Sunday, 31 October 2010
Australia: Some Reflections on Certain New MPs, One of Whom is a Muslim

 A little while ago I mentioned that among the historic 'firsts' of the 43rd Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia were not only its youngest MP ever, or its first known Aboriginal MP,  or the first Jewish MP to take a seat on the Conservative side of the House, but also...its first Muslim MP, Mr Edham Nurredin Husic, who was sworn in on his parents' Koran.

The maiden speeches of three of these - Mr Ken Wyatt, Liberal, linked by birth to three Aboriginal tribes of Western Australia, and representing Hasluck; Mr Josh Frydenberg, Liberal, from Melbourne's Jewish community, representing Kooyong; and of Mr Ed Husic, Labor, representing the heavily Islamified seat of Chifley in Sydney's blue-collar western suburbs - have now all appeared on the Parliamentary website.

Here are the links for these three speeches, for the edification and amusement of the curious who may like to click and read.

First, the speech by Mr Ron Wyatt:;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2F2010-09-29%2F0178%22

I draw attention particularly to this statement -  "It is with deep and mixed emotion that I, as an Aboriginal man with Noongar, Yamitji and Wongi heritage, stand before you and the Members of the House of Representatives as an equal" - and to this, concerning the upbringing his parents gave him - "My parents instilled in us the values of having respect for others, having integrity, trusting others and accepting responsibility for our actions and decisions.  We were taught that our word was to be our bond, and that prevails".

Those of us here who have spent time acquainting ourselves with 'the Muslim mind', and especially those who have recently read the observations of Mr Nicolai Sennels, will see at once that certain political and moral principles which Mr Wyatt here names and praises - civic equality of persons, trust, personal responsibility and Agreement or oath-keeping - are radically opposite to those one finds among the Ummah.  

Second, the speech by Mr Josh Frydenberg:;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2F2010-10-25%2F0114%22

In telling his family's story - his father was born to a young Jewish couple who intelligently fled Europe in the 1930s, while his mother and her parents endured the war in the Budapest ghetto and made their way to Australia via displaced persons' camps - Mr Frydenberg says of his parents (a surgeon and a psychologist) that they "built a home where unconditional love and the obligation to help others was never in doubt".

Again, anyone familiar with the 'atmospherics of Islam' will see in Mr Frydenberg's vignette of the Jewish home in which he grew up something that is simply not found or taught in the book upon which Muslim MP Ed Husic chose to swear his oath.  There is in classical Islam no such thing as unconditional love, nor any obligation to help anyone other than a fellow Muslim.

And then we have Mr Ed Husic.;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2F2010-10-28%2F0071%22

On the face of it, it is unexceptionable, just as full of fine words and earnest political, social and moral platitudes as the other two speeches I have already linked.

It is only toward the end that he says two things that to me - knowing what I know about Islam - sound somewhat peculiar.  I have bolded and italicised for emphasis.

He trots out the threadbare 'Abrahamic faiths' canard.

 "My arrival here finally brings together the children of Abraham, Christians, Jews and Muslims working together with other people of faith, with other people of values, for the national good, united under this one roof". 

And he also says this: "I should hope to acquit myself in the way that any other member would seek to in this place where my faith and its emphasis on bettering ourselves within an acknowledgement of responsibility to community, will be my companion in my efforts to represent all the residents of the diverse electorate I am honoured to represent...".

"My faith [i.e. Islam] and its emphasis on bettering ourselves within an acknowledgement of responsibility to community, will be my companion".

What exactly is meant by 'bettering ourselves'?  Who  is meant by 'ourselves'?   And what does he mean by 'responsibility to community'? To which community? 

In closing, I have a little more on Ed Husic.  Namely, this report, dating from 18th September, after his election to his seat was confirmed.

Note the following:

"...Mr Husic has been busy.  He attended the Mt Druitt Festival, the 90th birthday of a resident, and cheered on a local rugby team at the weekend.  Mr Husic also visited Rooty Hill Mosque as Ramadan drew to a close. "I haven't observed it (Ramadan) but I did drop into the mosque last week", he said.  "It is a significant part of the Muslim calendar (you can say that again - the Month of Jihad, I understand it is sometimes called - CM) and I passed on my best wishes to worshippers at Rooty Hill.  For many people, it's a time to recognise self-sacrifice and to recognise others in the community who are doing it tough".

Like his line in parliament about 'my faith and its emphasis on bettering ourselves within an acknowledgement of responsibility to community', Mr Husic's explanation of the meaning of Ramadan means one thing if one knows nothing of Islam, and quite another, if one does.

