Wednesday, April 30, 2008

BBC Robber Barons

The spectre of medieval robber barons lives on in Great Britain, courtesy of the nefarious tax that UK residents must pay for the priviledge of living in the 21st century, the information toll known as a "TV Licence".

To earn the priviledge of watching television, listening to the radio, searching the internet, watching movies on DVD, you must pay the UK's feudal communications gatekeepers the annual fee of £139.50, or about $275.
The tolls are collected by TV Licensing, the " name used by companies contracted by the BBC to administer the collection of television licence fees and enforcement of the television licensing system."

They're an organization not entirely without heart; "If you are blind or severely sight impaired, you can apply for a 50% concession on the cost of your TV Licence."

While there are precious few public funds available to run the UK prison system effectively, there seems no shortage of funding for collecting the TV License tolls, resulting in 1,000 toll evaders being caught every single day:

At the heart of our operation is the TV Licensing database. This contains more than 29.5 million home, business and student addresses, telling us which of these have a TV Licence. All of our Enforcement Officers have access to this database and can check whether or not you have a licence. We also have a fleet of detector vans, which are capable of detecting the use of TV receiving equipment within 20 seconds, and many of our Enforcement Officers carry hand-held detection devices too.
As you watch your TV in the UK, your TV watches you. You are all In The Database:

[Hat tip to Flares Into Darkness]

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Paris Under Occupation" Photos: Evil Made Normal

Smiling, shopping, well-fed fashion-conscious Parisians look at us contentedly from out the past in a new exhibition of 250 wartime color photographs currently on display at the City Hall Library in Paris.

Originally framed by collaborationist photographer André Zucca for the nazi "Signal" periodical, the scenes have been re-framed once again by the gallery's organizers, as scarce historical context is provided for confused visitors to the exhibition.

France24 puts the controversy in perspective:
Under a clear blue sky in the summer of 1942, a smiling woman in sunglasses lounges in the Luxembourg Gardens. At outdoor cafes or in pleasantly illuminated interiors, life seems quite rosy in wartime Paris.These unedited images, taken by a 24/36 Leica, were taken between 1942 to 1945, the height of the German occupation. The absence of any explanation about the propaganda element in the exhibit is striking.

Most of the photos contrast sharply with the history books recalling the Vel d'hiver roundup and deportation in July 1942. Where are the snaking lines outside food stores? Where are the witnesses of the occupation? Rare are the photos where a yellow star sewn on coat lapels is seen on passers-by. This unexpected take on "German France" does not leave one indifferent.
Without questioning their beauty, the photos are disturbing. Even worse, the very title of the exhibit is rather shocking, due to its inaccuracy. Christophe Girard, the Parisian deputy mayor in charge of culture, is quite clear. "We should stop this exhibit!" Girard, an elected representative in the district where the photos are on display, was quoted saying to the French weekly newspaper, the Journal du Dimanche. "Frankly, it’s unbearable. All this disgusts me."

Girard saw the exhibit on its opening night in March. "I was so ill at ease that I had to leave the opening," he explains. "But if one had clearly explained that these were propaganda photos, the exhibit could have been very interesting."

The mayor's office now concedes that the exhibit lacked "pedagogical material" and is working to correct this. "We have added historical explanations which had been lacking," they added.Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë says the incident was "badly managed", and is trying to put things right. He preferred not to ban the exhibit to avoid accusations of censorship, but removed the posters advertising the show.

A sampling of the controversial photographs can be seen at the French 20 Minutes website.

What little historical context that is offered in the printed materials associated with the exhibition itself seems to be of questionable accuracy.

One example is provided by the French site Rue89 [my translation]:
As to the actions the photographer undertook following Liberation, [the exhibition's organizers] clearly try to minimize them: "Arrested in October 1944, he is quickly released and rejoins the 1st Army of General de Lattre de Tassigny. His dossier is filed away in 1945", one may read in the exposition.

In reality, [historian Jean-Pierre] Azema clarifies that [the photographer] was pursued and imprisoned for his collaboration with the occupiers and considered in 1945 worthy of being made the object of a trial of national indignity; he reacted to the situation by fleeing Paris and living near Dreux where he would long reside under a pseudonym. As to the expression "rejoined the 1st Army of General de Lattre de Tassigny", this seems to suggest a reconciliation that didn't [actually] take place.

Maybe the lack of forethought given to explaining the context for the photographs is a blessing in disguise. Coming face to face with such obvious lies, maybe the visitors can leave carrying a question as to just where the lies and mis-shaped information stops… does it end when they leave the exhibition, or are their minds regularly filled with mistaken beliefs by those who profess to be exhibiting the "truth"?

The French media sites are full of commenters complaining of bias and omission when it comes to how their media and their academics are reframing current events to suit the elites' agendas. Yet often these same commenters feel no hesitation to accept as Gospel Truth any slur against Israel or the United States which these same disreputable sources trumpet in their headlines. Is it really likely that one story, so close to home, could be so baldly transformed in the biased retelling, yet events taking place so far away are to be reported free of the same distorting bias..?

All personal communication has elements of persuasion within it, which infers manipulation through selection. When a photographer decides upon a subject they wish to frame as a focal point, they accompany that choice with a decision on what to exclude, what to leave out. Whether it's salutory holiday snapshots of family crowded around the dinner table, or stoic Parisians holding up under Nazi occupation, there is inclusion and omission, a selection process taking place.

“The camera doesn’t lie”, but the photographer sure can.

Maybe the experience of this photographic exposition can contribute to French visitors thinking a second time about what they have been told about the world around them...

... and what is being left out of the picture.

Monday, April 28, 2008

More Human Rights Commission Lawsuits

SteynOnline - Serener than thou tries humorously to clarify the ever expanding picture for those suffering info overload. But for those fighting these suits, wondering if we can any longer afford free speech, it can't be a great day. Help them out if you can.

Also, on the HRC front, Jay Currie has some interesting thoughts on Warren Kinsella whom I didn't know was a fan of Lenin.
The idea of a secret police - a Cheka - charged with examining the purity of Canadians’ thoughts would be anathema to most Canadians; but not to an avowed admirer of the inventor of the Cheka.

Young Belgian Criminals Freed Because Prisons Are Full

Belgian juvenile detention centers are so full the police are being forced to regularly release teenage criminals soon after they are arrested, the Belgian papers report today, after 15 young thugs were released over the weekend, no matter the severity of their crimes.

My partial translation of the account carried by the major French Belgian paper Le Soir:

The public prosecutor of Brussels had to release no less than 15 minors (9 Saturday and 6 on Sunday), over the weekend, due to lack of space in detention centers. It is a "dramatic" situation, according to Brussels' francophone magistrate.

"Some cases are sufficiently serious that they require a place in detention centers", the prosecutor's spokesperson said. "But if we cannot find a solution to the placement within 24 hours, we are obligated to let them go. It's a recurring problem, but it is once again painfully illustrated this weekend.
There is no room anywhere: not at Everberg, nor at Fraipont, nor at Braine-le-Château. It's really dramatic and it's a serious problem that the French community needs to address urgently.
The latest serious act was committed Saturday night. A 16-year old youth grabbed a 79-year old's purse in Rhode-Saint-Genèse. In falling, she fractured her writst, her shoulder and her hip. The pursesnatcher, well known to police, was arrested and put in custody.

After his preliminary hearing by the judge, he was seemingly freed.
Two other juvenile delinquents were released last week, shortly after being arrested for having dropped a block of concrete from an overpass, onto the driver's compartment of a passing truck. Translated from the Belgian media source 7Sur7:

The two 14-year old adolescents who had thrown a concrete block weighing 30 kg [approx 60 pounds] from the top of the E411 bridge at Vedrin (in Namur), onto the windshield of a truck that was driving along the autoroute, were freed Thursday due to lack of space in detention centers.
By a miracle, the driver of the 18-wheeler was not injured.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Of experts and those who know at least something.

I was looking at for Pierre Prudhon on The Poverty of Philosophy, and for John Dewey, Democracy And Education, for the sake of further pieces at this blog. I found Marx's polemic against Prudhon and a couple of reviews of it, one of which is below. And -- what? -- one review twice on Dewey with two different ratings on the review. God help us.

