Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Angry Arab pretends to be stupid

He quotes from an article about the HRW statement about Gaza rockets, ending with the following:
HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson said in the group's report on Monday that "The rocket attacks killed three Israeli civilians and wounded dozens. Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim."
Then he comments:
I don't know which statements Sarah is referring to, but is she implying that threats are more deadly than actual harming of civilians, or does she mean that Israel should be forgiven for killing and injuring Arab civilians because it did not make clear statements that harming civilians was their aim?
How difficult is it to understand what the HRW statement is saying? The "threats" were simply offered as support for the assertion that Gazan terrorist groups are actually targeting civilians. As for his statement "I don't know which statements Sarah is referring to," I think I know of a resource that can help him out. The Love of the Land blog has screenshots of some tweets from @AlqassamBrigade quoting Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida. Always glad to help out a fellow blogger. Speaking of AA, he had an interesting and very telling angle on the business about the Mayan date for the the end of the world:
I was looking forward to the end of the world as it would have permitted me--even for a second--to witness the end of the Zionist entity over Palestine.
To use one of his favorite words, the man thinks hatred is cute.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Juan Cole on "the flowering of Christianity" in the Middle East

Juan Cole, who is certainly interesting most of the time, argues that "arguments you see for Christian decline in the region are mostly wrong." (He is perhaps answering this.) Here is a paragraph about Lebanon:
The argument for decline is usually made from Lebanon, where Christians were a bare majority in 1931, but are now something like 22%. But Lebanon’s population was about 800,000 in 1931, so Christians were 408,000. Lebanon’s population is now 5 million, and Christians inside the country are about 1.1 million. So with all the vast Christian Lebanese emigration abroad, to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, the United States, Mexico, etc. (with perhaps 6 million Lebanese-descended people in the New World), there are still twice as many Christians in Lebanon in absolute terms now as there were in 1931. And although it is consequential politically that Lebanese Christians are now less than a third of the adult electorate, they are hardly powerless. They dominate the presidency, the officer corps, and the business world, and they are split between allying with the Sunni Muslims and allying with the Shiites, which gives them influence as a swing vote.
Yes, I guess if the total population increases six-fold in 80 years, you can lose a lot of ground percentage-wise and still have larger absolute numbers. I didn't say it was convincing, just interesting. Here is a sentence about Egypt, making a similar argument: "So in absolute terms, Egypt alone now has more than 11 times as many Christians as lived in the central lands of the Middle East 162 years ago. How is that a decline?" Don't know about that, Juan. 162 years sure is an awful long time. Aren't we talking about whether there has been a recent decline?

Juan also includes South Sudan and Eritrea in the Middle East. He also admits the decline in the Christian population in the West Bank in Israel because, I assume, he can blame Israel for it, while neglecting the fact that the Christian population has increased in not only absolute but percentage terms inside green-line Israel. He may be desperate to depict Christians as "flowering" in the "Middle East," but he isn't going to violate any of his Israel-bashing imperatives. There's more, of course. Reading it is the only way to see if I'm being fair here.

Update: Somehow I'm reminded of this:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Future bright for projectiles

You may have seen one of a number of headlines, such as the following from the Guardian: "US west coast may be within North Korean missile range, says Seoul." (North) Korean News, not surprisingly, has a number of stories about the "satellite" launch, including not-too-subtle hints as to the military significance. For instance, "Title of DPRK Hero Awarded to Contributors to Successful Launch of Satellite":
The title of DPRK Hero, gold star medals and Orders of National Flag (First Class) were awarded to Choe Chun Sik and 100 other scientists, technicians, workers and officials.

By successfully launching satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 they instilled great national self-esteem and conviction of sure victory into the service personnel and people of the DPRK and dealt a sledge-hammer blow at the hostile forces' desperate moves to check the advance of the DPRK. They also made a great contribution to remarkably raising the international prestige and influence of the DPRK.

A decree was promulgated by the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK in this regard on Saturday.
Iran is denying that if had anything to do with recent North Korean missile advances:
Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics has denied that Iran cooperates with North Korea on missiles and expert exchange.

Brigadier General Ahmed Vahidi, Minister of Defense described the claims as ‘only speculations’ and said that Islamic Republic of Iran has not sent experts on missiles to North Korea.

