Saturday, December 31, 2005

Palestinians blow up or seize UN drinking club.

Middle East: It all depends on which you trust, the AP or Reuters on this report.

Reuters: GAZA (Reuters) - Masked gunmen stormed into a club for United Nations workers in Gaza City on Sunday and blew up the drinking hall in a new sign of spiralling unrest ahead of a Palestinian election. It was the first such attack in Gaza on a U.N. target and came against a backdrop of growing unease among foreigners. Just over one day earlier, a group freed three British hostages that had been seized to demand foreign pressure on Israel. The bombing was another big blow for President Mahmoud Abbas, just hours after he had vowed to impose order ahead of a January 25 election and as militants announced the expiry of a de facto truce with Israel that they had followed at his behest. Gunmen burst into the U.N. club, one of the few places that alcohol is served in conservative Muslim Gaza. It had been closed for the day. The attackers tied up the security guard and struck him with gun butts. Then they set explosives in front of the bar, unrolled a detonator cable and blew up the charges, ripping up the roof and shattering the windows. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The United Nations is generally viewed with sympathy Gaza. Its agency supporting Palestinian refugees and their descendants, more than half of Gaza's 1.4 million population, is the second biggest employer after the Palestinian Authority. "The club has been there for 50 years," said one U.N. security worker. "This is the first time anything like this has happened."
AP says the club was seized with some damage done to the bar and liquor bottles and adds this interesting note that Reuters leaves out.
The U.N. club is known as the only place in Gaza City where alcohol is served, but it was closed when the attack took place around 2 a.m. local time. Only foreigners are allowed inside.
That seems rather discriminatory for the UN.


Friday, December 30, 2005

Its okay to beat up on customers in the UK.

UK: The customer was being an idiot, but you can't go around beating up on customers, kinda bad for business.

A LESBIAN shop worker sacked for throwing a bag of flour at a customer who called her a “filthy dyke” has won her case for unfair dismissal. Caroline Gardener snapped after the man became abusive when he was unable to find any lime cordial in the shop. She claimed that he pushed her, called her useless and told her: “Get your sex life sorted out.” Miss Gardener, 45, retaliated by throwing a packet of flour at the back of his head. When they went to the manager’s office to complain about each other’s conduct, Miss Gardener lunged at the customer. She told the tribunal: “I didn’t go for his throat, I just went for his collar because he had really upset me. When he called me a filthy dyke I had a pack of flour in my hand and, although I regret it now, I threw it at the back of his head. He then turned round and said, ‘You are a dyke and you’re going to get the sack’.” Miss Gardener was dismissed for violent and insulting behaviour after a disciplinary hearing in September last year. She took Booker Cash & Carry to an employment tribunal, claiming breach of contract, unfair dismissal and discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. The tribunal panel ruled that Miss Gardener, of Eastleigh, Hampshire, had been unfairly dismissed; but that she had not been dismissed because of her sexuality and that Booker had not breached its contract of employment. Mark Broad, her solicitor, said: “It wasn’t an enthusiastic verdict for her but it was the right verdict.”
Unless there is some weird job laws in the UK, how can she be unfairly dismissed when she opens up the business to the customer filing a claim against them? The fact she based her complaint that she was fired for being a lesbian shows she filed in bad faith.


Red book liar says sorry as paper CYAs.

Nation: They still haven't named the student.

"... But in the end, it really doesn't matter whether a source lied, especially if the lie he is telling causes harm to others, because we in the press are the ones who make it public. We must be as sure as we can that a source is telling us the truth. And it's far wiser to evaluate a source firsthand, even if it means that we don't publish a story as soon as we would like -- or at all. People bring us information for all sorts of reasons: for payback against their enemies, to further a cause they believe in, to do the right thing, to get attention from other people. It isn't always easy to know the difference between motives that are pure and motives that are not, stories that are true and stories that are lies. We -- reporter and editors -- failed here because we put our faith in what two college professors told us. We should have held off publishing the story until we had a chance to judge the student's credibility for ourselves. As for the student in the story, he sent an apology to Mr. Nicodemus. It said, in part: "The fact is that my being panicked about this hole (sic) event led me to unfortunately prop up my story (i.e., fabricate it), for that I have to apologize to you and to my professors. I have spoken to my family about the whole issue and the fact is that they were understandibly (sic) angry. My name has been dishonored within my family and so I will spend the rest of the winter trying to restore even a little bit of it back, at least."
The problem with this story is the editor and reporter did not do their jobs in making sure the story was correct, it was all based on he said/he said with no proof that it actually happened. You would think going by the "high standards" you see proclaimed by various pundits the print media says it has running the industry, at least the reporter should fall on the sword.


German official suggests tagging Islamists.

EU: This certainly goes beyond the patriot act.

Dec 28, 2005 — BERLIN (Reuters) - Known Islamic militants should be electronically tagged so their movements can be tracked, a regional German interior minister proposed on Wednesday. "This would allow us to monitor the roughly 3,000 Islamists who are prone to violence, hate preachers and fighters trained in terrorist camps," Lower Saxony Interior Minister Uwe Schuenemann said in an interview with Die Welt newspaper. "Hate preachers" is how Germans describe radical Muslim clerics. Schuenemann said electronic tagging was a viable alternative to holding suspected militants in protective custody, a proposal floated by former German interior minister Otto Schily. It would not be against Germany's constitution, he was quoted as saying. "It's practical for all Islamists who are prone to violence and who we can't expel to their home countries because they could be tortured," said Schuenemann. Germany's federal and state governments share responsibility for security services. Under Germany's federal system, states have a great deal of control over their internal security operations and routine policing.
Update# Showing that political correctness can be selective, Germany will give a loyalty test geared for Muslims.
Muslims intent on becoming German citizens will have to undergo a rigorous cultural test to gauge their views on subjects ranging from bigamy to homosexuality. Believed to be the first test of its kind in Europe, the southern state of Baden-Württemberg has created the two-hour oral exam to test the loyalty of Muslims towards Germany.


Denmark cartoon rows keeps going.

EU: The Arab league is upset that the Danish government and European human rights organization haven't taken action against Jyllands-Posten. What is amazing to me, all these press and reporter groups haven't taken up defending the paper more. You would think Poynter and Editor and Publisher would have something to say.

Arab foreign ministers have condemned the Danish government for failing to act against a newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. At the Arab League conference in Cairo, they said they were "surprised and discontented at the response". Islam forbids any depiction of Muhammad or of Allah. The Jyllands-Posten newspaper published a series of 12 cartoons showing Muhammad, in one of which he appeared to have a bomb in his turban. The Arab League's ministers council said the cartoons were an insult to Islam. The government's response "was disappointing despite its political, economic and cultural ties with the Muslim world", it added. Death threats Danish Muslim community leaders held talks with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in July to complain about press coverage of Islam. At the time, Mr Rasmussen said he could not tell newspapers what to print - or what not to. Arab ministers also said they were unhappy that European human rights organisations have not taken a clear position on the issue.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

UMASS prof wants student suspended and members punished.

Culture: At least there is some shame left in higher education over the Mao's little red book fiasco.

The head of policy studies at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth wants the university to suspend a student who made up a story about being grilled by federal antiterrorism agents over a library book and to reprimand faculty members who spread the tale. Following the student's admission Friday that it was a hoax, Clyde Barrow, chairman of the policy studies department, said UMass should punish the student and faculty members, in particular two history professors who repeated the unsubstantiated assertion of the history student to a New Bedford Standard-Times reporter. The story, first reported by the newspaper on Dec. 17, was picked up by other news outlets, triggered screeds on left-wing and right-wing blogs, spurred a flurry of concerned e-mails among UMass faculty, and appeared in a Globe op-ed piece written by Senator Edward M. Kennedy. In a Saturday Globe story reporting the hoax confession, UMass spokesman John Hoey said the university had no plans to discipline the unidentified student because the deception had nothing to do with his studies. That prompted Barrow, who had no involvement in the episode, to write a sharply worded e-mail message to Hoey. ''It's unbelievable that this student is not being suspended for a semester," wrote Barrow, who said he does not know the student's identity. ''It's even more unbelievable that the faculty who jumped the gun on this story and actively promoted it on campus, the Internet, and blogs will walk away from their misconduct without any consequences." Barrow said further in an e-mail to the Globe that the professors' apparent lack of skepticism came as little surprise to him because they are a ''dogmatic and zealous group of politically correct but chic anti-Americans." Hoey said yesterday that the university would not comment on any disciplinary action against students or faculty.
Barrow is not the only one who is mad at the little red book fiasco.
However, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, the two history professors who relayed the student's assertion to the Standard-Times and other reporters, denied that their political views colored their teaching or any action they took in the episode. Williams, an associate professor of Islamic history, said he prides himself for having middle-of-the road political views and said Barrow's description of the professors was ''incendiary language" befitting someone who ''seems to me to be unstable." ....Pontbriand, a lecturer in the history department, said he never initiated any calls to reporters and merely confirmed that the student in his seminar on totalitarianism had asserted that he had been visited by federal agents. ''I have never used the classroom or the public forum to promote any personal political ideology, and I certainly have not done so in this case," he said. The chairman of the history department, Gerard Koot, could not be reached for comment. Another professor in the policy studies department, Philip H. Melanson, said he left the political science department, housed in the same building as the history department, because of the ''oppressiveness of what I would call the reigning ideology." ''It's left, it's PC, and it's got a vision of world peace stuck somewhere in there," said Melanson, who has taught at UMass for 33 years and specializes in research on political assassination and intelligence agencies. But Melanson said that no one involved in the episode should be punished, since it apparently had no bearing on class work.
Amazing how no paper has named the student yet. I thought if a source burned you, gloves come off. I wouldn't be surprised if the student doesn't exist.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Olbermann is an amusing multicult nutcase.