The two reviews at on Marx's polemic against Pierre Prudhon are both positive. This is the better of the two:

5.0 out of 5 stars marx is mind expanding, June 6, 2001
By bastiat von mises (century city CA) - See all my reviews
Marxs book here shows you how the distribution of wealth yes why some now 060601, have 145,000,000 in net worth at top of company and a worker in company has 43,000 dollars, is a human political construction. Nothing that exists is law of physics unalterable reality. He shows how this distribution is stupid, and how a more equal distribution and democratic economy can do much better than now. He says this in angery word webs. It is a fun book that get sone thinking. You will have intellectual, fun, a rare form of fun these days.

What more can I write? I'm blown away.

There's this to perk us up:

John Dewey, Democracy And Education

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

3.0 out of 5 stars This is a Good Book with lots of great ideas!, November 4, 1999

By A Customer

I am a college student majoring in education and I read Democracy and Education for a class. I found this book to be very incitful. I find it hard to believe that John Dewey one of the most important philosophers recognized problems at the beginning of the century and we still have them today. One of Deweys ideas state that we learn by doing, this is still not a norm in todays curriculum. I thought this book was excellent but in parts found it difficult to either read or understand.

And then directly below:

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful:

3.0 out of 5 stars This is a Good Book with lots of great ideas!, November 4, 1999

By A Customer

I am a college student majoring in education and I read Democracy and Education for a class. I found this book to be very incitful. I find it hard to believe that John Dewey one of the most important philosophers recognized problems at the beginning of the century and we still have them today. One of Deweys ideas state that we learn by doing, this is still not a norm in todays curriculum. I thought this book was excellent but in parts found it difficult to either read or understand.

I'm a sloppy typist and a lazy proofreader, but I'm not a school teacher here. Nor do I have all the answer to them questions what perplexus us, duh. I do have my concerns for the future, the one I hope to have in luxury when the youth of the nation are paying my retirement benefits while I goof-off on the beach in the tropics. But it's looking like poorly to me. Worse is that many young people don't seem to understand that they don't understand; and worse still, many people far older than I are every bit as ignorant and arrogant as youths, if not more so. And they are often more so. Thus, one can rely on the democracy of our favorite system to pull us through, or we can improvise and use what intelligence and skill and nerve we have to save ourselves and perhaps a few others on Earth as well. That takes personal initiative and volition in the mind, as attitude. One must become a school teacher even though one knows little, perhaps only more. Someone will lead; and if we do not, others will. And now others do. See above.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cushy UK Prisons: Europe's New "No-Go Zones"?

Breakfast in bed, tv, cash perks for good behavior... the age of Newgate Prison is definitely over. I wonder what Elizabeth Fry would think?

If "life in British prisons is so comfortable that inmates have given up trying to escape", as the British media reports today, then that is scandal enough, but if the prisons are so understaffed that sections of them are now "no-go zones" for police, surely that is the far more troublesome revelation.

Yet, it is passed over like a pebble at the bottom of the Thames.

Was it just hyperbole on Glyn Travis' part, or have the good people of Great Britain become so shell-shocked by their collapsing country that they can only handle one nightmare at a time..?

(Video of the story here):

"We have got no-go areas in certain prisons because prisoners have got complete control. There is not sufficient staff, there is no interaction between staff," [Glyn Travis, assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers' Association] told BBC radio.

"We have got a serious crisis in our prisons today, but unfortunately prisons are not a vote-winner, so we are a soft target for the government to force its fiscal policy on public servants." Travis said intruders had entered the low-security Everthorpe jail in Yorkshire, northern England, by scaling a wall using ladders and he said cases had been uncovered of prostitutes entering open prison to service inmates.
"These were prisoners who have a history of escaping from lawful custody, and the prisoners did not take the opportunity or plan to escape because, we believe, life is so cushy in the prison system," he said.
Travis blamed the problems in jails on chronic under-staffing. "We have got a massive shortfall of staff. We are 1,000 prison officers short across the country.
"There is a serious recruitment problem," he said.

Sky News adds some details from Mr. Travis' account, suggesting that UK prisons may not be "no-go zones" as far as fellow criminals are concerned:

"Members of the public were climbing over the prison wall to take drugs into prison," he said.

"They had a ladder on the opposite side of the wall and prisoners were so comfortable in the environment they were living in, that none of the prisoners tried to climb up the ladder and escape.

"Now, to me that says there's something wrong in society when people are breaking into prisons to bring drugs and prostitutes, and the prisoners are quite happy to stay in our prisons."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Remembering The Armenian Genocide

April 24th is the Armenian Genocide Day of Remembrance.

This year the occasion seems to be passing without much notice, compared to storms that have accompanied the event in recent times.

Sadly, one detail remains constant: the battle over words continues, as once again President Bush's annual statement dances around what the Day of Remembrance is remembering: genocide.

On this day of remembrance, we honor the memory of the victims of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, the mass killings and forced exile of as many as 1.5 million Armenians at the end of the Ottoman Empire. I join the Armenian community in America and around the world in commemorating this tragedy and mourning the loss of so many innocent lives.
As we reflect on this epic human tragedy, we must resolve to redouble our efforts to promote peace, tolerance, and respect for the dignity of human life. The Armenian people's unalterable determination to triumph over tragedy and flourish is a testament to their strength of character and spirit. We are grateful for the many contributions Americans of Armenian heritage have made to our Nation.
We welcome the efforts by individuals in Armenia and Turkey to foster reconciliation and peace, and support joint efforts for an open examination of the past in search of a shared understanding of these tragic events. We look forward to the realization of a fully normalized Armenia-Turkey relationship.
The United States is committed to a strong relationship with Armenia based on shared values. We call on the Government of Armenia to take decisive steps to promote democracy, and will continue our support for Armenia to this end. We remain committed to serving as an honest broker in pursuit of a lasting and peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
On this solemn day of remembrance, Laura and I express our deepest condolences to Armenian people around the world.
It may well be another 93 years before the lesser evils of global realpolitik subside sufficiently for the US Congress to finally pass its Armenian Genocide Resolution. This year, Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) has written an open letter to Congress asking that they officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.

“...As a State Senator, with the help of Governor George Deukmejian, I authored the first resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide, which passed the California Legislature.

In Congress, George Radanovich, Jim Rogan and myself, along with bipartisan support, were able to successfully pass the first Armenian Genocide Resolution through the foreign affairs committee. Later, Adam Schiff, with the support of myself and others, was able to do the same. But, regardless of whether the President was Bill Clinton or George Bush, and whether the Speaker was Dennis Hastert or Nancy Pelosi, the impact of the Government of Turkey’s protests has had the same effect. The Genocide Resolution, which we have passed through the Foreign Affairs Committee, has consistently been checkmated by the Government of Turkey. The reason the Government of Turkey can’t be allowed to halt passage of this resolution is because of the gravity of the subject of genocide.

On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman Empire set out on a campaign to exterminate the Armenian people. Between 1915 and 1923, the numbers were horrific. One and a
half million Armenians were murdered and 500,000 deported from their homelands. At the end of these eight years, the Armenian population of Anatolia and Western Armenia was virtually eliminated, becoming one of the 20th Century’s darkest chapters.

While acknowledging the role played by the Ottoman Empire in killing Armenians, some have laid doubt to the claim of genocide, citing the subsequent deportation of the survivors as merely a movement of a people from one land to another. Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913-1916, saw it much differently. In his memoirs, Morgenthau recalls that the Turks, "never had the slightest idea of reestablishing the Armenians in (a) new country" knowing that "the great majority of those would...either die of thirst and starvation, or be murdered by the wild Mohammedan desert tribes."

I recall Morgenthau’s words here because he saw first hand the atrocities wrought on the Armenians, and he had been told by Turks that they understood quite well that they had handed down a death sentence to the Armenian people. The Turks not only knew of what they were doing, but spoke quite freely of it. Eighty years later, however, many are still unwilling to recognize the killing for what it was: genocide.
However, it is no less important today to recognize the Armenian genocide for what it is. The deafening silence that came in its wake set the stage for a century that saw genocides occur in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
To the critics who say that we should not dwell on history, I say it’s much harder to get tomorrow right if we get yesterday wrong. The world’s strength to oppose killing today is made greater by accountability, for actions present, but also past. It’s weakened by denial of accountability of past acts. Not recognizing the Armenian genocide, as such, does just that.

