Monday, January 31, 2011

Lars Hedegaard acquitted, without winning the right to speak freely in public about Muslim violence

Apparently, the Danish court has acquitted Lars Hedegaard on hate speech charges, stemming from Hedegaard pointing out that Muslim girls face sexual violence from their own families. But this acquittal was not because the court found that a Dane has the right to discuss such things in public, but because the court found Hedegaard did not know that his private comments would be publicized.

Yo, Danish judiciary, prosecutors, and politicians! right now, I'm flipping you the bird, in private!  More and more, one comes to think, well, maybe the rumours of the Hells Angels taking over Denmark in a coming collapse of the rule of law have something to them!
Scaramouche!: Breaking News: Lars Hedegaard Acquitted!

Statement by Lars Hedegaard on his acquittal :: IFPS-Canada:
Copenhagen, January 31, 2011

As my ancient forefathers, the vikings, would have said: It is always good to fight. It is better to win.

My detractors – the foes of free speech and the enablers of an Islamic ascendancy in the West – will claim that I was acquitted on a technicality, namely that the judge in the Court of Frederiksberg resolved that my supposedly offensive comments on the violations against little Muslim girls were not intended for public dissemination.

That is absolutely true. The judge chose the way out provided by my capable counsel.

However, the public prosecutor has been privy to the circumstances surrounding my case for a year – and yet he chose to prosecute me. Obviously in the hope that he could secure a conviction given the Islamophile sentiment among our ruling classes.

My acquittal is therefore a major victory for free speech.

I have no doubt that the massive support I have received from freedom fighters around the world has been instrumental in securing my acquittal.

This outcome will encourage people all over the West and beyond to speak up.

The battle for freedom is far from lost.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Barry Rubin on the Palestine Papers Fraud and Blood Libel

(Updated below)
Whether or not you think Barry Rubin evidences a previous naivete in announcing that the recent al-Jazeera/Guardian "revelation" of (obviously fraudulent) papers (ostensibly the undoctored notes of Palestinian "peace" negotiators) means the end of hopes for any peace agreement, for at least a generation, his explanation of why these are obviously fraudulent is worth reading. Also, of interest to friends of Covenant Zone will be Rubin's concluding thoughts on the the often asked question - what can we do? - in face of a massively corrupt or deluded mainstream media:
"[A person I know] gets almost all his news from CNN. So today he gave the important news that he received from CNN that the "Palestinians said they were willing to give up most of Jerusalem for peace." I tried to explain to him that the story was completely false. He just gave me a blank stare back. His mind could not comprehend how such an authority as Wolf Blitzer and CNN could report something as fact but that is in fact completely false.

"Do you ever just want to scream? I do. What can we do? What can the average person do? Does it have any effect at all if we write to the media, expressing our outrage. Does the truth matter if the official truth is all that people believe?"

Do I ever want to scream? What do you think! Does it have any effect when we complain to the media? No.

Does the truth matter if the official truth is all that people believe? Well, that's different. Roughly two-thirds of the American people do not accept what the media tells them on this issue. In fact, support for Israel in the United States went up during the Gaza flotilla crisis. Every day, more people are waking up. New sources of information are expanding.

A lot of average people have common sense. A lot of government officials (not enough, for sure), have to deal with reality and sooner or later see through the illusions. Polls on media credibility show it to be quite low. Student sit through indoctrinating classes and don't accept what they are told.

Basically, we have to wait it out. Meanwhile, we need to tell the truth, educate as many people as possible, help build an alternate elite to replace and repair the diseased segments of society.

Rabbi Tarfon said "It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to abstain from it." Pirkei Avot, Chapter 2, Paragraph 16.

Or here is the Enlightenment version of that principle from Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

RubinReports: Coming Soon, From Those Wonderful People Who Brought You The “Palestine Papers

RubinReports: PS On Palestine Papers

UPDATE: See also the analysis of Pinhas Inbari who suggests that the way to propagate lies is to wrap them in truths:
After reading many of the documents, it appears that most of them are genuine and reflected the course of negotiations with Israel's previous Kadima government. The problem is that because al-Jazeera has a point to prove - that the PLO negotiators betrayed Arafat's legacy and hurried to cross red lines, with their gestures unreciprocated - Israel is portrayed as a hard-line interlocutor that did not respond to PLO "moderation." This results in damage to both sides - to the "traitorous" PLO and to "unresponsive" Israel.

