Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Powerful Christian Witness Causes Hindu Bomber to Repent

I just read this on Voice of the Martyrs and wanted to share it with others:

KATHMANDU, Nepal, December 30 (CDN) — Disillusioned with Hindu nationalists, the leader of a militant Hindu extremist group told Compass that contact with Christians in prison had led him to repent of bombing a Catholic church here in May 2008.

Ram Prasad Mainali, the 37-year-old chief of the Nepal Defense Army (NDA), was arrested on Sept. 5 for exploding a bomb in the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, in the Lalitpur area of Kathmandu on May 23. The explosion killed a teenager and a newly-married woman from India’s Bihar state and injured more than a dozen others.

In Kathmandu’s jail in the Nakkhu area, Mainali told Compass he regretted bombing the church.

“I bombed the church so that I could help re-establish Nepal as a Hindu nation,” he said. “There are Catholic nations, there are Protestant nations and there are also Islamic nations, but there is no Hindu nation. But I was wrong. Creating a religious war cannot solve anything, it will only harm people.”

Mainali, who is married and has two small daughters, added that he wanted members of all religions to be friendly with one other.

Asked how the change in him came about, he said he had been attending a prison fellowship since he was transferred to Nakkhu Jail from Central Jail four months ago.

“I have been reading the Bible also, to know what it says,” he said.

Of the 450 prisoners in the Nakkhu Jail, around 150 attend the Nakkhu Gospel Church inside the prison premises.

Mainali said he began reading the Bible after experiencing the graciousness of prison Christians.

“Although I bombed the church, Christians come to meet me everyday,” he said. “No rightwing Hindu has come to meet me even once.”


There is much more at the Compass Direct website.

I bolded that sentence about how experiencing the graciousness of Christians was the key. I have been thinking I post too much negative material on this blog and the negative focus is not spiritually wholesome for me or a good Christian witness. Posting the negative material has been helpful for me in identifying what I am concerned about. But, starting now and for this coming year, I am going to try to shift the focus of this blog a little.

Hat Tip: Voice of the Martyrs

Monday, December 21, 2009

Israel: Forensic institute did harvest body parts from Palestinians in 1990's

Well, they harvested body parts without the families' permission from both Israelis and Palestinians. Actual numbers of bodies from different ethnic groups used is not provided in the AP article, so we can't really know how much this was an abuse of Palestinians or a crime of opportunity .

How disappointing:

1) to find out there was truth to the accusations,

2) that Israel did not put this man in jail, and,

3) that this is coming out now because an anthropology professor at UC Berkeley,Nancy Scheper-Hughes, decided to release the interview she conducted in 2000 with the man who was head of the forensics lab at the time, not Israel government motivated.

The AP story:

Israel has admitted that in the 1990s, its forensic pathologists harvested organs from dead bodies, including Palestinians, without permission of their families.

The issue emerged with publication of an interview with the then-head of Israel's Abu Kabir forensic institute, Dr. Jehuda Hiss. The interview was conducted in 2000 by an American academic, who released it because of a huge controversy last summer over an allegation by a Swedish newspaper that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to harvest their organs. Israel hotly denied the charge.

Parts of the interview were broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 TV over the weekend. In it, Hiss said, "We started to harvest corneas ... Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family."

The Channel 2 report said that in the 1990s, forensic specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.

In a response to the TV report, the Israeli military confirmed that the practice took place. "This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer," the military said in a statement quoted by Channel 2.

In the interview, Hiss described how his doctors would mask the removal of corneas from bodies. "We'd glue the eyelid shut," he said. "We wouldn't take corneas from families we knew would open the eyelids."

Many of the details in the interview first came to light in 2004, when Hiss was dismissed as head of the forensic institute because of irregularities over use of organs there. Israel's attorney general dropped criminal charges against him, and Hiss still works as chief pathologist at the institute. He had no comment on the TV report.

Hiss became director of the institute in 1988. He said in the interview that the practice of harvesting organs without permission began in the "early 1990s." However, he also said that military surgeons removed a thin layer of skin from bodies as early as 1987 to treat burn victims. Hiss said he believed that was done with family consent. The harvesting ended in 2000, he said.

Complaints against the institute, where autopsies of dead bodies are performed, at the time of Hiss' dismissal came from relatives of Israeli soldiers and civilians as well as Palestinians. The bodies belonged to people who died from various causes, including diseases, accidents and Israeli-Palestinian violence, but there has been no evidence to back up the claim in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians for their organs. Angry Israeli officials called the report "anti-Semitic."

The academic, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley, said she decided to make the interview public in the wake of the Aftonbladet controversy, which raised diplomatic tensions between Israel and Sweden and prompted Sweden's foreign minister to call off a visit to the Jewish state.

Scheper-Hughes said that while Palestinians were "by a long shot" not the only ones affected by the practice in the 1990s, she felt the interview must be made public now because "the symbolism, you know, of taking skin of the population considered to be the enemy, (is) something, just in terms of its symbolic weight, that has to be reconsidered."

While insisting that all organ harvesting was done with permission, Israel's Health Ministry told Channel 2, "The guidelines at that time were not clear." It added, "For the last 10 years, Abu Kabir has been working according to ethics and Jewish law."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

USA: 1 in 110 children diagnosed on autism spectrum

A new CDC study of American eight year olds in 2006 found that about 1% had been diagnosed on the Autism spectrum (ranging from full autism to Asberger's disease). The prevalence in boys is 4 to 5 times the prevalence in girls. In Missouri, almost 2% of eight year old boys have been diagnosed on the autism specturm.

TIME magazine's article reporting on the study distinguishes between increases due to increased awareness and diagnoses versus increases due to an underlying increase in the condition.
Previous studies looking at a narrower population of youngsters have suggested that as much as 40% of the rise in autism cases might be explained by broader diagnostic definitions and by heightened awareness of the condition. But that still leaves 60% of the increase unaccounted for. "Most scientists believe there is something more than just awareness and a broadening definition that is responsible for the rise," says Dr. Gary Goldstein, president of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. "We are seeing some fraction of the increase that is probably due to more cases of autism."

TIME goes on to provide to specify some of the possible causes, focussing on the mother:
Since autism is generally diagnosed before age two, most scientists believe the factors that contribute to ASD occur during pregnancy, or in the months immediately following birth. A pregnant mother's advanced age might be one such influence, along with certain behavioral and environmental exposures she or her newborn baby may experience — any combination of which could be interacting with their particular genetic makeup to promote ASD. Isolating the most causative culprits will be a challenge, say autism experts. "There is so much stuff out there, whether it is diet or infection," says Goldstein. "We could make a list but it's got thousands of things on it."


The Wall Street Street Journal cites Catherine Rice, the CDC scientist who is the study's lead author, on the possible environmental factors leading to the increase:
Dr. Rice also said she couldn't rule out an actual increase in the number of autistic children. Research is under way into possible environmental factors, including vaccinations, household products and diet, as well as genetics, for potential causes, she said.


The Wall Street Journal also cites a source for the possibility that the age of the fathers may be a factor :
Philip Levy, president of YAI Network, a New York-based nonprofit that serves people with disabilities, including autism disorders, said the report confirmed that autism is "a continuing national health crisis." He added that some societal factors were helping to increase the risk of diagnosis. "With fathers in particular, there's a stronger correlation that has been made between older fathers and autistic children," Mr. Levy said.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

12 year old raped at SF East Bay middle school

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that a 12 year old girl was raped in the stairwell of Portola Middle School in El Cerrito last Thursday. Classes were in session. The accused boy is 14. There was a witness who went to get authorities.

A new article this morning in the Chronicle by Jill Tucker has a paragraph with some facts on the number of violent incidents and discipline measures taken at Portola Middle School. We learn that last Spring, some students a Portola attacked a music teacher, pelting her with rocks and knocking her to the ground.
Last school year, Portola reported 381 suspensions and two expulsions, including 76 incidents of violence or force - most notably the rock-throwing incident involving several students who attacked a music teacher, hitting her and knocking her to the ground after she refused them entry to a classroom. Yet overall, the school had a lower suspension/expulsion rate than most of the district's other middle schools, according to state Department of Education records.

