Man-made universes 5

Great fun – the idea that our universe was made by people like us.

Dr John Gribbin, astronomer, thinks it possible. Writing in the Telegraph, he even suggests how we – that is to say, some among us – could make universes too.

Is our universe a designer universe? By this, I do not mean a God figure, an “intelligent designer” monitoring and shaping all aspects of life. Evolution by natural selection, and all the other processes that produced our planet and the life on it, are sufficient to explain how we got to be the way we are, given the laws of physics that operate in our universe.

However, there is still scope for an intelligent designer of universes as a whole. Modern physics suggests that our universe is one of many, part of a “multiverse” where different regions of space and time may have different properties (the strength of gravity may be stronger in some and weaker in others). If our universe was made by a technologically advanced civilisation in another part of the multiverse, the designer may have been responsible for the Big Bang, but nothing more.

As with much else in modern physics, the idea involves particle acceleration, the kind of thing that goes on in the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. …

To create a new universe would require a machine only slightly more powerful than the LHC – and there is every chance that our own universe may have been manufactured in this way.

He goes on to explain how it’s possible using black holes, which “are relatively easy to make”. He quotes Alan Guth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has “investigated the technicalities of ‘the creation of universes in the laboratory’, and concluded that the laws of physics do, in principle, make it possible”.

Dr Gribbin asks: ‘How likely is it to have happened already?”

While the intelligence required to do the job may be (slightly) superior to ours, it is of a kind that is recognisably similar to our own, rather than that of an infinite and incomprehensible God. And the most likely reason for such an intelligence to make universes is the same for doing things like climbing mountains, or studying the nature of subatomic particles – because we can. A civilisation that has the technology to make baby universes would surely find the temptation irresistible. And if the intelligences are anything like our own, there would be an overwhelming temptation at the higher levels of universe design to improve upon the results.

This idea provides the best resolution yet to the puzzle Albert Einstein used to raise, that “the most incomprehensible thing about the Universe is that it is comprehensible”. The universe is comprehensible to the human mind because it was designed, at least to some extent, by intelligent beings with minds similar to our own.

Read it all here. Enjoy.

Posted under Science by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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Government aid for the Muslim Brotherhood 5

Christine Brim at Big Peace reveals that the Obama administration is doing still more to assist Islamic organizations in America, including funding them with tax-payers’ money. To what end?

On August 31, this coming Tuesday, the Muslim Brotherhood-associated “Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations” (CCMO) will bring 25-30 Muslim leaders of 20 national Muslim groups to attend a special workshop presented by the White House and U.S. Government agencies (Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services etc.) to provide the groups “funding, government assistance and resources.” The workshop will apparently provide special access for these Muslim Brotherhood organizations: the organizers pledge to provide “direct access” and “cut through red tape.” Government and Muslim groups will hold an Iftar dinner (breaking the fast of Ramadan) after the workshop.

The event was announced in an email newsletter sent August 27 by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism finance trial, long associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, the global Islamist network.

The Muslim Brotherhood founded in 1928, is a global Islamist political movement dedicated to imposing Shariah law on all nations and institutions. Their credo is “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

While it promotes stealth jihad throughout the Western world, it also uses violent force when and where it can. It is the parent movement of Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza and wages perpetual war on Israel.

The Hudson Institute quotes the Muslim Brotherhood’s own declaration of its world-wide ambitions:

We have a clear mission—to implement Allah’s law, on the basis of our belief that that it is the real, effective way out of all our problems—domestic or external, political, economic, social or cultural. That is to be achieved by forming the Muslim individual, the Muslim home, the Muslim government, and the state which will lead the Islamic states, reunite the scattered Muslims, restore their glory, retrieve for them their lost lands and stolen homelands, and carry the banner of the call to Allah in order to bless the world with Islam’s teachings.

Christine Brim thinks that the groups attending the “workshop” and dinner are likely to be associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, because –

The sponsoring organization – the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations (CCMO), co-sponsoring with the Department of Agriculture – has a long history of associations with the Muslim Brotherhood.

And because the CCMO officers are themselves Muslim Brotherhood leaders:

These are not just your garden-variety Muslim Brotherhood operatives. The CCMO officers include leading national and international figures in the Muslim Brotherhood, settled in the Washington DC suburbs to enjoy “direct access” to the Administration and Congress. CCMO is a major U.S. node in the loosely coordinated Muslim Brotherhood network. Just the fellows to give your tax dollars as stimulus money!

If Christine Brim is right and the organizations being aided by the government are pursuing the aims of the Muslim Brotherhood, this can only mean that the Obama administration is actively helping to promote those aims.

