And over the weeks that followed, friends and online acquaintances sent me pictures to post online, each doing their part to preserve another memory of what happened that day. You can find these pictures here.
31 March 2010 >>
Not too long ago, taking to the streets to protest your government was considered a patriotic act.
But it seems that publicly airing your grievances stopped being patriotic right around noon on January 20th, 2009.
Once President Obama was sworn in, protesting became incitement to violence.
If you’ve opened up a newspaper or watched a cable news program in the past week or so, you’ve probably seen members of the media painting Tea Party activists as dangerous bigots. That’s because disagreeing with President Obama on issues like government spending and high taxes makes you a racist, you see.
What’s interesting about the media’s latest freak-out is that there were radicals a-plenty under President Bush. They protested in the streets. They talked openly about revolution and killing. But oddly, the violent imagery used by people claiming to be advocates for peace never registered with the media. They were too busy fawning over Cindy Sheehan.
Why the difference in coverage? Did the media cheerlead protests against President Bush to hurt him politically? Are they trying to marginalize the increasingly powerful Tea Party movement because they favor President Obama’s agenda?
One thing’s for sure: If there is such a thing as dangerous rhetoric, then the media is at least one president too late in reporting the story.
Don’t believe me?
Well, then let’s take a trip down memory lane...
Less than a month after major Nidal Hasan allegedly killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, the Pentagon’s top intelligence officer sent the White House a report detailing an earlier failure to connect the dots. It reads like a dress rehearsal for the Detroit bomber case, reports CBS News chief national security correspondent David Martin.
According to that still-classified report, the terrorism task force responsible for determining whether Hasan posed a threat never saw all 18 e-mails he exchanged with that radical Yemeni cleric Awlaki whose communications were being monitored under a court ordered wiretap.
Guess which radical Yemeni cleric won’t be using the same communication channels anymore?
This is why we shouldn’t be trying to fight wars in a courtroom.
13 August 2009 @ 8:48AM >>
During the last few centuries, a number of Muslims have followed the belief that Islam bans images of their prophet Mohammed. This was one of the excuses for the worldwide orgy of riots and killings that followed the publication of the infamous Mohammed cartoons.
[W]hen the 12 caricatures were first published by a Danish newspaper a few years ago and reprinted by other European publications, Muslims all over the world angrily protested, calling the images—which included one in which Muhammad wore a turban in the shape of a bomb—blasphemous. In the Middle East and Africa some rioted, burning and vandalizing embassies; others demanded a boycott of Danish goods; a few nations recalled their ambassadors from Denmark. In the end at least 200 people were killed.
As the Times report notes, the publishing arm of Yale University recently released a book on the topic, “The Cartoons That Shook the World.”
Yale University and Yale University Press consulted two dozen authorities, including diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism, and the recommendation was unanimous: The book, “The Cartoons That Shook the World,” should not include the 12 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September 2005. What’s more, they suggested that the Yale press also refrain from publishing any other illustrations of the prophet that were to be included, specifically, a drawing for a children’s book; an Ottoman print; and a sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Dore of Muhammad being tormented in Hell, an episode from Dante’s “Inferno” that has been depicted by Botticelli, Blake, Rodin and Dali.
Yale University takes political correctness to its absurd conclusion, one in which a book claiming to discuss “the cartoons that shook the world” will not actually include the cartoons that shook the world. This is from an alleged learning institution dedicated free thought and intellectual inquiry.
But it’s even more chilling than that: Yale University is now in the business of actively enforcing Sharia law on behalf of radical jihadists.
Police will be ordered not to charge Muslim extremists in many hate crime cases — to stop them becoming more militant.
Examples of crimes to which a blind eye may be turned include incitement to religious hatred or viewing extremist material on the internet.
Last night critics warned that the move could mean Islamic radicals being give the freedom to encourage violence.
Some saw the move as a politically correct attempt to appease extremists who hate Britain.
It could even mean officers tolerating many activities of Muslim preachers of hate like the hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza.
Tory MP David Davies said: “This sounds like abject surrender. Everyone should be equal in the eyes of the law.
“It doesn’t matter whether someone is suspected of incitement to hatred or shoplifting — they should all face the same risk of prosecution.
“There should be no special favours or treatment for any section of the community.”