If several students attacked the music teacher, there should be more than two expulsions for the year. This indicates an unwillingness to exercise appropriate discipline by the school's authorities. (Where is a Safe Schools Czar when we need one?)

Portola Middle School is in a neighborhood of homes that cost around half a million. Here is a Zillow of the neighborhood.

Across the street from Portola is the Middle School of Prospect Sierra School, a private K-8.
Tuition for 2009-2010

Elementary School (K-4): $18,975
Middle School (5-8): $20,950


So, the family pays $500,000 for a home. And for an additional $21,000 a year, they can keep their children separated from the worst elements at their age level.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

California does Copenhagen

California has "hundreds, if not thousands" of politicians, "academic superstars, green-tech gurus, environmentalists and college students" at the climate conference in Copenhagen this week according to this article by Margot Roosevelt in the Los Angeles Times. And in this photograph accompanying the article, we can see not all are in fancy limousines. Some are walking the talk. Or biking the talk, anyway, whatever.


Daniel Sperling, a U.C. Davis professor, bicycles in Copenhagen with his California Air Resources Board colleague Anthony Eggert. (BreAnda Northcutt / For The Times.)

What are they there for?
None of the Californians are involved in the actual negotiations, which are led by diplomats behind closed doors. "Interacting with a delegate is about as likely as a comet colliding with a planet," said Margaret Bruce, director of the Center for Climate Action, a California-based nonprofit.

But that's not the idea. At hundreds of side panels, conferences, receptions and exhibits, everyone who is anyone in the world of carbon control gets a chance to rub shoulders with other players.

"This is Disneyland for policy wonks," said Gary Gero, president of the Los Angeles-based Climate Action Reserve, a nonprofit that designs protocols for greenhouse gas offsets.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rioting outside home of UC Berkeley chancellor

On Friday night at 11:15 pm around 70 people, several carrying torches, attacked UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's house while he and his wife were sleeping. They smashed planters, windows and lights and hurled their torches at the house. Birgenau's wife called the police, and when they arrived, most of the crowd dispersed, but some attacked the police.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that eight people were arrested on suspicion of rioting, threatening an education official, attempted burglary, attempted arson of an occupied building, vandalism and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer: Zachary Bowin, 21, and Angela Miller, 20, identified as UC Berkeley students and Julia Litmancleper, 20, of San Francisco; John Friesen, 25, of Fullerton (Orange County); Donnell Allen, 41, of San Francisco; David Morse, 41, of Oakland; Laura Thatcher, 21, of Rolling Hills Estates (Los Angeles County); and James Carwil, 31, of Brooklyn, N.Y..

The Sacramento Bee article identifies another two of the eight as UC Davis undergraduate art students:
Julia Litman-Cleper of San Francisco and Laura Thatcher of Rolling Hills Estates, listed among those arrested, were identified Sunday as undergraduate students in Davis.

and
In Davis, a programmer at the campus public service radio station KDVS FM 90.3 said Litman-Cleper serves as that station's production director.


So the four youngest are UC students. I wonder who the older men will turn out to be.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Spain: "Nonviolent" Islamic Salafism and Vigilante Sharia Law

I've added a new label for my blogs posts, Salafism. At the end of the post on the growing number of women wearing headscarves in Egypt, we came to understand that the Salafist goal was Sharia Law.

I didn't post the story of the woman in Spain who had been kidnapped and sentenced to death by a Sharia court for adultery, because I thought it was just a one off horrible peculiar story. But this analysis by Paola Del Vecchio for ANSAmed links the case to others in the region and attributes the behavior to Salafists. So, we may be looking at a trend:

SPAIN: CATALONIA, ISLAMIC MORAL BRIGADES IMPOSE SHARIA LAW**
(
MADRID, DECEMBER 8 - The reported capturing of a Muslim women in Reus (Tarragona) and the issuing of a stoning sentence for adultery by religious fanatics are a gauge of a phenomenon that has already appeared in Holland and France, and which is now taking root in Catalonia: the creation of Islamic "moral brigades" by fundamentalists, who claim the role of judges and police officers imposing a strict observance of Sharia, or Islamic law.

The theatre of the incursions of these Islamic "moral patrols" are the rural towns where the mosques are controlled by Salafists, a fundamentalist sect of Islam, with a substantial presence in the province of Tarragona. These groups are heavily inspired by the Koran and the rigid regulations applied in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

Confirming investigators' worries are several disturbing episodes reported by police. Specifically, on November 14, nine alleged Islamic extremists were arrested, accused of having captured and sentenced a Northern African woman to death after convicting her of adultery. The investigation, still in the preliminary phases, is classified. However, according to reports in the media, the woman was captured and held for three days in an abandoned factory, and then in the home of the group's spiritual leader in Reus, where she was tried before an "Islamic tribunal" made up of seven people, who found her guilty of infidelity and sentenced her to death by stoning. The woman, who was pregnant, managed to escape and call the Catalonian police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, for help, and she is currently under their protection. In the meanwhile, the operation against the fundamentalist cell is ongoing.

Investigators have warned that the phenomenon of these "brigades", which could increase, has not only been found in Tarragona, but also in the provinces of Girona and Segarra, where mosques are controlled by Salafites. Many of the victims do not dare report their persecution, and intimidation continues for them. Investigators have confirmed beatings and segregation by their parents or spouses of women who do not wear veils, and the case of a Moroccan teenager who was beaten because he played football with other non-Muslim children.


It is also important to note that Salafists have been understood to be apolitical and nonviolent. The AP article by Sarah al Deeb on Egyptian women wearing headscarves stated:
Salafi groups are nonpolitical and shun the violent teachings that drove Egypt's Islamic insurgency in the 1990s.

But Wikipedia has this entry about Salafi Jihadis. Notice that this entry actually classifies Al Queda as a Salafi group.

Hat Tip: Women Against Shariah

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

London: Honor Crimes Up 40% Due to Rising Fundamentalism

London's Mail Online has an article on the large increase in honor crimes and a source from the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation attributing the problem to the increase in fundamentalism. There has been a 40% figure ncrease comparing 2007-8 to 2008-9. But the increase has continued and the last six months of 2009 (through October) shows a 100% increase!

Police have seen 'honour' crime surge by 40 per cent due to rising fundamentalism, new figures show.
Honour-based violence, including crimes like murder, rape and kidnap has rocketed in London during the past year.
Reported instances of intimidation and attempts at forced marriage have also increased by 60 per cent.
A report into the scale of the problem by Scotland Yard found there were 161 honour-based incidents recorded in 2007-8, of which 93 were criminal offences.
But in 2008/9 the number of incidents had risen to 256, with 132 being criminal offences.
The latest figures indicate that the trend is continuing, with 211 incidents reported in the last six months until October, of which 129 were offences - more than double the number in the same period last year.

And the local women's group has seen a 400% increase:
Police define honour crimes as offences motivated by a desire to protect the honour of a family or community.
Diana Nammi, of the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation, said the group is now dealing with four times more complaints relating to honour than two years ago.
She said: 'More women are coming forward. They are becoming more aware of their rights in the UK, that there is help available and they feel confident enough to report matters to the police.
'But I also think cases and violence are increasing.
'One reason is the rise in fundamentalism. The problem is increasing in communities around the UK.
'We are seeing a rise not only in honour killings, but also in female genital mutilation and polygamy.'
She added: 'The rise in Sharia courts is another indication of more fundamental beliefs.
'There must be more support from the Government to organisations who are working to combat this problem.'
The Metropolitan Police also records incidents where no offences has been committed, such as complaints by women that they are under pressure to enter into forced marriages.

There are really three reasons for the increase in the police statistics: the rise in fundamentalism, more women coming forward and a new awareness within the police:
Earlier this year, police were issued with new guidance telling them to assume honour crimes have been committed in more circumstances.
Senior officers anticipated that the move would drive up figures as in many cases only limited information is available or a potential victim refuses to help police.
Detective Chief Inspector Gerry Campbell, of the Metropolitan Police, said: 'The description of this type of crime is misplaced. There is no honour in these crimes.'
Mr Campbell said the Met had improved its intelligence systems to better identify such crimes.
He said: 'Ten years ago our knowledge was almost absent but we have worked hard and our knowledge has improved substantially.'