Is it doing so inadvertently, not realizing that these organizations have an anti-American agenda? Christine Brim doesn’t think so:

I suggest that the Administration knows these groups are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. They think that’s a good thing.

This isn’t incompetence; it’s intentional.

What can be done about it? Any chance the mainstream media will investigate these dark procedures as a start?

Not much of a one, we guess.

America is a project, Europe is a sorrow 1

From an article in City Journal on what Europe has become and how it differs from America, we select some passages as samples in the hope that they will tempt you to read it all. We think it’s true, and that it’s a splendid piece of writing for which both the author Pascal Bruckner, a French philosopher, and his translator Alexis Cornel, deserve praise.

It’s title is Europe’s Guilty Conscience, it’s introductory headline, Self-hatred is paralyzing the Continent.

Brooding over its past crimes (slavery, imperialism, fascism, communism), Europe sees its history as a series of murders and depredations that culminated in two global conflicts. … Those born after World War II are endowed with the certainty of belonging to the dregs of humanity, an execrable civilization that has dominated and pillaged most of the world for centuries in the name of the superiority of the white man.

In its “white man’s guilt” it includes America:

Since 9/11 … a majority of Europeans have felt, despite our sympathy for the victims, that the Americans got what they deserved. The same reasoning prevailed with respect to the terrorist attacks on Madrid in 2004 and on London in 2005, when many good souls, on both the right and the left, portrayed the attackers as unfortunate people protesting Europe’s insolent wealth, its aggression in Iraq or Afghanistan, or its way of life.

But take its greatness with its shame: –

Europe has surely engendered monsters. But it has, at the same time, engendered the ideas that made it possible to slay monsters. European history is a succession of paradoxes: arbitrary feudal power gave rise to democracy; ecclesiastical oppression, to freedom of conscience; national rivalries, to the dream of a supranational community

– that (in our italics) we think is another crime in the making, a new nightmare rather than a dream  –

… overseas conquests, to anticolonialism; and revolutionary ideologies, to the antitotalitarian movement. …

Wallowing in its remorse, Europe is misjudging itself and the world:

A civilization responsible for the worst atrocities as well as the most sublime accomplishments cannot understand itself solely in terms of guilt. … We now live on self-denunciation, as if permanently indebted to the poor, the destitute, to immigrants— as if our only duty were expiation, endless expiation, restoring without limit what we had taken from humanity from the beginning. This wave of repentance spreads through our latitudes and our governments like an epidemic. An active conscience is a fine and healthy thing, of course. But contrition must not be limited to certain parties while innocence is accorded to anyone who claims to be persecuted.

The United States, despite its own faults, retains the capacity to combine self-criticism with self-affirmation, demonstrating a pride that we lack.

America itself, yes, if not its present  leadership.

But Europe’s worst enemy is Europe itself, with its penitential view of its past, its corrosive guilt, and a scrupulousness taken to the point of paralysis. How can we expect to be respected if we do not respect ourselves … ? The truth is that Europeans do not like themselves, or at least do not like themselves enough to overcome their distaste and to show the kind of quasi-religious fervor for their culture that is so striking in Americans.

We too often forget that modern Europe was born not during a time of enthusiastic historical rebeginning, as was the United States, but from a weariness of slaughter. It took the total disaster of the twentieth century, embodied in Verdun and Auschwitz, for the Old World to happen upon virtue, like an aging trollop who moves directly from debauchery to fervent religious belief. …  We became wise, perhaps, but with the force-fed wisdom of a people brutalized by carnage and resigned to modest projects. The only ambition we have left is to escape the furies of our age and to confine ourselves to the administration of economic and social matters.

While America is a project, Europe is a sorrow. Before long, it will amount to little except the residue of abandoned dreams. … [T]here is a striking contrast between the stories that we Europeans tell ourselves about rights, tolerance, and multilateralism and the tragedies that we witness in the surrounding world — in autocratic Russia, aggressive Iran, arrogant China, a divided Middle East. We see them, too, in the heart of our great cities, in the double offensive of Islamist terrorism and fundamentalist groups aiming to colonize minds and hearts and Islamize Europe. …

History goes on without us, and everywhere emergent nations are recovering their dignity, their power, and their aggressiveness, Europe leaves it to the Americans to be in charge, while reserving the right to criticize them violently when they go astray. …

[Europe] has a history, whereas America is still making history, animated by an eschatological tension toward the future. If the latter sometimes makes major mistakes, the former makes none because it attempts nothing. For Europe, prudence no longer consists in the art, defended by the ancients, of finding one’s way within an uncertain story. We hate America because she makes a difference. We prefer Europe because she is not a threat. Our repulsion represents a kind of homage, and our sympathy a kind of contempt. …

But if Europe thinks it has earned its rest and can opt out of the world’s “uncertain story”, it is wrong:

Europe has developed a veritable fanaticism for modesty, but if it cannot preside over the destinies of the whole world, it must at least play a part, retain its special voice in favor of justice and law, and assume the political and military means to make itself heard. Penitence is finally a political choice; it is to choose an abdication that in no way immunizes us against mistakes. Fear of repeating yesterday’s errors makes us too indulgent of contemporary outrages.

