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9901  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: January 13, 2011, 05:12:26 PM
I love Glocks. Carried one almost all of my time as a cop.
9902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Manufacturing dissent on: January 13, 2011, 06:37:47 AM

**Funny how you don't see this in the MSM's coverage.
9903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 10, 2011, 08:15:13 PM

I don't think there has been the same level of venom from the right that there has been from the left. They spent from 2000 to 2009 setting the bar with "Chimpy-Bushitler" rhetoric, then scream that mainstream conservatives are preaching hatred now.

Thus far, the only voices the AZ shooter seems to have been listening to were in his head.
9904  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 10, 2011, 02:16:50 PM

As much as my blood boils every time I see the Westboro douchbags, were they going to Gitmo, the left would have you, me and many others from this board on the next flight after them.
9905  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Culture of hatred on: January 10, 2011, 01:44:59 PM

9906  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 10, 2011, 10:39:54 AM
Aside from showing signs of serious mental illness, the AZ shooter was a 9/11 truther. Although, that too may well be a symptom of serious mental illness.
9907  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Israel May 6-7 on: January 10, 2011, 07:37:35 AM
Flying El Al?
9908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Rest in Peace on: January 09, 2011, 08:39:31 PM

9909  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Israel May 6-7 on: January 09, 2011, 07:15:24 PM
Very cool! I wish I could go.
9910  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: January 09, 2011, 07:11:41 PM
Hussein called Gibbs' salary at 172,000 a year modest, yet he set 200,000 a year as a single filer as being "rich". Where is his line?
9911  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / E&E out of the PRK on: January 09, 2011, 05:54:13 PM

Get out ASAP. Nothing good is coming to the PRK.
9912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: January 07, 2011, 08:16:56 AM
"Believers, the men and the women, are friends of one another; they command right, and forbid wrong" (9:71)

YUSUFALI: But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
PICKTHAL: Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
SHAKIR: So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! take not for protectors your fathers and your brothers if they love infidelity above Faith: if any of you do so, they do wrong.
PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! Choose not your fathers nor your brethren for friends if they take pleasure in disbelief rather than faith. Whoso of you taketh them for friends, such are wrong-doers.
SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not take your fathers and your brothers for guardians if they love unbelief more than belief; and whoever of you takes them for a guardian, these it is that are the unjust.

YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! what is the matter with you, that, when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter.
PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! What aileth you that when it is said unto you: Go forth in the way of Allah, ye are bowed down to the ground with heaviness. Take ye pleasure in the life of the world rather than in the Hereafter? The comfort of the life of the world is but little in the Hereafter.
SHAKIR: O you who believe! What (excuse) have you that when it is said to you: Go forth in Allah's way, you should incline heavily to earth; are you contented with this world's life instead of the hereafter? But the provision of this world's life compared with the hereafter is but little.

YUSUFALI: Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place; but Him ye would not harm in the least. For Allah hath power over all things.
PICKTHAL: If ye go not forth He will afflict you with a painful doom, and will choose instead of you a folk other than you. Ye cannot harm Him at all. Allah is Able to do all things.
SHAKIR: If you do not go forth, He will chastise you with a painful chastisement and bring in your place a people other than you, and you will do Him no harm; and Allah has power over all things.

YUSUFALI: If ye help not (your leader), (it is no matter): for Allah did indeed help him, when the Unbelievers drove him out: he had no more than one companion; they two were in the cave, and he said to his companion, "Have no fear, for Allah is with us": then Allah sent down His peace upon him, and strengthened him with forces which ye saw not, and humbled to the depths the word of the Unbelievers. But the word of Allah is exalted to the heights: for Allah is Exalted in might, Wise.
PICKTHAL: If ye help him not, still Allah helped him when those who disbelieve drove him forth, the second of two; when they two were in the cave, when he said unto his comrade: Grieve not. Lo! Allah is with us. Then Allah caused His peace of reassurance to descend upon him and supported him with hosts ye cannot see, and made the word of those who disbelieved the nethermost, while Allah's Word it was that became the uppermost. Allah is Mighty, Wise.
SHAKIR: If you will not aid him, Allah certainly aided him when those who disbelieved expelled him, he being the second of the two, when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion: Grieve not, surely Allah is with us. So Allah sent down His tranquillity upon him and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see, and made lowest the word of those who disbelieved; and the word of Allah, that is the highest; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.

YUSUFALI: Go ye forth, (whether equipped) lightly or heavily, and strive and struggle, with your goods and your persons, in the cause of Allah. That is best for you, if ye (but) knew.
PICKTHAL: Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah! That is best for you if ye but knew.
SHAKIR: Go forth light and heavy, and strive hard in Allah's way with your property and your persons; this is better for you, if you know.

YUSUFALI: If there had been immediate gain (in sight), and the journey easy, they would (all) without doubt have followed thee, but the distance was long, (and weighed) on them. They would indeed swear by Allah, "If we only could, we should certainly have come out with you": They would destroy their own souls; for Allah doth know that they are certainly lying.
PICKTHAL: Had it been a near adventure and an easy journey they had followed thee, but the distance seemed too far for them. Yet will they swear by Allah (saying): If we had been able we would surely have set out with you. They destroy their souls, and Allah knoweth that they verily are liars.
SHAKIR: Had it been a near advantage and a short journey, they would certainly have followed you, but the tedious journey was too long for them; and they swear by Allah: If we had been able, we would certainly have gone forth with you; they cause their own souls to perish, and Allah knows that they are most surely

YUSUFALI: Allah give thee grace! why didst thou grant them until those who told the truth were seen by thee in a clear light, and thou hadst proved the liars?
PICKTHAL: Allah forgive thee (O Muhammad)! Wherefor didst thou grant them leave ere those who told the truth were manifest to thee and thou didst know the liars?
SHAKIR: Allah pardon you! Why did you give them leave until those who spoke the truth had become manifest to you and you had known the liars?

YUSUFALI: Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day ask thee for no exemption from fighting with their goods and persons. And Allah knoweth well those who do their duty.
PICKTHAL: Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day ask no leave of thee lest they should strive with their wealth and their lives. Allah is Aware of those who keep their duty (unto Him).
SHAKIR: They do not ask leave of you who believe in Allah and the latter day (to stay away) from striving hard with their property and their persons, and Allah knows those who guard (against evil).

YUSUFALI: Allah hath promised the Hypocrites men and women, and the rejecters, of Faith, the fire of Hell: Therein shall they dwell: Sufficient is it for them: for them is the curse of Allah, and an enduring punishment,-
PICKTHAL: Allah promiseth the hypocrites, both men and women, and the disbelievers fire of hell for their abode. It will suffice them. Allah curseth them, and theirs is lasting torment.
SHAKIR: Allah has promised the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women and the unbelievers the fire of hell to abide therein; it is enough for them; and Allah has cursed them and they shall have lasting punishment.

YUSUFALI: As in the case of those before you: they were mightier than you in power, and more flourishing in wealth and children. They had their enjoyment of their portion: and ye have of yours, as did those before you; and ye indulge in idle talk as they did. They!- their work are fruitless in this world and in the Hereafter, and they will lose (all spiritual good).
PICKTHAL: Even as those before you who were mightier than you in strength, and more affluent than you in wealth and children. They enjoyed their lot awhile, so ye enjoy your lot awhile even as those before you did enjoy their lot awhile. And ye prate even as they prated. Such are they whose works have perished in the world and the Hereafter. Such are they who are the losers.
SHAKIR: Like those before you; they were stronger than you in power and more abundant in wealth and children, so they enjoyed their portion; thus have you enjoyed your portion as those before you enjoyed their portion; and you entered into vain discourses like the vain discourses in which entered those before you. These are they whose works are null in this world and the hereafter, and these are they who are the losers.

