Thursday, December 22, 2011
President of Iraqi Kurdistan Massoud Barazani : When We Declare Our Independence 'We Will Be Willing to Pay Any Price'
President of Iraqi Kurdistan Massoud Barazani: The Kurds Will Not Be a Party to Civil War in Iraq, But When We Declare Our Independence 'We Will Be Willing to Pay Any Price'The American Withdrawel might, God forbid make way for a civil war. Source : MemriTV.
Bethlehem, West Bank (BikyaMasr) – La Creche is one of the few places in the West Bank where unwanted Palestinian children can find a loving home.The orphanage is a Christian facility managed by the Daughters of the Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, yet it lies rooted in a society riven by tribal and cultural bias.The home is in Bethlehem, where Christians believe baby Jesus was found in a manger in a humble stable. Sadly, the place turned out to be far less auspicious for these youngsters and their mothers, many of whom had to endure violence and suffering before finding refuge within its walls.The children living here were conceived out of rape, incest or simply “by mistake,” yet the true cause of their cruel treatment is a taboo subject. No one dares talk openly about what happened to these young outcasts for fear that relatives might seek revenge and even kill them in order to restore traditional family honour.As a result, most of the children here are told that they entered this world in a cardboard box. In fact, most were literally abandoned after birth while others were handed over to the home by mother or father provided that no questions were asked.Nihad is one them. Dressed in a pink romper suit, the nine-month-old baby beams at visitors from her cot in the Creche. Her mother, aged 16, was raped by a taxi driver and later became pregnant. For the deperate teenager, the Creche in Bethlehem was the only port of call in a hostile environment.Taking the decision to come here saved her life and that of her child. But she paid a high price.The baby had to be delivered by Caesarian section at the age of seven months in a clandestine operation at the Creche hospital. Relatives and neighbours would otherwise have noticed her girth and may even have murdered her for bringing “shame” on the family. In many cases, such killers serve only brief jail sentences if convicted.The knife that cut the umbilical cord also severed the girl’s relationship with her offspring. She will probably never see her baby again, since to do so would be simply too dangerous.Nihad cannot be adopted, since Islamic laws forbid the practice, and if no foster parents can be found she will live at the Creche until she turns six years of age before being transferred to another facility.“Police know the identity of the rapist but he is allowed to walk about as a free man,” said Iskandar Andon, a social worker at the orphanage. “According to strict Islamic law, the woman is always to blame for a child born out of wedlock, even if she was forced to have sex,” said the 42-year-old Palestinian.“We celebrate Christmas the whole year round since babies are constantly coming our way,” said sister Sophie Boueri, a resolute lady in her 70s who hails originally from Lebanon. She has been in charge of the Creche for nigh on 20 years and recently handed over to her younger colleague Elisabeth Noirot.The home was founded in 1883 and is financed by private donations. It provides around-the-clock care for 55 children aged up to six years of age. A further 70 children from impoverished local families are day visitors. Behind the walls of the extensive home complex, they live in bright, cheerful accommodation and most play happily as if they had not a care in the world.Visitors are quickly surrounded by eager children, anxious for attention. Mohamed, 4, thrusts his cuddly zebra into view while Ali, who is also 4 years old, wants everyone to admire his shiny plastic bucket. Iskandar, who has two children of his own, knows all the infants by name and has time for every individual.Meanwhile, Yussuf is weeping pitifully. His mother is mentally ill and since she is staying with relatives in town, the social worker must take him to see her.The fate of Yussuf and his sisters is hard to reconcile with the Western concept of morals and human rights. As a young woman, the mother was pledged to a much older man whom she was obliged to marry. She is now 40, while her husband died recently aged 91 years.“No one will marry her now since she insists on keeping her children and no man will stand for that. She would have to give them away,” said Iskandar.Iskandar claims that many people in the West Bank cling to archaic ways, yet sister Sophie warns against Christian righteousness.“Children are abused and abandoned in Christian societies too,” she says.The Christian character of the home is low-key.“We play it down since we don’t want to provoke anyone,” said Iskandar. There are hardly any crucifixes or other religious symbols on view. Many Moslem parents fear that their children could be “infected” by Christianity.“They do not understand what we mean by compassion,” says Iskandar. Hmmm....."For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord' ~ Romans 6:23.Read the full story here.
Turkey recalls envoy from France over 'genocide' bill.(BBC).The Turkish ambassador to France has been recalled in protest at a bill making it illegal to deny the mass killing of Armenians was genocide.
The National Assembly in Paris voted by a show of hands to back the bill by a large majority, and it will go before the Senate next year.
Turkey rejects the term "genocide" to describe the killing of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe publicly opposed the bill.
Under the bill, those publicly denying genocide would face a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros (£29,000: $58,000).
Armenians say up to 1.5m people were killed by the Ottoman Turks in 1915-16.
Ankara says closer to 300,000 people died, and that Turks were also killed as Armenians rose up against the Ottoman Empire when Russian troops invaded eastern Anatolia, now eastern Turkey.
More than 20 countries have formally recognised the killings as genocide.Turkish TV announced the recall of the country's envoy in response to the bill.Ambassador Tahsin Burcuoglu will leave France on Friday and further measures will be announced in Turkey by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a Turkish embassy spokesman confirmed for French news agency AFP.
Earlier, Turkey's main political parties issued a joint statement condemning the bill, saying it "denigrates Turkish history", and there have been protests outside the French embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara.The bill's author, Valerie Boyer from France's ruling conservative UMP party, said she was "shocked" at Turkey's intervention. "My bill doesn't aim at any particular country," she said. "It is inspired by European law, which says that the people who deny the existence of the genocides must be sanctioned."Jean-Christophe Lagarde, an MP from the New Centre party, said: "Laws voted in this chamber cannot be dictated by Ankara."Maurice Delighazarian, 75, lost his grandparents in 1915."Our ancestors can finally rest in peace," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency in Paris.Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian thanked the French parliament for supporting the bill."I would like to once again express my gratitude to France's top leadership, to the National Assembly, and to the French people," he told AFP in the Armenian capital Yerevan.He added that France had "once again proved its commitment to universal human values".Hmmm....."Les morts vous saluent!"Read the full story here, more here.
Updated - Turkey freezes all ties with France: Erdoğan.(HurriyetDaily).Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday a bill passed by France's lower house of parliament, making it a crime to deny genocide, was racist, discriminatory and xenophobic and said it had opened wounds with Paris that would be difficult to heal. Erdogan said Turkey was cancelling all economic, political and military meetings with NATO partner France and said Ankara would cancel permission for French military planes to land and warships to dock in Turkey as a result of the bill. Hmmm.....move over Isreal and Cyprus here comes France.Read the full story here.
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Indonesia 5.0 !More info here.
