Friday, February 27, 2009
Short Takes ...Retarded siblings locked in dungeon on West Bank for Forty Years.... A Stirring Picture Sent to Me
For a retarded brother and sister, the invasion of Gaza marked the beginning of their freedom. The Bildzeitung reports as follows.
Two retarded siblings, a brother and sister were locked in a dank cellar for almost forty years by their parents in a cellar in their home in the West Bank
Bassam Musalmeh, 38 years old and his sister who was four years older were released from their imprisonment behind the family home in the area of Beit Awwa by local police
The police found the two sibling found the two siblings while looking for Hamas activists, according to police security sources.
The two were locked up since infancy in two dank broken down rooms made out of crumbling concrete. No one in the general area knew of their existence
The parents hid the two siblings because they believed that they would lessen the marriage prospects of healthy siblings.
The Police found the 38 year old man naked. His sister was wearing only a thin night shirt according to police commander Sami Saifi. The room in which they were imprisoned had a frightful stench of sweat and urine.
The father of the two children was taken into custody. He had married a first cousin years before. The couple subsequently had eight children. Seven of them were born retarded.
Five of the children died in childhood. The sole normal child is now married.
From the Bild Zeitung
There are no words that I can add to this picture.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009
Amnesty International has been compromising their effectiveness by expanding their scope into dubious areas. AI is against capital punishment. There are many staunch supporters of human rights who do not agree with this position. There are many cases where the carrying out of a death sentence should be delayed or rescinded. There are other cases where guilt is not in doubt and when the heinous nature of the crime cries out for retribution. It is possible to be passionately committed to civil liberties and support the existence of a death penalty.
Amnesty International has taken a step which has shredded any pretensions it might have of non partisanship. It has called for an arms embargo on Israel and Hamas on the specious grounds that both sides are using arms from abroad to wage war. Aside from morally equating the two sides, they are willfully and slyly ignoring the fact that Iran and other arms suppliers will never participate in an arms embargo. They are aiming at the US.
Amnesty International recently shredded all pretense of neutrality by calling for an arms embargo on Israel and on Hamas. The following exerpt from their web site is a masterpiece of deception.
Both Israel and Hamas used foreign-supplied weapons to attack civilians according to fresh evidence released by Amnesty International.
Munitions from the USA, Israel’s main foreign arms supplier, were used by Israel forces during three-week conflict in Gaza and southern Israel. Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups fired hundreds of rockets that had been smuggled in or made of components from abroad at civilian areas in Israel.
Amnesty International has called on the UN to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on the parties to the conflict.
"Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes," said Donatella Rovera, who headed Amnesty International's fact-finding mission to southern Israel and Gaza.
"Their attacks resulted in the killing of hundreds of children and other civilians and massive destruction of homes and infrastructure. At the same time, the firing of rockets by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, though far less lethal than the weaponry used by Israel, also caused several civilian deaths and constitute a war crime."(emphasis mine)
Since when is there a rule that war may not be waged with imported weapons? This is an absurd rule that Amnesty International seems to have made up. Additionally, in the last paragraph quoted above, it actually compares Hamas' bombing cililian targets on purpose with the Israelis striking back and blames Israel more than Hamas.
There is a critical element missing from the Amnesty International report. Hamas consistently hides its operatives among civilians. This itself is a war crime. Any injuries suffered by civilians so misused is according to international law the fault of Hamas.
The AI report repeatedly uses the term "war crime" in instances that such a term is highly debateable. They use the term without any specifics. Their coverage of Israel focuses predominantly upon Israel and little on the Palestine Authority. When it does mention the PA, it seems less like a comprehensive treatment of the PA's violations of human rights and more like a weak attempt to appear impartial.
There are horrible violations of human rights going on around the world. The unfair and unwarranted criticism of Israel's legitimate acts of self defense diminishes the effectiveness and moral stature of Amnesty International in dealing with these pressing issues.
There are times when a nation must go to war to defend itself. Israel has only gone to war after having exhausted all alternatives. Calling for America to cut off arms to Israel is not an act of pacifism. It is aiding and abetting Israel's sworn enemies. The manner in which this partisanship is couched in pious language heightens the sly cynicism of this naked partisanship.
Amnesty International used to be a one stop organisation for fighting human rights violations around the world. It now appears that it has adulterated its once clear and lofty agenda. I would like to fight rape as a weapon of war in the Congo. I would like to fight amputations of the limbs of civilians as was practiced in Sierra Leone. I will not support them through an organisation that has joined with Israel's enemies.
The job description of Amnesty International remains the same. Amnesty International has changed. It is not the organisation it once was. Those who are troubled by torture of political prisoners or the murder of dissidents must look to other organisations to address these issues. How sad. Sphere: Related Content
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
First it was Sean Delonas with the infamous monkey cartoon. The New York Post got a crash lesson in racial stereotypes when comparisons were made to racist jokes in which African Americans are compared to monkeys. Anyone with memories of Jim Crow could provide cases in point from the time of segregation and lynching when African Americans were portrayed as sub human.
Sean Delonas has tremendous artistic gifts and a tastelessness that I look forward to with each issue of the Post. I would not hold one cartoon against him in a career that has been left the road littered with the victims of his artistic lampooning.
The cartoon above has no artistic merit to even put it in the same category as the Delonas cartoon. It leaves no wiggle room. It shows the White House lawn done over as a watermelon patch. The stereotype of a lazy negro in the watermelon patch is an old time racist staple. Anyone who has any familarity with the history of the civil rights movement should know this. The Orange County Register reports as follows.
The mayor has sent an apology for an e-mail sent to a local businesswoman and community volunteer that she says is racist and offensive.
Keyanus Price, an African American, said she was appalled when she received an e-mail from Mayor Dean Grose's personal account that showed a picture of the White House with a watermelon patch imposed as the White House garden.
"I was horrified when I read that e-mail," Price said. "What I'm concerned about is how can this person send an e-mail out like this and think it is OK?"