YUSUFALI: Hath not the story reached them of those before them?- the People of Noah, and 'Ad, and Thamud; the People of Abraham, the men of Midian, and the cities overthrown. To them came their messengers with clear signs. It is not Allah Who wrongs them, but they wrong their own souls.
PICKTHAL: Hath not the fame of those before them reached them - the folk of Noah, A'ad, Thamud, the folk of Abraham, the dwellers of Midian and the disasters (which befell them)? Their messengers (from Allah) came unto them with proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty). So Allah surely wronged them not, but they did wrong themselves.
SHAKIR: Has not the news of those before them come to them; of the people of Nuh and Ad and Samood, and the people of Ibrahim and the dwellers of Madyan and the overthrown cities; their messengers came to them with clear arguments; so it was not Allah Who should do them injustice, but they were unjust to themselves.

YUSUFALI: The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.
PICKTHAL: And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and they establish worship and they pay the poor-due, and they obey Allah and His messenger. As for these, Allah will have mercy on them. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Wise.
SHAKIR: And (as for) the believing men and the believing women, they are guardians of each other; they enjoin good and forbid evil and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Messenger; (as for) these, Allah will show mercy to them; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.

YUSUFALI: Allah hath promised to Believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of Allah: that is the supreme felicity.
PICKTHAL: Allah promiseth to the believers, men and women, Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide - blessed dwellings in Gardens of Eden. And - greater (far)! - acceptance from Allah. That is the supreme triumph.
SHAKIR: Allah has promised to the believing men and the believing women gardens, beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and goodly dwellings in gardens of perpetual abode; and best of all is Allah's goodly pleasure; that is the grand achievement.

YUSUFALI: O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell,- an evil refuge indeed.
PICKTHAL: O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them. Their ultimate abode is hell, a hapless journey's end.
SHAKIR: O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.
9913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: January 07, 2011, 08:07:17 AM
Nice sentiments from Dr. Ahmed, however the koran doesn't teach what the good doctor says it does.

"Let there be one community of you, calling good and commanding right and forbidding wrong" (3:110)

YUSUFALI: Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.
PICKTHAL: Ye are the best community that hath been raised up for mankind. Ye enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and ye believe in Allah. And if the People of the Scripture had believed it had been better for them. Some of them are believers; but most of them are evil-livers.
SHAKIR: You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah; and if the followers of the Book had believed it would have been better for them; of them (some) are believers and most of them are transgressors.

YUSUFALI: They will do you no harm, barring a trifling annoyance; if they come out to fight you, they will show you their backs, and no help shall they get.
PICKTHAL: They will not harm you save a trifling hurt, and if they fight against you they will turn and flee. And afterward they will not be helped.
SHAKIR: They shall by no means harm you but with a slight evil; and if they fight with you they shall turn (their) backs to you, then shall they not be helped.

YUSUFALI: Shame is pitched over them (Like a tent) wherever they are found, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah and from men; they draw on themselves wrath from Allah, and pitched over them is (the tent of) destitution. This because they rejected the Signs of Allah, and slew the prophets in defiance of right; this because they rebelled and transgressed beyond bounds.
PICKTHAL: Ignominy shall be their portion wheresoever they are found save (where they grasp) a rope from Allah and a rope from men. They have incurred anger from their Lord, and wretchedness is laid upon them. That is because they used to disbelieve the revelations of Allah, and slew the prophets wrongfully. That is because they were rebellious and used to transgress.
SHAKIR: Abasement is made to cleave to them wherever they are found, except under a covenant with Allah and a covenant with men, and they have become deserving of wrath from Allah, and humiliation is made to cleave to them; this is because they disbelieved in the communications of Allah and slew the prophets unjustly; this is because they disobeyed and exceeded the limits.
9914  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China on: January 06, 2011, 08:42:58 PM
9915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Credit where credit is due on: January 06, 2011, 08:42:05 PM

Egypt Muslims to act as "human shields" at Coptic Christmas Eve mass
Coptic Churches around the country expect an influx of Egyptian Muslims to share with the country's Christians their Christmas Eve mass

**It would be nice to see this as the start of something important. It won't stop the jihadists though.
9916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China on: January 06, 2011, 10:38:42 AM
Even if the J-20 is inferior to the F-22, they'll make many more J-20s.
9917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: January 06, 2011, 10:27:03 AM

We took out Saddam and his sociopathic sons. We pressured the Saudis. We've given the Iraqis a chance at a better future. We got Libya to give up it's nuclear ambitions.

The complaint has always been that we support undemocratic dictators in the arab world. Well, we took one out and tried to rebuild an arab country into something decent. What's the better option?
9918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Crush Depth on: January 05, 2011, 09:24:13 PM

Monday, January 3, 2011
The crush depth of debt

By Donald Sensing

The wreck of Germany's U-352, sunk off North Carolina in May 1942.
What happens when a submarine reaches its crush depth? The question answers itself. World War II U-boat Capt. Hebert Werner related in his postwar book, Iron Coffins, that no one knew how deep a U-boat could dive. "Because," he said, "the only crews that found out were crushed a half-meter later."

The United States is approaching its financial crush depth. The liberal media (but I repeat myself) have proclaimed that the 111th Congress was the "most productive" in generations. One thing the Triple One did produce was debt - not merely mountains of debt but a whole Himalaya range. In fact, this Congress borrowed more money than all 110 previous Congresses combined. In the right-hand column of this site I run a widget that counts the federal debt as it winds toward the orbit of Pluto; as of today at 1.40 p.m. C. it stood at just under 14 trillion, 27 billion dollars.

Can you imagine what $14 trillion looks like? Let's start with a drawing of $1 billion in 10 stacks of $100,000,000 each, in $100 bills. As you can see, you could carry all this money by yourself to a commercial van in maybe 20 minutes and drive away with it. Note the red-shirted figure - the money reaches only to his waist.

Now here is a trillion dollars, still using $100 bills in stacks of $100M each. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it's a million million. It's 1,000 of the picture above.

Note that the red-shirted fellow is standing at the lower-left corner. Note also that the money is stacked twice as high as the first picture. As we begin the New Year, the federal government is in debt to the sum of 14 of these drawings, more than $44,000 for every American infant, child, man and woman.

So beginning in the first week of the New Year, as the 112th Congress convenes, our national task will not be merely to slow our descent toward financial crush depth, but reverse it. Herbert Stein chaired the Council of Economic Advisors under two presidents. He observed, "Economists are very good at saying that something cannot go on forever, but not so good at saying when it will stop." Fact is, like the sub crews we cannot know in advance what our crush depth is. We will only find out when we've reached it and borrowed one dollar more. And then it will be too late. We have to stop the descent, level off and then head back toward the sunlight by shedding debt. This can only be done by both cutting spending and increasing tax revenue. (Do not confuse the latter with increasing tax rates - tax revenues will rise when the nation's wealth increases; increasing tax rates stunts growth out of a recession.)

The road will be very difficult. I wrote in a column on Right Network that the American people (Tea Partiers included, I think) collectively want to cut the budget but individually don't want it done on their own backs. The two most profligate Congresses in our history were the 111th and (surprise!) its immediate predecessor, the 110th, both entirely controlled by Democrats. Fortunately, the 112th will be dominated, though not controlled, by Republicans. Unfortunately, the 112th's Republicans are still mostly of the political class who did not feel the voters' heat enough to see the light.