For what is the classical Islamic meaning of Ramadan?

If we consult this article by Mr Raymond Ibrahim, author of 'The Al-Qaeda Reader'

we discover this:

'A recent MEMRI report titled 'Arab Columnists: Stop Talking About Offensive Jihad', alludes to the ultimate problem between Islam and the non-Muslim world: offensive jihad, or jihad-al-talab, the Islamic imperative to subjugate the world.

'The report opens by saying:

'"One dominant theme during Ramadan in the Arab world is the discussion, in the media and in religious circles, of the commandment of jihad and the obligation therein to wage war against the infidels".'

Kind of throws a different light on Mr Husic's remarks about 'a time to recognise self-sacrifice' and 'to recognise others in the community who are doing it tough', doesn't it?

There's another line from Mr Husic that also bears thinking about.  It was quoted by Australian journalist Paul Sheehan in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, six years ago - "Candidate's Silence Could Speak Volumes" (Sydney Morning Herald, September 27, 2004).

"I am not a practising Muslim", he [Husic] told 'The Blacktown City Sun' "[but] I can't dishonour my parents by disavowing their religion".

It's a telling choice of phrase: not 'I can't upset my parents' but 'I can't dishonour my parents'.  The word dishonour, given his Islamic cultural background, suggests the collective mindset - not that his parents, personally, would be distressed by his leaving the faith, but rather, that his leaving would cause his parents to lose face...with other Muslims.

And the thing that Mr Husic couldn't mention at all, of course, in that interview from some six years ago, but which I know about,  and I'm pretty sure Mr Husic knows about, though I don't know that Mr Sheehan then knew it (in 2004), is the fact that the sharia penalty for apostasy from Islam is ...death.

Is Mr Husic more or less Islamic in his convictions than he chooses to appear?  Is he a near-apostate or Muslim In Name Only who can't or won't take the final step out of Islam, because of filial piety and/ or fear of the sharia enforcers, as well as a wish to keep the votes of the Muslims among his constituents...or is he a Muslim choosing to display a lesser level of conviction than he does in fact feel, so as to keep the votes of his non-Muslim constituents?  The answers matter; because of the kind of thing that Islam is.

Only time, and close scrutiny of his deeds as opposed to his words, will tell.

Posted on 10/31/2010 9:26 PM by Christina McIntosh
Sunday, 31 October 2010
A Musical Interlude: He Hadn't Up Till Yesterday (Sophie Tucker)

Listen here.

Posted on 10/31/2010 8:06 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 31 October 2010
A Vote-Early-And-Often Cinematic Interlude: The Great McGinty

Watch here.

Posted on 10/31/2010 8:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 31 October 2010
The Stalinist and Daniel Webster
As a resident of Florida's 8th Congressional District in the Greater Orlando area, and a former New Yorker who grew up in the Bronx a few blocks away from the childhood  home of Congressman, Alan Grayson, I cast my ballot last week in early voting to help defeat a man who rightly deserves the title of "America' s only Stalinist Congressman."

Grayson's attack on Republican candidate Daniel Webster whom he labels "Taliban Dan" includes the now infamous video that follows the technique perfected by Stalin's henchmen and lackeys of splicing, editing, wiping out, skipping and superimposing images and words to convey the polar opposite of reality and historical truth. To see how it was done, take a look at "The Commissar Vanishes; Falsification of Photographs and Art in Stalin's Russia" by David King, Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt & Co. Inc.  1997) and to see how Grayson perfected it just go on the internet.
No other political ad in American history has sunk to this level and Grayson revels in it proclaiming at the end that I am Alan Grayson and I approve this ad."  Sixty years ago in my youth, Jews felt a deserved pride that "our politicians" and jurists such as Governor Herbert Lehman, Senator Jacob Javits and Justices Brandeis and Frankfurter were models of honesty, integrity and decorum. In today's political scene, we have descended into the gutter with the likes of former disgraced New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, political "activists" Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod (advisor to disgraced former Senator John Edwards) and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (who dishonestly claimed to have served IN Vietnam). All of these have been put into the shade by Grayson.  
Grayson's auto biography on his website makes Obama look like the very model of humility and would make P.T. Barnum ("a sucker born every minute") green with envy - yes, President Lincoln, you CAN fool some of the people all of the time. I feel a special anti-affinity for Grayson having come from a similar background in probably the most Jewish section of the Bronx in one of America's most liberal districts in the Melrose-Morrisania and Grand Concourse-Tremont sections.

On Grayson's official website, you can read what must be the most self promoting unabashed, breath-taking self-glorification of any politician now in the Congress...