In providing a response to the question on sending expert on missiles to North Korea, Vahidi said that no expert had been sent.
Iran admitted most of its role in supplying missile technology to Hamas (and got thanked publically for the rest) and it loves to take credit for things. We are bound to see more interesting statements from Iranian officials. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Pakistan: Shiites react to blasphemous graffiti against Imam-e-Zaman (AS) and Imam Khomeini" (ABNA-Iran)

Graffiti against Ayatollah Khomeini is "blasphemous"? They don't quite have the hang of monotheism, do they? The English a bit fragmented here--I guess the "movie" the third paragraph starts talking about is "The Innocence of Muslims":
Blasphemous graffiti against Imam-e-Zaman (AS) and Imam Khomeini appeared on the walls of Bhakkar district.

The graffiti against the 12th infallible Imam and his deputy during the time of occultation, Imam Khomeini, has sparked off anger and dismay among Shiites.

Blasphemous movie has evoked stiff protest from all Shiites irrespective of their affiliations to different organizations. They termed it a provocative act of terrorism and fanaticism by the stooges of Zionist and global imperialism. They said that notorious takfiri nasbi terrorists Malik Ishaq

Latest reports say that all Shia parties have joined hands against the sacrilegious graffiti. Wizarat Hussain Naqvi, a known Shia leader has summoned a meeting in which all Shiites are participating. District Police Officer Bhakkar and two DSPs are also present at the meeting. Shiites are chalking out their course of action against the graffiti.

"Pot farms wreaking havoc on Northern California environment" (LA Times)

Oh the irony, oh the humanity, oh the bears:
State scientists, grappling with an explosion of marijuana growing on the North Coast, recently studied aerial imagery of a small tributary of the Eel River, spawning grounds for endangered coho salmon and other threatened fish.

In the remote, 37-square-mile patch of forest, they counted 281 outdoor pot farms and 286 greenhouses, containing an estimated 20,000 plants — mostly fed by water diverted from creeks or a fork of the Eel. The scientists determined the farms were siphoning roughly 18 million gallons from the watershed every year, largely at the time when the salmon most need it.

"That is just one small watershed," said Scott Bauer, the state scientist in charge of the coho recovery on the North Coast for the Department of Fish and Game. "You extrapolate that for all the other tributaries, just of the Eel, and you get a lot of marijuana sucking up a lot of water.… This threatens species we are spending millions of dollars to recover."

The marijuana boom that came with the sudden rise of medical cannabis in California has wreaked havoc on the fragile habitats of the North Coast and other parts of California. With little or no oversight, farmers have illegally mowed down timber, graded mountaintops flat for sprawling greenhouses, dispersed poisons and pesticides, drained streams and polluted watersheds.

Because marijuana is unregulated in California and illegal under federal law, most growers still operate in the shadows, and scientists have little hard data on their collective effect. But they are getting ever more ugly snapshots.

A study led by researchers at UC Davis found that a rare forest carnivore called a fisher was being poisoned in Humboldt County and near Yosemite in the Sierra Nevada.

The team concluded in its July report that the weasel-like animals were probably eating rodenticides that marijuana growers employ to keep animals from gnawing on their plants, or they were preying on smaller rodents that had consumed the deadly bait. Forty-six of 58 fisher carcasses the team analyzed had rat poison in their systems.

Mark Higley, a wildlife biologist on the Hoopa Indian Reservation in eastern Humboldt who worked on the study, is incredulous over the poisons that growers are bringing in.

"Carbofuran," he said. "It seems like they're using that to kill bears and things like that that raid their camps. So they mix it up with tuna or sardine, and the bears eat that and die."

The insecticide is lethal to humans in small doses, requires a special permit from the EPA and is banned in other countries. Authorities are now regularly finding it at large-scale operations in some of California's most sensitive ecosystems.

It is just one in a litany of pollutants seeping into the watershed from pot farms: fertilizers, soil amendments, miticides, rodenticides, fungicides, plant hormones, diesel fuel, human waste. [...]
Don't you like the way the article refers to "the sudden rise of medical cannabis"? Even when it is a total disaster environmentally, evidently involving criminal activity, the LA Times can't bring itself to write something accurate like "psuedo-medical cannabis." I only posted about half of the article. Tsk tsk.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Ban on PressTV, HispanTV: Zionist octopus at work" (PressTV-Iran)

Iran reacts to the removal of PressTV from Spanish television by demonstrating why it got removed. Great graphic:
It seems that the West is sloughing over its established definition of freedom of expression when the Iranian channels HispanTV and Press TV come under brutal censorship by the Israel-friendly satellite companies in Europe.