Herbert Stein also said, "When something can't go on forever, it won't." Sinking in an ocean of red ink cannot go on forever. Eventually the nation will become insolvent and collapse will follow. But how much longer can it go on? Unlike the old sub crews, we will physically survive reaching the crush depth of debt. But whether we can survive as a great nation is unclear at best, and highly unlikely in probability.

Making sure we do not discover our national, financial crush depth is the most urgent task before us. It must be the number one resolution for the New Year and the new Congress.

Closing note: Compare the live clock below with the image grab I posted above:
9919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 05, 2011, 07:30:10 PM
Cheers and tears in Pakistan after assassination

ISLAMABAD – Lawyers showered the suspected assassin of a liberal Pakistani governor with rose petals as he entered court. Some 170 miles away, the prime minister joined thousands to mourn the loss of the politician, who dared to challenge the demands of Islamic extremists.

The cheers and tears across the country Wednesday underscored Pakistan's journey over the past several decades from a nation defined by moderate Islam to one increasingly influenced by fundamentalists willing to use violence to impose their views.

Even so-called moderate Muslim scholars praised 26-year-old Mumtaz Qadri for allegedly killing Punjab province Gov. Salman Taseer on Tuesday in a hail of gunfire while he was supposed to be protecting him as a bodyguard. Qadri later told authorities he acted because of Taseer's vocal opposition to blasphemy laws that order death for those who insult Islam.

As Qadri was escorted into court in Islamabad, a rowdy crowd patted his back and kissed his cheek as lawyers at the scene threw flowers. On the way out, some 200 sympathizers chanted slogans in his favor, and the suspect stood at the back door of an armored police van and repeatedly yelled "God is great."

Many other Pakistanis were appalled.

"Extremist thought has become so mainstream that what we need to question in Pakistan is what people think constitutes extremism now," said Fasi Zaka, a 34-year-old radio host and columnist.

Pakistan's founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, helped establish the country in 1947 as a moderate Islamic state welcoming all minority groups and religions. But that foundation has slowly been eroded over the years, especially in the 1980s during the military rule of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, who imposed a more conservative brand of Islam on the country.

The U.S. participated in this process by providing Zia's government with billions of dollars that it funneled to the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in neighboring Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia also provided billions and established scores of conservative Islamic schools that have played a major role in empowering the religious right in Pakistan.

Analysts say a majority of Pakistan's Muslims still follow a moderate form of Sufi-influenced Islam. But there are signs that even some of those beliefs may have shifted to the right. An influential group of 500 clerics and scholars from the Barelvi sect, which opposes the Taliban, praised Taseer's assassination.

The Jamat Ahle Sunnat group said no one should pray or express regret for the killing of the governor. The group also issued a veiled threat to other opponents of the blasphemy laws.

"The supporter is as equally guilty as one who committed blasphemy," the group warned in a statement, adding politicians, the media and others should learn "a lesson from the exemplary death."

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other senior ruling party officials joined up to 6,000 mourners under tight security to pay homage to Taseer at a funeral in the eastern city of Lahore. Other parties, including the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N, which is more aligned with religious groups, had limited presence at the event.

The response to Taseer's murder among ordinary Pakistanis seemed mixed. Some praised Qadri for targeting the governor, who in recent weeks had spoken forcefully in favor of clemency for a Christian woman sentenced to die for allegedly insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

"Salman Taseer committed a grave crime calling the blasphemy law a 'black law,'" said 30-year-old Ghulam Murtaza, a farmer on the outskirts of the southern port city of Karachi.
9920  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 05, 2011, 07:07:32 PM

Jahiliyyah, al-Jahiliyah or jahalia (Arabic: جاهلية) is an Islamic concept of "ignorance of divine guidance" or "the state of ignorance of the guidance from God"[1] or "Days of Ignorance"[2] referring to the condition Arabs found themselves in pre-Islamic Arabia, i.e. prior to the revelation of the Qur'an to Muhammad. By extension it means the state of anyone not following Islam and the Qur'an.

**It's this concept that spawned the destruction of the Bamiyan statues. Anything pre-islamic or seen as un-islamic is thought of as having no value.
9921  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 05, 2011, 06:40:26 PM

Salafi intolerance threatens Sufis

Egypt's peaceful Muslims are being denied religious freedoms as the influence of conservative Salafism grows

          o Baher Ibrahim
          o, Monday 10 May 2010 09.00 BST
Whenever religious freedom is discussed in Egypt, the topic inevitably turns to the status of the Christian Copts. Thousands of articles have been written about Egypt's Copts and how they are denied their religious freedoms, but it almost never occurs to anyone that even Sunni Muslims are being deprived of their basic rights to religious freedom and worship.

That is exactly what happened at the end of last month when the ministry of awqaf (religious endowments) decided to ban Egypt's Sufi orders from holding gatherings for the performance of dhikr – rituals devoted to the remembrance of God. Sufis have been performing these rituals for centuries, so a ban at this particular time is absurd.

The ministry's excuse is that the ban is intended to pre-empt undesirable behaviour at Sufi gatherings, such as the shouting of invocations and late-night loitering in mosques. In a city such as Cairo where the noise of traffic is a constant background, it just doesn't make sense. Clashes took place at Cairo's al-Husayn and al-Sayyida Zeinab mosques between members of Sufi orders and security forces who forced them to evacuate the two shrines.
9922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 05, 2011, 06:26:08 PM

Fatwa against statues triggers uproar in Egypt

3 April 2006
CAIRO -A fatwa issued by Egypt’s top religious authority, which forbids the display of statues has art-lovers fearing it, could be used by Islamic extremists as an excuse to destroy Egypt’s historical heritage.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the country’s top Islamic jurist, issued the religious edict which declared as un-Islamic the exhibition of statues in homes, basing the decision on texts in the hadith (sayings of the prophet).

Intellectuals and artists argue that the decree represents a setback for art -- a mainstay of the multi-billion-dollar tourist industry -- and would deal a blow to the country’s fledgling sculpture business.

The fatwa did not specifically mention statues in museums or public places, but it condemned sculptors and their work.

Still, many fear the edict could prod Islamic fundamentalists to attack Egypt’s thousands of ancient and pharaonic statues on show at tourist sites across the country.

“We don’t rule out that someone will enter the Karnak temple in Luxor or any other pharaonic temple and blow it up on the basis of the fatwa,” Gamal al-Ghitani, editor of the literary Akhbar al-Adab magazine, told AFP.

Wave of criticisms

Gomaa had pointed to a passage from the hadith that stated: ”Sculptors would be tormented most on Judgment Day,” saying the text left no doubt that sculpting was “sinful” and using statues for decorating homes forbidden.

Gomaa’s ruling overturned a fatwa issued more than 100 years ago by then moderate and highly respected mufti Mohammed Abdu, permitting the private display of statues after the practice had been condemned as a pagan custom.

Abdu’s fatwa had “closed the issue, as it ruled that statues and pictures are not haram (forbidden under Islam) except idols used for worship,” Ghitani pointed out.

Novelist Ezzat al-Qamhawi said Gomaa’s ruling would “return Muslims to the dark ages.”

Movie director Daud Abdul Sayed said the fatwa “simply ignored the spiritual evolvement of Muslims since the arrival of Islam... Clearly, it was natural that they forbid statues under early Islam because people worshipped them.

