Day By Day

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The EU Constitution -- back to the drawing boards

Wretchard over at the Belmont Club opines that there is likely to be no way to stop eventual enactment of the EU Constitution. It's the only game in town and there seems to be no alternative. He writes:
Despite the French rejection of the proposed Constitution, there is no institutional equivalent of the Brussels bureaucracy advocating an alternative EU vision or the vision of no EU at all. In other words, the European 'process' remains a one-party show and the French rejection has no more significance than Kim Il Sung's failure to get a certain percentage of votes. Interesting but irrelevant if he is the only candidate.
Of course, it is possible that a severely scaled-down version of the EU constitution could finally develop out of this controversy, or that an institutional alternative might still emerge, although at this point it is hard to see from whence it could come.

Then Wretchard makes an extremely interesting point. He writes:
One axiom from the Watergate years was that it was "the coverup that gets you". In this case, it is not the rejection by the French voters that is most significant but the failure of the rejection to have any significance at all. The cavalier dismissal of the French vote describes the 'process' for what it is: a project in the hands of an elite. The real challenge for Europeans, especially Eastern Europeans and the British, is to articulate an alternative vision for the Continent. The European vision needs a second party in order to make up a debate.
You can say that again. Plan A isn't working -- someone had better come up with an alternative.

Read Wretchard's comments here.

Deep Throat Revealed? Who Knows? Who Cares?

Mark Felt, formerly number two at the FBI, now claims to have been "Deep Throat," the anonymous source who guided Woodward and Bernstein's investigation of the Watergate scandal. The MSM is all over this thing. They've been speculating for decades as to whether or not Deep Throat was a person, a composite, a construct, a space alien, whatever. Now they're wallowing in it again. Why?

The reason is that Watergate is the founding myth of modern journalism, with all its reliance on unnamed sources, its tabloid excesses, its pretentions to political significance, its hostility to other sources of institutionalized power, etc. Deep Throat was one of the more exotic features of that myth stucture. He was the ultimate inside source, the patriotic whistle blower who revealed the dark recesses of government, the truth teller who brought down a president. Add to that the exotic machinations -- meetings late at night in dark garages, flower pots strategically placed as signals, the cagey clues -- "follow the money."

For members of the MSM, and for Nixon haters [two not mutually exclusive categories] Deep Throat was an irresistable subject for speculation, and the whole story a mastubatory fantasy. But does anybody else care? Not really.

Should they? Well, ask yourself "what difference does it make whether we attach a name to Deep Throat or not?" Other than the individuals directly involved and their families, the answer has to be, "it just doesn't matter." It's a footnote, and an obscure one at that.

As for the MSM and the Nixon Haters. They've wallowed far too long in that mud-hole. For too long they've viewed the world and their place in it through that particular distorting prism. It's a new world out there and for them it's time to move on.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Zimbabwe Update -- Things Just Keep Getting Worse

Mad Bobby Mugabe's post-election crackdown continues unabated, and the results are horrifying.

ZimOnline reports:

HARARE – Armoured troop carriers yesterday patrolled several Harare suburbs as the army was summoned to help suppress swelling public anger against an ongoing government onslaught against informal traders and homeless people.

As soldiers descended on suburbs such as Glen Norah, Glen View and Mbare, where police fought running battles with informal traders in the last week, sources told ZimOnline that the police - who have led the evictions - were under orders to use live ammunition against civilians attempting to resist.

It could not be established whether the army was also under instruction to shoot at civilians with live ammunition.

According to the sources, Harare police commander Edmore Veterai, on Thursday told about 2 000 police officers at Morris police depot in the city that they should not fear shooting with live ammunition at people resisting eviction because the campaign against informal traders had the blessings of President Robert Mugabe.

There are reports of running street battles as residents of the targeted neighborhoods resist the destruction of their homes.

Read about it here.

Resistance is growing, and residents are attempting to arm themselves against police depredations.

MUTARE - Residents in Zimbabwe’s eastern Mutare city - driven to desperation after their informal businesses were destroyed by the government – pleaded for weapons at the weekend to wage war against the government because they were just “fed up.”

Several hundreds of residents, who attended a meeting held at Sakubva Beit Hall in the working class suburb of Sakubva in the city, told local Member of Parliament, Innocent Gonese, to source guns for them to fight the government.

Even the presence of the police at the meeting did not deter the irate residents with several standing up to openly declare they would rather die trying to “remove President Robert Mugabe from power” because they had nothing to live for after their only source of livelihood was destroyed in the ongoing controversial campaign by the government to clean up cities.

“We want you to provide us with guns because we are fed up,” a middle aged man rose from the crowd to declare boldly.

With the angry crowd urging him on, the man continued: “This government has no respect for the people. Our houses have been destroyed, our businesses have also gone. We have nothing to live for. We are prepared to die removing Mugabe. We don’t want to hear all this talk of going to court (to sue for compensation from the state).”

Read about it here.

As the situation worsens, the BBC describes "Desperation On the Streets"

Read it here.

and church leaders denounced Mugabe's "War against the poor." [here]

Finally: The BBC reports that,

Zimbabwe is to proceed with plans to nationalise all farmland, a ruling party official has said. Zanu-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuvarira said the party would amend the constitution so as to abolish rights to private ownership of land.

He said the move would end "ceaseless litigation" by white farmers whose property has been expropriated by decree over the past five years.

Under the proposed new system, land would be leased for 99-year terms.

This, of course, is pure Marxist/Maoist madness. It will inflict further damage on an already devastated economy. And of course, most of the real suffering will be done by the poor.

Read it here.

Also, check The Zimbabwean Pundit [here] for updates on the situation. He offers some hope. It appears that Mugabe is ill, and might die. This sounds to me like wishful thinking, but it's about all the opposition can hope for.

For my previous posts on the post-election situation see here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here. That's enough for now. For earlier posts scroll through my archives.

The Carnival of Revolutions is Up

Check it out at

Flores Update -- Hobbits or Pygmies [or Furries]?

Liang Bua Cave on Flores [Time, inc] where controversial "hobbit" remains have been found.

Time Magazine has a nice treatment of the current controversy over the Flores "hobbit". Early assertions that a new human species had been found there have been called into question. It seems that a village of pygmies lives within easy walking distance of the cave where the diminuitive skeletons were found. Controversy centers on the only skull recovered from the cave. It has an abnomally small cranial capacity, which leads some "scientists" to argue that it does represent a separate species. Other "scientists" say "nonsense -- it's just a pathological specimen." We've heard this argument many times before, starting with the first Neanderthal skeleton unearthed.

One parenthetical point: Some of the pygmies have a heavy pelt of fur on their bodies. If that's the case, shouldn't we be calling them the Flores "furries" instead of "hobbits?"

Read the article here.

Posted by Hello


Col. David Hackworth in his glory days.

Posted by Hello

Farewell to a Hero -- Colonel David Hackworth

A flag flew Saturday in Arlington National Cemetary near where Colonel David H. Hackworth will be buried. Tomorrow, the US military will lay to rest the veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam -- among its most decorated and controversial heroes. (Globe Photo / Chris Maddaloni)

They're burying a hero tomorrow at Arlington -- Col. David Hackworth. The Boston Globe has a nice piece on him. Excerpts:

WASHINGTON -- His courage under fire was the stuff of Hollywood, such as once ordering his helicopter pilot to land in the middle of a firefight so he could rescue his wounded men.

