MEC votes against a boycott
Just wanted to get this news out quickly...
My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (www.freethinkingfilms.com)
They spend the few dollars they have on rockets, mortars, military uniforms, rifles, bullets, etc...
Sixty-five percent of the work force in Gaza is currently unemployed, Hamas labor minister Ahmed al-Kurd said Thursday.Of course, they blame this all on Israel...
Moreover, 80% of Gazans were living below the poverty line and 85% were dependent on the aid of international organizations such as the UN's Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), he said.
Why on earth did he get such a light sentence...and why was he on furlough ten years ago???
One of the Palestinians who hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship and killed an American Jewish passenger in 1985 has been released after more than 23 years in jail, officials said Thursday.
Youssef Magied al-Molqui left prison in Palermo, Sicily, on Wednesday and was transferred to a holding center for immigrants in nearby Trapani while officials work to expel him, police in the Sicilian capital said.
Molqui, a member of the four-man team that hijacked the Achille Lauro off the Egyptian coast, had been serving a 30-year sentence, which was reduced for good behavior.
He was convicted of shooting elderly New Yorker Leon Klinghoffer and ordering him to be dumped overboard.
In 1996, Molqui disappeared during a furlough, but he was recaptured in Spain after three weeks on the run.
Molqui's lawyer, Stella Cavallo, was quoted by the ANSA news agency as saying she would fight the expulsion order.
She said her client had married an Italian woman and had no recognized citizenship, and therefore no country would take him in. No one answered the telephone at the lawyer's office on Thursday.
Another convicted Achille Lauro hijacker, Ibrahim Fatayer Abdelatif, was released last year. Italian authorities have tried to expel him but his lawyers have appealed the decision, arguing he should be allowed to stay for humanitarian reasons because he, too, has no citizenship.
Yet another possible explanation for claimed Arctic warming...
New research from NASA suggests that the Arctic warming trend seen in recent decades has indeed resulted from human activities: but not, as is widely assumed at present, those leading to carbon dioxide emissions. Rather, Arctic warming has been caused in large part by laws introduced to improve air quality and fight acid rain.
Dr Drew Shindell of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies has led a new study which indicates that much of the general upward trend in temperatures since the 1970s - particularly in the Arctic - may have resulted from changes in levels of solid "aerosol" particles in the atmosphere, rather than elevated CO2. Arctic temperatures are of particular concern to those worried about the effects of global warming, as a melting of the ice cap could lead to disastrous rises in sea level - of a sort which might burst the Thames Barrier and flood London, for instance.
NASA graphic showing temperature trends vis-a-vis clean air rules
Shindell's research indicates that, ironically, much of the rise in polar temperature seen over the last few decades may have resulted from US and European restrictions on sulphur emissions. According to NASA:
Sulfates, which come primarily from the burning of coal and oil, scatter incoming solar radiation and have a net cooling effect on climate. Over the past three decades, the United States and European countries have passed a series of laws that have reduced sulfate emissions by 50 percent. While improving air quality and aiding public health, the result has been less atmospheric cooling from sulfates.
Meanwhile, levels of black-carbon aerosols (soot, in other words) have been rising, largely driven by greater industrialisation in Asia. Soot, rather than reflecting heat as sulphates do, traps solar energy in the atmosphere and warms things up.
The Arctic is especially subject to aerosol effects, says Shindell, because the planet's main industrialised areas are all in the northern hemisphere and because there's not much precipitation to wash the air clean.
"Right now, in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere and in the Arctic, the impact of aerosols is just as strong as that of the greenhouse gases," says Shindell.
US supply of natural gas is going through the roof..
A massive natural-gas discovery here in northern Louisiana heralds a big shift in the nation's energy landscape. After an era of declining production, the U.S. is now swimming in natural gas.
Even conservative estimates suggest the Louisiana discovery -- known as the Haynesville Shale, for the dense rock formation that contains the gas -- could hold some 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That's the equivalent of 33 billion barrels of oil, or 18 years' worth of current U.S. oil production. Some industry executives think the field could be several times that size.
"There's no dry hole here," says Joan Dunlap, vice president of Petrohawk Energy Corp., standing beside a drilling rig near a former Shreveport amusement park.
Huge new fields also have been found in Texas, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. One industry-backed study estimates the U.S. has more than 2,200 trillion cubic feet of gas waiting to be pumped, enough to satisfy nearly 100 years of current U.S. natural-gas demand.
Jobs are moving to China...International wind-turbine maker Vestas has announced that it will lay off 1900 employees including 600 in the UK. The news was well received by markets, with Vestas raising £700m in a Danish share issue the next day and announcing investments in Chinese plants.
A number of people have said we should have adjusted and trimmed the company already...
In no way did we conceal that 2009 was going to be a challenging year for Vestas... [there will be] an unavoidable negative impact on our production business units especially in Denmark, just as the blades plant on Isle of Wight, UK is affected in high scale.
No one should doubt that I am really sorry... It hurts, but we must always do what is best for Vestas...
To this comes also lack of will and desire to put up wind turbines in some of the North European markets... the challenge we are facing us to convert as many away games as we possibly can into future home games... as we now realise there is not an adequate convergence between the countries in which we have plants and the markets that are expected to purchase our products - well, that leaves us with no other choice than to adjust the company to match the conditions that are actually being offered us by these markets.
The US and China are showing strong growth prospects which is why our huge investments in these countries continue steadily... Our growth scenario is intact.
Their horrible education system holds them back...
Recently, a Saudi judge shocked many Saudis and global public opinion by upholding a marriage between an 8-year-old girl and a 47-year-old man. That ruling brought to public awareness an appalling practice that has for too long been hidden from view and shielded from open discussion and criticism.
The case was not unique. Another highly publicized recent case in Yemen featured a 10-year-old girl who sought a divorce after being forced by her parents to marry a 30-year-old man, who took advantage of his power in order to rape and abuse her. It is disgraceful that such blatantly coerced "marriages" are allowed to take place at all. Yet, those familiar with educational systems in the Arab world are not surprised.
Shameful traditional systems of education that suppress critical thinking make it possible for such backward practices to continue, shielded beyond a local, narrow, and unexamined view of religion. Rulings like that in Saudi Arabia are the outcomes of that failing educational system. Some Arab societies have failed miserably to produce well prepared generations capable of catching up with most corners of the world. The Saudi religious curriculum, which couples rote memorization of texts with uncritical acceptance of tribal practices, keeps the country backward. It does not prepare students to cope with modernity, nor to be productive participants in an increasingly global economy.
Despite the flood of billions and billions in oil money to public education, Saudi students consistently score among the worst in math and science. The greatest culprit is the suppression of critical thinking, coupled with limited and weak exposure to math and science. An impressive investment in the infrastructure of higher education has not yielded positive returns. It is as if the state had purchased the most advanced computer hardware, but neglected to secure any software to run it.
Most Arab educational systems fail to prepare graduates for productive lives. Each year thousands of students graduate from universities with degrees in Sharia (Islamic law) or Arabic literature. The vast majority of them will be unemployed, underemployed, or employed in the bloated government sector, which will further contribute to already bloated and inefficient government. Thinking for oneself - a precondition of both entrepreneurship and of democratic participation - is suppressed. It's little wonder that judges condemn innocent young girls to such fates.
Now, I can sleep at night...
The arranged marriage of an 8-year-old girl to a 50-year-old man, who has two other wives, has been annulled in an out-of-court settlement, court sources said Wednesday.
The settlement, mediated by a new judge at the court, was not without lengthy negotiations between the girl’s lawyer and the husband who clung on to the legality of the marriage until the end of the working day, when he finally agreed to divorce the child wife.
The parties involved were tight-lipped about the settlement. The lawyer, who was hired by the girl’s mother, was not allowed to talk about the settlement to the media until an official announcement of the divorce.
The previous judge in the case, Sheikh Habib Al-Habib, had first refused to annul the marriage last year. But he later said he would reconsider the case upon the girl’s appeal on reaching the age of puberty or upon her mother’s appeal.
Earlier this month, Sheikh Al-Habib ruled for the second time that the girl’s marriage to a friend of her father’s was legal and binding. The father is said to have married off his girl to his close friend to pay off a debt.
Way too much scare-mongering on the swine flu....
As Mexico City, the third largest in the world, grinds to a halt, the EU's health commissioner warns European travellers not to fly to anywhere in North or Central America unless their journey is absolutely necessary.
In Britain, where £50 million worth of face masks are on order, government ministers go into full crisis mode, holding emergency meetings in a Whitehall bunker and telling us they will soon be sending a leaflet on the dangers of Mexican swine flu to every home in the country.
Passengers wear protective masks at Mexico City's international Airport fearing the spread of Swine Flu
As BBC presenters roll their lips round such words as 'pandemic' and 'Armageddon', we are gravely warned that this new flu strain could be as dangerous as the famous Spanish flu which, at the end of World War I, killed 50 million people.