By preferring injustice to disorder, the Old World risks being swept away by chaos, the victim of a renunciation mistaken for wisdom. …

Posted under America, Commentary, Europe, History, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, August 29, 2010

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Review: Atheism The Case Against God 8

Atheism The Case Against God by George H. Smith Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY, 1989

This is not a new book, but it was only recently brought to our attention (by our reader, JDBlues, for which we thank him).

Its author, George H. Smith, makes plain what atheism is and is not, demolishes the most common arguments against it, and exposes the absurdities and inner contradictions of religious belief in general and Christianity in particular. He sets out the essential arguments of the case and discusses classic works on the subject. His book is both thorough and concise enough to be used as a textbook on atheism.

Where brevity and exactness are required, he is admirably succinct:

Atheism is the absence of a belief in a god, nothing more.

These are the basic beliefs of theism: the belief in the supernatural and the belief in the inherently unknowable.

Eventually, in the final chapter on “the sins of Christianity”, the author gives his personal opinions of the ethics of Jesus, and becomes most entertaining.

Contrary to the opinion of Christian theologians who “unanimously agree that Jesus was the greatest moral teacher in history”, Smith argues that:

– “Point for point, there is nothing in the teaching of Jesus [as the Christian bible records it , there being no other source] which cannot be found in the Old Testament or in the rabbinical teaching.”

– If we consider what Jesus said about morality, “he emerges as predominantly status quo. This poses a problem for Christian liberals. Strip Jesus of his [putative] divinity – as many liberals wish to do – and, at best, he becomes a mediocre preacher who held mistaken beliefs about practically everything, including himself; and, at worst, he becomes a pretentious fraud.”

– However, his precepts “intermingled with threats of gnashing teeth and eternal torment, contain a strong current of harshness and cruelty.”

– “Considered in themselves, the moral precepts of Jesus are sometimes interesting, sometimes poetic, sometimes benevolent, sometimes confusing, sometimes pernicious, and sometimes devastatingly harmful psychologically. None, however, are especially profound.”

Smith explains: “My sole purpose in this discussion is to examine the effects and wider implications of Jesus’ major doctrines, not to lend them the undeserved respect of a counter-argument”.

The effects and wider implications are harmful. They include the demand for obedience and conformity. “When Jesus says ‘believe’, he means ‘obey’.” And what results from that obedience and conformity?

The sacrifice of truth. One can be committed to conformity or one can be committed to truth, but not both. The pursuit of truth requires the unrestricted use of one’s mind – the moral freedom to question, to examine evidence, to consider opposing viewpoints, to criticize, to accept as true only that which can be demonstrated – regardless of whether one’s conclusions conform to a particular creed. … [It is] a fundamental and viciously destructive teaching of Christianity: that some beliefs lie beyond the scope of criticism and that to question them is sinful … By placing a moral restriction on what one is permitted to believe, Christianity declares itself an enemy of truth and of the faculty by which man arrives at truth – reason.

This “monstrous doctrine that one is morally obligated to accept as true religious beliefs that cannot be comprehended or demonstrated [is] the belief that ‘justified’ the slaughter of dissenters and heretics in the name of morality, and its philosophical consequence may be described as the inversion – or, more precisely, the perversion – of morality.” The doctrine is “devastating”. It’s effect is to “divorce morality from truth” and to “turn man’s reason against himself … Reason becomes a vice, something to be feared, and man finds that his worst enemy is his own capacity to think…”

Not only thoughts, but involuntary feelings can take one to hell in Christian belief. And “evil emotions … often consist of … sexual desire”. So to be an obedient Christian is to be inescapably guilty: “one must view oneself fundamentally as a ‘sinner’.”

Commenting on the injunction reported in Luke (6:27-28): “Do not resist evil”, Smith rightly points out that this is a prescription for the toleration of injustice ( which is where the morality of Christianity parts company decisively with the morality of Judaism, though Smith does not raise this point).

