Thursday, June 30, 2005

Shaken Not Stirred

Interesting interview of Bush in the London Times by Gerard Baker.

Among other salient comments he notes:

In person Mr Bush is so far removed from the caricature of the dim, war-mongering Texas cowboy of global popular repute that it shakes one’s faith in the reliability of the modern media.

And that sums up in a nutshell why American Conservatives rely far less on MSM than do the liberals. But then we've known this for quite a while.

As this was published in the London paper, Baker is aiming this salvo at a British audience. I imagine it will land with less than a ripple, though. The people at whom the comment is aimed don't want to be persuaded by it.

Leashing The Future

I agree with Wired's comments on the Supreme Court ruling on Grokster:

That seems like a big win for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and other plaintiffs, which now stand a good chance of shutting down both contested services and bringing new lawsuits against other peer-to-peer companies. But, by helping maintain the status quo, the ruling could further delay the death of the old way of doing things and postpone the birth of new strategies that successfully build on unstoppable peer-to-peer technologies...

The high court did a lot of things right in Grokster. But defending the rights of copyright holders in the face of disruptive new technologies does not demand protecting outmoded ways of selling products. It's time for the entertainment industry to accept the inevitable and stop trying to use the courts to put a leash on unpredictable new technologies.

In the end, the business model in the entertainment industry is going to change, and these companies can either find a way to insert themselves into the new order, or risk finding themselves frozen out forever.

The new technology is eventually going to win because it returns power to individuals -- and no longer leaves the entertainment industry in charge of our choices. The best thing to do would be for the entertainment industry to recognize that now and begin to work on technologies that are in sync with P2P tech.

Unfortunately, I'm not at all sanguine that will occur. They want to keep the power in their own hands and limit it to as few people as possible. But it's like making a tidal wave change direction. It's not going to happen. For their own good, they better get with it or they are going to lose out even more.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

America Versus the Continent

What gives between these two situations?

Ex-Ku Klux Klan leader, 80, faces jail over killings
By Harry Mount in New York
(Filed: 22/06/2005)

One of the ugliest chapters of America's civil rights era was closed yesterday when a preacher and former Ku Klux Klan leader was found guilty of ordering the killings of three young activists 41 years to the day after their deaths.

Edgar Ray Killen, 80, faces a minimum sentence of 20 years after he was convicted on three counts of manslaughter by a mainly white jury in the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi.

The jury decided that Killen had organised the killing of New Yorkers Michael Schwerner, 24, and Andrew Goodman, 20, and James Chaney, 21, from Mississippi.

Update: Killian receives 60 year sentence.

In America, there was an early miscarriage of justice and years later, Edgar Ray Killen, aged 80, is going to jail. Justice finally caught up to him.

Ten Nazis too old to be jailed for village massacre

From Richard Owen in Rome

TEN former Nazi officers were given life sentences in absentia yesterday for the massacre of 560 men, women and children in a Tuscan village in 1944.

But the men, all now in their eighties and living in Germany, will escape punishment because they are too old to be imprisoned and will not be extradited to Italy.

In Europe, apparently, 80 years old is too old to send Nazis, guilty of a massacre of 560 men, women and children, to prison. Like so many unprosecuted Nazis, they get to live out their remaining days in freedom.

What does "too old to be imprisoned" mean? This evidence against them only came to light 10 years ago.

European values, I guess, versus American ones. I know which I prefer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Condi Personally Intervening for Mukhtaran Mai

Glad to see Condi is personally intervening.

State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said Tuesday the issue was raised last Thursday by Rice, in a telephone call with Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri.

"Secretary Rice made it clear that Mrs. Mai was welcome to come to the United States at any time and that we were looking to the government of Pakistan to ensure that she was free to travel whenever she wanted," he said.

"The government of Pakistan has committed itself to that and therefore it is our expectation that should Mrs Mai want to travel, to come to the United States, there will be no obstacles presented to her to do so," Ereli said.

Mai's case arose again Tuesday when New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote that the Pakistani government had still not returned her passport.

But a senior State Department official said on condition of anonymity that US officials believed that one of Mai's minders or bodyguards had her passport.

"Whoever has her passport, there is not going to be any obstacle to her travelling to the United States," the official said. "Her freedoms, and her rights and wellbeing are what we are concerned about and we are going to act to protect those."