"Alan grew up in "the projects" in the Bronx.  He heard the squeal of the wheels of the elevated trains, every five minutes, all day and all night. At the age of 12, he took the subway to school, by himself. At the age of 11, a bully threw him under a moving bus. He lived. Six years later, he took the standard test for 12th graders in New York. Almost 50,000 students in the Bronx took that same test. Alan received the highest score. Alan was accepted to Harvard College. He cleaned toilets there, and worked as a night watchman. He graduated in three years, with high honors. Then he went to graduate school at Harvard. In only four years, he received a law degree (with honors), he earned a master's degree in Government, and he finished the course work and passed the general examinations for a Ph.D

I kid you not. There is so much B.S. in this auto-biography, it is difficult to know where to begin. I know the neighborhood where Grayson grew up very well.It was where I grew up. I also know very well the kind of economic and social status of someone like him, both of whose parents were tenured and members of the teachers union (VERY well paid and well pensioned) in the New York City school system. His background was VERY AFFLUENT compared to mine and any of my friends on Morris Avenue five blocks away from the regal apartment buildings with doormen on the Grand Concourse, described by Grayson as "projects." To say that he scored the highest grade of 50,000 students taking the Bronx High School of science entrance examination is also nonsense. There is no way this can be documented. With a total of 50,000 students taking the exam, many would have achieved "the highest score". His story of cleaning toilets to get through Harvard is grotesque (perhaps he is already planning whom to cast in the role for a future Hollywood blockbuster). I too took the subway to go to school by myself. The story of being thrown under a bus by a bully, yet "he lived." sounds like a messianic achievement but we are given no details.

Grayson did make a name for himself and acquired some deserved praise for combating the war profiteering of Iraq contracting firms that had defrauded the government but his megalomania is a contributing factor and symptom of the ever increasing leftward (and suicidal) drift of the Democratic Party that capitalized on sentiment against the war in Iraq but has since gone viral in its defamation of all those who oppose the Obama-Reid-Pelosi Agenda.

His auto-biography goes on to refer to him in these terms....."And so Alan found his calling - like an Avenging Angel for the taxpayers and soldiers, he has sued the war profiteers in the name of whistleblowers, and forced them to disgorge their ill-gotten gains."

The Avenging Angel has continued to pull the reputation of Congress down into the muck with the most partisan remarks ever made within its halls since Reconstruction. He warned Americans that "Republicans want you to die quickly" during an after-hours House floor speech.  Even many Democrats were appalled by this language but felt obligated to remain silent, as they did, even after his disgraceful manipulated video on Republican opponent Daniel Webster, whose name he even ridiculed as a throwback to the 19th century. Veteran Tennessee Republicans Jimmy Duncan and Marsha Blackburn abandoned customary reticence to criticize Grayson. ...."That is about the most mean-spirited partisan statement that I've ever heard made on this floor, and I, for one, don't appreciate it," Duncan said. "It's fully appropriate that the gentleman return to the floor and apologize," seconded Rep. Marsha Blackburn, another Tennessee Republican.

Grayson has also contributed significantly to exacerbating tensions between Jews and Christians. He is a notable JINO (Jew in name only). His "Bronx born appeal and manufactured rags to riches from the tenements" story is tailor made for more elderly Jewish voters who moved to Florida to enjoy their retirement years. It is full of invective against Evangelical Christians. Clearly, Grayson is counting on a combination of the young, university crowd, Liberal transplantees/carpetbaggers and the elderly, especially among Jews to help him edge out Webster in Tuesday's election.

In defense of Obamacare, Grayson argued from the floor of the House that the Republicans "want you to die quickly" if you get sick.  When Republicans demanded a apology, Grayson used the classic JINO tactic of pulling on Jewish heartstrings by stating that "I would like to apologize,".  "I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this Holocaust in America."

Grayson's statement of a "Holocaust in America" on Sept. 30 was a response to criticism of his comments the previous day that the GOP position on health care reform was "Republicans want you to die quickly. Ah, the Holocaust!;  yes, voting against Obamacare is the equivalent of the Holocaust. His sarcasm drew a swift rebuke from the National Republican Congressional Committee. "This is an unstable man who has come unhinged," NRCC spokesman Andy Sere said. "The depths to which Alan Grayson will sink to defend his indefensible comments know no bounds."

This had no affect but when finally censured by Andrew Rosenkrantz, the Florida regional Director of The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Grayson fell back on the standard pose of a JINO to express his Jewish identity - and was finally forced to issue an apology. "I am Jewish and have relatives who died in the Holocaust. In no way did I mean to minimize the Holocaust. I regret the choice of words, and I will not repeat it." Rosenkrantz stated that Grayson's quip was ... "more than a poor choice of words" and using the Holocaust as an analogy for flaws in the current health care system is inappropriate and serves only to trivialize the murder of 6 million Jews and millions of others.