Read it all here.

Hat Tip: Jihad Watch

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Egypt: Growing number of women wearing niqab

Great work by journalist Sarah El Deeb in her article for the AP on the growing number of women in Egypt wearing niqabs and the Egyptian government's efforts to curtail this. The populace has begun to embrace a conservative form of Islam, Salafism, similar to Saudi Arabia's Wahabism.

In European countries, particularly France, the debate over Islamic dress affects how to integrate Muslim immigrants and balance their rights with the majority population who find the dress an affront to women.

But in Egypt, the dynamic is different. Here, dressing in traditional Muslim garb is at odds with the secular government, which some view as autocratic and corrupt.

The debate underscores the gulf between the more secular elite, which wields economic and political power, and the disenfranchised masses who increasingly find solace in strict Islamic observance.

And women wearing the full body covering, the niqab, is the most visible outward sign.

A decade ago, the niqab was almost never seen in Egypt and it is still a minority fashion. Most women wear a scarf that covers the hair but not the face, often with tight jeans or clinging tops, despite clerics' complaints that formfitting clothes violate the whole point of "Islamic dress."

But today it is normal to see women in niqab, hidden under a veil that covers everything but the eyes, billowing black robes that cloak the body's shape, and often gloves. They are found at universities, teaching in schools, working in government offices and private companies, strolling along the Nile and riding on motorcycles behind their husbands.

The inspiration is Salafism, a movement that models itself on early Islam. Its doctrine is similar to Saudi Arabia's, and many trace its spread to Egyptians returning home from work in the kingdom and to Saudi-backed religious satellite TV stations.


Actually, the Wikipedia article on Salafi traces this more specifically:
Stéphane Lacroix, a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at Sciences Po in Paris, also affirmed a distinction between the two: "As opposed to Wahhabism, Salafism refers here to all the hybridations that have taken place since the 1960s between the teachings of Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab and other Islamic schools of thought. Al-Albani’s discourse can therefore be a form of Salafism, while being critical of Wahhabism."[44]

But despite their beginnings "as two distinct movements", the migration of Muslim Brotherhood members from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and Saudi King Faisal's "embrace of Salafi pan-Islamism resulted in cross-pollination between ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s teachings on tawhid, shirk and bid‘ah and Salafi interpretations of ahadith (the sayings of Muhammad).[45]

Regardless, it should still be pointed out that the terms "Salafi" and Wahhabi are not necessarily synonymous. Wahhabism has been variously described as a subset of Salafism,[6] a derogatory synonym for Salafism,[37] or a formerly separate current of Islamic thought that appropriated "language and symbolism of Salafism" until the two became "practically indistinguishable" in the 1970s.[46]

Comparison with Islamism

Salafism differs from the earlier contemporary Islamic revival movements of the 1970s and 1980s commonly referred to as Islamism, in that (at least many) Salafis reject not only Western ideologies such as Socialism and Capitalism, but also common Western concepts like economics, constitutions, political parties and revolution.

Salafi Muslims often promote not engaging in Western activities like politics, "even by giving them an Islamic slant."[47] Instead, it is thought that Muslims should stick to traditional activities, particularly Dawah. Salafis promote Sharia (Islamic law) rather than an Islamic political program or state.

(Note: My bolding. Also, I left the footnotes in and you can go to the Wikipedia article to follow up on them if you like.)


We can thus understand the niqab as a statement in favor of Shariah Law over secualr governments. And now returning to the AP article, we can understand that as universities and governments agencies seek to curtail the niqab, and many women defend this practice, the real battle is between secular governmental law and Islamic Shariah Law:

"This is not a security battle. It is a cultural, political battle," said Diaa Rashwan, an analyst who monitors such groups. "There is no cohesion within the state on how to tackle it."

For some women, wearing the Islamic garb is an implicit rebellion against the system. Many are outspoken in defending their beliefs, refuting the notion that Muslim women are oppressed and cloistered.

"I tell a girl who wants to wear the niqab that she has to be ready to fight for it," said al-Assal's mother, Iman el-Shewihi, who veiled herself 15 years ago - the first in her family to do so.

The 45-year-old woman, who is working on her doctorate in Islamic law, says that like her daughter, she has paid a price; She has been denied teaching jobs at her university in Tanta, north of Cairo.


Read it all here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Do minarets look like missiles?

Journalists have included an almost obligatory comment regarding this poster to the effect that it has made minarets look like missiles.



But this looks like the minarets in this photo of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul to me.



And look at the minaret in Zurich.



I think the journalist have got it right that the minarets on the poster look like missiles. But they are misattributing the problem to the design of the poster rather than to the designs of actual minarets.

I think the poster design may be making reference to the Islamization of Hagia Sophia cathedral. And that's a legitimate comment to be made.

SF: proposal for sex tents at Folsom Street Fairs

San Francisco police planned a crack down on the public sex the Folsom Street Fair and the Up Your Alley Street Fair due to complaints filed by citizens and the excellent photo journalism of Zombie, according to an article in the Bay Area Reporter this last April. But after the events, some in the gay community complained about the loss of a venue for public sex and proposed sex tents be provided at future events for those who wish to engage or watch out of the public eye.

In the words of gay activist Michael Petrelis:
I want to reclaim the right to engage in public fellatio, or watch it unimpeded by sex monitors.

I said a tent, that would be clearly marked for oral sex and alcohol-free, should be considered, as a safe space for consenting adults to engage in fellatio on a public street. Of course, some poor suckers, er, lucky volunteers would have to head up a committee to maintain security at the tent, or other structure, if this idea is to become reality, and I'd be the first to kneel down and pray that this happens. Demetri and Bevan will consider the tent idea and it will be revisited at future meetings.

Bevan refers to Bevan Dufty, the city council member for the district that includes the Castro and who intends to run for mayor. The SF Chronicle's Matier and Ross carried an item about this last week, concluding:
Dufty said he wasn't sure if the issue was big enough at this point to recommend any action.

"There are definitely people interested in seeing more public sex," Dufty said, but "right now, I'd just take it under advisement and wait and see what develops."

Spoken like a true candidate.


The good news is that today the San Francisco Chronicle published an editorial against it:
Idea of public sex tents is way out of line

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Public sex tents? Now there's an idea that should have been shot down the second it was announced from the mouth of a member of the "leather community" in response to complaints about public sex at Folsom Street Fair and its smaller sibling fair, Up Your Alley.


Instead, it appears that at least one of our local leaders (Supervisor Bevan Dufty) has agreed to take the matter "under advisement." Since our local leaders are having trouble speaking the obvious, we will: Public sex is not appropriate at Folsom Street Fair or anywhere else. Even in San Francisco.

Public sex isn't just lewd, it's illegal under state law. San Francisco officials and police have historically given the fairs broad leeway to self-police bawdy behavior, but that should have been revoked the moment that citizens complained. Instead, people are giving serious thought to ways to make the streets safe for public sex and unsafe for public decency.

Enough. This is a quality-of-life issue that should have been tackled years ago. Local leaders need to stop clowning around and insist that everyone obey the law.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why I Parted Ways with the Left

I was inspired by Charles Johnson at LGF"s Why I Parted Ways with the Right
(see here http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/35243_Why_I_Parted_Ways_With_The_Right)
to revise it slightly to show how it could also be applied to the problems on the left:

1. Support for fascists, both in America, Europe and in the Middle East. (How can anyone side with Hamas?)

2. Support for bigotry and racial hatred, as long as it's against whites. (How can anyone think the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation in Philadelphia was OK?)

3. Support for throwing women back into the Dark Ages, and general religious fanaticism ( How can anyone use cultural relativism to defend practices like female genital mutilation or forcing women to wear burkhas?)

4. Support for anti-science bad craziness (How can anyone continue to defend the bad science coming out of the Climate Change movement?)

5. Support for heterophobic bigotry (When are they going to admit that children do best in their biological two parent family?)