“Inciting religious hatred” and “viewing extremist material” are crimes? Sounds like the British are policing thought.
I think it’s dangerous for a society to punish thought and speech, no matter how despicable or unpopular.
But it is interesting that, while the British are ignoring the “crime” of “inciting religious hatred” among Muslims, they are enforcing a ban against American talk radio show host Michael Savage, who is not allowed to enter the country. Why? Because of his views and comments about radical Islam, which the British government says incite religious hatred.
So, if you live in Britain and follow a religious ideology whose adherents set off bombs around London, you can do all the hatred inciting you want. But if you caustically criticize the bombers and the people who inspired them, you might just find yourself banned for life.
“Thought crimes” are a bad idea. They’re even worse when they’re selectively applied.
6 July 2009 @ 8:11AM >>
Perhaps, with the celebration of our national independence fresh in our memories, it would be appropriate to take a look at the continued decline of the kingdom we rejected in 1776:
Civil servants have refused to name inmates who have fled prison even though individual police forces will often identify them if they pose a risk to the public.
They say releasing their names would breach obligations under the Data Protection Act.
It echoes a row in 2007 when Derbyshire Police refused to release pictures of two escaped murderers.
Yes, you read it right: in today’s Great Britain, authorities may not release pictures of escaped murderers, because doing so would violate those escaped murderers’ privacy rights.
25 June 2009 @ 8:50AM >>
The mullahs in Iran have unleashed an even more brutal wave of violence against protesters opposing the recent questionable election. CNN reports:
Security forces wielding clubs and firing weapons beat back hundreds of would-be demonstrators who had flocked to a square in the capital on Wednesday to continue protests against an election they have denounced as fraudulent, witnesses told CNN.
They were among the more than half a dozen witnesses who told CNN that security forces outnumbering protesters used overwhelming force to crush a planned demonstration in Baharestan Square, in front of the parliament building. The witnesses said police charged against the demonstrators, striking them with batons, beating women and old men and firing weapons into the air in order to disperse them.
The melee extended beyond the square, according to one woman, who told CNN that she was traveling toward Baharestan with her friends as evening approached “to express our opposition to these killings these days and demanding freedom.
According to official figures, 17 people have been killed in clashes with government forces over the past 11 days. Anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets in at least four cities outside Tehran.
But CNN has received unconfirmed reports of as many as 150 deaths related to the popular uprising. The government’s response to it appears to have hardened in recent days. CNN has received numerous accounts of night-time roundups by government forces of opposition activists and international journalists from their homes.
Some Tehran residents said they were too afraid to talk about the political crisis over the phone to anyone in the United States or Europe. Many protesters debated whether to venture into the streets.
“I am not going outside my house at all,” a 21-year-old college student from Tehran said. “The streets are too dangerous, and just so very busy with police. Ahhhh, when will our lives get back to normal?”
Worried the government was monitoring their phone conversations, some residents said the Internet was the best way to transmit information. However, the spotty connection made it difficult to rely on the Web.
“It’s beyond fear,” said a woman who arrived at a U.S. airport from Iran, but still did not want her name used for fear for her safety. “The situation is more like terror.”
Asked why the government has made it impossible for nearly all international journalists to report from Iran, [Iranian ambassador to Mexico] Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri accused the media of not accurately reporting events. “In Tehran, there were much bigger demonstrations in favor of the government that you didn’t report about,” he said.
Asked about the shooting of 26-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death, captured on video, has become emblematic of the crackdown on protesters, he said, “It is not clear who killed whom.”
However, the malice of the Iranian regime is self-evident in their treatment of Neda Agha-Soltan’s surviving family, as The Guardianreports:
The Iranian authorities have ordered the family of Neda Agha Soltan out of their Tehran home after shocking images of her death were circulated around the world.
Neighbours said that her family no longer lives in the four-floor apartment building on Meshkini Street, in eastern Tehran, having been forced to move since she was killed. The police did not hand the body back to her family, her funeral was cancelled, she was buried without letting her family know and the government banned mourning ceremonies at mosques, the neighbours said.
“We just know that they [the family] were forced to leave their flat,” a neighbour said. The Guardian was unable to contact the family directly to confirm if they had been forced to leave.
The government is also accusing protesters of killing Soltan, describing her as a martyr of the Basij militia. Javan, a pro-government newspaper, has gone so far as to blame the recently expelled BBC correspondent, Jon Leyne, of hiring “thugs” to shoot her so he could make a documentary film.