“But are there Muslims worshipping statues nearly 15 centuries later?” he asked.

The notion sounds “ridiculous,” Yussef Zidan, director of the manuscript museum at the prestigious Bibliotheca Alexandrina, told AFP.

“Why would anyone even bring up the issue (of the statues) in a country where there are more than 10 state-owned institutions that teach sculpting and more than 20 others that teach the history of art?”

Ghitani added: “It’s time for those placing impediments between Islam and innovation to get out of our lives.”

The wave of criticisms against the fatwa has put clerics on a collision course with intellectuals and artists, who say that such edicts only reinforce claims -- particularly in the West -- that Islam is against progress.

Some, including Sayed, compared Gomaa’s edict to a similar one issued by the former fundamentalist rulers of Afghanistan, the Taleban, that led to the destruction of statues of the Buddha despite an international outcry.


Gomaa has already put out a few contentious decrees and appears set to break his predecessor mufti Wasel’s record on notorious fatwas.

Wasel stirred a controversy in July 2001 for issuing a fatwa against a popular television show, the Arab version of “Who wants to be a millionaire?” that was airing on Egyptian television, saying it was forbidden by Islam.

“These contests are a modern form of betting,” Wasel had said.

The show was eventually cancelled, although it was not clear if the move was related to the fatwa.

In another fatwa in May 2001, Wasel ruled that beauty pageants in which women appear half-naked in front of panels of male judges are haram. The authorities played deaf and Egypt continues to host them.

Wasel slapped a fatwa on watching solar eclipses and another on bullfights, but refused to support rights activists in their campaign to outlaw female genital mutilation.
9923  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 05, 2011, 06:18:05 PM

Anti-Christian Drumbeat Loud Before Egypt Attack
In Church Attack, Egypt Looking At Islamic Hard-liners At Home, Possible Al-Qaida Influence

(AP)  CAIRO (AP) - In the weeks before the New Year's Day suicide bombing of an Egyptian church, al-Qaida-linked websites carried a how-to manual on "destroying the cross," complete with videos on how to build a bomb and the locations of churches to target - including the one that was attacked.

They may have found a receptive audience in Alexandria, where increasingly radicalized Islamic hard-liners have been holding weekly anti-Christian demonstrations, filled with venomous slogans against the minority community.

The blast, which struck Saturday as worshippers were leaving midnight Mass at the Mediterranean city's Saints Church, killed 21 people.

President Hosni Mubarak has accused foreign groups of being behind the attack, which has sparked a wave of angry protests by Christians in Egypt.

But on the ground, investigators are searching in a different direction - scrutinizing homegrown hard-liners, known as Salafis, and the possibility they were inspired by al-Qaida.

Only two or three days before Saturday's bombing, police arrested several Salafis spreading fliers in Alexandria calling for violence against Christians, a security official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

According to authorities, the strong belief among investigators is that local extremists who knew the area and the nature of their target were behind the blast. The Egyptian weekly Al-Youm Al-Saba said police were examining photos of the Salafis' weekly protests for suspects.

In the weeks before the attack, al-Qaida militants on the Web spewing calls for "jihad," or holy war, on Egypt's Christians laid out everything anyone would need to carry out a bombing.

One widely circulated posting includes a so-called "Jihadi Encyclopedia for the Destruction of the Cross," with a series of 10 videos describing how to build a bomb.

In the videos, an unidentified militant in a white lab coat and a black mask is shown listing the ingredients to make TNT and mixing up the chemicals in beakers.

The site lists Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, along with phone numbers and addresses - including Alexandria's Saints Church. "Blow up the churches while they are celebrating Christmas or any other time when the churches are packed," it says.

Security officials say they were aware of the online "how-to manual" before the church bombing and are examining any links between it and the material posted on Islamic websites.

One main Salafi group, the Salafi Movement in Alexandria, issued a statement condemning the bombing, saying its preachings "reject such practices."

The ultra-conservative Salafi ideology has been gaining followers throughout Egypt in recent years, preaching a return to the ways of early Muslims. It calls for strict segregation of the sexes and rejection of any religious "innovations," such as permitting boys and girls to attend school together or collecting interest on bank loans.

The movement has spread across class lines, among wealthy businessmen, the middle class and urban poor. Men grow long beards and shave off mustaches, to imitate the Prophet Muhammad. Women wear the black niqab robes and veil, which envelop the entire body and face, showing only the eyes.

In many ways, it resembles the doctrine of al-Qaida, with one major difference - while it advocates jihad against "foreign occupiers" in Iraq or Afghanistan, it rejects holy war inside Egypt, at least for now.

But many observers warn that some members are growing more radicalized and have begun to advocate jihad within the country, providing fertile ground for al-Qaida influence.
9924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 05, 2011, 05:51:41 PM
The problem is Egypt is very brittle. Were the Muslim Brotherhood to take over, things for the Copts, as well as average Egyptians would be much worse off. Keep in mind that those who could take power in Egypt see the pyramids and other artifacts there as something they'd like to destroy, just as the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas in Bamiyan. And, like the talibs, the destruction of artifacts would be the least of the horrible things done by them.

Egypt used to be very westernized, now salafism is taking deep root in the population. This does not bode well for the future. Classic Egyptian things, like belly dancing are going away because they are "unislamic".
9925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Prisoners stealing our money via the IRS on: January 05, 2011, 01:02:35 PM

IRS dithers while prisoners file phony tax returns, collect millions in refunds

By: Byron York 01/04/11 9:33 PM
Chief Political Correspondent

The number of prisoners who file false tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service has more than doubled in the last five years, according to a new Treasury Department report, and the amount of money the IRS has mistakenly refunded to those prisoners has nearly tripled.  Meanwhile, the report, from the Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration, accuses the IRS of failing to enforce a law passed by Congress in 2008 to crack down on false returns coming from the nation's prisons.

According to the study, in 2009, prisoners filed 44,944 false tax returns, attempting to claim $295.1 million in refunds.  The report says IRS officials caught the fraud in many cases and stopped $256 million of that from being refunded -- but the IRS did mistakenly pay $39.1 million in refunds to prisoners filing fraudulent returns.  The report also notes that there is some evidence that fraud is even more widespread than these figures suggest.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:
9926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 05, 2011, 12:27:39 PM

As a result of the policies of Teddy Kollek, the mayor of Jerusalem from 1966 to 1993, facilities were provided for the Arab minority of East Jerusalem far beyond anything introduced under Jordanian rule, including a sewer and piped water system, clinics, libraries, parks and gardens. Access to Israeli hospitals was unrestricted. The Arab neighborhoods also grew in both size and prosperity. The Christian Arab communities declined, however, with many leading Christian Arab families emigrating, as they had in what had been largely Christian Bethlehem, because of Muslim hostility.

The Christian communities inside Jerusalem have suffered throughout the centuries from chronic disagreements among themselves, and from frequent hostility and neglect by the city's rulers. With reunification in 1967, Israel pledged to uphold freedom of access and worship, and this pledge has been kept. The Via Dolorosa is among the city's busiest routes. Christians of every denomination (there are more than thirty in the city) worship at their holy places, which are often divided between two or more denominations, and were in the past much fought over, amid blows and curses. Those in search of the Garden of Gethsemane can ,choose among three different sites, depending on the branch of their faith. Two different sites, one inside and one outside the present Old City walls, are both claimed as the true Calgary. Within the Holy Sepulchre, where the most visited of these Calgarys is located, six separate Christian denominations have their custodians; each has its own altars and places of worship. Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Armenians, Protestants and Copts are the main Christian groups in the city. Each has its own needs, aspirations, properties, leaders and worshipers. For several years a Mormon university has been an impressive feature of Mount Scopus, adjacent to the Hebrew University.