Apart from the claim that he had relatives who died in the Holocaust (this proves he's Jewish), I cannot find any strong defense of specifically Jewish interests and Israel in Grayson's record. Of course, he and other JINOS would have you believe that Liberalism and its agenda a la Obama are specifically Jewish interests.

Grayson has told reporters he's not worried at all about a backlash from the voters and believes on the contrary that his chances for re-election have been boosted. "It improves them," he said....  "People like elected officials with guts who say what they mean."I stand by what I said," I didn't violate any House rules. I didn't do anything inappropriate. I'm not under any pressure at all."

Even one of the Democratic Party leaders, Caucus Chairman John B. Larson of Connecticut, at one point publicly called on him to apologize for his Republicans Want You to Die Speech. "I wouldn't have used the words that Mr. Grayson has," Larson said. "I would encourage Alan to apologize."

But Grayson later queried whether Larson really meant what he said. "I spoke to him and he did not ask me to apologize," Grayson explained. He stated he hadn't used "exactly those words (also old Stalinist technique) until a reporter read his words back to him. Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price of Georgia drafted, but withheld from a vote, a resolution that would have expressed the House's disapproval of Grayson's remarks. Of course, just a few weeks earlier, Rep. Joe Wilson, Republican house member from South Carolina was disciplined by the House for yelling "You lie!" at the president during a joint session of Congress in September.

The Chairman of Florida's Republican Party, Jim Greer, has stated, "The people of central Florida sent Alan Grayson to Washington to work for them. Instead, he has become the laughing stock of the House of Representatives and a complete embarrassment to his constituents. What we have seen over the course of the last 24 hour[s] is a Congressman who is completely consumed with his own spotlight and has absolutely no respect for the citizens who elected him."
Posted on 10/31/2010 6:02 PM by Norman Berdichevsky
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Christian worshippers killed in Baghdad church raid

From The Guardian

At least 10 Christian worshippers were killed and about thirty wounded tonight, when Iraqi security forces stormed a Baghdad church in which terrorists wearing explosive vests were holding them hostage.The raid also killed seven Iraqi soldiers and police officers. The violence erupted just after 9pm, almost four hours after a group of between six and eight gunmen wearing military uniforms stormed Our Lady of Salvation Chaldean Catholic church in the inner-city suburb of Karrada.

Worshippers caught up in the carnage described their ordeal to the Guardian as they fled the church. They said the terrorist attack was heralded by a car bomb outside the fortified church gate at 5:30pm. The two priests, who were about to begin mass ushered at least half of their 120-strong congregation to a small room in the back of the ornate building, in a bid to protect them.

"After a while one of the terrorists opened the door and threw in a bomb," said a man who identified himself as Bassam. "There were injuries. They killed people, they injured people," he said, before collapsing on the road outside the church.

Local television station, Al-Baghdadia reported that one of the gunmen had called the network in the early stages of the seige, identifying himself as a member of an al-Qaida-aligned group, the Islamic State of Iraq. He demanded the release of prisoners in Iraq and Egypt. The station said the caller spoke in classical Arabic, in what was seen as an attempt to disguise an accent that was identifiably non-Iraqi.

Posted on 10/31/2010 5:59 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Will We Yet See the Return of the Wilfrids?

by Esmerelda Weatherwax (November 2010)

There have always been changes in the popularity of children's names. In England in recent years there has been a return (among the English) of the names popular at the end of the 19th /beginning of the 20th century. For girls the jewel and flower names are back, such as Ruby, Rose and Lily, although not Myrtle, Iris or Ivy and George and Arthur have returned for boys. In the 19th century there was a revival of Saxon and Norman names. After centuries of children named Mary Ann, John or William after their parents (and grandparents) the names Cuthbert, Edith and Winifred re-appeared in the baptismal registers. 100 years later we have a revival of Alfie (diminutive of Alfred) Matilda and Millicent (usually shortened to Milly) But not all names of that period have caught the imagination of the modern parent. more>>>

Posted on 10/31/2010 4:11 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Funeral Song by ?gnes Gergely

Translated from the Hungarian by Thomas Orsz?g-Land (November 2010)

