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)
Are rain forests getting bigger???
Right from the New York Times....
The land where Marta Ortega de Wing raised hundreds of pigs until 10 years ago is being overtaken by galloping jungle — palms, lizards and ants.
Instead of farming, she now shops at the supermarket and her grown children and grandchildren live in places like Panama City and New York.
Here, and in other tropical countries around the world, small holdings like Ms. Ortega de Wing’s — and much larger swaths of farmland — are reverting to nature, as people abandon their land and move to the cities in search of better livings.
These new “secondary” forests are emerging in Latin America, Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest — an iconic environmental cause — may be less urgent than once thought. By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster.
“There is far more forest here than there was 30 years ago,” said Ms. Ortega de Wing, 64, who remembers fields of mango trees and banana plants.
The new forests, the scientists argue, could blunt the effects of rain forest destruction by absorbing carbon dioxide, the leading heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, one crucial role that rain forests play. They could also, to a lesser extent, provide habitat for endangered species.
Is Antarctica getting warmer???
A nice piece from the National Post...
For two decades now, those predicting climate-change catastrophe have been frustrated by skeptics who ask, “If carbon dioxide is warming the planet, why does the data show Antarctica to be cooling?” Until last week, the doomsayers had all manner of complicated explanations but no slam dunk answer. Now, thanks to a new study published last week in Nature magazine, the doomsayers obtained the answer they sought — proof that any fool can understand. The bottom line: Antarctica is in fact warming, just like the rest of the planet. “Contrarians have sometime grabbed on to this idea that the entire continent of Antarctica is cooling, so how could we be talking about global warming,” elaborated Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University and a co-author of the Nature study. “Now we can say: No, it’s not true ... It is not bucking the trend.”
The press seized on the findings. “Antarctica is warming, not cooling: study,” announced a Reuters headline. “Global warming hits Antarctica,” stated CNN. “Antarctica joins rest of the globe in warming,” said the Associated Press. But this study in Nature leaves many unimpressed, including top scientists from the doomsayer camp. One week after the study’s release, it is clear this study does nothing to explain the enigma of a cooling Antarctica.
The Nature authors had a daunting challenge. For one thing, the U.S. government has maintained a scientific base at the South Pole since 1957 at which temperatures have been continuously measured. The temperature readings show a cooler climate over the past half century. For another, various weather stations in Antarctica record cooler temperatures. Moreover, satellite readings of temperatures above Antarctica show a cooling trend. Little wonder that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change itself rejects the warming hypothesis. In its 2007 report, the IPCC accepts that Antarctica shows a “lack of warming reflected in atmospheric temperatures averaged across the region.” To reconcile Antarctica with the rest of the globe, global warming advocates have taken the simple, if unsatisfying, view that the lack of warming in Antarctica is consistent with the presence of warming everywhere else.
How do Mann and the other scientists involved in the Nature study now conclude that Antarctica is warming when actual temperature readings show it is not? Antarctica’s weather stations cover a small fraction of the continent. Where data doesn’t exist, Mann makes various assumptions, then deduces Antarctic temperatures over the last 50 years with the help of computer models. The official explanation: “The researchers devised a statistical technique that uses data from satellites and from Antarctic weather stations to make a new estimate of temperature trends.”
Are these statistical techniques reliable?
“I have to say I remain somewhat skeptical,” states Kevin Trenberth, a lead author for the IPCC and director of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “It is hard to make data where none exist.”
Such results “have no real way to be validated,” states John Christy, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. “We will never know what the temperature was over the very large missing areas that this technique attempts to fill in.”
But, please read the rest...
Dutch experience coldest weather in 12 years....
December and January were very cold months...
With an average temperature of 0.7 degrees Celsius, January has been the coldest month in the Netherlands in 12 years. The National Weather Centre (KNMI) says the usual average is at least two degrees higher. The icy January continues this winter's trend: December was also the coldest since 1997.
The south of the country has largely been experiencing the coldest weather and this has brought down the average for the country overall. In Maastricht the average monthly temperature was a half degree below freezing. On 6 January the coldest temperature was measured at –20.8 in Limburg near Weert. In the South and East, where 10 cm of snow was measured, a temperature of –15 degrees was measured four nights in a row.
It was the first year since 2003 that it was possible to skate on natural ice, but the cold didn’t last as long then. There were also many opportunities to play in the snow. Freezing temperatures didn’t last long enough for there to be talk of a national cold trend (a minimum of 5 freezing days following each other), but it is the coldest winter since 1997.
Caracas synagogue vandalized...
This is all because of Chavez...
"We don't want Jews here" and "Jews get out" were the slogans daubed on a Caracas synagogue's walls Saturday.
David Bitan, vice president of the Jewish community in Venezuela, told Ynet that late Friday night a number of assailants broke down the synagogue's door and threw scripture books on the floor, then proceeded to graffiti the hateful slogans on the walls.
"We found the guard on the floor, he had been threatened with a gun," Bitan said. "Until 3 am they destroyed the offices, opened the Ark of the Covenant, and threw the Torah books on the floor."
He said the Jewish community had filed an official complaint with the police. "This is a very complicated situation for the Jews in Venezuela. The slogans were not against Israel but against the Jews," he said.
The latest on Durban II...
Let's hope Obama pulls the US out of this conference....
The United Nations "anti-racism" forum, known as Durban II, is becoming a more important test for President Obama's multilateralist ambitions with each passing day. Durban I was the anti-Semitic hatefest that ended three days before 9/11. Durban II - the UN equivalent of the Son of Sam - will take place in April in Geneva. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has called on Obama not to legitimize the meeting, or its message, and not to attend. Canada has decided to stay away. But Obama has still not decided whether the United States will go. This Wednesday, however, the stakes got a lot higher with the UN's release of the latest negotiating text.
Negotiators have now put on the table claims that (1) a homeland for the Jewish people is racism - a "racially based law of return," (2) Israel is guilty of "apartheid" and (3) the veracity of the murder of one-third of the Jewish people during the Holocaust is subject to question. A reference to Holocaust facts has now been "square-bracketed" because Iran and Syria have questioned the numbers of Jews that died and consensus is the only guiding principle governing the decision-making process.
In total, six provisions are dedicated to demonizing Israel as racist. Not one of the other 191 UN states is mentioned. The intention is clear: the political defeat of Israel in the same vein as apartheid South Africa, because repeated attempts at a military defeat of Israel have failed.
But Israel is not the only target of Islamic and Arab states and their developing world partners. The draft takes straight aim at freedom of expression and counterterrorism. Free speech should supposedly be curtailed by new laws against "projecting negative, insulting and derogatory images of religions and religious personalities" and the introduction of "a code of ethical conduct" for the media. Counterterrorism activities are "obstacles hampering progress in the collective struggle against racism."
At the top of the agenda is the creation of a hierarchy of human rights victims with "Muslim minorities" topping matters of concern. "The intellectual and ideological validation of Islamophobia" is a "most disturbing phenomenon," the agenda says. "Anti-Arabism" is introduced as intolerance of a religious minority. Religions, instead of individuals, can be defamed. Calls are made to preserve "religious and cultural identities" without reference to universal rights and freedoms. Broad condemnation of "any advocacy of racial or religious hatred which constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence" is coupled with a refusal to require any finding by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and a fair and public hearing.
Yet another rocket fired into Israel....
This is how it starts after every cease-fire....just a few here and there....
Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip fired a Kassam rocket at Israel on Saturday morning, the third since both Israel and Hamas declared cease-fires on January 18.
The rocket landed in an open area near a kibbutz in the Ashkelon area.
There were no reports of casualties or damage in the attack.
Prior to the rocket landing, 'Color Red' sirens sounded in the area, prompting residents to seek shelter.
On Thursday, a rocket was fired at the Sha'ar Hanegev region, and on Wednesday another landed in the Eskol region. Both rockets landed in open areas, causing no casualties or damage.
Muslim population in UK growing quickly...
The number of muslims in the UK has risen from 1 million in 2004, to 2.4 million today...
The Muslim population in Britain has grown by more than 500,000 to 2.4 million in just four years, according to official research collated for The Times.
The population multiplied 10 times faster than the rest of society, the research by the Office for National Statistics reveals. In the same period the number of Christians in the country fell by more than 2 million.
Experts said that the increase was attributable to immigration, a higher birthrate and conversions to Islam during the period of 2004-2008, when the data was gathered. They said that it also suggested a growing willingness among believers to describe themselves as Muslims because the western reaction to war and terrorism had strengthened their sense of identity.
Muslim leaders have welcomed the growing population of their communities as academics highlighted the implications for British society, integration and government resources.
David Coleman, Professor of Demography at Oxford University, said: “The implications are very substantial. Some of the Muslim population, by no means all of them, are the least socially and economically integrated of any in the United Kingdom ... and the one most associated with political dissatisfaction. You can't assume that just because the numbers are increasing that all will increase, but it will be one of several reasonable suppositions that might arise.”
Professor Coleman said that Muslims would naturally reap collective benefits from the increase in population. “In the growth of any population ... [its] voice is regarded as being stronger in terms of formulating policy, not least because we live in a democracy where most people in most religious groups and most racial groups have votes. That necessarily means their opinions have to be taken and attention to be paid to them.”
