the PA and Israel.

So far, Hamas has refused to meet these conditions.

Last week, in an interview with the Globe and Mail, Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar reiterated Hamas’ rejection of Israel, and added that a Jewish homeland should be established in Canada.

Scott declined to say when the proposed Canadian aid will reach the Palestinians.

But despite Canada’s boycott of the Hamas regime, Ottawa has dispatched to the Palestinians more than $20 million in humanitarian assistance since March. [...]

Yud Shevat Links

Mystical Paths

Letters of Thought

Heichal HaNegina


IRIB: "3 Zionists killed in Eilat blast"

Predictable headline considering the source:
Three people were killed and many more wounded by a martyrdom-seeking operation in a bakery in the Zionist regime's Red Sea resort of Eilat on Monday.

"After examining the site of the explosion a connection was found between the explosives and one of the bodies and we now believe the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber," national police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

The blast -- the first attack directed at Eilat -- ripped through the bakery at 9:40 AM (0740 GMT) and killed three Zionists plus the the martyrdom-seeker, Rosenfeld said.

According to police, the bomber entered the bakery carrying the bomb in a backpack and then blew himself up.

The armed wing of Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and the Army of Believers Group accepted responsibility of the operation.
In other words, three groups with religious-sounding names are vying for credit for an act which is the ultimate in depravity. IRIB employs the usual euphemisms, even a euphemism for the word "Israeli" or "Jew." Politicians all over the world will be employing tepid phrasing such as "condemn in the strongest possible terms" when they should sound like this.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fars News: "Anti-Zionist Jews Harassed over Iran Meeting"

In which we learn that the ostracism of the NK was "at the direct orders of Tel Aviv":
For decades, Israel just barely tolerated a large, fiercely anti-Zionist sect as its members traveled the world, denouncing Israel's existence.

But when a delegation from Neturei Karta hugged Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a conference last month questioning the raison detre for the establishment of a Zionist state on Muslims' land, that was too much.

Now, the ultra-Orthodox group is being ostracized on three continents, denounced by Zionist rabbis, banned from synagogues and harassed in the streets at the direct orders of Tel Aviv which has mobilized all its possibilities worldwide to intimidate every person in the Jewish community into keeping away from the Neturei Karta community.

"We know what we have done, we know the value of what we have done, and we think that in the course of time that will come out clearly," said Rabbi Ahron Cohen, a Neturei Karta member from Manchester, England.

When Cohen returned from Iran, he needed police protection. His house was barraged by hundreds of eggs, his window smashed by a brick and a billiard ball and he continues to be pelted with pebbles, eggs and insults by Israeli and Musad agents in the street.

Neturei Karta (Aramaic for "Guardians of the City") was founded nearly 70 years ago in Jerusalem by Jews who opposed the drive to establish the state of Israel, believing only the Messiah could do that. Estimates of the group's size range from tens of thousands to less than a million.

In recent decades its members have shown up to protest at international conferences and pro-Israel rallies.

For years, pro Israeli Jewish groups tended to dismiss Neturei Karta as eccentrics. Then came the Holocaust conference, where five members of the group rubbed shoulders with delegates who deny the Nazi slaughter of Jews, but they did not reject the Holocaust. Rather, they spoke in support of the issue very openly, and said that during the World War II, Nazis massacred millions of Jews. A glance through the news - also available on FNA's Persian Archive - proves this simple fact that they were free to speak their own words and they did.

In photos published around the world, they were shown hugging Ahmadinejad, who has questioned the reality of the Holocaust. But western media ignored the words that they said to each other.

Neturei Karta say they never denied the Holocaust or its proportions, and that's true. They believe Ahmadinejad has been unfairly vilified and that they should be praised for stressing that Jewish community is different from Zionists. And this is something which has been also underlined by senior Iranian officials ever since the onset of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The founder of the Islamic Republic, the late Imam Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, former presidents Khatami and Rafsanjani and specially the incumbent President Ahmadinejad have all stated this view repeatedly.[...]
LGF warns against actually visiting the Fars News page, so I am not including a link. I will try to investigate whether there is any real danger.

Haveil Havalim 104 fills DPRK with Optimism and Emotion

Various activities have been conducted to make the DPRK replete with revolutionary optimism and emotion from the outset of the year in which an all-round efflorescence of national prosperity will be ushered in. The Mansudae Art Troupe, a leading art unit, gave New Year performances at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre before full capacity of audience for several days. The theatre had been renovated to suit a palace of art on the picturesque banks of the River Taedong.

Stars of the State Comic Troupe have put on the stage the newly-created programmes such as jest "Playing with Number 9", monologue "Jewel-like Person" and short play "Oh, Fresh Quality Water" to give laugh, optimism and youthful vigor to working people.

Creators and acrobats of the Pyongyang Circus are busy with creating physical acrobatics "Aerial Martial Art", fantastic skill magic "Talent with Fans", comic acrobatics "Scramble for Power" celebrating February 16, birthday of Kim Jong Il.

The festivities will culminate in the Songun blog carnival Haveil Havalim to enrich the emotional life of the working people.

Mehr News: "ethnic cleansing campaigns based on the Kabbalah ideology"

Do you suppose that Iran's number one export is mouth-foam? The original title is "State of terror":
The first state-sponsored terrorist groups were born after the first global congress on Zionism in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland.

Global Zionism was seeking to establish a government and even cooperated with the Nazis and fascists to reach this goal.

In the early twentieth century, Zionist terrorist groups like the Irgun, the Stern Gang, Palmach, Haganah, and Betar -- many of the Israeli leaders were the leaders of these groups -- started ethnic cleansing campaigns based on the Kabbalah ideology and authorized the killing of not only armed people but also ordinary civilians who were not in the military.

The assassination of Palestinian and Lebanese figures like cartoonist Naji al-Ali, political activists Salah Khalaf (Abu 'Iyad), Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), Fathi Shaqaqi, Kamal Adwan, former Hezbollah secretary general Seyyed Abbas Musawi, and Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Yassin are just a few examples of Israel stated-sponsored terrorism about which international organizations remain silent.

Last year, the daily Haaretz quoted Israeli security official Amir Oren as saying that the Israeli security services had put Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya on their assassination hit list because of their animosity toward Israel.

When international organizations do not condemn such blatant plans for state terrorism, the stance of the United States is clear.

Jewish anti-Zionist Israel Shahak once wrote that Americans have lost their belief in human rights and that is why they keep mum about Zionist terrorism and Jewish racism in Israel.