As an orphan shining shoes at a military base in Santa Monica, Calif., he lied about his age to join up in the waning days of World War II. That started a career that led him to Korea, where he survived a gunshot to the head, and a whopping four tours of duty in Vietnam, where his daring and swagger became the inspiration for Robert Duvall's Colonel Kilgore character in the movie ''Apocalypse Now."

Tomorrow, the US military will lay to rest Colonel David H. Hackworth -- among its most decorated heroes of all time -- at Arlington National Cemetery.

The top brass is not expected to attend.

Hackworth's most enduring foe was not the communists he fought. He earned a a chestful of medals, including two Distinguished Service Medals, 10 Silver Stars, eight Bronze Stars, and eight Purple Hearts. His adversary became the US military bureaucracy, which he railed against for 30 years on grounds that it failed to put the troops first. He also opposed military action in Bosnia, Kosovo, and especially Iraq.

But while Hackworth was an unyielding critic to generals, admirals, and defense secretaries, he was a father figure to thousands of grunts. Some held memorial services for him in between hunting for Iraqi insurgents, his family said....

Read it here.

Goodbye Hack. We're gonna miss ya.

Posted by Hello

Angela Merkel Rises

Deutsch Welle reports:
Angela Merkel, the leader of Germany's opposition Christian Democrats,
has officially been chosen as the conservative challenger to Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder in early elections in the fall.

Germany's opposition conservatives on Monday named Angela Merkel as
their candidate to challenge Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in an expected autumn
election that could produce the country's first woman leader.

Read about her here.

This is one hot lady. She defies all stereotypes. Born in Hamburg, raised in East Germany, trained as a physicist, joined the early anti-Communist movement, then the Christian Democrats, married and divorced, by 2000 emerged as the leader of the CD's. Today she polls well ahead of Schroeder and is the odds-on favorite to emerge as Germany's first woman chancellor.

What a babe!

Posted by Hello

Red State/Blue State in France!

Le Monde -- The political map of France is beginning to resemble that of the US in certain ways. Maybe it's just that nobody outside the metrosexual centers and Kerry's hometowns [remember his ties to Brittany] can stomach Chirac any more.

I wonder if we are going to be subjected to endless and incredibly obtuse think pieces in the NYT about the supposed quaint peculiarities of Red State Frenchmen? Probably not.

Actually, there is a a deeper theme here. On both the left and the right and throughout the Western world, there is a populist revolt emerging, directed against the credentialed cosmopolitan elites who have dominated Western political culture since WWII. Those elites always sold themselves as being disinterested, technocratic, experts who knew best what was good for the rest of us. But now they are seen as just one more self-serving interest group whose expertise, so often applied to disastrous effect, is suspect. In the end it is the people themselves who know what is best for them.

Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 29, 2005

French Neanderthal Babe

A reconstructed 20-year-old Neanderthal woman dubbed 'Pierrette' is displayed at the 'Paleosite' center, a museum combining tourism and archeology, in Saint-Cesaire, France, aiming to show how these hominids lived 35,000 years ago(AFP/File/Michel Gangne)

Of course, keep in mind that these kinds of reconstructions are very speculative. One of the theories as to why there is no clear evidence that Neanderthals and Modern Homo Sapiens interbred was that they were physically unattractive to each other. A Neanderthal "babe" would be repulsive to a modern human and vice versa. This reconstruction doesn't seem to bear out that theory. She just ain't repulsive.

Late at night, in a bar, you've struck out with Miss Lebanon. You've had a few. Bob Seger is singing on the jukebox. This lady starts to look pretty good, even if she is a separate species and built like a linebacker.

Posted by Hello

Sorry Jacques -- It's Back to the Drawing Boards

French President Jacques Chirac addresses the nation on TV after France voted against the ratification of the European constitution, May 29, 2005. Chirac said on Sunday French voters' rejection of the EU constitution made it hard for France to defend its interests in the EU, and said he would announce decisions on his government in coming days. REUTERS/France Television

Trey Jackson has the video here.

Posted by Hello

The People Speak -- France says "No" to the EU Constitution

AP Reports:

PARIS - French voters rejected the European Union's first constitution Sunday, President Jacques Chirac said — a stinging repudiation of his leadership and the ambitious, decades-long effort to further unite the continent.

Chirac, who urged voters to approve the charter, announced the result in a short televised address. He said the process of ratifying the treaty would continue in other EU countries. "France has expressed itself democratically," Chirac said. "It is your sovereign decision, and I take note."

Hell, it wasn't even close. "Non" won in a landslide.
Earlier, the Interior Ministry said that with about 83 percent of the votes counted, the referendum was rejected by 57.26 percent of voters. It was supported by 42.74 percent.

Read about it here.

It has been fun over the past few days, as it became ever more clear that the French public was about to reject the EU Constitution, watching the Euro-elites twisting and turning, trying to cone to terms with rejection. Some despair, seeing this as the death of their dreams of a comprehensive European state. But, as Mark Steyn notes in a brilliant collumn, these anti-democrats are not about to take the vote of the people as final.

He writes:

[A] couple of days before the first referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker, the "president" of the European Union, let French and Dutch voters know how much he values their opinion: "If at the end of the ratification process, we do not manage to solve the problems, the countries that would have said No, would have to ask themselves the question again," "President" Juncker told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

Got that? You have the right to vote, but only if you give the answer your rulers want you to give. But don't worry, if you don't, we'll treat you like a particularly backward nursery school and keep asking the question until you get the answer right. Even America's bossiest nanny-state Democrats don't usually express their contempt for the will of the people quite so crudely.

Read him here.

Notice that Chirac's statement did not promise to take rejection by the French public as final. He simply promised to "take note" of their opinion as he crafts future strategies.

Some have even perversely suggested that a referendum of the public is "undemocratic." Witness this incredible argument from Paul Virilio, writing in Sign and Sight. He writes:
Under the appearance of democratic openness, the French referendum on the European constitution increasingly appears as a denial of democracy. It is taking the guise of a cloaked plebiscite by a president who since April 21, 2002 has no longer held sway with the French voters, and that despite the incontestable success of his foreign policy at the moment of the refusal of the Iraq War....

[T]he practice of holding a referendum on such a subject is suicidal. It is an electoral absurdity that puts in question the political intelligence not only of the head of state, but also of his immediate entourage and communication advisers.

How can one vote "in full knowledge of the facts" on a text of some 500 pages, with over 400 articles? Who is the butt of jokes when the postal service has to deliver over 40 million copies of the European constitution to electors at their homes, and when ten or more books that set out the implications of the constitution in either positive or negative terms have become best-sellers?

So let me get this straight! Voting is a denial of democracy because the common folk are too dumb to understand what their government wants of them and the government is too incompetent to give them clear orders. The common folk have been fed too much information for their tiny brains to process, and therefore their participation in a referendum is a "denial of democracy."

What unadulterated crap!

Arguments like this have been used for centuries to disenfranchise groups of voters. They, not the referendum, are the real "denial of democracy."

Read the whole disgusting thing here.

One of the most important things the American founders did was to bypass the local elites in the various sovereign states and to take their case directly to the people. The American Constitution, after all, begins with the words "we the people." And they meant it.