Yet there appears to be a clear gap between the substance of these documents and the way they were presented. Besides a readiness to accept the principle of land swaps - from the Clinton parameters - there were no further Palestinian concessions. Nor was there agreement on the size and location of these land swaps. The PLO team was adamant in refusing to agree to Israeli demands to keep the settlement blocs. For example, the Palestinians demanded the dismantling of the city of Ariel (pop. 17,559), and they were ready to consider leaving Israelis living in Ma'ale Adumim (pop. 34,324) only if the Jewish city adjacent to Jerusalem was under Palestinian sovereignty.

While Erekat mentioned "creative ideas" to solve the issue of the al-Aqsa/Temple Mount compound, they have nothing to do with sharing the site with Israel, but rather to establishing an Arab and Muslim consortium to supervise the holy site.

Questions on the Refugee Offer

While the figure of 100,000 refugees to be allowed into Israel is mentioned for the first time in Palestinian sources, it is unclear which side offered this figure. According to previous reports, it was Olmert's offer that was rejected by Abbas. Abbas himself referred to these documents as a "mixture" of Israeli and PLO positions.
Al-Jazeera is now under the management of Wadah Khanfar, a radical Palestinian from Nablus. For years the Arab satellite channel has sought to advance the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood against the Arab regimes. The problem it faces is that the sources of the current wave of Arab unrest are actually local and have nothing to do with pan-Arab ideals or with the Palestinian problem. Nevertheless, al-Jazeera is trying to link the local grievances in every Arab country to a pan-Arab revolution triggered by the Palestinian problem.

Another motivation is to preserve Hamas' interests. Erekat was right when he said the leaks cut short the PLO's diplomatic campaign to isolate Israel and gain international recognition of a Palestinian state. The PA success in gathering support for statehood recognition was turning Hamas rule in Gaza into a liability. Once Ramallah is recognized as representing a state, the international community might turn against the separate entity in Gaza and seek to end the problem.

Some encouragement for the PA leadership may be found in the popular reactions among the Palestinians in the West Bank. They did not "revolt" as a result of the leaks, which may indicate that the West Bank Palestinians are ready to compromise as a result of fatigue after the generation-long struggle with Israel. If there is popular rage, it is against al-Jazeera, as seen in attacks on its property in Ramallah and in Tripoli, Lebanon.

Now, after al-Jazeera has brainwashed Arab minds with charges of PLO treason, no declaration of statehood can be expected. Neither will there be a resumption of negotiations with Israel since the Palestinian team will stick to the most hard-line positions possible.

To sum up, al-Jazeera is serving Qatari policy to deepen unrest in the Arab world and link the current local upheavals to the Palestinian problem. In its presentation of the Palestine Papers, al-Jazeera distorted the contents in order to delegitimize the PLO and present Israel as a hard-line non-partner. There is also reason to suspect forgery in the documents referring to refugees since the person suspected of the leaks is the same person who wrote them.
[Full article]

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The self-mutilation of Europe continues, now even Denmark lives in shame...

The following message from the Canadian Branch of the International Free Press Society and the linked page must serve to motivate us to carry the fight to the enemies of freedom everywhere:

As it has become known that the Danish public prosecutor is actually going ahead with his trial of Free Press Society President Lars Hedegaard, (set to begin on January 24, 2011), protests against the trial have arrived in great numbers.

A common theme in many of these protests and declarations of support for Lars Hedegaard is an awareness that the trial does not only have significance for free speech in Denmark but will have repercussions throughout the West.

We are asking for assistance in spreading the expressions of support from several noteworthy defenders of freedom of speech from around the world, complete article here: Massive International Support for Lars Hedegaard.
Massive International Support for Lars Hedegaard :: IFPS-Canada

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Flying The Silver Lining

The bad news: grandparents learn that their daughter's live-in boyfriend has allegedly murdered their three-year old grandson. The brain-dead child is soon to be taken off life-support, and the grandfather is booked on a flight to be at his daughter's side, to help her shoulder the tragedy of her son's final moments.

The worse news: The grandfather is racing against the clock to make his flight from Los Angeles to Denver. TSA and airline employees in both the security and bag check lines at Los Angeles airport are indifferent to his pleas for sympathetic (and speedy) treatment through the long lines; they offer him no help whatsover in speeding up the process. Despite arriving at the airport two hours before his flight, he ends up ten minutes late for his plane; the desperate grandfather makes a final scramble without shoes, and fleeting hope, down to the terminal.

