Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Skye sings to the troops…
Who would have guessed that, with the end of the disastrous Bush regime in sight, we would have been so gloomy on New Year's Eve 2008?Layoffs! Cold weather! Global warming! Not enough debutantes! IDF videos presenting for criticism what they do to Hamas artillery ‘happy rocketeers’ is renamed ‘agitprop’!
You'd think this would be a time of celebration, or at least some happy whistling to ourselves as we sweep out Dick Cheney's accumulated droppings from the past eight years.
Can’t you just feel that noose tightening? If that doesn’t make you bust a gut, get a load of the title:
Drop a ball on Times Square! Drop a bomb on Gaza!Is humorless paranoia a prerequisite to by a well regarded leftist in New York?
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
More unrest in Malmö suburbBut this trouble in paradise goes quietly unexplained, despite a great quantity of complete sentences ‘n stuff.
The unrest began in Oxie, a suburb south-west of central Malmö, when a skip began burning soon after 7.30pm on Monday evening. Police confirmed that security guards and passers-by were shot at with fireworks and several more fires were started.
The Christmas tree on the main square in Oxie was one of the targets and local resident Bo Persson expressed concern over recent developments.
"It has been awful lately. They should really ban fireworks.
The streets of Malmö’s Rosengård district were relatively calm on Friday evening, as the hundreds of youth who rioted earlier in the week refrained from engaging in renewed clashes with police.Just stuff, y’know!? Done by just some local youths.
The troubles began as a quiet protest linked to the recent closure of an Islamic cultural centre in Rosengård that housed a mosque, but have spread to become a general expression of discontent among disadvantaged youths.We are either on the far edge of the implausible, or see a great hearts-and-minds campaign at work. Either way, what could bear mention by virtue of unavoidable fact in 20-December article had to be obscured on the 30th when the town’s Christmas tree was reported torched, what with the torching of a Christmas tree reminding Swedes how vulnerable their post-modern Jinna is to mall punk Jihad.
The police "think they can appease us by joking with us, but they hassle us all the time, they arrest us for nothing and then they're surprised that we fight back," Ahmed Baccar, a 20-year-old unemployed Palestinian with a shaved head, told AFP.
"And they hit 11- and 12-year-old kids, set their dogs on us like they did yesterday, and then you want us to like them," said his friend Rached El Ali, an 18-year-old Palestinian.
As long as “wisdom” dictates that reality need be discussed in the manner of the Soviet era popular criticism found in circumloquatious songs and jokes, Americans can expect a new age of wellness to be declared for no particular reason or cause.
All the campaign talk of the Great Depression, a Vietnam-like war, and our shredded Constitution will now thankfully subside as the Obama administration assumes office and solves problems with conciliation, dialogue, and multilateral wisdom, rather than shrillness, unilateralism, preemption, and my-way-or-the-highway dogmatism. We will hear that, by historical levels, unemployment is still not that bad, that GDP growth is not historically all that low, and that deficits, inflation, interest rates, and housing starts are all within manageable parameters. "Depression" will transmogrify into "recession" which in turn by July will be a "downturn" and by year next an "upswing" on its way to boom times.Now that we finally have that “compliant press” that the anti-Bush “peace camp” said was meming us into a police state, can’t you just see us becoming numbed by the same kinds of painful omission that makes one not seek out the “root cause” of Palestinian quasi-muslim youts’ faith-based torching a Christmas tree and then claiming that it’s just based on police trying to quell their “right” to use 11 and 12 year old kids in a riot.
Prone to exaggeration, they know that there will be some sympathy to be had in accusing the police of giving mere helpless children a wood shampoo, and that the aborigines will quietly accept that they somehow deserve having whatever remaining symbols of their culture they have left defiled around advent, and that just like claiming that their political opponents are “shredding the constitution”, it will come at no cost. The personae are more alike then they are different.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Green jobs, my ass! Europeans don't want a cleaner world, they want to make the rest of the world as miserable as they are.
This is certainly a new tune for the Europeans, who have lectured Americans for more than a decade to sign Kyoto because the planet is in peril. Their happy talk of a painless 20% reduction in emissions by 2020 has been mugged by reality. Carbon emission regulations come at a high price in lost jobs and lost competitiveness.THEN maybe will the sneering NGOs start treating humans and their effort as aomething other than an 'energy equivalent'? Don't bet on it.
No wonder, then, that the Europeans are delighted over the pledges by the incoming Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress to adopt similar legislation to tax U.S. industries. The EU members may differ on their own limits. But they all agree that the U.S. should "show leadership" by committing to meet the same target they're setting for themselves -- reducing emissions by 20% to 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. Never mind that most European countries aren't close to meeting their Kyoto goals, and in all likelihood will fall short of any new targets. The point is to impose those same burdens on the Yanks.
China and India, two of the globe's biggest carbon emitters, have even called Mr. Obama's goals for combating climate change "inadequate" and have advised the U.S. to speed up its time table for carbon reductions. And why not? They would be first in line to gobble up the jobs and production lines that the U.S. would lose if energy costs rise sharply in America.
It's the indifference to the reality of Islamic extremism that renders the comparison of anti-Semitism and “Islamophobia” so outrageous
abusing its prestige in order to relativize anti-Semitism and obscure the real threat of Islamic extremismwrites John Rosenthal.
“There are hundreds of phobias,” he quotes Henryk Broder as saying, challenging the pertinence of the comparison between anti-Semitism and an allegedly new form of kindred prejudice: “Islamophobia.”
John Rosenthal continues:
These [phobias] include such highly original ones as “alliumphobia” — the fear of garlic; “babushkaphobia” — women’s fears or aversion vis-à-vis their grandmothers; “eurotophobia” — the fear of female genitalia; and “glucodermaphobia” — fear of the film that forms on warm milk when it is left standing for too long. Persons who suffer from phobias avoid what they fear. They don’t take the elevator, don’t go out onto public spaces, and steer clear of reptiles. An anti-Semite, on the other hand, feels compelled to seek contact with the object of his aversion. Anti-Semitism is not a phobia, but rather a kind of psychotic obsession. … The director of a Center for Research on Anti-Semitism ought to know that.
To speak of mere “prejudice” in connection with [the Holocaust] represents a remarkable trivialization. … The premise of the entire exercise is thus that there is a strong substantive resemblance between anti-Semitism and “Islamophobia” that goes beyond their mere commonality as “prejudices.” The clear suggestion is that “Islamophobia” is, in effect, nothing less than the new form of anti-Semitism.Don't forget to read the last paragraph, which reports on the panel discussion that took place merely two days after the September 11 attacks in 2001, and on the "moving" words that the Berlin Center's Wolfgang Benz had to say about the attacks and their thousands of victims…
…Asked to elaborate during the panel discussion on the supposed “parallels” between contemporary “Islamophobia” and traditional anti-Semitism, [director Wolfgang] Benz pointed, for instance, to the notion that Islam “requires Muslims to make war against non-believers.” The problem with this comparison, of course, is that it is not, first or foremost, Islamophobes who have disseminated such a notion, but rather Islamists. Whether or not the Islamist interpretation of the Quran is the correct one is beside the point. Numerous Muslims around the world have been convinced that it is correct and have accordingly translated said “notion” into deadly real practice. The September 11 attacks, the Bali bombings, the Madrid bombings, the London bombings, the 11/26 Mumbai attacks, and innumerable other Islamist-inspired terror attacks in the last seven years make this abundantly obvious. To leave all of this out of account — or to treat September 11, 2001 as just some date that for no apparent reason happens to mark the rise of anti-Islamic “resentments” — is to coquette with negationism vis-à-vis Islamic extremist violence and the tens of thousands of victims it has claimed.