Instead of simply asking the state legislatures to ratify their proposed constitution in 1787, they arranged for Congress to call for constitutional conventions in all the states where specially elected representatives would debate ratification. The result was significant modification of the original document, enshrined in the "Bill of Rights," and a recognition by the American public that they, not their leaders, had played the crucial part in shaping their government. James Madison, heralded as the primary author of the Constitution [and of the "Bill of Rights"], took full notice of it. He always maintained that the real meaning of the American Constitution was to be found, not in the deliberation of 55 men in Philadelphia, but in the wide-ranging ratification debates that took place in the state constitutional conventions.

Europe's elites should take warning from the French vote and inspiration from the American example. There is a real disconnect between the governors and the governed, and to stubbornly continue down the current road is to risk disaster. The precedent of the American founders should be reconsidered. A successful and legitimate constitution must be founded on the consent of the governed.

Casting Her Ballot in Beirut

Reuters photo -- I love this picture: check out those expressions, they say it all. Posted by Hello

Fireworks in Beirut -- The Political Reconstuction of Lebanon Begins

Fireworks in Lebanon celebrate the victory of Saad al-Hariri, son of the slain leader, in local elections. Posted by Hello

The Power of a Name -- The First Round of Lebanese Elections is Over

Reuters reports:

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Candidates led by the son of slain ex-premier Rafik al-Hariri won all the seats in Beirut in Lebanon's general election on Sunday, a government source said....

Saad al-Hariri's anti-Syrian bloc had already won nine of the capital's 19 seats in the 128-member parliament before the vote because they were not contested. The source said candidates on Hariri's list had taken all 10 undecided seats.

"This victory is for Rafik al-Hariri. Today Beirut showed its loyalty to Rafik al-Hariri," Hariri, 35, told a jubilant crowd celebrating outside his villa in the capital.

"Today is a victory for democracy...freedom and sovereignty," he said to chanting supporters....

"It's a festival of democracy," the chief of the EU mission [that was monitoring the elections], Jose Ignacio Salafranca, told reporters at one polling station.

Well, maybe. Certainly this is a hopeful development, but remember:

1) this is only the first round of a complex series of elections and Berirut represents less than one sixth of Lebanon's electorate. Things will change significantly as future polling moves outside the city.

2) turnout was unexpectedly low.
[V]oters denied Hariri the high turnout he sought in the first polls in
three decades with no Syrian troops in Lebanon. Interior Minister Hassan
al-Sabaa put the turnout at 28 percent. The capital had a 34 percent turnout in
2000, when Hariri's father, then cooperating with Syria, also swept the

3) The anti-Syrian movement is having problems:

The solidarity of the anti-Syrian alliance that blossomed after Hariri's death has eroded in the run-up to the election.

Hariri's alliance with Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and some Christian foes of Syria is intact, but [General Michel] Aoun, a fierce opponent of Syria just back from exile, was left out in the cold....

Followers of Christian leader Michel Aoun, left off Hariri's anti-Syrian ticket, had urged people to shun the polls, handing out orange stickers that said: "Boycott the appointments."

4) The early promise of Christian/Druze/Sunni Muslim cooperation, so prominently displayed in the spring demonstrations, has not been fully manifested. Christians and Shiite Muslims were largely shut out of these local elections.

Still, these problems may not be all that important.

1) The low turnout may simply reflect the fact that everyone knew, prior to the elections, who was going to win.
"Why should I vote when the result is already decided?" said Abdul-Rahman Itani, in his 40s.

2) Some of the low turnout may be just [mainly young] people's revulsion at the cynical negotiating that lies at the heart of the democratic process.
For others, the euphoria of the anti-Syrian protests has given way to dismay
at politicians who have reverted to electoral horse-trading and alliances that
curtail voter choice.

3) The deal-making has the possibility of cementing cross-faith alliances.
[T]he Hariri-Jumblatt front has... made deals with the main pro-Syrian Shi'ite alliance. Hariri's Beirut ticket includes a Hizbollah candidate. The joint Amal-Hizbollah list in the south embraces Bahiya al-Hariri, the slain leader's sister.

4) Future elections will be more closely contested and turnout will be higher as a result.
The election results are broadly predictable in Beirut and the south, but tighter contests are expected in the north and center of the country, especially among Christian rivals.

One thing that stands out in all of this is the power of the name "Hariri." The slain leaders widow, his son, and his sister have all emerged as major figures in post-Syrian Lebanon.

The youthful idealism of the Cedar Revolution has given way to democratic politics. Some might be dismayed by this, but the early hopes were far from realistic. Still, the deal-cutting is providing a continuing basis for a dynamic relationship among Lebanon's various confessional groups, and workable shifting arrangements seem to be emerging. This is the glory of democracy as properly practiced. It ain't pretty, but it works well enough to provide a common basis for political action. All in all, the early results from Beirut seem to indicate that post-Syrian Lebanon is not likely to fall back into the welter of violence and chaos of a previous generation. The experience of Syrian occupation seems to have created sufficient national consciousness to prevent that.

Still, there is HizBullah to worry about. Things could still fall apart.

Stay tuned....

Read Reuters report here.

CNN video report here.

Can't Get Enough of Those Lebanese Babes -- Can't Call Her a Protest Babe, Though; She's Just Having Fun in Phuket

Nadime Mjeim: Miss Lebanon in Phuket, Thailand. Yalibnan has the story and lots of accompanying pictures here.

Posted by Hello

More Miss Lebanon!

OK, OK, By Popular Demand -- More Miss Lebanon -- Also from Yalibnan. Check them out here.

Posted by Hello

Another Freedom Babe

Rusudan Boshoidze; Miss Georgia. Posted by Hello

And Yet Another Freedom Babe

Juliya Chernyshova; Miss Ukraine. Posted by Hello

Indonesian Protest Babes

Indonesian women protest their country's participation in the Miss Universe pagent. Quit complaining, you said you wanted more protest babes, didn't you? Posted by Hello

Another Left Wing Icon Comes Crashing Down -- Mao, "The Greatest Monster Of Them All"

The Times reviews a new book on Mao Tse Tung -- the most despicable and destructive of the twentieth century's blood-drenched monsters.

Mao: The Untold Story, by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday
Reviewed by Simon Sebag Montefiore

A few choice excerpts:
For generations, Mao Tse-tung was the acceptable, even fashionable face of communist tyranny....

Ever since the Soviet archives started to reveal the intimate story of Stalin’s tyranny, people have been tempted to compare Hitler and Stalin. Who killed more people? Who was more depraved...? Mao is never mentioned — but he will be now.

Mao: The Untold Story exposes its subject as probably the most disgusting of the bloody troika of 20th-century tyrant-messiahs, in terms of character, deeds — and number of victims. This study, by Jung Chang, the author of Wild Swans, and her husband, the historian Jon Halliday, is a triumph. It is a mesmerising portrait of tyranny, degeneracy, mass murder and promiscuity, a barrage of revisionist bombshells, and a superb piece of research. This is the first intimate, political biography of the greatest monster of them all — the Red Emperor of China. Using witnesses in China, and new, secret Chinese archives, the authors of this magisterial and damning book estimate that Mao was responsible for 70m deaths.

Nikita Khrushchev said: “I look at Mao, I see Stalin, a perfect copy.” Their attitudes, even their style of dress, their refusal to earn money or work on anything except their own power, their obsessional reading of imperial history, poetry writing, swaggering disdain for human life, their worship of violence, their loathing of peasants, their superpower ambitions, their jealousies, their self-belief, secrecy and paranoia, their loathing of their fathers, respect for their mothers and their destruction of their own wives and children were almost identical. The authors point out two key differences: they believe that Mao was never a Marxist, simply an opportunistic egomaniac. They record his frenzied womanising: Stalin was far less of a sensualist.