Entertainment: In his never-ending quest to build his ratings up based on getting in feuds with people rather than doing a better show, he goes off on John Gibson as being like an Islamic terrorist.

Let me flash you back to the day he made the Worst Persons list. But the winner, and this one comes with great personal pain, because we were friends when he worked here and thereafter, John Gibson. Selling his new book about this phony baloney war on Christmas, John revealed a very ugly side to himself. He is one of those people who think all religions but his are mistaken. You know, the way a lot of these religious nut bag terrorists think. I would think, Gibbie said on a syndicated radio show. if somebody is going to be -- have to answer for following the wrong religion, they are not going to have to answer to me. We know who they're going to have to answer to. I'd tell you which religion, John, thinks is the only one that's right, but what's the difference? It's not the faith that's the issue. It's the intolerance. John Gibson, today's worst person in the world. John first complained about that on his radio program. Then he went to town on television. "I find myself being misquoted or the actual words I've said taken way way way out of context in order to build outrage against me... Names like 'fathead' and the 'worst something or other' for things I really did not say… Today one of my former colleagues repeated a misquote to justify saying some truly disgusting things about me. Condescendingly, he 'tisk tisked' that he used to like me. I frankly doubt it. Otherwise, why would he be so willing to believe trash?" Well, John, I believed it because it's true. And it's on tape. I'm afraid he is, at best, suffering from amnesia. At worst, he's just flat-out pretending something never happened. John Gibson's remarks about religions being wrong and those who believe them having to answer for them, came on a show hosted by a Janet Parshall, broadcast by Salem Radio Network, on November 17th -- and they're on tape. The website Media Matters for America has a transcript and an audio link, and I'm afraid there's no ambiguity whatsoever. GIBSON: The whole point of this is that the tradition, the religious tradition of this country is tolerance, and that the same sense of tolerance that's been granted by the majority to the minority over the years ought to go the other way too. Minorities ought to have the same sense of tolerance about the majority religion -- Christianity -- that they've been granted about their religions over the years. PARSHALL: Exactly. John, I have to tell you, let me linger for a minute on that word "tolerance." Because first of all, the people who like to promulgate that concept are the worst violators. They cannot tolerate Christianity, as an example. GIBSON: Absolutely. I know -- I know that. PARSHALL: And number two, I have to tell you, I don't know when they held this election and decided that tolerance was a transcendent value. I serve a god who, with a finger of fire, wrote, he will have no other gods before him. And he doesn't tolerate sin, which is why he sent his son to the cross, but all of a sudden now, we jump up and down and celebrate the idea of tolerance. I think tolerance means accommodation, but it doesn't necessarily mean acquiescence or wholehearted acceptance. GIBSON: No, no, no. If you figure that -- listen, we get a little theological here, and it's probably a bit over my head, but I would think if somebody is going to be -- have to answer for following the wrong religion, they're not going to have to answer to me. We know who they're going to have to answer to. PARSHALL: Right. GIBSON: And that's fine. Let 'em. But in the meantime, as long as they're civil and behave, we tolerate the presence of other religions around us without causing trouble, and I think most Americans are fine with that tradition.
Actually, you see that Olbermann lack of knowledge of religion and those who hold religion convictions, something a secularist like Olbermann obviously would not understand goes over the top to cast Gibson as something he is not. If Olbermann thinks Gibson is an intolerent extremist, what about the Vatican. DOMINUS IESUS declared in August 6th, 2000 by the Cardinal Ratzinger who is now the Pope had this to say.
22. With the coming of the Saviour Jesus Christ, God has willed that the Church founded by him be the instrument for the salvation of all humanity (cf. Acts 17:30-31).90 This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the Church has for the religions of the world, but at the same time, it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism “characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that ‘one religion is as good as another'”.91 If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation.92 However, “all the children of the Church should nevertheless remember that their exalted condition results, not from their own merits, but from the grace of Christ. If they fail to respond in thought, word, and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they shall be more severely judged”.93 One understands then that, following the Lord's command (cf. Mt 28:19-20) and as a requirement of her love for all people, the Church “proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life”.94
More at Will Olbermann cast the Pope and the Vatican in the same light as Islamic terrorists anytime soon? As for the "phony baloney war on Christmas" will Olbermann say that Australian Prime Minister John Howard is phony for bringing it up for example? Olbermann's whining and the adoration of his fans like Tvnewser is based on ignorance of the facts while making it sound good to his small television audience.


Omar Alghabra defended a terrorist group?

Canada: A followup on Omar who seems to be on a roll trying to bully Canadian blogs and looking to sue people. Western Standard blog brings up an interesting complaint by Omar when he was the president of Canadian Arab Federation about CanWest publications describing certain groups as terrorists. He claimed this was an anti-Arab/Muslim reporting bias. This happened last year.

The National Council on Canada-Arab Relations and the Canadian Arab Federation made their demands yesterday after CBC Radio reported that CanWest publications, including the Post and the Ottawa Citizen, inserted the word "terrorist" into a Middle East story reported by wire service agency Reuters, and substituted the word "terrorist" for such words as "militant" and "insurgent" in an Associated Press story. "This is another troubling example of clear bias by CanWest publications like the National Post and the Ottawa Citizen in applying different standards towards Arabs and Muslims when reporting," said the council's executive director, Mazen Chouaib. Federation president Omar Alghabra echoed the concern. "CanWest, one of the largest media conglomerates in Canada, is failing its responsibility towards all Canadians, not just Arabs and Muslims," he said. "The media has moral and ethical obligations to report the facts when it comes to news reporting, not the opinions of their editors."
The story in question contained this from the same press release via the NCCAR
Mr. Naru said Reuters strives for "the absence of emotion in [its] vocabulary, so that events may be judged dispassionately." The CBC, which has had especially fractious relations with CanWest Global in the past three years, reported on the issue after anonymous sources pointed out that a story in the Sept. 14 National Post had been changed from what Reuters originally submitted. The Post article, filed from Jerusalem and carrying the byline "Jeffrey Heller, Reuters, with files from Agence France-Presse," described the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades of the West Bank as "a terrorist group that has been involved in a four-year-old campaign of violence against Israel." The Reuters original story referred to "the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades, which has been involved in a four-year revolt against Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank." Scott Anderson, editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen, said yesterday that such changes were consistent with an internal style guide that CanWest Global newspapers and TV stations adopted in the spring of this year "to define the language we use as news organizations when covering terrorism and terror-related violence." Mr. Anderson, who helped draw up the guide, noted that the Citizen does not subscribe to Reuters. He acknowledged there is no consensus among journalists and journalistic organizations on how to use such terminology "without appearing to take sides." But, citing the guide, Mr. Anderson said CanWest believes it is possible and necessary to use words such as "terrorist" and "terrorism" in a commonsense way that ensures balance, technical accuracy and political neutrality. The guide suggests CanWest editors and journalists should first consult the Canadian government's official list of terrorist organizations before using a word such as "terrorist." However, they should not be entirely beholden to the list as "violent sub-national groups appear and re-appear all the time with new names." The CanWest position raised the ire yesterday of the Canadian Arab Federation and the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations, as they called for an investigation of what they deemed CanWest's "troubling practice of biased reporting." In a joint statement, they said CanWest is pursuing "a perceived anti-Arab agenda" and "applying different standards towards Arabs and Muslims when reporting." Colombia's FARC guerrilla movement, they noted, is on Ottawa's terrorism list but CanWest's newspapers do not describe it as such. News organizations such as Canadian Press and Reuters have tended to shy away from using "terrorist" and related terms. While they don't ban their use, they usually follow the advice contained in guides such as the Canadian Press style book.
The al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades has a very murderous and bloody history in the short amount of time it has formed and is recognized as a terrorist group, especially considering joint efforts with Hamas and Hezbollah along with sending out children suicide bombers. It would be very disturbing to me to see any Muslim has tried to soften and defend the image of such a vile group, especially one who is running for public office in a western country.