6. Support for anti-government lunacy (How can anyone think Holder's idea for the trial of KSM makes any sense? )

7. Support for conspiracy theories and hate speech (9/11 Truthers, etc.)

8. A left-wing blogosphere that is almost universally dominated by raging hate speech

9. Anti-Christian bigotry that goes far beyond simply criticizing extremists, into dismissal of the beliefs of about half the population of the country.

10. Hatred for Republican politicians that goes far beyond simply criticizing their policies, into racism, hate speech, and bizarre conspiracy theories

And much, much more. The American left wing has gone off the rails, into the bushes, and off the cliff.

I won’t be going over the cliff with them.


I'll try to update this with more links.

Hat Tip to Jihad Watch for drawing my attention to this.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Five Kernels of Corn" and its Claims

For Thanksgiving I'm posting Five Kernels of Corn. At the bottom I explain two of the claims made at the end: that the Mayflower Pilgrims gave us a legacy of "a government by consent of the governed with just and equal laws" and "a recognition of the necessity for individual ownership and enterprise".


Five Kernels of Corn by Norma Q Hare
(written in 1986 and slightly edited by Mary Mitchell in 2008)
It was a cold, gray day on November 15, 1620. The Mayflower rode at anchor near the shore, while a group of eager men set out in a small boat to explore the desolate, barren land to which they'd come. One of the first things they discovered near the beach was a deserted cornfield where the dry, broken stalks rustled in the sharp wind. Nearby they saw several strange mounds. Upon digging into one, they were amazed to find odd-looking, yellow, red and blue Indian corn. They took some with them to use of seed when they planted their crops in the spring. They couldn't know then how important that corn would prove to be to the colony's future.

They weren't prepared for that first dreadful winter, and there was much sickness. Nearly half the colonists died before spring finally arrived. Of those who survived, about half were children not yet sixteen years old; and only five married women remained.

When spring came, the men and boys planted 20 acres of Indian corn. Six additional acres they planted with the seeds they'd brought from England - wheat, rye, barley and peas - and there were vegetable gardens near the houses.

But to everyone's dismay, the seeds they'd brought failed to produce, being unsuited to the growing conditions in New England. The colonists worried whether they'd have enough food for the winter. Grain crops were necessary for their survival, for they provided the bread and puddings that gave them the energy they needed to work and endure the harsh conditions in which they lived, and the nourishment the children needed for adequate growth.

To supplement their store of grain, they learned, with help from the Indians, to catch the fish, to shoot the fowl and deer, and to harvest the wild fruits and berries that the forest and sea provided. They dried and preserved as much as they could in anticipation of another long winter with little grain.

In late fall, despite their small corn harvest, they felt confident and grateful for what they'd accomplished. They decided to celebrate what they called the Harvest Thanksgiving. They were joined by 90 of their Indian friends who stayed for three days enjoying their hospitality. This was an unexpected drain on their food supplies, but they believed that, by careful management, they would have enough to last until the next year.

The ship Fortune arrived a few days later. The happy Pilgrims expected to welcome members of their families and friends who had been left behind. They also believed the ship would bring food and other provisions they needed. They were distressed to learn, however, that it brought 35 colonists instead. Most of them were young men who brought no tools, bedding, or food, possessing little more than what they wore. There was nothing for the Pilgrims to do but to share their meager clothing, their homes and their precious food with the strangers. They also had to supply food to the sailors of the Fortune for their long voyage back to England.

For the next six months the colonists lived on half rations and every colonist knew daily hunger.As the months passed, every colonist knew daily hunger. During the summer they were thin and weak and staggered as they went about their work. They might have perished had they not been able to obtain some grain from the English fishing village further up the Maine coast.

While the year before had been very bad, the Starving Time came upon the little colony the spring of 1623. Tradition tells us that each person received only five kernels of parched corn a day. Governor Bradford wrote that they had neither bread nor corn for two or three months together, and their entire diet consisted of only fish and water.

To add to their misery, the early summer weather was hot and dry, and the corn began to wither. In desperation they went one day to the top of the hill to pray to God for relief. That night a soft rain began to fall, and the drought was broken. At harvest, every field produced an abundance of corn, with enough for everyone. After nearly three years, the famine was over.

During harvest season each year, it is customary for Mayflower Society members to remember the desperate privation and famine our ancestors endured during the first difficult years. Let these five kernels of corn -- the Indian corn that at first kept them alive and then became the staple upon which they prospered -- be a symbol to remind us of their bold, courageous dream. Let them also remind us of the legacy of our Pilgrim forefathers; the freedom to worship as we choose, a government by consent of the governed with just and equal laws, a recognition of the necessity for individual ownership and enterprise, the willingness and courage to fight for one's beliefs, and an everlasting trust in God.


You may be surprise by the claims at the end that the Mayflower pilgrims left such a wide ranging legacy.

The claim of the bequest of "a government by consent of the governed with just and equal laws" refers to the Mayflower Compact. Before landing at Plymouth rock, the adult male passengers on the Mayflower signed a document bearing these words:
In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the eleventh of November [New Style, November 21], in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Dom. 1620.


The claim that the Mayflower pilgrims bequested "a recognition of the necessity for individual ownership and enterprise" refers to failure of their early experiment with socialism. Originally, all the land that was cleared and all the structures built were to belong to the community. Everything that was produced was to go into ta common store with each member entitled to one equal share. Seeing that this economic system was a failure, the governor of the colony, William Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family and permitted them to market their own crops and other products. Bradford wrote:

So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. ... This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness and inability, whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could, this was thought injustice. … And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them.


For more on the Pilgrims and individual ownership, see American Thinker here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

bear video

This is worth watching all the way to the end

Saudi Arabia: Sentenced to Death for Witchcraft

At least four people have been sentenced for witchcraft recently in Saudi Arabia, with two receiving the death penalty. This is part of a campaign to deal with practices which are against Sharia Law which was revealed in the Asharq Alawsat, the leading Arabic International daily, last January. According to that report, the Saudi Arabis Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) was developing a guideline for the police to use in identifying and convicting witches and socerers. The guidelines included:
a definition of magic, witchcraft, divination, fortune-telling and other similar practices, a scientific definition to magical practices, and a model in order to help uncover such practices.

The CPVPV seems to AVE showed particular concern for the spread of witchcraft with advanced technology:
The study also called for regulations to be put in place with regards to the role of telecommunication and Internet service providers to protect the public from communication and television channels that promote magic, while also penalizing those that perpetrate such crimes. It also called for the results of the study to be incorporated into the provision of Islamic Shariaa law, basic law, and criminal law.


The recent death sentence of the Lebanese man, Ali Sabat, who came to Medina for pilgrimage can be understood within this context. Sabat was recognized as the TV personality who, among other things, made predictions of the future on his TV broadcasts from his home in Lebanon. So, although Sabat had not done anything objectionable on his trip to Saudi Arabia, he was arrested, tried and convicted of witchcraft, and sentenced to death.

Here's the latest from the BBC on his situation:
The New York-based group Human Rights Watch has called on Saudi Arabia to overturn a death sentence given to a man convicted of practising witchcraft.

The organisation said Ali Sibat appeared to have been condemned because of psychic predictions he had made on Lebanese TV from his home in Beirut.

He was arrested during his pilgrimage to the Saudi city of Medina last year.

There is no legal definition of witchcraft in Saudi Arabia - a deeply conservative Muslim nation.

The country's religious authorities condemn any practices deemed un-Islamic, including horoscopes and fortune telling.

But BBC Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher says there is still a thirst for such services in a country where widespread superstition survives under the surface of religious orthodoxy.

Human Rights Watch accused Saudi courts of "sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police".

"The crime of 'witchcraft' is being used against all sorts of behaviour, with the cruel threat of state-sanctioned executions," said Sarah Leah Whitson, the group's Middle East director.

Human Rights Watch also said reports in Saudi media suggested that two other people had been arrested for witchcraft in the past month.

In addition, a Saudi woman remains on death row after being sentenced for the same crime last year.