Being a public official, Price said, made the matter worse.
"He's putting the city into a bad place, and he is a liability," Price wrote in an e-mail.I have mixed motives in condemning both the Delonas cartoon and the watermelon cartoon sent by the Los Alamitos mayor. My primary motive is that racism has no place in America. No person should feel that his skin is the uniform of an enemy. I have experienced anti white racism on more than one occasion. I am sure my feelings are similar to African American victims of white racism. If racist humour still elicits a laugh in the proverbial smoke filled rooms of Los Alamitos, then maybe there are no African Americans there to take offense. This raises a multitude of additional questions.
My second motive will provide no consolation to those who wish to shield the Obama administration behind a shield of race cards. I believe that Obama's ideas are toxic to our economy. He plans to bleed an already anemic economy with more taxes. He is sending mixed signals to America's allies. He is bloating the government. Then there are lingering questions about his citizenship.
There are millions of Americans who have serious questions for Barack Obama. These questions deserve serious answers. People who snicker about Obama's skin colour contaminate public discourse with irrelevant and inflamatory contributions. They have nothing to offer the movement against bloated government and confiscatory taxation. I don't want legitimate debate about the issues sidelined with talk about racial insults.
We are facing serious issues as a nation. The fundamental differences in outlook that divide our country also have the potential of bridging racial divides with the resonance of good ideas. We are in the process of building political institutions that reflect our nation's diversity and respond to our common challenges.
Maybe some day, Americans will be blase about ethnic humour that is directed against them. This time has not yet arrived. Many Americans of all ethnicities bear the scars of racism directed at them. Sensitivity is still in order. During the serious debate that is certain to take place, we do not need any distractions.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Samira Ahmed Jassim , also known as the Mother of Believers is 50 years old. In her pious garb, she cut the profile of a religious grandmother. Indeed, imams referred young women to her for counseling. In wartime Iraq there is plenty of need for sage advice. Some of the women referred to Mrs. Jassim were rape victims. In Iraq, there is major stigma attached to being raped. Women find themselves unmarriageable after such an ordeal. Often they are shunned by their families.
Mrs Jassim offered unusual advice to the women she counseled. She persuaded them to become suicide bombers. Becoming a suicide bomber would according to Mrs Jassim erase the shame brought upon the families of the violated women. Conveniently for her distressed confidantes, Mrs Jassim was able to refer them to someone who would help them kill themselves.
According to Associated Press , Samira Jassim was not simply taking advantage of distressed women, she was creating them. According to Iraqi police reports, Mrs. Jassim herself has confessed to working in concert with the rape organisers to create suicide bombers. Associated Press reports as follows.
"In speaking with the AP — a week after her Jan. 21 arrest — Jassim repeated statements she had allegedly made to interrogators that insurgents organized rapes of women and that she would then try to coax the victims to become suicide bombers.
She said she was "able to persuade women to become suicide bombers ... broken women, especially those who were raped."
In many parts of Iraq, including conservative Diyala, a rape victim may be shunned by her family and become an outcast in society.
Police interrogators were not in the room during Jassim's interview with the AP, but they were in an adjoining chamber."The conventional wisdom is that suicide bombers are driven by a potent mix of anger, and despair to make the ultimate sacrifice. Now it is coming to light that there is a lot of manipulation and mind games going into grooming suicide bombers. In the twisted world of Islamo fascism, any element of religious belief can be twisted to build their movement. A belief in the hereafter becomes a cheap way to lure suicide bombers who are eager for their "72 virgins". Chastity and modesty become a foil to trap women in a web of shame where becoming a suicide bomber seems to be the only way out.
We are now hearing of the need for a dialogue with the Islamic world. There are some people who will murder, rob rape and destroy in the name of Islam. The stony face of Samira Jassim is a grim reminder of the depths to which Islamofascism sinks in pursuit of its twisted ends. There are indeed peaceful Muslims. But the Samira Jassins of the world are a powerful force to be reckoned with. Making Israel the Sudetenland of this generation by offering it up as a sacrifice to the Islamic world will not even buy time. It will simply whet their appetites.
Many decent individuals in Muslim countries are intimidated by the militants among them. Sixty years ago, we had decent Germans who did not stand up. The Islamic world that seeks to deny the holocaust is now recreating the timidity of that generation. As a result the enemy that cows them has become our enemy as well. Such individuals regard with contempt anyone who seeks dialogue and compromise with them. The Islamo fascists will not back down. They will not be won over. They can only be defeated.
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Monday, February 23, 2009
Pius XII presided over a church that included avowed Nazi priests such as Andras Kun of Hungary and Josef Tiso, the Catholic priest who became the ruler of the Nazi puppet state of Slovakia.
To me it seems downright undignified to ask the Pope to say he is sorry and that he should revise church teachings about Jews. All that is likely to happen is that the Catholic Church will say one thing through liberal bishops and another through conservative clergy. In Jerusalem, Catholic clergy works openly with enemies of Israel. The best thing for Jews to do is to print honest histories of the Jewish people in exile. A well documented history speaks for itself. Nazi priests are a historical fact. The silence of Pius XII is a fact. All we are likely to do by extracting grudging apologies from the Pope is to provide modern day enemies of Israel and the Jews with cover . Go to Yad Vashem. Bow your head. Look sad. Then hop in your stretch limo and go to Ramallah.
There is a practical area where Jews and Catholics should work together. In city after city, the Catholic church has set up networks of Catholic schools. How do they finance them? How do they organise them? In today's New York Post, Patrick McCloskey talks about the financial crisis facing Catholic schools in America. It is widely known that the church schools have a far better record of educating students than public schools. This is a major selling point in pitching the schools to charitable sponsors.
The McCloskey article brings up ideas that could well be employed to strengthen Jewish education. Consider for instance the following.