Toronto Shootings: Gangbangers.

Canada: Not that its a surprise or anything considering the only paper so far to directly say that is the Ottawa Sun.

TORONTO -- A dispute between rival gangs may have led to the Boxing Day bloodbath in which an innocent 15-year-old girl was killed and six others wounded. Toronto police are now looking for up to 15 males in their late teens or early 20s in what they say was a shootout between two groups who confronted each other Monday night on a crowded sidewalk on Yonge St. next to the Eaton Centre. Investigators released few new details yesterday and would not say the gunfight was gang-related. However, a police source told the Sun detectives were investigating the possibility the shootout stemmed from an incident earlier in the day at a Scarborough housing complex. "There will be more repercussions (from the shooting)," said one gang insider, who didn't want to be identified fearing reprisal from gunmen. "This is not the end of this."
Paul Martin is talking about people being excluded or some liberal touchy feely nonsense.
MONTREAL — The deadly Boxing Day shootings in downtown Toronto were a “senseless and tragic act” by young people who feel marginalized by society, suggests Prime Minister Paul Martin. “Yesterday’s shootings in Toronto serve as a painful reminder that we cannot take our peace or our understanding for granted,” Martin said Tuesday during a service marking the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. “I think, more than anything else, they demonstrate what are, in fact, the consequences of exclusion.”
Then later on, he and the mayor of Toronto blamed America and lack of gun control. Someone quickly called them on that.
John Thompson, a security analyst with the Toronto-based Mackenzie Institute, says the number of guns smuggled from the United States is a problem, but that Canada has a gang problem -- not a gun problem -- and that Canada should stop pointing the finger at the United States. "It's a cop out. It's an easy way of looking at one symptom rather than addressing a whole disease," Thompson said.
Liberal Toronto Star cheers on banning guns and task forces.
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to the gun violence. Fighting this scourge requires a multi-faceted approach. More officers need to be deployed on the streets and at the malls. Judges must get tougher with sentencing repeat offenders charged with gun-related crimes. Other actions include more recreation programs, mentoring and job training for at-risk youths in crime-ridden or poverty-stricken neighbourhoods. For his part, Blair has adopted a positive approach by forming a task force to deal with gangs and guns in high crime areas. He is rightly supporting community policing, getting officers out of their cars and meeting the people in the areas they patrol. At the same time, Prime Minister Paul Martin has taken a bold step by promising to ban handguns in Canada.
Don't forget midnight basketball to make it complete. I am sure banning hand guns from law abiding citizens will make the criminals scared and gun violence will drop sharply. I see a mess of social programs being created with the results 10 years after that nothing has changed. The T-Star talks about gangs who are talking smack via DVD and an interesting tidbit about the downtown area.
A hip hop compilation DVD featuring young black men waving silver pistols and making chilling boasts about lethal reprisals and street supremacy is pivotal when trying to understand the gun violence that has plagued Toronto streets this year, police sources say. A portion of the DVD, called Premiere Edition Pt. 2, was used last fall as Crown evidence at a sentencing hearing in Superior Court to convince a judge of an accused man's gang affiliation. The man, Jermaine (J-Bug or Bugs) Grant, received an eight-year prison term for firearms offences. Beyond that, police allege two separate recordings that appear on the DVD, available over the Internet and at stores selling urban music, sparked a gang war that played out for months on Toronto streets this past year, mostly concentrated in the northwest part of the city. The DVD is expected to be used in evidence in future court cases involving suspected gang members. While unrelated, the images of the gun-wielding youths are nerve-jangling to watch in a week when Torontonians are reeling after a 15-year-old girl lost her life during a brazen Yonge St. gun battle between two armed groups of about 15 youths. Six others were injured, one man still in critical condition yesterday. Police are investigating whether the Yonge St. shootout is in any way linked to ongoing battles between street gangs in the city over control of the drug trade. The downtown area where the shooting took place is well-known for illicit drug dealing.
The way people are talking, you would have thought the place was Eden, now we start hearing its a place for drug dealing. That would explain the bad elements moving in.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Tony Blair's anti-terror plans go bye-bye

UK: Not that any of this is a surprise, I never expected much if any of the proposals to get put into law. I said it before, they don't call it Londonistan for nothing.

"[The anti-terrorism legislation] is very much driven by Tony Blair's personal convictions," said Eric Metcalfe, a spokesman for Justice, a British human-rights organization. "He was genuinely angry at the terrorist bombings . . . and he also has a history of impatience with the human-rights lobby," Metcalfe said. "He saw the bombings as a mandate to take bold leadership." Although polls suggest that there is strong support for tough anti-terrorism laws, Britain's long experience with the Irish Republican Army's bombing campaign in the 1970s and 1980s has bred a certain public stoicism that is in sharp contrast with America's response to the Sept. 11 attacks. Also, the July 22 fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old Brazilian electrician whom undercover police mistook for a suicide bomber, has restrained the public's willingness to give law-enforcement authorities added powers. Parliament was critical of the anti-terrorism bill almost from the moment it was unveiled in August. A report issued by lawmakers early this month ridiculed parts of the bill as "over the top." Unlike President Bush, who this month accused senators voting against an extension of the USA Patriot Act of "endangering" the lives of American citizens, Blair has not put up much of a fight since his defeat on the 90-day extension. The result, according to Metcalfe, has been "a slow dribbling away of some of the stronger provisions that Blair had proposed."
The most disturbing part is this.
After quickly identifying the bombers and tracking some of their travels to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the months leading up to the attack, the investigative trail has apparently gone cold. According to news media reports, the cooperation promised by some foreign governments has dried up, and the Muslim community of Leeds, where three of the four bombers lived, has been unhelpful. Clarke conceded that investigators "know only part of the full story and the challenge they have is to know more of the full story."


I don't celebrate Kwanzaa either

Culture: I just have a problem enjoying something that was made up by an obvious psycho and it comes off as a blatant ploy to make himself out to be some sort of god giving a celebration out to black people to have as their own thing. Its not a natural celebration born from tradition and grew at its own pace. Besides if you want to have an African tradition to celebrate, look to Africa. Some of the Christmas traditions rule.

On the west coast of Africa, in Liberia, most homes have an oil palm for a Christmas tree, which is decorated with bells. On Christmas morning, people are woken up by carols. Presents such as cotton cloth, soap, sweets, pencils, and books are exchanged. Also in the morning a church service is held in which the Christmas scene is enacted and hymns and carols are sung. Dinner is eaten outdoors with everyone sitting in a circle to share the meal of rice, beef and biscuits. Games are played in the afternoon, and at night fireworks light up the sky.


Monday, December 26, 2005

Once again, Bush Administration to the rescue...again.

Africa: Washington Post runs one of those pretentious not based in reality op-ed pieces from Senators Obama and Brownback on Darfur.

It is essential that the Bush administration shift its approach to confront the new and mounting challenges. Only the United States, working in concert with key nations, has the leverage and resources to persuade Khartoum to change its ways:
The problem with this is that "key nations" have no desire to persuade Khartoum to do anything. Here is an interesting illustration via Human Rights Watch on Oil holdings in Sudan, many of these key nations have various interests, mostly oil, France has oil and uranium holdings and are opposed to sanctions being forced on Sudan even as going so far to say no genocide is occuring, just a civil war. America has leverage and resources to go only so far.
First, the administration must help transform the African Union protection force into a sizable, effective multinational force. In the near term, Washington must pressure Khartoum to allow more advisers from Western nations to embed within the African Union's mission so they support intelligence, logistics and communications. It must work with other nations to provide military assets to African Union forces, such as attack helicopters and armored personnel carriers, so they can respond immediately to attacks. And it must urge the African Union to be more aggressive in protecting civilians. More important, Washington must immediately spearhead efforts to create a larger multinational force. The African Union has begun discussions with the United Nations about folding itself into a follow-on U.N. mission, but because of the West's reluctance to offend African sensibilities, all parties seem resigned to muddling along. It has become clear that a U.N.- or NATO-led force is required, and the administration must use diplomacy to override Chinese and Sudanese opposition to such a force and persuade outside troops to join it.
Yeah, Bush Admin has been trying to get anything going in Darfur, so far we have a couple of travel bans and asset freezing. Sudan won't let any foreign troops have the power to do anything other than guard whatever refugees they can. African Union/Sudan will resist any option where America or the West takes "charge" of the situation and lays down certain requirements. Russia and China will not endorse harsh measures on Sudan. Obama and Brownback know this, so they set up a no win scenario to blame the Bush Admin if nothing else is done or if they perform some miracle, try to take credit.
Second, the administration must keep up the pressure on the rebels to unite their negotiating positions, and it must enlist Sudan's allies to increase the pressure on Khartoum to share power and resources.
If they are allies of Sudan, why the hell would they pressure them, what is the incentive? People in Southern Sudan don't care about Darfur.