- US missiles 'hit Iranian village'.(DailyMail).Two American missiles struck a village in south-west Iran early today.The news was given in a report by the country's Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).IRNA had said yesterday that three people were injured when an earlier US missile struck an oil depot in Abadan.The state-run news agency also said British and American jets had entered Iranian airspace several times.The two rockets hit Manyuhi village near the border with Iraq's Al-Faw Peninsula, an Iranian military commander told IRNA.He gave no details of casualties or damage."In the border city of Arvand-Kenar, the invading American and British airplanes violated the airspace of the Islamic Republic of Iran three times," the commander said."In two cases, two rockets... hit the Manyuhi village."The governor of Abadan told IRNA that three people, including a guard at the oil depot, had been released from hospital after receiving treatment.Iran has strongly condemned the US-led military assault on Iraq.Read the full story here.
- Northeastern University Mum on Radical Muslim Chaplain.(IPT).Northeastern University isn't commenting about concerns regarding its Muslim chaplain, despite his recorded statements praising an attempted attack on American forces in Afghanistan as "brave" and his earlier call for Muslims to "grab on to the gun and the sword" to fight injustice.On Monday, the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported on remarks Abdullah Faaruuq made during a Dec. 8 fundraiser for Aafia Siddiqui, also known as "Lady al-Qaida." Siddiqui, an MIT-educated neuroscientist, was arrested by Afghan officials in 2008, who found notes about mass casualty attacks in her possession. During questioning by U.S. officials, she grabbed an Army officer's M-4 rifle and fired it at the Americans."What a brave woman she is," Faaruuq said at the fundraiser. "What a brave woman she continues to be, and how much her bravery and her faith and her belief warrants our support at this time." Had his mother been in Siddiqui's shoes, "she would have took (sic) her West Indian machete and cut her way through those kafirs [unbelievers]."Siddiqui was convicted of attempted murder and is serving an 86-year prison sentence.The IPT contacted university spokesmenMonday afternoon, asking whether Faaruuq's endorsement of Siddiqui's actions and other radical statements make him an appropriate person to provide spiritual counseling to Northeastern students. The university has not responded.Jurors in Boston on Tuesday added another entry to the list of convicted terrorists Faaruuq supports. Tarek Mehanna was convicted on four counts related to his desire to provide support to al-Qaida and three counts of lying to federal investigators. Faaruuq serves on a Free Tarek Mehanna committee.A former friend who struck a deal with prosecutors testified about a 2004 trip he and Mehanna made to Yemen in hopes of attending a terrorist training camp. They planned to go to Iraq after that to fight American troops.When that didn't work, Mehanna came back to the United States and translated jihadi videos, including al-Qaida's "39 Ways to Make Jihad." Defense attorneys argued the work was protected free speech. But prosecutor Aloke Chakravarty told jurors the translations provided terrorists "training material to get ready to serve and participate in that fight."Siddiqui and Mehanna are "Muslims who are being oppressed," Faaruuq said at the recent fundraiser. "And you might well be one of those too if you don't pay careful attention this evening to what I am going to say to you."Northeastern "should remove him from the position [as chaplain] and ban him from the University for teaching students radical, hateful ideas," said Charles Jacobs, president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, which has tracked Faaruuq's actions.That includes a March 2010 recording urging Muslims to "grab on to the gun and the sword" as part of the struggle for justice. At the fundraiser earlier this month, Faaruuq denied he was urging violence if peaceful measures failed. "And now we know there are other ways of fighting other than picking up a sword," he said, "like spending your time and your money, like spending your time and your money."In an email, Jacobs said Faaruuq crossed a line from unpopular speech to "fund raising for a convicted terrorist, and praising her for grabbing a machine gun to murder people.""Has the university informed the parents of the Muslim students that they are being spiritually led by someone who supports terrorism, who gleefully states that if his mother would have been with the terrorist Aafia Sadiqui, she would have picked up a machete and attacked those kaffirs?" Jacobs wrote. "Is this what N.E. University wants its Muslim students to learn? This is a spiritual advisor?"Regardless of his opinions on the Siddiqui and Mehanna cases, Faaruuq should be shocked that people he knew from the community turned so radical, Jacobs said. A moderate chaplain would "be very worried that such radical, hateful, anti-American teachings are getting into his moderate community. He'd have a plan to monitor that and to stop it."Faaruuq's introduction at the fundraiser also indicated that he was a prison chaplain in Massachusetts for nine years.Despite a global population of more than 1 billion, Muslims are "cowering at the hand of the disbeliever," he told the Dec. 8 fundraiser. Siddiqui's case is an example."And I say they call this the land of the free and the home of the brave," Faaruuq said. "And I call it the land of the coward and the home of the slave."Hmmm..........DHS.....Helloooooooo... or perhaps i should call Wall Mart?Read the full story here.
- Did Bo Return From Hawaii for Obama’s Pet Smart Photo Op?(WHD).By KeithKoffler.Bo Obama was supposed to be in Hawaii. Instead, he showed up at President Obama’s side Wednesday shopping for treats at Pet SmartAccording to Michelle Obama’s press office, the first dog was planning to go to Hawaii with the first lady and the Obama daughters. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that he in fact had gone there. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser quoted an eyewitness who said he had seen the Portuguese Water Dog having his walk.So what is Bo doing back in Washington shopping at PetSmart?Either these reports are mistaken, or Bo was told his vacation was over and that he had to return to the White House to keep a lonely president company – and participate in a silly photo op presenting Obama as an average guy who likes to head out to the PetSmart.If Bo returned from Hawaii, who paid for his flight?It’s possible he hitched a ride on a return flight of the Air Force plane that brought Michelle from Hawaii, which wouldn’t have really added much to Michelle’s more than $100,000 price tag for her solo trip.Or maybe he commandeered his own Air Force jet.Hmmmm.....Hawaireporter:..Presidential Pup Gets Spa Treatment and Other Island Gossip.Read the full story here.
- Cuban and Chinese Bloggers Speak on Havel’s Greatness, Kim’s Tyranny.(Heritage).The reaction of bloggers in two remaining communist dictatorships to the recent deaths of pro-freedom crusader Vaclav Havel and his polar opposite, North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Il, tells you all you need to know about why communists can’t hold elections. In the restricted cyberspace afforded to Chinese and Cubans Havel is being hailed as a hero while Kim is derided for the evil he represented.In a roundup on Chinese cyber reactions to the two deaths, the BBC observed that contrary to China’s official stance, comments by Chinese microbloggers have been generally pro-Havel, the former dissident and writer who went on to become the leader of a free Czechoslovakia, and anti-Kim Jong-il, the paunchy dictator who inherited power from his father, another despot named Kim Jong-Il.“When Havel died yesterday, we were very sad. But after Kim Jong-il died, we are celebrating. It’s not because we don’t value life or don’t think life is equal, but that we know better the true value of life. Some people bring nothing but shame to life!” the BBC quoted well-known blogger Yang Hengjun as writing on the blog Sina Weibo.Liu Chun, vice-president of Chinese internet giant Sohu, wrote, “between the two people who have just passed away, Havel and Kim Jong-il, I cannot possibly like Kim no matter how hard I try, and I cannot dislike Havel no matter how hard I try.”A third blogger, Zhu Youke, culture editor of the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekend newspaper, was quoted by the Beeb as saying: “Compared with Havel’s death, the death of Kim Jong-il was nothing but a senseless epilogue of a farcical performance.”In Cuba, which has accorded the Orwellian Kim three days of official mourning and which is, like China, another communist dictatorship that remained silent on Havel’s passing, bloggers have also drawn similar contrasts.The poor Cubans have only a fraction of the cyber freedom than even the Chinese have, but the country’s most famous blogger, Yoani Sanchez, wrote: The government of Raul Castro has still not made the most minor public mention of the death of the Czech democrat but has decreed three days of official mourning for the death of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. Of the latter, the official media of his country says he wrote more than 1,500 books in his life, but none of these is read by any of us today. However, the author of The Feast and The Temptation (Havel) is everyday better known and admired by us. Like missionaries of a peculiar relition, many today distribute and propagate his writings throughout the island.Many other Cuban bloggers echoed these sentiments.These reactions from Cuban and Chinese dissidents are a far cry from the opinion of Kim voiced by Wendy Sherman, the Obama Administration’s undersecretary of state for political affairs, who called Kim “witty and humorous” and “a quick problem-solver.” Kim, of course, ran a country which Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal referred to this week as “a vast modern-day Auschwitz.”Mr. Obama, unlike this peers in France, Britain and Germany, has decided to skip Havel’s funeral.Hmmmm.......You know a Communist by his speeches?Read the full story here.