…It is, above all, this remarkable indifference to the reality of Islamic extremism that renders the Berlin center’s comparison of anti-Semitism and “Islamophobia” so outrageous.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Drum Circle One (l'apocalypse) 21 May 2008:
Alpine skiing and snowboarding may be under greater threat from climate change than scientists have previously thought, new research suggests.Drum Circle Two (la réalité) 19 December 2008:
A study of snowfall spanning 60 years has indicated that the Alps's entire winter sports industry could grind to a halt through lack of snow.
Some 400,000 British skiers heading for the Alps over the coming fortnight will find the best Christmas and New Year snow conditions in a generation.
In resorts such as Val d'Isère which caught the harshest of this week's blizzards, the snow is banked 1.5m deep in the streets. Parts of the town were temporarily closed to pedestrians because of the high risk of avalanches.
Val and neighbouring Tignes have already enjoyed more snow in December than in any year since 1981 and seem set to beat all records by New Year's Day.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
And how does the rest of the world, of whose tender sensibilities then Senator Obama was so mindful, feel about the collapse of American consumer excess? They’re aghast, they’re terrified, they’re on a one-way express elevator down to Sub-Basement Level 37 of the abyss with no hope of putting on the brakes unless the global economy can restore aggregate demand. What does all that mumbo-jumbo about “aggregate demand” mean? Well, that’s a fancy term for you — yes, you, Joe Lardbutt, the bloated disgusting embodiment of American excess, driving around in your Chevy Behemoth, getting two blocks to the gallon as you shear the roof off the drive-thru lane to pick up your $7.93 decaf gingersnap-mocha-pepperoni-zebra mussel frappuccino, which makes for a wonderful cool refreshing thirst-quencher after you’ve been working up a sweat watching the plasma TV in your rec room all morning with the thermostat set to 87. The message from the European political class couldn’t be more straightforward: If you crass, vulgar Americans don’t ramp up the demand, we’re kaput. Unless you get back to previous levels of planet-devastating consumption, the planet is screwed.
The former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin may have killed millions of his own people but this weekend he could be chosen by Russians as their greatest-ever countryman.Among the revisionisms discussed:
"Stalin made Russia a superpower and was one of the founders of the coalition against Hitler in World War II," says Sergei Malinkovich, leader of the St Petersburg Communist Party.Founded the coalition via an alliance? Tricky guy that Stalin...
Friday, December 26, 2008
Why is it that the strange little world of leftism always look like the last days of Rome?
The probable appointment of Caroline Kennedy, the 51-year-old daughter of former President John Kennedy, to fill Secretary-of-State nominee Hillary Clinton's New York Senate seat is both laughable and yet a parable for our bankrupt times.Hope and Change alert!
Consider aristocratic entitlement. Ms. Kennedy apparently spends a great deal of her time divided between her Park Avenue Upper-East-Side Manhattan townhouse and her hereditary estate on Martha's Vineyard. She has had no real experience with the ordinary lives of New Yorkers, either a few dozen blocks away in Harlem (despite a sudden ad hoc lunch last week with the Rev. Sharpton at a soul food diner) or the state's rural towns to the north.
Ms. Kennedy is about as undiverse as one could imagine. She was educated at exclusively private schools among those of her like race and class. Her financial security is due to either inheritance or marriage; there is no evidence of a self-employed stellar legal or business career. But there is plenty of evidence that Ms. Kennedy reflects the current Democratic Party's obsession with celebrity and Hollywood-like imagery--as we see from the recent politicking of everyone from Oprah to Sean Penn, the Senate run of comedian Al Franken, and the messianic cult that surrounds Barack Obama, from his vero possumus Latin seal to his mass rallies with Greek temple backdrops.Why the mocking tone? Clair Berlinski sums it up quite nicely in her recent book review of Bernard-Henri Lévy's "Left in Dark Times". We watch and we watch the left, waiting for them to have what I like to call a BHL moment where the ideology of the left can be put in a context where it can say something about what it purports to want to advance. They have a lot to say about the fate and comfort of the individual - but the question is as always when they paln to show it in some sensible action or even live by it themselves?
Lévy rightly scorns the relativist who has “nothing against the stoning adulterous women in Afghanistan. Nothing against mutilating the genitals of young girls;” he rightly acknowledges that the Left was blind to the evils of Stalinism and a host of other evils as well.But he is largely alone in this, and something of an iconoclast. Sadder still he is taken by those on the left not for what he says about the lack of leadership in the face of illiberalism and the human misery that it brings, to be an opportunist playing both sides of the street. One wonders what the Caroline Kennedys of this world perceive in those matters at all. Nonetheless:
But Lévy cannot bring himself simply to reject and renounce the Left. Like a battered wife who insists from her hospital bed that she cannot leave her husband because he sends her such exquisite roses, Lévy’s beautiful memories of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King prevent him, too, from petitioning for divorce. No, he argues, the Left is still the place for the pure of heart; it must only remember what it stands for, to wit, the instinct to support the Dreyfuses of the world, the “good memory of antifascism,” the lessons of anticolonialism and antitotalitarianism. This is well-meant, vaporous and empty. We remain with the question: Is it the Left or the Right that supports the Dreyfuses of the world and opposes colonialism, fascism and totalitarianism?Berlinski though does well to describe that thing I call that Levy-esque realization.
I read these sections to a Turkish friend (I live in Istanbul) of half-formed but vaguely Leftish political sensibilities, prone, like most Turks, to believing the worst of America and raised in a climate where the proposition “Israel is the world’s worst nation” is taken as a self-evident statement on the order of “the Armenians had it coming.” When I came to the passages in which Lévy denounces the moral disgrace, the appalling apologetics, the sheer imbecility of a Left that would dismiss the suffering of the persecuted of Darfur on the grounds that to admit it might encourage the Americans—the Empire—to intervene, I saw something in his eyes that I had not seen before: a visceral and emotional understanding.
Though that viceral reaction is still just a matter of mood, and not yet a mature emotion or philosophy, it's the beginning of some more genuine relationship with what the left convinces itself is a force behind their views, and not just another evasive explanation of why their class of socially adept elite should be concidered the dramatized heroes trying to profiteer from class warfare.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
5 minutes pour Hitler, 5 minutes pour les juifs is the logic behind the stunt. Perhaps it’s out of a desire to destroy the conventions that they had some anxiety about in youth, or out of simple weakness, this bright lot feel a need to provide an “alternative message” to Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas address on Channel 4. The Queen reflects on the year past and looks to give the listener a thought on the temperament of the year to come, but all the empty heads of the chattering class see is a bible thumper who must be “balanced out”.