There's much more. Read the review here [partial -- subscription required for full text, but still worth reading in partial form].

Parenthetically, I would note that one the few practitioners of Maoist thought still in power today is Mad Bobby Mugabe, the tyrant of Zimbabwe, whose recent deeds I have been chronicling below.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Now THIS Sounds Like Fun -- The Carnival of Bad History

It's not too late to get your submissions in for the Bad History Carnival. It will appear here on the 31st.

Here's their description of what they want:

What counts as bad history?

For starters, we've come up with this list:

Bad presentations of history - This is the easy one. Review bad historical movies, books and teevee. How anachronistic are those uniforms? How improbable is that alternate history novel? Did kindly frontier doctors really talk like that?

Bad uses of history - When pundits, politicians, and talking heads get hold of history they often twist it beyond all recognition or justification. Tell us about the mangaled metaphors, unjustified parallels, or outright lies you find in the public sphere.

Historians behaving badly - Historians manage their share of embarassing talking head appearances, plagiarism scandals, and corporate sell-outs. We don't want mere unpleasant gossip. Contributions in this category should be of historians behaving badly in their professional capacity as historians.If you can think of another category that should be included, run it by us.

Who can contribute?

All you need is your own weblog or website and an opinion. You don't need to be a professional historian and you don't need to write mostly about history. If you write only one post on bad history in you entire life, send it to us.

The only requirement is that it be an original piece of your writing (not a copy of someone else's article and not link-and-comment) and posted in the last month. Send the link to the post and a short summary to this month's host or to us (we'll forward it).

Talk about shooting fish in a barrel! Hardly a day goes by when I don't read or hear something that makes me sputter, "but..., but...!"

It's easy, and it's fun. Check it out!

Zimbabwe Update -- "Operation Marambatsvina" [take out the trash]

AP Reports:

HARARE, Zimbabwe

Police demolished squatter homes and rounded up street vendors, leaving thousands homeless in Zimbabwe's opposition strongholds in what President Robert Mugabe insisted was an urban clean-up campaign.

All the demolished homes were in areas that voted for the opposition in Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections, and Morgan Tsvangirai, an opposition leader, said the destruction was an assault on the urban poor who make up its support base. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party claimed victory in the disputed vote on March 31.
Besides demolishing shacks in townships surrounding Harare, police also raided squatter settlements around the country.

"Widowed mothers, grandmothers and youth have been affected by this mindless clampdown," said Jenni Williams, a spokeswoman for Women of Zimbabwe Arise.
"Police went around beating up anyone they came across. They made sure there was no electricity in the area and under cover of darkness they were beating everyone up," said Muchingedzi, who said the area had quieted by daybreak.
Tsvangirai said Mugabe would use the operation as a pretext for calling a state of emergency, which would give the government unlimited powers of search, seizure and detention as the country goes into a food crisis with up to 4 million people needing aid.
Yup, that's Mad Bobby all right -- the old Maoist/anti-colonial hero is up to his old tricks again. And there doesn't seem to be anything the storied "International Community" can or is willing to do about it.

Sad..., sad!

Read about it here.

lubnaniyun -- will it be enough?

Bret Stephens has a nice piece over at the WSJ on Lebanon. He notes that the Syrian occupation,

did have one unintended benefit: It created, for the first time, a functional identity for Lebanon.

The word that captures this is lubnaniyun, which came into common usage in the weeks of joint Christian-Muslim mass protest preceding Syria's withdrawal. Literally, it is the plural form of lubnani--"Lebanese." In spirit, it's akin to America's e pluribus unum--out of many, one.


What is remarkable is that what began as an alliance of convenience between Christians, Sunnis and Druze to expel Syria has not only survived Syria's departure, but has deepened into an alliance of shared convictions.

The potential problem, of course, is Hizbullah, the Shiite "Party of God." It refuses to disarm, is controlled by Iran, and dreams of creating in Lebanon an Islamic state. Yet Stephens finds non-Muslim Lebanese to be quite nonchalant about the threat from Hizbullah. They have confidence in the power of lubnaniyun.

He writes:

[P]erhaps the apparent nonchalance of most Lebanese is warranted. Wherever I go here, the impression is of a people intent on making up for lost time, and determined never again to be dragged down by extremism. It is these Lebanese, one senses, and not Hezbollah, who are making the country anew, and who are doing so, at long last, in the absence of fear.

Let us certainly hope so.

Read it here.

Much has been accomplished in Lebanon, but there is a hard road ahead and lubnaniyun can't patch over the rough spots completely.

Kirk Sowell over at Window on the Arab World notes that,

Al-Hayat reports on the "collapse" of the Auon-Jumblatt-Hariri alliance, as well as France's doubts that Syria has removed its intelligence operatives from Lebanon.

This is serious stuff. General Michel Auon returned from exile to cheering crowds a few weeks back and obviously is bidding for control of the opposition coalition; Walid Jumblatt, representing the Druze, took a leaderhip role early in the revolution and obviously sees himself continuing in that role. Meanwhile Saad al-Hariri, the son of slain former Premier, Rafiq Hariri is making his bid for leadership. What a mess!

But Yalibnan reports that Hizbullah's leaders are beginning to sound more and more like politicians and less like militant revolutionaries. Read it here.

The report that Syrian intelligence is still operating in Lebanon is particularly ominous. But..., but..., didn't the UN assure us that Syria had completely withdrawn its intelligence operatives? And if the UN certifies something, it surely must be so..., musn't it?

Maryland Politics -- Steele Will Run [maybe]

The WaPo reports:

Maryland Republican Party Chairman John Kane said last night that he expects Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R) will soon announce the launch of a committee to explore a 2006 U.S. Senate bid.

"I think that's what he will do," Kane said in an interview, adding, "He represents the best hope of the Republican Party to win that seat."

Steele, however, has made no commitment.
Asked later if he had formed a committee, Steele said: "You can quote me: 'I
have not formed anything. I have not made any decision.' "

Read it here.

So, which is it? Is he is, or is he ain't a candidate?

I sure hope he runs. If I had my druthers it would be Steele vs Mfume, but it will probably be Cardin for the Democrats.

David Wissing, the Hedgehog asks:

why on earth is the MD GOP chairman stepping all over Steele’s future announcement?

Beats me -- maybe he's getting impatient and couldn't contain himself. Steele is not just the Republicans' best hope -- he's their only hope.

John Hawks on the Kansas Evolution Controversy

John Hawks, who writes some of the best commentary on things evolutionary, has some good advice for people concerned about the current debate taking place before the Kansas State School Board on the teaching of intelligent design in the classroom. He asks:

Can evolution exist in the classroom in a way that is not antagonistic to faith? Certainly it can, as evidenced by letter signed by thousands of clergy members. But not every kind of faith is compatible with Earth's history as uncovered by science....

It is really a small subset of religious beliefs that conflict with scientific knowledge of the Earth.