It may be that swine flu has killed 159 people in Mexico itself - although it is still not certain that it was the cause of all those deaths. It may be that a young child has died in the U.S. after a family holiday in Mexico, which is a tragedy.
More cases may emerge among the 10,000 unfortunate Britons stranded in Mexico by this emergency, and more cases in Britain itself in addition to the three announced yesterday.
But are we sure that this extraordinary crisis is being kept in perspective? Don't we have the sense that we have seen this kind of panic before, which eventually turned out to have gone way over the top?
The moment which more than any might have set off a severe attack of deja vu came when the BBC Today programme wheeled on an expert from the World Health Organisation to tell us that '40 per cent' of us in Britain may catch swine flu - while another unnamed expert was quoted predicting that '1.2 million' Britons could die.
Passengers arrive off a Thomson Airways flight from Cancun at Gatwick
It is not long since, in 2005, an even more senior WHO official was telling us that, any time soon, a worldwide epidemic of Asian bird flu could kill '150 million people'. The actual death toll from bird flu to date is around 200, barely double the number already dead when that hysteria was at its height.
Only here and there in recent days, as Mexican flu rages through the headlines, have a handful of voices suggested that we should keep some sense of proportion on what is happening.
As California's governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declares a state of emergency because 60-odd Californian schoolchildren have contracted Mexican flu, without any so far dying, it is pointed out that normal flu strains cause 36,000 deaths in America every year.
When a Scottish couple are rushed into an isolation ward after returning from their Mexican honeymoon with swine flu, Michael O'Leary, the boss of Ryanair, asks: 'Will the Edinburgh couple die? No. A couple of Strepsils will do the job.'
I have a particular reason for having cast a cautious eye on the familiar sight of the 'scare machine' being cranked up in recent days.
Two years ago, with a noted food safety expert, Dr Richard North, I wrote a book entitled Scared To Death, a detailed account of the chief scares which have regularly held us in thrall in recent decades.
Again and again since the food scares of the 1980s, we have seen these waves of hysteria rise and fall, over everything from salmonella in eggs and Asian bird flu to the Millennium Bug which was supposedly going to bring civilisation to a halt at midnight on December 31, 1999, as half the world's computers crashed and planes fell out of the sky.
That particular panic cost an estimated $300 billion, before it was discovered that the countries that hadn't spent fortunes on sorting out their computers fared no worse than those that had.
One of the benefits of analysing a whole series of scares is that it shows us how consistently they follow an identifiable pattern, from the moment when they begin with some scientific confusion to the time when it eventually becomes clear that any genuine threat had been inflated way beyond any relation to reality.
In all sorts of ways the current panic over swine flu is already fitting into that pattern, displaying features familiar from scares which have long since run their often highly expensive and damaging course.
The last occasion when our Government was panicked into sending a health warning to every household in the country, for instance, was in 1987, when Edwina Currie sent out such a pamphlet, Don't Die Of Ignorance, warning us of the terrifying threat of Aids.
No one can doubt that HIV/Aids has remained a serious problem, to date responsible for some 18,000 deaths in the UK. But back in the late 1980s we were being solemnly warned that, as early as 1990, we could expect the death toll to reach a million.
Compared with the 9,000 people who die in NHS hospitals every year just from MRSA and C.difficile, even those 18,000 deaths in 20 years can now be seen in a rather more sensible perspective.
It was Edwina Currie again who, in 1988, set off the panic over salmonella in eggs, which was supposedly going to kill thousands of people because the bacteria were somehow getting inside the eggs they ate for breakfast.
Few headlines greeted the Government's admission four years later that salmonella was not getting inside eggs after all, and that whatever else had caused a temporary rise in salmonella poisoning, it wasn't eggs.
In 1996, when the greatest food scare of all exploded over BSE, front-page headlines greeted the admission on Newsnight by the Government's chief scientist John Pattison that the death toll from CJD caught by eating beef could within a few years reach 500,000.
A year later, however, scarcely any attention at all was paid to Dr Pattison's confession that he had now revised his figure downwards to just '100' (indeed, it now seems highly likely that beef was not the cause of CJD at all).
Yes, it was the Jews who made Durban II the mess that it was....
It’s no secret who was behind the effort to discredit the 2009 Durban Review Conference in Geneva.
For nearly a year before the anti-racism confab, Jewish and pro-Israel groups lobbied hard to get Western countries to boycott the gathering, which they said was certain to treat Israel unfairly, just as the first Durban conference had done in 2001.
Indeed, during the months leading up to the conference, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, noted several times that an orchestrated campaign was behind Western threats to boycott the conference, dubbed Durban II.
“The conference process has been the subject of ferocious and often distorted criticism by certain lobby groups focused on single issues,” she said on Sept. 8, 2008.
Yet Pillay -- and many others -- refused to name the forces behind the campaign.
“If you Google ‘Durban and racism,’ you see who’s behind 90 percent of the efforts,” Jan Lonn, Swedish coordinator of the Civil Society Forum, said here last week. “It’s not a secret, and everybody knows.”
Asked by JTA if he was referring to Jewish groups and pro-Israel commentators, Lonn replied, “You know this very well, as your media has been frequently reporting on criticism.”
It was an ironic twist to the common storyline of anti-Semites naming Jews as the perpetrators of shadowy worldwide conspiracies. Those conspiracies typically are as true as the “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” -- that is, to say, not at all.
This time, however, the Jews actually did conspire, albeit openly, to sabotage the conference.
The World Jewish Congress met with officials from 17 U.N. member states to push for a boycott. Hudson Institute scholar Anne Bayefsky banged the anti-Durban drum for months in the U.S. media, including the National Review, the New York Daily News and Forbes. And Israeli officials pressed their allies that intended to participate in the conference not to tolerate any anti-Israel resolutions.
But for the most part, Durban II’s organizers and participants did not want to point the finger at the Jews for the anti-Durban effort for fear of being labeled anti-Semites.
“I can’t tell you exactly who the lobby is,” Pillay said in a March 12 interview with Australia’s ABC.net. “I can just pick out that it seems to be one source putting out this wrong information and labeling this review conference as ‘hate fest.’ ”
Use of the loaded term “lobby,” however, appeared to be too much for some Jewish groups.
UN Watch, a monitoring organization, sent Pillay a letter asking her “to avoid using certain well-known stereotypes.” Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said the term “fostered images of a mysterious, unnamed, powerful” lobby.
“Some media asked me about ‘single-issue lobby groups’ -- a term no one would ever use for nongovernmental advocacy groups that protest unfair treatment of blacks, gays, women, Muslims, etc.,” Neuer said.
Pillay’s spokesman, Rupert Colville, told JTA her office “has no objection to lobbying per se. Lobbying is the life blood of the human rights movement and a key component of democracy. What we object to is blatantly dishonest lobbying.”
Colville added, “We have never characterized the dishonest methods used to try to sink the Durban Review Conference as being exclusively employed by one particular country or one racially defined group.”
Others were a little more forthcoming about who they believed was responsible for the anti-Durban II campaign.
A staffer from a major nongovernmental organization said there was just one reason why a European country like Germany would help draft the conference’s resolution on the Friday before the conference, only to decide to boycott it that very weekend.
“The Jewish lobby,” said the staffer, who refused to be identified by name or organization.
“What I’m afraid of is if you put that in my mouth, it will sound like a conspiracy theory, and then readers will say we’re anti-Semitic,” said the staffer.
Malaak Shabazz, the daughter of black rights activist Malcolm X, had no such qualms. She blamed “Zionist agitators” for being disruptive and aggressive toward her in Geneva, and she filed a letter of protest with Pillay’s office.
"People confuse Zionism with Judaism, and that's completely unfortunate," she said.
“The Zionists here are making people hate Jews,” Shabazz said. “I was unfamiliar with the tactics of Zionists. But I got a crash course on it here.”
The way to legally have pre-marital sex....
"Marriage is halal, dating is haram," says Ali Selman. In other words, marriage is permissible, but dating is forbidden. These are the rules for the strapping, green-eyed Lebanese Shiite from Brooklyn.
Luckily for young Muslims like Selman, who are deeply religious yet subject to the same hormonal forces as any other twentysomething, the Quran provides what you might call a caveat clause. Its rule against sex outside of marriage is clear, but many Shiite Muslims believe that a section called "Al Nissa" contains a single word (istimta) that seems to allow Muslims to engage in Mut'ah marriages, or "pleasure marriages"—essentially, temporary marriages for the purpose of having sex.
These "pleasure marriages" can last for years, months, several days, one night, or a few hours. Popular in places like Iran but also quietly practiced in America, Mut'ah is a handy option for unmarried Shiite Muslims who want to have sex without settling down for life. "There can be no sex outside of marriage," says the 29-year-old Selman, a champion weightlifter who, over the past 10 years, has been temporarily married 25 times.