"People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them."
___James Baldwin

Godspeed to Armenians on this day, as they remember their history. May your memory help us get tomorrow right.

We'll always have Paris... a place in Casablanca....

It's becoming increasingly difficult to speak freely and openly in pubic in the free and democratic Western world in these past years, and oddly, especially since 9/11.

One might have thought that after such a vicious attack on the modern world the ideologists who perpetrated such an attack would be sought out and dealt with harshly and permanently. Not so. On the contrary, it is people who speak out against the savagery of the ideologies of contemporary fascism who find themselves hounded, threatened, even murdered in the streets of Europe or America and beyond. Nor is this outrageous behaviour restricted to Muslims on a rampage against the world. Far from it. Many of the worst offenders against the right of free speech are our political leaders, such as the Dutch prime minister, for example, and many of our intelligentsia generally, media, university professors, penny-a-pick pundits, and so on. Yes, many of the churches are in on the act of preventing free and open discourse regarding Islam and the nature of our Western Modernities under attack. Muslim jihadis and Left dhimmi fascists. There seems to be no end.

Ah, but there is. Daily there are converts and the courageous who stand up and count themselves as democrats and free men and women who will sit in fear no longer. If you are one such and if you're not working over-time to pay for an impossible defense against a lawsuit brought against you by Richard Warman, Warren Kinsella et al, you might wish to sit with us as you take a stand for freedom and the preservation of democracy.

We'll be waiting for you at the Vancouver Public Library in the atrium outside Blenz coffee bar from 7-9:00 p.m this Thursday, like every Thursday. Come talk with us while it's still legal, more or less.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

350 French Police Seal Off Seine-Saint-Denis In Raid

Another excursion into enemy territory for the French forces of law and order this week, as 350 French police descended on the sensitive zone of Saine-Saint-Denis to smash a ring of drug dealers.

This follows similar raids last month, in comparable company-strength.
The story was carried by several French media sources, with little variation in the details provided. I've translated this account from Yahoo France:
A vast police operation was conducted Wednesday night in the neighborhood of Beaudottes a Sevran (Seine-Saint-Denis) against drug traffickers, leading to the arrest of four people.
Three hundred and fifty police officers were deployed to seal off this neighborhood considered, according to a report from General Intelligence, as a hub for drug trafficking, especially cannabis.

François Molins, the district attorney for the Republique de Bobigny, specified on France Info that house searches had taken place "in 12 apartments that were squatted in for the last several weeks, if not months, and were targeted as possible stockpiling areas for drugs."

"The result, is four persons arrested for infractions related to drugs", he said. The scale of the operation justified itself notably "from the need to exploit information that was in our possession from various court proceedings", he underlined, observing that no "regrettable" incidents took place during the arrests.
The size of the police forces enlisted for the raid no longer seems to raise gallic eyebrows, considering the wartime conditions under which the police operate. There have been sufficient precedents, such as the incidents in Courcouronne and Grande-Borne, to warrant taking extra precautions when organizing their raid; for all the police knew, they would have needed every single one of those troops, in order for all of them to escape with their lives.
The attacks on police are no longer as newsworthy as they used to be; like vandalism and petty theft, the youths' war on police is relegated to ho-hum backpage filler. Like this short piece from Monday's Le Figaro newspaper:
Two police from the anti-criminality Brigade (BAC) were wounded from blows from iron bars and a third by a hail of stones, in the sensitive neighborhood of Toulouse, it was learned from police sources.
The police and fire-fighter unions regularly reveal an increase in the force of the violence which they meet during their interventions in several Toulousian suburbs.
A car struck a pedestrian crossing the street, a cat got stuck up a tree, police were attacked by thugs wielding iron bars... it's shocking to see such horror reduced to the mere banal. But then...

C'est La Guerre....

[Thanks to one of my favorite French blogs, the inspiring Le Salon Beige, for the Figaro story]

Islamic Reform?

Maybe when "Cairo-Mecca-Qom I" is a household name?

Rehmat: Jew or Muslim?

Weird things are afoot in the blogosphere.

First, Jay Currie announces he is filing a complain against Rehmat with the Human Rights Commission, for Rehmat's antisemitic rants.

Second, as Catfur notes, a post briefly appears on Rehmat's blog, announcing his conversion to Judaism. It's then taken down.

No doubt some holy struggles are going on somewhere somehow. Mysterious ways...

This can't be...surely

Pull down your ear, insert wireless piece, turn on, tune out...
U.S. telecommunications giant AT&T has claimed that, without investment, the Internet's current network architecture will reach the limits of its capacity by 2010.

Speaking at a Westminster eForum on Web 2.0 this week in London, Jim Cicconi, vice president of legislative affairs for AT&T, warned that the current systems that constitute the Internet will not be able to cope with the increasing amounts of video and user-generated content being uploaded.

"The surge in online content is at the center of the most dramatic changes affecting the Internet today," he said. "In three years' time, 20 typical households will generate more traffic than the entire Internet today."
Man, surely that's a pretty radical picture of the High Definition Life lived in some intense virtual reality... but still, there's only 24 hours in a day!

But Cicconi has at least one useful reminder for those on the other side of the blogosphere who spend their days ranting agains the system:
The AT&T executive pointed out that the Internet exists, thanks to the infrastructure provided by a group of mostly private companies. "There is nothing magic or ethereal about the Internet--it is no more ethereal than the highway system. It is not created by an act of God, but upgraded and maintained by private investors," he said.
Hopefully, we will all learn to appreciate the opportunities that private risk taking creates for all of us, and with no guarantee of a return on investment. Meanwhile, in the leftist camp, where the BBC is funded by a mandatory and hefty tax on every British television set, and thus financed to send its stateist-multiculturalist/imperialist anti-nation, anti-English/American/Israel views around the world, the pseudo-aristocratic assumption of a right to a free ride continues:
The BBC has come under fire from service providers such as Tiscali, which claim that its iPlayer online-TV service is becoming a major drain on network bandwidth.

In a recent posting on his BBC blog, Ashley Highfield, the corporation's director of future media and technology, defended the iPlayer: "I would not suggest that ISPs start to try and charge content providers. They are already charging their customers for broadband to receive any content they want."

Today only: Mark Steyn fundraiser for the Freedom Five

For those of you interested in picking up some Mark Steyn memorabilia (to remember the era when his writing was still legal in this country), now's your chance to do so and send all profits from the sale to support the Freedom five:
50 per cent of the purchase price of America Alone - that's to say, our entire profit - will be donated to the legal defense fund for Ezra and co. That's 50 per cent of the purchase price of America Alone not just in the new paperback edition, but also of the hardback, the CD, the audio cassette and the MP3 version. Better yet, we'll also pass on to our Internet comrades 50 per cent of the purchase price of the America Alone Anniversary Special: you'll get America Alone plus The Face Of The Tiger and the Viva Steyn! T-shirt at one low price, and Ezra, Kate, Kathy and Free Dominion will get half the proceeds.

We're doing this because Ezra and co are fighting to keep America Alone available to Canadian readers, so the fate of my book and the Freedom Five are already yoked together. But Warman Wednesday doesn't stop there: We'll also donate 50 per cent of the proceeds from all the other books we sell today, even Broadway Babies Say Goodnight, which even the Ontario Human Rights Commission has yet to find "flagrantly Islamophobic". And we'll chip in 50 per cent of the proceeds from our T-shirt and mug sales and all the rest. Whatever you buy between now and midnight, half the price goes to keep dissident opinion in the deranged Dominion from being put out of business by the Pieman and his legal muscle. Take a look around, see what tickles your fancy, and do your bit for free speech in a country which could use a lot more of it.
See also. And Ezra Levant provides links to the individual defense funds of the freedom five.