The surprising good news waiting for him there, as told by his grateful wife:

When he got [to the terminal], the pilot of his plane and the ticketing agent both said, “Are you Mark? We held the plane for you and we’re so sorry about the loss of your grandson.”
The pilot held the plane that was supposed to take off at 11:50 until 12:02 when my husband got there.
As my husband walked down the Jetway with the pilot, he said, “I can’t thank you enough for this.”
The pilot responded with, “They can’t go anywhere without me and I wasn’t going anywhere without you. Now relax. We’ll get you there. And again, I’m so sorry.”

My husband was able to take his first deep breath of the day.
Consumer advocate and journalist Christopher Elliot, an acquaintance of the grandmother, contacted Southwest Airlines to get a comment on their staff's decision to break the rules for the sake of a grieving passenger:

[A] representative said the airline was “proud” of the way the pilot had held the flight. Again, most airlines would punish an employee who holds up the line for any reason.

ABC News has a video report on the story, with the last word given to the grandfather:

Dickinson says he never got the pilot's name and couldn't find him after the flight to thank him properly, and now just wants to shake his hand.
"I can't tell him how grateful I am that he did that for me," he said.
In this post-compassionate age of rampant cynicism and crass opportunism, it's refreshing to read this story of corporate compassion; if anything can be of solace to grieving families at a time like that in their lives, and to renew their faith in the potential for human goodness, surely it's the sterling example offered by Southwest Airlines, a company that dares to care.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Being Kind Without A License In Houston

Feed A Friend's mission, in Houston Texas:

Every day around 6:30 p.m., on the corner of San Jacinto and Commerce, volunteers serve a warm meal and a loving smile to the poor and destitute. Currently, all meals are prepared by caring people at their homes and delivered personally by them…
... until now. Bobby and Amanda Herring have been forced to stop their tradition of feeding several dozen of Houston's homeless every night, until they get the proper certification for food preparation:

"We don't really know what they want, we just think that they don't want us down there feeding people," said Bobby Herring...
Anyone serving food for public consumption, whether for the homeless or for sale, must have a permit, said Kathy Barton, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department. To get that permit, the food must be prepared in a certified kitchen with a certified food manager.
Bobby Herring said those rules would preclude them from continuing to feed the 60 to 120 people they assisted nightly for more than a year. The food had been donated from area businesses and prepared in various kitchens by volunteers or by his wife.
He and his wife became involved in the effort several years ago, when she would take leftover food from work to the homeless downtown. From there, it expanded into a full-time effort for her working through Eyes on Me, the Herrings' nonprofit organization that focuses on Christian-themed youth outreach efforts.
Nearly every day last year, they distributed food prepared or donated by volunteers or local stores at 6 p.m. at the corner of Commerce and San Jacinto, near the Harris County Jail, Bobby Herring said.
Some city councillors have said they are trying to amend the city ordinances that currently prevent people from sharing their food with Houston's less privileged, but meanwhile...:

Herring said he was told his operation would have to pay $17 a day for a permit, similar to event vendors.
"They (the homeless) are hungry. It’s freezing in Houston now, and the city doesn’t have to deal with it," he said.

The Health Department's recipe of red tape notwithstanding, the Good Samaritans at Eyes On Me are carrying on as best they can:

In the meantime, we are going to be delivering over 60 sleeping bags to our less fortunate friends within the next couple of days. We will also pursue a temporary daily permit from the Health Department. From our understanding, the Health Department issues these permits for special events such as city festivals. With the donations we have already received, we have enough money to cover the next two months.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Love Israel, win an iPad

It seems you have a week to put together a post on why you love Israel, so as to enter Dave IsraellyCool's contest whose winner will have an apple in his eyes.

2011 Pro-Israel Blog-Off : Israellycool

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Praying For The Victims Of The Arizona Massacre

Praying today for many people in the aftermath of yesterday's senseless carnage in Arizona, but especially for the family of that poor 9-year old girl who died at the hospital. Her uncle describes her as "real special and real sweet":

"The next thing you know this happened. How do you prepare for something like this. My little niece got killed-took one on the chest and she is dead," Segalini said outside the girl's house."

Pray for her parents who now have the shadow of two tragedies over their life... for, as we learned yesterday, young Christina-Taylor Green was born on September 11, 2001:

Christina-Taylor had just been elected to the student council at Mesa Verde Elementary School and had been interested in politics from a young age, her father, John Green, said Saturday night.
"She was a good speaker. I could have easily seen her as a politician," her father said.
The brown-eyed athletic girl had one sibling, an 11-year-old brother named Dallas, and the two loved to go swimming together.
[...] "She kept up with everyone, she was a strong girl, a very good athlete and a strong swimmer," said her mother, Roxanna Green. "She was interested in everything. She got a guitar for Christmas so her next thing was learning to play guitar."
[...] Christina-Taylor also enjoyed singing in a church choir at St. Odilia's Catholic Church, where she had received her first Holy Communion in the spring.
Already aware of inequalities in the world around her, Christina-Taylor often repeated the same phrase to her mother:
"We are so blessed. We have the best life."
[...] "She was born back east and Sept. 11 affected everyone there, and Christina-Taylor was always very aware of it. She was very patriotic and wearing red, white and blue was really special to her," her mother said.