Soltan was shot dead on Saturday evening near the scene of clashes between pro-government militias and demonstrators, turning her into a symbol of the Iranian protest movement. Barack Obama spoke of the “searing image” of Soltan’s dying moments at his press conference yesterday.
Amid scenes of grief in the Soltan household with her father and mother screaming, neighbours not only from their building but from others in the area streamed out to protest at her death. But the police moved in quickly to quell any public displays of grief. They arrived as soon as they found out that a friend of Soltan had come to the family flat.
In accordance with Persian tradition, the family had put up a mourning announcement and attached a black banner to the building.
But the police took them down, refusing to allow the family to show any signs of mourning. The next day they were ordered to move out. Since then, neighbours have received suspicious calls warning them not to discuss her death with anyone and not to make any protest.
A tearful middle-aged woman who was an immediate neighbour said her family had not slept for days because of the oppressive presence of the Basij militia, out in force in the area harassing people since Soltan’s death.
The area in front of Soltan’s house was empty today. There was no sign of black cloths, banners or mourning. Secret police patrolled the street.
“We are trembling,” one neighbour said. “We are still afraid. We haven’t had a peaceful time in the last days, let alone her family. Nobody was allowed to console her family, they were alone, they were under arrest and their daughter was just killed. I can’t imagine how painful it was for them. Her friends came to console her family but the police didn’t let them in and forced them to disperse and arrested some of them. Neda’s family were not even given a quiet moment to grieve.”
Another man said many would have turned up to show their sympathy had it not been for the police.
“In Iran, when someone dies, neighbours visit the family and will not let them stay alone for weeks but Neda’s family was forced to be alone, otherwise the whole of Iran would gather here,” he said. “The government is terrible, they are even accusing pro-Mousavi people of killing Neda and have just written in their websites that Neda is a Basiji (government militia) martyr. That’s ridiculous - if that’s true why don’t they let her family hold any funeral or ceremonies? Since the election, you are not able to trust one word from the government.”
The Obama administration is seriously considering not extending invitations to Iranian diplomats for July 4 celebrations overseas, senior administration officials tell CNN.
No, that’s not a line from a news spoof in The Onion. It’s true: the only tangible action taken by the Obama Administration in response to the violence in Iran is to disinvite Iranian diplomats to Fourth of July barbecues.
24 June 2009 @ 8:50AM >>The Wall Street Journalreports:
The Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale.
Interviews with technology experts in Iran and outside the country say Iranian efforts at monitoring Internet information go well beyond blocking access to Web sites or severing Internet connections.
Instead, in confronting the political turmoil that has consumed the country this past week, the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts.
The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.
The “monitoring center,” installed within the government’s telecom monopoly, was part of a larger contract with Iran that included mobile-phone networking technology, Mr. Roome said.
“If you sell networks, you also, intrinsically, sell the capability to intercept any communication that runs over them,” said Mr. Roome.
Human-rights groups have criticized the selling of such equipment to Iran and other regimes considered repressive, because it can be used to crack down on dissent, as evidenced in the Iran crisis. Asked about selling such equipment to a government like Iran’s, Mr. Roome of Nokia Siemens Networks said the company “does have a choice about whether to do business in any country. We believe providing people, wherever they are, with the ability to communicate is preferable to leaving them without the choice to be heard.”
15 June 2009 @ 9:04AM >>
For the second time in little over a year, it looks as though the world may be heading for a serious food crisis, thanks to our old friend “climate change”. In many parts of the world recently the weather has not been too brilliant for farmers. After a fearsomely cold winter, June brought heavy snowfall across large parts of western Canada and the northern states of the American Midwest. In Manitoba last week, it was -4°C. North Dakota had its first June snow for 60 years.
There was midsummer snow not just in Norway and the Cairngorms, but even in Saudi Arabia. At least in the southern hemisphere it is winter, but snowfalls in New Zealand and Australia have been abnormal. There have been frosts in Brazil, elsewhere in South America they have had prolonged droughts, while in China they have had to cope with abnormal rain and freak hailstorms, which in one province killed 20 people.
There are obviously various reasons for this concern as to whether the world can continue to feed itself, but one of them is undoubtedly the downturn in world temperatures, which has brought more cold and snow since 2007 than we have known for decades.