In the words of the Liberty in Canada website:
Canada used to be a free country, perhaps the freest in the world. There is a Canadian tradition of individual liberty which now seems generally ignored. Our traditional liberties have been gradually eroded up to the point where scarcely a day passes without news stories reminding us that what was allowed a few decades ago, sometimes only a few years ago, is now regulated if not criminally prohibited. This is true as much of so-called “social” liberties as it is of economic freedoms.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Paris Honors Dalai Lama And Jailed Chinese Human Rights Activist

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy probably won't be awarding Parisian socialists with a Gold Medal for timing this week, as the mayor of Paris takes a surprising stand for human rights by naming the Dalai Lama, and jailed Chinese activist Hu Jia, both Honorary Citizens of the City of Lights:

Yahoo France provides the details (my translation):

On Monday, Paris officials made the Dalai Lama and the Chinese dissident Hu Jia "honorary citizens" of the City of Paris, at the risk of inflaming relations between France and China, which have been strained by the fiasco of the passing of the Olympic torch through the French capital.
The vow of the mayoralty concerning the Dalai Lama was adopted “unanimously but with many abstentions from the vote”, said socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoe.
The 72 socialists voted in favor… The 54 UMP officials did not take part in the vote…

[Note: the UMP is President Sarkozy’s party]

Bertrand Delanoe confirmed during the debates that "helping the dialog is one of the duties of the City of Paris" and made known that the "spiritual commitment" of the Dalai Lama was "to [the mayor's] point of view, secondary in relation to the future of the Tibetan people."

"I am secular. I have not become Buddhist", the mayor explained. ...

[Photo from the Dalai Lama's 2003 visit to Paris, seen here accompanied by mayor Delanoe]

I wasn't familiar with Hu Jia, the particular activist that Paris' Green Party nominated to share the honorary status granted to the Dalai Lama.

According to Amnesty International, Hu's case makes "a mockery of promises made by Chinese officials that human rights would improve in the run-up to the Olympics.”

Hu started his activism as an AIDS activist in 2001. He is the co-founder of the Beijing Aizhixing Institute of Health Education and of Loving Source, a grassroots organization dedicated to helping children from AIDS families.


Prior to his formal detention, Hu Jia had publicly expressed concerns over human rights abuses by police in Beijing, including the arrest of activists without the necessary legal procedures. This included the case of land rights activist Yang Chunlin and human rights defender Lu Gengsong, both also detained on subversion charges.

While detained, Hu has been subjected to 47 lengthy and repeated interrogations. He was denied access to his lawyer, members of his family and medical treatment, including necessary daily medication for liver disease resulting from a Hepatitis B infection. His wife, Zeng Jinyan, is still under house arrest with their newborn baby....

Amnesty International chronicles many more stories like Hu's, in their comprehensive report What human rights legacy for the Beijing Olympics?

China is a little upset by the Paris councillors' decision. Their reaction, according to the report from Le Figaro (my translation):

"This decision is a coarse interference in Chinese interior affairs, seriously damaging to French-Chinese relations", declared Jiang Yu, spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, reminding France also to "take concrete measures to safeguard these bilateral relations". For Chinese authorities, the Council of Paris' decision "will now encourage the arrogance of the Dalai Lama and his pro-independance Tibetan partisans."
Monday, before the vote, the Paris councillors had received a message on letterhead from the Chinese Ambassador in France, to dissuade them from making the Dalai Lama an "honorary citizen" of the French capital...

Pierre Schapira, one of the mayor's deputies who had knowledge of the Chinese message, explained that the letter's author warned the Paris councillors in "extremely violent" terms, explaining that in distinguishing the Dalai Lama, they were "worsening the situation in Tibet".

"I was scandalized by this ultimatum. I had never seen an ambassador who put pressure on elected officials in this manner", Pierre Schapira declared.

The communique, however, did not mention Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia. ...

Did the Chinese Ambassadorial mission to France influence recalcitrant Parisian city councillors with their bull-in-a-China-shop approach to diplomacy?

UPDATE: I see that vigilant France-watcher Tiberge at GalliaWatch also a post on this story, with a more detailed account of the breakdown of votes, including the curious fact that Paris' eight Communist officials abstained from voting...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Why are all the creative people against the HRC?

If you feel your outrage at the Canadian Human Rights Commission is dying for a heavy metal interpretation, don't miss The London Fog: Human Rights Rock: The Unprotected Group: It Ain't Paranoid If... (MP3)(HT: Catfur)

It takes a village (because an entire country wouldn't stand for it...)

Edward Michael George: The Ministry of Love:
Of all the revelations to have come out of the MacLean's/Steyn/ Levant business, I find this to be the most horrifying by far.
...Well, that's the kind of effect it seems Barbara "human rights commissioner" Hall is having on all kinds of people. The photo of Hall accompanying the National Post story quoting her vile mission statement, was alone enough to set off a spike in passport applications, and inflate real estate prices in the free state of Arkansas by four percent, or so speculates a friend in the know.

But John Pacheco has a contender in the most horrifying revelation contest. After all, Hall is but a provincial boob/exorcist, in the manner of the true Toronto, the once aptly labelled "Belfast of Canada". Hall all too blatantly takes it upon herself to save the country from our racial and religious evils, and she blows extravagantly public about her heroic work. If she had her way, I dare say she'd ban the Loyal Orange Association and the Catholic church. I know it all sounds archaic, of things belonging in another era, but that's our point. Too much publicity will sink this racist ship.

Yet the true banality of evil, so banal and once hidden in bureaucratic backwaters that we're hesitant to remark, lest appearances deceive our somewhat innocent minds, not sure if the damning loss of governmental integrity, well displayed elsewhere amidst this unfolding "human rights" travesty, this historical shame on Canadian public life, is really all there in the strings of evidence Pacheco weaves together . The evidence is quite suggestive, but in need of proper questioning by a duly established commission of investigation, with subpoena powers. Nonetheless, I fear the shagginess of our "human rights" emperor's dress is clarified by Ezra Levant's re-presentation of the evidence.

It is now for Canadians to decide the hue of the shag. To this end, I commend your attention to Mark Steyn's fundraiser for the Freedom Five. Only in courts of law, with all sides duly lawyered, might our need for greater truth be served. God knows our politicians have so far proven largely too cowardly to stand up and openly investigate the "human rights" empire, this string of Potemkin villages standing in for a lost but yet salvageable civilization.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Whose story is this anyway?

There's a little something for everyone in the latest FrontPage Magazine debate on the possibility of reforming Islam, except perhaps for the hard core ritualists of Islam.

While interesting in parts, the discussion doesn't really get anywhere much; but how could any such discussion? If a reformed Islam were possible, it certainly couldn't be anticipated in any serious way in advance. No doubt the safer and stronger arguments, at present, are with those who doubt any great change is possible, than with those yet rather lonely entrepreneurs coming up with their own particular schemes for a new Koran.

But all of this is somehow besides the point, as I see it. It's not for us to ask Muslims whether they can change their political-religious ideology so that it is not such a threat to those of us who get labeled evil kafirs, or worse, by nasty Islamic preachers. No, it is for us to advance the main story, to shape the global conflict according to the demands of our shared modernity, liberal democracy, and personal freedom. It is for us to insist that only those beliefs (and in their proper place or reasonable limits there are many) which are conducive to maintaining the security of a now global human economic community be seriously valued. But this is much more a process of eliminating the publicly unacceptable (e.g. the resentful labeling of people as "kafirs"; or the "politically-correct" leftist denunciation of those who rightly deny a public political role for old-world tribalists and their anachronistic resentments) than trying to predict the full range of what in future will be acceptable to those defending modernity and human freedom.

It is for us to realize what kinds of lived values are necessary to maintaining the global market system (and also sovereign nations), on which the stomachs and reasonable dreams of humanity, in the now deeply interconnected world from which we cannot withdraw (without condemning billions), depend. And once we show the knowledge, will and ability to embody and defend certain values, then we will let those who still see themselves as resentful outsiders, not (yet) satisfactorily initiated into modernity, to decide whether they are going to be the hunted or easily ignored enemies of those within the system, or willing participants in modernity, living up to the obligation to respect and defend the minimal conditions for sharing in our global humanity. There certainly can be no tolerance for those who declare their political-religion to be inherently opposed to modernity and freedom, unless such people are of some marginal cult of consequence only (or largely) to its members.