"The Diocese of Memphis has built up such a large endowment for its parochial schools - which serve some of the nation's poorest zip codes and where more than 90 percent of students aren't Catholic - that the system could weather a 10-year economic downturn without taking in another penny in donations or tuition.
"It's the mission that finds the money," superintendent Mary McDonald told me, explaining that she used her passion to educate disadvantaged students to develop a sophisticated, corporate approach to fund-raising."The article came up with an additional example that could be very useful to struggling Jewish schools.
"The Diocese of Wichita found a different solution: It developed a culture in which all Catholic families contribute about 8 percent of their gross income to the diocese, which allows its 39 schools to operate tuition-free. It took Wichita 20 years to instill this ethos, but Catholic officials elsewhere could start by taking special Sunday collections to revitalize parochial education."
Anyone who wants to send their child to a religious school in America has to make sacrifices. There is a powerful lobby opposed to government support for religious schools. Catholics, Jews and members of other faiths face the same obstacles. We pay taxes to support public schools and then have to moonlight raising funds for our own schools.
Fighting for equality for religious schools along with the task of financing private educational institutions are matters of common concern to Jews and Christians. I would like to see Jewish leaders study the creative approach of Wichita's Catholics to keeping their schools afloat. A practical collaboration focused on strengthening religious institutions would benefit us all.
We have a fragmented educational non-system that costs too much to run and leaves too many people under served who have special needs or psychological problems. Even loose affiliation among Jewish schools could prove financially and administratively efficient.
We spend a great deal on Holocaust memorials. Jewish education is critical to keeping alive the people the Nazis wanted to wipe out. Raising a new generation of Jews is a fitting way to honour the fallen.
Let's not waste time talking about the New Testament with priests and getting our pictures taken with the Pope. Working together for a practical agenda could benefit us all. We've wasted too much time already. Let's get to work on our common problems. Sphere: Related Content
Sunday, February 22, 2009
By contrast, I used to enjoy watching the Blues Brothers on Saturday Night live. They did a movie that was passably OK. But the appeal of the Blues Brothers was their appearance contrasted to their music. When I listened to them on a record (back in the seventies, this visual contrast was lost.
Michael Nyman is a British modern classical composer. His most famous piece is from the movie The Piano.He is one of those composers who broadens the audience for classical. One of my favourite music videos is "The Heart Asks Pleasure First,"which is one of his compositions. The video features a player piano, which mechanically presses its own keys and looks as though a ghost were playing it. I grew up in New England. Some of the scenes in the video remind me of Massachusetts in the time of Nathaniel Hawthorne. There were quiet moments in my childhood when I tried to imagine the sounds of past generations. Nyman actually lent a sound track to my youthful imagination. I have honestly never seen the movie from which the video is excerpted. I am sure it is quite different from the fragment that reached me.
I believe that art is created twice. The first time is when it is physically created by the artist. The second time is when it is viewed and interpreted. Nyman's music makes me very aware of this distinction.
On a far lighter note, I am including a seven up commercial that really gave me a chuckle. I won't spoil the ending to it. Just click below.
I am including some Nathaniel Hawthorne Quotations that resonate with me.
Easy reading is damn hard writing.
Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect whether he chooses to be so or not.
Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.
In our nature, however, there is a provision, alike marvelous and merciful, that the sufferer should never know the intensity of what he endures by its present torture, but chiefly by the pang that rankles after it.
It contributes greatly towards a man's moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate.
No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.
The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.
Funny Seven Up commercial
The Heart Asks Pleasure First
by Michael Nyman
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During the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939, the Catalonians supported the Republican side. When Francisco Franco came to power as the winner of the Spanish Civil War, it was payback time. Under Franco, any publishing or public use of Catalan was banned. It was granted no official recognition whatsoever.
Franco groomed Juan Carlos to be both the King and his ideological successor. Upon Franco's death in 1975, Juan Carlos assumed power. He quickly restored democracy to Spain, even permitting exiled communists to return. Catalonian was legalised as was Basque. Permission was granted to teach and conduct government business in Catalan. A regional parliament was formed that was known as the Generalitat. It conducts its business in Catalan.
Despite this, Catalonia still is not an independent country, a fact resented by many in Catalonia. It is both linguistically distinct and economically viable. The Catalonians are sufficiently concentrated as to make the drawing of borders aviable proposition. The Catalonian people have been both peaceful and patient as they endure decade after decade of foreign rule from Madrid. Should they become an independent country? Perhaps they should be permitted to vote on the matter. Spanish speakers have many countries, as do Arabic speakers. Catalonia is a language and a culture without its own country. Is this fair?
****************************************************************************With this posting are three videos. One is an introduction to the Catalan language. The second presents the case for Catalonian independence. The third video is a song by a group called Els Pets with a song titled "Jo Soc El Teu Amic" (I Am Your Friend)
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Thursday, February 19, 2009
As a nation we have done a pretty good job in melding the races in the workplace. We work with one another, lunch together and, when the event is at the workplace during work hours or shortly thereafter, we socialize with one another fairly well, irrespective of race. And yet even this interaction operates within certain limitations. We know, by "American instinct" and by learned behavior, that certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks, at best embarrassment, and, at worst, the questioning of one’s character. And outside the workplace the situation is even more bleak in that there is almost no significant interaction between us. On Saturdays and Sundays America in the year 2009 does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed some fifty years ago. This is truly sad. Given all that we as a nation went through during the civil rights struggle it is hard for me to accept that the result of those efforts was to create an America that is more prosperous, more positively race conscious and yet is voluntarily socially segregated.
I am shaking my head in total utter astonishment at Eric Holder's sanctimony, audacity and ignorance of the legal boundaries between private, professional and personal associations. We are facing skyrocketing unemployment as well as a mortgage crisis that shows no end in sight. We have a crime problem that has been worsening after years during which it was plummeting. Our border controls are dangerously lax. Holder's job as Attorney General could potentially impact on all or any of these problems. The Justice Department should be concerned about the hand wrapped around a pistol. Instead, it is now concerned about the fingers wrapped around the wine glass at your garden party and how many shades darker than they are than yours. I seriously wonder how many young people in our nation's cities will be cut down by illegal drugs and schoolyard gunfire while Holder attempts to extend affirmative action to weekend cocktail parties.