Smith succeeds in making the case against God. In doing so, he makes an impassioned plea for reason rather than faith as a guide to happiness for individuals and the human race as a whole. Reason is equatable with freedom, faith with bondage. For not to believe in a god commits one to no other beliefs whatsoever. An atheist as such is not compelled to apply his reason to any other issue: he is free to make his choices, wise or foolish. But the believer, in search of certainty where it is not to be found, commits himself to a lie, and binds himself in its inextricable confusion. As Spinoza – quoted by Smith – puts it, “the concept of god is an asylum of ignorance”.

Jillian Becker  August 28, 2010

Posted under Religion general, Reviews by Jillian Becker on Saturday, August 28, 2010

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Permit mass murder, submit to injustice 1

Obama has stopped the prosecution of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, “a major al-Qaeda figure”, who coordinated the lethal attack on the USS Cole.

October 10 will be the 10th anniversary of the bombing.

The Washington Post reports:

The attack …  killed 17 sailors and wounded dozens when a boat packed with explosives ripped a hole in the side of the warship in the port of Aden.

In a filing this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department said that “no charges are either pending or contemplated with respect to al-Nashiri in the near future.”

The statement, tucked into a motion to dismiss a petition by Nashiri’s attorneys, suggests that the prospect of further military trials for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has all but ground to a halt, much as the administration’s plan to try the accused plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in federal court has stalled.

Why  has the prosecution of al-Nashiri been dropped?

We hear pundits on TV saying that it is because the US “needs Yemen”.

What for?

If  Yemen is a country that requires terrorist murderers to be acquitted, why does the US have anything whatsoever to do with it?

Oh, we remember now: Yemen is an Islamic country, and the president of the United States wants the country he leads to submit, submit, submit to Islam.

Ask the imam 1

The imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who wants to build a mosque and Islamic center next to Ground Zero, preaches that Shariah is compatible with the US Constitution.

At WorldNetDaily, Nonie Darwish sets out 34 laws of Islam which make it perfectly clear that it is not.

We select some of them, but the ones we leave out are no less alien to American concepts of justice. Check them out here.

Jihad, defined as “to war against non-Muslims to establish the religion,” is the duty of every Muslim and Muslim head of state (caliph). Muslim caliphs who refuse jihad are in violation of Shariah and unfit to rule.

A percentage of Zakat (charity money) must go toward jihad. [But none may go to non-Muslim causes – JB]

A Muslim who leaves Islam must be killed immediately.

A Muslim will not get the death penalty if he kills a non-Muslim but will get it for killing a Muslim.

Shariah never abolished slavery or sexual slavery and highly regulates it. A master will not be punished for killing his slave.

Shariah dictates death by stoning, beheading, amputation of limbs, flogging – even for crimes of sin such as adultery.

Non-Muslims are not equal to Muslims under the law.

A non-Muslim cannot inherit from a Muslim.

No testimony in court is acceptable from people of low-level jobs, such as street sweepers or bathhouse attendants. Women in low-level jobs such as professional funeral mourners cannot keep custody of their children in case of divorce.

A non-Muslim cannot rule even over a non-Muslim minority.

Homosexuality is punishable by death.

There is no age limit for marriage of girls. The marriage contract can take place any time after birth and consummated at age 8 or 9.

Rebelliousness on the part of the wife nullifies the husband’s obligation to support her, and gives him permission to beat her and keep her from leaving the home.

Divorce is only in the hands of the husband and is as easy as saying, “I divorce you,” and becomes effective even if the husband did not intend it.

A woman inherits half what a man inherits.

A man is allowed to have sex with slave women and women captured in battle, and if the enslaved woman is married, her marriage is annulled.

The testimony of a woman in court is half the value of a man.

A Muslim woman must cover every inch of her body, which is considered “Awrah,” a sexual organ. Not all Shariah schools allow the face of a woman [to be] exposed.

It is obligatory for a Muslim to lie if the purpose is obligatory. That means that for the sake of abiding with Islam’s commandments, such as jihad, a Muslim is obliged to lie and should not have any feelings of guilt or shame associated with this kind of lying.

Nonie Darwish ends by challenging “the learned Imam Rauf” to “tell us what part of [the 34 laws] is compliant with the U.S. Constitution”.

We too would like to hear his answer.

Posted under Commentary, Islam, jihad, Law, Muslims, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, August 27, 2010

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America begs 2

Obama’s America is begging for approval by the UNHRC.

What is the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council)? What does it do? What has it done? What is its record?