Contemporary U.S. governments have a record of kidnapping people, like Manuel Noriega, president of Panama from 1983 to 1989, killing people, and attacking other countries, but the administration of George W. Bush has also been attempting to justify state-sponsored terrorism, especially since the suspicious incidents of September 11, 2001. Thus, the Bush administration could be called the terror administration.

This scheme is an obvious emulation of the Zionist terrorist style. This new approach began with maneuvering on the perceived enemies Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, based on a preemptive war strategy, according to which the U.S. announced to the world that it would strike any country before it is seriously threatened. [...]

Fars News: "Kerry Backs Up Iran's N. Rights"

Their kind of guy!
Former US presidential nominee John Kerry voiced full support for the Islamic Republic's right to use civilian nuclear technology on the basis of the rules and regulations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NTP).

Addressing a world Economic Forum meeting in Davos Switzerland on Saturday, Kerry also strongly rejected West's demanded prerequisites for the resumption of nuclear talks with Iran.

Kerry, whose remarks followed a speech by Iran's former President Seyed Mohammad Khatami, stated his support for Khatami's views, and said Americans find out - only when they are outside their country - that the world is different from what they imagine.

"We should give up pessimism and pick up a realistic view," he said, and further stressed the need for the US to change its policies towards the world countries and issues.

The US politician also approved of Khatami's views about increased tension and violence in the world, and concluded, "As Mr. Khatami said, violence increased in the region after the occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq and Bin Ladenism."

Earlier in the same meeting, former Iranian President Seyed Mohammad Khatami said that violence and terror have roots outside Iraq, and stressed that anyone willing to help to the settlement of the Middle-East problem should first prove his impartiality.

Noting the undesirable equations formed in the Middle-East, Khatami said, "If we intend to establish security in the world, then we should form an equation which serves democracy, stability and development."

Describing the world's indifference in the face of the Palestinian crisis as a catastrophe, he asked, "Why should the existence of a nation be ignored and why shouldn't a legal government like Hamas which has ascended to power through democratic elections be recognized?"

"Respecting people's votes and views, repatriation of the refugees and restoration of public rights set the only solution to the Middle-East crisis," the former Iranian president added.

He said anyone willing to help to the settlement of the ongoing crisis in the Middle-East should substantiate his impartiality. "And any plan for the region must be based on justice, partnership of all regional and Muslim states and restoration of the Palestinians' rights."

Referring to Iraq, he said that the present catastrophe in that country is the result of violence and terror which has foreign roots, and stated that the religious conflicts in Iraq are a phenomenon created by foreign elements.

"The United States is still dreaming of conquering Iraq," Khatami said, mentioning that the United States' attitude and the US administration's dismissal of the Baker-Hamilton report show that Washington has not yet comprehended the realities dominating Iraq.

Khatami further voiced Iran's strong support for an integrated Iraqi government, and called on all relevant parties to provide extensive and all-out assistance for the Iraqi government in soothing tensions, establishing security and reconstructing the country's economy.

Noting Iran-US relations, he said that the two countries are suffering from the wide gap of distrust, adding that the resumption of relations requires mutual understanding.

"It is not possible to resume relations while Iran shows flexibility and the counterparty pursues a policy of regime change in a country which enjoys the most democratic political system in the region," Khatami noted.

Also criticizing Washington's policies on Iran, he reminded, "Building confidence and provoking Arabs against Iran are contradictory measures."
Tags: Iran, Kerry, nukes

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Zionists develop idiocy ray

Judeopundit correspondents have just learned that Israeli military researchers have been testing a diabolical new weapon that reduces normal people to complete idiocy. In today's experimental firing, the idiocy ray was aimed at South Lebanon and then small green balloons were allowed to float across the border. Sure enough, local residents started puncturing the balloons and inhaling the contents. The scientists were stunned at the success of the test-firing and predict that when a new, more-powerful version of the ray is tested, Hizbullah followers will become completely immobilized as they attempt to snort the contents of car tires, basketballs, and other inflated objects. The idiocy ray also seems to have affected the output of Lebanese journalists. (Hat Tip: LGF)

Update: All the Helium has still not leaked out of this story.

Arab News: "Palestinian Violence Unabated"

Why don't we ever get good, comprehensive statistics on the total number of Palestinians killed by other Palestinians? How likely is it that for some time it has exceeded the number killed by Israelis? For some of the best attention paid to this issue so far, see these posts from the Elder of Ziyon blog. The following article is also quite suggestive:
The Arab League condemned “irrational” Palestinian infighting as supporters of Hamas and Fatah clashed with guns and grenades for the third straight day yesterday.

Two men were killed in yesterday’s violence, bringing the death toll to 20 since late Thursday. At least 66 people have been killed since then.
Meaning today?
Both Hamas and Fatah traded angry accusations, and each held several supporters of the other side hostage.

The violence froze talks about bringing Fatah into the Hamas-led government, negotiators said.

The Gaza fighting, which started late Thursday, was among the deadliest in nearly two months. Gunbattles raged across Gaza City on Friday and continued early yesterday. One man was killed late Thursday, followed by 16 deaths on Friday and two more yesterday. Also, a Hamas gunman died yesterday of wounds received the day before, medics said.

Streets in the hardest-hit neighborhoods were deserted yesterday, and only bakeries and groceries opened for business. Gaza City’s main outdoor market was closed. Al-Azhar University called off exams scheduled for yesterday, and the Interior Ministry told its employees to go home.

A gunbattle erupted yesterday near the Islamic University, killing one man, according to hospital officials. In a firefight elsewhere in the city, a Palestinian policeman was killed.

Before dawn, Hamas gunmen fired mortars at the Abbas-allied Preventive Security Force headquarters and at the home of Rashid Abu Shebak, head of internal security. Grenades were also thrown at the home of Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Al-Zahar.

“The Arab League expresses its regret and discontent at the assassinations and kidnappings on the Palestinian front which could lead to dire consequences,” spokesman Hesham Youssef told reporters.

“It is irrational and unacceptable that the Palestinian factions are distracted from freeing the occupied territories by plunging into deadly infighting which benefits only the Israeli occupation forces,” Youssef said.

Asharq Alawsat: "None Other Than Thugocracy"

This article is scathingly and refreshingly critical of Hamas and Hizbullah, as is typical for this particular Arab news source and probably also for this author, Tariq Alhomayed (identified as "the Editor-in-Chief)." Israel is still called "merciless," however, and I don't think that is part of the sarcasm.
Have you ever heard of an occupied country entangling itself in civil war, or the people of this occupied land killing each other instead of confronting the enemy? We all know that an enemy is a uniting factor. This is what is happening in Palestine and Iraq.