It is now more than 200 years since the great astronomer William Herschel observed a correlation between wheat prices and sunspots. When the latter were few in number, he noted, the climate turned colder and drier, crop yields fell and wheat prices rose. In the past two years, sunspot activity has dropped to its lowest point for a century. One of our biggest worries is that our politicians are so fixated on the idea that [carbon dioxide] is causing global warming that most of them haven’t noticed that the problem may be that the world is not warming but cooling, with all the implications that has for whether we get enough to eat.
It is appropriate that another contributory factor to the world’s food shortage should be the millions of acres of farmland now being switched from food crops to biofuels, to stop the world warming, Last year even the experts of the European Commission admitted that, to meet the EU’s biofuel targets, we will eventually need almost all the food-growing land in Europe. But that didn’t persuade them to change their policy.
Mark down the date. Tuesday, April 21, 2009, is the moment that any chance of a new era of bipartisan respect in Washington ended. By inviting the prosecution of Bush officials for their antiterror legal advice, President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret.
Policy disputes, often bitter, are the stuff of democratic politics. Elections settle those battles, at least for a time, and Mr. Obama’s victory in November has given him the right to change policies on interrogations, Guantanamo, or anything on which he can muster enough support. But at least until now, the U.S. political system has avoided the spectacle of a new Administration prosecuting its predecessor for policy disagreements. This is what happens in Argentina, Malaysia or Peru, countries where the law is treated merely as an extension of political power.
If this analogy seems excessive, consider how Mr. Obama has framed the issue. He has absolved CIA operatives of any legal jeopardy, no doubt because his intelligence advisers told him how damaging that would be to CIA morale when Mr. Obama needs the agency to protect the country. But he has pointedly invited investigations against Republican legal advisers who offered their best advice at the request of CIA officials.
Put yourself in the shoes of the people who were asked to interrogate al-Qaeda prisoners in 2002. One former officer told me he declined the job, not because he thought the program was wrong but because he knew it would blow up. “We all knew the political wind would change eventually,” he recalled. Other officers who didn’t make that cynical but correct calculation are now “broken and bewildered,” says the former operative.
One veteran counterterrorism operative says that agents in the field are already being more careful about using the legal findings that authorize covert action. An example is the so-called “risk of capture” interview that takes place in the first hour after a terrorism suspect is grabbed. This used to be the key window of opportunity, in which the subject was questioned aggressively and his cellphone contacts and “pocket litter” were exploited quickly.
Now, field officers are more careful. They want guidance from headquarters. They need legal advice. I’m told that in the case of an al-Qaeda suspect seized in Iraq several weeks ago, the CIA didn’t even try to interrogate him. The agency handed him over to the U.S. military.
So, this is where we are as a country these days? We’re really considering prosecuting people for authoring legal opinions?
Merely by raising the issue in this fashion, Obama has already undermined the future security of the country. In the environment created by President Obama and Congressional Democrats, who in their right mind would ever begin a career in intelligence or anti-terrorism? Who would stay in the intelligence services, knowing that their work could land them in court any time the presidency changes hands?
The only question is whether Obama administration officials will be prosecuted in the future for what they’re doing today. Because once politicians take the frightening step of criminalizing policy differences, they’d better plan on staying in power forever, or they may one day find themselves in the defendant’s chair. And if being too vigilant about protecting the country is a potential criminal offense, so is not doing enough.
6 April 2009 @ 9:01AM >>
Who would have thought that in America’s heartland, a house of worship would be used to impose its religious doctrine on the surrounding community, believers and non-believers alike?
On one side of the disagreement is a Muslim mosque, and some of its worshippers are unhappy about plans for a new restaurant that will serve alcohol.
On the opposing end of the clash is a business owner who says he’s invested $1 million to upgrade a blighted building and has tried to accommodate Muslim worshippers during spiritual holidays.
The two entities - The Hill restaurant and the Anoor mosque - are a mere 191 feet apart.
Building owner Trevor Hill wants to offer alcoholic drinks along with home-cooking-style dinner and lunch menus, and he hopes to launch the eatery in about a week. He’ll keep the restaurant open as late at night as is still profitable in hope of appealing to the young residents of Fort Sanders, where the building is located.