Evidently spearheaded by the Zionists, Spain’s satellite provider Hispasat has ordered Overon to take Press TV and Hispan TV off the air. No wonder, the illegal move created extreme joy in the Zionist organizations such as the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

“This is an important development in the worldwide effort to contain the defiant regime in Tehran, one we have been watching carefully for months and discussing with our friends in Spain,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris.

“Hispasat did the right thing,” Harris continued. “No satellite company in the Western world should enable the dissemination of propaganda from an Iranian government that denies human rights, supports terror organizations and is determined to achieve nuclear weapons capability. That Hispasat’s action triggered such an angry response in Tehran tells us all we need to know about its significance.”

Overon says as the EU has blacklisted the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Hispan TV and Press TV must be taken off the air. It should be noted that Hispan TV is officially registered in Spain and operates under the country’s media laws. Besides, the EU has confirmed to Press TV that its anti-Iran sanctions do not apply to the country's media.

From a legal point of view, this move runs counter to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). Article ten of the ACHR says, “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.”

Hispasat is partly owned by Eutelsat whose French-Israeli CEO is widely believed to be the architect of attacks on Iranian media in Europe.

Without even Michel de Rosen being the Zionist CEO of Eutelsat, the European media is so pathetically caught up in the claws of the Zionists that they would readily give in to their demands especially when they are directly aimed at dispelling the political sway of the Islamic Republic.

On the one hand, the Zionists keep depicting themselves in the light of a nation so viciously persecuted in the course of history at the hands of the Europeans, an excuse which they use as a way of emotional blackmail. This, the Europeans sadly buy and seek to make up for the ‘holocaust’, an inflated issue, a political ace in the hole for the Zionists.

On the other hand, Europe is infernally prone to smother any voice coming from Iran and that which is in defense of the Islamic Republic as the Europeans are fearful of alternative channels such as Press TV, Hispan TV and RT which deliver a truthful report of the public discontent in the European community. The fact is that Europe is crumbling from within and there is no economic salvation in sight and Europe prefers media blackout. Further to that, the Zionist lobby is so powerful in Europe that they prefer to cave to their wanton demands, ignore the very basis principles upon which the European Convention of Human Rights is built, and avoid withering criticism or political isolation from Washington.

In point of fact, Europe is plunging into financial abysm largely on account of its reliance on US imperialism and its support of the Zionist regime. The role these alternative channels play in raising intellectual awareness and political insight is an irrefutable reality which serves as a resounding slap in the face of Europe. To put it in better terms, these channels hold a mirror to the European audience wherein the reality is reflected as it should. And this is exactly what harrows Europe with fear and wonder.

What is currently happening to the Iranian media is not just limited to Iran or to the Iranian community. These channels and like news outlets are the inalienable rights of the world citizens who are entitled to have an alternative voice different from theirs and choose to hear.

In fact, depriving the international community from these channels is stripping the people across the globe of the choice to hear. It is not ‘kosher’ and amounts to an act of intellectual abacination.
I actually had to look up the word "abacinate." It means to "blind by holding a red-hot metal plate before someone's eyes." (Hat tip: Isreallycool)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

PressTV-Iran: "Mossad death squads slaughtered American children at Sandy Hook"

This article repeats some of the claims from the PressTV interview with Neo-Nazi Mike Harris that a number of bloggers noted. The earlier title was "The Zionist-controlled Western media fueling culture of violence," although the "death squad" claim is there also. Notice the inclusion here of the Iran's attack on the AMIA building in Argentina among supposed Mossad crimes and also the mention of Lenin.(Neo-Nazis commonly assert he was Jewish). Even the name "Sandy Hook" is part of the conspiracy:
While liberals and some conservatives believe the time has come to ban assault weapons, the graver threat to our nation’s security has been swept under the rug.

The Sandy Hook massacre appears to have been a psy op intended to strike fear in the hearts of Americans by the sheer brutality of the massacre, where the killing of children is a signature of terror ops conducted by agents of Israel.

This is being used as powerful incentive for banning assault rifles, where most of the public is unaware of the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has acquired 1.5 billion rounds of .40 caliber, hollow-point ammunition, which is not ever permissible in warfare under the Geneva Conventions.

A Senate Subcommittee has issued a report (3 October 2012) based upon its review of 680 “fusion center” reports (from 2009-2001) and found not a single indication of any domestic terrorist threat-not one! None! Since the only domestic “terrorist threats” are ones contrived by the government, especially the FBI, the public needs to know.