Have you ever heard of a country that emerges from a bloody civil war and to where investors come in order to rebuild the country and live there, whilst it awaits one million tourists and its opposition talks about debts; the country that finds itself, both nation and government, embroiled in a war with a merciless enemy, that is Israel, at the order of an organization that claims it is defending the country as it suffers from losses and debts that are more than it can bear? After all that, and instead of holding that organization to account, it took to the streets, placing the country on the brink of a new civil war, the pretext for which is holding the “agent” and “treacherous” government to account.

It is well known that it is impossible to see a picture of the organization’s leader unaccompanied by the images of Khomeini or Khamenei, and that the organization defends the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, not the Syrian “presence” as the organization prefers to call it, as if two kinds of occupation exist; a commendable occupation and a devious occupation. The country is Lebanon, the organization is Hezbollah and the leader is Hassan Nasrallah!

All of the aforementioned has happened in Palestine, in Iraq and in Lebanon; all in the name of democracy.

Before them, Saddam Hussein rode the wave of democracy and emerged successful in elections winning 100% of the votes, telling us that this was democracy. The truth is that all that we witness has no relation to democracy but is rather ‘thugocracy’. It is thuggery and corruption of the land, people and future.

Mistakes are repeating in our Arab world, and the region is continuously being subjected to thuggery. The former prime minister of Lebanon [a reference to Hariri] never shot one bullet throughout his life and built schools rather than a militia, yet Hezbollah and its supporters come out to argue that the International Tribunal to investigate the circumstances surrounding his assassination violates the sovereignty of Lebanon!

Within two years in Lebanon, assassinations of around twenty people have been carried out and not one person has been held responsible. The only concern that the opposition has is bringing down the government and we all know that those who were assassinated were fighting against one side and shared one common goal!

When we argue that there is a state of thuggery, there is no emotion involved. Rather, this is an accurate description of what is happening in our Arab world today; the world of repeated mistakes. Saddam Hussein had the Quran written in his own blood and Maliki says that God chose Iraq as the country to fight terrorism. We know that the roads in Baghdad today have divided according to sect and are either Sunni or Shia roads.

The Palestinians are fighting amongst themselves for leadership and the “Hamas Brotherhood” is now Iranian. The Lebanese are facing turbulent times, and after a fierce civil war, Beirut today is on the brink of a new civil war and if that surfaces, history will never forget Hassan Nasrallah, Syria or Iran. We are the farthest we could ever be from democracy, as what we are witnessing today is nothing but thugocracy. There is no rationality or sense of responsibility. All that we see is the permanent state of thuggery and of course, we are the victims.

Friday, January 26, 2007

NY Sun on the Pipes-Livingstone debate

I hope the author assessed the audience reaction correctly:
[...]As soon as the self-styled "young British mom" in a hijab who was seconding the mayor, Salma Yaqoob, referred to the July 7 London suicide bombings as "reprisal events," I felt the audience shudder. There was another shudder when Ms. Yaqoob refused to utter the word "Israel." [...]

Mr. Livingstone's world is one gigantic conspiracy, with American neoconservatives pulling the strings. The Cold War was, he said, a conspiracy cooked up in Washington in 1943, just as the war on terror was devised by a "nexus around the White House and Wall Street." He stopped short of claiming that the CIA had ordered the September 11 attacks, but they had certainly created Al Qaeda. The state of Israel was an American conspiracy too: It "should never have been created" but the Americans, who of course control the United Nations, set it up on Arab land because they and the British were too anti-Semitic to accept Jewish refugees in their own countries. This is pretty rich coming from Mr. Livingstone — the mayor who was censured by his own party for abusing a Jewish reporter as a Nazi concentration camp guard.

Such fantasies are as commonplace as his assertions of moral equivalence between the "crude Islamophobia" of American neoconservatives and Islamist terrorists. But when Mr. Pipes pointed out that the Americans would have been mad to invade Iraq for the sake of oil, since the predictable effect had been to raise oil prices, the mayor replied that "the people in the White House were mad" and went on to make the apocalyptic prediction that if the war on terror continued, there would be "casualties in the tens of millions." The audience did not know what to make of this, and gave the mayor a distinctly muted response.

Mr. Pipes, however, was rewarded for his sweet reasonableness — which contrasted sharply with the malevolent extremism of Mr. Livingstone and Ms. Yaqoob — with hearty rounds of applause. He got a few laughs, too, as when he told one of his critics that Hezbollah "did not get to eliminate Israel this time round — I give you my condolences." Much of the audience having never seen a real, live American neoconservative in the flesh before and doubtless surprised that he had neither horns nor a tail, listened with rapt attention to what he had to say.

In essence, Mr. Pipes had a warning for Londoners: Thanks to the multicultural policies of politicians like Mayor Livingstone, "your city is a threat to the rest of the world." He listed 15 countries in which Islamists from Britain had carried out terrorist attacks, ranging from Pakistan to America. Since last weekend he could have added a 16th — Somalia. Britain, he said, was now regarded by some experts as the biggest threat to American security.[...]
(Hat Tip: Martin Kramer)

Fars News: "Israel's Aggressive Nature Root Cause of Middle-East Crisis"

I wonder what would happen to an Iranian official who dared to make a public statement that did not closely resemble this one:
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Sa'eed Jalili took the Zionist regime of Israel responsible for continued unrests in the region, stressing that the aggressive nature of that regime is the root cause of continued crisis in the Middle-East.

According to a statement released by the Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Bureau, Jalili made the remarks in a meeting here on Wednesday with the chairman of the German Parliament's Green Party Fraction, Fritz Cohen.

During the meeting, the German legislative official stressed the need for continued direct contacts with Iran and expansion of dialogues between the two countries, and reiterated Iran's undeniable right to access peaceful civilian nuclear technology.

For his part, Jalili welcomed exchange of political and parliamentary delegations between the two countries, and described direct dialogue and talks as the prerequisite of the civilized world.

Meantime, he said that according to Iran's 20-year prospect plan, all its peaceful nuclear activities have been designed to serve civilian needs and provide for the country's local energy needs.

Underlining Iran's strong opposition to the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), the senior diplomat said, "Such weapons cannot bring power and mightiness to any country as the mightiness of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been resulted from the popular support for it."

He further criticized West's treatment of Iran's issue and the hasty referral of the case to the UN Security Council, which he reminded took place in mere disrespect for Iran's confidence building measures, and mentioned, "In case the West is in search of trust and confidence, it can achieve this goal."

Jalili voiced Iran's preparedness to attend any kind of talks based on two fundamental points, namely, recognition of Iran's legitimate right of accessing nuclear technology and mutual confidence building.