Let's see if she manages a visit sometime soon. I bet she'll get big crowds after all this excitement. The Pakistanis have done precisely the wrong thing to assure her anonymity. They've made her a much bigger deal than otherwise.

Previous Posting: Secret Detention in Pakistan

Turin Shroud Once Again Fake!

So, earlier this year, I thought they - whoever they are - proved that the Turin shroud was genuine. But now it is back to fake again, apparently:

Turin Shroud confirmed as fake
June 22, 2005

A FRENCH magazine has said it had carried out experiments that proved the Shroud of Turin, believed by some Christians to be their religion's holiest relic, was a fraud.

"A mediaeval technique helped us to make a Shroud," Science & Vie (Science and Life) said in its July issue.
The Shroud is claimed by its defenders to be the cloth in which the body of Jesus Christ was wrapped after his crucifixion.

It bears the faint image of a blood-covered man with holes in his hand and wounds in his body and head, the apparent result of being crucified, stabbed by a Roman spear and forced to wear a crown of thorns.

In 1988, scientists carried out carbon-14 dating of the delicate linen cloth and concluded that the material was made some time between 1260 and 1390. Their study prompted the then archbishop of Turin, where the Shroud is stored, to admit that the garment was a hoax. But the debate sharply revived in January this year.

Drawing on a method previously used by sceptics to attack authenticity claims about the Shroud, the magazine got an artist to do a bas-relief - a sculpture that stands out from the surrounding background - of a Christ-like face.

A scientist then laid out a damp linen sheet over the bas-relief and let it dry, so that the thin cloth was moulded onto the face.

Using cotton wool, he then carefully dabbed ferric oxide, mixed with gelatine, onto the cloth to make blood-like marks. When the cloth was turned inside-out, the reversed marks resulted in the famous image of the crucified Christ.

Gelatine, an animal by-product rich in collagen, was frequently used by Middle Age painters as a fixative to bind pigments to canvas or wood.

The imprinted image turned out to be wash-resistant, impervious to temperatures of 250 C (482 F) and was undamaged by exposure to a range of harsh chemicals, including bisulphite which, without the help of the gelatine, would normally have degraded ferric oxide to the compound ferrous oxide.

The experiments, said the magazine, answer several claims made by the pro-Shroud camp, which says the marks could not have been painted onto the cloth.

Pretty interesting technique, that. And, yum, gelatin.

Hat Tip: The Corner on National Review

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Which Christian Theologian Are You?

Karl Barth, drat! 100%. Heh, and I've never even read him. Although I
definitely think liberation theology was a disaster. That bit's true

I was hoping for Schleiermacher. Still I got 67% Schleiermacher,
so that is not all bad, and I'm pretty sure that I'm no more than 67%
Schleiermacher in any case. So pretty accurate on that score.
I admire the fact that he and Schlegel, together with Novalis
and a few others began the intellectual movement that became the
Early Romantic Movement against the ascendancy of the Enlightenment,
and I love his Platonism - I love early Schleiermacher, but am not so
into the later Christian Dogmatics.
He's certainly my favorite German Protestant Theologian.

I can't say how I got to be 67% John Calvin -- I'm sure that's not true.
And I can't remember Tillich much at all, although IIRC, he was pretty
big at the Div School. Have no idea if I agree with this assessment,

I also don't mind being 60% Anselm -- I enjoyed him quite a bit, very
Aristotelian, nor 53% Augustine, I liked him as well, moreover, he was
a bit of Platonist as well, since back then all the translations of Aristotle
were influenced, unwittingly, by Platonism.

Too bad I'm only 20% Moltman. I translated a bit of him in Divinity School
for that damn German exam and I found his writing very powerful.

Never read Finney or Edwards so have no clue.

7% Luther -- heh -- too bad it's not even lower.

Which Christian Theologian Are You?

You scored as Karl Barth.
The daddy of 20th Century theology.
You perceive liberal theology to be a
disaster and so you insist that the
revelation of Christ, not human
experience, should be the starting
point for all Christian theology.

Karl Barth


Paul Tillich


John Calvin


Friedrich Schleiermacher






Charles Finney


Jonathan Edwards


Jürgen Moltmann


Martin Luther


Which Christian theologian are you?

created with

Monday, June 20, 2005

Best reason for smoking hashish ever

According to some new research in Israel, apparently hashish impedes the growth of Cancer. Which is another reason to get rid of the knee jerk legislation banning medical marijuana and to stop impeding research on the subject.