The appallingly misnamed UNHRC is the principal subcommittee driving the anti- Israel campaign, with more than 80 percent of its condemnatory resolutions directed against the Jewish state. Whereas the Bush administration boycotted the UNHRC, one of President Barack Obama’s first foreign policy initiatives was to join it. …

Democracies comprise only 40% of UNHRC membership. Last month, seven additional authoritarian regimes were elected – unopposed – joining other “human rights devotees” such as Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba and Russia.

The most notorious, Libya is a dictatorship which sanctions torture and lethal amputations, executes women for violating moral codes and criminalizes homosexuality is . Currently, the Libyan envoy, notorious for his anti-Semitic outbursts, is president of the UN General Assembly. …

The brutal Iranian regime … withdrew its nomination for UNHRC membership in return for a backroom deal to obtain a seat on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women. To enable Iran, which probably holds the world’s worst record of abuse of women, to participate in an organization purportedly advancing women’s rights transforms the UN into a total farce.

Sudan, the site of the Darfur genocide, was cited [by the UNHRC] in 2009 for its “progress” in human rights.

It refuses to take action against human rights abuses in Iran.

The UNHRC has created a number of subcommissions exclusively for the purpose of bashing Israel. There is also an advisory committee chaired by Halima Warzazi, who shielded Saddam Hussein from UN censure after the 1988 gassing of Kurds. The deputy chair is Jean Ziegler who, following the Libyan bombing of the Pan Am airliner, recommended Gaddafi for a human-rights award.

The UNHRC Durban II Conference, purportedly launched to combat racism, was transformed into an anti-Israel hate-fest.

To this body Obama has now submitted a report on human rights in America.

What does the president say about human rights in his country that he submits to such a collection of tyrannies for approval?

These are a few things we have pulled out of it, dipping in with one hand while holding our editorial nose with the other:

It deplores (implying apology) the new Arizona law on illegal immigration. It regrets (implying apology) that Guantanamo is still open and detaining terrorists. It insists (Obama being world-government minded) that the US is a “cornerstone in an international system of cooperation to preserve global security, support the growth of global prosperity, and progress toward world peace.” It boasts of being the world’s largest donor of development aid, and of it’s “commitment to using ‘smart power’ in our foreign policy” (as if it is working really well for America with regard, say, to Russia and Iran).  It half apologizes for pursuing the war in Afghanistan – proudly quoting Obama’s Nobel Lecture on how the use of force is sometimes sadly necessary. It declares how much the Administration wants to find solutions to homelessness – through the subprime lending method (yes, the method that brought the US and most of the world to the brink of bankruptcy).  It applauds the Affordable [Health] Care Act (that most Americans want repealed). It solemnly praises the freedom of political participation in America (without of course mentioning intimidation at the polls by the New Black Panthers or voter fraud by ACORN, two  groups which enjoy special protection by Obama and his Justice Department).

Altogether it implies that the US still has a way to go to measure up to the standards of the other members. But it’s trying.

To check it out and see if you agree with our account and opinion of it, find the full report here.

Now who, we wonder, helped write it? Who contributed to it?

Doug Hagmann at Canada Free Press explains:

This is the first time in the history of the United Nations that the U.S. has submitted a report to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council, which is the first step in submitting the United States to international review by some of the most repressive and abusive nations in the world. …

The report is the product of about a dozen conferences held across the U.S. between January and April 2010. The participants of these conferences featured such luminaries as Stephen Rickard and Wendy Patten, from George Soros’ Open Society Institute; Devon Chaffee, Human Rights First; Andrea Prasow, Human Rights Watch; Imad Hamad (a suspected member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization), American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; Dawud Walid, Council American Islamic Relations; Nabih Ayad, Michigan Civil Rights Commission; Ron Scott, Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality; Osama Siblani, Arab American News

According to its authors, the report to the United Nations “gives a partial snapshot of the current human rights situation in the United States, including some of the areas where problems persist in our society.” Obviously, one of the “problems” identified with the report is illegal immigration and Arizona’s own initiate to solve the problem through state legislation. SB 1070 has been a particularly thorny issue to the Obama administration, which has now been moved to an international venue and potential international oversight by the United Nations. The stakes for our national sovereignty have been just raised by the submission of this document, which is the first step of “voluntary compliance” to the provisions of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council.

What happens next, now that the report has been submitted?

Ben Johnson at ExposeObama writes:

As the process continues, a “troika” of three nations will review our report, other international reports, and the testimony of NGOs, then make a series of recommendations to implement these goals. Every four years, it will grade our “progress.” And this world body reserves the right to “decide on the measures it would need to take in case of persistent non-cooperation.”