Also during the meeting, the two sides discussed the latest conditions in the Middle-East, where the Iranian deputy foreign minister censured the approach adopted by Europe and the West in dealing with the Zionist regime's possession of nuclear weapons.

He also blasted the West's ignoring and inaction in the face of the aggressive nature of the Israeli regime, which he stressed is the root cause of continued crisis in the region.

Pointing to the Zionist regime's crimes committed against the oppressed Palestinian nation, he also blasted indifference of the proponents of human rights in Europe in this regard.
Tags: Iran, Israel, nukes

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Lubavitcher Rebbe on Chassidic Melody

From Letters from the Rebbe, vol. 5, letter 69; Otsar Sifrei Lubavitch, 2001. The Rebbe is particularly discussing nigunim, (usually) wordless melodies sung by Chassidim:
[...] It is customary to look for depth and insights in everything, and the Chassidic concept of Negina is indeed rich in both. It is well known, and a matter of experience, that music in general is highly evocative of inner feeling, much more than other forms of human expression such as oratory, or painting, and the like. Even verbal articulation as a medium of vocal music is on a different plain.

This is why Chassidic Negina is so important in Chassidic life for it is the very objective of Chassidus to permeate the daily life of the Jew to such an extent that all actions should be imbued with inner feeling, even soulful expression. For then every action assumes a different quality and meaningfulness, and even its external aspects and scope are greatly stimulated.[...]

Fars News: "Iran's Supreme Leader Only Suffers from Bad Bout of Flu"

A few months ago I posted something about the Ayatollah's health based on a Michael Ledeen article. According to Ledeen the Supreme Leader has cancer. This article refers to rumors about the Ayatollah's health which have "circulated" "for some time." "Some time" also seems to be the duration of his case of flu. How long can a case of flu last?
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei is suffering from a severe bout of flu and that's all.

The supreme leader, just like anyone else, can become ill. For some time he has been suffering from flu so severe that it can be heard in his voice. Therefore, he has cut back on his official program on doctors' advice.

There have been persistent rumors in recent days over the Leader's state of health, even reports that he had died.

For some time, among foreign media, on Internet sites and among people, a strong rumor has circulated that the supreme leader of the Islamic revolution is gravely ill.

The rumors first surfaced at the beginning of January with information published on the web site of US neo-conservative Michael Ledeen who claimed that Ayatollah Khamenei had died - Ledeen is believed to be the main director of the United States' plan for a regime change in Iran.

Since then, the Iranian Leader has made two public appearances, most recently on January 16 when public television showed him meeting pilgrimage officials.

On January 7, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini denied rumors about the Leader's state of health, saying "we wish good health and a long life to the Supreme Leader. His health is good."

The 67-year-old Ayatollah Khamenei was chosen by Iran's Assembly of Experts in June 1989 to succeed Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini when the Islamic Republic's founder died.

AFP has also asked many officials about the issue, who have all told the news agency that Ayatollah Khamenei is only suffering from a heavy cold.
It does seem worth noting that the Ayatollah has not yet appeared in the tracksuit of death:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Iranian Students News Agency: "Propaganda against Iran based on physiological war"

They're just students. They didn't yet learn the difference between "psychological" and "physiological."
Iran's Expediency council secretary stated that all the enemy's propaganda against Iran were meant to create a physiological war.

"The U.S. has planned a program against us, which started with the sanction placed against us. They are after an economic sanction that is why they are concentrating on economics and politics," said Mohsen Rezaie.

"Iran's military forces and defense officials are keeping a close eye on the enemy and have maintained their readiness in defense and security aspect. The military forces have provided a complete defensive system and program, which all have a part in and there is no place for concern," he added.

"The enemy is scared of our military forces because they go to war so to preserve Islamic beliefs," he explained, while noting that enemy plots were futile.

IRIB: "the Zionist regime's conspiracy to dig under al-Aqsa Mosque"

More conspiracies.
Raed Salah, Head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 Occupied Palestine warned Palestinians against the Zionist regime's conspiracy to dig under al-Aqsa Mosque while the Palestinians are engaged in the West Bank and Gaza Strip struggles.

Speaking on Al-Alam TV, Raed Salah said, "The Zionist regime is abusing the Palestinians' engagement in the struggles in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to dig under Masjid-ul-Aghsa (al-Aqsa Mosque) and occupy the Palestinian lands and houses in the old part of al-Qods. There is a risk of collapse for the Mosque."

Salah called on the world to wake up because Masjid-ul-Aghsa is on the verge of falling down more than any time.

He asked all the Palestinian groups to unite for the sake of Qods and abstain from internal struggles so that they don't forget the main issues.

Salah warned that if Muslims are not on alert, bad events might happen in Qods and all the region.

In the past few months, Zionist organizations have been building hundreds of houses in the West Bank. They have also hastened the building of the Colonial Wall.
The "Colonial Wall"? That's a new one.

Fars News: "Israel Seeks to Fuel Ethnic War in Muslim World"

What actual steps has the Zionist entity taken to achieve its nefarious aims? Let's have some details.
Iran's Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Hamid Reza Asefi warned that the Zionist regime of Israel is seeking to sow discord and foment ethnic war among Muslims, and called on Muslim clerics to inform nations of Tel Aviv's crafty plot.

Asefi made the remarks in a meeting with UAE's Foreign Minister Abdallah bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan on Tuesday, where the two sides discussed bilateral ties and exchanged views about regional conditions and the results of bind Zayid's recent visit to Tehran.

Also during the meeting, Asefi submitted his credentials to the UAE foreign minister, and reiterated that expansion of relations with the neighboring and Muslim states, the UAE in particular, sets a priority in the Islamic Republic's foreign policy.

"Iran believes that peace and security can be restored in the Persian Gulf region only in light of cooperation and companionship of regional countries," he mentioned.

The Iranian envoy also noted the efforts made by the enemies of Islam, specially Israel, to spark religious differences and discord between the Muslim Shiites and Sunnites, and said, "The Zionist regime of Israel is seeking to sow discord and foment ethnic war among Muslims through its crafty plots, and we are required to strive to cooperate with one another to fight against this plot through making a proper use of the outstanding role of Islamic clerics and scholars to inform nations."

"The United States has failed in providing the region and Iraq with security and increased massacres and violence in Iraq has been the only result gifted by (US Secretary of State) Ms. Rice's visit to the region," he added.

UAE Foreign Minister Abdallah bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan, for his part, voiced pleasure in his visit to Tehran, and stressed that his country attaches special significance to its relations with Iran, saying that expansion of the two countries' ties contributes to the strengthening of regional stability.