There are more than 42.6 million Christians in Britain, according to the Office for National Statistics, whose figures were obtained through the quarterly Labour Force Survey of around 53,000 homes. But while the biggest Christian population is among over-70s bracket, for Muslims it is the under-4s.
Ceri Peach, Professor of Social Geography at Manchester University, said that the rapid growth of the Muslim population posed challenges for society. “The groups with the strongest belief in the family and cohesion are those such as the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. They have got extremely strong family values but it goes together with the sort of honour society and other kinds of attributes which people object to,” he said. “So you are dealing with a pretty complex situation.”
Professor Peach said that the high number of Muslims under the age of 4 — 301,000 as of September last year — would benefit Britain's future labour market through taxes that would subsequently contribute to sustaining the country's ageing population. He added, though, that it would also put pressure on housing and create a growing demand for schools. “I think housing has traditionally been a difficulty because the country is simultaneously short of labour and short of housing. So if you get people to fill vacancies in your labour force you also need to find places for them to live,” he said.
Muhammad Abdul Bari, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, predicted that the number of mosques in Britain would multiply from the present 1,600 in line with the rising Islamic population. He said the greater platform that Muslims would command in the future should not be perceived as a threat to the rest of society.
How toilet paper can save the environment....
Finally, the answer to global warming....
Poetry in the loo can cut down on paper use too, says a Japanese group campaigning to save toilet paper as part of the country's battle against global warming.
Simply pasting a "toilet poem" at the eye level of a person seated in the cubicle can help cut toilet paper use by up to 20 percent, a study by the research centre Japan Toilet Labo showed.
"That paper will meet you only for a moment," reads one poem. "Fold the paper over and over and over again," says another. Or just: "Love the toilet."
Now the group is looking to have its posters displayed in 1,000 public toilets.
"We asked ourselves what we could do for the environment in the toilet?" said Ryusuke Nagahara of the Japan Toilet Labo. "The answer is to save toilet paper and save water."
Toilet paper use in Japan has been increasing in recent years, according to an industry body, possibly because of a rise in the number of public toilets, where people tend to use more paper.
"It's because it's free," said an official at the Kikaisuki Washi Rengokai. "At home, people are more inclined to scrimp."
Is everybody laughing at global warming????
Well..probably not everybody...but lots...
So-called "global warming" has shrunk from problem to punch line. And now, Leftists are laughing, too. It's hard not to chuckle at the idea of Earth boiling in a carbon cauldron when the news won't cooperate:
# Nearly four inches of snow blanketed the United Arab Emirates' Jebel Jais region for just the second time in recorded history on Jan. 24. Citizens were speechless. The local dialect has no word for snowfall.
# Dutchmen on ice skates sped past windmills as canals in Holland froze in mid-January for the first time since 1997. Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop, who inhabits a renovated 17th Century windmill, stumbled on the ice and fractured his wrist.
# January saw northern Minnesota's temperatures plunge to 38 below zero, forcing ski-resort closures. A Frazee, Minnesota dog-sled race was cancelled, due to excessive snow. Snow whitened Surf City, North Carolina's beaches. Days ago, ice glazed Florida's citrus groves.
As Earth faces global cooling, both troglodyte right-wingers and lachrymose left-wingers find Albert Gore's simmering-planet hypothesis increasingly hilarious:
"In terms of (global warming's) capacity to cause the human species harm, I don't think it makes it into the top 10," Dr. Robert Giegengack, former chairman of University of Pennsylvania's Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, told the Pennsylvania Gazette. Giegengack voted for Gore in 2000, and says he likely would again.
Commentator Harold Ambler declared Jan. 3 on HuffingtonPost.com that he voted for Barack Obama "for a thousand times a thousand reasons." He added that Gore "owes the world an apology for his actions regarding global warming." He called Gore's assertion that "the science is in" on this issue "the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of mankind."
"Not only is it false that human activity has any significant effect on global warming or the weather in general, but for the record, global warming is over," retired Navy meteorologist Dr. Martin Hertzberg wrote on carbon-sense.com. The physical chemist and self-described "scientist and life-long liberal Democrat" added: "The average temperature of Earth's atmosphere has declined over the last 10 years. From the El Nino Year of 1998 until Jan. 2007, it dropped a quarter of a degree Celsius (0.45 degrees Fahrenheit). From Jan 2007 to the spring of 2008, it dropped a whopping three-quarters of a degree Celsius (1.35 degrees Fahrenheit). Those data further prove that the fear-mongering hysteria about human-caused global warming is completely unjustified and is totally counterproductive to our Nation's essential needs and security."
"It is a tribute to the scientific ignorance of politicians and journalists that they keep regurgitating the nonsense about human-caused global warming," veteran Left-wing commentator and Nation magazine columnist Alexander Cockburn wrote. "The greenhouse fear mongers rely on unverified, crudely oversimplified models to finger mankind's sinful contribution -- and carbon trafficking, just like the old indulgences, is powered by guilt, credulity, cynicism, and greed."
Queers for Palestine??
It really bothers me when I see people carrying gay flags at anti-Israel hatefests....
Of all the slogans chanted and displayed at anti-Israel rallies over the past month, surely "Queers for Palestine" ranks as the most oxymoronic. It is the motto of the San Francisco–based Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT), a group advocating financial divestment from the Jewish State. QUIT contends that Zionism is racism, regularly demonstrates at gay pride marches, organizes with far-right Muslim organizations, and successfully lobbied the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission to boycott the 2006 World Pride Conference due to its location that year in Jerusalem.
What makes QUIT oxymoronic is that their affinity for Palestine isn't reciprocated. There may be queers for Palestine, but Palestine certainly isn't for queers, either in the livable or empathetic sense. Like all Islamic polities, the Palestinian Authority systematically harasses gay people. Under the cloak of rooting out Israeli "collaborators," P.A. officials extort, imprison, and torture gays. But Palestinian oppression of homosexuality isn't merely a matter of state policy, it's one firmly rooted in Palestinian society, where hatred of gays surpasses even that of Jews. Last October, a gay Palestinian man with an Israeli lover petitioned Israel's high court of justice for asylum, claiming that his family threatened to kill him if he did not "reform." He's one of the few lucky Palestinians to be able to challenge his plight.
And that"s only in the relatively benign West Bank. The Gaza Strip, which has stagnated under the heel of Hamas"s Islamofascist rule since 2007, is an even more dangerous place for gays, 'a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick,' in the words of a senior Hamas leader. As in Iran, Hamas"s patron and the chief sponsor of international terrorism, even the mere suspicion of homosexuality will get one killed in Gaza, being hurled from the roof of a tall building the method of choice.
Of course, Israel is the only country in the middle east that has embrace gay rights - with gays proudly serving in the military
Now they have to disrupt meetings....
You can't even hear from a retired colonel....
Between 80 and 100 people gathered outside the Jewish London Student Centre opposite Euston station.
Colonel Geva Rapp, a retired Israeli colonel, was said to be due to make a speech at the venue.
Protesters who were blocking the pavement were dragged away by police.
One holding a 'Free Palestine' placard scaled the building and was led away by officers after having banged on the first floor window and ignored demands for him to climb down.
The Metropolitan Police were forced to close a busy dual carriageway at rush hour as they attempted to deal with the demonstration.
Stewart Halforty, of the Stop The War Coalition, said: "We found out that Colonel Geva Rapp was speaking here tonight from a leaked email so we assembled as many people as we could.
"It was a high-profile demonstration that could be seen by commuters from Euston station and we've got our message across."
A police officer addressed the protesters with a loud hailer and said the meeting had been cancelled and Colonel Rapp would not be attending.
Ahmadinejad's holocaust speech....
Here is a translation of his major points this week...
# "A brief review of the events after World War II shows that the Holocaust issue - with the dimensions they define for it - is an excuse to continue dominance and expansion of influence of the victors, especially America and Britain in the international arena.
# The illegal Zionist regime is one of the results of the Holocaust issue, despite the fact that many people of the world engaged in the war died, a number reaching 65 million. The power-seeking political network has demanded blood money of some victims...and have used some of this money to establish a Zionist regime in the land of Palestine, and have used this excuse to attack Palestine and by killing and displacing the people from their motherland they have occupied their mother land and established a Zionist regime, which is tasked with the job of denying an Islamic power emerging to counter the West.
# They do so because they consider the Islamic civilization and culture with its natural creativity as a threat to their injustice and bullying. This is the foundation and philosophy behind formation of the Zionist regime and today, those who live in the occupied lands of this regime are partly indigenous people of Palestine, and some of them immigrants from America, Asia and some from Europe. Most of them are not - even according to the Holocaust logic - war survivors.
# Unfortunately during the past sixty years they have not allowed anyone to question the Holocaust logic and its principle, since should this truth be revealed, there is nothing [but] the logic of Iranian democracy.
# The Holocaust is knitted together with liberal democracy. It is the claimants of liberal democracy who support the Holocaust logic and have sanctified it to the degree that no one dares questioning its sanctity.