That means if future administrations object to the plan the UN draws up along with the most anti-American administration in history, it could conceivably be deemed guilty of “persistent non-cooperation.” If it were sufficiently strong — and we were sufficiently weak — it could impose this agenda on the American people against their will. At a minimum, he’s reduced our standing in the eyes of the world if we reject any piece of his far-Left agenda. This report guarantees we will endure decades of international propaganda that the United States is “not meeting its human rights commitments to the United Nations” …

The Obama administration has made its entire platform the internationally recognized standard of conduct for future generations.

What is the remedy?

The United Nations and all its agencies, councils, commissions, and programs MUST BE DESTROYED.

Exploding visions in Iraq 134

The surge worked! Victory for the US-led coalition forces! The last combat brigade departs, leaving behind them a peaceful unified country governed by a democratically elected parliament.

Why spoil the hour of triumph? Obama wants his victory, claims credit for it even though he opposed the surge when Bush launched it.

Only thing is – tell it not in the American news media – no sooner had the last dust-cloud dispersed behind the last huge uncomfortable transport vehicle carrying the combat troops over the border into Kuwait from where they were to fly home, than murderous explosions broke out all over the country. It was a celebratory mass-killing, a fiesta of death, as terrorists let the country and the world know they were still there, still active. It was also a declaration that the victory, the peace, the solemn rituals of democracy, the visions of unity and co-operation were only such stuff as dreams are made of and will dissolve into thin air.

Newsmax reports:

Bombers and gunmen launched an apparently coordinated string of attacks against Iraqi government forces on Wednesday, killing at least 43 people a day after the number of U.S. troops fell below 50,000 for the first time since the start of the war.

The violence highlighted persistent fears about the ability of Iraqi troops to protect their own country as the American military starts to leave.

There were no claims of responsibility for the spate of attacks. But their scale and reach, from one end of the country to the other, underscored insurgent efforts to prove their might against security forces and political leaders who are charged with the day-to-day running and stability of Iraq.

The deadliest attack came in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber blew up a car inside a security barrier between a police station and the provincial government’s headquarters. Police and hospital officials said 16 people were killed, all but one of them policemen. An estimated 90 people were wounded.

An eerily similar attack came hours earlier in a north Baghdad neighborhood, where a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb in a parking lot behind a police station.

Fifteen people were killed in that attack, including six policemen. Police and hospital officials said another 58 were wounded [including 7 children] in the explosion that left a crater three yards wide and trapped people beneath the rubble of felled houses nearby. …

Since Iraq’s March 7 elections failed to produce a clear winner, U.S. officials have feared that competing political factions could spur widespread violence. …

U.S. and Iraqi officials alike acknowledge growing frustration throughout the nation, nearly six months after the vote, and say that politically motivated violence could undo security gains made during the past few years.

From the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk to the holy Shiite shrine town of Karbala, scattered bombings killed and wounded scores more.

They included bombs in Muqdadiyah and Tikrit, car bombs in Kirkuk, Iskandariyah, Dujail, Karbala, Basra, and a suicide bombing in Fallujah.

And that is only the beginning.

Posted under Arab States, Iraq, middle east, News, Terrorism, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, August 25, 2010

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Hate crime 1

Daisy Khan, wife of the imam Feisal Abdul Rauf who wants to build a mosque at Ground Zero, said on ABC news last Sunday that anti-Islam feeling in America was like “metastasized anti-Semitism.”

Just as unreasonable and unprovoked? Just as widespread?

Jonah Goldberg, author of that very good book Liberal Fascism, thinks not. He writes in the Los Angeles Times:

Here’s a thought: The 70% of Americans who oppose what amounts to an Islamic Niketown two blocks from ground zero are the real victims of a climate of hate, and anti-Muslim backlash is mostly a myth.

Let’s start with some data.

According to the FBI, hate crimes against Muslims increased by a staggering 1,600% in 2001. That sounds serious! But wait, the increase is a math mirage. There were 28 anti-Islamic incidents in 2000. That number climbed to 481 the year a bunch of Muslim terrorists murdered 3,000 Americans in the name of Islam on Sept. 11.

Now, that was a hate crime.

The so-called backlash against Muslims is largely a myth:

[In 2002] the number of anti-Islamic hate-crime incidents (overwhelmingly, nonviolent vandalism and nasty words) dropped to 155. In 2003, there were 149 such incidents. And the number has hovered around the mid-100s or lower ever since.

Sure, even one hate crime is too many. But does that sound like an anti-Muslim backlash to you?

Let’s put this in even sharper focus. America is, outside of Israel, probably the most receptive and tolerant country in the world to Jews. And yet, in every year since 9/11, more Jews have been hate-crime victims than Muslims. A lot more.