The issue of crime can not be separated from distrust between the races. The vast disparity between crime in African American neighbourhoods and white areas drives a wedge between Americans of different races. I have met African Americans who would rather live in white areas for reasons of safety. Groups that fuel racism such as the Klan or the five percenters do not recruit people to violence with talk of being superior. The cornerstone of racial antagonism is fear. And if that fear is well founded then one must address its root causes.
I do not hear the "n" word or other anti Black racial epithets in my inner city neighbourhood. I have heard "Cracker" and !@#$in Jew more times than I care to count. Holder does not seem to care much about racism if the racist in question is African American.
I spend most of my leisure time with friends. Almost all of my daily aquaintances are Jewish. I do not believe in interfaith marriage. I do not apologise for that. I have a culture and value system to transmit. I look for people of like values and background. If someone were Greek or Italian and felt the same way about their background as I do about mine I would not call them racists. Even within the Jewish community, I encountered on two occasions strong expressions of disapproval of my Croatian (not Jewish) parentage. The approach I have evolved over years is a strong pride in my mother's family. Any show of disdain ony amplifies my expressions of pride. Frankly I am too busy raising my family, working and writing to care about people's opinion of my ancestry. I have found that people who brag about their illustrious ancestors are usually not spending enough time being an illustrious ancestor.
I lived in a town that had one or two African American families. My neighbourhood was completely white. It had a multitude of cliques. There were doctors who hung out together. There were people who hit it off with one neghbour and not another. The Baptists and Pentecostals were more close knit. Relationships clustered around charitable causes and works. There were plenty of social divisions. It was not a bad thing. That's just how it was. When African Americans and whites live in the same town, it is not a warning sign of impending race war if two neighbours are aloof from each other.
The best way to facilitate integration is through a common enterprise or purpose. The most integrated subcultures I have observed in inner city life are religious groups . The more conservative they are , the more likely they are to be socially integrated. The mainstream Christian denominations talk the most about social justice, but they seem to be the whitest.
I have also seen criminals who were equal opportunity perps. They were racially integrated. A common purpose and a common enemy (the cops) created a sense of brotherhood between them. I do not mention this to inject a note of cynicism. I simply want to point out that quality of values and behavior is a far better end for which to strive. Lasting progress in race relations is far more likely to happen if it is a byproduct than if it is a central goal.
I read Eric Holder's entire speech. It sounded like a guest at a cocktail party trying to be witty and provocative. In the context of his critical mission of upholding our nation's laws he achieved a banality that was truly mind boggling. He shows a set of distorted priorities that bodes ill for our country in the trying times ahead of us. I sincerely hope that Holder's critics will be the only the only ones to remind him of what our priorities should be. If it is our enemies that call him to task, it will be a far greater misfortune than having him as Attorney General. Sphere: Related Content
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged a new American openness to ideas from abroad, especially the Muslim world, during a visit Wednesday to Indonesia.
Anti-U.S. protests were held in several cities, with some Islamic hard-liners setting tires on fire and others throwing shoes at caricatures of Clinton, but the rallies were small and scattered.
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, is the second stop in Clinton's inaugural overseas trip as the top U.S. diplomat. She said that was "no accident," with the trip designed to show support for the country's hard-won democracy as well as its efforts to fight terrorism while respecting human rights.
How does one reach out to the Islamic world? With the deep rift between Sunni and Shia, is there any single stop to go to? Even within Sunni and Shia forms of Islam are subsects which are often at bitter odds with each other. Saudi Arabia , the centre of the Islamic world has serious problems with sectarian strife. A Shiite minority in Saudi Arabia is deeply resentful of the denial of their religious freedom. There have been Shiite pilgrims to Mecca whose Korans were confiscated because they were printed by Shiites. There have been bombings of Shiite Mosques in Pakistan.
On the other side of the coin is the Arab minority in Iran, which lives in an underdeveloped part of Iran that is also a major oil producing region. They are denied the right to use their language in public. They complain bitterly of their wealth being looted by an occupation government in Teheran.
America has an alphabet soup of religions. People work together and live in close proximity to each other while disagreeing vehemently about the hereafter. We evolved from religious colonies to a system in which no one religion has official dominance. We have a clear definition of religious tolerance. It involves agreeing to disagree and not hurting those of different persuasions. It has worked very well for us. We have evolved from shameful bigotry and discrimination to being a remarkably open society.
The Islamic world has a far poorer record even of tolerating each other. The body count of their perpetual state of anger and outrage mounts daily. Even a Sunni in Saudi Arabia who converts to Shia is laible to a death penalty.
Hillary says America needs to listen to the Islamic world. America has a free press. I can go to a bookstore, go on line or even walk into my local mosque and ask to be educated. Americans listen plenty. We do not only listen by reading and studying. We have an open door at our borders, even allowing in people who are contemptuous of our culture and political system.
I think the Islamic world needs to listen to us. If they want to study their own faith, they are safer doing it on American soil without Islamic radicals pushing intimidating them into skewing their research. There was an era when institutional Islam was more tolerant than institutional Christianity. Now, a non stop costume party of boneheads rages across the globe of people who ignore the range of tolerance that has existed in some interpretations of Islam.
There is a theology of tolerance. When G-d chooses to hide, who is great enough to speak for Him, and to inflict a death penalty for heresy?
We get glimpses into the backward nature of the politically dominant forms of Islam when we see "honour killings" in America and Canada. When there is an epidemic of rape being perpetrated by Muslim youth in Europe, where is the voice of Islam ?
The Daily Mail reports the statement of one Australian imam about this problem.