- Obama Administration to reduce Guard troops on the US-Mexico border by 75 percent.(DocsTalk).By Caroline May.The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense confirmed during a Tuesday morning conference call with members of Congress that the administration will be reducing the National Guard troop presence on the border with Mexico by 75 percent, according to Texas Republican Rep. Ted Poe.The briefing featured U.S. Customs and Border Protection Assistant Commissioner David V. Aguilar, Border Patrol Chief Michael Fischer and DOD Assistant Secretary Paul Stockton.The administration representatives revealed that the National Guard’s presence on the border will be reduced from 1,200 to 300 troops and their budget will decrease from $120 million to $60 millionIt is a mistake,” Poe told TheDC. “Last week Jason Altmire, Democrat from Pennsylvania, and I sent a letter to the president asking him not to reduce the number of National Guard troops. I’ve always thought 1,200 wasn’t enough. In fact I introduced legislation to put 10,000 at the border.”Poe pointed to statistics as the reason he opposes the planned reduction.“GAO, the General Accounting Office, says the border is only 44 percent secure,” said Poe. “Well, if we only control 44 percent, who controls the other 56 percent? It’s not Mexico, it’s not the United States, well who is it? It’s the drug cartels. So its an unwise decision.”DHS and DOD announced Tuesday that they will be transitioning to an approach more focused on mobile and aerial surveillance.“The addition of aerial surveillance assets allows the National Guard to better support DHS by shifting surveillance from fixed sites to mobile ones that can quickly match the dynamic environment of the border — a significant enhancement in the ability to detect and deter illegal activity at the border — and provide greater support to the thousands of men and women involved in border security,” they explained in a Tuesday press release.The administration pointed out that Border Patrol apprehensions, which they regard as a “key indicator of illegal immigration” decreased in the 2011 fiscal year to 340,252, down 53 percent since 2008 and one fifth of what they were at their peak in the 2000 fiscal year. Furthermore, since 2004 the Border Patrol has doubled in size to 21,444.There were inklings about the possibility of significant National Guard troop reductions last week. At that point Poe and Altmire spearheaded a letter — with several other members — to President Barack Obama urging him to keep the troop levels at 1,200.“The physical presence of the National Guard has been successful at deterring illegal crossings and violence, and should be maintained until the U.S. Border Control can increased its numbers and regain operational control of the majority of the U.S.-Mexico border,” they wrote.When asked for comment, DHS presented a press release announcing an increase in aerial focus and continued partnership with DOD.The transition will begin in January with aerial assets expected to be in place by March.Hmmmmm......If he really wanted to destroy America .....would he do anything different?Read the full story here.
- Fourth Best President?: The Unbearable Heaviness of Obama’s Ego.(DocsTalk).By Barry Rubin.In his interview with “60 minutes,” President Barack Obama said he was the “fourth-best president.” This was cut from the program. Since it is such a compelling statement, I can only presume it was cut—like so many other things that were great in journalistic terms—to keep Obama from looking bad.But those making fun of Obama for this statement have just skimmed the surface. Actually, there is a lot to be discovered from really examining what he said. And, before proceeding, I should note that my main professional training was in U.S. history—just to make clear that I’m treating this seriously and from a basis of study.
First, Obama showed how he takes the total support of the mass media for granted something inconceivable for any previous president. He begins: "The issue here is not going be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign-policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president….”In other words, Obama is attributing the fact that he’s a great president to the interviewer, Steve Croft. According to Obama, Croft has already proclaimed him to be wonderful. Obama is just going along with what the media said. It has often been remarked that Obama is a narcissist but what we see here is actually dangerous, a man who really cannot take criticism into account. Any leader, except a dictator (and as a result they make lots of mistakes) needs to listen to criticism and adjust policies, not necessarily change them entirely but alter them to deal with facts and opinions.Note in Obama’s case how his new “jobs bill” is merely a repeat of the failed stimulus. And similar things can be said about his foreign policy. He simply does not take in developments and criticism. This is parallel to a ship’s captain being warned that there’s a big ice berg ahead and continuing with his speech about how he has set the perfect course.This theme is reinforced by his saying, “The issue here is not going be a list of accomplishments.” In other words, no one can even dispute that he has had great accomplishments. The science is settled; debate is closed. This also tells us that if Obama gets a second term he won’t do any better at all.The end of the quote is also patronizing: But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we've got a lot more work to do." Yes, that minor problem of the economy.But in terms of history, what Obama says has been misinterpreted:“I would put our legislative and foreign-policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president —with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR and Lincoln—just in terms of what we've gotten done in modern history.”In passing, let’s note that Obama is one of the most inarticulate of all presidents. He finds it difficult to construct a proper sentence. Take away the hype and his level of expression is on the same level as that of George W. Bush. And that is not meant to be exaggerated. I think it is precisely accurate.But to be fair to Obama, he was only referring to the first two years of previous presidents. Indeed, during their first two years in office, neither Roosevelt nor Lincoln had any great foreign policy accomplishments at all. And Johnson’s main “accomplishment,” tragically, was the Vietnam War.So, starting with Lincoln, what presidents had great foreign policy accomplishments in their first two years? Between 1861, when Lincoln took office and 1941—with the exception that proves the rule of 1917-1920—the United States was pretty isolationist and not a great power.I would say that the president with the greatest foreign policy record in his first two years was Harry Truman, who had to deal with the end of the war with Japan, get the armed forces home, and deal with the political end of World War Two, the transformation of America into a peacetime great power, and the acceptance of the need to fight the Cold War.Other top presidents on foreign policy in the first two years would be—in chronological order-- Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan, and George Bush. I’d explain in detail but it would take too much space.What has Obama accomplished? He can only claim one thing: to have made America more popular after George W. Bush. There is some truth to this but it is exaggerated. In fact, while at first there was a popularity effect but it has diminished and, anyway, popularity is not the most important thing in international affairs.Obama has not accomplished anything in Africa, Asia, or South America. There has not been any major gain in relations with Russia either. U.S.