# Breaking into and opening the safe of Holocaust is the same as cutting the life line of the Zionist regime, which also demolishes its philosophical foundation.
# But the important issue to which I invite the dear participants and researchers is that the result of Holocaust is not only the filthy genealogy of the Zionist regime, but has had greater implications. Today the Zionists command many centers of power, wealth and the world media and unfortunately they have enthralled many politicians and political parties.
# In this way, they plunder interests and wealth of the nations and violate their freedom. They also violate humane and cultural values through networks of corruption. I ask the scholars, thinkers, the youth and dear students who are the vanguard not only to attend to the Holocaust issue, but also its effects and results and share the result of their research with the nations.
# Also, do not forget that the Zionist network which has created the Holocaust discourse must be made known to the nations..."
And, now the latest from Belgium...
I guess there are no intelligence requirements to be a minister in Belgium....
Comments by a Belgian regional minister who compared the killing of babies in a nursery last week with the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza have been sharply criticized by Israel’s embassy, Jewish groups and other politicians.
Bert Anciaux, Minister of Sport and Culture in the Flemish regional government, wrote on his blog that the killing of two babies in Dendermonde in a knife attack by a 20-year-old unemployed man – which shocked Belgium- reminded him of children in the Gaza Strip, "also consciously killed by an aggressor."
The latest in fashion....
The truth about Gaza...
It's starting to come out.....this is from the Toronto Globe & Mail...
Most people remember the headlines: Massacre Of Innocents As UN School Is Shelled; Israeli Strike Kills Dozens At UN School.
They heralded the tragic news of Jan. 6, when mortar shells fired by advancing Israeli forces killed 43 civilians in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The victims, it was reported, had taken refuge inside the Ibn Rushd Preparatory School for Boys, a facility run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
The news shocked the world and was compared to the 1996 Israeli attack on a UN compound in Qana, Lebanon, in which more than 100 people seeking refuge were killed. It was certain to hasten the end of Israel's attack on Gaza, and would undoubtedly lead the list of allegations of war crimes committed by Israel.
There was just one problem: The story, as etched in people's minds, was not quite accurate.
Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the white-and-blue-walled UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed.
Stories of one or more shells landing inside the schoolyard were inaccurate.
While the killing of 43 civilians on the street may itself be grounds for investigation, it falls short of the act of shooting into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers.
Cyprus detains Iranian arms shipment....
Sigh...the Americans couldn't stop it....
Cypriot authorities on Thursday detained an Iranian arms ship en route to Syria, a European diplomatic source said.
The move apparently came after Israel and the United States requested that Cyprus stop the ship. It is carrying a large amount of weaponry, including artillery rounds and rockets that Israel believes are destined for either Hezbollah or Hamas.
The vessel left the Persian Gulf a few weeks ago and reached about 60 miles from Cyprus' port city of limassol on Wednesday.
Since the ship was flying Cyprus' flag, the Cypriot authorities were the only ones authorized to confiscate its cargo.
According to the diplomat, Cypriot customs officials had contacted the Iranian boat and demanded that it sail to limassol to be checked.
The U.S. navy had earlier detained the ship in the Red Sea, but was forced to release it Tuesday when it became apparent that there was no legal basis for holding it.
Obama's missed opportunity...
He could have told the muslim world a lot more....
IF this was meant as the first direct contact between Obama and the Mus lim world, the Al-Arabiya interview must be rated as a missed opportunity.
Obama's remarks about the Israel-Palestine issue were so trite as to merit no analysis. He said he was sending former Sen. George Mitchell to listen to all sides - as if the world has not been hearing their stories for more than six decades.
The president appeared apologetic, offering no hope for democratization and economic development. He made no mention of the economic meltdown that is creating unprecedented mass unemployment in many countries of the region.
Nor did he offer any support to democratic forces facing crucial elections in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Algeria this year.
He had nothing to say about the thousands of Iranian workers who have been thrown into prison solely because they created independent trade unions. Nor did he mention Iranian women's courageous "a million signatures campaign" or the series of student revolts that have been crushed by the mullahs with exceptional violence.
Nor was there any nod toward reformers in Saudi Arabia and Egypt or the heroic Lebanese democratic leaders who are fighting to preserve their nation's independence from Iran and Syria.
Obama didn't call for the release of the tens of thousands of political prisoners held in more than two dozen Muslim countries or a moratorium on executions that each year cost the lives of hundreds of dissidents.
CASTING himself in the role of a "bridge" and dreaming of a return to an illusionary past, Obama appeared unsure of his own identity and confused about the role that America should play in global politics. And that is bad news for those who believe that the United States should use its moral, economic and political clout in support of democratic forces throughout the world.
Couldn't they work on Zimbabwe????
No...they're more concerned about Israel....
Africa's foreign ministers on Thursday demanded a UN investigation into what they described as war crimes committed by Israel during its recent military operation against the Gaza Strip.
The officials were in Addis Ababa for a three-day meeting ahead of the 53-member African Union's heads of state summit scheduled to kick off over the weekend.
"(We) call on the Security Council to carry out an investigation into the serious violation of human rights and war crimes observed during the aggression and the use of banned weapons in order that the perpetrators are prosecuted and punished," a statement said.
And, now an academic boycott of Israel from the US....
Don't these professors know that their campaign reveals them to be idiots???
In the wake of Operation Cast Lead, a group of American university professors has for the first time launched a national campaign calling for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
While Israeli academics have grown used to such news from Great Britain, where anti-Israel groups several times attempted to establish academic boycotts, the formation of the United States movement marks the first time that a national academic boycott movement has come out of America. Israeli professors are not sure yet how big of an impact the one-week-old movement will have, but started discussing the significance of and possible counteractions against the campaign.
"As educators of conscience, we have been unable to stand by and watch in silence Israel's indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip and its educational institutions," the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel stated in its inaugural press release last Thursday. Speaking in its mission statement of the "censorship and silencing of the Palestine question in U.S. universities, as well as U.S. society at large," the group follows the usual pattern of such boycotts, calling for "non-violent punitive measures" against Israel, such as the implementation of divestment initiatives, "similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era."
The campaign was founded by a group of 15 academics, mostly from California, but is, "currently expanding to create a network that embraces the United States as a whole," according to David Lloyd, a professor of English at the University of Southern California who responded on behalf of the group to a Haaretz query. "The initiative was in the first place impelled by Israel's latest brutal assault on Gaza and by our determination to say enough is enough."
"The response has been remarkable given the extraordinary hold that lobbying organizations like AIPAC exert over U.S. politics and over the U.S. media, and in particular given the campaign of intimidation that has been leveled at academics who dare to criticize Israel's policies," Lloyd wrote in an e-mail to Haaretz Monday. "Within a short weekend since the posting of the press release, more than 80 academics from all over the country have endorsed the action and the numbers continue to grow."
Indonesia bans yoga...
Hey, I missed this in the news...
Four days after the fatwa went out, students continued to fill the yoga mats in the classrooms of Jakarta's Jakartadogyoga Studio. On Jan. 28, the influential Indonesian Ulemas Council issued a religious edict forbidding all Indonesian Muslims from practicing yoga that incorporates pre-Hindu religious rituals such meditation and chanting. And while students at the yoga studio admitted they had heard about the proclamation, which only allows yoga for the purpose of exercise or sport, they say it won't deter them from attending classes in the popular Indian practice. "Issuing a fatwa is not the way to settle a controversy — if there really is one," says Sita Resmi, a yoga student and practicing Muslim. "If something endangers the public then I understand, but this doesn't so it doesn't make much sense to me."
The esoteric edict is one in a string of attempts by some religious groups and parties in Indonesia to influence morality in the country — efforts that not everyone in the Muslim-majority nation appreciates. The Council, which is not an official government body despite receiving funding from the Ministry of Religion, has come under attack lately by moderate religious groups for its series of controversial edicts that critics say embolden radical elements in the nation. Though some of the group's religious calls have been praised — it recently issued a fatwa against smoking for minors and pregnant women — others have been more divisive, such as decreeing that Muslims should avoid conventional banks in favor of syariah-based banking. Because the Council's rulings are non-binding, they are generally only observed by the nation's more conservative Muslims, but its advice is nonetheless often sought after by government officials. Last year, for instance, the Council played a key part in the controversial ban of the Ahmadiyah religious sect by the governor of South Sumatra.
Freedom beats a retreat....
Some worrying signs....
Just four or five years ago, the headlines were full of democratic movements, notably the yellow, rose and cedar "revolutions" in the Ukraine, Georgia and Lebanon. The Taliban had been toppled, Saddam Hussein overthrown. Democratic stirrings were heralded from the streets of Iran and China to promises of reform in Saudi Arabia and Libya. Freedom was continuing a roll begun way back in the Reagan era. Tyrants were on the outs with polite society.