But notes:
If you believe that our planet originated within the past 10,000 years, then there is no adequate presentation of evolution that will be consistent with that belief. If you believe that humans were ther result of a special creation, and bear no relationship to other animals, then evolution cannot satisfy your belief. As long as our schools educate children who have been raised under these beliefs, there will be a conflict in the classroom.
These beliefs, which as I noted before [here], are by no means held by all proponents of ID, certainly are a sticking point. But focusing relentlessly on them only exacerbates the situation. Hawks blames ID proponents for creating a hostile climate:
The strategy of ID proponents and other supporters of creationism is to maximize the contradiction; to show that evolution is atheistic and therefore necessarily antagonistic to religion.
I would point out that this is also the strategy of extremist hyper-Darwinist polemicists like Richard Dawkins. This is what happened with regard to the Scopes Trial. Extremists and the popular press, seeking dramatic confrontation, systematically misrepresented positions on both sides of the controversy and ignored broad areas of fundamental agreement among theologians [including fundamentalists] and scientists. Hawkes, unlike the despicable Dawkins, is far too wise to go down that road.
The best strategy for evolutionists is clearly to continue to emphasize the lack of contradiction with most religions, while maximizing the value of understanding the scientific principles underlying the study of the Earth's history.
Well said!

Read his post here.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Fallaci Update -- She's Losing It

Earlier I [along with many in the blogosphere] had expressed concern about the demand of an Italian court that Orianna Fallaci return to her homeland to face charges that her latest book was offensive to Islam. [here] At the time I had only seen a few of the objectionable quotes, and they looked fairly innocuous to me. Now Dagger In Hand has quoted the eighteen passages that were deemed offensive [here], and some of them strike me as being..., really offensive.

Here they are [from Dagger in Hand]
1) during the occupation of Montecassino in the 9th century “the Muslims amused themselves by sacrificing each night the virginity of a nun. Do you know where? On the altar of the cathedral.”

2) while occupying Constantinople in 1453, the Turks led by Mohammed II “decapitated even newborns. And extinguished candles with their little heads.”

3) “In a woman the Koran sees above all a womb to give birth.”

4) “In the dream that the sons of Allah have been nurturing for years, the dream of blowing up Giotto’s Tower or the Tower of Pisa or the cupola of St. Peter’s or the Eiffel Tower or Westminster Abbey or the cathedral of Cologne and so on . . .”

5) “…halal butchery is barbarous” just as “shechita butchery is barbarous. That is, the Jewish version which is carried out in the same way and consists of slitting the animals’ throats without dazing them.”

6) France is a country “where Islamic racism, that is the hatred of the infidel-dogs, reigns supreme and is never put on trial, never punished. Where the Muslims declare openly: “We must take advantage of the democratic space that France offers us, we must exploit democracy, that is, make use of it to occupy territory.” Where not a few of them add: “In Europe the Nazi position was not understood. Or not by all. It was judged a vehicle of homicidal folly, when actually Hitler was a great man.”

7) for Muslims “biology is a shameless science because it is occupied with the human body and sex.”

8) “ . . . we will have to resign ourselves to the yoke of a creed that . . . instead of love spreads hatred and instead of liberty slavery.”

9) “a Right and a Left . . . that (in Italy) are both on the side of the enemy (Islam).”

10) the demands of the Islamics with regard to school curricula mean that in literature classes “we will not be allowed to include for example The Divine Comedy . . .nor the Canticle of Creatures nor the Sacred Hymns of Alessandra Manzoni . . .” etc. etc.

11) “ . . . the uncouth wailing of the muezzin . . .”

12) the terrorist attacks of the last twenty years have caused six thousand deaths “to the glory of the Koran. In obedience to its verses.”

13) “Our Jesus of Nazareth . . . they put him in their Danna where he eats like Trimalchio, drinks like a drunkard, screws like a sexual maniac.”

14) “. . . the revolting, reactionary, obtuse, feudal Right is found today only in Islam. It is Islam.”

15) infibulation is “the mutilation that the Muslims force on little girls to prevent them, once they are grown . . . from enjoying the sexual act. It is a female castration that the Muslims practice in twenty-eight countries of Islamic Africa and because of which two million persons die each year from sepsis or loss of blood . . .”

16) the Italians afflicted by atavistic loss of pride “are not offended when Islamic immigrants urinate on their monuments or soil the sacristies of their churches or toss their crucifixes out the window of a hospital.”

17) “. . . Islam is a pond. And a pond is a trough of stagnant water. . . it is never purified . . . it is easily polluted, like a watering hole for livestock of little value. The pond does not love life: It loves death . . .”

18) “ . . .despite the massacres through which the sons of Allah have bloodied us and bloodied themselves for over thirty years, the war that Islam has declared against the West . . . is a cultural war. . .they kill us in order to bend us. To intimidate us . . . Their goal is not to fill cemeteries. Not to destroy our skyscrapers . . . It is to destroy our soul, our ideas. Our feelings and our dreams. It is to subjugate the West once again.”

Frankly, these make a woman whose work I have long admired come off as something of a crank. Dagger in Hand agrees. He writes:
[I]t is undeniable that the overall tone of her book is one of visceral revulsion for Muslims, not just rationally alarmed criticism of certain political and cultural developments in Europe. This is unfortunate, because her book does raise a lot of genuinely alarming and important issues, and I think this time around her haranguing jeremiads, bracing and delightfully trenchant though they can be (particularly when directed at various politicians and organizations), actually wind up detracting from the message. They surely detract from the chances of persuading anyone not on her side already, or even of getting them to give her an open-minded hearing. They also make it easy to understand why a Muslim who does not wish to blow up the Eiffel Tower or conquer the West would rightly feel that he was being stereotyped and hatred being fomented against him.
I agree.

Dhimmitude Watch -- Islamism meets Feminism in Canada

Earlier I noted an attempt by Islamists to institute Sharia in Quebec [here]. Now comes more information -- it seems that at least the Quebecois are showing some guts.

The National Post reports:

QUEBEC CITY - The Quebec National Assembly yesterday unanimously adopted a resolution to oppose "the establishment of so-called Islamic tribunals in Quebec and in Canada," making the province the first to explicitly ban the use of sharia law.

"It's important to send a very clear message that there's one rule of law in Quebec," Premier Jean Charest said. "In our case, we are very much an inclusive society, but a society that will govern itself by one set of rules."

Copies of the resolution are being sent to all other legislatures across Canada.

Islamic fundamentalists have targeted Canada to introduce sharia law -- a code of conduct based on the Koran that critics say discriminates against women -- because of this country's rights guarantees and official multiculturalism, said Quebec Liberal Fatima Houda-Pepin, who proposed the private member's resolution. [Emphasis mine]

They were encouraged to do so by liberal silliness.

In December, former Ontario attorney-general Marion Boyd opened the door for sharia in Canada by recommending "Muslim principles" for potential use in family arbitration. Custody disputes, for example, could be settled outside of the provincial family-court system using sharia principles.
Hmmm. I remember listening recently to a debate between Supreme Court Justices Breyer and Scalia about the appropriateness of using foreign legal precedents to inform SCOTUS decisions regarding American law. There is a real danger here -- let us hope that Breyer and his ilk begin to recognize it.

This is not something brand new:

Ms. Houda-Pepin said the Muslim World League, based in Saudi Arabia, held a conference in Washington in 1991, where Canada was targeted.

At the Washington meeting, the league decided to convince Canadian Muslims to eschew secular laws, she added, and at the same time, they decided to push for adoption of sharia.

If Ontario goes ahead with Ms. Boyd's recommendations, Islamic fundamentalists can point to Canada, a secular Western country, to argue against reformers in Islamic countries who want to modernize their laws, she added.

So there is a long-term campaign to Islamicize western legal codes, the success of which would compromise not only western culture, but attempts to liberalize Muslim societies. Now we get to the crux of the matter -- sharia violates the tenets of feminism.