Addressing 500 worshippers on the topic of adultery, Sheik al-Hilali added: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it..whose fault is it - the cats or the uncovered meat?
"The uncovered meat is the problem."
He went on: "If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab (veil), no problem would have occurred."
Women, he said, were 'weapons' used by Satan to control men.Why must we pretend that such bone headed ignorance deserves any respect?
The statement of Hillary Clinton echoes the position of the Obama admistration. It is indicative of an extreme lack of self respect . It will not likely lead to any increase in dialogue. It is far more likely to envite increased contempt. Now that Secretary Clinton has spoken in Indonesia, we will not need to wait long for the other shoes to drop. America deserves better. But we did not elect it. What a shame.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009
"The Obama administration has pledged to the Palestinian Authority it will closely monitor
Jewish construction in the West Bank and will protest any new housing developments in the biblical territory, a top PA negotiator told WND.
"They told us the White House will watch for any Jewish construction," said the PA negotiator, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Obama knows that if [Likud Chairman Benjamin] Netanyahu is the next prime minister, he will try to expand the settlements. They pledged to us this will be strongly protested," the negotiator said."
No Israeli government since 1948 has responded properly to "Palestinian" complaints about Jewish occupation. Israel has had an uninterrupted Jewish presence since the destruction of the Second Temple. There were Jews who eked out a living with great self sacrifice. The Point of No Return web site has been sounding this theme with regularity. It recently performed a great public service by reprinting an article titled "The Real Palestinian Refugees".This article corrects some pervasive misperceptions. In the following paragraphs paragraphs, the article puts to rest major misconceptions.
"The first Arabs came to the country in the 7th century in the wake of their conquering armies after the death of Mohammed. They've been immigrating, and emigrating, ever since, bringing with them their civil wars (in which Jews were severely persecuted by both sides) and their screwed-up environmental concepts that turned forest into desert. Other groups of peoples also immigrated to Israel/Palestine during this time, especially the Druze. (Today, if you call a Druze an Arab, you've just insulted him. This was told to me by a Druze.) Perhaps the earliest Zionist pioneers did have to fight Arab marauders and make the desert bloom, but they did not come to an empty land. Maybe it was sparsely populated, but it was not empty of Jews.
Subsequent decades of Zionist history have been characterized by trying to make peace with the Arabs, and totally ignoring the indigenous Jewish community, as if they didn't exist. White America may have killed off the native peoples of America, but at least they acknowledged that they were there. The treatment of the Palestinian Jews by the Zionist immigrants reflected their treatment by the Zionist movement during the troubled years of the British mandate between 1917 and 1948. There were 4 periods between WWI and 1949 that Palestinian conflicts resulted in a refugee situation:
1920/1. The first Palestinian refugees were Jews. In the aftermath of WWI, British rule in Palestine supplanted 400 years of Turkish rule and a British administration was installed, headed by Ronald Storrs, governor of Jerusalem, and the Chief-of-Staff Richard Waters-Taylor. A week before Easter, Waters-Taylor, with the blessing of Storrs, had made a secret agreement with local Arab nationalist leaders to conduct bloody riots against the Jews of Palestine to show the world just how unpopular Zionism was. (See Benjamin Netanyahu's A Durable Peace under the chapter "Betrayal.") During the Arab pilgrimage to the site of Nebi Musa, believed by Muslims to be the burial place of Moses, the Arab masses were whipped into a frenzy and began to riot. This spread throughout the whole of the country beginning in Jerusalem. Their excuse to the world at large was that they were acting out their 'legitimate' grievances against the massive Jewish immigration into the country, fostered by the 'lax' British policy.
What they conveniently ignored was the massive Arab immigration into the country brought on by the economic opportunities introduced by the Jews. In fact, in the 30's, President Roosevelt was reported to have commented that Arab immigration to Palestine far exceeded that of Jewish immigration (See A Durable Peace.) In any case, these riots were tame when compared to later riots. Seven Jews were killed, 200 wounded and women were raped. There were partial expulsions from various areas, such as from east Jerusalem, Jaffa, Gaza, and the tiny Jewish community of Khan Yunis, which consisted of just a few families. A total expulsion occurred from Lod. Many just left fearing more of the same, which indeed happened. In east Jerusalem, the remaining Jews were faced with massacre, but a defense force, organized immediately after WWI by Vladimir Jabotinsky, a WWI hero of Jewish Palestine, prevented this from happening. This organization was later to become the Haganah. As a result, Jabotinsky was arrested by the British and given a 15 year prison sentence. He was pardoned the next year due to international pressure"
The most critical weakness in Israel's approach to Arabs and the world has been disunity. As David Salon pointed out in the above excerpt, when European Zionists came to the Holy Land, they overlooked or ignored Jews who were there when they arrived. These were individuals who encompassed the ethnic rainbow within Judaism. Some were Arab Jews Some were Spanish Jews. Some others were Ashkenazim. They knew the land and they knew the intricacies of living under Turkish administration.The pioneers from Europe and the Jews who were in Palestine when they arrived were for many purposes invisible to each other. But they were not invisible to the Arabs. who slaughtered Ashkenazim , Sephardim and Jews from Arab countries together.
In dealing with a world that presses Israel for concessions , we are hampered by decades in which we have left unchallenged a flawed historical narrative. The Jews expelled from Arab countries left behind valuable real estate, businesses and other property in the Arab countries they fled Arab Jews fleeing to Israel approximately equalled in number the Muslims who fled Israel in 1948. Israel was took pains to reassure its Arab population that they could remain safely in Israel. The picture for Jews who remained in Arab countries contrasted starkly with this. Jews who remained in Iraq, Syria and Egypt suffered official and officially sanctioned acts of violence and terror directed against them. Jewish property was nationalised. The climate in the street became ugly.