The possibility that the restaurant could serve as a local drinking hangout bothers mosque attendees like board member Nadeem Sidiqqi.
Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol, but Sidiqqi said the protest isn’t an attack on drinking in general, just a call for buffer zones for religious establishments.
“People may say ‘we may not want to go to this mosque’ if it’s not a good environment,” Sidiqqi said. “You want an area where you can bring your kids or your family.”
Hill counters that mosque-goers are unlikely to be disturbed by noise or patrons from his restaurant. The entrances are on opposites sides of the two buildings, and Hill said that he has offered to work with mosque board members during the holy period of Ramadan, when Knoxville-area Muslims often pray at the mosque late into the night.
Hill feels he is being unjustly targeted.
“I’ve taken a building that’s been a total eyesore ... really gone out on a limb and taken a risk for the benefit of the Fort Sanders community,” he said, explaining that he has a mortgage and roughly a $1 million investment in the building. “It’s not fair for me to be discriminated against any more than it is for them to be discriminated against.”
Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Thursday blamed the global economic crisis on “white people with blue eyes” and said it was wrong that black and indigenous people should pay for white people’s mistakes.
Speaking in Brasília at a joint press conference with Gordon Brown, the UK prime minister, Mr Lula da Silva told reporters: “This crisis was caused by the irrational behaviour of white people with blue eyes, who before the crisis appeared to know everything and now demonstrate that they know nothing.”
I suspect these bigoted comments will not elicit the same level of outrage that others do.
26 February 2009 @ 8:59AM >>
For the last few years, and especially during the presidential campaign, the Guantanamo Bay detention center was held up as evidence that America had become a modern-day Nazi Germany.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday the Guantanamo detention center is a well-run, professional facility that will be difficult to close - but he is still going to do it.
Closing Guantanamo, he said, “will not be an easy process. It’s one we will do in a way that ensures that people are treated fairly and that the American people are kept safe.”
Exit question: if Guanatano is a professional, well-run facility whose occupants are just going to be moved to other facilities anyway, what is the purpose—other than pure symbolism—of closing Guantanamo?
18 February 2009 @ 9:02AM >>
Islamic law is gaining ground all over the globe. It’s not just happening in places like Pakistan, where Sharia is now the law of the land in some areas, or in India, where a newspaper editor was arrested for offending Muslims.
On the anniversary of the interview in which [the Archbishop of Canterbury] Dr Rowan Williams said it “seems inevitable” that some parts of sharia would be enshrined in this country’s legal code, he claimed “a number of fairly senior people” now take the same view.
He added that there is a “drift of understanding” towards what he was saying, and that the public sees the difference between letting Muslim courts decide divorces and wills, and allowing them to rule on criminal cases and impose harsh punishments.
However critics insist that family disputes must be dealt with by civil law rather than according to religious principles, and claim the Archbishop’s comments have only helped the case of extremists while making Muslim women worse off, because they do not have equal rights under Islamic law.
[I]n July [the Archibishop] was supported by Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, who was then the Lord Chief Justice, while it later emerged that five sharia courts are already operating mediation systems under the Arbitration Act, and that the Government allows Islamic tribunals to settle the custody and financial affairs of divorcing couples and send their judgements to civil courts for approval.
But Douglas Murray, the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: “He has started a process which is deeply dangerous, damaging to Britain and to Muslim women in Britain.
“It was a wicked move because it undermines the progressives and gives succour to the extremists.
“How does the Archbishop of Canterbury know, sitting in Lambeth Palace, that a woman in Bolton has volunteered to give up half her inheritance to her brother?”
Perhaps the creeping implementation of Sharia law explains why Geert Wilders, a Dutch Member of Parliament, is no longer allowed to even set foot in Great Britain. He was arrested on the tarmac and unceremoniously booted out of the country:
Wilders is a hate figure to Muslims in Britain and worldwide because of his 15-minute film, “Fitna,” which blames Islam itself for terrorist crimes by Muslim fanatics from the London subway bombings to the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
British governments have rarely used their arbitrary power to keep dangerous foreigners out of the country. Indeed, London has become known as Londonistan precisely because the Brits let Middle Eastern extremists establish and run their organizations there.
So why ban Wilders? His film may be misleading, alarmist or just plain wrong. But it merely runs images of Muslim-linked terrorism side-by-side with Koranic passages or speeches by Muslim clerics justifying such crimes. He isn’t inciting anyone to murder or riot.