To do that UK's Channel 4 has a “alternative address” set for Christmas day. Despite the tortured logic, they present their hero in that exercise. The message is to be given by the most unlikely friend of the shallow agnostics and feelies of the world, an orthodox muslim, none other than Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. A new honorary citizen of the UK, I suppose, and hero to those inclined toward “progress” and building a bridge to 1939.
As if there was really some need to “balance” Christmas, a celebration held dear to Christians worldwide, as though the “alternative” to that day didn’t already exist. In fact there are 364 “alternative” days to Christmas, and no other days of religious obligation to any other religion for which those who promote themselves as wise and reasonable, thoughtful and fair, seek an “alternative”.
The fiery Iranian leader, who has angered Western countries with his sharp comments on Israel, nuclear power, and the role of the United States in the world, will be delivering the Alternative Christmas Message on Britain's Channel 4.Behold, that’s their religion. Not Ahmedinejad’s, but that of the casual, thoughtless left. The symbolic trappings of what they think are ‘human understanding’ is to offer a platform to the leader of the most illiberal government since that of the Taliban. The “fiery” part is something they all can identify with and aspire to, I suppose. All you have to do is throw a cheap phrase about something like ‘the oppressed’ for whom AJad is more than willing to create many more of, and you have their ear.
The network, which calls the event a "traditional alternative to The Queen's Christmas Day broadcast," issued the preliminary text.
President Ahmadinejad's address will focus on spiritual messages of seasonal
goodwill, but also contains an attack on "bullying, ill-tempered and
The speech is being promoted as an alternative to the Queen's traditional 3pm speech, but will be broadcast at 7.15pm.
The countervailing response is just as simple: seek an “alternative” to anything and everything these ‘men without chests’ hold dear. And they will fall for it, even after they tut-tut in the face of people pointing out the obvious. Since hating happy, normal people makes them feel smart, that too will be brushed off as a perfunctory thing that they needed to quiet the ‘intolerant’ slack-jawed peasants of this world that they must suffer on their way to the march to support their favorite “oppressed peoples” of the week.
It’s really simple: repeat, repeat, repeat, until we find ourselves wishing each other a “merry whatever.”
Today I was wished a “Happy Holidays” [sic] by someone. I relpied: ”Oh, really? What holiday is that, exactly?” We eventually got past a dim stare and a pregnant pause to a mention of Christmas on Christmas eve, on with the relief that they were “allowed” to wish it. Allowed, as if in this fine state society is in now that we congratulate ourselves for ‘liberating’ ourselves from anything fake we can invent, we are convinced that Christmas may not be mentioned at Christmas.
Remove all doubt as to just what it is that the Fuehrer of Iran is promoting: advertizing for islam on the airwaves of ‘the infidel’ on the day that matters most to those his proponents call ‘cross worshippers’, and to exploit the moment to construct the doubt necessary for his adarice for personal power.
Will the luvvies who seek an “alternative” to Christmas for Christmas day be quick to find their virtues in his intentions? No. They don’t have to, because they already found it long ago, and gave the likes of Ahmedinejad the tools and platform to learn it from them. But for a moment, they might make an exception and actually not quickly look down and away at the mention of Jesus.
"All the problems that have bedevilled humanity throughout the ages came about because humanity followed an evil path and disregarded the message of the Prophets.
"Now as human society faces a myriad of problems and a succession of complex crises, the root causes can be found in humanity's rejection of that message, in particular the indifference of some governments and powers towards the teachings of the divine Prophets, especially those of Jesus Christ."
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
A member of John Kerry's "band of brothers" pleads guilty to possessing child porn.So much love and caring for humanity there, what with the left having that monopoly over it that they always seem to claim. If you haven’t heard more about the Sanders’ story to date, it’s because the press coverage has been limited largely to providing cover to a fellow traveler, and vessel for any other sort emotions as complex as a shoe-throwing.
Remember Wade Sanders? He was one of the "band of brothers"--Swift Boat veterans who supported John Kerry's presidential campaign and appeared onstage at the 2004 Democratic National Convention before Kerry's "reporting for duty" speech.
On the campaign trail, Sanders was one of Kerry's nastiest surrogates. In August 2004, he likened the president to a "trapped animal." In September, he compared Karl Rove and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth chief John O'Neill to Josef Goebbels. He repeatedly referred to the president and his men as "chicken hawks," an especially nasty term because it is slang for a child molester as well as a derisive term for a nonveteran who favors a strong defense.
Sanders, who also served as a deputy assistant Navy secretary during the Clinton administration, continued his anti-Bush campaign even after Kerry's defeat. In a December 2004 op-ed for the San Diego Union-Tribune, he lectured the president on "the heavy responsibility of command"As opposed to Sanders’ inability to grasp the responsibility of actually being a man.
Meanwhile, the state prosecutor is asking questions…
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Strange as it is, there are two men claiming the throne of France. I’ve even met a pair of bloggers whose subject of discussion is the advancement of the idea that some royal family should be reinstated. My sense is that a frustration with the loony state of public discussion and public policy is what compels them, but on the other hand – compared to the shallowness of European political thought, it isn’t that bad an option.
"Maybe one day the monarchy will be restored in France," said Prince Jean as he strolled around the gardens of the Palais Royal in central Paris. "The prince can't just sit back and wait. He must make his mark."Which is a lot like being a trade union rep or being in one of the syndicated industries that have whole lines of business inefficiently stitched-up.
Europe has many families descended from old monarchies. But most are happy just to enjoy the social status their backgrounds confer.
Prince Jean does his best to live like a king.As kings will do, I suppose, when they aren’t encouraging the oxidation of ferrous metals into the atmosphere.
He has no official status and little public recognition, and he has to work for a living. He has been a financial consultant, and he now works full time promoting French heritage.
But he still carries out a program of "royal" engagements, aided by a staff of 30. He tours France 10 times a year, meeting mayors and visiting factories, where he says people see him as a reminder of French history. He also makes an annual overseas visit. He has discussed foreign policy with Vatican officials, has performed a tribal dance with Houma Native Americans in Louisiana, and traveled to the North Pole to raise awareness of climate change.
Prince Jean says he is a modern royal, and he cultivates an appropriately modest, varied lifestyle. He rides around Paris on a rusty bicycle, and his favorite movie is "Beverly Hills Cop II." In his spare time, he enjoys hunting, windsurfing and collecting ornamental knives. If aides address him as "Your Royal Highness," he tells them: "Just call me 'Prince Jean.'"This is the funny part though: voting with their feet, the public shows an unstated fondness for symbolic leadership, happy to let another anti-meritocracy in the form of a never-changing cadre run things. There is also a taste for hearing excessive drama in the stating of positions in the sense that a radical sounding idea leaves an impression that progress of some kind – that mythical gentle and magical age some carry around different ideas around in their heads about, is just around the corner – if we could only just imagine it. Hope and change, in the style of a mass of imagined members of an underclass cramped into a rotting gilded shanty.
Nonetheless as fashion would dictate, these two “houses” manage to squabble.
Rival ClaimSomething they continue to do to this day. To quote Mel Brooks’ finest opus: “the peasants are revolting!” “Yeah. They stink on ice.”