Any discussion of Israel and the Arabs should involve reciprocity. There were Jewish refugees and there were Arab refugees. It is a grievous sin of omission to leave unmentioned Jews driven from their homes by Arabs in the Holy Land and to say nothing of the Arab Jews who were were forced to flee well established homes in Arab countries.
In no way should European Jews be shamefaced before the Arabs in negotiations. The infamous Mufti of Jerusalem lived in Europe during World War Two. He met with Hitler and personally visited Auschwitz. He pleaded with the Nazis to prevent Jewish immigration to Palestine by killing Europe's Jews. He organised Muslim SS divisions such as the Handschar Division. In a very real and tangible way Europe's Jews have a claim that Arab interlopers came to Europe in lethal pursuit.
If Israel's Jews reassemble a united and coherent history, their claims are unimpeachable. We are accepting without protest the de facto ethnic cleansing of lands that were historically Jewish. Why is this not questioned ?
There is much to be said in our own defense. President Obama should meet with Israelis who are firm in their convictions, who do not apologise things which need no apology. A clear picture of our past will make it much easier to build our future. We are off to a very late start. Let there be no further delay in speaking the truth.
The web site"Point of No Return" has been a valuable resource in understanding some critical but forgotten aspects of Israel's history. I am very thankful to the owner of this educational site for broadening my understanding of Israel Sphere: Related Content
Monday, February 16, 2009
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Five Oregon state lawmakers want to impose a hefty tax on beer and have introduced a bill that brewers say would cripple them.
Four Portland legislators joined a Springfield senator to introduce Oregon House Bill 2461, which would impose a $49.61 tax on each barrel of beer produced by Oregon brewers.
The tax would raise revenue for the state at a time when budgets are running in the red. Specifically, the bill says it would fund prevention, treatment and recovery programs for those addicted to alcohol and other substances.
The bill's language defends the tax by arguing alcoholism and “untreated substance abuse” costs the state $4.15 billion in lost earnings as well as more than $8 million for health care and nearly $1 billion in law enforcement-related expenditures.
A lot of economic growth was created in the 1980's with "trickle down economics". The theory behind this was that if entrepreneurs were allowed to keep their wealth, that they would reinvest it and create more jobs.
What happens when workers have more money? Most of it will be spent on necessities. There are purchases which are postponed either by charging or doing without. Has anyone given thought to the "trickle up" effect? A well paid work force can stimulate economic growth. How do we incorporate this realisation into a strategy of encouraging business and investment?
What impact would it have if millions of small investors could be brought back into the economy? The real damage of a guy like Bernard Madoff is that of scaring away the small investor, the factory worker or candy store owner who is fearful of being scammed. Madoff's scam needs to be not only prosecuted but studied so that the stock market can be considered safe again.
Investing in ailing companies that are being managed back to health by specialists should become a new expression of patriotism. Such investments should be tax free like municipal bonds.
If I know that a company treats its workers right, I go out of my way to shop there. If a company is a sweat shop operation, I avoid patronising it. Shopping can be like voting. We need to support America and support fair labour policies.
There is a lot of room for creativity in solving our economic problems. Congress has passed a big stimulus package. No one has any idea how the money will be raised. Will it be through taxes? How much overtime will there be for people printing currency? Congress should be facilitating solutions to problems and not throwing money at them. I don't see any sign of this happening and that scares me. Sphere: Related Content
Sunday, February 15, 2009
This story caught my eye. A Hindu nationalist group gas taken to attacking women who frequent pubs in India. According to Reuters News Agency, the Hindu nationalist group Sri Ram Sena has provoked a world wide backlash against them by a highly publicised series of incidents in which they attacked young people out celebrating Valentine's Day.
The Statesman described some incidents as follows.
A girl was dragged by her hair by a cop, while the saffron brigade's moral police tarred the faces of cuddling lovebirds and “married off” some of them, but the day mostly belonged to Cupid as young couples kept their date with Valentine's Day across the country in high spirits.
In Karnataka, in the limelight following the Sri Rama Sene's outrageous attacks on youths in a pub in Mangalore, the day was marred by an attack by the same outfit on a party of young boys and girls at a BPO company in Belgium, injuring two persons.
Sri Ram Sena had announced their intentions to attack revelers. As a result, there was a widespread response reported by Reuters as follows.
Thousands of Indians, many fuming over a recent assault on women in a pub, are vowing to fill bars on Valentine's Day and send cartons of pink panties to a radical Hindu group that has branded outgoing females immoral.
A "consortium of pub-going, loose and forward women," founded by four Indian women on social networking website Facebook has, in a matter of days, attracted more than 25,000 members with over 2,000 posts about the self-appointed moral police.
The women said their mission was to go bar-hopping on February 14 and send hundreds of pink knickers to Sri Ram Sena, the militant Hindu group that has said pubs are for men, and that women should stay at home and cook for their husbands.
The same Hindu group was blamed for attacking women in a bar in the southern city of Mangalore in January, an incident that sparked a national debate about women's freedoms in India.This story leaves me with mixed emotions. I have habits and opinions that might put me in the puritanical category. I am against smoking. I am pro marriage and against living together without marriage. I don't drink too much or smoke weed at all. I will even promote my choices to those who will listen.
Despite this, coercion annoys me. It is interesting how "morality police " feel free to cross all kinds of moral lines themselves. It is a problem that cuts across religious boundaries. It is common in Arab countries and in some very conservative Christian countries for there to be a sort of tacit permission given to men to harass women who appear to be immoral. All too often, this harassment escalates to rape. This has become a serious problem in Europe, where a solid majority of the rapes by strangers are committed by Muslim immigrants.
The type of people who get militant about sexual freedom are usually looking for a religious imprimatur for their own baser instincts. They are also often looking for an excuse to dwell on sex in a manner that is religiously approved.
The harassment of pub goers is actually a pretty tame form of sexual harassment in India. Far more serious is the unpunished rape of lower caste women. The late Phoolan Devi, the famous "bandit queen" brought a lot of attention to this and other problems of Indian women through her personal life, her biography and the movie based on her life.