You may object that “Fitna” is one-sided or the Koranic quotations are wrenched from their context. If such criticisms have merit, surely the correct response is to debate with Wilders, not ban him.
The government, however, surely considered instead the different likely responses of British Muslims and other Brits.
When the average Londoner reads in The Sun about how Abu Hamza turned the Finsbury Park mosque into a terrorist recruiting office, he doesn’t join a mob outside the mosque threatening to burn it down. He mutters that the world is going to the dogs and turns the page.
But mobs of extremist Muslims have marched through London in recent years inciting murder. And Labor peer Lord Ahmed’s alleged threat of disorder in this case - to lead 10,000 Muslims to prevent Wilders from showing his film in Parliament - was very plausible. So Wilders was kept out.
Don’t just blame the victim - punish him. In effect, the government has enforced a fatwa on “Fitma” - without, as the hapless foreign secretary admitted, even watching the 15-minute film.
All this reflects an entrenched establishment attitude that the Muslim community is highly combustible and must be appeased. And, because Muslim extremists know this to be the official view, they’re likely to keep inventing pretexts for threats and riots.
The Brits, asked to choose between multiculturalism and freedom, will choose by degrees to be unfree.
So while Wilders is not allowed in Great Britain for the crime of criticizing Islam, threatening to behead anyone who insults Islam is apparently not a crime in Britain at all.
30 December 2008 @ 9:18AM >>
An Australian government body will begin removing seashells from a beach because they make the beach too uncomfortable to walk on:
The committee, responsible for managing seven kilometres of coast stretching from Rye to Sorrento, has ordered oyster shells be cleared from Blairgowrie beach in time for the summer peak season.
But the decision has provoked criticism the committee is being overly protective and bureaucratic.
Kelvin Stingel, from the Whitecliffs to Camerons Bight Foreshore Committee of Management, said residents’ complaints about the “hazardous sharp” shells had prompted the volunteer body to act.
“We haven’t had any reports of people being injured but they said that they might get injured,” Mr Stingel said. “I walked across it myself and I wouldn’t let my kids run across it, it is pretty bad.”
“I think it’s ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous,” [Sorrento resident Dr. Keith Stead] said. “If they’re going to get rid of the shells I hope they’re not going to decide to get rid of the rocks and stones as well - it would just go on and on.”
Dr Stead said if parents were worried about their children they should teach them to be careful and wear sandals.
“I think we can probably do more harm to our kids by constantly trying to wrap them in the proverbial cotton wool and keep them from all danger and not have them recognise danger when they’re by themselves,” he said.
A long-standing Sorrento resident, who did not want to be named, said the decision was “misguided, far-fetched” and reminiscent of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
“When I was a kid people were always cutting their feet on sea shells, you can’t control it,” she said. “It’s just another example of the nanny state where people no longer have to make their own decisions because they are looked after by a higher authority.”
14 December 2008 @ 11:38AM >>
The day the world comes together as one may have to be postponed a bit.
Barack Obama’s election was supposed to usher in a new era in which America’s enemies shed their animosity, embraced hope, and began worshipping our new leader along with the rest of us.
Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell al Qaeda (which greeted Obama’s election with racial insults) and Iran.
The leader of the Iranian parliament “has branded US President-Elect Barack Obama’s comments on Tehran’s nuclear activities as ‘cowboy’ talk,” according to London’s Telegraph:
“These comments resemble those of old American cowboys. If you have something to say about (Iran’s) nuclear issue, just say so. Why wave a stick,” asked [parliamentary speaker Ali] Larijani, in a speech in Qazvin province.
“The new US president has said he wants to pressure Iran since it seeks to produce atomic weapons and because it supports the terrorists like Hamas and Hizbollah,” he added.
“We are proud of supporting Hizbollah since they are defending their homeland and you are wrong in calling them terrorists.”
Iran is a staunch supporter of the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese militant group Hizbollah.
In an interview broadcast on Sunday, Mr Obama vowed “tough but direct diplomacy” with Iran, offering incentives along with the threat of tougher sanctions over its atomic programme.
As president from January 20, Mr Obama said he would make clear to Tehran that the nuclear program was “unacceptable,” along with support of Hamas and Hizbollah and its “threats against Israel.”