Under Israeli rule, Christian worship is unimpeded. Churches can now be freely built and freely repaired. Outside Christian interests are continually asserted. This summer, the first Vatican emissary to Israel since 1948 asked for special consideration of Roman Catholic needs. Within a month, an emissary from President Boris Yeltsin of Russia pressed the concerns of the new Russia for a voice. Israel responded by agreeing to continue to uphold the needs of all Christian religious denominations. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres informed the Russian emissary that whereas political rights, of which the Russians also had spoken, must be retained by Israel, the spiritual rights of all religious groups would be scrupulously upheld.
9927  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy & Big Brother (both State and Corporate) on: January 05, 2011, 11:30:56 AM
The argument is that there is a right of privacy enjoyed in the public venue by law enforcement and unauthorized  audio/video is a form of wiretapping.

My argument, along with the ACLU and Radley Balko (to my regret) is that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in public.
9928  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy & Big Brother (both State and Corporate) on: January 05, 2011, 11:15:40 AM
Well, they had to pass it to find out what's in it.

9929  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Muslim politician stands against blasphemy law on: January 05, 2011, 08:21:54 AM
**Whoops! Nevermind.

4 January 2011 Last updated at 17:54 ET

Punjab Governor Salman Taseer assassinated in Islamabad

Salman Taseer was repeatedly shot at close range with a sub-machine gun

    * In pictures: Taseer assassination
    * Your reaction to the killing
    * Pakistan's very unhappy new year

The influential governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, has died after being shot by one of his bodyguards in the capital, Islamabad.

Mr Taseer, a senior member of the Pakistan People's Party, was shot when getting into his car at a market.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the guard had told police that he killed Mr Taseer because of the governor's opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law.

Many were angered by his defence of a Christian woman sentenced to death.
9930  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / When feminists cite figures, better recheck facts on: January 05, 2011, 07:54:00 AM
A skeptical eye
When feminists cite figures, better recheck facts

MEMO:  Christina Hoff Sommers is professor of philosophy at Clark
University. This article, which first appeared in the National
Review, is adapted from her book ``Who Stole Feminism?'' (Simon &
   In Revolution from Within, Gloria Steinem informed her readers
that "in this country alone . . . about 150,000 females die of
anorexia each year." That is more than three times the annual
number of auto fatalities. Steinem refers readers to Naomi Wolf's
The Beauty Myth, where one again finds the statistic, along with
the author's outrage. "How," Wolf asks, "would America react to the
mass self-immolation by hunger of its favorite sons?"
   Where did Wolf get her figures? Her source is Fasting Girls: The
Emergence of Anorexia Nervosa as a Modern Disease by Joan Brumberg,
former director of women's studies at Cornell University. She, too,
is fully aware of the political significance of the startling
statistic. She points out that the women who study eating problems
"seek to demonstrate that these disorders are an inevitable
consequence of a misogynistic society that demeans women . . . by
objectifying their bodies." Brumberg, in turn, attributes the
figure to the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association.
   I called the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association and spoke
to Dr. Diane Mickley, its president. "We were misquoted," she said.
In a 1985 newsletter the association had referred to 150,000 to
200,000 sufferers (not fatalities) of anorexia nervosa.
   What is the correct morbidity rate? Most experts are reluctant
to give exact figures, but  Thomas Dunn of the Division of Vital
Statistics at the National Center for Health Statistics reports
that in 1991 there were 54 deaths from anorexia nervosa and no
deaths from bulimia. The deaths of these young women are a tragedy,
certainly, but in a country of 100 million adult females, such
numbers are hardly evidence of "mass self-immolation."
   Yet now the false figure, supporting the view that our "sexist
society" demeans women by objectifying their bodies, is widely
accepted as true.
   Will Steinem advise her readers of the egregious statistical
error?  Will it even matter? By now, the 150,000 figure has made it
into college textbooks.
   The anorexia "crisis" is only one example of the kind of
provocative but inaccurate information being purveyed by women
about "women's issues."  On Nov. 4, 1992, Deborah Louis, president
of the National Women's Studies Association, sent a message to the
Women's Studies Electronic Bulletin Board: "According to (the) last
March of Dimes report, domestic violence (vs. pregnant women) is
now responsible for more birth defects than all other causes
combined. Personally this strikes me as the most disgusting piece
of data I've seen in a long while." This was, indeed, unsettling
news. But it seemed implausible.
   I called the March of Dimes to get a copy of the report. A
spokeswoman  denied any knowledge of it. I did a search and found
that - study or no study - journalists around the country were
citing it.
   I called the March of Dimes again. Andrea Ziltzer of their media
relations department told me that the rumor was spinning out of
   When I finally reached Jeanne McDowell, who had written the Time
article, the first thing she said was, "That was an error." She
sounded genuinely sorry and embarrassed. She explained that she is
always careful about checking sources, but this time, for some
reason, she had not. An official retraction finally appeared in the
magazine on Dec. 6, 1993.
   I asked McDowell about her source. She had relied on information
given her by the San Francisco Family Violence Prevention Fund,
which had obtained it from Sarah Buel, a founder of the
domestic-violence advocacy project at Harvard Law School. She in
turn had obtained it from Caroline Whitehead, a maternal nurse and
child-care specialist in Raleigh, N.C. I called Whitehead.
   "It blows my mind. It is not true," she said. The whole mix-up
began, she explained, when she introduced Sarah Buel as a speaker
at a 1989 conference for nurses and social workers. In presenting
her, Whitehead mentioned that according to some March of Dimes
research she had seen, more women are screened for birth defects
than are ever screened for domestic battery. Whitehead had said
nothing at all about battery causing birth defects. "Sarah
misunderstood me," she said.
   I called Buel and told her that it seemed she had misheard
Caroline Whitehead. She was surprised. "Oh, I must have
misunderstood her. I'll have to give her a call. She is my
source." She thanked me for having informed her of the error,
pointing out that she had been about to repeat it yet again in a new
   Why was everybody so credulous? Battery responsible for more
birth defects than all other causes combined? More than genetic
disorders such as spina bifida, Down's syndrome, Tay-Sachs,
sickle-cell anemia? More than congenital heart disorders? More than
alcohol, crack or AIDS - more than all these things combined? Where
were the fact-checkers, the editors, the skeptical journalists?
   To that question we must add another: Why are certain feminists
so eager to put men in a bad light? I shall try to answer both
these questions.
   American feminism is currently dominated by a group of women who
seek to persuade the public that American women are not the free
creatures we think we are. The leaders and theorists of the women's
movement believe that our society is best described as a
patriarchy, a "male hegemony," in which the dominant gender works
to keep women cowering and submissive.
 Believing that women are virtually under siege, the "gender
feminists" naturally seek recruits to their side of the gender war.
They seek support. They seek vindication. tion. They seek
   They are constantly on the lookout for the smoking gun, the
telling fact that will drive home how profoundly the system is
rigged against women. It is not enough to remind us that many
brutal and selfish men harm women. They must persuade us that the
system itself sanctions male brutality.
   Thus gender-feminist ideology holds that physical menace toward
women is the norm. Gloria Steinem's portrait of male-female
intimacy under patriarchy is typical: "Patriarchy requires violence
or the subliminal threat of violence in order to maintain itself .
. . The most dangerous situation for a woman is not an unknown man
in the street, or even the enemy in wartime, but a husband or lover
in the isolation of their own home."
   Steinem's description of the dangers women face in their own
home is reminiscent of the Super Bowl hoax of January 1993.
Here is
the chronology:
   On Jan. 27, a news conference was called in Pasadena, Calif.,
site of the forthcoming Super Bowl game, by a coalition of women's
groups. At the news conference, reporters were informed that Super
Bowl Sunday "is the biggest day of the year for violence against
women." Forty percent more women would be battered on that day,
said Sheila Kuehl of the California Women's Law Center, citing a
study done at Virginia's Old Dominion University.
   On Jan. 28, Lenore Walker, a Denver psychologist and author of
The Battered Woman, appeared on Good Morning America claiming to
have compiled a 10-year record showing a sharp increase in violent
incidents against women on Super Bowl Sundays. And on Jan. 29, a
story in the Boston Globe reported that women's shelter and
hotlines are "flooded with more calls from victims (on Super Bowl
Sunday) than on any other day of the year."
   In this roiling sea of media credulity was a lone island of
professional integrity. Ken Ringle, a Washington Post staff writer,
took the time to call around. When he asked Janet Katz, professor
of sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion and one of the
principal authors of the study cited by Kuehl, about the connection
between violence and football games, she said: "That's not what we
found at all." Instead, she told him, they had found that an
increase in emergency-room admissions "was not associated with the
occurrence of football games in general."
   Despite Ringle's expose, however, the Super Bowl "statistic"
will be with us for a while, doing its divisive work of generating
fear and resentment.
   In the book How to Make the World a Better Place for Women in
Five Minutes a Day, a comment under the heading "Did You Know?"
informs readers that "Super Bowl Sunday is the most violent day of
the year, with the highest reported number of domestic battering
cases." How a belief in that misandrist canard can make the world a
better place for women is not explained.