He further voiced his country's serious concern about the conditions dominating the region, specially in relation to the Iraqi crisis, and reiterated that Iran's active presence and role in current developments would guarantee establishment of peace and stability in the region.
Tags: Iran, Israel, Asefi, UAE

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

IRIB: "World affected by Palestinian plight"

This is classic Ahmadinejad. One can only marvel at how his mental landscape seems to be populated by straw-man arguments vaguely discernible through a fog of conspiracy theories:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that all states are somehow affected by the Palestinian plight and global economic and political state of affairs is influenced by this issue.

Speaking in a live TV interview, the President said that due to some threats, a number of countries have opted to sign military contracts.

President Ahmadinejad termed the Holocaust a historical question saying, "If it is true, why they do not authorize research."

He said raising questions in this regard should not be considered harshness.

"This is the point of vulnerability of the West, he said.

Reminding that the root cause of establishment of the Zionist regime was a historical event, he said, the whole issue is fake and is aimed to create a hegemonic system.

"We have told (big) powers that they have established this regime and they themselves should remove it."

"We have even proposed democratic ways such as holding referendum in this respect," he said.

MENL: "Hizbullah Uses Allies to Store Rockets"

And, of course, Iran is using Hizbullah:
In an effort to conceal its military build-up, Hizbullah has been using allies to store thousands of rockets delivered by Iran and Syria.

Western diplomatic sources said Hizbullah's allies have been accepting shipments of short-range rockets for storage in southern Lebanon. The sources said the lion's share of weapons shipments from neighboring Syria reach their destination despite efforts by the Lebanese Army and United Nations peace-keepers.

"Hizbullah has a huge support network in the south, so smuggling is not a big deal," a diplomat said. "The Lebanese Army has also been cautious in dealing with suspected arsenals."

On Jan. 19, the Lebanese Army seized 75 BM-21 Grad rockets from a Hizbullah ally, identified as Al Jamaa Al Islamiyya. Al Jamaa confirmed the seizure from the village of Biri and demanded the return of the weapons.

Biri is in the Rashaya area in southwestern Lebanon. The owner of the home where the rockets were found was arrested.
Also from MENL: "GCC Would Support U.S. Strike on Iran":
Gulf Cooperation Council states would support a U.S. strike to destroy Iran's nuclear weapons program.

A report by the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center asserted that the six Gulf Arab states would not tolerate a nuclear Iran. The report said the GCC regards Iran as a bully that seeks to dominate the region.

"Teheran has to finally realize that if push comes to shove, if the choice is between an Iranian nuclear bomb and a U.S. military strike, then the Arab Gulf states have no choice but to quietly support the U.S.," the report, authored by international studies director Christian Koch, said.

GRC, which on Tuesday held a roundtable that included U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, said Iran has rejection [rejected?] negotiations with the Gulf Arab states. The report cited Iran's military buildup in the Gulf and its refusal to negotiate the seizure of two islets from the United Arab Emirates.

IRIB Radio: "British Youth Doubt Holocaust"

The Western press tends to picture Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denial as an aspect of his particular leadership, but the Iranian regime as a whole seems to deny the Holocaust:
The latest opinion poll in Britain shows that one fourth of that country's youth have serious doubts whether the so-called Holocaust really occurred in Europe during Second World War.

These inquisitive ideas are sending shivers down the spine of the Zionist entity, which was illegally planted by the British government in the Muslim land of Palestine, on the alleged massacre of Jews in Europe by Hitler.

The Institute of Jewish History, alarmed at the growing awareness among the British you, conducted an opinion poll in the UK, which shows that over 28 % of youths between the ages of 18 and 29 years have never heard what Holocaust means and have serious doubts whether this took place.

The poll also shows that some British teachers have reached the conclusion that the Holocaust is a myth. Only 16% of respondents said denying the Holocaust should be considered a crime.

Moreover, following the milestone academic research international conference held by Tehran late last year on the supposed Holocaust, a growing number of British people and other Europeans, have begun to question that if ever it occurred, why was Israel created in Palestine after making the Palestinian people homeless.

Fars News: "President: Demise of US, Israel Imminent"

Students of Ahmadinejad's rhetoric, take note:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mualem here on Tuesday assured that the United States and the Zionist regime of Israel will soon come to the end of their lives.

According to a statement released by the Presidential Press Office, Ahmadinejad further noted the frequent failure of the plots of the hegemonic system in the Middle-East region, and said that the demise of the US and Zionist regime is imminent.

He further called on the Islamic and Arab states to pave the way for the empowerment of independent and popular governments and establishment of stability, security and progress in the region through enhancing their solidarity, cooperation, unity, resistance and vigilance.

The Iranian president further pointed to domestic problems of the United States, and said that the US President Bush's new plan for the Middle-East serves propagandistic goals seeking to repair the damaged prestige of the US administration and ruling party.

"To continue its presence in the region and attain its colonial goals, the United States seeks to foment insecurity and conflict and undermine independent and popular governments of the region," he continued.

Also stating that the Zionist regime of Israel has been established to pose threats to and invade regional states and sow discord among Muslims, the president underlined, "Sparking discord among Muslims, specially between the Shiites and Sunnites, is a plot hatched by the Zionists and the US for dominating regional nations and looting their resources."

He described the victory of the Lebanese Hezbollah over the Israeli regime as a triumph for the entire Islamic Ummah (nation) in the face of the United States and Zionists, and continued, "Regional countries should support the Islamic resistance of the Lebanese people and strive to enhance solidarity and unity among the different Palestinian groups in a bid to pave the ground for the undermining of the Zionist regime whose demise is, of course, imminent, otherwise, the United States and the Zionist regime's pressures on the Muslim nations will grow several times more than what exists now."

Elsewhere, the president said that Tehran-Damascus relations are developing and deepening, and stressed that the existence of powerful and progressive states in the region is beneficial to the stability and security of the regional nations.

He further called on regional countries to boost cooperation and bilateral and multilateral relations to pave the way for their own progress and power, saying that expansion of the strategic ties between Iran, Syria and Iraq plays a crucially important role in the restoration of peace and stability in the Middle-East.

For his part, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mualem briefed the Iranian president about the latest conditions in the region and the recent visit to Damascus by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

"Iran and Syria believe that accelerated establishment of stability and security in Iraq serves the interests of the entire region, while continued insecurity and instability in Iraq serves the interests of the United States," he stressed.

Mualem further referred to the efforts made by the US and bullying powers to increase conflicts and massacre of the Muslims and sow discord among Islamic faiths in the region, and called on regional states to pave the ground for the establishment of peace and tranquility in the region through consultation and unity while preventing further genocide of the Muslims.