The current Bourbon pretender to the French throne is Prince Louis Alphonse Duke of Anjou, who lives in Venezuela. His adviser, Jacques De Bauffremont-Courtenay, Duke of Bauffremont, declined requests for an interview with Prince Louis, but said that this lineage gave his man the best claim to the French throne.
He said that in addition to the Orléans' less-direct lineage, they had helped trigger the French Revolution by hoarding a shipment of grain sent from the U.S. in 1788. The grain was intended to relieve a famine, and a year later the starving peasants revolted.
The very fact that a society that avers socialistic taglines and vocabulary, but still names “Lord Mayors” and clings has a symbolic shield for every village, reveals a cognitive dissonance. It either that or a strange desire to have it both ways, or as we are more likely to find evidence of: a desire to believe in notions of equality, but being so wanting to cling to a protector and so untrusting of peoples’ choices that you conclude that a iron fist is a comfort. It’s like finding a warm-fuzzy in licking the boot that kicks you.
But the thing that is repelled against by the appeal to the notion of reinstating monarchies, the seeming chaos in society, is the same reaction that the thugs on the barricades and the skinheads in the back alleys find as pretext to act. And yet it’s that action that motivates others still to say the kids ain’t alright – which of course
Every Three Days a Cemetary Get Vandalized”Classes” fending off violence by “classes”. A ubiquitous state where far and wide gangs are obsessed with race and class.
"Abject", "scandalous", "deeply shocking": the political class has strongly condemned the desecration whose cemetery Notre-Dame-de-Lorette (Pas-de-Calais) was the target on the night from Sunday to Yesterday, for the third time in less than twenty months. More than 500 grave markers of Muslims and a dozen Jewish graves have been vandalized. Swastikas and various messages insulting Islam and the Minister of Justice Rachida Dati have been tagged in black paint. At the mention of these acts, perpetrated on the day of Eid el-Kebir, Nicolas Sarkozy denounced a "repulsive racism."
The desecration took place between rounds of a gendarmerie patrol at around 1:45 a.m. and the arrival of a veteran at 8 a.m. The Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs, Jean-Marie Bockel, announced the installation of eight cameras around the Muslim section of the cemetary.
Last September, a dozen skinheads had been arrested after the desecration of 148 headstones.
Of course the “progressives” quietly hope for a new Robbespierre to lead them to deliverance of social sameness with a regime of life-controlling regulations no different than an iron fist, and the neo-fascists look for the same warmth of being treated to the socialism of being treated like a boarding school student.
Centuries have passed, and the pretentions remains the same. Centuries have passed, and a great many Europeans still confuse responsibility with authoritarian power. It looks almost like it's that disssonance and frustration that still drives people to take shelter in the strange and hostile ideologies of neo-marxism and neo-fascism, and others to take comfort in recreating the distant past which yearns for a similar result: one where in a strange way there is no resentment for others' success or good fortune because all us peasants are equally miserable, or that an elite can justify it's power based on their thinking themselves indispensible.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Organic farmers have asked the Government for permission to take a "holiday" from strict organic standards in an attempt to survive the recession.So what then is the point of organic farming sans the organic farming bit?
Sunday, December 21, 2008
For many sea anglers it could be the end of the line. The European Union wants to impose quotas on recreational fishermen limiting the number of fish they may catch.Assuming the sextant is ratched-up tight this story will follow the per as usual EU-course: Publication; Silence; Denial-followed-by-Enforcement (at least for those countries choosing to play pretend).
Rather like carting around a bond company stooge on the voyage (without the charm of course).
Although Peter Madsen is best known for bringing to life the Nordic gods of the Viking sagas and other trolls, he has also done stories about a God of a quite different character (along with the story of Job and a book series about the three most important feasts in the Christian religion)…
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Just when you think they aren't many ways Nigerians/Kuwaitis/whatevers can take the scam any further, you get one of those ubiquitous emails, and find out it's from a… firstname.lastname@example.org…
I suppose that is supposed to make it more (?!?!) believable when reading Mrs Veronica Farooq Turaki's claim that she
inherited most of my husbands Bank deposits and properties after his death, which includes the sum US$8.5Million deposited in a Bank in the U.K which no one knows about.
According to one Briton sharing his experience with others of his move to the US, the country isn’t the abyss of cannibalism and grindingly medieval as the European branch of the 40millionpeoplewithouthealthinsurance! reciting robots of recycled recorded complaint would have you believe:
After all the trials described previously with our move to the USA, an obvious question is "Was the move worth it?"Oh, the horror! Bring that emergency supply of hope and change right away so that this sort of thing never happens again! This narrative may not be!
The short answer is a definite "Yes". Even though we found the move to the USA a big challenge, we know we made the right choice overall.
Relocating was definitely a good move for us:
- The quality of life here in Redmond is vastly better than we had in London.
- The scenery and beauty of the area is just phenomenal.
- Crime and violence are low here.
- Medical treatment is phenomenally better if your employer has a good healthcare plan.
- The kids have integrated well into the school system and are enjoying all the activities like sports and recreation that is available to them.
- We moved from a 1100 sq foot house in London to a 3800 sq feet house in Redmond, in a vastly better location, and for about the same price!
Overall, we have grown as a family and individually from the relocation experience, and I would recommend it to anyone if they get the chance.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Sarkozy's seemingly boundless capacity to move from old friend to new, from passionate old position to eager new standpoint (as a Gaullist reborn)
Soon enough, according to some Europeans, Germans in particular, the Sarkozy fantasy and free-fire zone will reach its limitswrites John Vinocur.
The demarcation would be Barack Obama's entry in the White House, bearing issues like Iran, Afghanistan, and France's capacity to function as a team player in the context of its return to NATO's unified command in April.
It's then that the rules allowing Sarkozy's seemingly boundless capacity to move from old friend to new, from passionate old position (as a would-be Atlanticist) to eager new standpoint (as a Gaullist reborn) grow very much tougher.
Obama will have too little time to waste - and too much power, credibility and persuasiveness - not to ask Sarkozy if he wants to risk a return to French irrelevance by promoting his own importance with a policy hodgepodge he and France can't deliver.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
"Même les SDF dehors, ils sont mieux que nous", témoigne un détenu devant sa fenêtre.With the help of a camera smuggled into their Essonne detention center, inmates held in the prison of Fleury-Mérogis spent several months filming the interior of their cells and their jail.
No spectacular revelations, as Luc Bronner points out in Le Monde (nor, of course — from our part — any chicken little hand-wringing about the alleged abhorrent fate of the martyrlike prisoners), only this: are Europeans really apt (or that apt) to give lessons to the Americans on social policies? (Especially when the judgment made by the continent's proud citizens — i.e., that in forward-looking Europe, unlike backward and clueless America, prisons are "reinsertion centers" — turns out to be nothing but "la communication officielle de l'administration pénitentiaire".)