Selman loathes nightclubs—"Loud music with people getting drunk and stupid is not my scene”—and so has met many of his wives in the hookah cafes of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. The narrow confine of Luxor, an Egyptian cafe in Greenwich Village, is one of his favorites, despite the cramped space. "I go there to smoke and not to pick up women," he insists. More often than not, though, he admits he somehow ends up meeting a beautiful girl.
Like permanent marriages in Islam, Mut'ah marriages are only allowed with other Muslims, Christians, and Jews. His partners have been Catholic and Muslim-American, Spanish, Lebanese, Turkish, Palestinian, and Pakistani. Selman says many of the women he meets express "shock" when he explains he must marry them before he can proceed.
"It is to avoid committing sin, and it is like a boyfriend and girlfriend relationship," he tells them. "Some of them don't like it," he says, but, "they agree because they want to be with me... If she doesn't like it, I understand, but I can't sleep with her."
According to Selman, the woman has to say, "I marry you, myself." The man replies, "I accept." A token bridal gift must be given—in Selman's case, usually tea, juice, or chocolates. Most of his marriages lasted for about three months—the shortest was three days long, with his bank teller, a Sunni from Pakistan. He says the girl actually wanted to get married for only one day; they finally settled on three days subject to renewal.
The battle has begun and it's going to be nasty...
Pakistani airstrikes killed dozens of Taliban fighters in a fierce struggle to drive them from a district near the capital, while the militants took over police stations and kidnapped more than 50 security forces, the army said.Can the Pakistan government summon up the courage to really tackle the Taliban???
This is scary.....
A NEW crime of blasphemous libel is to be proposed by the Minister for Justice in an amendment to the Defamation Bill, which will be discussed by the Oireachtas committee on justice today.
At the moment there is no crime of blasphemy on the statute books, though it is prohibited by the Constitution.
Article 40 of the Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of speech, qualifies it by stating: “The State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.
“The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent material is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.”
Tackle the real environmental problems, and we will all be better off....
Can we solve climate change?
No we can't, according to a leading climate change professor.
Mike Hulme professor of Climate Change at East Anglia University reckons we are heading up a "dead end" by putting climate change science at the top of the political agenda.
In fact he thinks we are pretty arrogant to think we can control the climate.
Mike, who has spent the last 25 years researching climate change, has just written a book Why we disagree about climate change where he questions why climate change has become "the mother of all issues."
"Why is it that climate change has taken this premier position as the issue that humanity's future is at stake if we don't attend to climate change?"
Mike reckons "climate change" is unsolvable. People round the world are too different, with different needs, to come together. Since the "landmark" Kyoto agreement ten years ago emissions have accelerated.
Instead we should treat climate change as an idea like democracy or justice motivating us to live better so that we can act locally and regionally to get cleaner air, or power or eradicate poverty.
"We shouldn't be framing climate change as the problem that we have to solve above all others. If we do that we have constructed an unsolvable dilemma because of the multiple reasons why we disagree about climate change. We will never converge on a set of solutions.
"Rather than putting climate change at the pinnacle and if we fail on climate change everything else fails. Humanity is doomed, we've only got seven more years, the clock is ticking... what I'm suggesting is that we turn this whole thing around and think of climate change as an imaginitive idea like democracy or nationality or justice. It's an idea that can be used but you cannot solve an idea. You can use an idea you can manipulate it, you can exploit it but you can't solve it.
"Let's be very clear about this I'm not denying climate change. I'm not questioning the fundamental science here. Humans are altering the climate around the world in my mind there's no doubt about that. And climate has an effect on eco systems around the world
"What I am questioning is that we can solve it in the way that we have it currently framed. We have reached this paralysis mode"
Mike says the way we are tackling climate change could even lead to reactionary and authoritarian policies such as sending mirrors into space or spraying aerosols in the atmosphere.
"My basic thesis is that we should turn climate change around. It's localising issues.
"We don't have to get global agreements to attend to fuel poverty in Britain or air pollution in China's cities.
"If by 2050 we have managed to limit global warming to 2 degrees will that world actually be a better world? Will it have attended to these other issues, nationally and globally? I'm not sure it will.
"Physical climate is being changed by human societies. Human societies are having to grapple with what that means and just trying to deal with this in terms of science is a dead end, I think."
"A more powerful way into these issues to localise them. We can improve the local environment in our cities by changing our transport systems we can buy local food.
He sold land to a Jew - what could be worse???
A Palestinian court on Tuesday sentenced to death by hanging a man convicted of selling land in the occupied West Bank to Israelis.Isn't this apartheid?
A court in the West Bank town of Hebron sentenced Anwat Breghit, 59, to death by hanging after finding him guilty of treason and of "selling Palestinian land to Israelis."
According to the indictment, Breghit sold property belonging to his village of Beit Omar near Hebron to Israelis from the nearby Jewish settlement of Karmei Tzur.
The sentence still requires the approval of president Mahmud Abbas in order to be carried out.
A potential labour candidate in the UK is rejected because she is too white and too Jewish....
Elaina Cohen claims she was told she was 'too white and Jewish' to be selected as a Labour candidate in Birmingham
The Labour Party has become embroiled in a race row after a prospective female councillor was allegedly told she was 'too white and Jewish' to be selected.
Elaina Cohen claims that Labour councillor Mahmood Hussain said he would not support her application for an inner-city ward because 'my Muslim members don't want you because you are Jewish'.
Mrs Cohen, 50, has made an official complaint about the alleged remarks made by Mr Hussain, a Muslim and former lord mayor of Birmingham.
She said: 'I am shocked and upset that a member of the Labour Party in this day and age could even think something like that, let alone say it.
'People should not be allowed to make racist comments like that. If someone in the party feels I cannot represent them because of my colour or religion, that's ridiculous.
'I felt particularly aggrieved because I have worked across all sections of the community, particularly with the Muslim section, and have been on official visits to Pakistan.'
Mrs Cohen had applied to stand as a Labour councillor for the Birmingham ward of East Handsworth and Lozells, which has a high Asian and Afro-Caribbean population.
As one of Labour's safest seats on Tory-led Birmingham city council, the final candidate would be almost certain of victory at the June 4 by-election.
But when Mrs Cohen telephoned 57-year-old Mr Hussain for his support, she was astonished to be told that she was too 'white and Jewish' to be considered.
Lorraine Briscoe, who runs a local community association, was sitting next to Mrs Cohen when the conversation took place on speakerphone last Tuesday.
'I was disgusted that a councillor could make comments like that in 2009,' she said.
'He told her, "They will not vote for someone who is white and Jewish. My Muslim members don't want you because you are Jewish".
'Elaina then asked him if he had talked to his Muslim members about it and he said, "I don't want to talk about it with you" and hung up.
I've taken this from israellycool....this was written a year ago...
The 60th anniversary of Israel’s birth is a milestone as was every other such anniversary going back to that defining moment for Jews and non-Jews alike when David Ben-Gurion proclaimed independence of the Jewish state in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948.
After nearly two millenniums of wandering in strange lands — following destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem by the Romans and forced exile from the land of their prophets — the birth of Israel has offered Jews a secure home where they may prosper without any fear or apology.
Israel’s birth was assisted by Britain, joined by France, which carved Arab states in lands that were provinces of the Ottoman Empire. If Israel had been born 10 years earlier then a great many Jews who perished in Hitler’s death camps likely would have survived and Britain’s eventual withdrawal from the region probably would have been less acrimonious.
For Ben-Gurion’s generation Israel’s birth was a small promise made even smaller by the UN partitioning British-mandated Palestine, and then arriving so terribly late, even as smoke from the ruins of war-devastated Europe hid the full disclosure of the Jewish devastation in the Holocaust.
There is no parallel in modern history to the story of Israel defying the rancour of old and new enemies of Jews.
This is the story of a people about whom it can truly be said are indestructible despite whatever their enemies have thrown at them.
The present world population is over six and a half billion people, and Jews are an insignificant fraction of this number, estimated somewhere around 14 million, or a mere 0.2% of the total.
Yet Jewish contributions in the making of the modern world tower above that of any other people in relative terms and the immense odds of survival as a people given the level of hostility directed at them.
From imagining the fundamentals of monotheism to conceiving the fundamentals of space-time relativity of modern physics, Jews have been an immensely creative people through nearly four millenniums of human history.
Their achievements have earned them admiration, envy and implacable enmity of non-Jews.
But Jews have survived through the ages. They first entered recorded history in pagan times while their contemporaries — the ancient Hittites, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Philistines and the Phoenicians — have vanished totally.
Of the ancient peoples from the age of Moses only the Egyptians, the Hindus and the Chinese survive, but their culturally dynamic moment as civilizations lie in the past. And of these three people from ancient times, Egyptians became Arabized as most of them converted to Islam and disowned their pre-Islamic culture.