The Syrian top diplomat described his country's ties with Iran as strategic, and underscored that expansion of bilateral ties between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria serves establishment of stability and security in the region while it also helps to the progress of both nations.

(UK) Times: Germany considers parole for Baader-Meinhof terrorist

The Islamist terror we face these days seems to have evolved from Marxist terror. It's insane that anyone is even considering parole for Mohnhaupt. There are no better examples of first-degree murder than this lady's crimes.
A smiling couple arrived bearing a bouquet of roses on the doorstep of the chief executive of Dresdner Bank. As the banker, J├╝rgen Ponto, turned to call for a vase, he was shot five times through the flowers by a woman terrorist.

That was almost 30 years ago, and yesterday the woman, Brigitte Mohnhaupt, pleaded with German judges to be allowed out on parole.

Now Germany has to decide if it should make its peace with the terrorists of the 1970s. The Baader-Meinhof Gang — later known as the Red Army Faction — killed 34 people, many of them members of the political and business elite.

The State, the police and the judiciary reacted with surprising ferocity, imposing years of solitary confinement on some of the captured terrorists.

It is an issue that still divides German society. Many politicians came to maturity during the 1968 student revolt or the years of ideological terrorism that it spawned. Liberal leaders, such as the Green deputy Antje Vollmer, say that even Nazi war criminals have not had to serve the lengths of the sentences handed down to the Baader-Meinhof followers. Other politicians and relatives of the victims say that there can be no forgiveness.

Mohnhaupt and her fellow killer Christian Klar were hardcore members of the gang. Besides killing Mr Ponto, they also shot dead the West German prosecutor-general Siegfried Buback and abducted, tortured and killed Hanns-Martin Schleyer, head of the West German Employers’ Federation.

Mohnhaupt was sentenced to five life terms and an extra 15 years. The judges took the unusual step of ordering that she stay behind bars for at least 24 years before being allowed to apply for parole.

Those 24 years were up yesterday. The woman who was led by a phalanx of police in bulletproof vests into a fortified Stuttgart courtroom no longer resembled the woman of the “Wanted” posters. Then, she was a resolute-looking blonde with mascara and thin lips. Today the 57-year-old has greying hair, bonier features and the sallowness of someone allowed outside for only an hour a day. [...]
Poor thing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

(North) Korean News: "Songun Policy Praised as Weapon for Human Cause of Independence"

If only the whole world could be like North Korea:
The Songun policy serves as the most powerful weapon for successfully accelerating the human cause of independence. Rodong Sinmun Monday says this in a signed article.

The Songun policy is a sure guarantee for independence of each country and nation and their prosperity and development, the article notes, and goes on:

The imperialist reactionaries seek to deprive the people of their independent rights and shackle them to the fetters of colonial slavery. Under this situation, arms of justice should be upheld to defend each country and realize its people's independence. The popular masses' independence is guaranteed by the arms. Strong military power is a military foundation of an independent and sovereign state. Without military strength, is it impossible to protect the sovereignty of a country and a nation. Songun helps boost military capability to meet pressure and challenge of the imperialist reactionaries. Independence can never be protected in words and prosperity and development of a country cannot be achieved by solicitation. Military strength is the most powerful guarantee for sovereignty of each country and nation and their prosperity and development.

The desire of humankind to lead a happy life in a free and peaceful world has not yet been realized due to the imperialist reactionaries' moves, whereby danger of war is being created in different regions including Asia, Africa and Latin America and the independent rights of sovereign states violated. So, Songun is the only way for saving the above-said situation and realizing the human cause of independence.

Songun is the way of staunch struggle making it possible to fight against imperialism with toughest stand. The Korean people have triumphantly advanced always along the road of socialism thanks to the most powerful and superior Songun policy.

The forces for independence against imperialism, the progressive humankind, should firmly take arms to cope with any moves of the imperialists. Military strength is decisive of ensuring the human cause of independence in the present times when a life-and-death confrontation is taking place with arms. Songun helps provide a solid foundation for strengthening the driving force for the human cause of independence and steadily enhance its role. Rosy future of humankind is ensured by Songun.
What more could you ask for?

Scientific advances on the middos tovos front

Here at the Judeopundit blog, sooner or later we just had to have some posts about middos tovos--good character traits. According to an article in the (UK) Daily Mail, researches have located the "'kind' part of the brain":
Charity the posterior superior temporal salcus, according to scientists who have traced the origins of altruism in the brain.

A study found that this part of the brain is more active in people who often engage in helpful behaviour.

The region, which lies in the top and back portion of the brain, is linked to sorting out social relationships.

US scientists scanned the brains of 45 volunteers using a technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging which can watch the brain working.

At the same time, participants either played a computer game, or watched the computer play the game on its own. In either case, winning the game earned money for a chosen charity.

Volunteers were also questioned about how often they put others before themselves - in other words, how altruistic they were.

The brain scans revealed that the most charitable showed the most activity in the posterior superior temporal salcus when the computer game was being played. [...]
Not to be outdone by the scientists working on chesed--kindness-- other researchers have been working on simchah--happiness--as related in the following item from the Independent on "The happiest man in the world":
To scientists, he is the world's happiest man. His level of mind control is astonishing and the upbeat impulses in his brain are off the scale.

Now Matthieu Ricard, 60, a French academic-turned-Buddhist monk, is to share his secrets to make the world a happier place. The trick, he reckons, is to put some effort into it. In essence, happiness is a "skill" to be learned.

His advice could not be more timely as tomorrow Britain will reach what, according to a scientific formula, is the most miserable day of the year. Tattered new year resolutions, the faded buzz of Christmas, debt, a lack of motivation and the winter weather conspire to create a peak of misery and gloom.

But studies have shown that the mind can rise above it all to increase almost everyone's happiness. Mr Ricard, who is the French interpreter for Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, took part in trials to show that brain training in the form of meditation can cause an overwhelming change in levels of happiness.

MRI scans showed that he and other long-term meditators - who had completed more than 10,000 hours each - experienced a huge level of "positive emotions" in the left pre-frontal cortex of the brain, which is associated with happiness. The right-hand side, which handles negative thoughts, is suppressed.

Further studies have shown that even novices who have done only a little meditation have increased levels of happiness. But Mr Ricard's abilities were head and shoulders above the others involved in the trials.

"The mind is malleable," Mr Ricard told The Independent on Sunday yesterday. "Our life can be greatly transformed by even a minimal change in how we manage our thoughts and perceive and interpret the world. Happiness is a skill. It requires effort and time." [...]
If scientists discover the part of the brain that avoids bitul z'man, that could be the end of the J-blogosphere. (Hat Tip for both items: Drudge)

Tehran Times: "Destroying our home planet"

This is an interestingly leftist take on global warming, from the government-controlled press of a country whose rulers are often described as "conservative." Note the attack on Israel in the third paragraph:
The capitalists’ greed for amassing wealth over the past few decades has laid the groundwork for a global environmental catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.