Hashish not only gets people high; it can bring cancer low. Derivatives of the cannabis plant from which hashish is produced have been shown by a Hebrew University doctoral student to be effective in halting the growth of tumors in laboratory and animal tests. For her work, Natalya Kogan was one of the winners of a Kaye Innovation Award, presented during the recent 68th meeting of the HU board of governors.

Working under the supervision of Prof. Raphael Mechoulam at the Hebrew University School of Pharmacy (in collaboration with Prof. Michael Schlesinger at The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School and Prof. Ester Priel at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev), Kogan has developed new compounds – known as quinonoid cannabinoids – that parallel in their activity a group of anti-cancer drugs, the best known of which is daunomycin. But while daunomycin is toxic to the heart, Kogan, with Dr. Ronen Beeri and Dr. Gergana Marincheva of Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem, found that the quinonoid cannabinoids are much less cardiotoxic. The development of quinonoid compounds that display anticancer activity but are less toxic is a major therapeutic goal. Kogan is now continuing to investigate the mechanism of action of these promising compounds.

Previous posts on the subject: Medical Marijuana Hysteria and Legalize It! Indeed

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Secret Detention in Pakistan

Well this is a depressing development in Pakistan. Nicholas Kristof alerts us to the fact that Mukhtaran Bibi, the young woman who was sentenced to gang rape by her village elders because of an infraction supposedly committed by her brother and lived to fight against it and see her persecutors prosecuted – and has become a bit of a heroine in Pakistan for her actions -- she used the money she received from the court to open schools in her village for both boys and girls – is now being detained illegally in Pakistan by the Musharraf government. They've prevented her from coming to the US, at the invitation of Pakistani-Americans, to talk about her situation and what she has done about it.

Apparently the Pakistani government doesn't want her "defaming" Pakistan before the Western press.

A group of Pakistani-Americans invited Ms. Mukhtaran to visit the U.S. starting this Saturday (see Then a few days ago, the Pakistani government went berserk.

On Thursday, the authorities put Ms. Mukhtaran under house arrest - to stop her from speaking out. In phone conversations in the last few days, she said that when she tried to step outside, police pointed their guns at her. To silence her, the police cut off her land line.

After she had been detained, a court ordered her attackers released, putting her life in jeopardy. That happened on a Friday afternoon, when the courts do not normally operate, and apparently was a warning to Ms. Mukhtaran to shut up. Instead, Ms. Mukhtaran continued her protests by cellphone. But at dawn yesterday the police bustled her off, and there's been no word from her since. Her cellphone doesn't answer.

Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani lawyer who is head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said she had learned that Ms. Mukhtaran was taken to Islamabad, furiously berated and told that President Pervez Musharraf was very angry with her. She was led sobbing to detention at a secret location. She is barred from contacting anyone, including her lawyer.

"She's in their custody, in illegal custody," Ms. Jahangir said. "They have gone completely crazy."

Even if Ms. Mukhtaran were released, airports have been alerted to bar her from leaving the country. According to Dawn, a Karachi newspaper, the government took this step, "fearing that she might malign Pakistan's image."

Excuse me, but Ms. Mukhtaran, a symbol of courage and altruism, is the best hope for Pakistan's image. The threat to Pakistan's image comes from President Musharraf for all this thuggish behavior.

I've been sympathetic to Mr. Musharraf till now, despite his nuclear negligence, partly because he's cooperated in the war on terrorism and partly because he has done a good job nurturing Pakistan's economic growth, which in the long run is probably the best way to fight fundamentalism. So even when Mr. Musharraf denied me visas all this year, to block me from visiting Ms. Mukhtaran again and writing a follow-up column, I bit my tongue.

But now President Musharraf has gone nuts.

Sigh. If only the Pakistanis would be this zealous in pursuing Al Qaeda members and charging them with crimes and locking them up. They seem to have treated AQ Khan, who sold nuclear secrets for personal profit on the nuclear black market, much more gently than this woman.

Nicholas Kristof has done some truly amazing work this year, alerting readers to the situations of women in peril all around the world. I read about the reversal of the court's decision last week – but there was no additional context to it and the newspapers did not comment on either the haste of the decision to drag it into court just then or the other things that contributed to the agenda of the court. So I was just bemused and disappointed.