Pray for her well-intentioned neighbor, who must be beside himself with guilt; knowing of her interest in politics, the neighbor invited little Christina-Taylor along with him to see Congresswoman Giffords' "Congress On Your Corner" event at the local Safeway. Pray for her neighbor's family, as he was shot four times during the rampage, and is now recovering in hospital.

Prayers of gratitude are in order for the three brave souls who stopped the crazed gunman from murdering even more victims in the attack. On a day when the news is filled with villainy, thank God we may also learn of acts of such heroism:

Sheriff Clarence Dupnik also said three people, included one of the shooting victims, jumped to action, preventing the attack from being worse.
Although he didn’t identify the heroes, he said when the shooter ran out of bullets and attempted to reload a magazine into the gun, a woman grabbed the magazine and “tore it away from him.”
“She was trying to get the gun away from them,” Dupnik said.
Then as the shooter sought to load yet another magazine into the Glock 9 millimeter pistol, the spring in the magazine failed. The magazine holds 31 bullets.
At that point two men were able to tear the gun away.

The family of another hero that day, need prayers of a special kind. 76 year-old retired construction worker Dorwin Stoddard was waiting in line with his wife to meet Congresswoman Giffords when the massacre began. Stoddard instinctively tried to shield his wife, and was shot in the head. He fell onto his wife, who ended up only being shot three times in the legs. His sacrifice spared his wife's life, as CNN reports that the bullets were removed and she is expected to make a full recovery.

Pray for the families of the other murdered victims: 76-year-old Dorothy Morris, 79-year-old Phyllis Scheck, congressional aide Gabe Zimmerman, who was engaged to be married, and Chief Judge John Roll of the U.S. District Court for Arizona, who was stopping off on his way home from church to say hello to his friend, Congresswoman Giffords.

And pray for the family of Gabrielle Giffords; may they, and all those whose lives were changed yesterday, some day come to know peace.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


My New Year's Resolution to do more blogging will take a hit, I can see already, from a competing Resolution inspired by the new toy my wife and I were lucky enough to get for ourselves for Christmas:
an E-Reader!

Do you have one yet? What do you think? Now that we finally have one, I can't imagine not having one, they are simply awesome.

After shopping around, we got the Sony PRS-650 model. The size felt comfortably portable, not too bulky, not too small. I like the page turning speed, it's appreciably faster than, for example, the Kobo E-reader, the device offered by Chapters up here in Canada. I can "turn" a page with my e-reader, by tapping the screen, and the next page appears as fast as if I was turning a page in a real book. I can shut it off, and when I turn it on again it goes right back to the last page I left it open at. I can abandon one book for another, and when I return to the first one it picks up where I last left off.

I'm offered a range of sizes to choose, in the event that the type of a given book is too small.

A very welcome feature is that it comes with a dictionary; you get to look up puzzling words in the books you're reading on the device. How cool is that??

It also comes with a stylus, that emerges James Bond-style from the top corner of the device, which you can use to make quick notes.

The Sony reader doesn't limit you to only reading e-books in proprietary formats that only a Sony reader would recognize. The e-books themselves don't take up much file space, which was a pleasant surprise; I can't see myself needing to ever enhance the basic memory capacity that we got included with the model.

At the risk of my co-bloggers considering me even more eccentric than they already do, I have to admit something: for me, the enduring attraction of these e-readers, what really sets my heart a-pounding, is how I've been granted comfortable access to the scores of free, archived old books online nowadays at sites like Project Gutenberg, Google Books and Bookworms have been busy scouring the world's libraries, to scan each and every out of copyright book to be found, but it's proven rather frustrating, not to mention impractical, to try and read a whole book off of a computer monitor...

Leading to a dream come true, for this history buff: as a lifelong lover of history and biography, I can't count the times I've skimmed through bibliographies, aching to have access to the old books I'd see referenced there. How could I ever hope to someday hold in my hands a book from, say, 1869, or 1847. How likely would it be that I could read a book from the 1700s...