Only when we consider the speculative question "can Islam change?" of less interest than "how do we embody and defend modernity?" will we know what Muslims, as followers of Islam, can and cannot do in order to adapt to a world in which it is not acceptable to pronounce a jihad against the free individual, no matter what scapegoats one holds up as the "root cause" of terrorism against the freer and leading nations of the world.

See also: Ali Eteraz on Tarek Fatah on why Mohammed didn't conceive a specifically Islamic state.

Chinese Anti-French Protest In Paris

5,000 Chinese assembled outside the Place de la Republique in Paris to do something they would find much more challenging to do at home: to engage in full-throated protest against the ruling government of the nation they are living within.

The account carried by the website of Paris city paper LeParisien reports that the protestors were especially negative towards the organization "Reporters Without Borders" and its president, Robert Ménard, accusing French journalists of "racism without borders" and "mental terrorism".

Thierry Liu, spokesman for the protestors, explains its objectives in this video interview recorded by the city newspaper Le Parisien [my translation]:

The origin of this protest is very complicated. A group of students, and former students in Paris, who had the initiative to write to the President of the Republic, so far there have been several thousand people who have signed this letter. An open letter. It is not a petition, because the idea is not to say that we are right, but rather to promote understanding between the two peoples.
A boycott is a wall that they are in the process of building. Meanwhile the media, they have played a very negative role in this affair. You speak in France with grand words, like "democracy", "human rights", without understanding what is happening in China, in terms of rights, without knowing that in China we are in the process of trying to build a state of rights. Democracy, human rights... it's true, these are values dear to all, the chinese are not dumb, they also want rights, they also want liberty. The objective is to invite the peoples of the world, including the French, to the Olympic games in Beijing, because the Olympic Games are not only chinese games, they are the games of the world. The Chinese have worked for years, to prepare for these games...

Later in the video a second interview is offered, this time with a French sympathizer to the Chinese students' position [my translation]:

For myself, I feel that politics have nothing to do with the Olympic Games, that is, with sports in general. Each country has its Achilles Heel, France, Belgium, everyone... even the United States...

Strictly speaking, sports have nothing to do with anything except athletic competition. But the Olympic Games.... well, they were supposed to be different.

From the official site of the Olympic Movement, we can read the Olympic Charter, and the first two of the six Fundamental principles of Olympism:
Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.

The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.
In what way does China respect universal fundamental ethical values, when children under the age of 18 may not legally attend any church? How concerned is China with the preservation of human dignity, when they arrest Christians like 42-year old Li Mei, for such "crimes" as singing hymns and praying for the disabled? Li Mei and 9 other church leaders were sentenced to re-education through labor for 12 to 18 months... repeated beatings and torture caused her to require a hysterectomy.

Instead of helping the cause of human rights in China, the imminent Beijing Olympics seem to be causing the exact opposite result, as the communist party cracks down on potential visible contradictions to the state-defined image of "brotherhood" the government wishes to present to the eyes of the world.

The spokesman at the anti-French rally in Paris lectures us on how "China is building a state of rights", and that we don't know what we're talking about when we speak of human rights abuses in China.

I think he's living in a state of denial... of Olympian proportions.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Anti-French Protests In China

Two views on Chinese youths' protesting recent French youth protests against China.

From Reuters:
Dozens of young Chinese, angry at disruption of the Olympic torch relay in Paris, protested outside a Carrefour branch in east China on Friday, setting fire to a French flag, waving banners and shouting slogans, local media said.
Local media photos showed the protesters holding up banners that read "Boycott France, Support the Olympics" and "Oppose Tibet independence, Love the motherland."
My translation of the account carried by the French online version of the Belgian newspaper 7Sur7:

Anti-French protests erupted Saturday in four Chinese cities, targeting the Carrefour franchise, to protest against France's attitude on Tibet and the Olympic games. ...

The largest gathering took place in Wuhan, an industrial city in central China, of eight million people, according to police and witnesses. Hundreds of Chinese, up to thousands, marched in front of Carrefour stores. The protestors began by assembling before a first store before heading to other neighborhoods, added the same source. "There were several hundred protestors, calm, a majority of them youths, they didn't hang around for long, they carried Chinese flags", said another witness over the phone. According to police, there were 300 people at first, then the procession quickly fleshed itself out. An informed source, quoting police, said that the protest had attracted 10,000 people by noon, a number that AFP could not independantly confirm. According to this source, the protestors were "very well organized"....

["Joan of Arc = Prostitute" "Napoleon = Pervert" "France = Nazi" "Free Corsica" ]

Protestors carried a French flag defiled with swastikas and calling Joan of Arc a "prostitute". Police in Wuhan did not wish to comment.

The online account carried by France's main newspaper, Le Figaro, has gathered over 190 comments as I write this. Scanning through the comments, there seem to be a significant number expressing sympathy... with the Chinese protestors!

A translated sampling of remaks:

realityman, 19/04/2008 12:32

in china, we are more free than is thought except when it's against the power in charge or against the interest of the country.... Generally, educated people are very well informed by chinese media and foreign media (the Le Monde, Figaro, cnn etc websites are all accessible and are not censored. For that matter all sites are accessible with a proxy) the people read a lot of different sources of information. On the other hand in france, ideas against chinese and calling them all kinds of names are permitted. Which goes to show, democracy is a good thing only if the public is well informed. This is far from being the case in france... disturbing.

taoguy, 19/04/2008 12:04

I'm ashamed of being french. i saw our athletes insulted by the french. On the olympic flame's journey through France, it was the chinese in France that applauded the french athletes. We have no lesson to give to the chinese. Our values are not universal. France is a racist and selfish nation. I invite all those who speak without knowledge to study the history of China and Tibet. Insulting China serves no purpose, what is needed is to work with China, welcome chinese to France, send students to study in China...

sam, 19/04/2008 15:35

it builds, it builds and then it bursts... I only hope that it won't be us, we french in china, who'll suffer the consequences from the irresponsabily of some long distance defenders of certain values that they themselves refuse to apply... for the moment, working only with chinese, I feel no antipathy... the next time, before acting, think about the consequences and put your misplaced pride elsewhere, especially when you haven't mastered the subject... and that the subject barely concerns you.

Friday, April 18, 2008

French School Violence: Mother Assaults Teacher

You know it's a tough neighborhood when the students' mothers come to school and start beating up on the teachers.

My translation of the story as it appeared in the online version of the French paper Le Dauphine:

Assault in Gironde: hit by student's mother

Originally, [the teacher] wanted to explain to the mother that her child had insulted her. As things turned out, this female teacher from Georges-Leygues, in Pessac (Gironde) was assaulted by the mom.

The incident took place Tuesday after the end of classes. The teacher had first invited the student's parent to enter [the school], but the mother stopped in the courtyard. "She started to insult her, then physically attacked her" with her fists, according to the principal. The result: a broken rib. In a state of shock, she was held for observation until Wednesday, the beginning of the holidays. The Republic's prosecutor explained yesterday that "the suspect admitted her involvement but gave a different version than that of the accuser."

The instructor, in her forties, pressed charges. The principal added that she herself had already brought compaints [against the parent] for violence, threats and insults from encounters with the mother a year ago.

Sharia yes; Jerusalem, no.

Those looking at the banner at No Dhimmitude will see I like William Blake, as an illustrator and also as a poet. Many do. But that don't much matter in this day and age in Britain. Blake is too nationalistic and he discriminates against city dwellers. Enough of him, then. Ban the bastard from church.

By Hannah Strange

It is one of the nation's best loved hymns and a favourite of Gordon Brown's. But William Blake's "Jerusalem" will no longer ring from the spires of Southwark Cathedral after it was banned by the church's dean on the grounds that it was unchristian and too nationalistic.

Regarded by many as a paean to Englishness, it has over the centuries become an unofficial national anthem, sung at the last night of the Proms and by England rugby and cricket fans. It is such a favourite of the Women's Institute that a recent BBC drama based on the group was titled "Jam and Jerusalem."

But the Very Reverend Colin Slee believes it is not "to the glory of God" and as such should not be sung by choirs or congregations at the South Bank cathedral, one of Britain's foremost churches.