"Quand on est en détention, on voit plein de reportages télé sur les prisons, nous explique un des vidéastes en demandant l'anonymat. Mais ils ne montrent jamais ce qui se passe vraiment parce que l'administration organise les visites et ne montre que les bâtiments en bon état. On s'est dit qu'il fallait montrer l'autre côté de la détention." Ils mettent aussi en avant leur volonté de casser l'image positive des prisons pour une partie de la jeunesse des quartiers. "Beaucoup pensent qu'aller en prison c'est pas grave et qu'ils en sortiront plus forts. Nous, on veut leur montrer que c'est vraiment la merde et que tu deviens fou là-bas."
…Des détenus ont aussi accepté de témoigner sur la dureté des rapports sociaux au sein de la maison d'arrêt. "Ici, contrairement à ce [que disent] les gens, c'est la loi du plus fort. (…) Chacun a son terrain. (…) Pour faire mes marques, j'ai dû me bagarrer au départ", explique l'un d'entre eux. Plusieurs fustigent le comportement des surveillants, volontiers insultés et accusés de pratiques humiliantes. …
Un des détenus interrogés lance un "appel" pour que le public arrête de croire que la prison est un "lieu pour se réinsérer". "Moi, je me suis fait attraper pour un petit fait, de catégorie correctionnelle. Je suis passé en comparution immédiate, on m'a condamné. Moi, maintenant quand je marche en promenade, je marche avec des tueurs, avec des meurtriers, des trafiquants internationaux. Et je le vous cache pas qu'à certains moments ça donne envie."
The ongoing snowstorm has stopped flights from landing or leaving at McCarran International Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
"No planes are departing for Las Vegas from anywhere in the U.S. right now," said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.You gotta double-up to catch-up.
The EU has stopped funding to “5-6” western-balkans news operations that they were paying to cover their circus in Brussels. Bra-vo, and all that, but the question really is: why would they need to pay anyone to cover them to begin with?
Until the end of 2006, the European Commission supported all TV correspondents coming from EU candidate states. This was first a scheme first applied to the correspondents of 12 countries that are now part of the EU.The simple answer is to start media support of civil societies, whatever the hell that chilling, ademocratic sounding thing is – as opposed to proving so be so uninteresting or so unable to market virally that you have to put cash out on the street.
Then it was our turn in the “Western Balkans”. This technical aid consisted of cameras, editing studios and a chance to send our stories via satellite. The first 12 beneficiaries of the scheme were happy to receive this aid until the day they entered the EU. Croatia, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia were to follow. Back in 2003, the EU gave these countries a clear perspective of eventual membership, right?But almost two years ago, the European Commission reorganized the budget in order to redirect the money earmarked for “media support”. They cash was top be redirected towards civil society, they said. So, money that once went on media support is now going to go directly to the countries for the purposes of staging workshops, seminars and similar activities, including sporadic help for several TV broadcasts. This initiative is fine, but what about the correspondents, the people that are at the centre of happenings? Who better than us can directly and instantaneously inform people about political events concerning our countries?
I find odd though, that the title of the blog reporting on this is called “shooting the messenger”, as though it’s perfectly normal for a government entity to pay journalists, and a sign of harshness when they stop paying them.
Elsewhere, demanding students ask: What am I? Chopped liver? Frankly, yes. Yes you are.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Many American environmentalists are also rubbing their eyes in amazement. Just as a new US administration looks ready after eight years of Bush stagnation to make real efforts on climate change, the Europeans seem to be getting cold feet.The possible irony of Euro-centric eco-sanity is indeed delicious to think about.
Drug addled ‘young militants’ hunt Jews in Mumbai.
Drug addled ‘young militants’ hunt Jews in Berlin.
Last Wednesday, hundreds, if not thousands, of students ostensibly protesting poor conditions in German schools stormed the main building of Berlin’s historic Humboldt University: smashing windows, occupying seminar rooms, strewing rolls of toilet paper in the lobby and courtyard, and even setting at least one fire. Most astonishingly, the protesters also laid waste to an exhibit in the entry hall of the building devoted to the Nazi persecution of the Jews. The exhibit was titled “Betrayed and Sold: Jewish Businesses in Berlin 1933-1945.” According to reports on the German news site Spiegel-Online and in the popular German tabloid Bild, virtually all the poster boards making up the exhibit were damaged and, as photo evidence shows, some were fully ripped in two. Eyewitnesses cited by Spiegel-Online say that the rioters who destroyed the exhibit were adolescents around thirteen years old.[Scheiß Israel] and proceeded to attack him. Reacting to suggestions that the students may not have realized what the subject of the exhibit was, police chief Peter-Michael Haeberer told Bild: “Leaving aside the fact that university employees and other witnesses pointed it out to them, even a dyslexic could not have failed to recognize that it was an exhibit about the persecution of the Jews. The perpetrators knew exactly what they were doing.”All in the name of liberating something or other, of course.
Interviewed by Spiegel-Online, a researcher at the university reported that when he informed rioters that the university had visitors from Israel and asked “What will they think?” one young man responded “F*ck Israel!”
“fighting the system”, and demanding the “ Demokratisierung der Schulen“
The incident occurred merely three days after Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German dignitaries solemnly commemorated the 70th anniversary of the infamous Kristallnacht pogroms, during which thousands of Jewish-owned shops and synagogues were destroyed throughout Germany.As with the riots in Greece, there is an unrepresented degree of organization to this, with the adolescent ragers at Indymedia playing a hidden role. In Berlin, it even gets richer. Looking desperately for something to trash, a group engaging in Fagan-like organizing of students as young as 13 posts stickers around the city calling for “school strikes” over just about anything they believe the world should give them for free, including jobs – this of course, without being able to square that claim with the demand that capitalism disappear. As we’ve seen before over and over, these things go down a lot easier if you know nothing about the world, and have even less life experience than your average 17 year old.
Au printemps 2003, en signe de vengeance et de mépris, les Irakiens frappaient de leurs chaussures les statues monumentales de Saddam Hussein jetées à terre par les troupes américaines. Cinq ans plus tard, ils les jettent à la figure du chef de la coalition venue les libérer d'une sanglante dictature, en le traitant de "chien".Voilà ce que nous apprend (sic) Le Monde! A moins que j'ai mal vu les images de la télé, ce ne sont pas 30 millions d'Irakiens (!) mais… un seul (!) qui s'est mué en jetteur de godasses.
Dominique Dhombres renchérit en affirmant — in so many words (et à la grande joie des lecteurs du Monde) — que le mot de la fin de la guerre d'Irak, ce n'est autre que
ce lancer de chaussures à Bagdad.Le Monde (et ses lecteurs) ignorent allègrement 1) les condamnations du geste par de nombreux Irakiens, tout comme ils ignorent allègrement 2) que si un journaliste avait été l'auteur d'un geste similaire contre Saddam Hussein (ou contre, mettons, Assad ou contre les Mollahs, pays dans lesquels ce geste a été loué "spontanément"), il aurait eu (au minimum) les bras arrachés.
Comme le dit Gateway Pundit : "Funny. This never happened at a Saddam palace before?" The reporter "did not have his tongue cut out, did not have his arms broke and was not thrown off a roof. Now that's success." Gateway Pundit ajoute : "Of course, we have an idea what al-Zaidi would be going through right now if he were held in an Egyptian prison."