UPDATE: And now an Indian Muslim woman is ordered to marry her father-in-law, who raped her.

An Indian woman who was allegedly raped by her father-in-law is now being ordered by a Muslim council of community elders to marry him.

The council says under Islamic law the rape has nullified her marriage, according to media reports.

But a top Muslim body in India has rejected the argument saying it is not valid under Sharia (Islamic) law.

It says the council was not authorised to give such a verdict and added that the alleged rapist should be punished.

Reports say the 28-year-old woman was raped when she was alone at home in Charthawal, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

When the incident came to the notice of the council, it ordered that she marry her father-in-law and change her relationship with her husband to that between a mother and son.

It also ordered her to leave her home and stay away for seven month and 10 days to become "pure".

Police action

A senior police officer, Amrinder Singh Senger, told the BBC that police have now filed a case against the woman's father-in-law.

Good thing they didn't try to settle it by honor killing. Would the son have felt obliged to kill his wife, raped by his father, to save his family honor?

These councils of village elders seem pernicious in the extreme – if you are a woman, at least. And these stories are only what gets reported to us. I can only imagine what we don't hear about. A little basic education might do wonders to help these village elders. But I imagine it will be long years before their influence is eradicated.

Hat Tip on the Update: Ann Althouse

UPDATE II: Apparently Mukhtaran Bibi has been released from confinement.

Under pressure from Washington, the Pakistani government on Wednesday lifted its travel restrictions on Mukhtar Mai, whose gang-rape and its aftermath set off worldwide outrage at the treatment of women in Pakistan.

Mukhtar Mai, also known as Mukhtaran Bibi, was to visit the United States last week at the invitation of human rights groups, but she found her name on the government's list of people barred from traveling abroad. The restriction met with bitter protests from human rights advocates, here and abroad, as well as objections from the State Department.

"We were confronted with what I can only say was an outrageous situation where her attackers were ordered to be freed while she had restrictions on her travel placed on her," Sean McCormack, a State Department spokesman, said at a briefing in Washington on Wednesday. "We conveyed our views about these restrictions to the senior levels of the Pakistani government."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Fallaci's Defiance

Amazing article by Robert Spencer fisking the 18 charges made by Adel Smith against Orianna Fallaci's book, The Rage and the Pride:

Fallaci remains defiant: “This trial is not against me. Nor is it a trial brought by a judge in search of publicity. It is a trial aimed at creating a Precedent, the Fallaci Case. I will not deign to honor them with my presence. This lawsuit is unacceptable, unpardonable. To distort a person’s thought, pick at a word here and another there, sew it all together with little dots, is illegitimate. Illicit. Illegal. Criminal. Contrary to every moral and intellectual decency. For shame!”[35]

During a speech in Washington in 2002, Fallaci said: “The hate for the West swells like a fire fed by the wind. The clash between us and them is not a military one. It is a cultural one, a religious one, and the worst is still to come.” The suit against her is just one hint of that terrible denouement.

But as they say, read the whole thing.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Medicinal Properties of Ancient Date Trees

Apparently ancient date trees, now in vogue because one has been germinated in Israel, had Medicinal properties.

Sallon said the project is more than a curiosity. She and her colleagues hope it may hold promise for the future, like the anti-malarial treatment artemisinin, developed out of traditional Chinese plant treatment, and a cancer medicine made from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree.

"Dates were highly medicinal. They had an enormous amount of use in ancient times for infections, for tumors, " she said. "We're researching medicinal plants for all we're worth, we think that ancient medicines of the past can be the medicines of the future."

So I went to look this up in the Herbal of Discorides and found the following:

Poma, Phoenix dactylifera — Dates, Date Palm
Phoenix sylvestris — Wild Palm

The palm tree grows in Egypt. The fruit is gathered in
the autumn, the ripening time being half over. It is
similar to the Arabic myrobalan [1-40, 4-160] and it is called
poma. It is a green colour, and similar to cydonium [1-160]
in smell, but if it is left alone until it comes to the full
ripeness it becomes dates. It is sour and astringent and is
taken in a drink with hard wine for discharges from tooth
sockets and the menstrual flows of women. It stops
haemorrhoids and glues wounds together if it is rubbed
on. Fresh dates are more astringent than dried. They
cause headaches and if eaten in too great an abundance
with meat they inebriate. Dried dates eaten with meat are
good for blood-spitting, the stomach, and dysentery. It is
pounded into small pieces with cydonium [1-160] and the
waxy ointment oenanthinum [from vine shoots or
blossoms] and rubbed on for disorders of the bladder.
The caryotae [pips, seeds] heal roughness of the arteries if

It's interesting, too, about the name of date palms.