9931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 05, 2011, 07:12:20 AM

"But you harp on the Copts.
Besides sympathy (doesn't buy you a cup of coffee), is there something you suggest we do?"

**Prepare to take in a bunch if Egypt decides to get Armenian on them.
9932  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Emasculation of Men In Contempory Society on: January 05, 2011, 06:14:22 AM

Yes, an otherwise healthy male will become abusive to women by watching football. It's like feeding a gremlin after midnight.
9933  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Top Ten screw ups on: January 05, 2011, 06:09:57 AM

11. Obamacare
9934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Egypt Cuts a Deal: Christians Fed to Muslim 'Lions' on: January 04, 2011, 08:56:16 PM
Egypt Cuts a Deal: Christians Fed to Muslim 'Lions'

by Raymond Ibrahim
Hudson New York
October 18, 2010

For centuries, the Copts — Egypt's Christian, indigenous inhabitants — have been subject to persecution, discrimination, humiliation, and over all subjugation in their homeland (etymologically, "Copt" simply means "Egyptian").  In the medieval era, such treatment was a standard aspect of sharia's dhimmi codes, first ratified under Caliph Omar in the 7th century and based on Koran 9:29.  Conversely, during the colonial era and into the mid 20th century, as Egypt experimented with westernization and nationalism, religious discrimination was markedly subdued.  Today, however, as Egypt all but spearheads the Islamist movement — giving the world Sayyid Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Aymen Zawahiri in the process — that is, as Egypt reverts to its medieval character, the Copts find themselves again in a period of severe persecution.

And there appears to be no one to stop it — not even those most accountable: America's friend and ally, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his government.  Indeed, recent events indicate that the Mubarak regime is intentionally inciting Egypt's Muslims against the Copts.

Consider: on September 15, prominent Egyptian  Muhammad Salim al-Awwa, ex-secretary general of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, appeared on Al Jazeera and, in a wild tirade, accused the Copts of "stocking arms and ammunitions in their churches and monasteries"— imported from Israel, no less, since "Israel is in the heart of the Coptic Cause" — and "preparing to wage war against Muslims."

He warned that if nothing is done, the "country will burn," urging Muslims to "counteract the strength of the [Coptic] Church."  Al-Awwa further charged that Egypt's security forces cannot enter the monasteries to investigate for weapons — an amazing assertion, considering that Coptic monasteries are not only at the mercy of the state, but easy prey to Islamist/Bedouin attacks.

Needless to say, these remarks have inflamed Muslim passions (not to mention paranoia) against Egypt's Christians, who make approximately 12% of the population.  To make matters worse, right on the heels of al-Awwa's "monastery-conspiracy-theory," Islamist leaders began to circulate baseless rumors that the Church and Pope Shenouda III "kidnap" Coptic women who willingly convert to Islam, and trap them in desert monasteries, "torturing" and "re-indoctrinating" them back to Christianity — even when the women in question publicly insist they never converted to Islam.

Due to all these allegations, since last month, there have been at least ten mass demonstrations in Egypt — most numbering in the thousands — condemning the Copts, the Coptic Church, and Pope Shenouda.  The "Front of Islamic Egypt" issued a statement promising the Copts a "blood bath."  Most recently, on October 8, Muslim demonstrators chanted "Shenouda, just wait, we will dig your grave with our own hands," while burning the 86 year-old pope's effigy.

At the very least, the usually intrusive Mubarak regime could have easily dispelled the absurd rumor that Coptic monks, among Egypt's most humble figures, were stockpiling weapons for an imaginary coup d'état in Egypt, by formally investigating and clearing the monasteries of the charge.  Same with the ludicrous rumors that the Pope is kidnapping and torturing Coptic women who freely convert to Islam — an especially odd rumor considering the reverse is true: in Egypt, Christian women are regularly kidnapped and compelled to embrace Islam.

To further exasperate matters, on September 26, Al Azhar, a formal state body of Egypt, denounced a remark on Koran 5:17, which accuses Christians of being "infidels," made by a Coptic clergyman at an internal meeting on dogma, as "blasphemous."  It further took this opportunity to state formally that citizenship rights in Egypt "are conditional to respect for the Islamic identity" of Egypt, thereby reversing any modern progress made regarding Egyptian equality and reinforcing the Copts' historical role as dhimmis (i.e., conditionally tolerated religious minorities). Pope Shenouda was further compelled to publicly apologize "if our Muslim brothers' feelings were hurt."

All this in a nation where Christian and Jewish scriptures are systematically denounced as fabricated.  Indeed, mere weeks earlier, a well known publishing house in Egypt issued a book dedicated to "proving" that Christians had forged the Bible.  Such double standards are well entrenched: after all, whereas the Coptic clergyman privately remarked on a Koranic verse, the Egyptian government openly interferes with Christian doctrine, while preventing Muslims from converting to Christianity, in accordance to sharia's ridda, or apostasy, laws.  For example, Mohammad Hegazy is one of many Egyptians who tried formally to change his religion from Muslim to Christian on his I.D. card —in Egypt, people are Gestapo-like categorized by their religion — only to be denied by the Egyptian court. (Many other such anecdotes abound.)