Mr Obama, whose offer of direct talks with Iran represents a break with three decades of US foreign policy, promised a “set of carrots and sticks in changing their calculus about how they want to operate.”
Three days ago, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said “the carrot and stick approach has proven to be useless.”
Some problems may require a bit more than Mr. Obama’s kind smile and warm charm to solve.
President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are appearing in Italian nativity scenes this year, alongside the baby Jesus and wise men, according to Naples craftsmen selling figurines in the run-up to Christmas.
The production of handmade figurines for nativity scenes is big business in this southern Italian city and has been for centuries.
But beyond the thousands of angel, sheep, Mary and Joseph figures filling market stalls before Christmas, craftsmen say Obama has become a top seller.
“The ones we are selling the most of are those of Barack Obama, America’s new president, along with his wife Michelle,” said craftsman Genny Di Virgilio.
Muslim prayer rooms should be opened in every Roman Catholic school, church leaders have said.
The Catholic bishops of England and Wales also want facilities in schools for Islamic pre-prayer washing rituals.
The demands go way beyond legal requirements on catering for religious minorities.
But the bishops - who acknowledge 30 per cent of pupils at their schools hold a non-Christian faith - want to answer critics who say religious schools sow division.
Islam teaches that Muslims are unfit for prayer if they have not performed Wudhu after breaking wind or using the toilet.
Wudhu involves washing the face, hands, arms and feet three times each, gargling the mouth three times and washing the neck and inside the nose and ears. Some Muslims also wash their private parts.
Catholic schools would need to install bidets, foot spas and hoses to facilitate such extensive cleansing rituals, Muslims say.
Daphne McLeod, a former Catholic head teacher from south London, said it would be ‘terribly expensive’ for the country’s 2,300 Catholic primary and secondary schools to provide ritual cleansing facilities.
She said: ‘If Muslim parents choose a Catholic school then they accept that it is going to be a Catholic school and there will not be facilities for ritual cleansing and prayer rooms.
‘They do their ritual cleansing before they go to a mosque, but they are not going to a mosque.’
1 December 2008 @ 9:06AM >>
Multiculturalism as practiced on college campuses isn’t about tolerance and inclusion, it’s about ranking people based on the groups they fit into and treating them accordingly.
Students at an Ottawa university are pulling out of a Canada-wide fundraiser that provides close to $1 million a year for cystic fibrosis research and treatment, arguing that the disease “has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men” - something experts say is untrue.
The Carleton University Students Association voted Monday night overwhelmingly in favour of choosing a new charity to support during its orientation week in September, in lieu of Shinerama, which raises money for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The foundation funds research into cystic fibrosis, a fatal, genetic disease that affects both sexes with a similar frequency and is most common among Caucasians. The foundation also helps fund services for people with the disease. It affects mainly the lungs and digestive system, causing a build-up of thick mucus that leads to infection and inflammation.
The student council motion stated that orientation week “strives to be inclusive” and “all orientees and volunteers should feel like their fundraising efforts will serve their diverse communities.”
Brittany Smyth, president of the Carleton University’s student council, said she is trying to get in touch with the cystic fibrosis foundation because she doesn’t want the group to think Carleton students are switching charities for the wrong reason. She said the clause about cystic fibrosis being a white man’s disease was not the determining factor in Monday night’s vote, but for now the council is sticking to the decision and looking for a different cause to support next fall.
Russia’s parliament is rushing through plans to extend the presidential term from four years to six, leading to speculation that Vladimir Putin plans a dramatic return to the Kremlin.
A constitutional amendment is to be fast-tracked through the Duma, the lower house of parliament, which will vote tomorrow on all three readings of the Bill. Deputies usually take weeks to consider legislation over three readings before passing it into law.
An unnamed Kremlin adviser was quoted in Vedomosti, a daily business newspaper, last week as saying that the reform was intended to restore Mr Putin to the presidency as early as next year. He became Prime Minister after selecting Mr Medvedev to be his successor in elections in March.
Under such a scheme Mr Medvedev, 43, would enact the amendment and some unpopular social reforms. He would then resign and call a snap election in 2009 to make way for his mentor to return.
Mr Putin, 56, would govern for two more terms of six years each, until 2021, allowing him to fulfil the Putin Plan for the social and economic development of Russia.