Israel is a tiny sliver of land in a vast tempest-ridden sea of the Arab-Muslim world, and yet it is here the ancient world’s most enduring story is made fresh again by Jews to live God’s covenant with Abraham as told in their sacred literature.
Jewish survival as a people maybe providential, but turning a desert into one of the rich economies of the world few imagined six decades ago is a minor proof of how much more could be achieved if those fighting Jews joined with them instead by turning their swords into plowshares.
Happy anniversary, Israel.
Continual threats and disturbances from the Muslim community forces him to quit...
After months of suffering through thrown rocks and threats directed at his squadron during numerous calls to the Rosengård neighbourhood in Malmö, local fire chief Henrik Persson said on Tuesday he is stepping down from his post.Not the article says nothing about who is causing the disturbances and who is threatening the fire fighters. The plain fact of the matter is that there have been fires and car burnings going on for months now...and it all comes from youth in the muslim community. This is the same city that would not let the public watch an Israeli tennis match.
“I’m not getting any support from our top management. They don’t listen to our requests for a secure working environment,” Persson told the Sydsvenskan newspaper.
Persson, who also sits in on the board of Sweden’s national firefighters’ union, said he will abandon his leadership role at the Jägersro fire station and instead continue work as a rank-and-file firefighter.
Three other firefighters, including another squadron leader from the Jägersro fire station, also said on Tuesday they were quitting in hopes of relocating to other stations, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reports.
Firefighters and police officers have long been subject to thrown rocks and threats on calls to Malmö’s Rosengård neighbourhood, with fire fighters working to introduce measures to make their jobs safer.
But their efforts have been for naught, according to Persson, who feels that he can no longer guarantee the safety of his colleagues.
“At a recent meeting a police officer said we need to be ready to have Molotov cocktails thrown at us,” he said.
Persson is also upset that the local emergency services authority won’t authorize funds to pay for two additional firefighters to be based at the station, which currently has seven firefighters.
On Monday night, yet another small fire broke out in a rubbish collection area located in the Rosengård neighbourhood.
Gee, can they blame this on Israel too???
Hundreds of Palestinian patients have been trapped in the Gaza Strip, unable to travel abroad for crucial treatment for cancer and other diseases, because of political infighting between Gaza's militant Hamas rulers and their Palestinian rivals.
Eight Gazans who were waiting to travel abroad have died since the crisis began in March, when the dispute shut down a medical referral committee that helps sick residents find treatment outside of Gaza, according to the World Health Organization.
Others are hanging on, waiting. Ten-year-old Ribhi Jindiyeh, a lymphoma patient, lies in bed at home, skinny and jaundiced, too weak to move. He underwent chemotherapy last year in an Israeli hospital, and when he returned home in January, he seemed better. But in March, he began urinating blood.
Gaza doctors can't find the problem and give him infusions every two days to keep him alive.
"Nobody here knows why he is losing so much blood, but nobody can refer us to a hospital abroad, either," his mother, Nevine, 38, said.
Another son, 4-year-old Yehia, was diagnosed with lymphoma in March.
"I want everybody to help my son -- Israel, Fatah, Hamas, whoever," Nevine said. "If they can't help a sick child, who can they help? They should all pack up their bags and go home."
On Monday, there was hope for a resolution. Hamas health minister Basim Naim announced the restoration of the referral committee, which Hamas' rival, Fatah, had controlled but Hamas shut down in March.
The committee would resume coordinating medical treatment abroad. But Hamas has reservations and has asked mediating independent health workers to find new committee members both sides can agree on, said senior health official Yousef Mudalal.
That raises the possibility of a new dispute.
The split between Hamas and the Fatah movement of U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which controls the West Bank, can have a devastating impact on Gazans' lives.
Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007 after routing forces loyal to Fatah and systematically started taking over government agencies in the tiny Mediterranean territory.
On March 22, Hamas officials took control of the Fatah-run medical committee, which referred about 1,000 patients a month with life-threatening illnesses to Israel and Egypt. Hamas officials said the committee was rife with corruption and needed reform.
In response, the West Bank government, which funds medical treatment for Palestinians abroad, froze most patient transfers.
A sensible policy....will he be taken to some sort of human rights commission???
Everyone entering ATAA Jewellers in Glasgow must reveal their faces under planned new rules to protect staff from further attacks.
The store owners decided to act after two Asian men wearing traditional Muslim women's clothes – including niqab veils – made away with thousands of pounds worth of jewellery earlier this month.
The pair, who were also carrying handbags, pretended to be interested in buying some items but attacked staff with pepper spray when cabinets were unlocked.
Now the Sadiq family who run the shop are planning to put up a sign informing customers that they cannot wear any headgear that covers the face.
Any Muslim women who are more comfortable in a niqab will be encouraged to telephone in advance to ensure that a female member of staff is present during their visit, to confirm their identities.
"It is our safety that matters as well at the end of the day," Rukhsana Sadiq told the BBC Asian Network. "God forbid anything like this happening to anyone else."
The family said they accepted the policy may offend some Muslims, but expect other businesses to take a similar approach. Criminals wearing Islamic veils have carried out at least one other robbery in the city.
They knew something was wrong with their event....why else would use such stealth marketing???
An anti-Israel student event was planned, and then canceled Monday, at New York University (NYU). The student, who has asked to hold an event unrelated to Israel, was actually planning an event to explore Israeli "brutality" against the Palestinians.
After receiving permission to host an event at NYU on May 4, based on a proposal for a forum on climate change, the student responsible then hung flyers for a conference on "The Hidden History of Zionism: The Road to Gaza's Killing Fields," to be hosted by the International Socialist Organization, an anti-war Marxist group.
"The recent assault on Gaza by the Israeli military and the continuing economic blockade of the region has shocked millions of people around the world," read the flyer, which featured a picture of a bloody Gazan child from Israel's Operation Cast Lead against Hamas.
The flyer queried how "the unspeakable crime of the Holocaust and the systematic genocide of Jews in Europe (could) become the justification for subjecting the Palestinian people to what can only be described as a system of apartheid" and called for people to learn "what can be done to fight for Palestinian freedom and the solution of a democratic, secular state in the region."
"If this is not anti-Semitism, what is?" an Israeli residing near the university asked Ynet. "They're distributing these flyers all around the university and there are similar posters inside and off campus. It's strange to me that the university is giving them a stage. The contents of the posters are quite controversial."
"I'm surprised by this… given the number of Israeli professors at the university," he added.
In response, the university confirmed that the event had been canceled but emphasized that this was because of the fraudulent manner in which it was undertaken.
Israel marks the 22,000+ soldiers lost in combat...
Israel paused as air raid sirens wailed Monday evening, marking the beginning of the nation's annual Memorial Day for fallen soldiers, and leaders warned that the Jewish state still faces threats to its existence.
The widow of the last Israeli soldier to die in combat lit the memorial flame at a ceremony at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, the holiest place where Jews are allowed to pray.
The soldier, Capt. Yehonatan Netanel, was killed Jan. 6 during Israel's offensive in Gaza when Israeli forces mistakenly opened fire on his unit. Netanel, 27, left his widow, Tziona, and a 5-month-old daughter, Maayan.
The Israeli government said that since 1860, when the first Jewish neighborhood was established outside the walls of Jerusalem, 22,570 people have been killed in wars and attacks. Since last year, 133 have been added to the list, including 10 soldiers killed during the Gaza offensive that killed more than 1,100 Palestinians.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak noted in a statement that the Middle East is not North America or Europe. "It is an environment without charity to the weak, and there are no second chances to those who don't know how to protect themselves," he said.
Addressing a gathering earlier Monday at Ammunition Hill, site of a bloody Jerusalem battle in the 1967 Mideast war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "The price we have paid, and the price we are still paying, is unbearable, I know." Netanyahu's brother Yonatan was killed during Israel's dramatic rescue of hostages from a hijacked plane in Uganda in 1976.
Netanyahu said Israel must maintain strong military and security forces to fend off threats, but added, "In spite of the difficulties, we will continue our efforts to complete the circle of peace with our neighbors."
The Taliban continue to try and stamp out music...
Taliban militants in northwest Buner district shaved the heads and moustaches of four Pakistani men as punishment for listening to music, one of the men said Sunday.
Buner has been subject to huge US concern after hundreds of Taliban fighters advanced into the area from the neighbouring Swat, where the hardliners fought a brutal, nearly two-year insurgency to enforce Islamic law.
Although Taliban and local officials said the fighters retreated from Buner by Saturday, local members of the movement remain. Residents said many fighters were still present in the hilly outskirts of the district.
In one incident late Saturday, Taliban hardliners shaved the heads and moustaches of four men for listening to music, a young man from Buner told AFP by telephone, requesting not to be identified.
"I was with three other friends in my car, listening to music when armed Taliban stopped us and, after smashing cassettes and the cassette player, they shaved half our heads and moustaches," he said.