The death of John Garang was also a blow to the prospect of peace in Dafur. He wanted to unite Sudan’s marginalized areas, including Darfur. But his successor, Salva Kiir, has shown less interest in the plight of Darfuris. Mr. Taban says a unified Sudan is now unlikely. "Salva Kiir does not give a damn [about] Darfur," he said. "The majority of southerners don’t give a damn of [about] Darfur. It was really mostly Garang’s own charisma. That’s why he was able to carry many southerners. [He would say], this is our chance of ruling, and we cannot rule without the support of these people, who he called rural Sudan."

There are way too many rebel and militia groups running around which makes getting a peace process going difficult, now you have other parts of Sudan not really caring as they have their own problems, it becomes impossible.
Third, the United States and other nations must place additional pressure on key nations -- Chad, Eritrea and Libya -- to stop playing a destructive role in the conflict.
Considering Eritrea and Ethopia wants to go at it over border issues, Chad accusing Sudan of aiding rebels who have attacked in eastern Chad, while Sudan is accusing Eritrea and Chad of aiding the Darfur rebels who may be the two countries that have helped the rebels from not getting crushed. I don't think anyone is going to tell them to stop which will bring accusations of imperial west trying to order around the Africans.
Fourth, the administration needs to place its weight behind the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, which would impose targeted sanctions on the leading perpetrators of the genocide.

Useless act even with the money behind it to fund and supply the African Union who are in some cases less capable than the Sudan backed forces.If you put 12,000 AU troops in Darfur, it will not be enough. The threat of the sanctions, travel bans and the ICC against individuals is a joke since the Sudanese government will not hand over people.

The Bush administration has helped reduce suffering in Darfur, but the situation is dangerously adrift. And when the history of this tragedy is written, nobody will remember how many times officials visited the region or how much humanitarian aid was delivered. They will only remember the death toll.
This is not the Bush Administration problem to solve and push on its own. When I see Obama and Brownback publicly berating the United Nations, Europe and especially African countries for sitting on their rear ends while America does the heavy lifting literally and figuratively. Then I will look at this op-ed in a different light other than just a whinefest. Darfur needs everyone on the same page to stop the killing and willing to do more than just sanctions that have no teeth or have monthly briefings at the United Nations that are shown off as doing something. If you want Sudan to know you mean business, you have to convince them it is in their best interest to help stop the killings. If they don't there will be major consequences.


Bob Herbert says most damage to blacks is self-inflicted.

Culture: This from Bob Herbert of the NYTimes. Yes that Bob Herbert from tha New York Times. Via fbihop blog.

One of the cruelest aspects of slavery was the way it wrenched apart black families, separating husbands from wives and children from their parents. It is ironic, to say the least, that now, nearly a century and a half after the Emancipation Proclamation, much of the most devastating damage to black families, and especially black children, is self-inflicted. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to know that some of the most serious problems facing blacks in the United States - from poverty to incarceration rates to death at an early age - are linked in varying degrees to behavioral issues and the corrosion of black family life, especially the absence of fathers. Another devastating aspect of slavery was the numbing ignorance that often resulted from the prohibition against the education of slaves. It was against the law in most instances for slaves to even learn to read. Now, with education widely (though imperfectly) available, we have entire legions of black youngsters turning their backs on school, choosing instead to wallow in a self-imposed ignorance that in the long run is as destructive as a bullet to the brain. ....We can pretend that these terrible things are not happening, but they are. There's a crisis in the black community, and it won't do to place all of the blame on society and government. I've spent years writing about unfairness and appalling injustices. Society is unfair and racism is still a rampant evil. But much of the suffering in black America could be alleviated by changes in behavior. What's more, those behavioral changes would empower the community in ways that would make it easier to successfully confront opponents in government and push the society in a more equitable direction. The problems facing black people today are comparable in magnitude to those of the Jim Crow era of the 20th century. There were leaders in those days who were equal to the challenge. I believe that nothing short of a new movement, comparable in scope and dedication to that of the civil rights era, is required to bring about the changes in values and behavior needed to halt the self-destruction that is consuming so many black lives. The crucial question is whether the leadership exists to mount such an effort. A good first step would be a summit meeting of wise and dedicated men and women willing to think about creative new ways to approach such problems as crime and violence, out-of-wedlock births, drug and alcohol abuse, irresponsible sexual behavior, misogyny, and so on. Addressing issues of values and behavior within the black community should not in any way imply a lessening of the pressure on the broader society to meet its legal and ethical obligations. It should be seen as an essential counterpoint to that pressure. Most important, it should be seen as a crucial component of the obligation that black adults have to create a broadly nurturing environment in which succeeding generations of black children can survive and thrive. Despite the sometimes valiant efforts of individuals and organizations across the country, we are not meeting that obligation now. And that's because there's a vacuum where our leadership should be.
So when did Herbert have this epiphany and started to sound like Bill Cosby? It is impressive but I am a bit wary of this sudden clarity.


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Judy Maltz: Snotty Liberal Christmas hater.

Culture: Read this missive by Judy Maltz and you will be astonished by the hatred of Christmas, religion in general and a healthy lack of respect for others.

"Right after Thanksgiving, when the neighbors began decorating their homes with Christmas lights and trees, we were able to confirm what we had suspected from the start: that we were the only Jewish family on the block. Next to all the brightly lit and ornamented homes, many of them featuring Nativity scenes on their front yards and giant Santas on their roofs, our own unlit undecorated house stuck out like a sore thumb. Our third child, Iddo, then five years old, pleaded with us to dress up our house like all the others. Those lights are for Christmas, we tried to explain to him, and Jewish people don't celebrate Christmas. "Not even one teeny, tiny light?" he begged. If that's when we learned we were outsiders in the neighborhood, our children had already discovered that they were not like everyone else in their respective schools. Matan, then in fifth grade, and Tamar, in third, turned out to be the only Jewish children in their public school. Iddo had one other Jewish child in his. It was at about this time last year, when our children had their first exposure to Christmas, that we received an invitation to an evening event at their school called the "Holiday Sing." All we were told was that the children would be performing songs for their parents that they had learned in their music classes. How could we have known what we were in for? It all started rather innocently with the children singing what we have since learned are called "secular Christmas songs" - an oxymoron if there ever was one. Granted, the name of Christ was not mentioned in these songs, but watching my little Jewish children up there on the stage with their classmates singing Christmas classics like Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer did make me cringe. And that wasn't the worst of it.
It starts off bad, gets worse in the middle and by the end of it, you are feeling sorry for her and her kids because her attitude has rubbed off on them. I have a feeling her religion has more to do with multiculturalism than anything else in the way the good Archbishop over on the right describes it. What is a shame that Jew haters will pounce on this column as an example of what Jews are about which they are not. This is just obnoxious behavior by someone who feels she should be catered too.


Spielberg defends Munich..again

Entertainment: For someone who said he was only going to do one interview with a friend at Time Magazine, he is starting to show up everywhere in a bad attempt to blunt the criticism he is getting. This time he goes with another friendly Roger Ebert who does a nice job of lying what positions the critics are taking with Spielberg.