"The Dean of Southwark does not believe that it is to the glory of God and it is not therefore used in private memorial services."

The words of the hymn are a poem by William Blake, which starts: "And did those feet in ancient time/ Walk upon England's mountains green?"

The verses, written in 1804 as a preface to Blake's epic poem "Milton", are said to be based on a legend that Jesus Christ came to England as a young boy and visited the Somerset town of Glastonbury. It is linked to a section in the Book of Revelation describing a Second Coming in which Jesus establishes a new Jerusalem.

The idea of Jerusalem is often used as a metaphor for Heaven by the Christian Church, particularly the Church of England. Though interpretations of the poem differ, it is often seen as suggesting that Jesus briefly created heaven in England and that we should strive to re-establish this once more. The reference to "dark Satanic mills" is usually thought to allude to the early industrial revolution and the damage it wreaked on nature and the poorest sections of society.

The words were set to music by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916, as an anthem for the suffragettes' movement.

It is not the first time the hymn has been deemed unchristian by the clergy.

In 2001 it was banned from a Manchester wedding ceremony because the vicar thought it overly nationalistic and inappropriate to the occasion.

Meanwhile the parish church of Parliament, St Margaret's in Westminster, has excluded it from services in the past on the grounds that the "dark satanic mills" discriminated against city-dwellers.

For much of the 1990s it was banned by St Paul's Cathedral but the church has now relented.


I think this would be a directive from the same Church of England that recently announced the inevitaility of sharia in Britain and the need for British accommodation with it. Fine that, but none of that Blake.

For Blake's poem and a lovely backdrop by Bruegel, click HERE.

Jay Currie does it again

This stuff writes itself. If Jay Currie keeps launching these complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, they may come to the conclusion that he is making fun of them. And in the process, they may also come to the correct conclusion that they too are an identifiable religious group, practicing the human rights world view, and thus to be protected from the potentially communicated contempt of the Curries of this world, under the Canadian Human Rights Act. At that point, Jay could be in the box... But Jay, with his motto "one damn thing leads to another", is surely himself some kind of identifiably religious person, whom we must protect from contempt, even state contempt, as such...

Jay even admits that he is operating from faith:
Some people have suggested, not unreasonably, that my complaints to the CHRC might not meet the “good faith” test. Should the Commission try this on they will be hit with a libel suit which will make the Warman/Kinsella actions look like chump change.

My complaints are made in entirely good faith and within the letter of the absurd law which is s.13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Any suggestion to the contrary will be greeted with a writ.
Also: don't miss Edward Michael George's reasonable if mirthful proposal that Mark Steyn lay a complaint against Mark Steyn.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rattle and Chain: Night of the Death Hippies

I picked this up from Terry Glavin:

On Wednesday, April 16, Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee co-founder Lauryn Oates will be debating co-chair Derrick O'Keefe. The proposition: "THE CANADIAN MILITARY SHOULD LEAVE AFGHANISTAN AT ONCE".

This debate is part of the Langara Dialogues series, held at the Vancouver Public Library's central branch.

I came, I saw, I conked out. I left the Vancouver Public Library debate this evening after ninety minutes of what moderator David Berner called "a muscular debate," on 'The presence of Canadian armed forces in Afghanistan: Should they stay or should they go?' and I found myself thinking of the political theorist so popular in the 1960s, C. Joseph McDonald, well-know author of thesis and synthesis on war and conflict in Southeast Asia. McDonald wrote, if I recall it properly; "One, two, three, four; what the hell are we fighting for? Five, six, seven, eight; open up the Pearly Gate. Who pee we are all going to die." It was a profound experience I can tell you.

One of Canada's leading intellectuals, Derrik O'Keefe, of Stop War, spoke in favor of Canadian troops leaving Afghanistan immediately or so. He was really really convincing. He said, for example, that the whole imperialist venture is because the Americans, (meaning Bush and his cabal of neo-cons,) are really really greedy and they want to capture Afghanistan so they can control a copper mine. They tried to get it but the Chinese got it instead so it's OK. Americans are bad because they bomb villagers and kill really big numbers of innocent civilians and stuff and the people don't like it and Canada should stop listening to Steven Harper who only does things because Bush tells him to and that's because of the neo-cons. They are bad. And torture? Americans do that to nice people who don't deserve it because they are nice. It's imperialism because some corporations are pulling the strings that-- I don't know-- maybe rip out the fingernails of babies or something, just like typical American war-mongrels do.

War is bad. One might say war is poopy.

We should get out of Afghanistan because America made the Taliban up and now it supports war-lords who sell lots of opium that causes medical problems for the socially marginalized on the streets of Vancouver who don't have homes though they have a right to them and more buses at night too.

Well, I'm bored to tears. I suffered through 90 minutes of puerile nonsense that was supposed to pass as -- What? Wind? I have no idea. Like most of these events, the level of debate was on a level with a Ralph Bakshi cartoon but not as entertaining.

Yes, Ralph Bakshi came to mind as I took mental notes on how to be cool like the award- winning journalist who tried to come across like Dan Brown, author of the DaVinci Code. I'm never going to be cool like him. I must seek counselling, consulting, or consoling or constellations or something. I think I'm hopeless. When I say "Imperialism," I laugh. This evening someone said: "It's an old fashioned word but..." I Am Not Cool. Not fashionable. Why do I even bother to live?

If you missed this important event, well, I ne'vah! Shame on you!

This is an indication of what you missed when you went to the hockey game:

"Whichever way you look at it, nothing changes the fact that between now and 2011, Canadians will be maimed and killed in Afghanistan because the Liberal Party of Canada does not think this is an opportune moment for a federal election and the Conservative Party of Canada insisted on this being a confidence motion. Canadians and Afghanis will die because of partisan politics in Canada. It is tragically shameful."

Now, am I the heartless prick who wrote recently that something or other is shamefully twagic? Hmm. I think maybe yes. Did I have occasion to pick on some pretend-concern about The people! from a Death Hippie? I think again maybe yes. I think I didn't have much sympathy for whoever it was who used the lives of people he doesn't know to make some cheap political statement about something that his pre-fab ideology finds for him offensive. I think maybe yes I get pissed right off when people in the West use peasants in far-off and unknown places as tragically shameful victims who aren't accorded status as or understood as real people. I think really maybe yes I get disgusted by poseurs who show off by talking about how upset they are about "suffering" and the evils of capitalism. I think they make me puke. I think if spoiled fat kids in the West want to promote "social justice" they should find some dark place and go fuck themselves.Cause, cause, cause? Cause there are real people suffering from real injustice that has not a thing to do with fat kids in the West emoting in public.

My vote for the evening's best line goes to Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee co-founder Lauryn Oates who spoke on behalf of charity workers in Afghanistan, of which she is one and has been for 12 years, taking some genuine courage, and more. She condemned the "concerned" as having a morality of the "Do these jeans make my ass look fat?" type.

That was excellent. Even better was the kid who asked if I'm Terry Glavin. I confessed that I am indeed, and that my car had been towed and I needed $20.00 to get to the airport, and if he'd lend it to me he could go to the office tomorrow and the receptionist would pay him back -- and a bit extra for his trouble. GEE zuz. I thought if people are gullible enough to take in Derek's spiel I could get a quick twenty off the kid. Money is worth more than ideas, it seems clear now.