?gnes Gergely (b. 1933), poet, novelist, scholar. A proud descendant of generations of rabbis and men of letters, she was one of the first major Hungarian writers to explore in public print during the Soviet era the long-suppressed experience of East European Holocaust survivors. She is a recipient of the prestigious Kossuth Literary Prize.
The road turns by the press-house and a white
mud village greets me huddling to the right  more>>>
Posted on 10/31/2010 3:46 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
And Cat Stevens Favors Stoning Women To Death For Adultery

The choice of Cat Stevens to appear at he rally to "restore sanity"  was unwise, for it  handed to those opposed to Comedy Central's general take on things a gift that will keep on giving. Possibly such a disastrous choice reflects the intattention of Stewart to Islam, his complacent belief that because he has a nice Muslim on the staff, and may know some other nice Muslims too, that that is what matters, and not the texts and tenets of Islam, nor the observable behavior of Muslims toward non-Muslims around the world and what one may conclude from that behavior. I don't have the feelling that Stewart has read, or taken in, Ibn Warraq or Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Wafa Sultan. I don't think he thinks he has a duty to find out what Professor Hans Jansen has written, or Bassam Tibi, or to read about the legal status of non-Muslims under the Shari'a, or much else. He's quick, in a limited way (Colbert is smarter), a way that does not go much beyond what he grew up with, and he won't question the authority of that mocking "question-authority" shtick with which he grew up, and can't tell the difference between what deserves to be mocked, and what, under the circumstances, and given this moment in the history of the West, cannot be treated with the easy and deep superficiality that he specializes in, and that sometimes is forgivable.

At this point, .he must stop being so impressed with the sheer niceness of one of his employees, an  American-raised Muslim whose parents come from India, which already means they have had to adjust to living within a non-Muslim state, and ought as well to get beyond being repelled by the shrillness, Pravda-like sloganeering. incessant self-promotion, and eye on the financial main chance, that  characterize some, but by no means all, of those who are publicly opposed to the inroads of Islam in the West. Many of the most implacable and most formidable foes of Islam's spread are just as repelled by, the way things are being framed, and sometimes being said in a tone so off-putting that sensible people find themselves unable to see beyond the unacceptable form to the often sensible content. It is maddening that "the Right" (whatever that is, since Edmund Burke would not recognize, would be disgusted by, so many who are said to make up that "American Right") is allowed to claim that it, and it alone, worries about Islam

That isn't true. But when Stewart and Colbert have Cat Stevens appear on stage, they shoot themselves in the foot, and reinforce that disturbing idea.

Here is an excerpt from an article by Nik Cohen, is a little more on what Cat Stevens has done -- including his support for murder, by stoning, of women charged with adultery -- and what Cat Stevens ought, sometime during the last few years, have done -- apologize to Rushdie, and take back his former declared support for the death-sentence fatwa against him: 

"What  "Cat" ought to have done was apologise to Rushdie and commit himself to the right to criticise power in whatever form it takes, but he has not and American leftists have yet to learn that they cannot be a little bit liberal. They can't denounce the idiocy of Fox and ignore the idiocies of religion. Maybe they will never learn.

I'm close to giving up.

PS Just had this message from Rushdie: "I've always liked Stewart and Colbert but what on earth was Cat Yusuf Stevens Islam doing on that stage? If he's a "good Muslim" like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar then I'm the Great Pumpkin. Happy Halloween."

PPS: Just had this from my marvellous Observer colleague Andrew Anthony: "He told me in 1997, eight years after saying on TV that Rushdie should be lynched, that he was in favour of stoning women to death for adultery. He also reconfirmed his position on Rushdie. He set up the Islamia school in Brent, which is currently undergoing council-backed expansion. Its mission statement three years ago explicitly stated that its aim was to bring about the submission of the individual, the community and the world at large to Islam. For this aim it now receives state funding. Its an incubator of the most bonkers religious extremism and segregation, and is particularly strong on the public erasure of women. Why do people go to such lengths to ignore these aspects of Yusuf Islam's character and philosophy?"

Posted on 10/31/2010 2:57 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 31 October 2010
The Testament
by Mark Anthony Signorelli (November 2010)

Heiligenstadt, October 6, 1802
 You men who account me spiteful or stubborn or proud,
Or out of some hatred of man, aloof from the crowd,
How greatly you wrong me, failing to comprehend
The secret cause of those manners which so offend.
Since I was a boy, I have felt my ardent mind
Suffused with goodwill, nor was I disinclined
To achieve great things, which I strove for endlessly;
But for six years now, from a hopeless malady
I have suffered, compelled to confess to myself at last
That no cure is at hand, that the terrible years which have past
But prelude a tedious life thus afflicted and lonely, more>>>
Posted on 10/31/2010 3:38 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Elvish, Schmelvish

by Mary Jackson (November 2010)