Ms. Houda-Pepin, who was born in Morocco and is a secular Muslim, said Muslim women do not want sharia.

"The victims of sharia have a human face," she said. "They are Muslim women."

What is ironic is that the Islamists are using precisely the same tactics earlier used by feminists to shape the political and legal cultures of western democracies. Unable to gain public support for their efforts, they sought to influence the actions of unelected branches of the governments -- the courts and executive bureaucracies -- establishing precedents that would be followed in the future by functionaries unaccountable to the public. Now the shoe is on the other foot and them wot lives by the sword..., well, you get my drift.

But the issue is not so simple. Canada is committed to cultural pluralism and has traditionally allowed small, deviant groups [like the Mennonites] to arbitrate disputes within their own communities. But Sharia contains many provisions that are repugnant to and strongly opposed by influential groups in Canada's mainstream culture. Can Canadian tolerance and pluralism survive the clash?

Stay tuned.

Read it here.


The Chicago Tribune last year reported on the association between the Muslim American Society's (MAS) and its shadowy twin, the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.

Over the last 40 years, small groups of devout Muslim men have gathered in homes in U.S. cities to pray, memorize the Koran and discuss events of the day.

But they also addressed their ultimate goal, one so controversial that it is a key reason they have operated in secrecy: to create Muslim states overseas and, they hope, someday in America as well.

These men are part of an underground U.S. chapter of the international Muslim Brotherhood, the world's most influential Islamic fundamentalist group and an organization with a violent past in the Middle East. But fearing persecution, they rarely identify themselves as Brotherhood members and have operated largely behind the scenes, unbeknown even to many Muslims....
This organization has increasingly become controversial in the US Muslim community.

Many Muslims believe that the Brotherhood is a noble international movement that supports the true teachings of Islam and unwaveringly defends Muslims who have come under attack around the world, from Chechens to Palestinians to Iraqis. But others view it as an extreme organization that breeds intolerance and militancy.

"They have this idea that Muslims come first, not that humans come first," says Mustafa Saied, 32, a Floridian who left the U.S. Brotherhood in 1998.

While separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of American democracy, the international Brotherhood preaches that religion and politics cannot be separated and that governments eventually should be Islamic. The group also champions martyrdom and jihad, or holy war, as a means of self-defense and has provided the philosophical underpinnings for Muslim militants worldwide.
Read the whole thing here.

This is the American branch of the Muslim Brotherhood that is currently promoting Islamist revolution in Egypt. They claim to be peaceful, but will use whatever legal means are available to institute Sharia in the US.

Does NOW know about this?

The Generation of 68 Discovers That Their Kids are Conservative -- The Horror, the Horror!"

Deutch Welle Photo -- The New Face of German Youth

DW reports:

[T]his generation of young Germans has a decided lack of interest in the political issues of their society, and are much more interested in themselves than anything else. While that might seem like a given for adolescents and their seniors in some countries, it seems that this burgeoning bent towards self-centered behavior is news for Germany.

Loud are the cries that youngsters up and down the country are displaying signs of the very conservative values their emancipated parents educated them against. Trend researcher and analyst Roman Retzbach said there is every reason to suggest that Germany is rekindling its relationship with the bourgeoisie.

Trend analyst Retzbach says the desire for the family idyll of spouse, children and a house with a garden has been gaining ground over recent years. He said Germany is experiencing a perceptible return to traditional family values in which youngsters are not only willing to wait for a serious relationship before having sex, but in which they have begun looking to the church -- and its intrinsic values -- as a point of orientation for their lives.

Oh no! Not the bourgeoisie!

The article chronicles the responses of social commentators to this disturbing [to them] phenomenon. Their statements range from dismay, to nostalgia for the socialist past, to outright denial.

After decades of nothing but bad news out of Europe, it is good to see that the continent is starting to come to its senses. Let us all sincerely hope that these kids, and not their parents, represent the future course of Western society and culture.

Read the article here.

Posted by Hello

The Terminal Silliness of Andrew Bacevich

As I write this, I have C-Span on in the background. Andrew Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism, is making a stunningly idiotic argument. He points out that through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and even the twentieth centuries, the US raised and trained armies to meet specific military threats, then once that threat was defeated disbanded the armies. The real American military tradition, he argues, is that of an extremely small standing army -- a tradition that has been violated since the end of the Cold War.

Actually Andrew, the small army tradition you cherish so much existed in a very different world. That was a time when America was thousands of miles away from any threatening force, behind oceans protected by the British military, and surrounded by weak states we could easily dominate. After 1815 there was no real possibility that we would have to fight a major foe.

The change you dislike so much actually came at the end of WWII. The vast mobilization of that war merged into a permanent Cold War and the creation of what Ike called "the military-industrial complex," and a set of global commitments that spread our forces over much of the globe. By the mid-seventies those forces were entirely professionalized.

And, let us not forget, the end of the Cold War left us in a world of modern technologies shrunk distance to the point where those vast oceans were no longer adequate protection [especially since Britain was no longer patrolling them] and empowered potential enemies [both state and non-state] with weapons that could unleash devastating damage on us. We also inherited a world where we, not Britain, maintained and protected a globe-spanning network of economic interests. Because of our new role in the world and because of the new technologies of communication and destruction, we had to maintain the capacity to project our power with devastating effect, anywhere and everywhere throughout the world.

Wake up guy -- this is not the nineteenth century and hasn't been for a long-long time.

At least James Fallows challenged him on the basis that his publications have been entirely critical of the military and betray an anti-military bias, to which he replied that he was one of a small group of people who are working to reverse the recent trend toward perpetual militarism. At least he is up front about his bias; that allows readers to gauge the extent to which it shapes his conclusions. I wish historians were so honest.

Now Condi Rice is speaking. She (who shall not be named) notes that she has softened her image -- new hair style and "a really nice" conservative suit. I guess the "Emma Peel" look wasn't working for her. Here come the protesters -- she handles it well. She says it is a wonderful thing that people can speak their minds..., and that they now can do so in Baghdad. [Thunderous applause]

Condi's cool. She's got the audience with her. You go girl! The theme -- free trade promotes political liberalism and prosperity. OK.

Zimbabwe Update -- Mugabe Strikes Again: "The Arrests Will Continue"

Whoops, he did it again.

Just two days ago Mad Bobby Mugabe, his economy in shambles due to his insane racist and socialist policies, decided to do away with the only economic activity that was actually working -- the black market. He turned loose his gangs of ZANU thugs and rounded up 10,000 enemies of the state [post here -- follow the links for earlier posts]. Now comes news that he did it again, arresting 7,000 more. But the crackdown isn't going very well.

BBC Reports:
On Wednesday, when the police burnt an informal market in the Harare suburb of Glen View, street traders threw stones at the police and then looted several shops.

Despite the tensions, the police say the arrests will continue.

The government says it wants to stop the damage the black market is doing to the economy, namely stoking an already high rate of inflation.

But more than 80% of the people in Zimbabwe are jobless and for the majority of the population, the informal economy is the only way of making a living.

Read the article here.

This is the legacy of anti-colonialism in Zimbabwe -- oppression, civil disorder, an economy in shambles, widespread starvation, etc. Yet Mugabe, is still seen throughout southern Africa as a hero of independence.


Dhimmitude Watch

C-NEWS reports on an outrageous demand by Islamists in Quebec that they be governed by Sharia, rather than Canadian law.