I do not like any form of lifestyle coercion. The protests against the Hindu nationalists is a step in the right direction. But it would be unfortunate if this protest revolving around Valentines day distracted the public from far more serious issues of violence against women in India today.
The news of the Hindu nationalist's protest is greeted mostly with amusement in the West. Most of us view news from the Hindu and Muslim world as being remote from us. Unfortunately, the Islamic "alternative lifestyle" is well entrenched in Europe. Primechoice.com reports on the status of Muslim women in Germany as follows.
In Germany the problem of domestic violence in Muslim homes is so bad that thirty per cent of the occupants in women’s shelters in German cities are Muslim (frontpage magazine 6/26/07). And even there, these unfortunate women are not safe. Husbands and other male clan members, who can number up to 300, often set up round the clock surveillance of the shelter, in which the woman has sought refuge.One young Muslim woman, who fled a planned forced marriage and is now living what the police term a ‘submarine existence’ (she is in hiding), said her father told her when she was a child never to play with German girls because they were whores and that he would kill her if he ever caught her playing with boys. This ‘man of honor’, she says, has now threatened to pour gasoline over her and burn her to death if he ever finds her.
What happens when Islam becomes the governing faith? Women are banned from working to "prevent immorality". In Afghanistan under the Taliban, women were restricted to their homes. As a result, many turned to prostitution to feed their families with the Taliban themselves among the regular customers.
Immigrant (which usually means Muslim) crime in Sweden has skyrocketed and is targeted at Swedes The Fjordman Report explains as follows.
According to Swedish Radio on Tuesday, statistics from Sweden’s National Council for Crime Prevention show that the number of reported rapes against children is on the rise. The figures have nearly doubled in the last ten years: 467 rapes against children under the age of 15 were reported in 2004 compared with 258 in 1995. Legal proceedings continue this week in a case involving a 13 year old girl from Motala who was said to have been subjected to a group rape by four men. (Note: These four men were Kurdish Muslims, who raped the girl for hours and even took photos of doing so)
The Fjordman Report continues withh news from other cities in Sweden that is no better.
The number of rape charges per capita in Malmö is 5 – 6 times that of Copenhagen, Denmark. Copenhagen is a larger city, but the percentage of immigrants is much lower. And it’s not just the rape statistics that reveal a scary increase in Malmö or Sweden. Virtually every kind of violent crime is on the rise. Robberies have increased with 50 % in Malmö only during the fall of 2004. Threats against witnesses in Swedish court cases have quadrupled between 2000 and 2003. During the past few decades, massive immigration has changed the face of Sweden’s major cities, as well as challenged the viability of the welfare state. In 1970 Sweden had the fourth highest GDP per capita among developed countries with income about 6% above the OECD average. By 1997 it was at fifteenth place with an average GDP per capita 14% below average. Malmö has a heavy concentration of Muslim immigrants in particular. According to some estimates, it will be a Muslim majority city in no more then 10 years. Crime is rampant in the growing ghettos:
Becirov runs the Islamic Center of Malmö, on the outskirts of Sweden's third-largest city. Some immigrant neighborhoods in the city have (official) unemployment rates exceeding 50 percent. Swedish authorities have failed to lift up the area, and seem to be giving the Islamic Center of Malmö a great deal of leeway in attempting to do so. An article that appeared in 2003 noted that "a few" of the 6-to 10-year-old girls were wearing headscarves. On a visit in January 2005, fully 80 percent were covered in class--only a handful were not. In a fit of absent-mindedness, Sweden has suddenly become as heavily populated by minorities as any country in Europe. The percentage of foreign-born is roughly equivalent to the highest percentage of immigrants the United States ever had in its history (on the eve of World War I). Rosengård appears to be all-immigrant. The public schools have virtually no ethnically Swedish children. There are stories--familiar in other parts of Europe where immigrants from the Muslim world have recently settled--of students harassing Jewish teachers and defacing textbooks that treat Jewish themes. Crime is high.
France, Belgium and other countries with large Muslim countries report similar problems. This has fed the growth of right wing political parties, who are often the only ones to say out loud what is plain for all to see.
Any who have hoped that Islamic clergy would be of help in stemming the tide have been sorely disappointed
In Sydney Australia, Sheik Halil, a leading Muslim cleric had this to say after Lebanese immigrant youth were convicted of a series of horrific gang rapes that shocked Australia.
If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?
"The uncovered meat is the problem."
"If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred."
Elsewhere in the European Union, there are occasional glimpses of the idyllic state of Islamic marriage and family life. The Times of London reports as follows on a case where Pakistani "family values " made it to England's shores.
A GIRL of 15 was tricked into a "telephone marriage" ceremony to a Sheffield man with a mental age of five in a ceremony recognised by sharia (Islamic law).
When the girl arrived from Pakistan expecting to meet the handsome man she had been shown in a photograph, she found that he was 40 years old, unemployed and disabled.
To make matters worse, her mother-in-law decided to exploit her attractive looks by forcing her into prostitution.
The family invited men to the family home to rape her before she managed to escape to the police by bolting through the front door. She was taken into care and now lives in a refuge.
The case is highlighted in a report by the Centre for Social Cohesion, which has found that policemen, councillors and taxi drivers are turning a blind eye or even conniving in enforcing the Asian community's strict "moral code" on young women.
The girl's marriage last April was not recognised by the Home Office but was approved by the Islamic Sharia Council in Britain. She is typical of the runaway brides at risk of an "honour killing". According to official figures, 10 to 12 women are murdered in Britain in honour killings each year, but the government has been warned by MPs that this is a serious underestimate. Police often record the deaths as cases of domestic violence, while other girls are driven to suicide or taken away to their family's country of origin and never seen again. Many Asian parents would rather resort to violence against their children than see their reputation tarnished by the perceived dishonour of allowing them to become "westernised".