This information-as well as the existence of more than 300 FEMA camps and special boxcars to carry dissidents to them-has been deliberately withheld from the American people, because if they were aware of the facts of the matter, it would become obvious that those camps and ammunition are intended to be used against them.

When DHS is gearing up to conduct a massive civil war against the American people, what better excuse could there be for banning assault weapons than the massacre of 20 innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School?

The choice appears to be covertly revealing, where “Sandy” means guardian of men (as an allusion to guns) and “Hook” as a euphemism for hooking, gathering or confiscating the only weapons that DHS fears. And who better to slaughter American children than Israelis, who deliberately murder Palestinian children?

Mike Harris of Veterans Today has exposed the pattern relating what happened there to earlier assaults: “This is exactly what Israel did in Norway; the political party that voted sanctions against Israel was retaliated against by a ‘lone gunman’ who killed 77 children. This is what Israel always does, they go after the children.

“It is what they do in Gaza every day. It is what was done in Norway. It is what happened at Sandy Hook. Nobody buys the ‘one gunman’ story anymore, not with the Gabby Giffords’ shooting, not with the Aurora “Batman” shooting, certainly not with Breveik, and certainly not in Connecticut.”

The most likely scenario, given what we know now, is that Adam Lanza and his mother killed the day before. Adam's body picked up by local police. He was attired in a SWAT outfit, including body armor, and stored in the school.

A three-man team entered the school, one was arrested in the school--cuffed and put on the lawn--two went out the back door, one was arrested, the third appears to have escaped. You can find this on helicopter videos.

Those arrested are currently not in police custody; their names were never released. That is a telling sign that we are being sold a story that is based on fiction, not on fact. What else are the local police concealing?

A parallel situation in Aurora, where there appear to have been multiple participants, but the police concealed information about them. The DC Sniper, John Allen Muhammad, was even a active member of Delta Force, but the public was not informed.

His assistant in this killing spree, Lee Boyd Malvo, had been detained in Seattle but was released, even though he was an illegal alien, where INS has refused to explain how that happened. Did “higher authority” intervene?

Nidal Malik Hasan, the US Army Major who killed 13 and wounded 29 during a rampage at Ft. Hood, Kansas, even sat next to the Director of Homeland Security during an event at George Washington University. Can that be coincidental?

When the "long gunman" cover story falls apart, then the national press, which William Colby told us was infiltrated by agents of the CIA-“The agency owns everyone of significance in the major media”-resorts to stories of Mind Control and use of drugs.

We have to see through the smoke and mirrors. These attacks typically involve three-man shooting teams, where, once the story is tainted with bogus MK/Ultra conspiracy disinformation, crucial data, like the assault rifle the Sandy Hook having been left in his car, swiftly disappears.

Lenin and Trotsky were terrorists. Lenin was an outspoken proponent of terrorism. The founder of the Lukid Party and sixth Prime Minister of Israel was an Irgun terrorist. Study its history. No nation in the world cares more about its own interests and less about those of the United State than Israel.

The bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946, was a stunning example. The attack on the USS Liberty and Israel’s bombing of its own Embassy and Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994 are other illustration.

Those who study 9/11 are all too aware of the role of the Neo-Cons and the Mossad. But the American press covers it up-and Congress is controlled by AIPAC. As Bill Casey, former CIA Director, observed, “Our disinformation program will be complete when everything the American public believes is false.” Sandy Hook is the latest example.
Not surprisingly, current PressTV headlines include one about PressTV's banning by satellite network Hispasat. Update: Two more headlines in this vein from PressTV: "Israeli death squads involved in Sandy Hook bloodbath: Intelligence analyst" and "School killings, first shock, then blame and conspiracy." That last one is cute since it suggests the article is going to be about conspiracist reactions to the tragedy instead of promoting conspiracy theories.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Commander Urges Int'l Community to Rescue US Oppressed People" (Fars News-Iran)

Such touching concern, Commander! In the course of this little item, we learn, among other things, that "the US regime . . . is supported by only 1% of the Americans."
Commander of Iran's Basij (volunteer) force Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi said that the international community does not pay enough attention to the sufferings of the American nation who have been victimized by their rulers.