Mr Putin fanned the belief that he is preparing for a comeback as president by pointedly refusing to state who would be the first to benefit from a longer term.
“I support Dimitri Medvedev’s proposal. As regards to who can run for the next term and when, it is premature to talk about this,” he said after a meeting with Matti Vanhanen, the Finnish Prime Minister.
He added: “We are looking for instruments which would allow us to guarantee sovereignty, to implement our long-term plans . . . and assist the development of democratic processes in the country.”
By engineering his return to the Kremlin, however, Mr Putin will strengthen criticism that Russia is sliding into dictatorship.
8 September 2008 @ 8:52AM >>
Sex doesn’t sell, at least not in Europe:
[Members of European Parliament] want TV regulators in the EU to set guidelines which would see the end of anything deemed to portray women as sex objects or reinforce gender stereotypes.
This could potentially mean an end to attractive women advertising perfume, housewives in the kitchen or men doing DIY.
Such classic adverts as the Diet Coke commercial featuring the bare-chested builder, or Wonderbra’s “Hello Boys” featuring model Eva Herzigova would have been banned.
The new rules come in a report by the EU’s women’s rights committee.
Swedish MEP Eva-Britt Svensson urged Britain and other members to use existing equality, sexism and discrimination laws to control advertising.
She wants regulatory bodies set up to monitor ads and introduce a “zero-tolerance” policy against “sexist insults or degrading images”.
25 August 2008 @ 9:10AM >>
Barack Obama launched his political career with a fundraiser in the house of Bill Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist who—along with his wife Bernardine Dohrn—founded a radical Marxist group in the 1960s called the Weather Underground.
On the morning that the World Trade Center was collapsing, the New York Timesran an article on Ayers in which he was quoted as saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” You have to wonder whether Ayers felt some level of glee watching the news that day.
The relationship between Ayers and Obama is extensive: for years, they worked together on a project called the Annenberg Challenge.
You’d think the media would delve into this relationship a little. If John McCain kicked off his political career at the house of, say, a bomber of abortion clinics, you probably would have heard about it by now. But the media, so clearly in love with Barack Obama, isn’t doing its job.
In election cycles a decade or more ago, that would have mattered more. But with the establishment media’s weakening grip on controlling coverage—ask John Edwards about that—the old gatekeepers can’t prevent this news from being discussed.
If anything, the media’s reluctance to discuss Obama’s shady connections may end up torpedoing the Democrats’ chances of taking back the White House. Ironic that the media’s desire to see Obama elected ended up causing the Democrats to nominate someone who might be the least electable candidate.
Because the media hasn’t been doing its job covering Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers, ads like this one are going to resonate this fall:
A romance novel about the child bride of the prophet Muhammad has been withdrawn because its publisher feared possible terrorist acts by Muslim extremists.
The Jewel of the Medina was to have been released on August 12 by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, with an eight-city tour for first-time novelist Sherry Jones, 46.
But the publishers apparently panicked after a professor in Texas who had been approached for a pre-publication blurb, strenuously objected to the work.
Denise Spellberg, who teaches Islamic history at the University of Texas at Austin, later described the novel as “soft core pornography”.
Jones rejects the charge. “It’s ridiculous,” she told the Guardian today.
“I must be one heck of a writer to have produced a pornographic book without any sex scenes. My book is as realistic a portrayal as I could muster of the prophet Muhammad’s harem and his domestic life. Of course it has sexuality, but there is no sex in my book.”
The withdrawal of the novel, first reported this week by the Wall Street Journal, set off an intense debate on the web among feminists, young Muslims, and academics.
Many of the bloggers recalled the death threats and uproar 20 years ago following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses.
There were also references to the global upheavals that followed the publication of cartoons in the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, deemed offensive to Islam. More than 100 people died in the ensuing protests.
The novel became a topic of discussion on a number of Muslim websites, with one blogger putting forward an action strategy to email blast the publisher.
Spellberg also raised her concerns with Random House. “Denise says it is ‘a declaration of war ... explosive stuff ... a national security issue’,” said an email from Jane Garrett, an editor at another Random House imprint that was quoted in the Journal.
“Think it will be far more controversial than the satanic verses and the Danish cartoons.”
The email from Garrett went on: “thinks the book should be withdrawn ASAP”.