It is unfortunately wishful thinking to dismiss Muslim abuse of women as a Pakistani, Indian or Saudi problem. Immigration has brought this violence to our own doorsteps. It is time for us to defend the values and freedoms that define us as a society. In a greater context, the story of the "loose women" in India may seem trivial, but it makes a valuable point. The proper way to promote a religious or chaste lifestyle is through education and persuasion. This is a central value in western society. It should be defended with zeal and without apology.
Sphere: Related Content
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Some people say that periodic corrections of economics are to be expected, that this latest downturn is a 'correction'. Certain aspects of the economic downturn such as the real estate market do conform to such an explanation. But the emphasis on market corrections should not preclude reasoned intervention in economic cycles.
What concerns me most is the tendency to view government as a leader rather than a facilitator of economic recovery. No clear answer has been given to the question of how much new money is being printed to stimulate the economy. Some relief packages resemble a blood transfusion to a patient with a severed artery. Systemic shortcomings are being overlooked as corporate bigwigs line up for welfare checks that are now being given to corporations instead of individuals.
What is being totally overlooked is the role of government as a facilitator. Certain financial instruments such as municipal bonds offer tax free interest. The idea of this incentive is to foster public interest in investing in roads, schools and other public projects that ultimately make a municipality a magnet for investment and business. Well maintained roads facilitate transportation of goods. Well educated workers can perform more sophisticated tasks and need less basic training.
There is a clear public interest in saving ailing companies. There are actually corporations that invest in businesses that will go under without major changes. it would make a lot of sense for government to create incentives for businesses and especially banks to enter into such arrangements to become financially viable. There should be additional incentives to save jobs as well as corporations. A company that survives a shell does not deserve tax breaks. A company that retrains its workers and redesigns its assembly lines is by contrast performing a public service. Most importantly, there should be strong financial incentives to choose restructuring over bankruptcy.
There are companies that create jobs for American workers who in turn become a source of tax revenue. Some of these companies are foreign and some are domestic. A company that creates thousands of American jobs should be taxed at a far lower rate than a company that outsources jobs to China, India or other countries with a far lower wage scale. This is not a simple proposition. There are Japanese cars that employ a lot of American workers. And there are computers that are "assembled in the USA from foreign components". Our government and citizens must look at the economic impact of our buying decisions.
Some American products are failing because they are shoddy. American cars are designed to use steel and gasoline. They are designed to need regular replacement. The American consumer is being ignored. The American consumer is going elsewhere. Affordable, safe , fuel efficient cars should have been designed long ago. Much that is wrong with our Auto industry is self inflicted.
American print news media is likewise ailing. Part of the problem is the internet Adapting to the new technological landscape is a part of the problem. But it is not the entire problem. Media bias is blatant. Television and newspapers openly campaigned for Barack Obama. They show blatant bias on many issues. They have forfeited public respect. They are going under. This is a market correction. Talk radio thrives by providing a voice to a more conservative strain of public opinion. Proponents of the "Fairness Doctrine" want to regulate it out of business. They have tried floating liberal talk radio. It flopped. They are pushing an ideological system that is as poorly designed as most American cars. Americans are buying their news elsewhere. What do you expect?
In many markets, houses are not homes but investment instruments. it would be useful for government to separate owners of single dwellings from those who own more property. High priority should be given to restructuring mortgage debt so it is a realistic percentage of a family's income. There are families that endure gilded serfdom working to pay a daunting mortgage. In many areas, homes that were built for workers cost far more than a modern worker could ever afford. Taking bad real estate debt and turning it into a reasonable source of income for banks should be a high priority. Companies that are willing to pick up an ailing book of mortgages and salvage it should get generous tax breaks. 'Flippers", people who buy and resell for speculative purposes should be taxed harshly. A distinction should be made between speculators who add paper value to a house and those who buy decrepit property and make it inhabitable.
It is possible to salvage some good news for the millions of Americans who now have deferred indefinitely the dream of home ownership. There are some "market corrections" that can be good news for home owners. Past failures and foreclosures should be analysed to prevent repetitions. Clear mortgage contracts and honest income verification could prevent a lot of heartache for homeowners. Income verification for mortgages should be performed by bonded investigators who become liable for any willful deception by a borrower
America has a great deal of economic strength that is being bypassed in an effort to involve government as much as possible. It is maddening to see new taxes levied and money printed when vast wealth and expertise is untapped. The Democrats do not have a monopoly on concern. They certainly do not have a monopoly on ideas. Many Americans understand the folly of trillion dollar bailouts. We deserve better solutions. But we must demand them. Sphere: Related Content
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
With the fall of communism, there was a resurgence of Mongolian patriotic feeling. Some people wanted to translate fifty years of publishing from the Cyrillic alphabet to the traditional Mongolian form of writing. it was then discovered that the alphabet introduced by the Russians was very well suited to the Mongolian language. As a result, the initial plans to expunge Russian influence were considerably modified.
Mongolia is most famous for the ability of some singers to sing two notes simultaneously. Mongolian throat singing seems to me to have a raspy "throaty" quality that I can not pretend to enjoy. It does sometimes sound pleasing when mixed into "folk rock'
A lot of pop music in Mongolia sounds like canned generic pop that could just as well be shmaltzy Japanese music. I never leap into a new genre of music without a bridge. Folk rock does the job for me very well. A Mongolian rock video that shows lots of horses (their national drink is fermented horse milk) and majestic landscapes is far more likely to sound indigenous than a video set in a night club.
One of my favourite Mongolian folk rock groups is Altan Urag. It is played on traditional Mongolian instruments and at times seems more like a sort of classical music mixed in with rock.
I am including a video of theirs called "Requiem."
One positive side of nationalistic feeling is when people find what is unique and rewarding in their own culture and share it with the rest of the world. When such national pride meets You tube and the internet, the world is the richer for it. I am pleased to share Mongolian music with my readership. I hope my readers will check it out on their own.
Sphere: Related Content