Well, I've now lived long enough that this daydream has become a reality. I can simply download these antique treasures onto my e-reader, in seconds, and enjoy them all to my hearts content, whether in bed, on the bus, at a coffee shop, with the additional bonus that there's little worry it will crumble into dust in my hands. Their contents, the memory of their experiences, can be retained, for yet one more generation.

And just in time, it seems; we are being granted an unprecedented amount of back-door access to old memories from an older age, one step ahead of modern publishers determined to transform classic texts into "texts with a message for moderns, made accessible to moderns."

Republican Dumbth

The late comedian Steve Allen wrote one book that was more likely to bring tears of sorrow than of laughter: Dumbth, self-described as a catalogue "of a host of hilarious and sometimes alarming personal encounters with shoddy workmanship, bad service, failures to communicate, and the general breakdown in the capacity to reason".

Had he lived long enough to update his 1999 book, Steverino would have loved the following question-and-answer segment from the recent Republican National Committee debate, undertaken to find a new chairman. Current RNC chairman Michael Steele gives a less-than-impressive answer to the simple question: What is your favorite book?
“Probably my kitchen table,” said Ms. Wagner, misunderstanding the question as “favorite bar.” She corrected that to say: “I like George W. Bush’s new book.”
Ms. Cino chimed in with “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
After which Mr. Steele said, “War and Peace.” He then dashed off the opening line from, well, a different book: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Monday, January 03, 2011

Last Time For The First Team

My Saturday morning started off with a groan, as I stumbled onto the computer after my late night New Year's fun... only to discover that one of my favorite radio shows was coming to a sudden and unexpected end.

Thanks to the internet this Canadian political junkie has spent the last decade tuned in to radio stations from around the world, freed at last from having to settle for only my local provincial fare.

I particularly liked to spend my Saturday morning waking up and working at my desk while listening to 1580 AM The Patriot, out of Minnesota. Every Saturday since 2004 The Patriot had featured a lively line-up of several programs hosted by Minnesota bloggers; the format evolved over the years, but lately had cemented into two sequential two-hour programs: "The Headliners", with Ed Morrissey and Mitch Berg, and "The First Team", consisting of Powerline blogger John Hinderaker and Fraters Libertas' Brian Ward.

This Saturday, as it turned out, was to be The First Team's final appearance. To our horror, faithful listeners were told that the boys would be unceremoniously replaced... by infomercials! Apparently the station can make more money running infomercials in their broadcasting time slot, over the money they were making from the commercial sponsors buying time during that two-hour block. Yet, I wonder: what regular listener will forgive and forget this loss long enough to buy whatever product or service is stepping into that time slot??

When political blogging emerged as a media phenomenon in the wake of the 9-11 attacks, new media maven Hugh Hewitt quickly headlined several of the more effective conservative bloggers in blue-state Minnesota, and jokingly began referring to them as "The Northern Alliance". National exposure from both Hugh's radio show and high-profile blog led to these Minnesota bloggers to adapt the name into the Northern Alliance Radio Network, as they made a successful bridgehead into local Minnesota radio.

Now the NARN, as they have taken to calling themselves, are to be one team short.

It's been my pleasure to have been a listener from the beginning, and Saturday's finale, with its solid wall of callers expressing their gratitude for so many hours of insightful commentary and thought-provoking interviews, brought six years of memories crashing out of my brain like an avalanche.

The First Team introduced me to many worthy authors, and in turn to their books:

Each hour would end with either the Loon Of The Week, spotlighting some crackpot comment from the cracked left, or, my favorite, This Week In Gatekeeping, as the familiar musical theme of "This Week In Baseball" would accompany an increasingly unbelievable degree of shoddy journalism and reporting that the boys had spotted that week in the mainstream press. (Many of their choices were inevitably featured at Regret The Error, an online collector of such stories.)

Radio reaches us in ways that reading can't, and certainly television never will. John, and especially Brian, with his quick wit and sense of humor, feel like friends I've never met, to borrow a phrase I recently heard over another show on the Patriot.

Sorting out my recollections of all the First Team's political coverage, I'm hard-pressed to settle on my favorite guests (probably Father Neuhaus), or funniest wisecracks (maybe Brian's dissing John over his age)... I find myself drifting instead to memories of the annoucement of Brian's wedding, former co-host Chad's becoming a father for the first time, and many other personal stories the First Team hosts shared with their listeners.

Each week it felt like catching up with what some friends had been up to... and that's a feeling that reading their individual blogs can't match.

Thanks, guys, for some wonderful radio memories.

[Now it's a race against the clock to download and stockpile my favorite episodes from the online First Team archive, currently still available here, back to 2006...!]