-European relations are friendly but are this some great accomplishment? As for the Middle East, Obama has been disastrous. He singlehandedly sabotaged the peace process and has opened the door to anti-American radical regimes.Can anyone seriously maintain that Obama has achieved a huge amount beyond “restoring” America’s popularity to—though he and his supporters never admit this—to the levels it enjoyed under Bill Clinton?Then there’s domestic policy. And here we must point out an important Obama assumption. A great president is someone who can brag about “what we’ve gotten done” by getting new laws passed. I think Obama genuinely doesn’t understand that having new laws—more spending; more regulation—is not inevitably better.Thus, a president can also be great for not messing up the non-governmental sector, for not passing new laws. From Grant to McKinley, along with Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan, rapid economic progress and prosperity took place precisely because they didn’t get too much “done” in Obama’s sense of the word. That is vital to understand. America would be better off if Obama had done less.As for activist presidents, though, I’d nominate for achievement in their first two years, Teddy Roosevelt brought needed regulation, one might also list Franklin Roosevelt, Truman (who for some reason Obama continues to ignore), and Johnson. Actually, I’m not sure Lincoln would qualify despite his greatness since the first two years of his term was spent fighting a largely losing Civil War.You might well want to change that list of best presidents on foreign or domestic issues but the point is that Obama doesn’t belong on it. I won’t go into detail about the damage that he did to the United States, especially economically, because you know about that already.Finally, note that Obama said “possible exceptions” of Lincoln and the other two. Obama is saying that maybe he is number one, the best president ever. I’m not surprised that many Americans can’t believe that they’ve elected such a zany (to use a word applied to Newt Gingrich) person to power.At a time of extreme crisis, at home and abroad, the man at the steering wheel is visibly ideologically obsessed, psychologically unfit, and not competent. Many people would dismiss that sentence with scorn and insults. But isn’t it obvious once the hype is discarded?What is especially frightening here is Obama’s combination of egomania and blindness. Without self-criticism there is no room for improvement. Without humility, errors will multiply.Pete Seeger is a left-wing songwriter and his song, “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy”--about a foolish captain who marches his men into an impassable swamp--was used to attack Nixon. Yet I think it applies even better to Obama:
“Well, I'm not going to point any moral;
I'll leave that for yourself
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We're waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on….
“Waist deep! Neck deep! Soon even a
Tall man'll be over his head! We're
Waist deep in the Big Muddy!
And the big fool says to push on!”Read the full story here.
- Trade Dispute Looms: EU Court Forces US Airlines to Pay for Emissions.(Spiegel).US airlines have suffered a defeat in the EU's highest court, which upheld a law on Wednesday that will require airlines to pay for carbon emissions on flights to and from Europe. The new rule goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2012. US officials have warned that the move will have repercussions. Unlike the European Union, the United States has so far refused to sign up to a binding agreement to cut carbon emissions. But now US airlines flying to Europe will be forced to pay for their emissions in future.The European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that including foreign airlines in the EU emissions trading scheme is permissible. The decision was expected after a senior adviser to the court issued a preliminary opinion in October that found the EU legislation did not infringe upon the sovereignty of other states and was compatible with international accords.The emissions trading scheme forces businesses to buy rights to emit CO2. From Jan. 1, 2012, all airlines will have to purchase certificates for the emissions they release through takeoffs and landings at European airports. Initially, 85 percent of emission rights will be allocated free of charge, and the airlines will have to pay for the remaining 15 percent.The free portion will decline steadily over time as an incentive for firms to adopt more environmentally friendly technology. The case was initially brought to the London High Court of Justice by the Air Transport Association of America, American Airlines and United Continental, but the London court referred it to the European Court of Justice. "Application of the emissions trading scheme to aviation infringes neither the principles of customary international law at issue, nor the open-skies agreement," the court said.One aviation official warned the ruling could trigger a trade war between Europe and the US. The US government had put pressure on the EU ahead of the ruling. In a letter to EU officials this month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US "will be compelled to take appropriate action" if the EU goes ahead with the scheme.Read the full story here.
- "The War on christianity" - Stores 'ashamed' to sell religious cards... but obscene ones litter the High Street.(DailyMail).Supermarkets have become ‘ashamed’ of selling Christmas cards with religious themes, Christian leaders said yesterday.They claimed a creeping ‘multicultural indoctrination’ had led to an aversion to Christianity, and that shops were worried about stocking cards that might offend other faiths.The rebuke to Britain’s big four supermarkets – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – came as a snapshot poll by the Daily Mail revealed the tiny number of religious cards on sale.Of 6,576 cards sold individually, just 36 – 0.5 per cent – featured scenes such as Jesus in a manger or angels.Multi-packs fared little better, with only 5 per cent of 1,337 on sale at the stores visited containing at least one card that reflected the season’s Christian message.One store, a Tesco in Manchester, didn’t have a single religious card on sale. Many others had just one or two.The worst offender overall was Asda, which had just four Christian cards out of 2,638 sold individually across all the stores visited – 0.15 per cent.It also had the lowest proportion among multi-packs, with 13 out of 427, or 3 per cent. Stephen Green, national director of Christian Voice, said: ‘I can’t believe this is being led by consumer demand.'I believe there is anti-Christian prejudice in the buying departments involved.‘There’s too much of this multicultural indoctrination and too much of an idea that if they put out Christian cards they will alienate or discriminate against or offend other faiths.‘There’s a kind of militant atheism and nasty secularism at work in this country which is completely opposed to Christianity.’Dr Don Horrocks, of the Evangelical Alliance, said supermarkets were ‘helping to kill off the Christian theme at Christmas’.‘There appears to be an aversion in society to Christianity being public,’ he said.‘Supermarkets appear to be ashamed to put cards on shelves because there is a perception it is dodgy.'Half a per cent of cards with religious themes when 70 per cent of people describe themselves as Christian shows this is totally out of kilter with the country.’The Bishop of Colchester, the Right Reverend Christopher Morgan, said Christmas church services were among the most popular of the year.He added: ‘It is disappointing that so few of our Christmas cards now portray symbols and scenes at the heart of the Christmas story.’The comments follow the Pope’s criticism of ‘aggressive secularism’ in Britain during his visit last year.And last week Prime Minister David Cameron called on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to speak up for Christianity.The Mail visited stores owned by the four biggest supermarket chains in seven areas – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Colchester and Witham, London, Manchester and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.Last year 0.2 per cent of cards sold individually and 3.5 per cent available in multi-packs depicted religious scenes.An Asda spokesman said: ‘We sell a variety of cards that meet the demand of our customers.’Tesco said: ‘Our religious Christmas card range has increased for the second year running.’ Sainsbury’s also said that what appeared on shelves was based on customer demand, adding: ‘It is wrong to suggest we are ignoring religious themes at Christmas.And Morrisons said its range of religious cards included a multi-pack aimed at children that included the Nativity scene.Hmmm......Britain returning to it's 'Pagan' roots?Read the full story here.