Sallon said the tree shares its botanical name, Phoenix Dactylifera, with the mythological Phoenix bird, which the ancient Egyptians and Greeks believed was reincarnated in a flaming nest at the end of its life. Date seeds were placed in the tombs of Pharaohs as a symbol of immortality, she added.

"It's thought that the tree was named after the Phoenix or the Phoenix was called after the palm tree because of its incredible powers of rejuvenation, because in a way it never died," she said.

Previous post on this subject: An Israeli Date Palm 2000 Years in the Making

Medical Marijuana Hysteria

Cathy Young's article on the silliness of the recent Supreme Court ruling on medical marijuana is right on all fundamental points:

The ruling is bad legal reasoning; commentators such as Boston University law professor Randy Barnett, who argued the case before the Supreme Court last November, point out that it directly contradicts several of the court's decisions in recent years narrowing the scope of federal powers. It is also bad moral reasoning. Whether you use personal autonomy or compassion as your standard, denying seriously ill men and women access to a drug that could help them is repugnant.

Moreover, as Dr. Sally Satel, a psychiatrist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in The New York Times, research on therapeutic uses of marijuana has been held back by ideologically motivated restrictions.

All this is the latest example of how the war on drugs has addled our brains. Yes, drug abuse is a serious problem. But the demonization of illegal drugs -- even mild ones such as marijuana, which tens of millions of Americans have indulged in with consequences no worse than for legal intoxicants -- has created a climate that is just as dangerous.

That there is a drug that easily might help people but no research is being done into the reaches of its medical efficacy because of the hysteria and the paranoia of the old drug war strikes me as foolish beyond belief. This, too, is another area in which I hope new thinking comes to prevail.

I hope they step up research on this in Britain where, IIRC, there have been recent proposals to change the law.

Previous post on this subject: Legalize It! Indeed!

George RR Martin, delayed again

So now that I reread the entire George RR Martin Opus, A Song of Ice and Fire, last week while my computer was down, in preparation for the new volume, which I thought was due out at the end of July, it turns out that the new volume isn't being published until November.


American Fundamentalism: The Real Thing

These polygamist sects in the US have always nauseated me -- and this one, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sounds like it's getting scarier and more fundamentalist by the minute. And now they are out and out expelling extraneous boys, those less willing to bend the neck and behave according to all the rules, in order to get rid of the competition for wives.

Gideon is one of the "Lost Boys," a group of more than 400 teenagers — some as young as 13 — who authorities in Utah and Arizona say have fled or been driven out of the polygamous enclaves of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City over the last four years.

His stated offenses: wearing short-sleeved shirts, listening to CDs and having a girlfriend. Other boys say they were booted out for going to movies, watching television and staying out past curfew.

Some say they were sometimes given as little as two hours' notice before being driven to St. George or nearby Hurricane, Utah, and left like unwanted pets along the road.

Authorities say the teens aren't really being expelled for what they watch or wear, but rather to reduce competition for women in places where men can have dozens of wives.

"It's a mathematical thing. If you are marrying all these girls to one man, what do you do with all the boys?" said Utah Atty. Gen. Mark Shurtleff, who has had boys in his office crying to see their mothers. "People have said to me: 'Why don't you prosecute the parents?' But the kids don't want their parents prosecuted; they want us to get the No. 1 bad guy — Warren Jeffs. He is chiefly responsible for kicking out these boys."

The 49-year-old Jeffs is the prophet, or leader, of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The FLDS, as it is known, controls Hildale and Colorado City.

There are families with 70 plus kids, etc. Meanwhile, with this new leader, wives are being reassigned. And he himself may have up to 70 wives.

I wish they would just prosecute the leaders of these sects – but it turns out to be a pretty tricky prospect.

In 1953, Arizona state police swarmed into Short Creek, now Colorado City. They arrested the men and transported crying women and children to detention camps. The result was a public outpouring of sympathy for the families — and scorn for state political leaders. The governor, Howard Pyle, lost the next election.

People, I guess, want to keep their jobs.