"Venice seemed incredibly lovely, elvishly lovely--to me like a dream of Old Gondor, or Pelargir of the Numenorean Ships, before the return of the Shadow."
J. R. R. Tolkien

Can anything be more pretentious and arrogant than this? Venice, says Tolkien, is so wonderful it's like something he invented. It would be pretentious and arrogant had he said this about Bolton, let alone Venice. Elvishly lovely? Don't get me started on those elves. (I know nobody did get me started - I started myself, but that's not the point.) Or on Gandalf and the hobbit and Bilbo Baggins. Or was it Frodo Baggins? Are those names supposed to be funny or something? Well they aren't; they are just twee. Middle-earth's a dull and joyless place. And none I think do there embrace. more>>>

Posted on 10/31/2010 3:32 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Meaning and Disjuncture in Art

by David Hamilton (November 2010)

A significant difference between contemporary art and traditional art is the split between form and meaning. This is a manifestation of the all pervasive Cartesian duality: the split between mind and body, subject and form. This split is in all the various forms and styles of the respective High Art forms. Contemporary artists try to destroy the forms. This practice in architecture makes contemporary buildings look silly. The buildings all look like objects they are not and usually something comic which is why they get nicknames like The Gerkhin or The Cheesegrater.  more>>>

Posted on 10/31/2010 3:27 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
What Does It Mean To Say That The Iliad Is An Oral Poem?
by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (November 2010)

To examine the question of what it means to say that the Iliad is an 'oral' poem, it is first necessary to overview the history of how the Iliad has been viewed by scholars, and to see how the opinion of the Iliad as an 'oral' poem arose. We must then ask what the implications are of this view as regards the reading of the Iliad. more>>>
Posted on 10/31/2010 3:21 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Henry Miller and The Pull of Gravity
by Sam Bluefarb (November 2010)

"No matter what a writer says or doesn't say, he cannot help having political alignments." 

-Walter Lowenfels, friend of Henry Miller during the Paris years 

Henry Miller has long been admired for his fearless honesty and passionate iconoclasm. He is still so regarded by many of his admirers. However, in an earlier time he was dismissed as a "pornographer" and a hack of little importance. Indeed, The Tropic of Cancer (1934), held to be his best work, was deemed so scabrous in its uninhibited use of four-letter words and graphic sex that for many years it was banned in England and America. more>>>
Posted on 10/31/2010 3:16 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
What Is This Thing Called Love?
by Thomas J. Scheff (November 2010)

An excerpt from What's Love Got to Do with It?: The Emotional World of Popular Songs
Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2010

What is this thing called love?
This magic thing called love?

This pop lyric from the 40's catches an important note about love in modern societies, its mystery and magic. If love can be defined, should it be? This book will argue that we need to define love carefully if we are to understand pop song lyrics, and more importantly, ourselves and our society. more>>>
Posted on 10/31/2010 3:08 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Is California State Candidate Rabbi Nachum Shifren an ?Extremist??
by Jerry Gordon (November 2010)

Rabbi Nachum Shifren, known as the 'surfing Rabbi', is a candidate for a California Senate Seat in District 26 in West Los Angeles. He is an Orthodox Rabbi and a product of the Chabad Movement that captured his attention at UC Santa Barbara and which led to his spiritual conversion. He ran away from his San Fernando Valley home at age 12 to Malibu where he became enamored of watching the strength and grace of surfers. He became a surfer, Los Angeles County lifeguard, and ultimately an accomplished triathelete.  more>>>
Posted on 10/31/2010 3:02 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
The Public Education System Flunks Out
by Beatrice Fowler & Ayn Marie Samuelson (November 2010)

Racing Where?

The Obama administration's  "Race to the Top," at the cost of $4.35 billion, is the latest of a long line of lavishly funded federal education initiatives, joining "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) and others that have failed to reform education. As is typical, there are high hopes for change but a low probability that any significant or lasting reforms will be implemented. more>>>
Posted on 10/31/2010 2:59 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Vinegar Joe
by G. Murphy Donovan (November 2010)

"The fear of war is worse than war itself." - Seneca

Saving Islam from Itself
Sometimes the past provides instructive precedent. Yet just as often, history is meaningless for those who choose not learn from it. Several generations ago, soldiers saw a necessary relationship between war and winning. Today's brass seems to have foresworn goals like victory for more ambiguous objectives like "stability." Joe Stilwell must be rolling in his grave.  more>>>
Posted on 10/31/2010 2:54 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
The ?Absence of History? at the World Bank
by Geoffrey Clarfield (October 2010)