QUEBEC (CP) - While Ontario considers a move to allow Islamic law to help settle some family disputes, Quebec sent a clear message Thursday it will not permit Muslim tribunals.

Quebec lawmakers from all parties voted unanimously in the legislature to reject the use of Islamic tribunals in the legal system. The vote was a pre-emptive strike to stop a growing movement among some Muslims to have the religion to play a role in family law.

The member of the Quebec Liberal government who led the debate Thursday took the unusual step of criticizing a report by former Ontario attorney general Marion Boyd that recommended opening the door to Islamic family law.

Liberal backbencher Fatima Houda-Pepin said any move to allow Muslim family law would lead to similar demands in criminal and civil legal areas.

"The application of Sharia in Canada is part of a strategy to isolate the Muslim community so it will submit to an archaic vision of Islam," said Houda-Pepin, the sponsor of the motion.

"These demands are being pushed by groups in the minority that are using the Charter of Rights to attack the foundation of our democratic institutions. It's a political agenda in the name of Islam."

Note that while Quebec has rejected this insolence out of hand, officials in the Ontario government have actually recommended instituting it -- the idiots!


For a good example of Islamist chain jerkin' check out this post from Sweden [hat tip Ahmad].

A top Muslim scholar said the Muslim minority in Sweden would abide by Swedish law in confronting a Christian preacher who insulted Prophet Muhammad, urging his fellow Swedish Muslims not to take the law into their own hands or commit any violent acts to avenge the remarks of the Christian cleric. Norwegian celebrity evangelist preacher Runar Søgaard, in a sermon at Filadelfia church in Stockholm on March 20, repeated claims that Muhammad was "a confused pedophile" since his wives included a girl aged nine years old. Søgaard is under protection by Swedish police after receiving death threats. The sermon has triggered fears of a religious war in Sweden. It is essential according to Islamic teachings to respond to those who defame Muhammad. Muslim extremists in Sweden have urged Al-Qaida's al-Zarqawi to take action in the matter, and radicals of the Salafyist variety have posted a very explicit threat to launch a wave of terrorist attacks against Sweden because of the "insult". The threats were posted on a number of known Islamist forums and were accompanied by rather lurid graphics. [Emphasis mine].

However, Fjordman has documented that Swedish Muslims called for terror attacks against Sweden even before this incident happened. ....

Muslims have been spreading extremism and hate in Sweden for some time....

The threats against Sweden should serve as a lesson to those who still
claim that Islamic terrorism is caused by "Israeli aggression" or "American
foreign policy".

Read the whole thing here -- some of the quotes from Islamist radicals are absolutely chilling. Once again demands for the institution of Sharia, and terroristic threats in response to an alleged "insult."

And how has the Swedish government reacted to this and other outrages?

It subsidizes Palestinian terror conferences at a time when anti-Jewish harassment by Muslims is so bad that Swedish Jews sign up for service in the IDF to escape. IKEA, one of its largest companies, censors its own manuals in order not to offend Muslims. A Swedish court recently judged according to sharia. I have earlier read suggestions by a columnist in Sweden's largest newspaper, Aftonbladet, that Sweden should change its national anthem into "something multicultural". Two Swedish girls were also sent home from school for wearing sweaters showing a tiny Swedish flag. The headmaster was concerned that this might be deemed offensive by some immigrants. Sweden crawls to Muslims in every way imaginable, and it still isn't enough. There are still Muslim radicals who want to attack it.

Now, think about the response of Islamist radicals to recent reports [apparently false] that an interrogator at Gitmo flushed a Koran down a toilet -- they rioted and killed. And how did American institutions react -- not much differently from Swedish authorities.

Once again -- a little perspective here. Let's reserve our anger and outrage for the monsters who turn every imagined slight into opportunities for murder, intimidation, and chaos.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Darfur Update -- the EU acts, sorta

ABC News reports:

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia May 26, 2005 — The United States pledged an additional $50 million to fund the African Union peacekeeping operation in Sudan's western Darfur region during a conference of international donors on Thursday.

The State Department's senior representative on Sudan, Charles Snyder, said the funding came in addition to $95 million already pledged to help end what he called "acts of genocide" in the ongoing conflict.

Guys, I'm sorry to tell you, but this is not (repeat NOT!) an adequate response to the ongoing horror in Darfur.

At least a government spokesman actually used the "G-word" -- Genocide.

There had been some hope that African Union troops could be used as peacekeepers, but that hasn't worked out.

The AU has 2,270 troops in western Sudan attempting to stop fighting between rebels and Arab militias, but has plans to increase that number to more than 12,300. The operation, meanwhile, has been bogged down by logistical problems and a lack of air support in the region, which is the size of France....
So the basic problem is one of coordination and logistical support..., this sounds like a job for..., ta da..., the EU [at least it would give them something to do besides carp at the US]

At a meeting in Brussels Monday, EU nations offered air and ground transportation and help with command planning, surveillance and housing for the AU's Darfur peacekeepers. The EU will not send peacekeeping troops and will leave overall command of the operation to the African Union.
That sounds like something they can handle. They think so too.

The North Atlantic Council of alliance ambassadors said they approved the "initial military options" for possible NATO support for the peacekeeping mission and said their efforts would center on military transport, training and planning.

Of course, everything so far is in the planning stage, getting authorizations for "possible" support operations, etc. And while the interminable meetings go on..., and on..., and on, people are dying.

Arab militia known as Janjaweed committed wide-scale abuses against ethnic Africans. At least 180,000 people have died many from hunger and disease and about 2 million others have fled their homes.

Read the story here.

For a heart-rending view of the atrocities from the viewpoint of the victims see my earlier posts here, and here.

Dhimmitude Watch -- Orianna Fallaci Charged

Reuters reports:

ROME - A judge has ordered best-selling writer and journalist Oriana Fallaci to stand trial in her native Italy on charges she defamed Islam in a recent book.

The decision angered Italy's justice minister but delighted Muslim activists, who accused Fallaci of inciting religious hatred in her 2004 work "La Forza della Ragione" (The Force of Reason).

That's right folks. An internationally famed author, living in New York and suffering from cancer, has been ordered to return to Italy to face charges that she wrote something that some Muslim clerics found objectionable. I'm surprised that the judges didn't just issue a fatwah.

This is outrageous. Here's what she wrote that was so offensive:

In "La Forza della Ragione," Fallaci wrote that terrorists had killed 6,000 people over the past 20 years in the name of the Koran and said the Islamic faith "sows hatred in the place of love and slavery in the place of freedom."
Gee, in this country secularists say worse things than that about Christians every day -- and for that matter think about some of the things said by Muslim spokesmen about Christians and Jews.

And people say that we suffer under judicial tyranny -- not by a long shot.

Read it here.

Well It's Official -- Harold Ford is Running

Harold Ford is bright, articulate, and well-connected. For years he has been the bright young thing of Democratic politics; all the potential in the world, but somehow it never jelled. Always a potential superstar, but not an actual one. He seemed content to run his dad's old machine.

Then along came Barak Obama, and suddenly Harold Ford was yesterday's darling. He had to do something. There was a flurry of TV appearances, then rumors that Ford would be running for the Senate in 06. Then came the announcement that Senator Frist would be retiring. Now it's official -- Harold Ford filed federal paperwork yesterday to run for Frist's seat.
I'm excited. I'm ready to go," Ford said in telephone interview from Washington. He said his top issues will be energy reform, national security and education.