Enfin, 3) tant Le Monde que ses lecteurs présentent (à travers leur correspondante, Mouna Naïm) Mountazer Al-Zaïdi comme un Irakien type, alors que jamais, ô grand jamais, il n'aurait jeté une chaussure ou quoi que ce soit sur Saddam Hussein, vu que le dictateur était son héros et que — justement — le journaliste de Al-Baghdadiya travaille pour une télévision pro-saddamite ; sa "protestation" tient donc à peu près autant du symbolique que si, après le printemps 1945, un journaliste allemand, de tendance nazie, avait jeté ses bottes sur Franklin Delano Roosevelt ou Churchill pour tous les morts que les Américains et/ou les Anglais — et non Adolf Hitler — avaient causé durant la 2nde Guerre Mondiale.
Update: Ralph Peters agrees…
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
You probably already know what a watermelon is. Look it up in the dictionary, and you should find Daniel Cohn-Bendit’s face should be there. High among his priorities are the silencing people who don’t agree with him, and trying to relive his childhood (which was actually quixotic by European standards) of abetting fugitive terrorists.
His latest tantrum was a passive-aggressive sit-down protest in front of Czech president Vaclav Havel’s person, presumably because he exists, and hasn’t drunk from the same cup as Cohn-Bendit, a leftist flunky for any revolutionary notion that a 15 year old is unsophisticated enough to embrace.
He then moved on to the Lisbon Treaty. "I don't care about your opinions on it," he said. If the Czech Parliament approves the treaty in February, he demanded, "Will you respect the will of the representatives of the people?"Which is exactly where the problem lies. It’s the ‘representatives of the people’ of other EU member states that the people who voted in the Netherlands, France, and Ireland when they were voting on referenda themselves, sans non-representative representation voted in by people other than them.
He then reprimanded the president for his recent meeting in Ireland with Declan Ganley, the millionaire leader of the "No" campaign in the Irish referendum, claiming that it was improper for Klaus to have talked to someone whose "finances come from problematic sources".The post-vote attacks on Declan Ganley have really been rather hilarious, and egged on and caused by many in the press as well. They included things like complaining that he’s made his money ‘in business’, accused without basis in fact of taking money from the CIA (while ironically neglecting to mention that the US government has been begging Europeans to get their act together as a group,) and nicknaming him ‘The Mysterious Mr. No’ when he’s made his position on matters as plain as day. This kind of smear that the attention-seeking left likes to pull, and an inability to absorb any new idea since 1917 despite their love of “la provoc” that’s all too typical and stale.
Visibly taken aback by this onslaught, Klaus observed: "I must say that no one has talked to me in such a style and tone in the past six years. You are not on the barricades in Paris here. I thought that such manners ended for us 19 years ago" (ie when Communism fell). When Klaus suggested to Hans-Gert Pöttering, the president of the EU Parliament, that perhaps it was time for someone else to take the floor, Pöttering replied that "anyone from the members of the Parliament can ask you what he likes", and invited Cohn-Bendit to continue.
"This is incredible', said Klaus.
Elsewhere: the german pulisher with a near monopoly, Bertelsmann, is trying to dictate to the incoming US president America's terms of surrender to them. Since they effectively bought-off Senetor Obama, the stunt might just work.
The Washington, DC-based Bertelsmann Foundation presented its Trans-Atlantic Briefing Book for the Obama administration on Thursday, 13 November 2008 in the US capital. The Briefing Book is a policy blueprint that offers strategies for foreign-policy cooperation between Europeans and the new American leadership during their first consultations in early 2009.They might just manage to Talibanize us after all.
The Bertelsmann Foundation, the only non-partisan pan-European think tank in Washington, DC, wrote its Briefing Book from a distinctly European perspective. The Book describes the go and the no-go areas of major foreign-policy issues. It realistically considers the shortcomings of the European institutions and EU member-states. The Briefing Book highlights the numerous fields of trans-Atlantic cooperation and focuses on the viewpoints of Brussels, London, Paris and Berlin.
Again, is this some sort of end-run telling us that they are "speaking for the representatives of the people"?
Monday, December 15, 2008
Never-the-less, todays effort:
So here’s the situation: the economy is facing its worst slump in decades. The usual response to an economic downturn, cutting interest rates, isn’t working. Large-scale government aid looks like the only way to end the economic nosedive.Is Mr. Krugman aware that Germany has (unfortunately) a "grand" coalition of government of left and right? The slicing and dicing started above but really grates here:
But there’s a problem: conservative politicians, clinging to an out-of-date ideology — and, perhaps, betting (wrongly) that their constituents are relatively well positioned to ride out the storm — are standing in the way of action.
No, I’m not talking about Bob Corker, the Senator from Nissan — I mean Tennessee — and his fellow Republicans, who torpedoed last week’s attempt to buy some time for the U.S. auto industry. (Why was the plan blocked? An e-mail message circulated among Senate Republicans declared that denying the auto industry a loan was an opportunity for Republicans to “take their first shot against organized labor.”)
I am, instead, talking about Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and her economic officials, who have become the biggest obstacles to a much-needed European rescue plan.
As in the United States, monetary policy — cutting interest rates in an effort to perk up the economy — is rapidly reaching its limit. That leaves, as the only way to avert the worst slump since the Great Depression, the aggressive use of fiscal policy: increasing spending or cutting taxes to boost demand. Right now everyone sees the need for a large, pan-European fiscal stimulus.Anyone with a modicum (or a modem) of interest in European affairs knows that the person leading the charge on the German reluctance (not necessarily unwarranted) to jump in feet first and without thinking is indeed Peer Steinbrück. However, Herr Steinbrück is not "Mrs. Merkel's finance minister". Herr Steinbrück is the finance minister from the Social Democratic Party portion of the coalition government led by Frau Merkel.
Everyone, that is, except the Germans. Mrs. Merkel has become Frau Nein: if there is to be a rescue of the European economy, she wants no part of it, telling a party meeting that "we're not going to participate in this senseless race for billions."
Last week Peer Steinbrück, Mrs. Merkel’s finance minister, went even further. Not content with refusing to develop a serious stimulus plan for his own country, he denounced the plans of other European nations. He accused Britain, in particular, of engaging in "crass Keynesianism."
The point of the post goes back to the beginning of Mr. Krugman's piece:
But there’s a problem: conservative politicians, clinging to an out-of-date ideology — and, perhaps, betting (wrongly) that their constituents are relatively well positioned to ride out the storm — are standing in the way of action.Who knew, Peer Steinbrück and the left-wing Social Democrats in Germany are amongst the "conservative politicians clinging to an out-of-date ideology". Perhaps this post is rather dancing on the head of a pin, but shouldn't we expect more from our Nobel Laureates?
Just think it is sloppy work on behalf of Mr. Krugman, sure....
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Like the hoax that could set Belgians running to rationalize and the bombing that brought down a Spanish government, the fact that Europeans don’t want to be a nation with responsibilities, but rather a power vacuum magically held in high regard for their image of themselves, it’s an apparent function of character. That sort of character is the product of a million silly ideas about what one thinks human nature COULD do if you could will it away, one that can no longer use the excuse of what it thinks is its’ own experience, and will only be purged from our lower GI tract when the ‘68ers become too old to care about the sound of their own voices.