Sky News has more details about other cases:

Human Rights Watch says two other people have been arrested on similar charges in the last month alone.

It claims a lower court in Jeddah started the trial of a Saudi this month who was arrested by the religious police and said to have smuggled a book of witchcraft into the kingdom.

In another case the religious police are said to have arrested for "sorcery" and "charlatanry" an Asian man accusing him of using supernatural powers to solve marital disputes and induce others to fall in love.

In 2006 a Jeddah court convicted an Eritrean national Muhammad Burhan for "charlatanry" because he possessed a phone book that contained writings in the Tigrinya alphabet used in Eritrea.

Human rights campaigners claim prosecutors classified the booklet as a "talisman" and the court accepted that as evidence, sentencing him to 20 months in prison and 300 lashes.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Denver police arrest 32 in racially motivated assaults

32 young black males are being held on $1 million bail each for a series of racially motivated assaults on whites and hispanics. The Denver Post reports:
The Denver Police Department arrested 32 men and juvenile boys after a months-long undercover investigation into what police said were racially motivated assaults and robberies in downtown Denver, including the LoDo entertainment district.

A task force composed of Denver police, the FBI and the Denver district attorney's office investigated 26 incidents in which groups of black males verbally harassed, assaulted and at times robbed white or Latino males, according to Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman.

All of the suspects are young black males, most of whom told police they were associated with either the Rollin' 60s Crips gang or the Black Gangster Disciples gang.

They are charged with varying counts of bias-motivated assault and, in some cases, robbery — all felony crimes.


There is a lot more in the article. I am posting this because it seems so politically incorrect to charge blacks with hate crimes laws.

Friday, November 20, 2009

masked gunman kills Russian priest who converted Muslims to Christianity

The New York Times carried a Reuters report this morning that began :

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A masked gunman entered a church and murdered a Russian Orthodox priest who had received death threats for converting Muslims to Christianity and criticizing Islam, prosecutors and church officials said Friday.

The killing could threaten delicate relations between the powerful majority Russian Orthodox Church, which has close ties to the Kremlin, and the country's growing Muslim minority of about 20 million.

The gunman approached priest Daniil Sysoyev, 34, in St Thomas Church in southern Moscow Thursday night, checked his name and then opened fire with a pistol, a spokesman for the investigating committee of the Prosecutor-General's office said.

"The main theory is that religious motives are behind the crime," spokesman Anatoly Bagmet said.

Sysoyev had been previously threatened for his preaching to Muslims:

"I have received 10 threats via e-mail that I shall have my head cut off (if I do not stop preaching to Muslims)," Sysoyev stated on a television program in February 2008, according to Interfax. "As I see it, it is a sin not to preach to Muslims."

Kiril Frolov, the head of the Orthodox Experts Association, told Interfax news agency "Father Daniil ... has been periodically receiving e-mails which said he will be treated as 'infidel' if he did not stop polemics with Muslims," .

Russia is home to Europe's largest Muslim community and Islam is the country's second-biggest faith, something which Sysoyev was highly critical of Islam:

"Islam is far from being a religion in the way we understand it," he said in one of his video lectures posted on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJNPSyh4zFk&feature=related).

"Islam can be rather compared with projects like National Socialism or the Communist party seeking to create God's kingdom on Earth using humanly instruments," he added.

He also wrote books including "An Orthodox Response to Islam" and "Marrying a Muslim," in which he advised Russian women against taking a Muslim partner.


Read it all here.

Hat Tip: Women Against Shariah

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Should this 14 year old get life without possibility of parole?

This local story makes me very sad. As a Christian, I believe that people can be changed by Christ so that they are no longer rapists and murderers. But my observations of the way the world works leads me to believe this 14 year old should never be released from prison.
Affidavit: Teen says he molested and killed boy
A 14-year-old with a baby face told investigators he drowned his 4-year-old neighbor in a bathtub, then hid the body in a dryer because the child was going to reveal the teen molested him, according to an affidavit released when he appeared in court Wednesday.

Further into the article we learn:
The affidavit said Castro, a student at Mendota Junior High School, initially told police he knew nothing of the boy's disappearance. When investigators said the boy had been found in the dryer, the teen suggested someone had broken into the house and put him there.

Castro eventually told police he had enticed the dimpled, brown-eyed boy into his house across the street and sodomized him, the affidavit states. He said he killed Mercado after the child fell and hit his head, started crying, then threatened to tell his mother, the document states.

"Castro said he panicked and decided to kill the victim by drowning him in the bathtub," the affidavit says.

The teen, who is 5 feet tall and weighs 170 pounds, put Mercado's body over his shoulder and carried him to the dryer, hoping everything "would go away," the affidavit states.

Castro had been scheduled for arraignment as an adult on charges of first-degree murder, sodomy, child molestation, kidnapping and murder to silence a witness.

Marousek said after the hearing that she doubted the teenager understood the Miranda rights read to him by investigators, which could put his confession in doubt.

Earlier the teen had nodded without expression when Judge Jon Kapetan asked him if he understood the proceedings. Bail was set at $2.1 million.

California law says suspects 14 and older can be charged and tried as adults. About 20 percent of murders in the state are committed by people between the ages of 11 and 17.

Although this is a very disturbing story, I found the statistic that "about 20 percent of murders in the state are committed by people between the ages of 11 and 17" to be the most disturbing. I feel very confused. I would like to see the age of adulthood reduced to reflect the reality of out society. But if this is done for the criminal element, it could also be done for age of consent laws.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It Takes a Father

Do children need fathers? The fatherless children quoted in the beginning of this Washington Post article seem to think so:
"Why don't you guys study like the kids from Africa?"

In a moment of exasperation last spring, I asked that question to a virtually all-black class of 12th-graders who had done horribly on a test I had just given. A kid who seldom came to class -- and was constantly distracting other students when he did -- shot back: "It's because they have fathers who kick their butts and make them study."

Another student angrily challenged me: "You ask the class, just ask how many of us have our fathers living with us." When I did, not one hand went up.

The article raises the question in my mind whether we are asking teachers to do more than is reasonable and that we need to focus on re-educating men to be good fathers:
"The real problem," says Glenn Hopkins, president of Alexandria's Hopkins House, which provides preschool and other services to low-income families, "is that school superintendents don't realize -- or won't admit -- that the education gap is symptomatic of a social gap."

Hopkins notes that student achievement is deeply affected by issues of family, income and class, things superintendents have little control over. "Even with best teachers in the world, they don't have the power to solve the problem," he says. "They naively assume that if they throw in a little tutoring and mentoring and come up with some program they can claim as their own, the gap will close."


Some fathers are making the decision on their own to do a better job:
For Junior Bailey, a senior in my Advanced Placement English class, school has never been a foreign place, a fact he attributes to his dad. "He has always been on me; it's been hard to get away with much," Junior said. He also told me that hardly any of his friends have their fathers living with them. "Their mothers are soft on them, and they don't get any push from home."

On parents' night a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to see Junior's dad, Willie Bailey, a star on T.C. Williams's 1983 basketball team, walk into my classroom. Willie told me that after seeing how the guys he grew up with were affected by not having their dads around, he promised himself that he would be a real presence in his son's life.

With more parents like Willie Bailey, someday schools might realistically talk about closing the gap between students' potential and their performance.


Hat Tip: Titus One Nine

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Somalia: Women whipped for wearing bras by Al-Shabaab Islamists

Both Reuters and the Mail Online reported on Friday that women are being whipped for wearing bras because they are against Islam when they make the breasts look firmer than they naturally are.

As the Mail Online put it:
A hardline Islamist group in Somalia has begun publicly whipping women for wearing bras that they claim violate Islam as they are 'deceptive'.

The insurgent group Al Shabaab has sent gunmen into the streets of Mogadishu to round up any women who appear to have a firm bust, residents claimed yesterday.

The women are then inspected to see if the firmness is natural, or if it is the result of wearing a bra.

If they are found wearing a bra, they are ordered to remove it and shake their breasts, residents said.


Reuters put it this way:
Residents said gunmen had been rounding up any woman seen with a firm bust and then had them publicly whipped by masked men. The women were then told to remove their bras and shake their breasts.