Considering the citizenship rights Copts enjoyed in the early to mid 20th century, how did things come to this pass?  Much of this can be traced to Mubarak's predecessor, Anwar Sadat, who altered Egypt's Constitution — by adding Article 2, "sharia is the principle source of legislation" — only to be rewarded, ironically, with assassination by the Islamist "Frankenstein monster" he had empowered.  Since then, there has been a tacit agreement between the government and the Islamists.  As Youssef Ibrahim puts it, the agreement "turned over to Islamists control in media, education, and government administrations in return for allowing Mr. Mubarak's rule to go on unchallenged, setting the stage … for his son, Gamal, to succeed him. As part of the deal, [Mubarak] agreed to feed Egypt's Christians to the growing Islamic beast."

Hence the dire situation the Copts find themselves in.  Magdi Khalil, a human rights activist at the forefront of the "Coptic question," states that "Egypt is on the verge of chaos and change of regime and there is a plan for Copts to pay the price of this predicted chaos, by directing the surplus violence, hate and barbarism towards them."   This redirection onto the Copts is obvious even in subtle things: aside from the habitual anti-Copt indoctrination that goes on in mosques — all of the aforementioned demonstrations occurred immediately after Friday's mosque prayers — Egypt's state run public education system also marginalizes, if not ostracizes, the Copts (see, for example, Adel Guindy's "The Talibanization of Education in Egypt.")

More obvious proof of the government's complicity is the fact that, not only has it not prevented or dispersed the increasingly rabid demonstrations against the Copts — the way it viciously and unequivocally does whenever any protests are directed against itself — but Egyptian security, as Magdi Khalil affirmed in a phone conversation, actually facilitate, and sometimes participate, in these mass demonstrations.  After all, Islamists who publicly call for the death of the Pope do so, writes Ibrahim Eissa, "knowing quite well that State Security will not touch them, since demonstrations are directed against the Pope and not the President, the Church and not the inheritance issue [Gamal Mubarak as successor of his father]. Those who go out in Jihad against 'inheritance,' democracy and election fraud are beaten mercilessly by security forces but those who go out to incite sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians believe …that they are the friends and 'buddies' of the police and the State Security."

As history teaches, whenever a majority group casts all its woes onto a minority group, great tragedy often follows. This is especially so when the majority group in question begins taking on an Islamist—that is, intolerant, violent, and medieval — character.  Yet if Egypt's "secular" government and U.S. ally is willing to sacrifice the Coptic scapegoat to appease the ever-burgeoning Islamist monster it has been nurturing for some four decades, to whom can Egypt's Christians look for relief?

Raymond Ibrahim is associate director of the Middle East Forum, author of The Al Qaeda Reader, and guest lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College.
9935  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 04, 2011, 08:44:35 PM
Yes, Israel is a sober and responsible custodian of it's nukes. Any surrounding neighbors you'd want to have nukes, JDN?
9936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 04, 2011, 08:32:11 PM

Good parenting here. Preparing them to live in peace?
9937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 04, 2011, 08:24:18 PM
To an extent, it is a bribe. At the same time, Israel would stomp a mudhole in Egypt's ass in another war, both sides know it. The world's worst kept secret is Israel's nuclear weapons. Israel has no dreams for expansion, conquest. Israel just wants to survive and not be the subject of endless threats and attacks. Israel protects islamic holy sites, including the dome of the rock mosque from those that would destroy it to bring about the "end times", despite the way Jews are treated in the muslim world.

Israel protects christians and other religious minorities in Israel. Christians elsewhere in the middle east enjoy no such protections, even under "dhimmi" status.
9938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / That darn Mossad! on: January 04, 2011, 03:21:24 PM

Even willing to pretend to be muslims and chant "allah akbar" as the car bomb burned.....
9939  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 04, 2011, 03:06:05 PM
Seventeen members of Congress are pressing the State Department to act on the "grim reality" faced by Coptic Christian women in Egypt, who frequently are coerced into violent forced marriages that leave them victim to rape and captive slavery.

The bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote on April 16 to Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca, who heads up American efforts to thwart human trafficking around the globe.

In their letter, they exhort the State Department to confront the "criminal phenomenon" of forced marriage they say is on the rise in Egypt, where the 7 million Coptic Christians often face criminal prosecution and civic violence for their rejection of Islam.

"I think it is about as bad as it can be" for Copts and other religious minorities in Egypt, said Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., who penned the letter. "It is very tough to be a Coptic Christian."

The official communication to the State Department outlined just what women face when forced into marriages with Muslim men: "physical and sexual violence, captivity ... exploitation in forced domestic servitude or commercial sexual exploitation, and financial benefit to the individuals who secure the forced conversion of the victim."

Wolf and the other lawmakers say this bears all the hallmarks of human trafficking and want the State Department to include reports of the abductions in their next Trafficking in Persons report, which is due in June.

"Keep in mind that we have given Egypt about $53 billion since Camp David" — the 1978 peace accords between Israel and Egypt that were arranged by the U.S. government — "so we're actually funding them," Wolf said.

The State Department's 2009 report on trafficking singled out Egypt for its Level II Watchlist, noting that the government made only "minimal efforts to prevent trafficking in persons" last year.

But while it notes the plight of Sudanese women and others in bondage in Egypt, it does not mention Copts once — nor does the report mention Christians anywhere in its 324 pages.

Read more:
9940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 04, 2011, 02:36:04 PM

Aid is central to Washington's relationship with Cairo. The US has provided Egypt with $1.3 billion a year in military aid since 1979, and an average of $815 million a year in economic assistance. All told, Egypt has received over $50 billion in US largesse since 1975.

Egyptian Security Guards Withdrew One Hour Before Church Blast, Say Eyewitnesses
Posted GMT 1-2-2011 5:26:13

(AINA) -- The car explosion that went off in front of Saints Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria killed 21 and injured 96 parishioners who were attending a New Year's Eve Mass. According to church officials and eyewitnesses, there are many more victims that are still unidentified and whose body parts were strewn all over the street outside the church. The body parts were covered with newspapers until they were brought inside the church after some Muslims started stepping on them and chanting Jihadi chants (video showing dead bodies and limbs covered with newspapers in the street).

According to eyewitnesses, a green Skoda car pulled up outside the church shortly after midnight. Two men got out, one of them talked shortly on his mobile phone, and the explosion occurred almost immediately after they left the scene. On the back of the Skoda was a sticker with the words "the rest is coming" (video of car explosion and Muslims shouting "Allah Akbar").

It was reported that the bomb, locally made, had 100KG of explosives in addition to having nails, glass and iron balls inside. The strength of it not only caused glass panes to be shattered in all the neighborhood, but also made body parts fly into the building's fourth floor, and to the mosque facing the church.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but officials hastily blamed either Al-Qaida or the Israeli Mousad of being behind the blast, but none of them mentioned the Egyptian state security which is viewed by Copts as the real culprit.

To clear his security forces of negligence, the Minister of Interior said that the blast was an "individual" case, caused by a single suicide terrorist detonating his vest, and has nothing to do with an exploding car. The governor of Alexandria claimed the attack as being aimed at Muslims and Christians alike.

After the blast, traumatized Copts were angered by chants of "Allah Akbar" from Muslims and began hurling stones at the mosque. Immediately security forces which were absent during the car blast and the ensuing events, appeared and starting shooting tear gas at the Copts, and they in turn hurled stones at them, said an eyewitness. Fifteen Copts were rounded up from their homes by the authorities.
9941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 04, 2011, 01:28:03 PM
Perhaps you could clarify why you have one standard for Japan and a different one for Israel.
9942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Decline and Fall of the American Empire-1 on: January 04, 2011, 01:05:53 PM

What decades of democrats in power gets you.