These days, dictators are on a roll. Among the many signs was last week's op-ed in TheNew York Times by none other than Muammar Qaddafi, unrepentant and brutal tyrant in Tripoli for the past 40 years--though, for the purposes of this piece, the Times identifies him politely as "the leader of Libya." I am still pondering that article, and not solely because this is the same New York Times that last fall rejected an op-ed by John McCain when he was running for president. Qaddafi used his patch of American editorial space to float a plan that would demographically blitz democratic Israel out of existence by setting up a single combined Palestinian-Israeli state, which he suggests we call "Isratine."
It's tempting simply to dismiss such stuff as unintended self-parody--whether on the part of Qaddafi, the Times or both. But it is also a token that tyrants are back in style, not only feeling safe to venture out of their spider holes but preening as elder statesmen and increasingly welcomed back to the parlors, editorial pages and negotiating tables of democratic high society.
Earlier this month, New York-based Freedom House reported that for the third straight year, freedom around the globe is, on balance, in retreat. In most of the former Soviet Union, this continues "a decade-long trend of regression." In the Middle East, apart from improvements in Iraq, stagnation is the word. The brightest spot is South Asia, which saw improvements in Pakistan, the Maldives and Bhutan. But looming over that landscape is China, which "increased repression instead of delivering human rights reforms pledged in connection to hosting the Olympics." Latin America and Africa registered net declines.
The basic cause for concern is not that there are more dictatorships than a few years ago, but that the global ethos has shifted. There is a growing swagger among despots.
Snow storms in the UK???
Coldest winter in over 13 years....
The cold snap is likely to hit the south and east most severely, although all areas will see temperatures plunge.
The warning came as it emerged that this winter looks could be the chilliest for at least 13 years.
Michael Dukes, of weather forecasters MeteoGroup, said the "reasonably average" temperatures over the last fortnight would come to an end on Sunday night when weather from Russia is expected to move across the UK.
Mr Dukes said: "Chill winds from the continent will start to be felt across the south and east in the next couple of days, before a blast of bitterly cold air from western Russia sends the mercury plunging during Sunday night and the early part of next week.
"Although still far from certain at this stage, there are growing signs that heavy snow showers will accompany this frigid air during Monday and Tuesday, more especially across southern and eastern parts of England, with the north and west probably staying mainly fine and frosty.
"Temperatures in the first half of next week are unlikely to be as low as they were in the early January 'freeze' but will struggle to rise above freezing by day and will drop several degrees below at night with a significant wind-chill adding to the cold."
Temperatures are forecast to drop from between 4C and 7C on Saturday and 3C and 5C on Sunday down to between -1C and -3C on Sunday night.
Maximum temperatures on Monday are predicted to be 1C-4C, plunging to -1C to -4C in the night, according to Mr Dukes, who said the wind chill factor would make it feel even colder.
With overall temperatures in December and January between 1C and 1.5C below average and a freezing start to February looking likely, Mr Dukes said the last time the winter months were as cold was in 1995-1996.
Feminist group helps kidnap children.....
Stealing children from their fathers...
A MELBOURNE father of two young boys believed to have been abducted by their mother in Sweden claims a taxpayer-funded feminist group called Kobra is involved.
Swedish authorities are investigating members of Kobra amid allegations the group is using a vast network of "safe houses" and covert techniques to help the mother and children evade police.
George Pesor last saw his sons Frank, 11, and Andre, 9, in September 2008 after the Family Court in Australia ordered they be allowed to travel to Sweden to visit their estranged mother Ann-Louise Valette.
The boys were supposed to return to Melbourne on October 11 but they disappeared along with Ms Valette, who has a warrant out for her arrest after being charged with their kidnapping.
Mr Pesor said he now believes his sons are living with their mother in Sweden in one of 30 secret hiding places he alleges are operated by Kobra.
"I am really worried for the children, the mother is capable of anything," he said.
Mr Pesor, who has hired a private investigator to try to find his sons, said police would "not stand a chance" against Kobra, given its alleged network of safe houses and the strong financial support it enjoys.
"I think (Kobra) is involved in the kidnapping," he said.
"It has been confirmed by a number of my sources. The most important source has had contact with a woman who used Kobra to kidnap, but then changed her mind.
"This group has 30 safe houses in Sweden alone, with contacts in Denmark and Germany."
Norway's Pro-Israel Opposition Leader under 24-hour Guard...
How dare she support Israel???
"Norway, a country that used to be very pro-Israel, has turned into one of the most anti-Israel countries in Europe today," within both government and public opinion.
Toje is a staunch advocate of Siv Jensen, chairwoman of the main opposition Progress Party, who has recently come under fire for her pro-Israel stance. Following her appearance at a pro-Israel rally in Oslo on January 8, Jensen began receiving death threats, and is now under 24-hour security supervision.
"I have never experienced this kind of hatred in Norway," said Toje, who was present at the demonstration. "There were people throwing stones at and spitting on rally-goers. Afterward, people carrying Israeli flags were randomly attacked in the streets."
Along with expressions of support for Israel, speakers at the rally, including Jensen, called for aid to be distributed in Gaza and for a cease-fire agreement to be signed. "It was a peaceful rally," said Toje. "Jensen was calling for the same things as Barack Obama. The difference is that she was doing it in Norway. The environment here is different."
And, now South Africa joins in...
Hey, who wants to be left out of the anti-semitic frenzy???
THE SA Jewish Board of Deputies has condemned statements reportedly made by the deputy minister of foreign affairs, Fatima Hajaig, as “classic anti-Jewish stereotyping and conspiracy-theory mongering”.
The board laid a formal complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission after Hajaig allegedly told a pro-Palestinian rally in Lenasia on January 14 that control of the US and most Western countries was in the hands of “Jewish money”.
Only Israel would do something like this...
A great story you probably won't see on the CBC...
A 6-year-old Palestinian boy whose powerful relative was assassinated by Israel during its recently ended offensive in the Gaza Strip has checked into an Israeli hospital for life-saving heart surgery.
Abdullah Siam was brought to Wolfson Medical Center near Tel Aviv on Tuesday to repair a hole in his heart through Save a Child's Heart, an Israel-based project that treats children suffering from cardiac problems in conflict zones or areas where medical facilities are below par.
Nearly half of the 2,100 children who have been treated since the project was launched in 1996 have been Palestinian, including 600 from Gaza, the group says. The program has survived the hostilities between Hamas-ruled Gaza and the Jewish state, including the devastating three-week war that ended on Jan. 18.
Save a Child's Heart has worked with children from Gaza through the years when Palestinian militants were blowing up Israeli buses and is "treating them when Gaza is now bad," Dr. Lior Sasson, head of cardiothoracic surgery at Wolfson, said Wednesday. "We will continue to do it because what we believe is that a kid is a kid is a kid and needs to be treated regardless (of) the political situation."
Can Obama face up to the challenges from Islam???
Fouad Ajami hits it on the head - Obama may want everyone to focus on the economy - but the terrorists have other plans...
But foreign challengers and rogue regimes are under no obligation to accommodate our mood and our needs. They are not hanging onto news of our financial crisis, they are not mesmerized by the fluctuations of the Dow. I know it is a cliché, but sooner or later, we shall be hearing from them. They will strip us of our illusions and our (new) parochialism.
A dispatch from the Arabian Peninsula bears this out. It was learned, right in the midst of the news cycle announcing that Mr. Obama has ordered that Guantanamo be shut down in a year's time, that a Saudi by the name of Said Ali al-Shihri -- who had been released from that prison in 2007 to his homeland -- had made his way to Yemen and had risen in the terror world of that anarchic country. It had been a brief stop in Saudi Arabia for Guantanamo detainee No. 372: He had gone through a "rehabilitation" program there, then slipped across the border to Yemen, where he may have been involved in a terror attack on the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital in September of last year.
This war was never a unilateral American war to be called off by an American calendar. The enemy, too, has a vote in how this struggle between American power and radical Islamism plays out in the years to come.
In another time, the fabled era of Bill Clinton's peace and prosperity, we were mesmerized by the Nasdaq. In the watering hole of Davos, in the heights of the Alps, gurus confident of a new age of commerce pronounced the end of ideology and politics. But in the forbidding mountains of the Afghan-Pakistan frontier, a breed of jihadists that paid no heed to that mood of economic triumphalism was plotting for us an entirely different future.
Here we are again, this time led by our economic distress, demanding that the world abide by our own reading of historical challenges. We have not discovered that "sweet spot" where our economic fortunes intersect with the demands and challenges of an uncertain world.
Meanwhile in Somalia....
Nothing like justice....
Islamic militants who are on Washington's list of terror groups have cut off the hand of a man convicted of stealing fishing nets, officials said Wednesday.
The Islamic group, al-Shabab, is imposing a strict form of Islam with punishments including lashings and stonings that have drawn fear and trepidation in this Muslim country. In one case, the group stoned a 13-year-old girl to death for adultery even though her parents said she was a rape victim.
Mohamed Sahal Iidle, a judge in the port town of Kismayo, said Wednesday that a 26-year-old man had his hand cut off late Tuesday for stealing three sacks full of fishing nets worth $300 from a businesswoman.
"He screamed once after his hand was cut off," said witness Ibrahim Yare. "Then nurses whisked him away."
Good thing they only play other muslims...