Still, it seems to me that the environment for getting rid of these sects is very different now than it was in the 1950s, especially once all the information about withholding education and the rampant incest and sexual abuse becomes known to the public. There would be a whole lot less sympathy for it. Still, having resettlement camps for the women and children is always going to ruffle people's feathers. Especially as the women and children have had all other education withheld from them and this is the only world they know – and as they understand it, they're salvation is involved in them behaving according to the norms of this sect.

UPDATE: Captain's Quarter's and VoluntaryXchange have a lot more on this situation.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

An Israeli Date Palm 2000 years in the Making

A scientist in Israel has succeeded in germinating a date palm nearly 2000 years old, found at Masada, the ancient citadel in the desert, built by Herod, that held out against the Romans for so long.

The seed, nicknamed Methuselah, was taken from an excavation at Masada, the cliff fortress where, in A.D. 73, 960 Jewish zealots died by their own hand, rather than surrender to a Roman assault. The point is to find out what was so exceptional about the original date palm of Judea, much praised in the Bible and the Koran for its shade, food, beauty and medicinal qualities, but long ago destroyed by the crusaders.

"The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree," says Psalm 92. "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age. They shall be fat and flourishing."

It's up to 7 leaves now. The trick is to get it to continue to grow -- date palms take 30 years to grow fruit -- and then only if they are female. Apparently many of these ancient seeds use up all their energy simply to germinate -- and then shortly whither. We'll see if this one manages to live. This is apparently the oldest seed ever germinated as well - by many hundreds of years.

In the time of Pliny, forests of date palms covered the area from Lake Galilee to the Dead Sea and made Jericho famous; a date palm features on ancient coinage, as it does on the current Israeli 10-shekel coin.

The date palm symbolized ancient Israel; the honey of "the land of milk and honey" came from the date. It is praised as a tonic to increase longevity, as a laxative, as a cure for infections and as an aphrodisiac, Dr. Sallon said. But the dates of Judea were destroyed before the Middle Ages, and what dates Israel grows now were imported in the 1950's and 60's from California and originated elsewhere in the Middle East.

The Prophet Muhammad considered the date of great importance for medicine, food, construction and income, and it is described in the Koran as a "symbol of goodness" associated with heaven.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Dead Again?

Running out of movie bon mots for this endless saga of Zarqawi dying and being resurrected.

So is the terrorist in chief of Iraq Dead Again? It would make sense of the intensity of the suicide bombing in the last few weeks, as a way to mask what is really going on, and make it look like all is hunky dory in the terrorist haven.
Baghdad, 2 June (AKI) -
The Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq - died on Friday and his body is in Fallujah's cemetary, an Iraqi Sunni sheikh, Ammar Abdel Rahim Nasir, has told the Saudi on-line newspaper Al-Medina. He claims that gunfights which broke out in Fallujah in the last few days involved militants trying to protect the insurgency leader's tomb from a group of American soldiers patrolling the area.

During a telephone conversation from the city of Fallujah with the Saudi newspaper, Nasir said al-Zarqawi was taken there after being injured in the city of Ramadi around three weeks ago, and may have been treated by two doctors who had worked with his aides in Baghdad. He said the two doctors had stopped a serious haemorrhage in al-Zarqawi's intestines, but that after his condition worsened last week, the militant died on Friday.

Nasir adds that in his will the insurgent leader left the order that no funeral should be held for him and the right to announce his death should be left to the al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden. ...

Fomenting Anti-Semitism in Le Monde. Guilty! But What a Yawn!

I'm putting this up in it's entirety because I think it is so important.

Le Monde is charged with whipping up anti-semitism, and it's greeted with a big yawn. No one takes notice.

The irony is that this article appears as subscription only in the WSJ, so fewer people will have a chance to view it. And few people have seen it already because of the media blackout.


June 2, 2005

A French court last week found three writers for Le Monde, as well as the newspaper's publisher, guilty of "racist defamation" against Israel and the Jewish people. In a groundbreaking decision, the Versailles court of appeal ruled that a comment piece published in Le Monde in 2002, "Israel-Palestine: The Cancer," had whipped up anti-Semitic opinion.

The writers of the article, Edgar Morin (a well-known sociologist), Danièle Sallenave (a senior lecturer at Nanterre University) and Sami Nair (a member of the European parliament), as well as Le Monde's publisher, Jean-Marie Colombani, were ordered to pay symbolic damages of one euro to a human-rights group and to the Franco-Israeli association. Le Monde was also ordered to publish a condemnation of the article, which it has yet to do.