In the process of discussing India’s options following the Mumbai attacks, Barry Rubin has a point that while painful to hear is the obvious codex of our modern age:
The problem here is that the international community is not exactly courageous. There are those who sympathize with the terrorists, those who apologize for the terrorists, and those who are afraid of the terrorists.And to think that it was those very nailbiters that decided that they had to step in just so somebody else doesn’t do something about the way the Iran-Syria-Hizballah complex has ravaged Lebanon’s future and “regional stability” – that very nebulous and impossible that thing the Europeans keep pretending is itself a virtue worthy of permanently accepting tyrannies to maintain.
What is truly frightening is how much the world is afraid of the terrorists. An example: In 2006 the Israel-Hizballah war ended with a UN ceasefire resolution. The UN, meaning more than 180 countries, pledged to patrol southern Lebanon and keep Hizballah forces from returning there. It also promised to help stop arms smuggling from Iran and Syria to Hizballah. In fact, after two years the UN armed soldiers in Lebanon have done nothing. Hizballah has returned and rearmed. What happened? Hizballah, and Syria, hinted that if the UN forces did their job they would be attacked. The entire world surrendered to Hizballah.
Indeed we may even have to wait until the real stupidest generation has permanently stopped talking about itself to see a change.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Words associated with Christianity and British history taken out of children's dictionary Even if you imagine that there are specific social and philosophical goals to removing words from a dictionary associated with national historic or Christianity, one would be hard pressed to believe that there is a valid reason that it can be imposed on the general population.
Oxford University Press has removed words like "aisle", "bishop", "chapel", "empire" and "monarch" from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like "blog", "broadband" and "celebrity". Dozens of words related to the countryside have also been culled.Supider still, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with the narrative of Britsh history at all. What is it exactly that these revisionists are trying to say? That there was no history of the UK before the 20th century and that Christianity never existed? That a simple conduit of information (broadband) is in itself comparable to a religious and philosophical framework?
The publisher claims the changes have been made to reflect the fact that Britain is a modern, multicultural, multifaith society.
But academics and head teachers said that the changes to the 10,000 word Junior Dictionary could mean that children lose touch with Britain's heritage.
"We have a certain Christian narrative which has given meaning to us over the last 2,000 years. To say it is all relative and replaceable is questionable," said Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the centre for education and employment at Buckingham University.
It’s all evidence of a real loss of the narrative long past us now. One that can’t distinguish (inm this case) between objects and concepts. It isn’t even up to the storyboard mechanism of the cave paintings, and quite frankly the only way to dispose of all notions of our philosophical heritage, one would have to insure a standard of stupidity to enable it.
Words taken out: Even with the pummeling of eco-cation the kidlets are getting as a kind of ‘original sin’ burden they aren’t permitted to get past, plant names for things that are ubiquitous to the point of being invasive in Britain (such as mint) are being removed.
Carol, cracker, holly, ivy, mistletoe
Dwarf, elf, goblin
Abbey, aisle, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, minister, monastery, monk, nun, nunnery, parish, pew, psalm, pulpit, saint, sin, devil, vicar
Coronation, duchess, duke, emperor, empire, monarch, decade
adder, ass, beaver, boar, budgerigar, bullock, cheetah, colt, corgi, cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, gerbil, goldfish, guinea pig, hamster, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice, poodle, porcupine, porpoise, raven, spaniel, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren.
Acorn, allotment, almond, apricot, ash, bacon, beech, beetroot, blackberry, blacksmith, bloom, bluebell, bramble, bran, bray, bridle, brook, buttercup, canary, canter, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, conker, county, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, diesel, fern, fungus, gooseberry, gorse, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, leek, liquorice, manger, marzipan, melon, minnow, mint, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, pasture, poppy, porridge, poultry, primrose, prune, radish, rhubarb, sheaf, spinach, sycamore, tulip, turnip, vine, violet, walnut, willow
This isn’t a case of someone trying to build a brave new world or a ‘Logan’s Run’ society. It’s a expression of the sad lack of perspective of a generation incapable of placing itself anywhere in history without looking for the gaps it wish it didn’t have to face. In the US, I would think that they would want to leave the work ‘cracker’ in, just. Y’know, for the sake of indoctrination and all...
Elsewhere: hope is dangled in front of western women otherwise unable to form durable human relationships well into adulthood.
Have a nice day.
The cascade effect telegraphing through the whole of the economy, the mass layoffs, the agony. Despite the cost SOMEBODY should do something... Italians discover government cheese:
Italian consumers seem to support the cheese bailout, which also includes a purchase of 100,000 wheels of another grating variety, Grana Padano. The operation will cost €50 million.Emphasis mine.
To pay for the parmigiano wheels, the Italian government is dipping into a special European Union fund meant to help feed needy people.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Berlin - chaotic freedom-hating leftists counter-protest against authoritarian freedom-hating leftists. As usual, the natives don’t quite get the narrative of just what it is they’re protesting against: the mere existence of people who don’t agree with them.
From pacifist arms exporters the implausible delights of whining for its’ own sake, Observing Hermann continues to watch them following the script.
Potential candidates who can’t be bothered to run. Potential bloggers who can’t seem to make themselves notice what is or isn’t going on. Welcome to the human warehouse that is EUtopia.
We know we have got it wrong when our senior European politicians prefer to serve in the non-elected commission, or even in national government, rather than in the currently anodyne European Parliament, even though that body is (theoretically at least) the second most important legislature in the world.A people leaders are loath to actually trust, and a people unmoved by the tediousness of those in political life. It’s a perfect storm – a kind of ghetto mental complex on a continental scale.
Why should we need to "boost interest and participation in" the European elections at all? Why do we fear that turnout in some countries will be so low as to threaten the democratic legitimacy of those elected? While always willing to get jumping mad at someone an ocean away, and seem to want to chisel Senator Obama’s head onto Mount Rushmore before he’s even taken office, the lecturesome ways of these great Euro-minds seems to wander off when the subject at hand is their own behavior, initiative, or demonstrative value to civilization.
It is because politics in Europe and debate in Europe has simply become so stultified and dull, extinguished by the well-meaning and ordered hand of bureaucracy.
Politics was always about people and will always be about people, because ultimately we place our trust and our judgement in people.
George Bush? They have a “lesson” for us about George Bush! Barack Obama? They’re all ”for” Barack Obama for a plentitude of recorded reasons they’re willing to recite verbatim. Themselves? Themselves? Hello... Is there anyone in there?
Mark Mazower, author of Dark Continent: Europe’s 20th Century, and other interesting criticisms that look into the heart or heartlessness of the Ur-European notes evidence of this retrograde nature and social lethargy – all the while imagining that their passivated actions are equal to the endless complex of sneering at others over mushy, irrelevant “good to do” notions things one tries to call virtues:
It is not so long ago that Austria’s rightwingers used to campaign on the slogan: “Vienna must not become Chicago”. They were not the only Europeans to become more xenophobic with the end of the cold war. But they were perhaps the only ones to link their detestation of the new immigrants from the Middle East and eastern Europe to hoary images of race riots and organised crime drawn from America’s bad old days.I guess there’s no place like Utopia.