Speaking in Iran's Northwestern province of Zanjan today, Naqdi pointed to the reactions shown by the world and the international community to the terrorist crimes committed by the US backed terrorist groups in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Gaza or Syria, and lamented that the world has unfortunately neglected the sufferings of the American people inside the US.

"What has been neglected is the United States' oppressed people, specially the oppressed and innocent American children who are the main victims of the US regime which is supported by only 1% of the Americans, and no one in the world cares for them," he said.

"It is true that saving the Palestinian people is a top necessity of the Islamic Awakening movement, but liberation of the US people shouldn't be neglected and the international community should rise to save and free oppressed people of the US, specially its youngsters and kids," Naqdi underscored.

His remarks came a day after protesters marched on the headquarters of the US gun lobby as the clamor for tighter firearm controls grows in the wake of the Newtown school massacre.

Twenty school children were slaughtered by a heavily armed gunman who opened fire at a suburban elementary school in Connecticut last Friday, killing at least 28 people including himself in the one of the worst mass shootings in US history.

The 20-year-old gunman, identified as Adam Lanza, fired what witnesses described as dozens of shots at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which serves children from ages 5 to 10.

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School appeared to be the US' second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, in which 32 people, including two Indians, were killed and 17 others wounded.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Intelligence Minister Stresses Iran's Full Control over Enemy Moves" (Fars News-Iran)

An interesting example of Iranian rheotoric. All enemy plots are "under control." I suppose that means that the threats posed by enemy "moves, plots and security threats" are under control, but somehow the phasing they used makes it sound more, well, Iranian:
Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi underlined Iran's power, and said all enemies' moves, plots and security threats are under control.

"The measures adopted by conspirators and the plots targeting security of the nation and the ruling system could have economic implications for us," Moslehi said, addressing Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission in Tehran on Tuesday.

But, enemy's plots have been thwarted and the country's intelligence and security organizations are in full control over enemies' moves.

Moslehi had earlier warned that the US and its allies continue plots against Iran to harm its security and stability, although to no avail.

[He] said that foreign intelligence services recruit and revive terrorist groups like Jundollah - a CIA backed organization notorious for its terrorist operations in Southeastern Iran.

"The foreign (intelligence) services form certain groups to stir sectarian war and create rift between the Shiites and Sunnis as their main agenda, and it is clear that when the ringleader of a group is arrested in a big operation, they move to reconstruct the group," Moslehi said, referring to the February 2011 arrest of Abdolmalek Rigi, the ringleader of Jundollah.

Meantime, he underlined the failure of the western intelligence services in their attempts to create insecurity in Iran, and said, "Due to the vigilance of the (Iranian) security bodies, they have always failed to attain their goals." [...]
I wouldn't like being invincible. It would take all the mystery out of life.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"DPRK Workers Encouraged by Successful Satellite Launch" (Korean News)

About half the headlines at Korean News are about their "successful satellite launch." This one is overcome with uncontrollable joy, that one sees a bright future, etc. (The rest of the headlines are the usual swill: "Kim Jong Il, Peerlessly Great Man," "Members of Women's Union Vow Loyalty to Kim Jong Un," etc.) According to this one, the Juche masses were so encouraged by the great news that "railway workers are working overtime irrespective of shifts" --out of joy, you understand. And, of course, the Hungnam Fertilizer Complex is never out of the news for long:
The news of satellite launch in the DPRK has encouraged the workers in the economic construction.

Jo Jin Hyon, deputy head of a workshop of the Hungnam Fertilizer Complex, told KCNA:

"The news has greatly encouraged us in the drive for increased production.

Today my workshop raised the production results two times higher than usual. The case will be the same with other workshops."

Pyon Song Chol, a dispatcher at the Kaechon Railway Bureau, said:

"Joyful over the news, our railway workers are working overtime irrespective of shifts. The news has also excited the railway travelers.

The transport workers' zeal for increased carriage is running higher. It is likely that the current month's quota of the bureau would be hit earlier than scheduled."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy Fifth Night of Chanukah!

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

"Hamas: Enemy Plot against Iran-Hamas Ties Thwarted by Supreme Leader" (Fars News-Iran)

Usually the Supreme Big Guy urges his followers to show vigilance and foil all enemy plots, but sometimes he has to just step in and do it himself:
The Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, appreciated Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei's recent remarks about support for the Palestinian nation and resistance groups, and stressed that his statements foiled the plots hatched to sow discord between Iran and Hamas.