Well, they might make great NHLers..they know how to fight....
Izaiah Buksh is suffering from bruises and will need to undergo a root canal after what he says was a religiously charged fight that broke out at a ball hockey tournament in Burnaby, B.C., on Sunday.
The 20-year-old, who was playing in the B.C. Muslim Sports Association-sponsored event, said he was warned not to play in the tournament because, though he's a Muslim, he is not a Sunni.
The mood of the game turned tense early on when his team took an early lead. Buksh said the opposing team, made up of Sunni Muslims, told him, "You guys shouldn't even be here. You're not Muslim."
Violence ultimately escalated after a play where the opposing goalie swung his stick at Buksh.
Buksh said he went to tell the referee, and when he turned around, he was attacked by a player.
That's when the fight broke out.
"Another player on my team came in and then my dad and the coach came in. At the end, it was most of the gym to three or four guys," Buksh recounted.
He estimates his group was outnumbered about 10 to one.
Buksh's father, Ahmed, said he feared for his son's safety.
"It was basically a riot by that time and swarming — one of my sons fell down."
Hezbollah attack foiled....
Major attack foiled in Europe...
A massive Hizbullah terror attack against an Israeli target in Europe has been thwarted, Israel announced Wednesday.
Security officials said that the attack was foiled in a joint operation between Israel and a foreign intelligence agency.
Channel 2 quoted an Israeli official as saying, "We prevented a massive tragedy."
Malmo more radical than home communities....
Immigrants are now finding it more radical in Sweden than where they came from....
A majority of Rosengård's inhabitants believe the troubled Malmö suburb has undergone a radicalization over the past five years, a new study shows.
Experts believe the city council needs to be allocated greater financial resources if it is to get to grips with the rise of political and religious extremism.
Researchers Magnus Ranstorp and Josefine Dos Santos from the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College were tasked by the government with examining the effects of preventive measures taken in Sweden against violent extremism and radicalization.
As part of their studies, the researchers conducted extensive interviews with school personnel and police officers active in the Rosengård district.
The vast majority of respondents were of the view that the predominantly immigrant suburb had become considerably more radical over the last five years.
Ranstorp and Dos Santos describe how "ultra-radical" Islamists attached to basement mosques "preach isolation and act as thought controllers while also maintaining a strong culture of threats, in which women in particular are subjected to physical and psychological harassment."
"Newcomer families who were never particularly traditional or religious say they lived more freely in their home countries than they do in Rosengård," the researchers write.
Rosengård district committee chairman Andreas Konstantinides (SocDem) said he shared the researchers' concerns about "thought police" controlling the climate of expression in the area.
"I actually think these radical individuals are limited in number. But they exert an influence through manipulation and exploiting the situation."
Proof Hamas used media as cover to fire rockets...
A nice little excerpt from an article in Der Speigel....
Palestinians across the board insist that Hamas would never have used these buildings as hiding places. But this argument crumbled last week, when it was revealed that Hamas had fired one of its rockets from the shelter of the Al-Shuruk tower in Gaza City, where many international television broadcasters had rented offices.
A recording that a correspondent for the Al-Arabiya Arab television network showed shortly before a live broadcast provides proof. In the tape, which was sent to the Israeli media, the sound of a rocket being fired can be heard, and the correspondent confirmed that "it was fired from below our office."
English translation of Italian newspaper report...
Richard Landes has published an english translation of the article in the Italian newspaper about casualties in Gaza....
Doubts on the Number of Victims: Could be 600 rather than 1300
Il Corriere della Sera
January 21, 2009
GAZA - “Get away! Get away from here! Do you want the Israelis to kill everyone? Do you want our children to die under the bombs? take your missiles and weapons away,” the inhabitants of the Gaza strip yelled at the Hamas militants and their allies in Islamic Jihad. The more courageous were organized and blocked the entrances to their courtyards and locked the doors to their buildings, barricading quickly and furiously the stairs to the highest rooftops.
But for all of that the guerrillas didn’t listen to anyone. “Traitors, collaborators with Israel, spies of Fatah, cowards! The soldiers of the holy war will punish you. And in any case you will all die, like us. Fighting the Zionist Jews we are all destined for paradise. Do you not wish to die with us?” This is what they yelled furiously as they broke down doors and windows, hiding themselves on high floors, gardens, using ambulances and barricading themselves near the hospitals, schools and buildings of the UN.
In extreme cases the [Hamas militants] shot those who sought to block them from their streets and houses to save their own families, or they beat them savagely. “The Hamas Militants looked for good places to provoke the Israelis. They were usually youths, 16 or 17 years old, armed with submachine guns. They couldn’t do anything against a tank or jet. They knew they were much weaker. But they wanted the [Israelis] to shoot at the [the civilians’] houses so they could accuse them of more war crimes” asserted Abu Issa, 42, resident of the Tel Awa neighborhood.
“Practically all of the tallest buildings in Gaza that were hit by Israeli bombs, like the Dogmoush, Andalous, Jawarah, Siussi, and many others, had rocket launching pads on their roofs, or were observation decks for the Hamas. They had also put them near the big UN warehouse, which went up in flames. The same goes for the villages in the valley along the border who were more devastated by the mad fury and punishment of the Zionist,” echoes his cousin Um Abdallah, 48. They use family nicknames, but they provide important circumstantial details. It was difficult to get these testimonials. In general, fear of Hamas prevails and the ideological alimentary taboos reign in this century of wars with the “Zionist enemy.”
Those who recount a different version than the story imposed by the “Muhamawa” (the resistance) is automatically an “Amil,” a collaborator and is risking his life. However, the recent fratricidal collision between Hamas and Olp helps. If Israel or Egypt had allowed foreign journalists to enter immediately it would have been easier. These Locals are often threatened by Hamas.
“This is not a new fact, in the Middle East, Arab societies are missing the cultural traditions of human rights. It happened during Arafat’s regime that the press started being persecuted and censured. With Hamas it is even worse,” said Eyad Sarraj, a noted psychiatrist in Gaza City.
And there is another fact coming to light ever more obviously, visiting the hospitals, clinics and families of the victims of Israeli fire: In reality their numbers appear much lower than 1300 dead and another 5000 injured, as reported by the men of Hamas and repeated by the UN officials and the local Red Cross. “The dead can’t be more than 500 or 600. There are many youths between 17 and 23, recruited by Hamas, who sent them quite literally to the slaughter.” Said the doctor from the Shifah hospital who under no circumstances wanted to be quoted for he risked his life.
This data has been confirmed by the local journalist. “We already pointed this out to the heads of Hamas. Why do they insist on inflating the number of victims? Its strange on the other hand that the NGOs, also the western ones, report them without and verification. In the end the truth may come to light. It could be like Jenin in 2002. Initially we spoke about 1500 dead. Then it came out that there were only 54, of whom at least 45 were militants who died in battle.”
How do we arrive at this figure? “Lets take the case of the Al Samoun family massacre in the Zeitun neighborhood. When the bomb landed on their houses they reported that they had 31 dead. And this is how they were registered with the officials of the Health department which is controlled by Hamas. But then, when the bodies were effectively recovered the sum total was doubled to 62 and this si how they are computed into the final balance,” explained Masoda Al Samoun, 24 years old.
And he added in an interesting detail: “To create confusion there were the Israeli special squadrons. They were dressed up as Hamas militants with many green bandanas tied in front with the customary writing: there is no other God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet. They slipped in to create chaos. We yelled at them to leave, fearing the retaliation but later we realized they were Israeli.”
Its sufficient to visit a few hospitals to understand that the numbers don’t add up. There are many empty beds in the European Hospital in Rafah, one of the [hospitals] that should be most involved with the victims of the Israeli “war of the tunnels.” The same goes for the “Nasser” of Kahn Yunis. Only 5 out of the 150 beds in the private hospital of Al-Amal are occupied. In Gaza city the Wafa was evacuated, constructed with “charitable Islamic” donations from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Countries of the Gulf, and bombed by Israel at the end of December. The Institute is marked as being a stronghold of Hamas, this is where it’s fighters came to recuperate after the civil war with Fatah in 2007. The others, however, stayed at Al Quds, which in turn was bombed the second half of the week in January.”
Talking about this event, Magah al Rachmah, 25 inhabitant no less than ten meters from the four large buildings of the health complex, today seriously damaged. “Hamas’s Men hid themselves mostly in the building that houses the administrative officials of Al Quds. They used the ambulances and they forced ambulance drivers and paramedics to take off their uniforms with the symbols of paramedics on them so that they would be able to better confuse and escape the Israeli snipers.” All of this vastly reduced the number of beds available in the health institutions of Gaza. Also,
Shifah, the biggest hospital in the city, is very far from exhausting all of it’s resources. It seems in fact that they are densely occupied with their underground tunnels. Hamas hid the emergency jails and the interrogation rooms for the prisoners of Fatah and the people who were evacuated from the bombarded prison of Saraja,” said the militants of the democratic front for the liberation of Palestine.