"The Taliban also beat us and asked us not to listen to music ever again," said the terrified man.
Local police said they had no information about the incident.
The victim said neither he nor his friends lodged a complaint with police, as this would have been "useless."
"It might have annoyed the Taliban further and I fear for my life," the man said.
Wow...an article in the Independent that is skeptical of global warming....
Could the Sun play a greater role in recent climate change than has been believed? Climatologists had dismissed the idea and some solar scientists have been reticent about it because of its connections with those who those who deny climate change. But now the speculation has grown louder because of what is happening to our Sun. No living scientist has seen it behave this way. There are no sunspots.
The disappearance of sunspots happens every few years, but this time it’s gone on far longer than anyone expected – and there is no sign of the Sun waking up. “This is the lowest we’ve ever seen. We thought we’d be out of it by now, but we’re not,” says Marc Hairston of the University of Texas. And it’s not just the sunspots that are causing concern. There is also the so-called solar wind – streams of particles the Sun pours out – that is at its weakest since records began. In addition, the Sun’s magnetic axis is tilted to an unusual degree. “This is the quietest Sun we’ve seen in almost a century,” says NASA solar scientist David Hathaway. But this is not just a scientific curiosity. It could affect everyone on Earth and force what for many is the unthinkable: a reappraisal of the science behind recent global warming.
Our Sun is the primary force of the Earth’s climate system, driving atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns. It lies behind every aspect of the Earth’s climate and is, of course, a key component of the greenhouse effect. But there is another factor to be considered. When the Sun has gone quiet like this before, it coincided with the earth cooling slightly and there is speculation that a similar thing could happen now. If so, it could alter all our predictions of climate change, and show that our understanding of climate change might not be anywhere near as good as we thought.
Some sense by Robert Samuelson...
Few things are more appealing in politics than something for nothing. As Congress begins considering anti-global warming legislation, environmentalists hold out precisely that tantalizing prospect: We can conquer global warming at virtually no cost. Here's a typical claim from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF):
"For about a dime a day (per person), we can solve climate change, invest in a clean energy future, and save billions in imported oil."
This sounds too good to be true, because it is. About four-fifths of the world's and America's energy comes from fossil fuels -- oil, coal, natural gas -- which are also the largest source of man-made carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas. The goal is to eliminate fossil fuels or suppress their CO2. The bill now being considered in the House would mandate a 42 percent decline in greenhouse emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels and an 83 percent drop by 2050.
Re-engineering the world energy system seems an almost impossible undertaking. Just consider America's energy needs in 2030, as estimated by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Compared with 2007, the United States is projected to have almost 25 percent more people (375 million), an economy about 70 percent larger ($20 trillion) and 27 percent more light-duty vehicles (294 million). Energy demand will be strong.
But the EIA also assumes greater conservation and use of renewables. From 2007 to 2030, solar power grows 18 times, wind 6 times. New cars and light trucks get 50 percent better gas mileage. Light bulbs and washing machines become more efficient. Higher energy prices discourage use; by 2030, oil is $130 a barrel in today's dollars. For all that, U.S. CO2 emissions in 2030 are projected at 6.2 billion metric tons, 4 percent higher than in 2007. As an example, solar and wind together would still supply only about 5 percent of electricity, because they expand from a tiny base.
To comply with the House bill, CO2 emissions would have to be about 3.5 billion tons. The claims of the EDF and other environmentalists that this reduction can occur cheaply rely on economic simulations by "general equilibrium" models. An Environmental Protection Agency study put the cost as low as $98 per household a year, because high energy prices are partly offset by government rebates. With 2.5 people in the average household, that's roughly 11 cents a day per person.
The trouble is that these models embody wildly unrealistic assumptions: there are no business cycles; the economy is always at "full employment"; strong growth is assumed, based on past growth rates; the economy automatically accommodates major changes -- if fossil fuel prices rise (as they would under anti-global warming laws), consumers quickly use less and new supplies of "clean energy" magically materialize.
There's no problem and costs are low, because the models say so. But the real world, of course, is different. Half the nation's electricity comes from coal. The costs of "carbon capture and sequestration" -- storing CO2 underground -- are uncertain, and if the technology can't be commercialized, coal plants will continue to emit or might need to be replaced by nuclear plants. Will Americans support a doubling or tripling of nuclear power? Could technical and construction obstacles be overcome in a timely way? Paralysis might lead to power brownouts or blackouts, which would penalize economic growth.
The Palestinians can't seem to stop talking about genocide...
EXAMINING PALESTINIAN hate promotion today, it is especially striking and disconcerting that these components of the past genocides against Jews are prominent elements of the hate promotion of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas against Jews and Israelis.
Two items on Hamas TV earlier this month clearly document this.
Hamas TV broadcast a skit featuring actors playing a Jewish father and son, in traditional hassidic garb, discussing the hatred of Muslims their Jewish religion mandated. The father even revives the age-old libel that Jews drink the blood of Muslims: "Shimon, look, my son, I want to teach you a few things. You have to hate the Muslims... we want to kill the Muslims, we Jews want to drink the blood of Muslims." He later criticizes his son for washing his hands in water before prayer: "We have to wash our hands with the blood of Muslims" (Al-Aksa TV, April 3). Ironically, the Hamas accusation that Jews drink Muslim blood came the week before Passover, the anniversary of many horrific blood libels.
That same day, a Hamas religious leader ended his sermon with the promise of eventual genocide of the Jews. But to frame it properly, he opened with a depiction of Jews as the enemies of humanity: The Jews are inherently evil, seek to rule the world and are a threat to Muslims and all of humanity.
This is how Ziad Abu Alhaj framed it: "Hatred for Muhammad and Islam is in their [Jews'] souls, they are naturally disposed to it... Israel is a cancer that wants to rule the world." He concluded that the Jews are destined to be annihilated: "The time will come, by Allah's will, when their property will be destroyed and their children will be exterminated, and no Jew or Zionist will be left on the face of this earth" (Al-Aksa TV, April 3).
THIS DEMONIZATION and dehumanization of Jews is not limited to Hamas. Although hesitant to call for explicit murdering of Jews while seeking Western money, the PA continues its unrelenting framing of genocide as self-defense and for the common good.
In the PA-Fatah media today, Jews and Israelis are demonized through malicious libels, including such lies as the assertion that Israel intentionally spreads AIDS and drugs among Palestinians, conducts Nazi-like medical experiments on Palestinian prisoners and is planning to destroy the Aksa Mosque.
Says the Palestinian chief religious justice, Tayseer al-Tamimi: "The AIDS issue needs to receive due attention... since we neighbor a society [Israel] where the disease is widespread and which acts to transmit [AIDS] to Palestinian society. The occupying authorities, especially in Jerusalem, are working to spread drugs and drug addiction, without a doubt" (PA radio, February 17, 2008).
And this from Dr. Mutawakil Tahalk, head of the Palestinian Writers' Union and former PA deputy minister: "We saw how they [Zionists] stab bellies of pregnant women, slaughter infants and eat life in cold blood. They targeted children and the wombs of women so this people won't reproduce" (PATV, March 4, 2008).
A July 2008 article in Al-Ayyam accused Israeli settlers of releasing rats in Jerusalem's Old City "to turn the [Arab] residents' life into a living hell, forcing then to leave..." (July 17, 2008). A PA TV video clip juxtaposes scenes of a real Israeli tank with fictitious scenes of a child actor being shot, creating the fiction that Israelis deliberately target and shoot Palestinian children (PATV, May 15, 2008).
Just as the Tutsis were described as cockroaches and snakes, both Hamas and the PA have described Jews as loathsome and dangerous animals, including cockroaches, spiders, scorpions and alligators.
While each libel is somewhat different, their essence is the same: The Israelis and the Jews are dangerous, they are not human, we need to defend ourselves from them and we are clearly justified in doing so.
It is tragic that this framing of genocide as necessary self-defense has been so chillingly successful.
A poll after last year's murders of eight teenage yeshiva students found that "84 percent of Palestinians support the terror attack killing eight young students in a Jerusalem yeshiva on March 6, 2008" (Poll by Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, The New York Times, March 19, 2008). How can an entire Palestinian society support the murder of children? Clearly, the framing of Jews and Israelis as mortally dangerous to Palestinians has been totally successful.
Israel now faces a society that is very possibly past the stage of genocide framing and at the point of seeing the killing of Israelis, even teens, as justified. All that would be necessary for the population to go along with the final script, detailed so many times by its leaders, would be the means.
He wants aid to flow to Palestinians even if Hamas joins government...
The Obama administration has asked Congress to amend U.S. law to enable the Palestinians to receive federal aid even if it forms a unity coalition with Hamas, the L.A. Times reported on Monday.
Republican Representative Mark Steven Kirk told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a House hearing last week that the proposal was tantamount to supporting a government with "only has a few Nazis in it," the L.A. Times said.