"Right at a time when the region is passing through the most difficult times and faces different plots, religious schemes at top of them, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei with his unifying and insightful statements in the International Conference of Muslim Scholars and Islamic Awakening, drew attention to the main problem in the region and the source of plots and devilishness, that is the filthy Quds Occupying Regime (Israel)," Hamas office in Tehran said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ayatollah Khamenei's righteous appreciation for the unique resistance of Palestinian resistance groups, including Hamas, defused the plots hatched by the enemies to sow discord between the group and the Islamic Republic of Iran, spread rumors about the closure of Hamas office in Tehran and raise "unfounded" allegations against Hamas' leader, the statement read.

During the International Conference of Muslim Scholars and Islamic Awakening held in Tehran on Tuesday, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei lauded Palestinians for their recent victory over the Zionist regime in the 8-day Israeli war on Gaza, and said the war once again showed the necessity for unity among Muslims.

He also praised the "braveries" shown by the Palestinians groups, specially Hamas and Islamic Jihad Movements, in the Gaza war.

The Leader said that the Gaza war had important lessons for the Palestinian people and other Muslims, and stated, "The Gaza war showed that if all sides unite with each other and be patient against hardships, God's promise for emergence of comfort after termination of hardships will come true."

Israel triggered an 8-day fighting by assassinating the military chief of the ruling Hamas group on November 14 followed by dozens of airstrikes on Gaza.

In response, Palestinian groups fired over 1,500 missiles and rockets at Israel.

Palestinian resistance groups targeted Tel Aviv and areas near Jerusalem for the first time in the history of confrontations between the two sides, launching a rocket attack in a major escalation of hostilities as Israel pressed forward with relentless airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

Israel called up thousands of reservists and massed troops along the border with Gaza, signaling a ground invasion of the densely populated seaside strip could be imminent.

But the rocket attacks on areas deep in the occupied territories (Israel) frightened the Israeli regime, and made it drop its aggression plans and ask for third party mediation. [...]
In the world of Fars News, the entire country is occupied.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

"Congratulations to Palestinian President" (North) Korean News

Wow, "justice dynamically advancing"--that sounds like Juche rhetoric:
Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly, Thursday sent a congratulatory message to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the adoption by an overwhelming vote of a resolution of the 67th UN General Assembly calling for according to Palestine the status of observer state.

In the message Kim said that the victory achieved by Palestine at the UN General Assembly clearly proves that nothing can stem the trend of justice dynamically advancing towards independence and peace against all forms of aggression, interference and arbitrary practices.

Reiterating the full support and solidarity of the DPRK to the Palestinian people in their just cause of taking back their legitimate national rights including the founding of an independent state with Kuds as its capital, the message wished the Palestinian president fresh and greater successes in his future work.

NY Times on "True Meaning of Hanukkah"

Predictably, this NY Times article is a well-meaning mess. It does point out that the military victory is an important part of why we celebrate. All you need for that, of course, is the text of Al-Hanism. Here is how the article ends:
[...] Many believe the rabbis in the Talmud recounted the miracle of the light alongside the military victory because they did not want to glorify war. That in itself is an important teaching, as are the holiday’s related messages of renewal, hope and turning away from darkness.

But it’s a story with dark chapters as well, including the Maccabean leaders’ religious zealotry, forced conversions and deadly attacks on their neighbors. These transgressions need to be grappled with. And that is precisely what the most important Jewish holidays do: Jews on Passover spill out wine from their glasses to acknowledge Egyptian suffering caused by the 10 plagues, and congregations at Rosh Hashana read and struggle with God’s order to Abraham to bind his son Isaac as a sacrifice.

If we’re going to magnify Hanukkah, we should do so because it offers the deeper meaning and opportunity for introspection that the major Jewish holidays provide.
Earlier in the article, the author explained that
Though Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday, 19th-century activists in America promoted it to encourage their coreligionists to take pride in their heritage. During the 20th century it was embraced more broadly by Jews who wanted to fit in with other Americans celebrating the holiday season . . .
It may be that these things happened among assimilated Jews because Chanukah was perceived as "minor," but it lasts eight days, Al-Hamisim (a good source of the "true meaning of Chanukah") is added to every Shmoneh Esrei and Bentching, there is Whole-Hallel every day, a Torah-reading every day, the Menorah lighting itself. If you take your religious life seriously, it is bound to have a major impact. And what does it all mean?
In the days of Matityahu, the son of Yochanan the High Priest, the Hasmonean and his sons, when the wicked Hellenic government rose up against Your people Israel to make them forget Your Torah and violate the decrees of Your will. But You, in Your abounding mercies, stood by them in the time of their distress. You waged their battles, defended their rights, and avenged the wrong done to them. You delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the wanton sinners into the hands of those who occupy themselves with Your Torah.