Read about it here.

The 2006 race is getting more interesting every day. Both parties are boasting some great young talent. I'm starting to catch the fevah!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Consumerism has hit China in a big, big way!

The Golden Resources Shopping Mall in China [NYT photo].

From the NYT:

DONGGUAN, China - After construction workers finish plastering a replica of the Arc de Triomphe and buffing the imitation streets of Hollywood, Paris and Amsterdam, a giant new shopping theme park here will proclaim itself the world's largest shopping mall.

The South China Mall - a jumble of Disneyland and Las Vegas, a shoppers' version of paradise and hell all wrapped in one - will be nearly three times the size of the massive Mall of America in Minnesota. It is part of yet another astonishing new consequence of the quarter-century economic boom here: the great malls of China.

Not long ago, shopping in China consisted mostly of lining up to entreat surly clerks to accept cash in exchange for ugly merchandise that did not fit. But now, Chinese have started to embrace America's modern "shop till you drop" ethos and are in the midst of a buy-at-the-mall frenzy.

Already, four shopping malls in China are larger than the Mall of America. Two, including the South China Mall, are bigger than the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, which just surrendered its status as the world's largest to an enormous retail center in Beijing. And by 2010, China is expected to be home to at least 7 of the world's 10 largest malls.

Chinese are swarming into malls, which usually have many levels that rise up rather than out in the sprawling two-level style typical in much of the United States. Chinese consumers arrive by bus and train, and growing numbers are driving there. On busy days, one mall in the southern city of Guangzhou attracts about 600,000 shoppers.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Hello

More from Ahmad -- Trials that Really Matter

Ahmad has now become one of my regular sites to visit in the blogosphere. Today's post notes:

Terrorists tried and sentenced in an Iraqi court

The first death sentences, since the fall of Saddam, have been given to three Iraqi terrorists who were convicted of 20 operations that involved killings of Iraqi Policemen, kidnapping of Iraqis and raping Iraqis girls.

Two Syrians, who entered Iraq illegally and got captured in al Falluja, were convicted of arms assaults and sentenced to life in prison.

The hearing lasted for five hours, while fifty Iraqis, most of whom were families of the victims, were present in the court room. The death sentences will be executed within 10 days. [Arabic link]

I watched part of the trial on Al Iraqiya TV. The statements of the witnesses and the terrorists were very very gruesome, I don't think you want to here it. Death is too good for these low life terrorists!
The broadcast confessions of terrorists, and their trials, are having a decided impact on Iraqi opinion. These are the wheels of justice, finally moving. The MSM should be covering this, but apparently they consider Michael Jackson more important.

Read Ahmed's blog, Iraqi Expat, here.

Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy [well -- two out of three ain't bad]

Ahmad, an Iraqi blogger writes:

Iraq abolishes Saddam's alcohol restriction law

Ministry of Interior in Iraq abolished Saddam's alcohol, night clubs and casinos restriction law which was introduced in the 90's. The law has been abolished because it interferes with and limits Iraqis personal freedom. Businesses, however, are required to obtain a licence from Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Health. [Arabic link]

Hat tip -- WSJ

Read it here.

The Journal points out that this refutes the dire predictions of those who were convinced that democracy in Iraq would create a Shiite theocracy along the lines of that in Iran. It appears that even the Shiites are party people too.


Saad Eddin Ibrahim writes in the NYT:

IN last month's Saudi Arabian municipal elections, the nation's first experiment in real democracy, many were worried because Islamic activists dominated their secular rivals. Indeed, we have seen a similar trend in Turkey, Morocco and Iraq in the last few years; and we can expect it in the coming Lebanese, Palestinian and Egyptian elections. Yet, while this Islamic trend can no longer be ignored, neither should it be a source of panic to Western policy makers and pundits.

Based on my 30 years of empirical investigation into these parties - including my observations of fellow inmates during the 14 months I spent in an Egyptian prison - I can testify to a significant evolution on the part of political Islam. In fact, I believe we may be witnessing the emergence of Muslim parties that are truly democratic, akin to the Christian Democrats in Western Europe after World War II....

Westerners should not be dismayed at the thought of allowing religious parties a role in the emerging political structures of the Arab world. For one thing, as citizens, Islamists are entitled to the same basic rights as others. It would therefore be hypocritical to call for democracy in these countries and at the same time to deny any groups wanting to peacefully contend for office.

Second, Islamists tend to be fairly well organized and popular. Yes, some have created armed wings to their movements, ostensibly to resist foreign occupation (Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad in Palestine) or in response to authoritarian regimes. But in all cases, a moderate, less-violent Islamist core exists. Excluding the religious parties from the political mainstream risks giving the upper hand to the armed factions at the expense of their more moderate centers.

Ibrahim argues on the basis of recent experience that the election of Islamists can be a stage on the road to a moderate and functioning democracy.

Of course, this is not to say that we should expect Hezbollah or Hamas to turn into Western-style democratic parties overnight. While countries opening themselves to democracy should work to bring Islamists into the system, they should not - and the West should not pressure them to - allow those groups unwilling to abide by certain rules into the game.

These principles would include: strict respect for constitutions and the rule of law, including full independence of the judiciary; recognition of the principle of the rotation of power based on free and fair elections with international observers; pledges that elections be held on a schedule that is not subject to tampering by whatever group comes to power; agreement that non-Muslim minorities must be guaranteed full citizenship and cultural rights, including the right to compete for any elected office, to freely exercise their religion rights and to speak their chosen language; and agreement that women must be assured full and equal participation in public life.

When all parties agree to such conditions, they will have gone a long way toward reducing apprehensions at home and abroad about their participation in politics. This does raise questions about who would guarantee that all parties abide by these rules of the game. Each country, of course, would have to decide for itself; Turkey made its armed forces a guardian of the Constitution, and other places it might be high courts. In any case, there must be faith in the system.


Read the whole thing here.


Gregory over at Belgravia Dispatch has some interesting comments on Ibrahim's article, including references to some of my favorite films.

Read him here.

Zimbabwe Update -- More Anti-colonialist Lunacy

Zimbabwe's economy is in shambles -- the victim of Mad Bobby Mugabe's insane racist/socialist policies. The only part of the economy that was thriving [as in all socialist experiments] was the black market. Now Mugabe has decided to kill that, too. Reuters reports:
HARARE: Zimbabwe police have arrested 10,000 people in a drive to choke a black market economy that has thrived on shortages, but economists said the latest blitz would only drive the trade deeper underground.

Police said today they made the arrests and seized foreign currency and other commodities since the crackdown began last week with sweeps against hawkers and illegal traders in Harare and other cities.

President Robert Mugabe's government is widely blamed for the economic crisis but says profiteers siphon foreign currency, fuel, maize meal, sugar and cooking oil from the formal sector for re-sale at much higher prices on the underground market.

The government has depended on regulated prices for key commodities but producers and retailers say current approved levels threaten the viability of their businesses.

This is mere scapegoating, born of Mugabe's insane faith in socialism. He blames the black marketeers for undermining the nation's economy. And while he's at it:
Authorities blame foreigners for a thriving foreign currency informal market where the Zimbabwe dollar is trading at up to 25,000 to the US dollar against an official rate of 9000....

Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980, blames the country's crisis on local and foreign opponents of the land seizures, which he says have combined to sabotage the country for political reasons.
Read it here, and weep.