This [conflict] between Fatah and Hamas was a war within a war. The local humanitarian organizations, mainly controlled by the UN, tell of “dozens of executions, torture chambers, and kidnappings in the last three weeks” committed by Hamas. One of the more notable cases is that of Achmad Shakhura, 47 years old, resident of the Khan Yunis and brother of Khaled, the right hand man of Mohammed Dahlan (the former head of Yasser Arafat’s security services, now exiled) who was kidnapped by order of the head of Hamas’s local secret police, Abu Abdullah Al Kidra, and subsequently tortured, his left eye ripped out and, in the end, killed on the 15th of January.
Palestine conference cancelled because of anti-semitism...
This is from Australia...
A conference on justice for Palestine due to be held tomorrow at State Parliament has been called off after several high-profile speakers withdrew from the event, citing revelations the convener had made anti-Semitic remarks.
Maqsood Alshams, who had organised the conference 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere', made a series of derogatory remarks about Jewish people in several private emails, the Herald revealed on Wednesday.
Two of the conferences key speakers, Antony Loewenstein and Peter Manning, withdrew in a joint email to the convenor at lunchtime today [Wednesday].
"As a Jew who condemns anti-Semitism I though it would be inappropriate to engage in a debate in that kind of environment," said Mr Loewenstein, a blogger and author of My Israel Question. "That does not change the fact that I still feel very strongly about the situation in Gaza."
How about Iceland's Moral Crisis????
We know they have a financial crisis...but here's a moral crisis...
Iceland’s Minister of Industry and acting Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson (Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir is on sick leave) wrote on his blog yesterday that Israeli authorities announced to Iceland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs that a planned trip to Iceland by the Israeli minister of education has been called off.
According to Morgunbladid, six Israeli ministers are currently visiting countries whose governments are opposed to the Gaza air strikes to explain Israel’s side of the conflict.
“As acting foreign minister I decided to turn down the offer of a visit from the Israeli minister while missiles from the Israeli army rained over the Gaza Strip where 100 children have died per week,” Skarphédinsson wrote. “With that decision I wanted to emphasize the harsh condemnation [of the attacks] by Icelandic authorities.”
Another UN official blasts Hamas...
Hey, what's going on here....some honesty!
United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Chief John Holmes blasted Hamas Tuesday for its "cynical" use of civilian facilities during recent hostilities in the Gaza Strip.
"The reckless and cynical use of civilian installations by Hamas and indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian populations are clear violations of international humanitarian law," Holmes told the UN Security Council.
That demonstration in Sweden....
Inciting violence and free speech...
A nice opinion piece from Australia...
The Dutch appeals court said that the prosecution of Wilders is justified on the grounds that his film was inciting violence. But it turns out that the only violence incited by Fitna, released on the internet in March 2008, was not against Muslims but by Muslims against the West. In other words, the phrase "inciting violence" has been rendered meaningless, stretched to stifle views that merely offend. It may be sensible to prohibit words that genuinely incite violence. But the Wilders case shows how easy it is to use this test as camouflage to censor views that are uncomfortable. Writing about the increasingly vacuous claims of Islamophobia in Forbes magazine, Elisabeth Eaves suggested a good litmus test for whether a law makes any sense: "If the 'crime' in question can only be described using the word for an emotion, like 'hate' or 'phobia,' then we have wandered into thought-police territory."
The Netherlands is a striking example of how a noble quest to produce a tolerant society can be hijacked by social engineers opposed to free speech. With our myriad vilification laws, Australia needs to heed the lessons from the Dutch before we make the same disastrous blunders.
And, the same goes for Canada...
A letter from France...
I don't usually post from the Huffington Post...but, here's a letter a blogger received from a friend in Paris...
I am sending you this e-mail regarding the situation in France concerning the Israeli offensive in the Gaza strip. I doubt I will tell you something that you already don't know, but still, things look pretty grim right now. We already reached an all-time low in this country during the second intifada. The phenomenon which appeared during that time, especially in the high schools located in the Parisian suburbs, where the majority of the students are Muslim, has not disappeared.
To summarize in a few words a very complicated and painful situation, it is impossible for an individual, whether a student or a teacher, to say that he or she is a Jew. If you say so, you'll end in a hospital. Don't show any hostility to Al-Qaeda, or Hamas, you'll be exposed to the same kind of violence. You can also talk to some of these kids, they're open to discussion. Many of them dream to become a martyr and blow up themselves. It's after all understandable, that's what they hear in their mosque.
The situation right now is much worse. And it's only the beginning. We had demonstrations every Saturday in every big city in France, and also smaller cities, against the Israeli bombings in Gaza. There's nothing wrong with that per se. We live in a democracy after all. These demonstrations have a different flavour. The 20.000 people demonstrating in Paris were not in the streets to claim peace but to shout that Israel should be destroyed. Israeli flags were burned, the support was for Hamas, not Fatah (as you know, this organization has betrayed his own people), and you could see giant pictures of Nasrallah. One of the sentences you could hear, repeatedly, was "Death to the Jews and the Zionists". This was going on in Paris among other places. Two weeks ago the demonstrators stopped Place de l'Opera, shouted Allah is great and prayed [to] Allah. This is a fact, not bad science-fiction. In Mulhouse, the demonstrators wanted to end the day at the synagogue, and destroy it. The police prevented it.
It's a pretty bad time right now to pray in a synagogue in the eastern part of France -- bombs are being thrown once in a while, let's say once a week -- or in a Parisian suburb.
Now, who are these people ? Where do these demonstrators come from ? You have the usual suspects like the communist party, the various trotskyists parties, members of the National Front, people known to be close to revisionists groups and, mainly, ordinary people, from north Africa who suddenly claim that Allah, Hamas and the destruction of Israel matter more than their French citizenship. What we saw in the past three weeks were the first massive Islamic demonstrations in France. And they're not going to disappear like that. A peace agreement in the Middle-East won't make things disappear.
Just this week-end, a famous French stand-up comedian called Arthur could not perform in a French city. There too many demonstrators outside the concert hall, the police could not manage security inside the building. Now, who is Arthur? A zionist loony? Someone who said death to all Palestinians? Arthur did not even give his advice about what's going on in the middle-east. He's just a Jew. Obviously a crime nowadays.
I sometimes wonder how people are going to react to this situation. Not Jewish people. For them, we already know. But let's say my colleagues at (media outlet deleted), in the place known to be one of the center of the so called French elite.
A few of them don't enjoy these demonstrations. Only a few of them. The vast majority doesn't understand the danger Israel is facing with Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah. They don't understand the danger our country is facing with a growing minority who believe that the law of the French republic matters less than the Islamic law. It is a problem, a huge one.
And, they call this free expression...
This is typical for the UN....
A television production crew was expelled Thursday from a United Nations meeting discussing freedom of expression and defamation of religions.
Two journalists from the French-German cultural channel ARTE were asked to leave a meeting room at the UN's European headquarters during a public session of a human rights body preparing for a racism conference in Geneva later this year.
The journalists were working on a documentary on how the issue of human rights is debated at the United Nations.
According to a diplomatic source, the expulsion announced by the chairman of the session, Russian representative Yuri Boychenko, was requested by the Organisation of Islamic Conference and by the African group of states.
"It is regrettable that he was not informed of the procedures that allow a public session to become a private one," Marie Heuze, chief spokeswoman at the UN in Geneva said.
The expulsion took place when the debate was raging on freedom of expression and the defamation of religions, two issues which are proving particularly sensitive in a proposed declaration for the conference, known as "Durban II", to be held at the UN European headquarter in Geneva.
Is global warming irreversible???
Well, if it is, then we shouldn't reduce CO2 emissions....
Climate change is "largely irreversible" for the next 1,000 years even if carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could be abruptly halted, according to a new study led by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The study's authors said there was "no going back" after the report showed that changes in surface temperature, rainfall and sea level are "largely irreversible for more than 1,000 years after CO2 emissions are completely stopped."
NOAA senior scientist Susan Solomon said the study, published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, showed that current human choices on carbon dioxide emissions are set to "irreversibly change the planet."
I've asked this question for a while - we've been warned for so long about CO2 emissions - and they keep going up - that it's about time we wondered if it is indeed too late to do anything. Of course, being a skeptic, I've never been interested in reducing CO2 - but this is a question for believers...
Is 2009 the year for an Iranian nuclear weapon???
Hard to say....but here's one report that says it is possible...
Iran will have enough enriched uranium to make a single nuclear weapon later this year, the prestigious International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) predicts.
The think tank's Mark Fitzpatrick made the announcement at today's launch of its annual global review of military powers.
"During 2009, Iran will probably reach the point at which it has produced the amount of low-enriched uranium needed to make a nuclear bomb," he said.
Most Popular boys name in Norway - Mohammed...
For the last two years in a row...
The Central Statistics Office shows the name statistics for 2008.
Til sammen 120 gutter i Oslo fikk Mohammad som første fornavn i fjor. A total of 120 boys in Oslo had Mohammad as the first first name last year. Navnet skrives på mange forskjellige måter, men dette slås sammen i statistikken. Også i 2007 var Mohammad det mest populære guttenavnet i hovedstaden. The name is written in many different ways, but this turned up in the statistics. Also in 2007, Mohammad was the most popular boy name in the capital.