This greedy and unscrupulous behavior doesn’t recognize any borders. It is draining resources, polluting waters, and destroying flora and fauna. According to some scientists, millions of people will be forced to immigrate to other places in the future because of global warming.

Certain governments conduct regular military maneuvers and launch wars against others, causing air and water pollution. For example, a massive oil spill caused by Israeli missile attacks on a Lebanese power plant in the coastal town of Jiyye, south of Beirut, resulted in the release of an estimated 17,000 tons of oil into the Mediterranean Sea.

Even now that the planetary fire alarm of global warming is ringing loudly, some industrialized countries refuse to abide by the lax regulations set by the Kyoto Protocol.

Those most responsible for global warming are the rich countries of the Northern Hemisphere, but the people who are going to suffer more from climate change are those living in the global South.

The United States, which is home to less than five percent of the world population, accounts for about 25 to 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions produced.

Last spring, NASA climate scientist James Hansen accused the Bush administration of censoring his reports on global warming. Hansen, a world expert on climate change, fears that only a 10-year window exists to curb greenhouse gas emissions before the world reaches a cataclysmic tipping point of no return.

Russia, another industrialized country in the upper Northern Hemisphere, has shrugged off worries about global warming.

Exacerbating the situation, China and India, which together account for a third of the world population, are racing down the road of industrialization, such that their demands for energy are pushing international oil prices to record highs.

Greed, coupled with the failure to teach people how to live in harmony with the ecosystem and the annual increase of 76 million people to the world population, are putting intolerable pressure on the earth.

Industrialists have always boasted of the benefits of technology and how it has raised the standard of living and created jobs. However, the protection of the environment of our fragile blue planet stands above everything.

Hundreds of millions of cars -- the main cause of climate change -- are plying the world’s highways and byways.

Add to this the carbon and nitrogen emissions from air travel. Some government officials, especially foreign ministers, are in the sky as often as birds.
How did Ahmadinejad travel on his recent visit to South America? By bike?
If some companies have now turned to producing somewhat environmentally friendly cars, it is because of pressure from green movement activists and rising oil prices in international markets.

As the least beneficiaries of technology, the poor people of the global South are already suffering from severe droughts and storms, which are the result of climate change. With the melting of the ice caps and glaciers and the subsequent rise in the sea level, the hometowns and lives of people living in coastal areas will be threatened.

If greedy corporations and governments do not stop damaging the environment under the pretext of economic development, they will eventually create a hell on earth for millions of people characterized by environmental degradation, declining food production, and more starvation.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

IRIB: "Haniya reaffirms no recognition"

While we here in the World Arrogance Blogosphere are warning the Hamas peace-offers are not really peace-offers, the IRIB audience is being reassured that Hamas peace-offers are not really peace-offers:
Head of the serving Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, Ismail Haniyya said that the Movement accepts an independent Palestinian State within the 1967 borders, will not "recognize Zionist regime's occupation" but offers a truce.

Haniyya stated that agreeing to form a state within the 1967 borders will be in exchange of a truce with Zionist regime, but not recognition.

That state, Haniyya said, should be able to achieve the Palestinian aspirations of independence and the right of return to the Palestinian refugees.

The truce is for 10 years that could be extended depending on the acts and violations practiced by Zionist regime.

Haniyya also said that the government did not make any official decision regarding a Palestinian state with temporal borders, adding that this truce offer is dependant on the establishment of a Palestinian State with Beit Ul Mogaddas as its capital, implementing the Right of Return and freeing all the detainees in Ziuonist prisons.

Regarding unity talks between the Palestinian factions, Haniyya said that more meetings will be held in the coming days in Gaza with the participation of political and Islamic factions, in addition to social and civil institutions.

The talks would be based on the Detainees Document.

Linkim 1/21/07

Haveil Havalim 103 is up! So is Carnival of the Insanities.
So is Kosher Cooking Carnival 14.

IMAO discusses the "California Legislature Spanking Ban."

Sharon Chadha reports on the debate between Ken Livingston and Daniel Pipes. (h/t: Power Line)

Deborah Lipstadt diagnoses "Jimmy Carter's Jewish Problem."

Nick Cohen asks "Don't you know your left from your right?"

Simply Jews observes that "the dust finally settled" where Chavez is concerned. See the BBC "Have your say" section for numerous pro-Chavez comments.

Catch the latest EOZ News.

ScrappleFace reports on a bill which would "Cap GOP Senator Numbers."

According to Judeosphere: "Amazon Surrenders."

Life of Rubin has numerous posts on the postponed JIB awards, J-Blog Awareness Month, recent links, etc.

Saturday, January 20, 2007 Iranians actually love the World Arrogance

Attacking Iran may or may not be a good idea, and it may be that ordinary Iranians (as opposed to the government) have a positive image of America, but this is an amazing attempt to package Iran as merely another country with some unpopular conservatives in power:
[...]Iranians don't hate America. On the contrary, many of them envy Americans to an unrealistic degree and think of the US as a paradise, a land where no problems exist.

One encounters this sentiment in even the most unexpected places. For instance, when I ran into problems renewing my visa, an austere senior official at the immigration ministry offered to help. "Because you're American, I'll do this for you," he said. This was not unusual. Generally friendly to foreigners, Iranians were especially friendly to me once they discovered I was American. It was as if they were trying to prove a point. "Go home and tell the Americans we like them," the official continued. "You know, I have family in Chicago. Can you help me go see them?" On the way out, a soldier in the lobby was excited to see my passport, handling it as one would a priceless object. "How can I come study in America?" he wanted to know.

Paralleling Iranians' favorable opinions of Americans as a people, however, is their unified opposition to any US government intervention in their country. This directly contradicts what Vice President Cheney and others believe – that if the US were to attack, the population would rise up to help the Americans fight the Iranian regime. Judging from my experience, this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, US intervention seems to be the only issue that will unite most Iranians with the Islamic regime.

We can blame the Bush administration's poor grasp of daily realities in Iran on an almost three-decade-long freeze of contact between the American and Iranian governments. As a result of this isolation, so-called experts who have never been to Iran (or at least not since the Islamic Revolution of 1979) advise US government officials on the opinions of the Iranian populace. The comment by one influential US scholar comparing Iran to a concentration camp in which people would rather be bombed than live another day under such conditions, is a glaring example of misinformation.