- Baby born out of wedlock must be adopted - to save her from honour killing by her own Muslim family.(DailyMail).A baby girl born out of wedlock must be adopted to save her from the risk of being slaughtered in an ‘honour killing’, a court ruled yesterday.If the unmarried Muslim woman’s father found out about the child, he would feel such ‘unimaginable shame’ he could unleash a vengeful bloodbath by killing the baby and his whole family, three senior judges agreed.So they made the extraordinary order to have the one-year-old girl – known as Baby Q – adopted for her own safety.She will now grow up with adoptive parents and, when she is older, they will explain to her why she could not have been brought up by her biological parents.It is believed to be the first time an English court has ordered an adoption to prevent a murder.The baby’s maternal grandmother told police that if her husband ever found out about the little girl, ‘he would consider himself honour-bound to kill the child, the mother, the grandmother herself and the grandmother’s other children’, the court heard.The identities of all those involved have been kept anonymous to ensure the girl can grow up safe from her apparently murderous grandfather – who still has no idea his daughter was ever pregnant.The astonishing background to the case was set out at the Appeal Court in London yesterday.The baby’s mother – referred to as M – conceived the child at the end of 2009 when she was having an affair with a married man, known as F.Neither the mother nor the father were born in the UK and both came to live here separately within the past ten years. They are both Muslims, but from different cultures.At the time of his infidelity, F’s wife was still waiting for permission to join him in the UK, though she is now here.When M suspected she was pregnant, in the spring of 2010, she was so ‘terrified’ of how her ‘traditional Muslim’ father would react that she concealed her pregnancy by wearing loose clothes.She continued living at home and was confident her growing bump would not show unless someone ‘was looking’.She travelled to ‘the other side of town’ for her antenatal care, to avoid her parents finding out, and only had her pregnancy confirmed at 23 weeks.Eventually she confided in her mother and a sister, and they hatched a secret plan that when she went into labour, someone would call her father away on a pretext, to ensure he never found out.She also told social services she wanted the baby to be adopted straight away.Baby Q was born in the autumn of 2010. At just a few hours old, baby and mother were parted as M was discharged from hospital and baby Q was left in the care of nursing staff.By December, she was placed in the care of the Muslim couple who are now about to adopt her. The court case came about because the baby’s natural father, F, discovered he had a daughter and wanted to take custody of her himself.But a High Court judge, Mrs Justice Parker, rejected him as unsuitable in July this year, and said the baby would still be ‘at risk’ of an honour killing because ‘two and two might easily be put together’ by the maternal grandfather or someone who knew him.The baby was ‘quite obviously’ not the child of F’s wife, the judge said, adding: ‘If the grandfather’s community were thus to find out about the relationship between M and F, it would be a matter of intense almost unimaginable shame to him and his family.’ There was a ‘very significant risk’ he might launch a violent attack to preserve the family’s honour.The court heard Mrs Justice Parker had been ‘persuaded by the evidence of the police’ that the mother and baby Q could be at ‘a very high level of risk’ if the baby’s birth was to become known in the wider community. The police force in question was not identified, nor the social services department involved in the case. But the court was told that social workers, police and the mother of baby Q were all in agreement that she should be adopted.Still hopeful of taking custody of his child, F launched an appeal, but this was rejected yesterday by three senior judges, Lord Justice Munby, Lady Justice Black and Lord Justice Kitchin.They agreed with the first judge that there were several good reasons why F and his wife – who now have a baby of their own – should not be allowed to bring up baby Q.Among them was the ‘tension’ that would be caused by F’s wife looking after her philandering husband’s illegitimate child as well as her own.Both F and his wife also lacked ‘empathy and insight’, and were criticised as being incapable of dealing with the little girl’s feelings as she grew older and wanted to learn the details of her ‘very unfortunate start in life’. The judges concluded: ‘The risks – physical, emotional, short and long term – are too great for Q to be brought up by her father.’Hmmm......... Read the full story here.
- 'UNESCO funds Palestinian magazine glorifying Hitler'.(JPost).By Jordana Horn.NEW YORK – The Simon Wiesenthal Center asked UNESCO’s director-general Wednesday to suspend its sponsorship of a Palestinian children’s magazine, saying the magazine applauded Hitler for murdering Jews.According to Palestinian Media Watch, the educational children’s magazine, Zayafuna, “includes terms glorifying jihad.”The PMW report references an essay in the magazine by a teenage Palestinian girl. The girl wrote about meeting Adolf Hitler in a dream, who tells her that he killed the Jews “so you would all know that they are a nation who spreads destruction all over the world.” In the essay, Hitler tells the child to be patient regarding the suffering of the Palestinians at the hands of the Jews.In a letter to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, Shimon Samuels, the Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations, wrote that the editors of Zayafuna “endorse Adolf Hitler as a role model for Palestinian children,” noting that a quarter of the children’s submission selected for publication by the magazine “express hatred for Jews and reflect messages transmitted through PA official media.”“Apparently, the magazine’s positive messages on coexistence and peace apply to all but Jews and Israelis,” Samuels wrote. “Through a young girl, the Holocaust is presented as an act for the benefit of humanity.”The Palestinian Authority’s deputy minister of education and its former minister of education are both on the magazine’s advisory board, Samuels noted.UNESCO, Samuels said, has sponsored Zayafuna since August. The Hitler essay ran in the magazine’s February 2011 issue.While Samuels noted the October edition states that “opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily express UNESCO’s views,” Samuels wrote that this disclaimer was “hardly a fitting response to the discovery of the repugnant Holocaust celebration in the February issue.”Samuels recalled the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s suggestion last month “when ‘Palestine’ was welcomed into UNESCO, that the new member be tested by being held to the declared values of UNESCO.”“Until Zayafuna publicly apologizes for its anti-Semitism, Palestine will have already failed that test,” Samuels wrote, and urged UNESCO to demand that PA President Mahmoud Abbas rescind funding for the magazine.PMW head Itamar Marcus said his organization welcomes the Wiesenthal Center’s call to UNESCO to stop funding the magazine Zayafuna.“UNESCO’s continued funding of a hate magazine makes them a participant in the hate promotion it disseminates,” Marcus said. “It would be a violation of basic moral principles to fund a Palestinian magazine that glorifies violence and jihad, and presents Hitler as a role model for children.“The only way, it seems, the Palestinian Authority will ever stop its repeated hate promotion is if there are financial consequences to their hate promotion,” Marcus said. “Let us hope that UNESCO takes the morally decent route and stops the funding, and not the politically expedient route of turning away in the face of Palestinian hatred.”Read the full story here.