More Sweden - Holocaust Memorial Cancelled...
More moral confusion from Sweden....
A northern Swedish city has decided to cancel a planned Holocaust Memorial Day torchlight procession due to the recent IDF offensive in Gaza, it was reported Tuesday.
The official reason given for the decision, made by the municipal board and local church in Lulea, was safety concerns, but Bo Nordin, a clergyman and spokesman for the church, cited the war in Gaza.
"It feels uneasy to have a torchlight procession to remember the victims of the Holocaust at this time," Nordin told Swedish National Radio. "We have been preoccupied and grief-stricken by the war in Gaza and it would feel just feel odd with a large ceremony about the Holocaust."
Pro-Israel demo in Sweden disrupted....
Even a small pro-Israel demo can't be allowed to proceed...
Police in Malmö arrested four men after eggs and bottles were thrown at pro-Israel demonstrators in the town’s main square on Sunday, disrupting a protest that drew hundreds of people, police said.
"Around 300 people were gathering in the beginning of the afternoon supporting Israel when some persons started to shout and threw eggs and bottles on the demonstrators," a police spokeswoman in Malmö told AFP.
"Nobody was injured. We arrested four people. They are young men," she said.
One of the suspects "became violent and tried to fight with a policeman" during the arrest, the spokeswoman said.
"The demonstration was broken by the incident," she said.
Brave people at the Muslim Council of Britain...
Well, I guess I understand why they didn't want to announce this...
The Muslim Council of Britain boycotted yesterday's national Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration in protest at the Israeli offensive in Gaza this month. The decision not to send representatives from the umbrella body, which represents 500 Muslim organisations in Britain, was made at an MCB committee meeting last week. The committee overwhelmingly ruled out attendance at events marking the Holocaust due to take place over the next few days, but the decision has not been officially announced. The MCB believes that the memorial day will be used to "silence criticism of Israel".
Some honest voices from Gaza....
Some people are willing to speak out...
One of his neighbors weighs in: "Many people are now against Hamas but that won't change anything," he says. "Because anyone who stands up to them is killed." Since they took power Hamas has used brutal force against any dissenters in the Gaza Strip. There were news agency reports that during the war they allegedly executed suspected collaborators with Israel. The reign of terror will go on for some time, says the neighbor who doesn't want to give his name. "There will never be a rebellion against Hamas. It would be suicide."
Others swallow their anger. Hail's house is just a few streets away and only suffered light damage. There are a few bullet holes in the living room walls and all of the window panes are broken. Hail also found out after the cease-fire that the militants had used his house as a base for their operations. The door to his house stood open and there were electric cables lying in the hallway. When Hail followed them they led to his neighbor's house which it seems Hamas had mined.
As Hail, in his mid-30s, sat on his porch and thought about what to do a man came by: He was from Hamas and had left something in Hail's home. He let him in and the man then emerged with a bullet proof vest, a rocket launcher and an ammunitions belt. An hour later a fighter with Islamic Jihad called to the door, then disappeared onto the roof and reappeared with a box of ammunition. "The abused civilians' homes for their own purposes. That is not right," Hail says with disgust while trying to remain polite.
Jimmy Carter once again...
Here's his latest quote...
Former President Jimmy Carter says Israel will face a catastrophe unless it revives the Mideast peace process and establishes an independent Palestinian state.
I really wish he had said that the Palestinians would face a catastrophe unless they truly renounced terror....
Hamas and the use of ambulances...
You won't see this report on the CBC....
PALESTINIAN civilians living in Gaza during the three-week war with Israel have spoken of the challenge of being caught between Hamas and Israeli soldiers as the radical Islamic movement that controls the Gaza strip attempted to hijack ambulances.
Mohammed Shriteh, 30, is an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
His first day of work in the al-Quds neighbourhood was January 1, the sixth day of the war. "Mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected," Mr Shriteh told the Herald. "We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us."
Mr Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety.
"After the first week, at night time, there was a call for a house in Jabaliya. I got to the house and there was lots of shooting and explosions all around," he said.
Because of the urgency of the call, Mr Shriteh said there was no time to arrange his movements with the IDF.
"I knew the Israelis were watching me because I could see the red laser beam in the ambulance and on me, on my body," he said.
Getting out of the ambulance and entering the house, he saw there were three Hamas fighters taking cover inside. One half of the building had already been destroyed.
"They were very scared, and very nervous … They dropped their weapons and ordered me to get them out, to put them in the ambulance and take them away. I refused, because if the IDF sees me doing this I am finished, I cannot pick up any more wounded people.
"And then one of the fighters picked up a gun and held it to my head, to force me. I still refused, and then they allowed me to leave."
Mr Shriteh says Hamas made several attempts to hijack the al-Quds Hospital's fleet of ambulances during the war.
"You hear when they are coming. People ring to tell you. So we had to get in all the ambulances and make the illusion of an emergency and only come back when they had gone."
Falsely accusing someone of rape should be a crime....
That actually gets punished...this is from the UK...
A BBC personality has shattered her ex-boyfriend's life by falsely accusing him of rape.
The woman, who has broadcast to television audiences of millions, accused him of raping her 40 times throughout their two-and-a-half-year relationship.
He was arrested, held in a police cell and handcuffed as police searched his flat for evidence of his crime. But she retracted her allegation weeks later, and the officer investigating the claims described them as 'inconsistent' and 'not credible'.
Despite the lack of evidence, the incident remains on the Police National Computer thanks to a legal loophole, which campaigners say is blighting the lives of falsely accused men.
Even if the 'victim' withdraws their allegation, it will show up under enhanced Criminal Records Bureau checks that are undertaken regularly on people who apply for jobs with employers such as the NHS or schools. It will also prevent them from travelling to the United States.
The boyfriend cannot be identified to protect his accuser's anonymity, but wants to make his case public.
He said: 'The lies she told have ruined my life. Yet, while I have lost out on jobs and been left paranoid and scared of women, she has got away without punishment. We're not even allowed to reveal her identity. Rape is a horrific crime, and there is no way I am capable of committing it.
'I don't care how successful she is, she should be sent to prison. Of course, the BBC doesn't know what she has done. But if they were to find out I would like to think they'd sack her.'
The horrors of Human Rights Watch...
Always finding fault with Israel...
For many years, Ken Roth and Human Rights Watch have been at the forefront of the campaign to criminalize self-defense against terrorism and to brand Israel as the primary perpetrator of war crimes. Emotional outbursts, convoluted pseudo-legal language and post-colonial bias have contributed to the ideological destruction of human rights principles.
In attacking the IDF's actions against Hamas in Gaza, Roth applies the skills he acquired during his years as a prosecutor in New York, building a tendentious case based on unsupported "evidence," and stripping away the context. He would have us believe that an army - and the IDF in particular - that is less than perfect must be wholly condemned, regardless of the circumstance. His case combines half-truths, speculation, unverifiable evidence and subjective claims that may seem convincing to a jury that has never experienced terror, knows nothing about Hamas, asymmetric warfare or international law, and has a strong anti-Israel bias from the beginning.
HRW'S STATEMENTS on Gaza follow the organization's pattern and practice used for many years. For example, in October 2000, HRW joined the campaign blaming Israel for the highly publicized death of Muhammad al-Dura, citing "eyewitnesses" and rejecting contradictory evidence. A few months ago, a French defamation court known for its strict rulings, reviewed the details and sided with those who argued this video was staged by the Palestinian cameraman for France 2 TV - the only "witness."
In 2004, Roth held a high-profile press conference at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem to publicize a glossy 135-page anti-Israel indictment entitled "Razing Rafah." The description of terrorism as "resistance" and the use of this report to promote the boycott campaign against Caterpillar over sales to Israel reveal HRW's ideological bias. The main claims were that tunnels from Egypt to Gaza posed little threat, and, according to "experts," including sales clerks, could be readily detected by equipment used in America. The IDF's attacks against buildings that hid tunnel entrances were "unnecessary," "unlawful" and designed to maintain "long-term control over the Gaza Strip." Less than one year later, Israel had fully withdrawn from Gaza, opening the way for the import of thousands of rockets through the tunnels - HRW got it completely wrong, but learned no lessons.
Roth followed a similar pattern during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, with numerous false claims quoting "eyewitnesses" from territory fully controlled by Hizbullah. In the case of an attack in Kana, HRW adopted false claims regarding casualties that were nearly double the on-site figure provided by the Red Cross. In these and other cases, Roth has never apologized, and no independent investigations of HRW's numerous errors and biases have been conducted.
When it comes to war crimes committed by terror groups like Hizbullah and Hamas, time and again, Roth ignores the clear evidence, refusing to issue public condemnations or hold press conferences, claiming the need for thorough investigations. In contrast, Israel is found guilty from the outset. HRW issued 18 separate condemnations of Israeli policy in Gaza during 2008, exploiting the rhetoric of international law, including false claims that Israel was guilty of "collective punishment" and for causing a "humanitarian crisis." Very little was said about obvious Palestinian violations of the laws of war and common-sense morality, including launching of thousands of rockets, the indisputable use of human shields, the kidnapping of Gilad Schalit and the subsequent denial of his rights in captivity.