Now that an African-American from Chicago is set to become president in Washington, not everyone in Vienna is happy. In an extraordinary on-air outburst, Klaus Emmerich, the veteran Austrian television pundit, declared: “I would not want the western world to be directed by a black man.” When invited to retract, Mr Emmerich stood by what he had said, adding that “blacks aren’t as politically civilised” and pouring fuel on to the fire by hinting that Mr Obama’s “rhetorical brilliance” and ability in organising a movement made him comparable to infamous demagogues from the past. America’s choice, Mr Emmerich concluded, was as misplaced as a Turk becoming the next chancellor of Austria.
His comments were greeted by a storm of criticism, just as Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi’s “joke” about Mr Obama’s “sun tan” had been: two elderly men betraying their generational prejudices, one might think. Yet the underlying problem goes deeper. A comment such as Mr Emmerich’s would be political suicide in the US; in Austria it earned little more than a slap on the wrist. How is it that while both places have their fair share of racism, one finds such contrasting public and political responses?
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The EU precedent on torture that puts the actions of American officials in a more favorable light — which is precisely why the MSM hasn't reported it
In light of the spectacular nature of the case [of torture of a prisoner in a German police station] and, above all, the raging American debate on torture in connection with the Guantánamo Bay prison camp and the war on terror, on first glance this might seem oddwrites John Rosenthal in Policy Review about the fact that the European Court of Human Rights (echr) ruling went almost entirely ignored by the American news media.
But on further reflection, it is perhaps precisely its obvious relevance to the American “torture” debate that explains the American media’s indifference to the echr ruling. The ruling was announced just as a campaign to charge senior Bush administration officials with “war crimes” was reaching fever pitch this past summer. With leading news organizations like the New York Times openly abetting that campaign, it would hardly have been opportune for those same news organizations to call attention to a European precedent that puts the actions of the American officials in a more favorable light — and all the less so as the editorial boards that have been most adamant in denouncing alleged American “torture” practices typically regard Europe as a paragon of virtue in the matter of respecting international law.
…Two points are particularly notable about the echr’s [Magnus] Gäfgen ruling in light of the accusations against Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials. The first is that the echr explicitly found that one of the techniques Rumsfeld and Haynes rejected as too severe does not meet the threshold for being regarded as torture. Citing the Army’s “tradition of restraint,” Rumsfeld and Haynes refused to authorize threats of physical violence, as well as two other “Category III” techniques, “exposure to cold weather or water” and what has come to be known as “waterboarding.” (The only “Category III” technique that was approved was the “use of mild, non-injurious physical contact such as grabbing, poking in the chest with the finger, and light pushing.”) The Court, however, found that mere threats of violence, if they are not carried out, do not as such constitute torture. It came to this conclusion even while recognizing that Ennigkeit’s threats must have caused Gäfgen “considerable mental suffering” (§69). By the standards of the European Court of Human Rights, then, all less harsh measures should not be regarded as torture either. The Court’s finding in this regard ought not, of course, to have any direct legal relevance. The United States is not a party to the European Convention on Human Rights and it is not represented in the Council of Europe to which the echr is attached. Nonetheless, the finding is especially awkward for Physicians for Human Rights and kindred ngos, since such groups tend precisely to regard echr jurisprudence as authoritative even for countries like the United States that are not part of the Council of Europe.
…The fact that the echr acknowledged Gäfgen’s “considerable mental suffering” renders its finding even more awkward for Physicians for Human Rights, since the latter makes ample use of the notion of “psychological torture” in order to elevate physically nonaggressive interrogation practices into the torture category. The group has indeed previously devoted a 135-page report to the subject. As it so happens, Ennigkeit appears to have expressly aimed to maximize Gäfgen’s psychological torment, not only by invoking the imminent arrival of the “special officer,” but also, if Gäfgen is to be believed, by threatening to allow him to be sexually abused by fellow prisoners.
Of course, even if the interrogation methods approved by the Pentagon do not rise to the level of torture, they could well be considered “inhuman treatment,” which is likewise prohibited under the un Convention against Torture (more fully, the un “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”). No one reading the transcript of Mohammed al-Qahtani’s interrogations that was leaked to the press in2005 could doubt that the treatment to which he was subject by his interrogators was, by ordinary standards of human interaction, crude and abusive.
But this is where the second salient aspect of the echr Gäfgen ruling is especially relevant. For while the echr found that the Frankfurt police’s treatment of Gäfgen did constitute “inhuman treatment,” it accepted the Frankfurt District Court’s judgment that under the circumstances this treatment did not warrant punishment.
…One may well wonder whether the accusers of Donald Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials would be prepared to acknowledge “massively extenuating circumstances” in their cases. But if the desire to save the life of an eleven-year-old boy is an extenuating circumstance, how can the desire to prevent a follow-on attack to 9/11 and to save potentially thousands of innocent lives not be one? And if the difficulty involved in questioning a wily and arrogant 27-year-old student who has been “trained in law” is an extenuating circumstance, how can the difficulty involved in questioning an evasive and potentially dangerous al Qaeda operative who has been trained in operational security measures not be one?
To deny the same degree of forbearance to American officials and personnel involved in the war on terror is to imply that irregular combatants forming part of terrorist organizations deserve greater legal protections not only than ordinary prisoners of war, but indeed than ordinary citizens. Such an absurd — and for the United States suicidal — logic could only be embraced by persons who are fundamentally committed to seeing American counter-terrorism efforts fail.
In a fit of grinding out the last bits of ancient régime along with the dignity of the people still alive who built it, the East German seat of government is done being demolished. Funny – in spite of the near leveling of the city, a number of Nazi structures were left standing – but that may have been a case of sterner folk understanding that without evidence of history one is doomed to repeat it.
‘Smell ya later’
Then again, those folk ain’t what they used to be. The normally trashy Berliner Kurier known for dimwitted social taunts and page 3 bippy shots reports that Ikea has found most men in this post-touchy-feely-education age unable to assemble furniture, what after decades of being berated for being male:
The world is out of whack. You could also say the screws and pilot-holes too, because the head of Ikea in Germany shocked the world of men. She claims: Women do a better job assembling their furniture!All it really means is that there is something so deeply irrational about the connections in the furniture, that trying to assemble it with known skills after making an observation of it employing reason and physical basics useless.
Petra Hesser (50), German boss of the Swedish furniture chain has to study their drawers. These men did a bad job with "Pax," "Billy" and so forth. Hesser: "Men never look at the instructions and have the most trouble because they always think they can figure it out. This is empirical evidence." On the other hand, women were very different: They begin studying the structure of the manufacturer’s instructions and then proceed systematically. Hesser: "The woman sets out first by properly sort all the screws. All the men throw a pile and then afterwards what is missing."
But I’ll leave it at that, along with your anthropomorphically named chair named ‘Sven’ or something. Upon last check, I was unable to converse with a lamp or any other inanimate object with the same élan as the statistical majority of women, nor did I feel any need to use junk as a substitute to human contact.