Both articles carry this quote:

"Al-Shabaab forced us to wear their type of veil and now they order us to shake our breasts," a resident, Halima, told Reuters, adding that her daughters had been whipped on Thursday.

"They first banned the former veil and introduced a hard fabric which stands stiffly on women's chests. They are now saying that breasts should be firm naturally, or just flat."


I would think that this demand that women remove their bras and shake their breasts would be against the modesty requirement of Islam. But the Reuters story includes a sad story about one man that sought to defend his sisters modesty:
Jailed for defending his sister

Abdullahi Hussein, a student in north Mogadishu, said his elder brother was thrown behind bars when he fought back a man who humiliated their sister by asking her to remove her bra.

"My brother was jailed after he wrestled with a man that had beaten my sister and forced her to remove her bra. He could not stand it," Hussein said.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Minneapolis: Harassment by Episcopal High School Students

At least four recent students of the elite Episcopal High School named The Breck School have been caught for the latest in two years of harassment of a former Breck student, Caleb Dayton. Caleb had attended the Breck School since kindergarten, and the harassment began when he transferred to another elite school, Blake, in junior year. The acts of harassment are described by the New York Times:
The house, its owners say, was festooned in toilet paper. It was bombarded with eggs. Pumpkins were smashed. Human waste was deposited on the front stoop, grease was smeared on a car, tampons were left behind. All the while, they say, taunting notes and phone calls arrived.

The Breck School explains its affiliation with the Episcopal Church here:
Breck was founded in 1886 by, and is still affiliated with, the Episcopal Church. The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota chairs the Board and presides at the most important events of the year, such as Baccalaureate and Commencement. Breck often hosts the most important Diocesan events, such as the election of a new Bishop. Neither Breck nor the Diocese supports the other financially in any way.

The students learned the values of the Roach Motel Episcopal Church well: You can check out but you can never leave.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

San Francisco: Teenager's Problems with Father Smoking Pot

The Atlantic Monthly started a new feature a few months back, "What's Your Problem?" by Jeffrey Goldberg. Sort of like "Dear Abby", this includes questions from readers with Jeffrey Goldberg's advice. In the October issue, the column concluded with this exchange:
I’m in high school and my father smokes a lot of pot. He does it privately (in our living room), but I just found out that he buys his pot from one of my friends. My friend is in college, and he told everyone that he’s my father’s dealer. Should I tell my father to stop smoking pot, or to just stop buying from my friends?

J. P., San Francisco, Calif.

Dear J. P.,

What your father is doing is terribly selfish. It sounds as if you have more sense than he has. You must lay down the law: absolutely no buying illegal drugs from your friends. You are being raised in a catastrophically lenient household (has your father never heard the tragic story of Robert Downey Jr.?), and you’re going to have to be unequivocal. And by the way, how did he convince you that the living room is “private”?


I think this is terrible. J. P. asked, "Should I tell my father to stop smoking pot, or to just stop buying from my friends?" and Goldberg's answer seems to imply that he should "lay down the law: absolutely no buying illegal drugs from your friends." I hope Goldberg is just being funny. Otherwise I have no idea what the morality is here. Why is buying the illegal drug's from the child's friend somehow worse than using illegal drugs?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Afghan Women to Code Pink "We Need US Troops"

The Christian Science Monitor is reporting that Code Pink came to Afghanistan to meet with feminists and learned that the women in Afghanistan want US troops to protect them from the Taliban.


'Code Pink' rethinks its call for Afghanistan pullout
In Afghanistan, the US women's activist group finds that their Afghan counterparts want US troop presence – as well as more reconstruction.
By Aunohita Mojumdar | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Kabul, Afghanistan - When Medea Benjamin stood up in a Kabul meeting hall this weekend to ask Masooda Jalal if she would prefer more international troops or more development funds, the cofounder of US antiwar group Code Pink was hoping her fellow activist would support her call for US troop withdrawal.

She was disappointed.

Ms. Jalhal, the former Afghan minister of women, bluntly told her both were needed. "It is good for Afghanistan to have more troops – more troops committed with the aim of building peace and against war, terrorism, and security – along with other resources," she answered. "Coming together they will help with better reconstruction."

Rethinking their position

Code Pink, founded in 2002 to oppose the US invasion of Iraq, is one of the more high-profile women's antiwar groups being forced to rethink its position as Afghan women explain theirs: Without international troops, they say, armed groups could return with a vengeance – and that would leave women most vulnerable.

Though Afghans have their grievances against the international troops' presence, chief among them civilian casualties, many fear an abrupt departure would create a dangerous security vacuum to be filled by predatory and rapacious militias. Many women, primary victims of such groups in the past, are adamant that international troops stay until a sufficient number of local forces are trained and the rule of law established. (Read more about Afghan women's concerns here.)

During their weeklong visit here, in which they met with government officials, politicians, ministers, women activists, and civil society groups, the small team of Code Pink members had hoped to gather evidence to bolster their call for US troop withdrawal within two years, and capitalize on growing anxiety back home about the war.

While the group hasn't dropped its call for a pullout, the visit convinced them that setting a deadline isn't in Afghanistan's interests, say Ms. Benjamin and fellow cofounder Jodie Evans.

"We would leave with the same parameters of an exit strategy but we might perhaps be more flexible about a timeline," says Benjamin. "That's where we have opened ourselves, being here, to some other possibilities. We have been feeling a sense of fear of the people of the return of the Taliban. So many people are saying that, 'If the US troops left the country, would collapse. We'd go into civil war.' A palpable sense of fear that is making us start to reconsider that."

Code Pink says it will continue to oppose sending more troops to Afghanistan – a move facing heated debate in Washington – and advocate for more funding for aid and humanitarian projects instead.

The group's visit coincided with a "peace trialogue" organized last week by the Delhi Policy Group that brought together women of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Some participants of the meeting, who have traditionally seen demilitarization as a key to peacebuilding, also faced strong opposition from local activists when they tried to include demilitarization in a statement published at the end of the gathering.

"In the current situation of terrorism, we cannot say troops should be withdrawn," Shinkai Karokhail, an Afghan member of Parliament and woman activist, told them. "International troop presence here is a guarantee for my safety."



Hat Tip: The Two Malcontents

Obama appointed activist “inspired” by NAMBLA supporter to protect the nation’s children

Zombie's blog today provides some very interesting research showing that Kevin Jennings, Obama's Safe Schools Czar, praised Harry Hay, a leading advocate for Man-Boy Love. Zombie found Harry Hay to be so linked to NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association) that he was unable to find information about any NAMBLA conference which Harry Hay didn’t attend. Zombie found that Harry Hay gave appearances at and gave speeches at every known NAMBLA conference, and spoke out publicly in NAMBLA’s defense, and wrote a blurb for a NAMBLA books. So why was Kevin Jennings praising Harry Hay?

Read Zombie's blog post here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Prop 8 Backers Must Release Strategy Documents to Opponents

The San Francisco Chronicle has an article this morning that has huge ramifications for anyone opposing same-sex marriage. Communications that indicate prejudice against homosexuals may be used to over-rule laws against same-sex marriage.

Judge to Prop. 8 backers: Turn over your papers

(10-02) 18:10 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge has ordered sponsors of California's Proposition 8 to release campaign strategy documents that opponents believe could show that backers of the same-sex marriage ban were motivated by prejudice against gays.

Plaintiffs in a federal suit seeking to overturn Prop. 8 - two same-sex couples, a gay-rights organization and the city of San Francisco - contend that the measure's real purpose was to strip a historically persecuted minority group of rights held by the majority.

If the courts find that the ballot measure was motivated by discrimination, they could strike it down without having to decide whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

"The intent or purpose of Prop. 8 is central to this litigation," Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker declared Thursday in requiring backers of the November 2008 measure to give the opposing side their internal campaign communications.
Backers' argument

A day earlier, Prop 8's sponsors told Walker in a court filing that their opponents' claim of anti-gay motivation is legally irrelevant.