At a private party in a trendy suburb of Tehran, I sat down with a group of young professionals as they relaxed after a busy workweek. Iran is not like a concentration camp, they assured me. Yes, they're repressed by government restrictions, but they find ways to get around them. And the situation is certainly not to the point of rising up against the regime.

In fact, politics was the last thing on their minds – that is, until I brought up the possibility of US intervention. "As much as I despise this regime, I love my country more," said Reza, a 20-something. "If America were to attack Iran, I would be the first to lay down my life. Ask anyone and you'll hear the same."
The next section continues under the heading "Moderates today, insurgents tomorrow?":
And indeed I did. Whether they were the village teenagers in southern Iran who took me to eat chicken kabob and drink smuggled Turkish beer in the forest, or Hamid, the opium smuggler in Bam who moonlighted as a taxi driver, the reactions were the same: Though unhappy with the Iranian regime, they would join forces with the mullahs to deter an outside attack. Listening to them speak, I couldn't help but think that these young moderates could well become the future insurgents in an expanded regional conflict.

This may be avoided if we actually listen to the voices coming out of Iran. Iranians are overwhelmingly in favor of normalizing relations with the US, but oppose any intervention in their nation's internal affairs. Forces seem to be aligning in favor of direct dialogue between the two estranged governments.

Pragmatic voices are wresting control from both neoconservatives in the US and their fundamentalist counterparts in Iran. Let's hope they win out. Opening up relations with Iran is not appeasement; it's necessary because it allows home-grown democratic forces to work on their own terms.

Counterintuitive as it may seem, overt US calls for regime change and direct support of dissidents and NGOs have a negative effect on Iranian civil society because they result in government crackdowns and increase popular anger aimed at the American government. [...]
The next section is preceded by the heading "Build relations upon shared ideals," but I'll spare you that.

IRIB: "US wants to tear apart Middle East"

The editing is bad here, even by IRIB standards, but this is a pretty interesting glimpse into the thinking of a major enemy of Israel and the West:
"Israel is of the opinion that the only chance for their regime to survive is to devide the Middle East into smaller countries," Hezbollah SG, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah told al-Minar TV network Friday, adding that if the Lebanese resistance had been defeated, the war would have benn extended to Syria and then to the overall region.

"Even if Amir Peretz and the Israeli cabinet falls, some people inside Lebanon persist that Israel is the winner in the war because they are not willing to admit to the victory of Hezbollah."

Nasralah lauded Israelis for not ignoring even the bodies of their dead even if buried many years ago and deplored that inside Lebanon no one bothers thinking about the Lebanese captives.

"Inside Lebanon many leaders are born and pass by and no one questions their attitude, even of they commit a crime in the daylight," Sayed Hassan lamented, adding, yet they are encouraged due to some secterian and party prejudice.

"Wew are not going to question any one. However, we are ready to answer any enquiry provided it is neutral," Nasrallah affirmed.

Concerning the new Middle East, Nasrallah warned that America's radical republicans are making efforts to create a new Middle East in which its countries are devide into smaller countries based on race, sect and religion.

"This is the only chance for Israel to susrvive and thank to such a project, it will turn into a dominant power in the region," the Arab leader cautioned.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mehr News: "Ayatollah Lankarani warns of superpowers’ plots against Muslims"

Some of the less familiar Ayatollahs offer the same old deadeningly repetitive rhetoric:
The latest U.S. plan in Iraq will fail more scandalously, Ayatollah Mohammad Fazel Lankarani said on Friday.

“The U.S. efforts to cheat the Arab and Islamic countries are a great threat to Islam and all Islamic states,” the grand cleric said in a meeting with Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani and a group of religious ulema in Qom.

On January 10 U.S. President George W. Bush announced a new strategy for Iraq, including a 21,500 increase in troop numbers.

Ayatollah Lankarani said it is necessary that Muslims form a unity against superpowers.

“The Shia school is not a danger to the region,” he said, adding that the Shia ideology is based on logic and respect to the rights of all nations and groups.

“The Sunnis and Shias should be aware that the U.S. and Israel seek to demolish the foundation of Islam,” he warned.

Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayegani called on the officials to act vigilantly and wisely in the international arena to thwart the enemy plots.

Larijani said the United States and Israel seek to sow seeds of discord among Shia and Sunni, stressing the need for the Marja taqlids (References of Emulation for Shias) to guide the Muslims to maintain unity.
And meanwhile at Fars News: "Religious Scholars Play Effective Role in Defusing Enemy Plots":
Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Larijani in a meeting with Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani in the central city of Qom on Friday stressed the need for Muslim vigilance under the present sensitive conditions.

He said that Muslim Ullemma (scholars and jurisprudents) play a very effective role in encountering the conspiracies of the enemies who seek to sow discord between Muslim Shiites and Sunnites.

Larijani further pointed to the United States' new adventurism in Iraq, and said that the US and Israel are seeking to sow seeds of discord between the Shiites and Sunnites, reiterating the need for the protection of Muslim solidarity and unity through boosting of the Muslims' vigilance by the Ulemma.

He further briefed the Ayatollah about the recent developments in Iran's nuclear issue as well as the activities and measures adopted by Iran's nuclear team.

For his part, Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani stressed the need for safeguarding Muslim solidarity and unity.

Larijani is now on a tour of the holy city of Qom to meet Iran's senior religious jurisprudents and scholars.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Der Spiegel: "Need a Demonstrator? Now You Can Rent Them Online"

Capitalism always triumphs in the end:
[...] What the '68 generation once did out of passion, people now do for money. Berlin-based Erento, a company that pairs renters with potential customers, offers an unusual lineup of products and services for loan. In addition to such rentals as snow machines, horse-drawn carriages for weddings, chicken-plucking machines and private jets, the site also now offers a unique service: protestors for hire.

Judging by their profiles, most of the 300-plus people currently listed in the "rent a demonstrator" category are young and attractive. Potential agitators looking for support for their public protests can choose, for example, Steffen, age 22, 190 cm tall (6 feet 2 inches), "athletic" and with a shoe size of 45. He's available for gigs all over Germany, but says he prefers the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Or Manuela, who has green eyes and "very long" hair and is available within a 100-kilometer range of Berlin. Included in the extensive personal information -- which at times seems more suited to a dating site -- are skin color and "appearance type," which can be for example "European," "African," "South American" or "Asian." [...]

However the free market has not entirely overcome political principle. The demonstrators say they are not available for just any kind of protest. Those involving neo-Nazis or promoting discrimination, for example, are out of the question. "The demonstrators have to decide for themselves what kind of protests they are willing to participate in," the spokesperson said. "One person might be in favor of health care reforms, while another might be against them." [...]