Coming soon, pictures from California.
9943  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 04, 2011, 12:53:37 PM
"I rarely see anywhere PUBLIC published displays of racism in Japan by government employees.  Or if it did happen, there is a quick apology or resignation."

**Shintaro Ishihara has been Tokyo's governor since 1999.

As a politician Ishihara has seldom ducked a controversy. He has said, for example, that reports of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre that Japanese troops inflicted on China have been exaggerated, and he has called for Japan to abandon its pacifist constitution and develop a full-fledged military. Ishihara steps into the minefield of racial politics so often, and with such disastrous results, that one of his top aides conceded that he was relieved his boss took a day last week to inspect a forest on the outskirts of Tokyo. "I am not xenophobic," Ishihara insisted in an interview with Time. "I'm just patriotic."

But to many, Ishihara's rhetoric seemed unforgivable last week, as he told the Self-Defense Forces that he planned to hold a big emergency drill in September, to prepare for a disaster such as an earthquake. It was in that context that he spoke about the dangers of rioting foreigners. "I hope you will not only fight against disasters but also maintain public security on such occasions," he said. "I hope you will show the Japanese people and the Tokyo people what the military is for in this state."

His comments were made in a prepared speech, not in off-the-cuff remarks. And his use of the inflammatory term sangokujin rekindled images of xenophobia that Japan has been trying to shake off for half a century. Sangokujin, literally "people from third countries," was a derogatory word used by Japanese when referring to laborers brought from Taiwan and Korea before and during World War II and then expelled after Japan's defeat. Ishihara's use of the term was particularly hurtful, because of the race-baiting that erupted after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. With no evidence, Koreans in Japan were accused of poisoning wells, setting fires and looting stores and homes. As those rumors spread, thousands of Koreans were rounded up and killed by mobs of Japanese.

Whatever the roots of Ishihara's attitudes on race, many believe that his rhetoric should disqualify him from higher office. "If a person with such 19th-century nationalistic thinking is in power, there is no guarantee that a nightmare will not be repeated," says Shin Sug Ok, a business consultant of Korean descent. Treatment of foreigners is a sensitive issue in Japan. Residents of Korean descent, even those whose families have lived in Japan for several generations, still do not have the right to vote. Last year, there were several brawls between Japanese and Brazilians of Japanese ancestry. There are still onsen, or public bathing facilities, that bar foreigners from entering. Makoto Sataka, a prominent political commentator, calls Ishihara "ignorant and irresponsible," adding: "If similar comments had been made about Japanese nationals living overseas, how would they feel?"

9944  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 04, 2011, 12:41:13 PM
"It is my understanding that Japan pays more than their fair share for our troops on Japanese soil."

**Really? What would a fair share be?

"This is a bigger issue than the golf courses and free highway passes," Toma said. "It goes back to the fact that Okinawa was occupied after World War II and why the bases have to be here in the first place."

That sentiment is widely shared, and underscores a feeling that the bases should be spread out more evenly among Japan's main islands and Okinawa. Okinawa was one of the bloodiest battlefields of World War II, and Okinawans feel that the continued U.S. presence places an uneven burden on them, though the argument that all U.S. forces should leave Japan is not popular.

American officials say the deployment in Japan of troops, fighter jets and the only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier based outside the U.S. has enabled Japan to hold down its own defense costs in line with its pacifist constitution.

They say the U.S. presence also prevents an arms race in east Asia, acts as a deterrent against North Korea, and counters the rise of China.

Facilities such as on-base golf courses represent a small fraction of the sum U.S. taxpayers chip in for the defense of Japan — about $3.9 billion a year, according to a U.S. State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the details.
9945  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy & Big Brother (both State and Corporate) on: January 04, 2011, 11:11:04 AM

So, do you think the jurisdictions where police have arrested people for videotaping them in public venues are justified?
9946  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 04, 2011, 11:07:55 AM
Should we stop spending money defending Japan, given their much more xenophobic, racist nature than anything found in Israel?
9947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China on: January 04, 2011, 12:45:11 AM

There are some serious problems with some points here, like using Krugman to validate an argument , but still worth reading.
9948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How Japan does it. on: January 03, 2011, 09:23:11 PM

Promoting Social Equality And Reducing Income Inequality In Japan

Yetserday Nick Kristof delivered a daft column invoking income inequality as a proxy for social inequality and arguing that inequality is stressful and bad.  Since he went on to compare the United States unfavorably to Germany and Japan (and noted that Minnesota and New Hampshire showed less inequality than Mississippi and Louisiana), I took the obvious cheap shot and suggested that social cohesion is promoted by cultural homogeneity, that cultural diversity may well be stressful, and that racial diversity might be a useful proxy for cultural homogeneity.

The obvious conclusion, based on the examples presented by Kristof, is that racial diversity creates undesirable social stress.  An obvious public policy implication is that immigration should be discouraged.  Believe it or not, Kristof did not reach those conclusions, since they don't fit his narrative.  Instead, he rode the data to his preconceived destination, which is that we need to tax the rich and spread the wealth.  Yeah, yeah - if you aren't going to let the data tell its story, why send it on stage?  Or, if the data leads to unacceptable conclusions, maybe the premises are wrong (e.g., maybe social stress is bad but it is a necessary consequence of achieving other goods.)

Well.  As if on cue, the Times has a front-pager telling us how they reduce income inequality and maintain social cohesion in laudable Japan - they kick out foreigners, thereby propping up wages:

Japan Keeps a High Wall for Foreign Labor

KASHIWA, Japan — Maria Fransiska, a young, hard-working nurse from Indonesia, is just the kind of worker Japan would seem to need to replenish its aging work force.

But Ms. Fransiska, 26, is having to fight to stay. To extend her three-year stint at a hospital outside Tokyo, she must pass a standardized nursing exam administered in Japanese, a test so difficult that only 3 of the 600 nurses brought here from Indonesia and the Philippines since 2007 have passed.

So Ms. Fransiska spends eight hours in Japanese language drills, on top of her day job at the hospital. Her dictionary is dog-eared from countless queries, but she is determined: her starting salary of $2,400 a month was 10 times what she could earn back home. If she fails, she will never be allowed to return to Japan on the same program again.

“I think I have something to contribute here,” Ms. Fransiska said during a recent visit, spooning mouthfuls of rice and vegetables into the mouth of Heiichi Matsumaru, an 80-year-old patient recovering from a stroke. “If I could, I would stay here long-term, but it is not so easy.”

Despite facing an imminent labor shortage as its population ages, Japan has done little to open itself up to immigration. In fact, as Ms. Fransiska and many others have discovered, the government is doing the opposite, actively encouraging both foreign workers and foreign graduates of its universities and professional schools to return home while protecting tiny interest groups — in the case of Ms. Fransiska, a local nursing association afraid that an influx of foreign nurses would lower industry salaries.

In 2009, the number of registered foreigners here fell for the first time since the government started to track annual records almost a half-century ago, shrinking 1.4 percent from a year earlier to 2.19 million people — or just 1.71 percent of Japan’s overall population of 127.5 million.

OK, it looks like national suicide to me and it could never work in America (nor should it be attempted at this level, although we need stricter border control and workplace enforcement), but this is a country Nick Kristof is holding up as our goal.
9949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: January 03, 2011, 09:15:48 PM
Gotta love the silly putty-like flexibility of the prime directive.  rolleyes
9950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: January 03, 2011, 09:10:47 PM
In my example, you are attempting to collate and document the actual events. What sources do you use? What would you avoid and why?
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