Spielberg, who is the most popular filmmaker in modern history, has regularly chosen to make serious and thoughtful films, some of limited appeal, along with his box-office blockbusters. It is striking that the director of "Jurassic Park" (1993) and the Indiana Jones movies is also the director of "Schindler's List" (1993), "The Color Purple" (1985), "Amistad" (1997) and now "Munich." "Some of my critics are asking how Spielberg, this Hollywood liberal who makes dinosaur movies, can say anything serious about this subject that baffles so many smart people. What they're basically saying is, 'You disagree with us in a big public way, and we want you to shut up, and we want this movie to go back in the can.' That's a nefarious attempt to make people plug up their ears. That's not Jewish, it's not democratic, and it's bad for everyone -- especially in a democratic society." Yet what is he saying that has people so disturbed? Careful attention to the film itself suggests that it's not so much what he says as that he dares even to open up the Middle East for discussion. "My film refuses to be a pamphlet," Spielberg said. "My screenwriter Tony Kushner and I were hoping to make it a visceral, emotional and intellectual experience, combined in such a way that it will help you get in touch with what you feel are the questions the film poses. He said he was taught by his parents, his rabbi and his faith that discussion "is the highest good -- it's Talmudic."
I have yet to see anyone "basically saying" this film should not be shown, Spielberg fall back on a typical Hollywood liberal defense of saying people who disagree with them want to censor them. Ebert then sanctimoniously says that Spielberg has become the man to open up the Middle East for conversation. That must be a surprise to those who have been discussing it for over four plus decades. As for Tony Kushner, a leftist who once said
"I think the founding of the State of Israel was for the Jewish people a historical, moral, political calamity.... I wish modern Israel hadn't been born."
and this.
In his introduction to the book, Kushner takes particular aim at those American Jews who have rallied to Israel's defense in the past three years during the Palestinian terrorist war of attrition. He rails at those Jewish writers — distinguished political liberals and conservatives alike — who signed an advertisement in the aftermath of the April 2002 "Passover massacre," in which dozens of Jews were killed. The ad condemned Palestinian terror, affirmed the justice of Israel's cause, and called on the international community to stand with Israel in a time of peril. But to Kushner, the statement was "shameful" because it did not balance condemnation of terrorism with opposition to Israeli self-defense. Specifically embracing discredited lies about Israeli "atrocities" during the course of the Operation Defensive Shield battle in Jenin, Kushner can only see the Palestinians as victims. This distorted version of the truth coming at a time of continued Palestinian rejection of peace offers and dedication to the destruction of Israel is as outrageous as it is false.
It is disturbing to think someone with views such as this is someone Spielberg wishes to work with and agrees with at various levels. Some parts of Kushner's views on Israel is in line with the most odious writings and speeches you find on Memri, anti-Israel/Jew websites.
"But what about the issue of "moral equivalence," the charge that he equates the Israeli and Palestinian causes, when the rightness of one (or the other) is seen as not debatable? "Frankly, I think that's a stupid charge. The people who attack the movie based on 'moral equivalence' are some of the same people who say diplomacy itself is an exercise in moral equivalence, and that war is the only answer. That the only way to fight terrorism is to dehumanize the terrorists by asking no questions about who they are and where they come from. "What I believe is, every act of terrorism requires a strong response, but we must also pay attention to the causes. That's why we have brains and the power to think passionately. Understanding does not require approval. Understanding is not the same as inaction. Understanding is a very muscular act. If I'm endorsing understanding and being attacked for that, then I am almost flattered."
Spielberg has no clue what he is talking about here. The moral equivalence charge comes from the fact he puts terrorists on the same level as the team sent out to respond. No one is saying not to understand the causes or dehumanize the terrorists and no one does as anyone who has read Sun Tzu Art of War about knowing the enemy. If Israel did not understand the enemy and the causes, they would have been wiped out years ago for being stupid. Spielberg does not understand or worse refuses to believe that people can reach the conclusion that killing terrorists is the best answer while making sure the capability of terrorism is severly curtailed.
In "Munich," there is a scene where Ali, a member of the Black September group that carried out the 1972 attacks, talks about his idea of a Palestinian homeland. Also a scene where Avner's mother, an original settler in Israel, defends their homeland. And a scene where an Israeli spymaster, played by Geoffrey Rush, provides a strong response to Avner's doubts. "The whole Israeli-Palestinian idea of home suggests that there are two enormously powerful desires in competition," Spielberg said. "Two rights that are in a sense competing. You can't bring that to a simplicity. The film is asking you to surrender your simplicity on both sides and just look at it again. There was an article in USA Today by a Los Angeles rabbi, accusing me of 'blind pacifism.' That's interesting, because there is not any kind of blind pacifism within me anywhere, or in 'Munich.' I feel there was a justified need to respond to the terrorism in Munich, which is why I keep replaying images of the Munich massacre throughout the movie. "In 1972, when Black September used the Olympics to announce themselves to the world, they broke all the rules and broke the boundaries of that conflict. Israel had to respond, or it would have been perceived as weak. I agree with Golda Meir's response. The thing you have to understand is, Munich is in Germany. And these were Jews dying all over again in Germany. For Israel, it was a national trauma. The Avner character, in the end, simply questions whether the response was right. "Sometimes a response can provoke unintended consequences. The Rush character and Avner's mother reply. But people feel my voice is represented in Avner. The movie says I don't have an answer. I don't know anyone else who does. But I do know that the dialogue needs to be louder than the weapons."
Ebert fails to mention this scene is made up and it proves the charge of moral equivalence and every other criticism of Spielberg/Kushner making this movie as pointed out in Time magazine.
"There is an entirely fictional scene in the movie in which Avner and his Palestinian opposite number meet and talk calmly, with the latter getting a chance to make his case for the creation of a homeland for his people. That scene means everything to Kushner and Spielberg. "The only thing that's going to solve this is rational minds, a lot of sitting down and talking until you're blue in the gills," says Spielberg. Without that exchange, "I would have been making a Charles Bronson movie--good guys vs. bad guys and Jews killing Arabs without any context. And I was never going to make that picture."
Back to his charge if the response was right and make no mistake in his mind, the response was not right. 11 of your countrymen get killed by a terrorist organization, of course you go after the group and its backers to eliminate them. But he also reveals himself to be a handwringer by stating the response has "unintended consequences" Does he really believe that Israel did not know what was going to happen? The Black September group which was an offshoot of the Arafat's PLO was already known by the time Munich happened. They tried to take over the kingdom of Jordan which resulted in King Hussein killing thousands of Palestinians to stop them. Israel did not have blinders on and their response was the best option. You cannot show weakness or doubts claiming some moral high ground as Spielberg does living far away from the conflict. The most interesting part of the article is Spielberg calling Ebert back to again cast himself as some sort of artistic martyr who is "daring" to ask the tough questions.
The telephone rang, and it was Steven Spielberg once again. After our previous conversation, I sent him a defense of "Munich" written by Jim Emerson, editor of (his article appears on the Web site). It includes quotes from many Jews highly critical of Spielberg. I heard an urgency in Spielberg's voice. "[Emerson's article] brought together some sources and some criticisms I hadn't seen," Spielberg said, "and it made me want to be more specific about the responsibility of a Jewish artist. "Everybody is sort of saying they wish I would be silent. What inspired me by what I read in Emerson's article is that silence is never good for anybody. When artists fall silent, it's scary. And when Jewish artists fall silent about Israel, it's maybe not so much because we think asking questions will do damage to Israel, but because we're intimidated by the shrillness and hysteria with which these questions are received sometimes. "And I guess, because I'm a Jewish-American artist, that means that I'm not willing to shut up because somebody who claims to speak for the Jewish community tells me to. I guess I have a very deep faith in the intelligence and in the fairness and in the intellectual courage of the Jewish community, and I know that the questions I'm posing with 'Munich' are also questions that many Jews here and in Europe and Israel are asking.
Kurt Loder of MTV points out his attitude about this film has been pretentious. He is not inventing the wheel as the first media figure to ask these questions. But he may be the first to be so damn narcissistic about it. The fact he is being slammed from all sides and getting defensive about it shows while he may have said he knew he would take hits, he did not realize the kind of hits and how hard it would be. Captains Quarters has a review of the film.
At some point in time, one hopes that Hollywood will grow up and realize that nihilism doesn't have a moral equivalency with Western values that celebrate life and civilization. Terrorism that deliberately targets women and children and non-combatants and celebrates their deaths do not and should not have the same moral standing as free nations defending those women, children, and noncombatants by killing the terrorists that prey upon them. It's this twisted moral viewpoint that destroys Munich and continues the reputation of the name as a symbol of foolish and benighted appeasement.
Reuters has interviews with Mossad members who think the film is bad nd refutes many points about the movie.
Much of the criticism from Israelis in the know focuses on the film's depiction of the moral debates that burden the team. A former Israeli special forces officer who took part in a Mossad assassination in the 1980s called this fanciful. "Look, we all did mandatory military service, we all had combat experience, and we all accepted the necessity of hitting out at our enemies. Israel is a country at war," he said. "So you go, you do the job, and you hope you'll be back in time to eat breakfast with your kids and take them to school."


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Abe Foxman likes Munich.

Entertainment: If Tony Kushner writing the screenplay wasn't a big flag against it, then this ought to seal the deal. Previous posts here, here, here and here.


Student follows the fake but accurate path.

Nation: Followup on the Dartmouth student and the little red book being visited by the Men in Black. It was all a fake.