- Iran to hold naval maneuvers in Persian Gulf.(Ynet).The Iranian Navy will hold a 10-day exercise in the Persian Gulf, Tehran's naval commander said Thursday. Admiral Amir-Habibollah Sayari said that the exercise, dubbed "Velayat-90," would be launched on Saturday and will span a 1,250-mile (2,000-kilometer) stretch of sea off the southern edge of the Arabian Peninsula and into the Gulf of Aden, near the entrance to the Red Sea."The maneuvers will be carried out with the intention of displaying the determination, defensive and deterrent power of the Iranian armed forces as well as relaying a message of peace and friendship in the Strait of Hormuz, the Sea of Oman and the free waters of the Indian Ocean," Sayari said.Iran has increased its military maneuvers following renewed speculation about a possible strike against its nuclear sites. Earlier Thursday, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Islamic state's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that a team of senior UN nuclear officials could visit Iran in January and inspect its nucelar sites.Read the full story here.
- Sheikh Nader Tamimi, mufti of the Jordan-based Palestine Liberation Army: Everyone Capable Must Strike at America and the Jews.(Matzav).Sheikh Nader Tamimi, mufti of the Jordan-based Palestine Liberation Army, has stated: “My brother, our God said, ‘Kill them where you find them’….All the Muslim people must attack the common enemy. America is against us all. America must realize this. I issue a religious ruling now, and I am a mufti. I say: The clerics have decided, in consensus, that when the enemy conquers Muslim land, or takes a Muslim prisoner, the Jihad becomes a personal commandment for every Muslim man and woman, to the point where it is permitted for a woman to leave her home [to wage Jihad] without her husband’s permission, and for a child without his father’s permission. Everyone joins in the battle.”The “peace loving” Tamimi added: “Now the people of Palestine are not capable [of doing this] alone, and therefore every Muslim on the face of the earth, if he does not fight the Jihad, let us see what happens to him according to Islamic law: His fate is that he will not enter Paradise….Oh my brothers, from Jakarta to Tangier, listen: By Allah, if you do not wage Jihad in accordance with your abilities, you will not enter Paradise even if you fast and pray. Anyone who finds an enemy target anywhere must strike at it, he must strike at it everywhere.”Hmmm......Peace partners, huh?Read the full story here.
- Expert: Iran will Produce 5 Nukes at First.(INN).Iran will be able to produce a first core for a nuclear bomb in about one year’s time, according to Dr. Efraim Askolai, a former member of the Israeli Atomic Energy Committee. Askolai’s estimate jibes with similar ones made recently by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and correlates with an estimate by his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak.Speaking at the Center for Strategic Dialog at the Netanya Academic College, Askolai said that Iran will be able to produce up to five nuclear bombs at first. For this, it will utilize the secret plant it built near Qom, which he described as “a smoking gun” that proved its intentions to produce a weapon.He estimated that Iran wants to reach a point where it can produce a bomb at short notice. It will then be able to enrich uranium to a 90% level in a short time, and carry out a nuclear explosion.Right now, Tehran wants to buy time, he added.The sanctions that have been applied to Iran cannot delay Iran’s nuclear program, the expert said. A boycott of Iranian oil and sanctions that paralyze it financially could have done that, he said.Read the full story here.
- A History of Hatred: The Muslim Brotherhood and Anti-Semitism.(DocsTalk).By Sarah Schlesinger.On February 2, 2011, the Obama administration took pains to mollify American Jewish leaders concerned by the prospect of Islamist groups coming to power in Egypt. In a conference call initiated by the White House, a senior administration official reassured them that the Muslim Brotherhood would “be a minor player in Egyptian politics.” To say the administration’s prediction proved incorrect is an understatement. The MB’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has already apparently won 40 percent of the seats in the lower house and is predicting even higher final totals. What does this mean for the concerns of American Jewish groups?The Brotherhood’s vehemently anti-Zionist stance has long been known and is reflected in the election program of the FJP, which denounces “Zionist plots” (and American plots as well). It remains to be seen whether the MB will push for the abolishment of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, though its leaders hint that they’d like to put it to a referendum at the same time that they demonize Israel to Egypt’s electorate. Less publicized, however, is the pervasive anti-Semitism — distinct from anti-Zionism and directed towards “Jews” in general — that is a staple of the rhetoric of Brotherhood leaders. Concerns about the MB’s anti-Semitism were renewed in the wake of a pre-election Brotherhood rally which reportedly devolved into both anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic fervor. Martin Kramer commented on the rally’s repeated use of the “hiding Jew” hadith, in which Muhammad is quoted as saying that Judgment Day “will not come until the Muslims fights the Jews and kill them,” noting that “the hadith predates the State of Israel by well over a millennium, so it certainly can’t be attributed to Israeli provocation.” Indeed, the Brotherhood’s anti-Semitism is independent of its anti-Israel sentiments and can be traced throughout its history.Brotherhood publications in the 1930s contained frequent anti-Semitic attacks, focused on Jews as Jews. In The Jews in Modern Egypt, Gudrun Krämer recounts the Brotherhood’s involvement in extensive anti-Jewish activity throughout the 1930s and 1940s, including boycotts, graffiti, and physical violence. The Brotherhood’s anti-Semitism was epitomized in Brotherhood leader and ideologue Sayyid Qutb’s infamous 1950s essay “Our Struggle with the Jews.” Qutb’s treatment of the Jews was anchored not in Palestine but rather in Muhammad’s conflicts with Jewish tribes. In his enormously influential Milestones, Qutb refers to “one of the tricks played by world Jewry … so that the Jews may penetrate into body politic of the whole world and then may be free to perpetuate their evil designs.” His assertions about the evil nature of Jews echo anti-Semitism in the vein of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, invoking blood libel, usury, and world domination, rather than anti-Zionism based on Palestine.It seems little has changed.#page# A 2005 BBC article examined the outspoken Holocaust denial of the seventh General Guide of the Brotherhood, Muhammad Mahdi Akef. In a 2007 Foreign Affairs article entitled “The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood,” Robert S. Leiken and Steven Brooke argue that the MB presents a “notable opportunity” for a moderate Muslim ally, but admit that “Brotherhood literature has expressed hatred for all Jews, not just ‘Zionists.’”A 2011 Anti-Defamation League report includes more recent quotes from MB leadership. In an NBC news interview, FJP vice chairman Essam El-Erian — described by Al-Ahram Weekly as “possibly the most prominent representative of the new generation of Brotherhood leaders” — stated that “Israel cannot tolerate peace … because they want to live in war. It is the history of the Jewish people.” At an MB rally in June 2011, Mohammad Badie, the eighth General Guide of the Brotherhood, told the crowd that “Allah has warned us the tricks of the Jews, and their role in igniting the fire of wars.” Badie also claimed that there was an American-Zionist conspiracy to cause the 2011 revolution to fail: “It’s a Jewish plot to divide Muslims, old and new, and that their intentions are evident from Napoleon to Zionism’s founder Theodore Herzl.” Badie previously stated that the Brotherhood will “continue to raise the banner of jihad against the Jews,” citing them as “[our] first and foremost enemies.”ADL’s report cites a special series of articles posted in October 2010 on ikhwanonline.com, the Brotherhood’s Arabic-language site, by Brotherhood member and Al-Azhar professor Ismail Ali Mohamed. The six-part series, entitled “The Manners of the Jews as Outlined in the Teaching of the Old Testament and Talmud,” includes such articles as “Authenticity of Perversion and Corruption in Jewish Personality” and “Hostility, Savagery and the Desire to Spread Death and Destruction.”Islamic scholar and longtime Brother Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has been one of the most outspoken anti-Semitic ideologues of the contemporary MB. An iconic image of Egypt’s Arab Spring was when Qaradawi made his first public speech in Egypt since 1981, in February, leading the crowds of Tahrir Square in Friday prayers. Qaradawi’s anti-Semitic tirades are too numerous to tally; his commentary on Al Jazeera in January 2009 is but one example:Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them — even though they exaggerated this issue — he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.Qaradawi has also claimed that “the Jews of today bear responsibility for the deeds of the Jews of yesterday,” referring to the crucifixion of Jesus. In addition, he stated on Al Jazeera: “[T]he problem with the Jews is not one of faith or religious laws. The problem is the covetous aspirations that have characterized their attitude since the days of the Prophet Muhammad.”Despite professing that they have no problems with Jews, Muslim Brotherhood leaders and ideologues have demonstrated just the opposite: the current of anti-Semitism runs strong through their rhetoric over many decades. After the February conference call with the White House, American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris stated that “the big question is, can they [the Muslim Brotherhood] play a constructive role or not? There are those who would like to believe they can. To put it mildly, we remain to be convinced.”Given the Brotherhood’s virulent and persistent anti-Semitism, we all need to be convinced. Having now seen Egypt’s election results, the administration should be working to press this emerging power’s leadership to renounce its religious bigotry once and for all.— Sarah Schlesinger is a research fellow at the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute.Hmmmm......Islamophobia.....Anyone?Read the full story here.