In 2001, there were twice as many anti-Jewish incidents as there were anti-Muslim, again according to the FBI. In 2002 and pretty much every year since, anti-Jewish incidents have outstripped anti-Muslim ones by at least 6 to 1. Why aren’t we talking about the anti-Jewish climate in America?

Because there isn’t one. And there isn’t an anti-Muslim climate either. Yes, there’s a lot of heated rhetoric on the Internet. Absolutely, some Americans don’t like Muslims. But if you watch TV or movies or read, say, the op-ed page of the New York Times — never mind left-wing blogs — you’ll hear much more open bigotry toward evangelical Christians (in blogspeak, the “Taliban wing of the Republican Party”) than you will toward Muslims. …

For 10 years we’ve been subjected to news stories about the Muslim backlash that’s always around the corner. …

… but has never happened.

Conversely, nowhere is there more open, honest and intentional intolerance — in words and deeds — than from certain prominent Muslim leaders around the world. And yet, Americans are the bigots.

And when Muslim fanatics kill Americans — after, say, the Ft. Hood slaughter — a reflexive response from the Obama administration is to fret over an anti-Islamic backlash. It’s fine to avoid negative stereotypes of Muslims, but why the rush to embrace them when it comes to Americans?

And now, thanks to the “ground zero mosque” story, we are again discussing America’s Islamophobia, which, according to Time magazine, is just another chapter in America’s history of intolerance.

When, pray tell, will Time magazine devote an issue to its, and this administration’s, intolerance of the American people?

And Ryan Mauro writes at FrontPage:

Over the recent Fourth of July weekend, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) interviewed attendees of the 47th annual Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention about their experiences in dealing with “Islamophobia.” Shortly afterwards, on July 6, CAIR called on the FBI to investigate an act of arson at a Georgia mosque, saying that hate crimes were increasing because of a “vocal minority in our society promoting anti-Muslim bigotry.” The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) referred to it as one of the “incidents of Islamophobia [that] are on the rise in this country.” However, police later arrested a Muslim suspect.

As Daniel Pipes has documented for years, Islamist organizations in the West are quick to label crimes as anti-Muslim hate crimes as part of their effort to make Muslims feel under attack and to paint themselves as Muslims’ protectors. For example, immediately following the Fort Hood shooting, CAIR asked Muslims to respond by donating to it. “We need financial help to meet these crises and push back against those who seek to score political points off the Muslim community in the wake of the Fort Hood tragedy,” the fundraising pitch read. To no one’s surprise, an anti-Muslim backlash did not ensue.

Cutting through the propaganda requires understanding the ways in which crimes are misrepresented as hate crimes — and why. There are two main culprits to consider: Muslims who stage fake hate crimes and Islamist organizations that seek to exploit them.

He goes on to examine why a Muslim “would fabricate a hate crime against himself or his mosque”.

In some cases, the faker has an obvious political goal of demonstrating the supposed prejudice against Muslims. A classic example occurred in 2008, when a 19-year-old female Muslim student named Safia Z. Jilani at Elmhurst College in Illinois claimed that she had been pistol-whipped in a campus restroom by a male who then wrote “Kill the Muslims” on the mirror. The alleged attack occurred just hours after she spoke at a “demonstration called to denounce the anti-Islamic slurs and swastika she had discovered … in her locker.” A week later, however, authorities determined that none of this had taken place and she was charged with filing a false police report. …

In other cases, individuals are driven to fabricate hate crimes not for political reasons, but to cover up more mundane criminal activity. Take the bizarre story of Musa and Essa Shteiwi, Ohio men who received media attention in 2006 after reporting several attacks on their store, the third being with a Molotov cocktail. A fourth “attack” then occurred, when an explosion was set off and badly burned the father and son, injuries from which they later died. CAIR highlighted it as a hate crime. However, investigators found that the two had set off the explosion themselves after they poured gasoline in preparation for another staged incident and one of them foolishly lit a cigarette. The pair had hired a former employee to carry out the previous attacks as part of an insurance fraud scheme.

Now let us turn to the motives of groups such as CAIR for exaggerating the prevalence of hate crimes against Muslims.

First and foremost, Islamists try to undermine and delegitimize their opponents by placing blame upon them for hate crimes. For example, a 2008 CAIR report attributes an alleged increase in hate crimes — “alleged” because the claimed increase is wholly contradicted by FBI statistics — to “Islamophobic rhetoric in the 2008 presidential election” and people who are “profiting by smearing Islam.” …

Islamist groups also use the fear created by their publicizing of alleged hate crimes and anti-Muslim sentiment to try to mobilize the community into opposing counterterrorism programs. As Daniel Pipes has noted, CAIR started down this path a decade and a half ago, when it described the prosecution of World Trade Center bomb plotter Omar Abdel Rahman and the arrest of Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook as hate crimes.