It is encouraging to see a French court rule that anti-Semitism should have no place in the media -- even when it is masked as an analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The ruling also makes it clear that the law in this respect applies to extremist Jews (Mr. Morin is Jewish) as much as to non-Jews.

Press freedom is a value to be cherished, but not exploited and abused. In general, European countries have strict laws against such abuse and Europe's mainstream media are in any case usually good at exercising self-censorship. Responsible journalists strenuously avoid libelous characterizations of entire ethnic, national or religious groups. They go out of their way, for example, to avoid suggesting that the massacres in Darfur, which are being carried out by Arab militias, in any way represent an Arab trait.

The exception to this seems to be the coverage of Jews, particularly Israeli ones. This is particularly ironic given the fact that Europe's relatively strict freedom of speech laws (compared to those in the U.S.) were to a large extent drafted as a reaction to the Continent's Nazi occupation. And yet, from Oslo to Athens, from London to Madrid, it has been virtually open season on them in the last few years, especially in supposedly liberal media.

"Israel-Palestine: The Cancer" was a nasty piece of work, replete with lies, slanders and myths about "the chosen people," "the Jenin massacre," describing the Jews as "a contemptuous people taking satisfaction in humiliating others," "imposing their unmerciful rule," and so on.

Yet it was no worse than thousands of other news reports, editorials, commentaries, letters, cartoons and headlines published throughout Europe in recent years, in the guise of legitimate and reasoned discussion of Israeli policies.

The libels and distortions about Israel in some British media are by now fairly well known: the Guardian's equation of Israel and al Qaeda; the Evening Standard's equation of Israel and the Taliban; the report by the BBC's Middle East correspondent, Orla Guerin, on how "the Israelis stole Christmas." Most notorious of all is the Independent's Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, who specializes in such observations as his comment that, "If ever a sword was thrust into a military alliance of East and West, the Israelis wielded that dagger," and who implies that the White House has fallen into the hands of the Jews: "The Perles and the Wolfowitzes and the Cohens...[the] very sinister people hovering around Bush."

The invective against Israel elsewhere in Europe is less well known. In Spain, for example, on June 4, 2001 (three days after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 21 young Israelis at a disco, and wounded over 100 others, all in the midst of a unilateral Israeli ceasefire), the liberal daily Cambio 16 published a cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (with a hook nose he does not have), wearing a skull cap (which he does not usually wear), sporting a swastika inside a star of David on his chest, and proclaiming: "At least Hitler taught me how to invade a country and destroy every living insect."

The week before, on May 23, El Pais (the "New York Times of Spain") published a cartoon of an allegorical figure carrying a small rectangular-shaped black moustache, flying through the air toward Mr. Sharon's upper lip. The caption read: "Clio, the muse of history, puts Hitler's moustache on Ariel Sharon."

Two days later, on May 25, the Catalan daily La Vanguardia published a cartoon showing an imposing building, with a sign outside reading "Museo del Holocausto Judio" (Museum of the Jewish Holocaust), and next to it another building under construction, with a large sign reading "Futuro Museo del Holocausto Palestino" (Future Museum of the Palestinian Holocaust).

Greece's largest newspaper, the leftist daily Eleftherotypia, has run several such cartoons. In April 2002, on its front cover, under the title "Holocaust II," an Israeli soldier was depicted as a Nazi officer and a Palestinian civilian as a Jewish death camp inmate. In September 2002, another cartoon in Eleftherotypia showed an Israeli soldier with a Jewish star telling a Nazi officer next to him "Arafat is not a person the Reich can talk to anymore." The Nazi officer responds "Why? Is he a Jew?"

In October 2001, the Web site of one of Italy's most respected newspapers, La Repubblica, published the notorious anti-Semitic forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," in its entirety, without providing any historical explanation. It did suggest, however, that the work would help readers understand why the U.S. had taken military action in Afghanistan.

In April 2002, the Italian liberal daily La Stampa ran a front-page cartoon showing an Israeli tank, emblazoned with a Jewish star, pointing a large gun at the baby Jesus in a manger, while the baby pleads, "Surely they don't want to kill me again, do they?"