You made a great and holy name for Yourself in Your world, and effected a great deliverance and redemption for Your people Israel to this very day. Then Your children entered the shrine of Your House, cleansed Your Temple, purified Your Sanctuary, kindled lights in Your holy courtyards, and instituted these eight days of Chanukah to give thanks and praise to Your great Name.
Sounds like a major holiday and major meaning to me. Perhaps some introspection is called for, but in a mode of joyous celebration, not the politically correct introspection promoted by this article.

LA Times laments "Big Soda's victory"

According to this story, ballot measures instituting a soda tax were defeated in the Richmaond district in San Francisco and in El Monte, California. Sounds like good news to me, but not only is the author unhappy with the outcome of the ballot elections, he can't talk about it in terms of whether the actual tax would be beneficial or not. Instead (according to the graphic accompanying the article) he talks about all the good things that could have been done with the money spent (by something called "Big Soda") on the advertising campaign to defeat the measures--so many playgrounds, so many jump-ropes--if it had been spent on truly civic-minded (I guess) things instead.

How about not trying to solve all problems by raising taxes? The author seems genuinely bothered by the prospect of money in private hands and not subject to government confiscation. That's the only way I can explain the strange argument made here. People spending their own, hard-earned money also buy jump-ropes and organic vegetables.

LA Times pushes "ethical" chocolate Chanukah gelt

The idea is that the chocolate is produced under good working conditions. One of the things we learn is that chocolate gelt coins are "meant to represent the coins that once were given to children as an encouragement for their Jewish studies." I don't know about that, but I'm sure the "once given" part is wrong. Actual spendable money is currently, right now, given by many Jews to other Jews (especially but not exclusively, parents to children) on Chanukah. Why not start doing that if you don't do it yet?

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Monday, December 03, 2012

"Where are you?" A story for 19 Kislev.

On the 19th of Kislev, the Alter Rebbe, the founder of Chabad, was released from prison. See here to learn why this day is known in Chabad as the "Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism." Here is a story:
In 1798, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi was imprisoned on charges, put forth by the opponents of Chassidism, that his teachings undermined the imperial authority of the czar. For 52 days he was held in the Peter-Paul Fortress in Petersburg.

Among the Rebbe's interrogators was a government minister who possessed broad knowledge of the Bible and Jewish studies. On one occasion, he asked the Rebbe to explain the verse (Genesis 3:9): "And G-d called out to the man and said to him: 'Where are you?'" Did G-d not know where Adam was?

Rabbi Schneur Zalman presented the explanation offered by several of the commentaries: the question "Where are you?" was merely a "conversation opener" on the part of G-d, who did not wish to unnerve Adam by immediately confronting him with his wrongdoing.

"What Rashi says, I know," said the minister. "I wish to hear how the Rebbe understands the verse."

"Do you believe that the Torah is eternal?" asked the Rebbe. "Do you believe that its every word applies to every individual, under all conditions, at all times?"

"Yes," replied the minister.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman was extremely gratified to hear this. The czar's minister had affirmed a principle which lies at the basis of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the very teachings and ideology for which he was standing trial!

"'Where are you?'" explained the Rebbe, "is G-d's perpetual call to every man. Where are you in the world? What have you accomplished? You have been allotted a certain number of days, hours, and minutes in which to fulfill your mission in life. You have lived so many years and so many days," -- here Rabbi Schneur Zalman spelled out the exact age of the minister -- "Where are you? What have you achieved?"

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Angry Arab on "Zionist Sexism"

I think Angry Arab is a fairly intelligent person. As I have observed before, however, he hates Israel and hatred is the functional equivalent of stupidity. Here is his post:
Did you know that when the Zionists under Hertzl held their first conference in Basel, Switzerland (in the municipal casino, incidentally) they did not allow the Zionist women in attendance to vote?
That was when? 1897. When was the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, was finally ratified by enough states to make it US law? 1920. California, the state where AA teaches Political Science, "granted women's suffrage in 1911." Herzl-era Zionists were like other late 19th century people in most respects. How shocking. (By the way, this is a great example of what I call taking facts out of context.)