Yeah, actually, there is a real world. It affects real people. Even those in Afghanistan. It's a real nasty world that takes some real nasty bastards to keep it from going to the dogs in-all. And when the good guys walk away, who walks in? George Bush and the neo-cons are bad? Nope-pers; that'd be me, among others. Bush and the neo-cons are bending over back-asswards to be so nice to the Afghanis in power that this is what "imperialism" brings to the Afghan people:

KABUL (AFP) - An Afghan legislative committee has drafted a bill seeking to introduce Taliban-style Islamic morality codes banning women from wearing make-up in public and forbidding young boys from wearing female fashions.
The draft, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, needs approval by both chambers of the Islamist-dominated parliament and President Hamid Karzai signature to become a law.
"Women and girls are obliged to not wear make-up, wear suitable dresses and observe hijab (veil) while at work or classrooms," said one article of the draft.
It also aims to ban women dancers performing during concerts and other public events as well as on television.
"The mass media including television and cable networks must avoid broadcasting programmes against Islamic morals," it said without giving details.
In a similar move the parliament, which is dominated by former anti-Soviet Islamist warlords, called earlier this month for a ban on dancing and Indian soap dramas on private television networks.
Men and young boys must avoid wearing bracelets, necklaces, "feminist dresses," and hair-bands, the draft reads.
The proposals also demand an end to dog and bird-fighting, pigeon-flying, billiards and video games, all past times favoured by many Afghans.
It demands separate halls for men and women during wedding parties, while loud music is banned at such gatherings. Afghans hold big and costly get-togethers for weddings, usually in a public hall with music.
If the proposals are passed, violators could be fined 500 Afghanis (10 dollars) to 5,000, according to the draft.
The plans mirror many of the laws introduced by the extremist Taliban regime, which ruled the country from 1996 to 2001 with strict Islamic Sharia law.
From Dhimmi Watch: Agence France-Presse

What we have here is a failure to communicate. We have in a formerly hostile sharia state-- a currently hostile sharia state. Bush and the neo-cons and such are so afraid of upsetting the Muslim world that they allow and even pay for more sharia. Courageous and dedicated people like Lauryn Oates will spend 12 years in Afghanistan or even 120 years and not make a bit of good difference so long as there is no force to affect good change. All the well-intentioned school teachers on Earth can camp out in Afghanistan with freezing peasants while U.N bureaucrats whinge and dine in five star hotels in Kabul, and it will do not a speck of good. School teachers without guns to back up themselves and to save their students from the culture of violence and sharia might as well go to Bahamas' Club Med and have a good time.

So, at the end of this you find me, dear reader, siding with the Death Hippies, in this case. If we invaded a sharia state to reimpose a sharia state we should pack it in and let the real work of real revolutionaries reign. Copper mines in Afghanistan? Give me a break. They have lapis lazuli. That's worth some bucks, and some daring. But you can't mine it in a war zone. That war has to stop. And you can't mine it in a sharia state. That has to stop too.

So, what do you do? Sigh-igh. Death Hippies clappering at the library. All them, rattle and chain.

More comments at No Dhimmitude.

Pick A Number

I had only one prize to give away, but two teenage contestants of equal merit.

Thinking quickly about how to inject some humorous suspense into the routine proceedings, I decided to award the prize based on the old game of "pick a number".

I explained that I would pick a number between one and twenty, and whichever of the two competitors picked a number closest to the one I had chosen, would win the prize.

I mentally picked number 7, then turned to the first teen.

"Okay: pick a number between one and twenty."

"Five", he said with assurance.

I was surprised by his answer, because it certainly shifted the odds in favor of the second contestant... all he had to do was say "six", and he would command most of the remaining potential numbers, leaving the first player reliant upon only numbers one through four... the second player would have six through twenty!

A considerable advantage.

I faced the second contestant, and prompted him in his turn to pick a number from one to twenty.

Like a fixed game show, I was already rehearsing how I would award him the prize, since it seemed such a sure-fire victory, given the odds.

He hesitated, feeling the pressure. "Ummmmm... 17!", he declared.


I don't think I would have been any less surprised than if he had answered, "Boston!"

Experiences like this one really point out how "Intelligence" can be such a multi-layered concept.

These two perfectly decent young people could take apart and re-assemble a buggy computer so that it's in working order, play the guitar, drive a car, and a hundred other skills...
yet neither of them could figure out how to master the simple odds of "Pick a Number".

A reminder that expertise in one thing does not automatically translate into expertise in many things, let alone every thing.

Halls of ivy and blood

UPDATE: The following story is a hoax, or sort of.

Yale Daily News - For senior, abortion a medium for art, political discourse:
Art major Aliza Shvarts ’08 wants to make a statement.

Beginning next Tuesday, Shvarts will be displaying her senior art project, a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself “as often as possible” while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process.

The goal in creating the art exhibition, Shvarts said, was to spark conversation and debate on the relationship between art and the human body. But her project has already provoked more than just debate, inciting, for instance, outcry at a forum for fellow senior art majors held last week. And when told about Shvarts’ project, students on both ends of the abortion debate have expressed shock — saying the project does everything from violate moral code to trivialize abortion.

But Shvarts insists her concept was not designed for “shock value.”

“I hope it inspires some sort of discourse,” Shvarts said. “Sure, some people will be upset with the message and will not agree with it, but it’s not the intention of the piece to scandalize anyone.”
Read it all... if you have the stomach.

On the list where this story came to my attention, someone responding writes:
This piece truly is a work of art, and the artist exceptional. Art, at its essence, is simply a refection of the world it is born into. It describes the zeitgeist. That this truly is authentic art speaks volumes about us … and is very sad.
But isn't this the incomplete understanding of art that allows this sad act to occur in the first place? I mean, what is the difference between representing our violence or callousness towards the stuff and means of life, and "performing" it? In asking the question, have I just fallen into this "work" of "art"? or is it just politics that I've engaged? I think art is inherently political, even when not directly so (since even the contemplation of beauty or nature cannot be divorced from a developing human self-understanding on the political scene) but not all politics is art.

Jay Currie: trapped in Section 13: not kosher

Jay Currie decides to fire off a human rights claim against a Judeophobic cartoon that appeared in Le Devoir, the Quebecois establishment newspaper, last summer. Jay thinks we can bring the Canadian Human Rights Act into disrepute by showing how this legislation (specificially Section 13) is a very broadly worded attack on free expression that can only be effectively applied arbitrarily, from within a set of politicized assumptions about who are deserving victims (and cannot be treated with contempt in the media) and who are fair game. In this case, it is more a question of whether the offended can have a go at claiming some "human rights" money for the kind of thinly-veiled antisemitism that is now mainstream among the Canadian left-liberal opinion, and even coming to the surface in major political parties.

Then, a commenter points out to Jay that in re-publishing the offending cartoon, Jay is himself contravening the Canadian Human Rights Act. Be aware: nothing is kosher in Canada, unless the very religious law givers at 344 Slater St., Ottawa, say so.

UPDATE and related: a story on the antisemitic Quebec cartoons from the Brussels Journal.

Also: Tahir Aslam Gora, The Hamilton Spectator (Apr 17, 2008):
The Ontario Human Rights Commission has accused Canadian media in general of contributing to racism and Islamophobia, in the context of complaints filed to the commission about The Future Belongs To Islam, a controversial book excerpt published by Maclean's magazine in 2006.

The commission ruled it didn't have jurisdiction to proceed with the complaints, but lectured the media.

"The commission has serious concerns about the content of a number of articles concerning Muslims that have been published by Maclean's magazine and other media outlets.

"This type of media coverage has been identified as contributing to Islamophobia. The commission recognizes and understands the serious harm that such writings cause."

It's interesting that the commission views such writings as doing serious harm. The question arises why the commission considers opinion pieces such as The Future Belongs To Islam so offensive but is not familiar with the violent terrorism-inciting messages by some of the radical Islamic groups in Ontario.

For instance, a well-known Toronto-area Islamic fundamentalist wrote on Facebook last week: "Jews who support Zionism and Israel ... since they are killing Palestinians ... killing them is not bad ... they all are mass murderers ... and they deserve to die."

The commission appears to be trying to be "fair" in its recent statement slandering the media for contributing to Islamophobia.

But to be fair, does the commission know about the many ethnic media outlets that spread direct hatred and arrogant stereotypes against fellow Canadians -- Christians, Jews, whites?

If not, the commission would be better off expanding its studies to all the actually influential media outlets in Canada. That might make its statements more fair and balanced rather that portraying a one-sided story.
Unfortunately, this fine point about "human rights" commission hypocrisy ends by propagating the widely-believed myth in the possibility of "fair and balanced" media. This is an inherently liberal elitist idea, for there can be no determination of "fair and balanced" without such an elite determining who is too "extreme", and who not. The Canadian "human rights" commissions are the institutionalization of this inherently political or ideological denial of politics and ideology.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Free t-shirts still on offer

My offer of last week, with free t-shirts for those visiting Covenant Zone, Thursday night at the Vancouver library, still stands. In case you didn't find the shirts available last week sufficiently attractive, have a look at the latest addition to our offer, courtesy of Blazing Cat fur artworks. (I'd put a picture up here if I weren't traumatized by this Chinese language computer I'm using)

Attention Canadian seal hunters

[To protect your European markets from the slanders of "animal rights" activists, like Brigitte Bardot, maybe what you need to do is train and send some appropriate immigrants to France.]