In a final round of arguments seeking to uphold the measure without a trial, defenders of the ballot measure said California voters were entitled to amend their Constitution to preserve the traditional, male-female definition of marriage for numerous reasons - including a belief that "extending marriage to same-sex couples carries a risk of weakening the institution of marriage."

Because there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage, it wouldn't matter if the plaintiffs could show that Prop. 8 "was also accompanied by irrational attitudes such as animus," or prejudice against lesbians and gays, said attorney Charles Cooper.

The initiative, approved by 52 percent of the voters, overturned the state Supreme Court's May 2008 ruling that gave gays and lesbians the right to marry in California. The state court upheld Prop. 8 as a valid state constitutional amendment in May but also ruled that 18,000 same-sex couples who married before the election were legally wed.

Walker has scheduled an Oct. 14 hearing in San Francisco on whether to dismiss the suit or let it go to trial in January.
Judge looks for bias

In previous rulings, Walker has said the constitutionality of Prop. 8 is not an open-and-shut legal question but could depend on a variety of factors, including whether backers were biased against gays and lesbians.

He amplified that view Thursday in ordering Prop. 8's sponsors to disclose documents, including notes and e-mails between campaign officials and consultants, that discussed their strategy and the message they wanted to send to the voters.

Although "voters cannot be asked to explain their votes," Walker said, a ballot measure's authors and strategists can be scrutinized to see what their motives were.

He cited a magazine article last year by the heads of the public relations firm that managed the Prop. 8 campaign in which they discussed their strategy, including plans to show how advocates of same-sex marriage would indoctrinate schoolchildren. Walker said the article undermined the campaign's insistence that its strategy discussions were confidential.
Bad precedent?

Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for the Prop. 8 sponsors, said Friday it was unprecedented to allow "the losing side of a campaign to pry into the most intimate strategy discussions of the winning side."

"This will make any citizen group think twice before attempting a ballot initiative," Pugno said. He said his clients might ask a federal appeals court to intervene.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Theodore Boutrous, said Walker's order would allow them to see whether the justifications Prop. 8's defenders are now claiming for the measure were part of the campaign or after-the-fact rationales.

"Our position is not dependent on the notion that everyone who voted for Proposition 8 was acting out of bad motives," Boutrous said. He said the plaintiffs would look for "evidence that bolsters our argument that Proposition 8 was irrational and disfavors a group in a way that's unconstitutional."

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pew Poll Confirms Support for Abortion Has Declined

New Pew Poll results from August confirm the March 2009 Pew poll results showing a decline in support for Abortion. A clear majority, over 50%, answered in 2008 that they thought abortion should be legal in all/ most cases. Now this year less than 50% have answered legal in two polls in two polls in a row:

August 2009
Illegal 45
Legal 47


March 2009
Illegal 44
Legal 46


Late October 2008
Illegal 40
Legal 53


Mid October 2008
Illegal 36
Legal 57


August 2008
Illegal 41
Legal 54

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New York Times Editorial: The Polanski Case

I am just delighted to see that the editorial board of the New York Times gets it right on the Polanski issue:
Editorial
The Polanski Case

Roman Polanski was arrested on Saturday at the Zurich airport on an American-issued warrant. But to hear the protests from the French, the Poles and other Europeans, you might have thought the filmmaker was seized by some totalitarian regime for speaking truth to power.

“Judicial lynching,” said Jack Lang, the former French culture minister. “Absolutely horrifying,” echoed the current French culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand. “Provocation!” shouted Andrzej Wajda and other Polish filmmakers. From across Europe, nearly 100 representatives of the entertainment industry, including Pedro Almodóvar and Wim Wenders, signed a petition declaring themselves “dismayed” by the arrest — and especially that it happened when the Zurich Film Festival was to honor Mr. Polanski.

But hold on a moment. After being indicted in 1977, didn’t Mr. Polanski, now 76, confess to having sex with a 13-year-old girl after plying her with Quaaludes and Champagne? Didn’t he flee the United States when the plea bargaining seemed to fall apart, raising the prospect of prison time? Isn’t there a warrant for his arrest?

There was something strange about the Swiss deciding to arrest the director now, after having let him freely move in and out of the country for three decades. And a 2008 documentary by Marina Zenovich, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” raised some troubling questions about the bizarre way a celebrity-hungry judge in California, Laurence Rittenband, handled the case.

Yet where is the injustice in bringing to justice someone who pleads guilty to statutory rape and then goes on the lam, no matter how talented he may be?

In Europe, the prevailing mood — at least among those with access to the news media — seemed to be that Mr. Polanski has already “atoned for the sins of his young years,” as Jacek Bromski, the chief of the Polish Filmmakers Association, put it, and that any justice system that would pursue so great a filmmaker for so long “lacks equity and humanity,” as Mr. Lang said.

We disagree strongly, and we were glad to see other prominent Europeans beginning to point out that this case has nothing to do with Mr. Polanski’s work or his age. It is about an adult preying on a child. Mr. Polanski pleaded guilty to that crime and must account for it.

(My bold added at the end there.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Palestinian TV: Furry Bear Teaches Children to Slaughter Jews



Palestinian Media Watch explains:

The bear puppet host, Nassur, of a Hamas children's TV program used different words for “slaughter” to describe how to rid Israel of Jews.

First the bear explains that all Jews must be “erased from our land.” Later in the conversation he adds, "We want to slaughter them, Saraa, so they will be expelled from our land.” He repeats, “…We’ll have to [do it] by slaughter."

He first uses the Arabic expression for “slaughter,” “Nidbah-hom,” and later on uses the word “Shaht.”

The following is the transcript from the children’s program Tomorrow's Pioneers:

Nassur: “There won't be any Jews or Zionists, if Allah wills. They'll be erased.”
Saraa: “Chased away.”
Nassur: “And just like we will visit the Qaaba [in Mecca]... everyone will visit Jerusalem.”
[Seven-year old Palestinian child on phone tells how his father, a member of the Hamas Al-Qassam Brigades, “died as a Shahid (Martyr).”]
Nassur to child on phone: “What do you want to do to the Jews who shot your father?”
Child on phone: “I want to kill them.”
Saraa: “We don't want to do anything to them, just expel them from our land.”
Nassur: “We want to slaughter (Nidbah-hom) them, so they will be expelled from our land, right?”
Saraa: “Yes. That's right. We will expel them from our land using all means.”
Nassur: “And if they don't want [to go] peacefully, by words or talking, we’ll have to [do it] by slaughter.” (Shaht)


Hat Tip: Jihad Watch

Sunday, September 27, 2009

San Francisco: Buddhist monks lead prayers at Episcopal Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral seems to be getting in to the act late on having Buddhist monks come in to make prayer mandalas, but the San Francisco Chronicle thought it was news. What interests me is the way the activity is spun as cultural preservation rather than religious indoctrination.
Mandalas grace Grace Cathedral

Meredith May, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, September 26, 2009

Protractors and pencils in hand, four Tibetan monks silently drew precise lines on a table inside Grace Cathedral.

They flew to San Francisco from Nepal to build intricate sand Shi-tro mandalas - ancient Tibetan circular artworks that symbolize peaceful awareness.

Notice how the story lede is promoting the claim these are merely artworks of a particular culture although the practitioners are clearly representatives of a particular religion. A simple google search on "Shi-tro" brings up the fact that this mandala image is a "path to enlightenment" and provides other spellings Zhi khro, and Xi tro, shi khro, and xi khro. Wikipedia has interesting information about Shi-tro under the spelling Zhitro which clearly associates the mandala practice with Buddhist religious teaching.

But the SF Chronicle seems to shift back and forth between acknowledging this is Buddhist religious practice and treating this as a cultural artwork activity:

Using metal cones similar to a cake decorator's funnel, they carefully tapped colorful grains of sand into the pattern they had drawn.

The delicate artwork will take about 65 hours to complete, and on Sunday, in Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the monks will sweep the mandalas away. They will cast the sand into the bay to remember that everything is impermanent, and so that the prayers the lamas made while creating it will live on in the currents.

For master mandala-maker Lama Thogme, 47, who has created innumerable mandalas, it's his first invitation to make one inside a Christian church.