In Corriere Della Sera, another cartoon showed Jesus trapped in his tomb, unable to rise, because Ariel Sharon, rifle in hand, is sitting on the sepulcher. Sweden's largest morning paper, Dagens Nyheter, ran a caricature of a Hassidic Jew accusing anyone who criticized Israel of anti-Semitism. Another leading Swedish paper, Aftonbladet, used the headline "The Crucifixion of Arafat."

If the misreporting and bias were limited to one or two newspapers or television programs in each country, it might be possible to shrug them off. But they are not. Bashing Israel even extends to local papers that don't usually cover foreign affairs, such as the double-page spread titled "Jews in jackboots" in "Luton on Sunday." (Luton is an industrial town in southern England.) Or the article in Norway's leading regional paper, Stavanger Aftenblad, equating Israel's actions against terrorists in Ramallah with the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Grotesque and utterly false comparisons such as these should have no place in reporting or commenting on the Middle East. Yet although the French court ruling -- the first of its kind in Europe -- is a major landmark, no one in France seems to care. The country's most distinguished newspaper, the paper of record, has been found guilty of anti-Semitism. One would have thought that such a verdict would prompt wide-ranging coverage and lead to extensive soul-searching and public debate. Instead, there has been almost complete silence, and virtually no coverage in the French press.

And few elsewhere will have heard about it. Reuters and Agence France Presse (agencies that have demonstrated particularly marked bias against Israel) ran short stories about the judgment in their French-language wires last week, but chose not to run them on their English news services. The Associated Press didn't run it at all. Instead of triggering the long overdue reassessment of Europe's attitude toward Israel, the media have chosen to ignore it.

Hat Tip: Melanie Phillips

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Legalize It! Indeed!

I agree with Milton Friedman on this one:

At 92, Friedman is revered as one of the great champions of free-market capitalism during the years of U.S. rivalry with Communism. He is also passionate about the need to legalize marijuana, among other drugs, for both financial and moral reasons.

"There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana," the economist says, "$7.7 billion is a lot of money, but that is one of the lesser evils. Our failure to successfully enforce these laws is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Colombia. I haven't even included the harm to young people. It's absolutely disgraceful to think of picking up a 22-year-old for smoking pot. More disgraceful is the denial of marijuana for medical purposes."

Blocking the medical applications of marijuana strikes me as insane troll logic. Counterproductive as all hell.

It's an even better idea if it will stop the idiots from bloviating endlessly about the dangers of marijuana. Bill O'Reilly I mean you.

Hat tip: Ed Driscoll

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Bush, Blair versus Chirac, Schroeder

The Economist debate at the Hayfestival between John Micklethwait, Christopher Hitchens, Roy Hattersley, Mark Leonard, hosted by Jon Snow is a lot of fun. They're debating whether, "History will be kinder to Bush and Blair than to Chirac and Schroeder?"

For one thing, as an American, it is just astounding to listen to this proud defense of the idealization of the emasculation of European power by Mark Leonard. One knows about this kind of thinking, of course. But it still boggles the brain to hear people professing it as their creed. And with such pride. And hope. And delighted vision into the future.

For another thing, listening to Hitchens defend Bush and his vision on the War on Terror always warms the cockles of my heart. John Mickelthwait wasn't bad either, but his support of Bush did have various reservations. He clearly despises the man, and in most every way but Iraq, he's seems sympathetic to the other side. His reluctance is rather palpable.

Mickelthwait did point out, however, quite intelligently in the wrap up that this European position of emasculated power – well he didn't refer to it that way – this ceding of military strength leaves the US in the default position of having to mop up the problems in the world. At which point, the same people turn around and blame the crudeness of US power on the US; but of course, they've already relinquished their own position.

As a diplomatic position, it hardly seems sensible, though.

Hat tip: Stephen Pollard

Er, trackbacks?

Still trying to enable trackbacks, but it ain't entirely easy. Am trying again.

Okay, I'm told it was a success. I see my ping. But I suppose it doesn't show up my end unless someone pings, I hope. Or despite the fact that I have pinged someone it still isn't working.

Now I'm getting really ambitious and am retrying the Wizbang Standalone Trackback Pinger with the trackback from Mudville Gazette enabled.

Sheesh. Still can't get that pinging system to work.


Sheesh squared, now all of a sudden, I'm getting a doubling of trackback codes. Well I'll fix that later.

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Well I had the comments up and working before, but it would be nice if I could get the trackbacks to work.