These groups … try to make the Muslim community feel as if it is threatened by its own government committing state-sanctioned hate crimes. True to form, attendees of the ISNA convention this past July were told how the FBI supposedly is targeting Muslims and advised that they should not talk to FBI personnel without a lawyer. …

CAIR and other Islamist groups thrive off of convincing Muslims that they are under constant assault from roving bigots and an oppressive state.

The Ann Arbor Chronicle gives another example of how CAIR exploits any incident it can to claim that an anti-Muslim hate crime has been committed. It reports:

Last September, the start of the Ann Arbor Public Schools academic year was marred by news of a fight described as an attack on an Arab-American girl.

An incident last year at Hollywood and North Maple in Ann Arbor was originally described by some as a hate crime against an Arab-American girl. Instead, the girl was charged with disorderly conduct, and recently found guilty by a jury.

The episode prompted a media blitz by the advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations and calls for investigations by state and federal civil rights agencies. … Ordinarily, the matter wouldn’t be of much interest beyond the families of the young people involved. But in this case, CAIR … had raised the profile and the volume:

Detroit and local news organizations covered the story of a potential hate crime. …

What investigators found was very different than that CAIR description. …

The report goes on to describe what had really happened. It was not a hate crime but a fight between two girls. The facts didn’t please CAIR at all. They would have preferred the Arab-American girl to have been the victim of an anti-Muslim mob, as they falsely alleged she was.

The same paper provides some useful information.

Michigan’s law on hate crime, or ethnic intimidation, dates to 1988. It adds to the penalty in cases where an offender is found to have committed a crime motivated in whole or in part by bias against a race or national origin, religion, sexual orientation, mental/physical disability or ethnicity.

The state regularly has one of the highest incidences of reported cases (726 in 2008 and 914 in 2007), perhaps due to reporting practices. …

In Washtenaw County, there were 38 reported hate or bias incidents in 2007 and 24 in 2008, the most recent years data is available. That’s one incident per every 9,149 county residents in 2007 and one in every 14,487 residents in 2008. Statewide, the incidences for those years were one per 10,904 and one per 13,732 residents, respectively. …

There was a single report of an anti-Islamic bias crime in Washtenaw County during those two years.

Countdown to war? 1

Why has Israel not yet taken action to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations?

Perhaps because it has to deal with a more immediately urgent threat nearer home.

According to this report and commentary, Iran’s proxies – Syria, Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza – are poised to launch another war against Israel:

Defense minister Ehud Barak’s snap nomination of OC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant as Israel’s 20th chief of staff was necessary  … to pull the high command together in view of the preparations to attack Israel gathering momentum

The general expectation of a US-Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear sites has therefore faded into the background of the threatening stance currently adopted by Tehran’s allies, Syria, Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Jerusalem is extremely concerned by the placing of four hostile military forces on the highest level of war preparedness in the last few days and are asking why. …

Syrian prime minister Naji al-Otari and Abbas Zaki, one of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ closest aides, have spoken of a “very imminent” Middle East war

There is no telling in the Middle East when an isolated incident may not deteriorate rapidly into a major conflict when the climate is as tense as it is at present. It came dangerously close on Aug. 3, when a Lebanese army sniper shot dead an Israeli colonel precipitating a heavy exchange of fire.

Lebanon is on tenterhooks over the nine Hizballah leaders the international court inquiring into the 2005 Hariri assassination plans to summon as suspected perpetrators of the crime. Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has given the Beirut government due notice that if his top people are surrendered to the tribunal, he will plunge the country in a civil conflict.

Hizballah, backed by Damascus, recently began accusing Israel of engineering the murder, so providing themselves with a neat pretext for going to war and avoiding facing the music.

Thursday, Aug. 19, all Syrian homeland defenses and emergency services were placed on the highest war readiness for an outbreak of hostilities without further notice.

We don’t doubt that all this is true. But our own view – admittedly from a distance – is that a devastating blow to Iran itself would stop the cat’s paw forces dead.

What else might be staying Israel’s hand against Iran? Bullying threats and orders from anti-Israel HQ, the White House?

Yes, we suspect that’s the answer. If we ‘re right, the danger of a widespread conflagration will intensify, and the pointless charade of “peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority’s powerless Abu Abbas, due to start September 2 on Obama’s insistence, can make not a jot of difference.

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