Across Sub Saharan Africa corruption discourages private investment and undermines national legal systems where contracts should be scrupulously upheld by courts and their representatives who, above all, should not be "on the take," but often are.  more>>>
Posted on 10/31/2010 2:39 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
What?s in a Name?

by Norman Berdichevsky (November 2010)

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
      And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.
Why do so many Americans and Brits fear family names ending in "ski" or "-witz" or "-off" or "-cu"? There are, of course, many other 'difficult' names and those who bear them know who they are. From a very early age, we realized that we would have to face life full of constant questioning, indignities, silly grins and tens of thousands of requests to "spell it please" and the need for longer lines on documents which to sign our name. more>>>
Posted on 10/31/2010 2:31 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Interview with Lars Vilks: Vigorous Defender of Free Expression in Art
by Jerry Gordon and Jon Hausman (November 2010)

Lars Vilks, Swedish artist and controversial art theoretician, created sketches of Mohammed as a Roundabout Dog for a "Dog as Art" exhibit in 2007. Swedish news reports about withdrawal of his sketches at sponsored exhibits led to an eruption of controversy and threats against his life from Muslims in Sweden and around the World. That roiling controversy has made him an iconic figure in the conflict between Freedom of Expression versus Islamic totalitarian doctrine. Vilks was recently in America for a series of talks sponsored by the International Free Press Society (IFPS) with scheduled events in Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto and Ottawa. Two of those events, Philadelphia and Ottawa, were cancelled because of alleged security reasons. Even the event in Boston had to be moved to a secure private setting from a local synagogue.  more>>>
Posted on 10/31/2010 2:25 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Peculiar Bias: How The Tennessean Became a Fellow Traveler with CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood
by Rebecca Bynum (November 2010)

On Sunday, October 24, 2010, The Tennessean launched an attack on the anti-jihad movement in America in a multi-part series entitled, "The Price of Fear" in which religion editor Bob Smietana alleged that those working against the unrestricted Islamization of the Western world are doing it for the money and specifically that Steven Emerson, a man of impeccable journalistic integrity, working in the extremely dangerous field of terror investigation for over 25 years, is raking in millions for himself. In fact, Emerson is simply shielding his employees by structuring his organization the way he does. Though this fact was explained to Smietana by numerous people several times prior to publication, Smietana nevertheless launched his reckless and irresponsible series with full editorial approval from The Tennessean, under the title, "Anti-Muslim crusaders make millions spreading fear."  more>>>

Posted on 10/31/2010 2:21 PM by NER
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Con artist

 Poor Tracey Emin has been violated. From the BBC:

An ex-art student who worked alongside artist Tracey Emin has been jailed for 16 months for forging her work.

Jonathan Rayfern, 32, was jailed by a judge at Manchester Crown Court after he admitted 10 counts of fraud and one of deception.

His defence said the fakes were made to pay off loan sharks.

He should have paid them in formaldehyde.

The artist said her art came from the heart and she was "upset and distressed" that people had been conned.

 Who wouldn't be? Someone with no talent has been flogging worthless tat, a market Emin thought to have cornered.

Speaking of corners, Rayfern had been getting away with it for some time, but he slipped up with the unmade bed, which sports a rogue hospital corner.

Posted on 10/31/2010 11:30 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Cat Stevens: Peace, Love, Death To Blasphemers

Toby Harnden in The Telegraph: 

Among those who appeared at Jon Stewart's DC snarkfest (and attempt to suppress Democratic GOTV activists?) Rally to Restore Sanity in DC today was Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stephens. Here he is:

It's a curious choice, to put it mildly, given Yusuf's alleged support of the fatwah against Salman Rushdie. All audio of the words he used to allegedly support the fatwah (which he has strenuously insisted he did not do) has been removed from YouTube, apparently at the crooner's behest. Here are some of those words spoken by an actor:

Ed Driscoll has video and audio of the actual words here. Here's  wikipedia's summary of the Yusuf/Rushdie fatwah controversy.

And here's Salman Rushdie's own take, in a 2007 letter to the Telegraph, on what Yusuf meant:

Cat Stevens wanted me dead

However much Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam may wish to rewrite his past, he was neither misunderstood nor misquoted over his views on the Khomeini fatwa against The Satanic Verses (Seven, April 29). In an article in The New York Times on May 22, 1989, Craig R Whitney reported Stevens/Islam saying on a British television programme "that rather than go to a demonstration to burn an effigy of the author Salman Rushdie, 'I would have hoped that it'd be the real thing'."