Can you believe it - a top EU official blames Hamas...
He'll probably be reprimanded...
Hamas bears full responsibility for the war in Gaza, a top EU official said Monday in the Strip, calling the group "a terrorist movement."
"At this time we have to also recall the overwhelming responsibility of Hamas," Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, told reporters.
"I intentionally say this here - Hamas is a terrorist movement and it has to be denounced as such," Michel said as he visited the town of Jabalya in northern Gaza.
"Public opinion is fed up to see that we are paying over and over again - be it the (European) commission, the member states or the major donors - for infrastructure that will be systematically destroyed," he said.
Italian article on Gazan casualties..
Here's the original Italian article, translated by Lingo...
Who tells a different version of the narrative set by the "muhamawa" (the resistance) is automatically a 'amil, a collaborazionista and threatens their lives. Aiuta però il recente scontro fratricida tra Hamas e Olp. It helps, however the recent fratricidal clashes between Hamas and PLO. Se Israele o l’Egitto avessero permesso ai giornalisti stranieri di entrare subito sarebbe stato più facile. If Israel had ol'Egitto allowed foreign journalists to enter would have been easier. Quelli locali sono spesso minacciati da Hamas. Those spaces are often threatened by Hamas. «Non è un fatto nuovo, in Medio Oriente tra le società arabe manca la tradizione culturale dei diritti umani. "There is a new reality in the Middle East between Arab societies lack the cultural tradition of human rights. Avveniva sotto il regime di Arafat che la stampa venisse perseguitata e censurata. Was under the regime of Arafat that the press was censored and persecuted. Con Hamas è anche peggio», sostiene Eyad Sarraj, noto psichiatra di Gaza city. Hamas is even worse, "says Eyad Sarraj, a well-known psychiatrist in Gaza city. E c’è un altro dato che sta emergendo sempre più evidente visitando cliniche, ospedali e le famiglie delle vittime del fuoco israeliano. And there is another fact that is emerging more and more evident by visiting clinics, hospitals and families of the victims of Israeli fire. In verità il loro numero appare molto più basso dei quasi 1.300 morti, oltre a circa 5.000 feriti, riportati dagli uomini di Hamas e ripetuti da ufficiali Onu e della Croce Rossa locale. In truth, the number appears much lower for almost 1300 deaths, in addition to about 5,000 injured, reported by the men of Hamas and repeated by the official UN and local Red Cross. «I morti potrebbero essere non più di 500 o 600. "The deaths could not be more than 500 or 600. Per lo più ragazzi tra i 17 e 23 anni reclutati tra le fila di Hamas che li ha mandati letteralmente al massacro», ci dice un medico dell’ospedale Shifah che non vuole assolutamente essere citato, è a rischio la sua vita. Mainly boys between 17 and 23 years recruited from the ranks of Hamas that has literally sent to the massacre, "says a doctor Shifah the hospital that will not necessarily be said, is to risk his life. Un dato però confermato anche dai giornalisti locali: «Lo abbiamo già segnalato ai capi di Hamas. One thing, however, also confirmed by local journalists: "We have already reported to the heads of Hamas. Perché insistono nel gonfiare le cifre delle vittime? Why insist on inflating the numbers of victims? Strano tra l’altro che le organizzazioni non governative, anche occidentali, le riportino senza verifica. Strano, inter alia, that non-governmental organizations, including Westerners, the reporting without verification. Alla fine la verità potrebbe venire a galla. In the end, the truth may come to light. E potrebbe essere come a Jenin nel 2002. It could be like in Jenin in 2002. Inizialmente si parlò di 1.500 morti. Initially we spoke of 1,500 deaths. Poi venne fuori che erano solo 54, di cui almeno 45 guerriglieri caduti combattendo». Then came out they were only 54, including at least 45 guerrillas who died fighting.
The truth about Antarctica...
Lots of media claims last week about warming on Antarctica...here's the truth...
Another example last week was the much-publicised claim, contradicting all previous evidence, that Antarctica, the world's coldest continent, is in fact warming up, Antarctica has long been a major embarrassment to the warmists. Al Gore and co may have wanted to scare us that the continent which contains 90 per cent of all the ice on the planet is heating up, because that would be the source of all the meltwater which they claim will raise sea levels by 20 feet.
However, to provide all their pictures of ice-shelves "the size of Texas" calving off into the sea, they have had to draw on one tiny region of the continent, the Antarctic Peninsula – the only part that has been warming. The vast mass of Antarctica, all satellite evidence has shown, has been getting colder over the past 30 years. Last year's sea-ice cover was 30 per cent above average.
So it predictably made headlines across the world last week when a new study, from a team led by Professor Eric Steig, claimed to prove that the Antarctic has been heating up after all. As on similar occasions in the past, all the usual supporters of the cause were called in to whoop up its historic importance. The paper was published in Nature and heavily promoted by the BBC. This, crowed journalists such as Newsweek's Sharon Begley, would really be one in the eye for the "deniers" and "contrarians".
But then a good many experts began to examine just what new evidence had been used to justify this dramatic finding. It turned out that it was produced by a computer model based on combining the satellite evidence since 1979 with temperature readings from surface weather stations.
The problem with Antarctica, though, is that has so few weather stations. So what the computer had been programmed to do, by a formula not yet revealed, was to estimate the data those missing weather stations would have come up with if they had existed. In other words, while confirming that the satellite data have indeed shown the Antarctic as cooling since 1979, the study relied ultimately on pure guesswork, to show that in the past 50 years the continent has warmed – by just one degree Fahrenheit.
One of the first to express astonishment was Dr Kenneth Trenberth, a senior scientist with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and a convinced believer in global warming, who wryly observed "it is hard to make data where none exists". A disbelieving Ross Hayes, an atmospheric scientist who has often visited the Antarctic for Nasa, sent Professor Steig a caustic email ending: "with statistics you can make numbers go to any conclusion you want. It saddens me to see members of the scientific community do this for media coverage."
Barcelona cancels Holocaust Memorial...
And, why have it when the Israelis are creating another holocaust as we speak...
The Catalunya government has called off the ceremony marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was scheduled to take place on January 27, citing the Israeli offensive in Gaza as the reason.
The Gaza campaign has inflamed the already pro-Palestinian public opinion in the northeastern Spanish region, and the local media has run endless stories comparing the Israeli stance on the situation in the Strip to Nazi atrocities.
Over 30,000 people marched in Catalunya's streets in support of Hamas, during the three-week campaign, burning Israeli flags and handing out flyers threatening local pro-Israel journalists.
The overwhelming public support for the Palestinians has prompted the government to cancel the Holocaust Remembrance Day service. This was to be the only public event marking the day, and was scheduled to take place in Barcelona's central piazza.
"Marking the Jewish Holocaust while a Palestinian Holocaust is taking place is not right," a local City official told Barcelona's La Vanguardia newspaper.
I am actually in Barecelona right now...and there is a huge banner on a building downtown about the whole world being accomplices in the shedding of Palestinian blood. The banner is professionally printed....and runs across the side of an entire building...about 300 feet long....
Bruce Bawer on Geert Wilders...
There's no one I trust more on Dutch politics than Bruce Bawer, author of "While Europe Slept"...
With Hirsi Ali abroad, the torch passed to Geert Wilders. At times, it seems that he is the last prominent Dutch figure willing to speak bluntly about the perils of fundamentalist Islam. The same people who demonized Fortuyn have done their best to stifle Wilders. In April 2007, intelligence and security officials called him in and demanded that he tone down his rhetoric on Islam. Last February, the Minister of Justice subjected him to what he described as another “hour of intimidation.” The announcement that he was making a film about Islam only led his enemies to turn up the heat. Even before Fitna was released early last year, Doekle Terpstra, a leading member of the Dutch establishment, called for mass rallies to protest the movie. Terpstra organized a coalition of political, business, academic, and religious leaders, the sole purpose of which was to try to freeze Wilders out of public debate. Dutch cities are riddled with terrorist cells and crowded with fundamentalist Muslims who cheered 9/11 and idolize Osama bin Laden, but for Terpstra and his political allies, the real problem was the one Member of Parliament who wouldn’t shut up. “Geert Wilders is evil,” pronounced Terpstra, “and evil has to be stopped.” Fortuyn, van Gogh, and Hirsi Ali had been stopped; now it was Wilders’s turn.
But Wilders—who for years now has lived under 24-hour armed guard—would not be gagged. Thus the disgraceful decision to put him on trial. In Dutch Muslim schools and mosques, incendiary rhetoric about the Netherlands, America, Jews, gays, democracy, and sexual equality is routine; a generation of Dutch Muslims are being brought up with toxic attitudes toward the society in which they live. And no one is ever prosecuted for any of this. Instead, a court in the Netherlands—a nation once famous for being an oasis of free speech—has now decided to prosecute a member of the national legislature for speaking his mind. By doing so, it proves exactly what Wilders has argued all along: that fear and “sensitivity” to a religion of submission are destroying Dutch freedom.