NEW BEDFORD -- The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents over his request for "The Little Red Book" by Mao Zedong has admitted to making up the entire story. The 22-year-old student tearfully admitted he made the story up to his history professor, Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, and his parents, after being confronted with the inconsistencies in his account. Had the student stuck to his original story, it might never have been proved false. But on Thursday, when the student told his tale in the office of UMass Dartmouth professor Dr. Robert Pontbriand to Dr. Williams, Dr. Pontbriand, university spokesman John Hoey and The Standard-Times, the student added new details. The agents had returned, the student said, just last night. The two agents, the student, his parents and the student's uncle all signed confidentiality agreements, he claimed, to put an end to the matter. But when Dr. Williams went to the student's home yesterday and relayed that part of the story to his parents, it was the first time they had heard it. The story began to unravel, and the student, faced with the truth, broke down and cried. It was a dramatic turnaround from the day before.
If you are going to be a liar, don't be a wussy as well. Boston Globe passed on the story thinking something was up, but not Ted Kennedy!
"....The student later told the professors he had requested the book at UMass-Amherst. But officials there said UMass-Dartmouth students cannot use their ID cards at the Amherst library and that all interlibrary requests are made by the libraries, not students. A Homeland Security spokeswoman in Washington said she had no record of any interview of a UMass-Dartmouth student and pointed out that the department does not have its own agents. An FBI spokeswoman in Boston also expressed doubt. That didn't stop it from buzzing around the Internet and even being picked up by Kennedy, who cited it as the latest example of the Bush administration's intrusion on civil liberties. ''Incredibly, we are now in an era where reading a controversial book may be evidence of a link to terrorist," he wrote in an op-ed piece in Thursday's Globe. Laura Capps, a Kennedy spokeswoman, said last night that the senator cited ''public reports" in his opinion piece. Even if the assertion was a hoax, she said, it did not detract from Kennedy's broader point that the Bush administration has gone too far in engaging in surveillance."
Fake but Accurate.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Gay grilling for Christians

UK: White, old and Christian asking questions and giving opinions about gays at an English council meeting? Thats like a black man showing up at a KKK meeting asking for equal time.

POLICE today defended their decision to question an elderly pair of devout Christians accused of homophobia after complaining about a council’s gay rights policy. Joe and Helen Roberts were questioned by officers from Lancashire Constabulary for more than an hour after they sent a letter objecting to what they saw as the authority’s pro-gay stance. Mr Roberts, 73, and his wife, 68, were enraged by Wyre Borough Council's move to raise awareness of gay issues among staff. They called and then wrote to the council accusing them of 'pandering' to minority groups. Mr Roberts asked if the council would display Christian leaflets and was told all applications would be considered but nothing that would offend minority groups would be approved. Mr Roberts said he felt discriminated against by the decision. The couple were upset at the council's programme to win a new equal rights charter mark, part of which would see gay lifestyle magazines distributed around staff areas. The letter added: "If gay people made the decision not to think gay, they would not act gay. "Whatever they are giving their attention to will eventually mould them into its image." A council official lodged a formal complaint with police who sent two officers to the Roberts’s home in Fleetwood, Lancashire. They were questioned about their beliefs and police decided no crime had been committed and ruled they would take no further action. A Lancashire Police spokeswoman said: "As a matter of routine, a police officer attended an address in Fleetwood to make further inquiries and to establish whether any crime had been or was likely to be committed. "As a result of those inquiries, words of suitable advice were given and we will not be taking any further action. "Hate crime is a very serious matter and all allegations must be investigated thoroughly." A council spokeswoman added: "We received a telephone call and letter from Mr and Mrs Roberts. "Some of the wording in the letter was clearly inappropriate and so it was decided to consult the police on suitable action."
"U vill vatch your mouths in ze future yah?" I guarantee if they were Muslim, the council would have postponed action for 10 years and the police would come around saying they might need protection from Peter Tatchell. Yes, I went there, you were thinking it too.


Franco Frattini comes down on the side of censorship.

Denmark: In the Mohammed cartoons fiasco, over the last couple of days various diplomats and busybodies have weighed in on the side of the newspaper should not have run the editorial cartoons. The lastest coward to give his opinion is European's Commission's vice-chairman, Franco Frattini.

After months of silently observing, the leadership of the European Commission has weighed in on the Danish debate over daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten's decision to publish caricatures of Muslim prophet Mohammed. The Commission's vice-chairman, Franco Frattini, called the newspaper's decision to publish the twelve cartoons as 'thoughtless and inappropriate' in a time when animosity towards Islam is on the rise. 'Honestly, these kinds of drawings can add to the growing Islamophobia in Europe,' Frattini said. 'I fully respect the freedom of speech, but, excuse me, one should avoid making any statement like this, which only arouses and incites to the growing radicalisation,' Frattini said to Jyllands-Posten on Thursday. Jyllands-Posten published the cartoons in September as a way to test the limits of free speech in the face of growing fears that radical Islamists could limit freedom of expression. Many Muslims were offended by the newspaper's failure to respect the Islamic taboo on creating images of Mohammed. In addition, some of the cartoons portrayed the prophet as a terrorist, and one drawing in particular - one showing Mohammed with a bomb on his head - was especially damaging, according to Frattini. 'I am a Catholic myself, and if anyone had created a drawing of a holy Christian symbol with a bomb and a message about death, I would personally take it as an insult,' he said. Carsten Juste, Jyllands-Posten's editor-in-chief, rejected Frattini's criticism. 'This thing has become so absurd that it wouldn't surprise me if the next step would be to take action against Jyllands-Posten,' said Juste, referring to the junior government partner, the Conservatives, declaring that they partially agreed with a group of former ambassadors and ministers public criticism of the decision.
The bolded part is astonishing for its ass-backwardness, one of the reasons for the rise in Islamophobia is the perception that Euro leaders and cultural elites are willing to bend over backwards in fear of offending Muslims even when actions such as death threats and protests aimed at curtailing Freedom of the press happen. Frattini also pushes the image of the crazed Muslim ready to kill you if you offend when he says the cartoons contribute to a growing radicalisation.


Oliver Letwin to change his name to Oliver Letlose.

UK: The Tories have been a party since they kicked out Thatcher who stands for everything and stands for nothing. David Cameron's new policy chief lets loose with talk that moves the party to the left in many areas including embracing the idea of Socialism . The Telegraph who had the interview with "Letlose" rips into him in their leader.

"Commendably, Mr Letwin holds his ground on academic selection, which is shaping up to be the defining policy argument of this parliament. But in other areas, far from opening up a policy debate, he seems to be closing options down. The party will no longer, it seems, seek to limit mass immigration. In health and education, there will be "spending" as well as "restructuring" - and the "restructuring" will be considerably less thorough than that promised by the party at the 2005 election. The prospect of a flat tax, held out by George Osborne over the summer, is no longer. Instead, taxes should be "redistributive". In one sense, Mr Letwin is merely stating the obvious when he says "we do … and we should redistribute money". It is, however, a naive choice of word, with overtones of the belief that national wealth is a fixed and limited sum, to be divvied up "fairly" by the government. In fact - as Mr Letwin himself recognises - wealth is dynamic, not stagnant, and the most pressing task is to ensure that the cake grows, not to alter the size of the slices. It is deplorable that so many Britons live in poverty - whether that poverty be the material deprivation still suffered by a few, or the idleness endured by many more. From a party point of view, it is also unfortunate that, as Mr Letwin says, so many people think the Tory party does not care about these people. The way to demonstrate compassion, however, is not to echo the obsolete consensus that has delivered such tragedy. Britain has enjoyed redistribution on a vast scale since 1997, yet the degree of income inequality has remained unchanged. Unless radical reform is undertaken in the public services, more money and more people will be sucked out of the productive and into the unproductive sectors of the economy. The economic consequences of Gordon Brown are becoming apparent, and will be glaringly obvious by the time of the next election: it behoves Messrs Letwin and Cameron to prepare for a battle, not a surrender."
David Cameron realizes this may be a bit too much.
"....Mr Letwin, who is conducting a series of 18-month reviews for the Conservative Party, seemed to signal an important doctrinal shift when he told a newspaper that "inequality matters" and that "it should be an aim to narrow the gap between rich and poor." But a spokesman for Mr Cameron said that Mr Letwin had been misinterpreted - and that he simply meant to say that Conservatives would be focused on helping the poor, without regard to the rich. Traditionally, the Labour Party was concerned with the redistribution of wealth and inequality - regarding the taxation of the rich as a main means of helping the poor. Conservatives argued that inequality does not matter - and it is a decoy in the battle against deprivation where only the welfare of the poor should matter. But Mr Letwin signalled a fundamental shift yesterday. "Of course, inequality matters. Of course, it should be an aim to narrow the gap between rich and poor. It is more than a matter of safety nets." And on redistribution, he said: "We do redistribute money, and we should redistribute money... The government should move to reduce what would otherwise mean intolerable inequality." Mr Blair has never used such language, fearing it would spark fears of a revival of Old Labour and punitive tax levels. Mr Cameron's spokesman said Mr Letwin had simply meant to focus on Tory plans to empower the poor. "He was really saying there is a way to get people out of poverty and the cycle of dependency," he said."
The Tories can win when they act like the conservatives they are supposed to be and selling their ideas to the public as the best. Moving to the same area as Labour fools no one. Why vote for an imitation when you can trust the original.