Democratic Representative Adam B. Schiff called the proposal "completely unworkable," even if Hamas were to agree to abide by the U.S.' preconditions, according to the L.A. Times.
"You couldn't have the leadership of a terrorist organization pick the ministers in the government, with the power to appoint and withdraw them, and answering to them," the L.A. Times quoted him as saying.
I don't normally blog about gay pride...but I just can't help it when it occurs in Israel...
The 11th annual Tel Aviv Gay Pride parade this summer will feature an event organizers believe to be the first ever for such an event anywhere in the world and certainly in Israel - two weddings, one of a gay couple and one of a lesbian pair.While gay people can't get married in Israel, the state will accept same-sex marriages performed in countries where it is legal.
A campaign will be launched on the Web site gogay.co.il seeking couples interested in being wed as part of the event to submit their candidacy.
A committee at the city's gay community center will determine which two couples will participate in the historic event.
"The idea began with the thought that in the framework of the [city's] centennial celebrations, we wanted to do something substantive and deep to advance the community's agenda," said Yaniv Weizman, the adviser to Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai on gay affairs and a Rov Ha'ir city council member.
"The idea is to wed both a gay and lesbian couple on one of the stages during the parade," he said, adding that the right to marry stands at the top of the gay community's agenda, particularly as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party has raised awareness of civil union rights.
This sounds like an incredibly stupid plan...
Judges could be forced to bow to Sharia law in some divorce cases heard in Britain.
An EU plan calls for family courts across Europe to hear cases using the laws of whichever country the couple involved have close links to.
That could mean a court in England handling a case within the French legal framework, or even applying the laws of Saudi Arabia to a husband and wife living in Britain.
Change is coming....
Saudi Arabia is considering allowing women to vote in municipal elections this year but they would still be barred from running for office, a senior government official was quoted as saying on Sunday.
More bombs..and who knows for whom?
"The reprocessing of spent fuel rods from the pilot atomic plant began as declared in the Foreign ministry statement dated April 14," said a spokesman from the North Korean foreign ministry.
"This will contribute to bolstering the nuclear deterrence for self-defence in every way to cope with the increasing military threats from the hostile forces," he said.
The latest announcement came hours after a UN Security Council committee placed three North Korean companies on a sanctions blacklist for aiding Pyongyang's nuclear goals.
Earlier this month, North Korea said it would abandon all negotiations and start rebuilding its store of nuclear weapons after it was criticised by UN for illegally launching a missile.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Association, has warned that North Korea is now a fully-fledged nuclear state, with both warheads and missiles.
North Korea is thought to have enough weaponized plutonium to make more than half a dozen atomic bombs.
The latest threat contradicted the current intelligence suggesting that its main reactor at Yongbyon had been mostly disabled and that it could take months to restart it.
We've blogged this before, but here's the latest report...
In this village in northern Yemen, where a kosher butcher slaughters chickens and the school bus carries young boys in side curls along a dirt track to their Hebrew studies, one of the oldest Jewish communities in the Arab world is fighting for its survival.The only answer is for them to go to Israel...
Yemen's Jews, here and elsewhere in the country, are thought to have roots dating back nearly 3,000 years to King Solomon. The community used to number 60,000 but shrank dramatically when most left for the newborn state of Israel.
Those remaining, variously estimated to number 250 to 400, are feeling new and sometimes violent pressure from Yemeni Muslims, lately inflamed by Israel's fierce offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza that cost over 1,000 Palestinian lives.
They face a Yemeni government that is ambivalent -- publicly supportive but also lax in keeping its promises -- in an Arab world where Islamic extremism and hostility to minorities are generally on the rise.
"There is hardly a mosque sermon that's free of bigotry. The government's own political rhetoric marginalizes the Jews, and civil society is too weak to protect them," says Mansour Hayel, a Muslim Yemeni and human rights activist who is an expert on Yemen's Jewry.
"The government's policies are to blame for the suffering of the Jews," he says.
The pressures have long existed. But an Associated Press reporter who traveled recently to the rarely visited north and interviewed Jews, Muslim tribal sheiks, rights activists and lawyers in Yemen's capital of San'a, heard complaints that the frequency of harassment -- including a murder and the pelting of homes with rocks -- has markedly increased.
The testimony was particularly striking because Jews in Arab lands often refrain from airing grievances, lest they antagonize the government and provoke Muslim militants.
Yemen's government says it is trying to stop the harassment. President Ali Abdullah Saleh has proposed that the 45 Jewish families in the farming communities of Kharif and the nearby town of Raydah in Omran province be moved 50 miles southeast to San'a, where they can be better protected. He has offered them free plots of land to build homes.
But the government has taken no concrete steps since presidential aides first spoke of the offer late last year.
For 18 Jewish families who moved to San'a in 2007 from Saada, another northern province, things have not gone well. They fled fighting between troops and rebels, during which some Jewish homes were ransacked and ancient books destroyed. Now they live in cramped apartments under tight guard, entirely dependent on small government handouts.
A different way at looking at gas prices...
Raise the price of something high enough and you invariably lower the demand for it. That's why last year's sharp spike in gas prices resulted in fewer cars on the highways and a plunge in miles driven. If your goal is fewer SUVs, less solo driving, and lower carbon-dioxide emissions, inflicting European-level gasoline prices on American motorists is a pretty good strategy. Conversely, it is hypocritical - or at least illogical - "to say you care deeply about global warming and advocate for the price of gas to go down," as AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson told Newsweek last year. "Those are mutually exclusive concepts."
And yet advocating for the price of gas to go down is essentially what environmentalists are doing when they clamor for higher-mileage cars. All other things being equal, raising fuel efficiency lowers the cost of driving. As Secretary Chu correctly told the House committee last week, "encouraging fuel-efficient cars" is one means of "reducing the price of transportation." But cheaper driving means more driving, and more driving means more energy use, more cars on the road, more demand for highways, more drilling for oil - all the things environmentalists abhor.
If greens and global-warmists really want the US automotive fleet to use less energy, they should clamor for cars that get lower mileage. Crazy, you say? Surely no crazier than $8-a-gallon gas.
I don't care who did it...I'm just happy it was done...
An Egyptian weekly reported Sunday that an Iranian ship carrying weapons traveling en route to the Gaza Strip has been sunk in the Red Sea, off the coast of Sudan.
Al-Usbua's report quotes sources from Sudan's capitol Khartoum, who say missiles were fired towards the ship from "an unidentified boat, which may be Israeli or American."
The report says the Iranian ship was headed for Sudan in order to unload the weapons, which would then travel by land to the Gaza Strip. But the ship was sunk by the missiles, along with its crew.
There are many Israelis and Palestinians who want to peacefully co-exist...
Linoy, a five-year-old Israeli girl, happily nibbled some chocolate as she accompanied her parents on a shopping spree on a busy street with storefront signs written in Hebrew.
Nabi Elyas, a Palestinian village in the West Bank catering to the Israeli consumer, has raised hopes on both sides of a divide that peaceful co-existence is possible.
Just a short drive from central Israel, the community of 1,500 residents is profiting from an influx of Jewish shoppers drawn by cheap prices and still kept out of the main Palestinian cities by Israeli security regulations.
"Here I even feel safer than I do shopping in Tel Aviv," said Hanan Troitsa, Linoy's father. "We come here two to three times a week," added the girl's mother.
Groceries, furniture and even dental treatment are on offer in Nabi Elyas, which is packed with cars from Israel, especially during weekends.
"This shows that we can live together. For those who do not believe it they should come here and see," said Jalal Khleif, the mayor of Nabi Elyas.
Israeli shopper David Dahan, from the Israeli town of Givat Shmuel near Tel Aviv, said Israeli and Palestinian leaders should follow the model of Nabi Elyas.
"We, the Palestinians and the Israelis, can deal with each other in a friendly way. I personally have many friends here. If the politicians leave us alone we can run our own affairs," said the 70-year-old pensioner.
Slicing mutton for Israeli customers, Omar Ali, a butcher in the village, is counting at least a partial peace dividend. He said his sales triple during weekends and Jewish holidays.
"There is good income when they come here," he said.
It looks like things will get bloodier in Pakistan...
300 suicide bombers are on their way to Islamabad, Pakistan and plan to attack the capital and certain local officials of foreign embassies there, Interior Ministry sources said.
The suicide bombers also plan to attack Rawalpindi and Lahore and are being led by five top Taliban commanders who are close aides of Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the country's unified Taliban movement, according to the sources.
The commanders have left North Waziristan for Islamabad and would supervise the terrorist operations planned by Baitullah Mehsud in these cities, the sources added.
Pakistan's Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah confirmed the report, saying that security measures had been adopted to thwart such threats. The law enforcement agencies have planned counter strategies to deal with the situation, the secretary said.
A first-hand account of what is going on in Pakistan...