- Egypt to restrict duty free booze, close shops in country.(BikyaMasr).CAIRO: A finance ministry directive earlier this month went almost unnoticed as the Egyptian capital erupted in violence between the military and protesters. New regulations could have major affects on travelers to and from the North African country, however, as the ministry regulations state that upon arrival to Egypt, only one bottle of alcohol will be permitted, and only two annually from duty free shops abroad.According to the ministry, and confirmed by local managers of duty free shops in the country, all alcohol will be removed from the shops in the coming months, but no clear timetable for the changes has been put to paper.One ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media, told Bikyamasr.com that the move is not a push “to ban alcohol, but to boost local economy.”He argued that by limiting the amount of alcohol that a tourist or Egyptian is able to bring into the country, “it means they will have to buy locally and this will help the economy a lot.”However, Will Rensper, a German resident in Egypt, said that it is more likely in response to the growing conservative Islamic groups in the country.“I believe that this is a move to help appease the Islamists who want to do their best to push drinking away from Egypt and make this country conservative,” the German teacher said, adding that he had recently come into the country with four bottles of alcohol and had no trouble.It is unclear when, or if, the new regulations will be put in place, but earlier this fall, Egyptian officials announced that visas for foreigners would no longer be given upon arrival at airports, but less than 72 hours after the announcement, the move was revoked.It is unclear if this will be the case for booze, but it does have foreigners and Egyptians alike worried that it is highlighting the pull of the Islamic groups in the country.Hmmmm.......There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious." -- Ayatollah Khomeini.Read the full story here.
- FT Hamas Shocker – “We Don’t Feel a Correction Was Warranted”.(DocsTalk).By SimonPlosker. Hamas does not discriminate between Israeli soldiers, civilians, men, women, children or babies when it carries out terror attacks. For Hamas, they are all potential soldiers and legitimate targets. That’s why Israelis and most of the media knew exactly what Hamas meant when it boasted of killing 1365 “Zionist soldiers” over the 24 years of its existence. But not the Financial Times, which published the following, referring to “Israeli soldiers” of the purely military kind:We pointed this out on our Backspin blog at the time as it is important to understand that Hamas deliberately targets civilians and soldiers alike. Stating that Hamas has killed only soldiers whitewashes the indiscriminate murderous agenda of the organization and is, of course, an inaccurate report of what Hamas really stated.Thinking that the Financial Times had committed an innocuous error, we contacted the paper asking for a correction. This was the response: thank your for your email, which I followed up with Tobias Buck , our Jerusalem bureau chief, and we don’t feel a correction is warranted. The column clearly attributes its claims to Hamas in Gaza. The statement was carried on the official Qassam Brigades website and referred to “1385 Zionist soldiers”. We and all other outlets tend to translate “Zionist” into “Israeli”, since that is what they mean. Hamas was clearly not talking about civilians. Below are links to the Hamas web site and AFP wire from that day, which also refers to “Israeli soldiers”.If Hamas was “clearly not talking about civilians,” then how does Tobias Buck explain Israeli human rights organization (and a favorite source for the international media) B’Tselem’s own casualty statistics dating back to 1987 when Hamas was formed?Unlike Hamas, B’Tselem does distinguish between civilian and military casualties on both Israeli and Palestinian sides. So we totaled the number of Israeli soldiers and civilians killed by Palestinians (including all terror groups and not only Hamas) and came up with the following:
- 492 members of the Israeli security forces killed by Palestinians.
- 1025 Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians.
- Total number of Israelis killed by Palestinians, Dec. 1987 – present: 1517
Had Tobias Buck bothered to do some simple fact-checking, he would have realized that Hamas could not possibly be referring to only soldiers when it quoted a figure of 1365, also bearing in mind that out of the 492 soldiers and 1025 civilians, other Palestinian terror groups would be responsible for a proportion of those fatalities.Even the Al-Qassam website that the FT refers to in its own email to HonestReporting is titled “Al-Qassam carried out 1106 operations, killed 1365 Zionists.” Not 1365 Zionist soldiers or Israeli soldiers but simply Zionists. According to the FT, it tends “to translate “Zionist” into “Israeli”, since that is what they mean.” In this case this is exactly what Hamas means – Israelis.If, as the FT states, it merely repeated the Hamas claims word-for-word, then it should have published the quote as is i.e. referring to “Zionist soldiers” and added the caveat that this actually referred to all Israelis irrespective of military or civilian status.Instead, the FT (and the AFP) has unilaterally changed the meaning of Hamas’s words thus sanitizing the reality of the Hamas agenda – to indiscriminately kill as many Israelis as possible.That the FT has refused point-blank to amend or correct its error is simply unethical and unprofessional journalism.Read the full story here.