He added that "if Mr Rushdie turned up at his doorstep looking for help, 'I might ring somebody who might do more damage to him than he would like. I'd try to phone the Ayatollah Khomeini and tell him exactly where this man is'."

In a subsequent interview with The New York Times, Mr Whitney added, Stevens/Islam, who had seen a preview of the programme, said that he "stood by his comments".

Let's have no more rubbish about how "green" and innocent this man was.

Salman Rushdie, New York

Posted on 10/31/2010 10:20 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Israel - PM slams UNESCO calling Rachel's Tomb a mosque

From The Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu bitterly attacked as "absurd" a UN statement that the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem are an integral part of the "occupied" Palestinian territories.

"The attempt to disconnect the nation of Israel from its heritage is absurd," he said in a statement his office issued on Friday, in response to an October 21 decision regarding both sites by the executive board of the United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO.

"If the places where the Jewish nation's forefathers and mothers - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel - were buried 4,000 years ago is not part of the Jewish nation's heritage, then what is a heritage site?" Netanyahu asked.

In February, Jerusalem's decision to include both sites in the country's new national heritage list was condemned. Muslims also consider both sites holy. They call the Tomb of the Patriarchs the Haram al- Ibrahimi Mosque, and claim that Rachel's Tomb was once the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque, named after the third convert to Islam.

In its press statement UNESCO referred to both sites, first by their Muslim names and then by their Jewish ones. It reaffirmed that the "two sites are an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories and that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law, the UNESCO Conventions and the United Nations and Security Council resolutions

According to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this year the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb "were not and never will be Jewish sites, but Islamic sites."

I'm not sure how he makes that out, no I do know how he does it, its theft, pure and simple. But my Bible is quite clear. Genesis 35.19 - So Rachel died and was buried by the side of the road to Ephrathah, that is Bethlehem. Jacob set up a sacred pillar over her grave; it is known to this day as the Pillar of Rachel's Grave.

I have a high regard for the site. It is a place of pilgrimage of particular comfort for women experiencing trouble concieving. My prayer there in 1992 was of the sort Paul mentions at Romans 8.26 where the Holy Spirit makes sense of our inarticulate groans. My inarticulate groan was answered in full for which I am truly thankful.

Posted on 10/31/2010 9:30 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Julie Burchill on 'clammy adolescent' Lauren Booth

From The Belfast Telegraph:

[T]here is one religion which proscribes its followers under threat of death from rejecting it, and that is Islam.

Which just happens to be the one that Lauren Booth (born a Catholic called Sarah) has opted for.

It's hard to know where to start when describing the sheer ickiness of Booth.

That she works as a paid stooge for the murderous Iranian regime's television channel has to come pretty near the top.

Her entirely inappropriate addiction to the spotlight, although she was obviously designed as one of Nature's plus-ones, is another stand-out feature.

It's pretty fair to say we would never have heard of her had her half-sister not married a man who became Prime Minister.

Yes, it seems that even the faith she was raised in isn't narrow-minded, patriarchal and oppressive enough for the sensation-hungry Booth who, having tried everything else, is so jaded that she can only get a kick from self-denial.

And a kick it is - she describes her engagement with faith |in terms that veer between |the drooling of a clammy adolescent and that of a recovering |alcoholic clinging desperately |to the wreckage of her sobriety. ("I haven't had a drink in 45 days!")

We've all done embarrassing things, but the spectacle of Booth attempting to rap in the celebrity

jungle does seem to |indicate that she is the sort of dweeb who would do anything to get in with the tough kids - whom she now perceives as being the Muslims.

Maybe like a lot of Western cowards, she thinks that if she sucks up to Islamism hard enough she will be spared its rage.

Personally, I prefer to aspire to the words of the great Spanish anti-fascist activist Dolores 'La Pasionaria' Ibarruri: "It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees."

As I pointed out in this column a while back, the website, a voice of the country's exiles, recently ran a photo of Miss Booth in full modesty drag, with the headline 'Has this woman gone mad?' and the comment "in donning the hijab, she is kowtowing to the very fundamentalism that holds the fate of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in its hands''.


What sort of woman freely |converts to a religion which |supports the oppression, torment and murder of thousands of Christians, homosexuals and spirited women, worldwide, every year?

The sort of woman who writes love letters to a serial killer, I reckon.

Still, might as well look on |the bright side. Go on, Lauren, treat yourself to a full-face and - most essentially - mouth-covering burka.

So Lauren, if your Iranian paymasters and puppet-masters won't spring for it, I'd be more than happy to.

Posted on 10/31/2010 10:02 AM by Mary Jackson
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