...No one should be beyond the law, not even a national celebrity and symbol of sacred beauty. On the other hand, when the law, in order to appease offended ears, starts trying to throw its present or former beauties in jail, for merely defending, in words, a vision of the sacred, it could be a sign of national suicide:
A Paris prosecutor on Tuesday called for former French actress Brigitte Bardot to pay a 15,000-euro (23,000-dollar) fine and be given a suspended two-month prison sentence, for inciting hatred against Muslims.

In December 2006, the former sex symbol wrote a letter to France's then interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, claiming Muslims should make animals dizzy before sacrificing them at the Aid al-Kabir holiday.

She outraged French anti-racist groups by saying "I've had enough. These people have been dragging us by our noses, destroying us and our country by imposing their ways".

Bardot, now 73 and suffering from arthritis, was absent from Tuesday's court hearing. Instead she wrote to the court saying, "I'm sickened by how these organisations are harassing me."

She added: "I will not shut up as long as no blackouts are carried out" on animals before they are ritually killed.

Bardot, who has been an animal rights activist for 20 years, has a string of similar convictions. In 2004 a Paris court fined her 5,000 euros for inciting racial hatred in her book "Un Cri Dans le Silence" (A Cry in the Silence).

The court is due to announce its decision on June 3.
I heard yesterday that the French are also making it illegal for the fashion industry to use overly skinny models, in an attempt to curb anorexia and bulimia.


A proof that no religion can fix the object it ultimately holds most sacred, i.e. the will or love of God (or the pagan or secular equivalents of God), in some immutable langage and textual interpretation, might come from the unending clamour, from both "moderate Muslims" and "infidels" to distinguish between "radical", "orthodox", or "fascist" Islam, with its central sacrament of Jihad warfare, and those "moderate" Muslims who wish to join the modern world, with its separation or mosque and state, those who would interpret Jihad as a personal struggle.

For people in modern Western societies, it is the essence of what we hold sacred - the individual - that we do not prejudge a person's current politics based on their inherited (political-)religious tradition. We believe in individual freedom and conscience (as the gift of divine love). We can't say that all Muslims want to make the whole world into a single Sharia state, even if that goal is outlined in Islamic holy books, unless we are deferring to an orthodox Islamic understanding of the sacred, or perhaps to a puritanical instinct of our own.

That's to say, there are some among us who insist that Islam, proper, is indeed about submission to an immutable core idea of Sharia and Jihad. If you're not doing and thinking what the Koran and the other Muslim holy texts, in the bulk of their more authoratative pronouncements clearly favour - i.e. making a sharp and often bitter distinction between the believer who submits to Islam, and the non-believer, infidel, or kafir - then you are simply not a Muslim and should call yourself something else. And yet, such a belief cannot escape the pragmatic fact that there are people who call themselves Muslims who believe they have some flexibility in shaping the boundaries of what is Islam and in choosing how to address the non-believer.

It will be interesting to see who wins this war of words, and what will be the terms of understanding in the "peace treaty" that emerges from present global conflicts. In the meantime, and with an eye to being on the side that gets to shape the terms of the future peace (as best suits our modern needs), do we best fight the conflict by seeking to polarize it, along the lines of orthodox or radical Islam, or do we best subvert orthodoxy by denying its take on reality? Some Westerners think belief in a "moderate Islam" is just a form of dangerous denial of (and opening doors to) the great threat we face, while others see the belief as necessary to sustaining a tactical and realistic flexibility that is to our advantage. Depending on context, there are strong arguments for both sides. But it is ultimately to imagining the terms of the future peace that we must give our deepest reflection, in trying to fit tactics to the strategic goals of our warfare.

In today's National Post, Barbara Kay returns to the field with another contender in the name game, "Islamolucidity", in her discussion of the Quebec website, Point de Bascule, that we mentioned earlier for its challenge to the Canadian Human Rights Commission:
If nothing else, the publicity generated by the human-rights-commission show trials of journalists Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn proves that a new word is needed to define good-faith critics of ideological Islam -- something other than the incorrect and chilling, but increasingly reflexive, "Islamophobic."

By coincidence I just discovered one on a Quebec-based Web site -- a nicely inclusive word: " Islamolucide." A clear-headed Islamolucide can be a liberal Muslim, such as Canada's outspoken university professor and pundit Salim Mansur; an ex-Muslim, such as Ibn Warriq, author of Why I am Not a Muslim; or anyone else who accepts Muslims as citizens equal to all others, but who condemns bids for Islamic entitlements that conflict with western values.

Islamolucides defend and more importantly promote the separation of church and state, individual rights, respect for all religious (or non-religious) choices, and a common legal system as beneficial for everyone, including Muslims.
The Quebec Web site's name -- " Point de bascule" (PdB)--means "tipping point." PdB defends Western values -- particularly the right to freedom of speech -- and provides a rallying point for Islamolucidite as a francophone bookend to the anglophone Muslim Canadian Council.

On Monday, PdB's director, Marc Lebuis, filed a complaint of "hate propaganda" with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Montreal Salafist Imam Hammaad Abu Sulaiman Al-Dameus Hayiti, who officiates at the Association Musulmane de Montreal Est mosque.

The complaint relates to the imam's book, downloadable in pdf format on the Internet, L'Islam ou L'Integrisme:A la Lumiere du Qor'an et de la Sounnah, as well as his Web-based extremist preachings. In both, the imam's supremacist, misogynistic and West-loathing epithets often target Quebecois, whom he characterizes as " khoufars" (infidels, impious), "stupid and ignorant" and --Quebec's women-- "perverse."

As a classic liberal, Lebuis believes this repugnant segregationist (who has also urged the destruction of such "idols" as secularism, democracy, human rights, freedom and modernity) should be perfectly free to spew his phobic bile. Short of the usual strictures against direct incitement to violence, Lebuis deplores any opinion censorship.

But Lebuis has become alarmed by the Orwellian thought-control creep we've seen lately in the name of human rights. His complaint, he explained in an interview, plays the minority politics game as a means to "test the CHRC's standard in tracking hate and propaganda."

Lebuis adds, with candid scorn for the near-complete journalistic silence on the especially virulent strain of Salafist Islamism in Quebec: "I would not be doing this if the [francophone] mainstream media were doing their job."
The Algerian-Canadian Islamolucides who frequent PdB are especially bitter about the francophone media's willed blindness to the jihadism in their midst. In Algeria, these Islamolucides were the victims of the very Islamism that parades so freely here, not only without media censure, but with the complicity of useful idiots like Barbara Hall and other Islam-besotted enablers.

A frequent PdB site visitor called "Jugurten" writes (my translation): "The Algerian Muslim Islamolucides that I know and who have succeeded in surviving [the Algerian conflicts] are full of resentment Many [of us who survived Algeria's civil war in the 1990s] travelled [to Canada] in the same airplane as those who threatened them with death, who burned their children and raped their wives."

Via a diversity of media, anglophone Canadians have access to a slew of Islamist specialists: To name but a familiar few: the Post's international terrorism expert Stewart Bell, radical-Islam observer Daniel Pipes, and the Middle East Media Research Institute.

No such dedicated Islamist critics grace the francophone media. In particular, while hostile francophone Islamists such as Imam Al-Hayiti exploit the Internet to the hilt, there is a dearth of francophone Web-based sites that expose Islamist agitprop. So PdB fills a significant gap in francophone Canadians' knowledge of the multiple threats Islamism poses to Quebec.

PdB attracts 50,000 hits a month (and rising), a mere bagatelle by the standards of popular English-language Websites, but a tsunami by francophone standards. Half PdB's visitors are Quebecois, half European and North African. Relevant borrowings of their material by Le Monde's blog confers additional credibility.