- On the Holiness of Jerusalem in Judaism and in Islam.(DocsTalk).By Yonatan Silverman.For 3,000 years, the eternal city of Jerusalem has held the most exalted position in the Jewish religion and a place of unparalleled importance in Jewish life and history.First and foremost, King Solomon built the first Holy Temple in Jerusalem between the years 965 and 928 BCE. The people of Israel would come to the Holy Temple to pray and to give thanks, but especially to perform sacrifices on the three festivals of pilgrimage: Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. But in the year 586, the Babylonian monarch Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem, destroyed the Holy Temple, carried off its implements made of precious metals, and exiled the Jews of Jerusalem to Babylon.Although Nebuchadnezzar had laid waste to the Holy Temple, its holiness remained, and it was then the Jewish exiles swore: "If I forget you Jerusalem, may I forget my right hand and may my tongue adhere to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember, if I do not hold Jerusalem above my greatest joy." Generations of Jews have kept this vow to the present day. The nation of Israel longingly remembered the holiness of Jerusalem throughout thousands of years of exile.When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem from Babylon around 536 with the first group of exiles, the city was rebuilt, and the Holy Temple and Jerusalem were again the principle focus of national religious life until the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in the year 70 CE. Following the suppression of Bar Kochva's revolt, the Roman Legions burned all of Jerusalem to ashes and in its place built a pagan city they called Aelia Capitolina, which Jews were forbidden from entering for generations.The strong, heartfelt desire every Jew has to see Jerusalem rebuilt in his lifetime and the centuries-deep Jewish affection for the city King David founded are embodied in many important customs and prayers from Judaism's great sages. For example, this prayer -- "And to Jerusalem, your city mercifully return, and dwell within it as you said. And build in it soon in our lifetimes, the building for eternity, and may it hold a place for King David's throne" -- is repeated by every praying Jew several times a day.In brief, those are the religious fundamentals on which Jerusalem's holiness stands in the Jewish faith. In other words, the reason why Jerusalem is the holiest city in Judaism is because in the 5,000-year span of Jewish religious life, the nation's devotion to God has intersected more with this city and more intensely than it has with any other.Various factors make Jerusalem holy to Muslims.At first glance, the holiness of Jerusalem in the Muslim tradition is also religious at heart, stemming from the belief that Muhammad, the prophet and founder of Islam, rose to heaven from the site of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.After the prophet died in June 632, a series of successors, or caliphs, assumed authority as Islam's leaders. Between 661 and 750 the Umayyad Dynasty held the caliphate and ruled from Damascus. During the time they ruled, on account of various internal and external pressures, the Umayyads exerted enormous effort to elevate Jerusalem's status, perhaps even to the level of Mecca.Daniel Pipes wrote in the Middle East Quarterly: The first Umayyad ruler, Mu'awiya, chose Jerusalem as the place where he ascended to the caliphate; he and his successors engaged in a construction program - religious edifices, a palace, and roads - in the city. The Umayyads possibly had plans to make Jerusalem their political and administrative capital[.] ... But Jerusalem is primarily a city of faith. As the Israeli scholar Izhak Hasson explains, the "Umayyad regime was interested in ascribing an Islamic aura to its stronghold and center."Toward this end (as well as to assert Islam's presence in its competition with Christianity), the Umayyad caliph built Islam's first grand structure, the Dome of the Rock, right on the spot of the Jewish Temple, in 688-91. The next step the Umayyads took to make Jerusalem holy to Islam relates to a passage in the Quran (17:1) that describes Muhammad's Night Journey to heaven: "Glory to He who took His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque to the furthest mosque [al masjidi al aqsa]."Pipes explains that when this Koranic passage was first revealed, in about 621, a place called the "Sacred Mosque" already existed in Mecca. "In contrast," he goes on, "the 'furthest mosque' was a turn of phrase, not a place. Some early Muslims understood it as metaphorical or as a place in heaven."In other words, the line about the furthest mosque in the Koran is just a figure of speech. This means that there is no basis for associating the furthest mosque -- the Koranic location of the start of Muhammad's Night Journey -- with the city of Jerusalem.In 715, Pipes writes, the Umayyads did something very clever. To build up the prestige of their domain, they built a second mosque in Jerusalem, again on the Temple Mount, and named this one the "Furthest Mosque" (i.e., al-masjidi al-aqsa), the exact same name written in the holy Koran. And in so doing, the Umayyads forced the city of Jerusalem to assume a role in the life of the prophet Muhammad -- a role which it never had. This is how the Muslim belief in the holiness of Jerusalem, which persists to this day, originated.As Pipes points out, moreover, "it had the hugely important effect of giving Jerusalem a place in the Koran post hoc which naturally imbued the city with a higher status in Islam." This is another way of saying, that before the Umayyads built the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa, Jerusalem had no status at all in Islam.Israeli scholar Izhak Hasson writes that "construction of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque, the rituals instituted by the Umayyads on the Temple Mount and the dissemination of Islamic-oriented Traditions regarding sanctity of the site, all point to the political motives which underlay the glorification of Jerusalem among the Muslims." In other words, the sanctification of Jerusalem in Islam is based on the Umayyad building program.Perhaps the most convincing evidence of Islam's very loose and insignificant bond with Jerusalem is how the Muslims related to the city after the caliphate passed from the Umayyads to the Abbisid's in 750. Daniel Pipes writes:Jerusalem fell into near-obscurity. For the next three and a half centuries, books praising this city lost favor and the construction of glorious buildings not only came to an end but existing ones fell apart (the dome over the rock collapsed in 1016.)These days, the never-ending cry for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital surely contains a trace of the claim that the city is holy in Islam. But, essentially, the historic record shows that the actions and circumstances on which the claim is based aren't very holy at all. In fact, by any standard of religious values in any society in the world, artificially imbuing a place with holiness, through wordplay and administrative sleight of hand, constitutes the very opposite of holiness.Yonatan Silverman is the author of For The World To See: The Life Of Margaret Bourke-White (New York, 1983). He works as a professional Hebrew-to-English translator.Read the full story here.
- Scientists say Turin Shroud image created by ultraviolet lasers.(Yahoo).The exact origins of the Turin Shroud remain a great mystery, but scientists are now disputing the long-held belief that the religious artifact is a medieval forgery.Italian researchers at the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development say they believe the image was created by an ultraviolet "flash of light." However, if that theory is true, it remains a mystery as to exactly how that technology could have been implemented at the time of the Shroud's creation. While the technology is readily available in present day, it was far beyond the means of anyone around pre-20th Century.The Turin Shroud is said to be the burial cloth of Jesus, but has long been believed to be a fake, created during medieval times. It is currently kept in a climate-controlled case in Turin cathedral. Scientists at the Italian agency have reportedly spent years attempting to recreate the Shroud's imagery. 'The results show a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,' the scientists said."When one talks about a flash of light being able to color a piece of linen in the same way as the shroud, discussion inevitably touches on things such as miracles," said Professor Paolo Di Lazzaro, who led the study. "But as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes. We hope our results can open up a philosophical and theological debate."Believers in the Shroud say it contains the image of a man with nail wounds to the wrist and feet. Still, skeptics of the Shroud's authenticity are unlikely to be swayed. There has been substantial evidence working against it, including a 1988 radiocarbon test conducted at the University of Oxford, which dated the cloth to a time between 1260 and 1390.What Mr. Pfeiffer at Yahoo fails to mention is that the Carbon dating performed on the Shroud was from a portion that came from a section that had been replaced after a fire that damaged it at about the time that section was dated back to and not the original cloth.Hmmm.....Seems like Miracles do happen after all.Read the full story here.