Pakistan's government fired an official who played a key role in crafting a peace deal that has given the Taliban control of the Swat Valley as militants partially pulled backed from a neighboring area they occupied this past week. The Taliban retreat from the Buner district back to their camps in Swat headed off what some feared was an imminent clash with the military. But government and Taliban officials said "local" Taliban were still in Buner, just 60 miles from Islamabad. The situation remained volatile and a growing number of Pakistani officials, foreign diplomats and analysts are saying it is only a matter of time before the Swat peace deal collapses. In one indication that Pakistan's leaders are beginning to question the deal, the top administrator for Swat and the surrounding areas, Syed Mohammed Javed, was fired Saturday for maintaining close contacts with a number of wanted Taliban commanders and, officials suspect, perhaps even al Qaeda's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is also wanted by the U.S.
Associated Press A senior security official said Mr. Javed could face punitive action for dealing with the wanted militants. The official did not provide any further details. Officials said Mr. Javed was instrumental in negotiating what now appears to be a very one-sided peace deal in Swat, a one-time Alpine vacation getaway where the army has pulled back and the Taliban have been allowed to impose a harsh brand of Islamic law, prohibiting men from shaving their beards and banning women from leaving their homes without male relatives. At the same time, the militants have kept their weapons and begun pressing into other districts, confirming the fears of many U.S. and Pakistani officials that Swat would become a base for the Taliban to push into the country's heavily populated heartland. Apart from Buner, the Taliban also made inroads this week into the Shangla district.
This is a very important trial...let's hope it gets ton of coverage....
FRANCE must confront its dark side this week when 28 members of a gang called the Barbarians go on trial in Paris for murdering a Jewish mobile phone salesman.
The killing of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi, who was held to ransom for three weeks on a council estate in the grim Parisian suburbs, sickened a country haunted by a history of anti-semitism and wartime collaboration with the Nazis.
Relatives of the victim last week expressed indignation at the defence’s attempts to cast doubt on claims that Youssouf Fofana, leader of the gang, had chosen to kidnap Halimi in 2006 because he was Jewish.
“We’re shocked that there is even any debate about it,” said Anne-Laure, one of Halimi’s sisters. She noted that Fofana, who insisted on gang members calling him “Osama”, had often insulted Jews and sung verses from the Koran in between ransom demands over the telephone.
He allegedly told his accomplices that he wanted to kidnap a Jew because the Jewish community was rich, would stick together and would pay a big ransom.
“My son died because of that prejudice, just like millions of Jews before him,” wrote Ruth Halimi in a recent book about the ordeal in which she compared the kidnapping with that of Daniel Pearl, the American journalist beheaded by Muslim extremists in 2002.
After several previous attempts at kidnapping Jews and extorting money from Jewish doctors, Fofana employed an attractive schoolgirl as “bait” to lure Halimi to a meeting in the suburbs. He was set upon by the Barbarians whose members included blacks, Arabs and whites from Portugal and France.
Ruth Halimi complained in her book that police told her not to worry. “You don’t kidnap someone to kill them,” she was told. “They won’t kill your son.”
The kidnappers initially asked for £450,000 to be transferred to them electronically. The family was advised by police to ask for a face-to-face meeting before paying any money, but negotiations kept foundering.
The kidnappers were torturing Halimi - for their amusement, it seems - with acid, cigarette burns and cardboard cutters. When they eventually tired of the negotiations, they stabbed him several times in the body and throat and dumped him by the side of the road. He died in an ambulance.
Fofana fled to the Ivory Coast, from where he continued to taunt Halimi family members over the telephone until he was arrested. Just as shocking as the brutality was the fact that so many people knew about it and failed to tell the police. The girl who had been used in the “honey trap” told several friends about the kidnapping, but none came forward.
One of the gang members who did not want Halimi to be killed told his father what was happening. He advised the boy to keep quiet.
Not so green...but oh so typical...
Prince Charles is being accused of hypocrisy after it was revealed that he is chartering a luxury private jet for a five-day tour of Europe to promote environmental issues.
The Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall, plus ten Clarence House staff, will fly from London to Rome this evening. Then they will fly on to Venice and Berlin, before returning to Britain.
Clarence House aides stress that the trip is at the request of the Government to promote its climate change policies.
But instead of using scheduled flights, the Royal party has hired a private plane, thought to be an Airbus A319.
According to experts from the Carbon Managers company, which carries out environmental audits, the aircraft's four European flights over 2,200 miles will leave a carbon footprint of 52.95 tons - nearly five times the average person's 11-ton footprint for an entire year.
Each member of Charles's party will leave a carbon footprint of 4.41 tons - 13 times more than if they had used a scheduled flight on the same type of plane, which can carry up to 156 passengers.
The flights on the specially converted jet, which boasts a master suite with its own lavatory and shower, will cost an estimated £80,000 - five times more than business-class fares on scheduled airlines.
They get off (thankfully) on a technicality....but have to go into hiding...
A mob gathered near a mosque outside Dakar. They were there to hunt down and kill nine men accused of homosexual acts.I guess there will be huge protests outside the Senegal embassy in Washington and Ottawa....
Earlier this week the nine Senegalese AIDS activists were freed from eight-year-prison terms for alleged homosexual acts, but they went into hiding because of death threats from Muslim religious leaders and the general population.
“The homosexuals will not escape lynching. They will be fish food,” Dakar newspaper L'Observeur quoted a local youth leader as saying.
“Gay men will never be free in Senegal. They expose us all to danger,” said Imam Mbaye Niang, a prominent religious leader and member of parliament. “The judges should understand that Senegalese people need to protect their children, their families from homosexuality.”
In Senegal — where 95 percent of the population is Muslim — homosexual acts are punishable by fines and up to five years in prison. In January, the nine men received the harshest sentence yet for such an offense in Senegal, getting the maximum of five years and an additional three for criminal conspiracy.
Though widely supported in Senegal, the conviction was condemned by international human rights groups and foreign governments, most notably France.
“They were judged and condemned very severely, surely on the basis of public outcry, therefore the justice was neither objective nor founded in law,” said lead defense attorney Barim Sassoum Sy, who called the initial ruling hasty and emotional.
A Dakar appeals court overturned that decision Monday, citing violations of legal protocol.
Acting on an anonymous tip, police had arrested the men — most of whom do HIV prevention work in the "men having sex with men" community — in December at the home of a prominent gay activist. But the police did not have a search warrant, nor did they catch the men in the act, which is required by the Senegalese law prohibiting “indecent acts against nature." The judge hearing the appeal therefore declared their convictions null and void, Sy said.
Yet even as smiling attorneys and supporters celebrated in the packed courtroom Monday and exchanged congratulations, plans were already in place to get the freed men into hiding outside Dakar.
“The first judge sentenced them to eight years,” said Imam Niang. “He had the courage to say it. The judge that let them go was much less courageous. He yielded to international pressure.”
Niang said that in Islam, the punishment for homosexuality is death. To be gay is a choice, he said, adding that he believes homosexuality is an impure, corruptive force threatening to infect Senegalese society, particularly its youth.
“In our society, homosexuality will never be accepted,” Niang said. “Our religion forbids it, so we can never accept it, even if it is accepted everywhere else in the world.”
The Stern Report is beloved by Global warmers....but Christopher Booker highlights some huge errors he has made in his new book....
But for a man whose whole case rests on the damage supposedly being done to the planet by carbon dioxide, it was somewhat disconcerting to see him quoted as saying that CO2 levels in the atmosphere have now reached "430 parts per million [ppm]". He said exactly the same last year in an interview with Prospect. The actual level is 388.97 ppm. It may seem a tiny point, but one might have expected "the world's leading expert on climate change" to have a rather surer grasp of a fact so central to his case.
Similarly, one would not expect a man whose institute is claimed to be "a world-leader in low carbon technologies" to claim, as he does in his book, that by next year wind energy "is set to account for 8 per cent of electricity generation in the UK", when the current figure is scarcely 1 per cent; or that "wind accounted for 35 per cent of total installed power capacity in the US in 2007", when two minutes on the internet could have shown him that wind power that year generated less electricity in the US than a single large coal-fired power station.
In fact, when the Stern Review came out in 2006, predicting that global warming could soon account for the extinction of 40 per cent of all species of life on earth, far from being universally lauded it was savagely criticised by some of the very people who might have been expected to praise it – his fellow economists. No one was more excoriatory than the man on whose work Lord Stern claimed to have based many of his most scarifying predictions, the noted Dutch economist Dr Richard Tol.
Far from being a global-warming sceptic, Dr Tol has played a key part in the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and wrote the UN Handbook on Methods for Climate Change Impact Assessment. But he could not have been more withering about the way the Stern Review went out of its way to cherry pick the most alarming possible predictions about the impacts of climate change and then to exaggerate them still further. Where Tol had, for instance, given a range of costs up to $14 per ton of CO2, while saying that the actual cost was "likely to be substantially smaller", Stern had more than doubled his figure, to $29 a ton. Stern's report, Tol pronounced, could be "dismissed as alarmist and incompetent", and his doomsday prophecies were simply "preposterous".