Omar Alghabra says it wasn't him with victory for Islam!

Canada: Earlier post about this here. Now the Liberals are blaming some other guy and the CCD says Omar said it after his speech. At least we establish it was said, thats progress.

"Just days after publicly accusing the federal Liberal candidate for Mississauga-Erindale of making pro-Islamic remarks during his nomination acceptance speech, the Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD) has rescinded its position. The CCD now alleges the candidate uttered his remarks after he had left the stage and finished his speech. However, the president of the Mississauga-Erindale riding association and other Liberal party stalwarts insist the remarks were, in fact, made by another Liberal party member from Markham. Outgoing Mississauga-Erindale MP Carolyn Parrish and Elias Hazineh, president of the Mississauga-Erindale Federal Liberal Riding Association, staunchly defended candidate Omar Alghabra. "I was on stage with Omar and he never uttered a word about (religion)," said Hazineh. "Omar is a secular man who doesn't mix politics and religion." Parrish said she heard several pro-Islamic remarks made at the meeting, but none of them came from Alghabra. "I heard it, but not from Omar," said Parrish. Yesterday afternoon, Alghabra emphatically denied the accusations. "I never said that, not before, during or after my speech," said Alghabra, 36, who took 488 of the 773 votes cast at the Mississauga-Erindale Liberal nomination meeting. "I can't even say the words were taken out of context, because (I didn't say them). Personally, I find any mixing of religion and politics offensive. "I can't speculate on what the motivation behind this is, but it certainly smells fishy," Alghabra continued. It's an attempt to distract from my campaign and to smear my reputation." Several sources who attended the meeting said the provocative comments were made by a Markham politician who was at the nomination meeting to support Alghabra. "He made comments about Muslims eventually being (represented) in every riding in Mississauga," said Parrish. "He made it sound like (Muslims) were taking over. It was extremely inappropriate." The Markham man had earlier sought support for his nomination as the Liberal candidate in the Mississauga-Erindale riding, but was turned down in favour of Alghabra. He strenuously denies the allegations."
Update# Toronto Star's Andrew Chung does damage control for the former member of its own community editorial board. He confirms the phrase "Victory for Islam" was used but does not go into much detail as the Mississauga account. Instead he angles it as a smear on Omar who goes nuts with comparisons he really should not have made. He also does not find out who this politician that said it.
But the damage has been done, Alghabra believes. And the contentious words, he said, are a dirty political smear attacking his background. "It's very emotional for me," said Alghabra, a self-described secular Muslim. "The closest thing I can think of is rape. It's the closest thing I can imagine. Where people are allowed to say things that are completely lies, offensive and outrageous, I can't believe it." His campaign is pondering legal action. Parrish said it's an election smear that could deter Muslims from participating in the election process. "It might cause them to step back and say, `I don't want the spotlight on me, I don't need this crap.'"
Unless you have been raped using that to try and cover up what was said is irresponsible and amateur emotional manipulation to make yourself out to be a victim. It is clear even from the Star article there were some questionable things being said.
Some present at the meeting described a tense situation even before the vote. One man said Alghabra supporters came from outside the riding. Some, said Nazeer, who asked that his last name not be used, were urging people to "vote for the Muslim, not the infidel." After Alghabra's win was announced, there was near chaos. "People thronged me, hugging me, kissing me," he said. The controversial words were allegedly uttered at that time.

Update#2 Judeoscope has this to say about the incident naming the politician.

Mississauga-Erindale riding President: pro-Islam remarks made by Liberal from Markham It appears that fingers are now pointing toward Markham councillor Khalid Osman...We cannot say for sure what really happened on December 1 in Mississauga-Erindale, but clearly, Islamist statements abounded after Omar Alghabra was nominated as the riding’s Liberal candidate. If, as he assures us, he did not utter any of the statements attributed to him, but did hear similar ones just as Carolyn Parrish and Elias Azineh say they did, and if these Islamist statements were spoken into the microphone on the podium, then, Mr. Alghabra owes residents of the riding and all Canadians an explanation for why he did not call to order those who welcomed his nomination with such provocative words

Omar should apologise for it, but he is too busy comparing himself to a rape victim to do so.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Tree planting to get rid of your guilt a farce.

Swampy: As you read the reasons, can you pick one out that you couldn't reach by using common sense in general sort of way? I always thought the whole thing was ridiculous and nothing more than a useless self-esteem exercise to make people feel better about themselves.

Brides and grooms do it. Transatlantic travellers do it. And you might even be getting it for Christmas. Neutralising your carbon emissions is becoming the must-do activity for the eco-conscious citizen. But now an international team of scientists has raised an unexpected objection: some tree-planting projects may, they suggest, be doing more harm than good. Carbon offsetting allows people to pay someone else to atone for their climate sins by soaking up the CO2 that they produce. And with the consequences of global warming becoming more apparent, more Britons are opting to undo their personal share of the damage. Last year companies and individuals in the UK spent around £4m offsetting carbon emissions. The Kyoto protocol allows member countries to do the same through carbon trading. But it seems the guilt-free option is not as simple as writing a cheque and leaving it to someone else to sort out. Researchers have found that planting trees to soak up carbon can have detrimental knock on effects. "I believe we haven't thought through the consequences of this," says team-member Robert Jackson at Duke University in North Carolina, "I think the policy could backfire on us, but it will take decades to play out." His team pooled more than 500 separate yearly observations from studies from five continents which compared planted areas with plots nearby that did not have trees. They report in Science that the plantations had a drastic effect on stream flow. By sucking water out of the ground and evaporating it from their leaves the trees reduced flow by half. And 13% of streams dried up for at least a year. This would have effects downstream where less water would be available for plants and animals. The team found that nutrients in the soil were also affected by tree planting. Calcium, magnesium and potassium were all depleted while sodium was enriched, meaning that plantation soil was more salty on average. All of these changes would affect the range of plant species. Dr Jackson says the two most common plantation species are pines and eucalyptus trees. These fast-growing species rapidly suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, but they result in monoculture forests which support a meagre range of biodiversity. Dr Jackson stresses that planting trees is not a bad thing per se, but schemes that are not well thought through can be environmentally harmful.
Yesterday we found out that Pollutants ward off global warming. The Guardian's science section must be having hissy fits writing this stuff up.


Oh no, Sarkozy losing the French Celebs

France: If that is not a ringing endorsement for everyone else to vote for him nothing else will be.

Mr Sarkozy, whose injudicious use of language was partly blamed for exacerbating the recent urban riots, is now being abandoned by his friends in high places. Worse still, many of them are lining up to publicly put the boot into the man who hopes to be president in 2007. The tennis player turned pop star Yannick Noah, actor and comedian Jamel Debbouze, who starred in Amélie, rapper Joey Starr and film director Luc Besson - of Subway, Nikita, Big Blue and Leon fame - are among those attacking Mr Sarkozy, who has been compared to far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen and Napoleon. "Calling people racaille, I've not heard anything so violent since Le Pen and his hatred of anyone who is different," Besson told the film magazine Premier. In an interview with Paris Match, Noah - recently voted France's most popular personality - declared: "If Sarkozy succeeds [in 2007], then I'm off." Even Debbouze, who had previously expressed qualified support for the minister, condemned him. The comic described the minister as "a bourgeois who arrives, cameras in tow, looks at the little rebels and tells them: 'I'm going to clean you out, you bunch of rabble'." ....The former footballer Eric Cantona told the Observer: "It's not easy growing up in a bad neighbourhood. People look at you and treat you in a certain way. In France we are capable of celebrating a man like Napoleon, who brought back slavery. Today he has been replaced by a man who, for me, is Le Pen with a mask: Sarkozy." Cantona is not the first to make the comparison with the Front National leader. The Aids campaign group Act-Up has pasted posters around Paris featuring Mr Sarkozy and the slogan "Vote Le Pen". In his blog, director Matthieu Kassovitz, whose film La Haine (Hate) was set in the banlieues, said: "Like [George] Bush, Sarkozy is not defending an idea, he is responding to fears that he himself has put in peoples' heads." After he described the minister as a "little Napoleon in the making", Mr Sarkozy took the unusual step of replying, saying: "Apart from your caricaturist and provocative shots targeted at me, I'm responding to you personally because I believe in the virtue of debate and exchange." He invited the director to "continue the exchange". In its editorial, Le Figaro said: "It's not a fashion, it's an epidemic. It's impossible to turn on the television or radio without hearing a singer, actor or sportsman railing against the interior minister." Despite this, the paper noted that opinion polls showed that many French people agreed with the minister. And it pointed out that Mr Sarkozy could still count on Gérard Depardieu for support. Whether that will sway the voters in 2007 is anyone's guess.
If the cultural elites are against you, you're doing fine.