Yet this is the man, reverentially treated by the BBC, the media and politicians everywhere as "the world's leading expert on climate change" – so lost in his apocalyptic dreams that he doesn't even know something so basic to his cause as how much CO2 there is in the air we breathe.
The video is circulating throughout Pakistan...
Their deaths were squalid, riddled with bullets in a field near their home by Taliban gunmen as the execution was captured on a mobile telephone.
In footage which is being watched with horror by Pakistanis, the couple try to flee when they realise what is about to happen. But a gunman casually shoots the man and then the woman in the back with a burst of gunfire, leaving them bleeding in the dirt.
Moments later, when others in the execution party shout out that they are still alive, he returns to coldly finish them with a few more rounds.
Their "crime" was an alleged affair in their remote mountain village controlled by militants in an area that was only recently under the government's sway. It was the kind of barbarity that has become increasingly familiar across Pakistan as the Taliban tide has spread.
But this time, with black-turbaned gunmen almost at the gates of Islamabad, the rare footage has shown urban Pakistanis what could now await them.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, has warned that Islamic extremists could take over the nation.
In the past few days the footage has circulated among Pakistanis who usually show little interest in the rough ways of the distant frontier regions.
They have now started to wake up to the fear that al-Qaeda-linked rebels from the frontier could take over their nation.
The killings happened in Hangu district, in North West Frontier Province, about two hours drive from the regional capital Peshawar. The punishment was administered by a local group of the Pakistani Taliban, the Islamic militia which has swept across the NWFP towards the capital Islamabad.
The real story behind the summit...
So who bamboozled whom? This is where Fidel Castro's involvement comes into play. The incredibly resilient Cuban caudillo was characteristically blunt about what happened. Obama was "auto-suficiente" (conceited) and superficial. "We can foretell for him the same sure fiasco as his predecessors." The reason for this pique? Obama had asked Havana to free Cuba's political prisoners, suppress the 20 percent tax on remittances and allow Cubans to travel abroad freely, in exchange for Washington's agreement to remove travel and remittance restrictions on Cuban-Americans. And it appeared that an agreement could be reached, considering that the nominal president, Raúl Castro, had seemed to express a willingness to negotiate, saying just before the summit, that "everything," including political prisoners and human rights, is on the table.
But as Fidel has made quite clear, Raúl is only sort of in charge. In his April 22 newspaper column, Fidel wrote that Obama "misinterpreted Raúl's statement." The tax, he said, will not be removed. There are no political prisoners in Cuba. There can be no reciprocity. Obama would occupy his "inglorious position" for only eight years, he wrote, while Cuba would never surrender.
An important article from Robert Sibley of the Ottawa Citizen...
It is well to remember that it was western ideas about freedom and the sanctity of the individual that gave birth to concepts of rights and freedoms that the non-western world now pretends to adopt. By contrast, the writings of Islamist intellectuals — Hasan Al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb and Ayatollah Khomeini, for example — refer to a worldwide totalitarian theocratic order. It is these ideas that Ahmadinejad and his Islamist supporters feed on in their denunciations of Israel.
But Israel isn’t the ultimate source of their hatred. Israel has nothing to do with Pakistani mullahs lashing a young girl for violating Shariah law. Israel’s existence has nothing to do with Afghan men throwing acid in the faces of schoolgirls. Even if Israel didn’t exist, the Islamists would still hate the West.
That so many western leaders remain unwilling to accept this reality, preferring to wallow in their western guilt syndrome, is dangerous. Political philosopher James Burnham explained why in his classic study, Suicide of the West: “For Western civilization in the present condition of the world, the most important practical consequence of the guilt encysted in the liberal ideology and psyche is this: that the liberal, and the group, nation or civilization infected by liberal doctrines and values, are morally disarmed before those whom the liberal regards as less well off than himself.”
Decadent liberals need to learn that when someone says they hate you, believe them. Tolerance of the intolerant is suicidal.
A nice little overview...
Iranian bigot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had set a high bar for UN-driven hatemongering on Monday, and various states, observers and NGOs clearly felt liberated as a result. Libya accused Israel of crimes against humanity, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide and having "set up a Jewish state seeking ethnic and racial purity." The 20% non-Jewish population of Israel with more democratic rights than in any Arab state somehow never got mentioned.
A funny thing happened when the Libyan spoke. The United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Romania, Slovenia and Estonia all walked out. But just as had happened after the Ahmadinejad speech, they bounded back in when it was over. The legitimacy of an anti-racism conference that provides a platform for racists was never an issue for these European charlatans.
The Iranian diplomat left holding the bag after his president departed took umbrage at any criticism of his boss. He complained "there was neither any accusation nor incitement" in his speech and "Iran strongly rejects such irrelevant statements and considers them totally unacceptable." Perhaps he should re-read the bit about "exploiting the Holocaust" and "global Zionism's . . . ugly face."
Current genocide enthusiast Sudan made a nice statement about the importance of "dialogue among cultures and civilizations and religions and full abandonment of extremism, bigotry and division." Did you know that "Sudan was one of the first countries to organize conferences for the dialogue of cultures and religions, with the view that cultures and civilizations originate from understanding, dialogue, acceptance of different and positive coexistence, instead of conflict and confrontation"? I bet you didn't. Not to worry. Neither did anybody else.
Saudi Arabia was not to be outdone. According to Abdulwahab Attar: "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia . . . is endeavoring to prevent the occurrence of practices involving discrimination . . . The kingdom's anti-racism legislation is derived from the provisions of the Islamic Sharia, which emphasized equality and human dignity regardless of gender, color or race."
Attar delivered this statement without flinching - notwithstanding the fact that Saudi women have no freedom of movement and that they experience discrimination on every imaginable ground. In Saudi Arabia slavery among migrant workers is commonplace, conversion from Islam is punishable by death and the public practice of any religion other than Islam is illegal. None of that stopped him, naturally, from a long diatribe about freedom of religion in Israel - and about "the importance of all forms of dialogue at all levels to eliminate the causes of intolerance and nurture a spirit of cooperation."
Personally, I'd settle for a driver's license (currently denied all Saudi woman). But without an Israel-bashing angle, the idea doesn't stand a chance at Durban II.
More worrying signs...
Taliban fighters on Saturday prevented a convoy of security forces from entering their stronghold in the northwestern Swat valley, a day after the Pakistan army chief pledged to eliminate militants who challenge the writ of the state.
A convoy of seven army trucks was stopped by armed Taliban militants at Qambar, a small town near Mingora, the main city in Swat valley, witnesses and Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said.
Witnesses said the convoy withdrew from Qambar after the Taliban forced the troops to go back, averting any clash.
They are taxing the Sikhs...
Kalyan Singh’s feelings are now memories, his bucolic life in complete disarray. Much of Orakzai began to change when, early in 2008, Tehrik-e-Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud’s men swept in here from South Waziristan through the neighbouring North Waziristan, inaugurating a reign of terror. Soon, Hakimullah Mehsud, Baitullah’s deputy, established an ‘Islamic emirate’ here, evoking horrific images of religious intolerance that scared a few Sikh families into migrating to Peshawar.
Kalyan Singh refused to shift out from what he saw as his ancestral home, believing he was safe living among the Orakzai tribals. But then, a fortnight ago, Hakimullah descended on the Ferozkhel valley and ordered members of the Sikh community, including women, to gather in an open area. They were told they were now in the custody of Taliban, and that they must pay jazia (a religious tax imposed on non-Muslims living under Islamic rule in the medieval times) or convert to Islam.
The soldiers of the Islamic emirate then picked up Kalyan Singh, tortured him in custody for 10 long days even as negotiations for the amount to be paid as jazia kept apace. Herjeet Singh, a local Sikh, quotes an eyewitness to say, "The militants convened a shura of their own and passed the verdict that Sikhs should pay Rs 100 million as jazia. Our elders pleaded that poor members of the community have no means to raise such a huge amount." Herjeet is among those who sneaked out of Orakzai before jazia was imposed.
The Sikh community’s plea prompted further talks, with the Taliban scaling down their initial demand to Rs 40 million, ultimately agreeing to Rs 12 million as the jazia, a source told Outlook. Kalyan Singh was then set free and asked to raise the demanded amount. His and 50 other families were held hostage. They were warned that any attempts to escape would lead to the slaying of men and conversion of children and womenfolk to Islam. "This is unheard of. Our forefathers lived among the Pashtuns for centuries and were never subjected to such humiliation and barbarism," laments Herjeet Singh.
Kalyan, these days, is in Peshawar, persuading the Sikh community here to somehow raise the whopping amount. Sources say he has managed to collect Rs 3.5 million. Only when Rs 12 million is paid fully will the Sikhs in Ferozkhel be set free, provided protection and allowed to practise their religion.