Muslim Brotherhood says Holocaust a myth.

Middle East: But the commentator in the Guardian said you don't have to be afraid of them. Jonathan Steele said the Muslim Brotherhood was moderate which if true, Egypt is in big trouble.

CAIRO (Reuters) - The head of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition force in parliament, echoed Iran's president on Thursday in describing the World War Two Holocaust of European Jews as a myth. "Western democracy has attacked everyone who does not share the vision of the sons of Zion as far as the myth of the Holocaust is concerned," Mohamed Mahdi Akef said in a statement. Akef cited as evidence of Western intolerance the cases of French writer Roger Garoudy, who was convicted in France in 1998 of questioning the Holocaust, and British historian David Irving, who faces similar charges in Austria next month. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked an international uproar when he said in a December 14 speech that the Holocaust was a myth. Some 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis and their allies between 1933 and 1945. Akef, whose group won 88 of the Egyptian parliament's 454 seats in elections in November and December, made his comment in an attack on the United States' assertion that it is promoting democracy in the Middle East. He said the U.S. campaign was a cover for promoting its own interests and those of the Zionist movement in the region. "American democracy ... steers the world into the American orbit delineated by the sons of Zion, so that everyone must wear the Stars and Stripes hat and keep away from the Zionist foster child," he wrote in his weekly statement.
Via Harry's Place who points out this little tidbit out.
The Muslim Brotherhood's United Kingdom representatives are the Muslim Association of Britain, an organisation which is part of the RESPECT coalition led by the Socialist Workers' Party, and is a founder member of the Stop the War coalition.


Netherlands considers burqa ban

EU: As much as I applaud the Netherlands for their crackdown on Islamic extremists, this is a waste of time. I am more concerned what kind of person is in the burqa than if they are wearing it.

The Dutch immigration minister says she will look into the legality of banning the burqa, the robes worn by some Muslim women to cover their bodies. Rita Verdonk made the pledge after a majority in parliament said it would support such a ban. The proposal was put forward by independent politician Geert Wilders. "That women should walk the streets in a totally unrecognisable manner is an insult to everyone who believes in equal rights," he said. "This law is a comfort to moderate Muslims and will contribute to integration in the Netherlands," he added in a statement. His proposal is supported by two of the parties in the governing centre-right coalition, as well as the opposition right-wing party founded by the late Pim Fortuyn.
UK in the meantime moves closer to lojacking people


If Glenn Kessler says it, then it must be true.

Nation: So I am supposed to believe that Glenn gets it right and the White House, 9/11 commission, NBC News, the intelligence community, CIA and others got it wrong? He needs to realize there is a huge difference between reporting that Bin Laden used a Sat phone(which is common sense given his locations) and Bin Laden realizing they can listen in on him.

In 1998, the Washington Times revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) could eavesdrop on Osama bin Laden's satellite telephone. No sooner had the story appeared than bin Laden stopped using the telephone, effectively disappearing from the radar screens of US intelligence. This kind of leak has disastrous effects; Michael Scheuer, a twenty-two-year veteran of the CIA who ran the bin Laden desk at that time, recently told a gathering of intelligence officials in Washington that he believes you can draw a direct causal line from the publication of that story to the attacks of September 11.[2]
Amazing how Glenn after all these years files this under an urban myth. sheesh


Pollutants ward off global warming

Enviros: Well..okay then.

Cutting air pollution could trigger a greater surge in global warming than previously thought, suggesting future rises in sea level and other environmental consequences have been underestimated, climate scientists report today. The warning comes after researchers investigated the effect of fine particles known as aerosols on climate change. Aerosols - particles smaller than one hundredth of a millimetre - are churned out from factory chimneys, from the burning of fossil fuels and forest fires, although sea salt and dust particles swept up by desert storms add to levels detected in the atmosphere. Because the particles are so light, they remain aloft for long periods, where they cool the Earth by reflecting radiation from the sun back out to space. Higher levels of aerosols lead to the formation of brighter clouds made up of smaller water droplets, which reflect still more of the sun's warming radiation. Cutting down on aerosols by improving air quality means that the Earth will in future be less shielded against the sun's rays. Writing in the journal Nature today, scientists at the Meteorological Office and the US government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report that climate models used to predict future global warming have badly underestimated the cooling effect of aerosols. "We found that aerosols actually have twice the cooling effect we thought," said Nicolas Bellouin, a climate modeller at the Met Office. The consequence is that as air quality improves and aerosol levels drop, future warming may be greater than we currently think." Dr Bellouin's study suggests that even by conservative estimates, climate models have got the impact of aerosols on the climate wildly wrong. "The discrepancy between the models and our observations is not good news," he said. ....Earlier this year, Peter Cox at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Winfrith, Dorset, warned that if the cooling effect of aerosols turned out to be greater, it could trigger faster global warming. "It's quite a bizarre thing, because the last thing you want to suggest to people is that it would be a good idea to have dirty air, but as far as climate change is concerned, that's right. Everyone would be getting asthma, but the environment would be cooler. "That said, the direct effects of air quality, particularly in urban areas, are so important to human health, that it would be crazy to think of anything other than health damage," he said. If the Met Office calculations are right, they suggest the atmosphere's temperature is also more responsive to carbon dioxide than scientists believe. "If the cooling influence of aerosols is larger, it implies that the warming from the carbon dioxide must be larger than we think to match the warming we've seen in the past 100 years. "And if that's the case, future climate change will be more than we have expected with air quality improvements," he said.
Spray the Aerosols! Idle the SUVs! Fire up the India wood stoves , Unleash the Lawn Mowers! *Pimp slap a spotted owl! Don't give a hoot, Start to pollute! Save the Planet! * (pimp slapping an owl is optional.)


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

TWU going to play the race card.

Nation: Mass transit strike is not going the union's way, so lets place the racism card.

NEW YORK - The war of words over the transit strike took an ugly turn after Mayor Michael Bloomberg described union heads as "thuggish," a remark some said was racist in the context of a predominantly black union. During his first briefing on the strike Tuesday at City Hall, Bloomberg complained that union leaders had "thuggishly turned their backs on New York City and disgraced the noble concept of public service." A group of City Council members and black leaders said Wednesday that Bloomberg's comment was racist because it was directed at leaders of a union that is less than 30 percent white. "We resent the idea that you would characterize a predominantly black and Latino union as a bunch of thugs," said City Councilman Charles Barron. Ed Skyler, the mayor's spokesman, replied: "It's despicable to inject race into this situation."
Actually I can characterize unions as a bunch of thugs regardless of race and in this particular case that is what the public's perception of TWU's actions, thuggish. It has nothing to do with race and the fact you have to try and play it shows you have little on your side to stress your case.
The Rev. Herbert Daughtry, an influential black minister, said the mayor, governor and MTA leaders were risking comparisons to Eugene "Bull" Connor. The Birmingham, Ala., segregationist police commissioner turned fire hoses and police dogs on black civil rights marchers in 1963. Daughtry said Bloomberg was using as his "bully club" the state law prohibiting strikes by public employees. "Be cautious how you use the law to beat people into submission," Daughtry said. In the past, Barron and Daughtry have used the word "thug" to describe white attackers involved in bias crimes. Barron stressed that the context of the predominantly black union is what made Bloomberg's comment racially insensitive.
Now you know they are morally,legally bankrupt if they have to pull out segregation to try and put MYC officials on the defensive. There is nothing racially insensitive calling you thuggish or a thug.
Transport Workers Union President Roger Toussaint stopped short of joining the accusations of racism, but said Wednesday that the "thuggish" remark showed the mayor's "lack of respect" for his members. "We wake up at three and four in the morning to move trains in this town," Toussaint said. "That's not the behavior of thugs and selfish people."
Excuse me? They wake up at three and four in the morning because that is in their damn job description. You are not doing anyone favors or performing a miracle Toussaint. You think those people getting on the subways at three or four in the morning that I guess should be honored by your presence are going on vacation every day? What a bunch of selfish, stupid thugs.

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