"It's very meaningful," he said through an interpreter. "Doing this shows that no matter what your religious tradition, we all share a common fiber, a common purpose of peace."

The lamas are being aided by middle school students from San Francisco and Oakland who have participated in a dharma summer camp run by the nonprofit Tools for Peace in Tehachapi (Kern County), which is sponsoring the goodwill visit along with the American Foundation for Tibetan Cultural Preservation.

OK, finally we learn who is behind this. Obviously, Tools for Peace and the Tibetan Cultural Preservation are promoting a Buddhist path to peace. But actually we never learn who in the Episcopal Church is behind this. And then skipping down to the end of the article, in the second to last paragraph, we learn there will be a fundraiser at Grace Cathedral regarding this:
Today, longtime Tools for Peace supporter singer k.d. lang will join the lamas at a gala fundraiser at the cathedral.

Is this a fundraiser for the Episcopal Church? No, searching on line we can find that this is a fundraiser for the Buddhist organization:
k.d lang will perform inside Grace Cathedral for a fundraiser to benefit Tools for Peace, a program that empowers youth and adults through training in motivation, mindfulness, meditation and compassion in camps, classrooms and workshops in California.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is this Legal -- Teaching elementary school children to sing praises to Obama?

Can you imagine the outcry from liberals if, when Bush was president, some school teacher had done something similar regarding him?



This was filmed around June 19, 2009 at the B. Bernice Young Elementary School in Burlington, NJ.

Lyrics
========
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
He said that all must lend a hand [?]
To make this country strong again
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
He said we must be clear today
Equal work means equal pay
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
He said that we must take a stand
To make sure everyone gets a chance
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
He said Red, Yellow, Black or White
All are equal in his sight
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
Yes
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama

segue to

Hello, Mr. President we honor you today!
For all your great accomplishments, we all [do? doth??] say "hooray!"
Hooray Mr. President! You’re number one!
The first Black American to lead this great na-TION!
Hooray, Mr. President something-something-some
A-something-something-something-some economy is number one again!
Hooray Mr. President, we’re really proud of you!
And the same for all Americans [in?] the great Red White and Blue!
So something Mr. President we all just something-some,
So here’s a hearty hip-hooray a-something-something-some!
Hip, hip hooray! (3x)

Hat Tip The Two Malcontents

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Census Reports 28% Decline in Number of Gay Couples in USA

There is a new AP story out about newly released census numbers for same-sex couples. The numbers are:

2005 -- 780,000 same sex couples, 390,000 considered themselves spouses
2006 -- 780,000 same sex couples, 390,000 considered themselves spouses
2007 -- 753,618 same sex couples, 341,000 considered themselves spouses
2008 -- 563,743 same sex couples, 150,000 considered themselves spouses

(It appears the numbers for 2005 and 2006 were estimates and now the census is collecting real data.)

Notice that:

1) The percent of same-sex couples who consider their relationship to be akin to marriage has gone down from 50% with the 2005-6 estimates, to 45% in 2007 and now to only 27% in 2009. The comparable number for heterosexual couples, according to the Census Bureau, is 91%. The suggests to me that the same-sex couples are self reporting that their relationships are not "just like" heterosexual couples.

2) The total number of same-sex couples has gone down 28% in a four year period. This suggests that the early estimated numbers were too high or that something has caused a net reduction in the total number of same-sex couples.

Of course, that is not the way the AP article is framed, but those are the actual numbers in the story. The AP story seems to be written focusing on the actual number of gay marriages and civil unions versus the the number who consider their relationships akin to marriage and provides an un-sourced explanation in the fourth paragraph that seems to me to be written to support the "gay rights" talking points:
Analysts said the disparities are probably a reflection of same-sex couples in committed relationships who would get married if they could in their states. The numbers are also an indicator of the count to come in the 2010 census, a tally that could stir a state-by-state fight over same-sex marriage, gay adoption and other legal rights.

But when I look at the numbers, I am thinking that the demand for same-sex marriage in the USA has been significantly overestimated, perhaps to support the cause of "gay rights". Alternatively, it could be that the emphasis on same-sex marriage has caused a significant break-up of gay couples in the USA. If most do not view their relationships as akin to marriage, perhaps the new pressure by one of the partners to marry or form a legal domestic partnership is leading to break-ups.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Carrie Prejean at the Value Voters Summit

I am sorry that the only videos that I could find of Carrie Prejean at the Value Voters Summit were on a website that labels this "Comedy". Well, it does demonstrate what she is saying about being mocked. Anyway, I think she is terrific.





Even the Los Angeles Times recognized that Carrie Prejean gave a good talk:
It’s easy to make fun of beauty queens -- their plastic smiles, their bottle-blond tresses, their dreams for world peace. But Carrie Prejean, the former Miss California whose declaration that marriage should be between a man and woman earned her the vilification of some in the gay rights community, provided an unanticipated emotional highlight at a conference of Christian conservatives in Washington today.

In a heartfelt talk that moved some in the crowd to tears, Prejean recounted for the 1,700 activists gathered for the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit in Washington how distressing it was to go from shoo-in for Miss USA to not only losing, but being reviled and mocked for the answer on gay marriage she gave to pageant judge Perez Hilton, the celebrity gossip blogger.


Hat Tip: Elizabeth Evans at Get Religion

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Trouble with Burqas

As well as the obvious feminist complaints, burqas provide cover for male criminals with weapons. As the Wall Street Journal reports on recent events in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD -- Islamic militants clad head-to-toe in women's burqas attempted to attack an oil-storage facility in Karachi, raising fears that insurgents are fleeing northwestern Pakistan and infiltrating the nation's main business hub.

Three gunmen disguised as women tried to enter the high-security terminal used by oil companies late Monday night, Waseem Ahmed, the city police chief, told Pakistani television on Tuesday. Police say they suspect the assailants disguised themselves as women to try to slip past security checkpoints.

Pakistani police officers examined weapons and ammunition left behind by attackers in Karachi, Pakistan, on Tuesday.

When stopped by security guards, the militants opened fire, killing one guard. The assailants fled during a gun battle, leaving behind the burqas, purses and hand grenades.

"We suspect they wanted to carry out a big terrorist attack which our prompt police action thwarted," said Mr. Ahmed in an interview with Geo TV Pakistan.

Pakistan imports foreign oil through the Karachi port, and stores it there before transporting it throughout the country. An attack on the port facility could have threatened the fuel supply for the country's industry and transport, just as Pakistan's economy is struggling to recover from the global downturn and security woes at home.

Later Tuesday, police arrested four men suspected of involvement in the attack. During a raid on a house in Karachi, where the arrests took place, police found additional burqas, women's handbags and weapons, Mr. Ahmed said in the television interview.

Police say the arrested men are suspected of having links to the militant group led by Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban leader who was killed last month in a U.S. missile attack in South Waziristan. A large number of militants from Waziristan and other areas fleeing army attacks have been taking sanctuary in Karachi -- the capital of Sindh province -- according to Zulfikar Mirza, the Sindh provincial home minister.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

China: Gay Men Assert Right to Congregate in Public Park

Now even China is reporting problems with gay men having sex in park restrooms. This text below is from the middle of an AP article written from the perspective of gay rights:

But as those cities showed signs of being more tolerant, Guangzhou authorities were starting to crack down in People's Park — a shady oasis of trees and gazebos in the middle of the muggy, traffic-congested city. The park is popular with youngsters who play badminton or retirees practicing their ballroom-dancing moves to stereos blasting out tunes like "Sukiyaki," the Japanese ballad that became a hit in the U.S. in the 1960s.

For years, the park has also been a favorite hangout for gay men, especially among the young or working-class who can't afford the bars and restaurants around town that cater to the community. The men — many dressed in tank tops and tight jeans — stroll around the park or sit together on a long line of stone benches. Nearby is a public restroom, where some men have sex — a source of much of the friction with the police.

I wish gay rights activists would come up with a solution to this problem of sex in public restrooms. They usually act as if this is all about homophobia, when it is usually about this kind of obnoxious behavior. But I guess they want parks around the world to follow the lead of the park in Amsterdam that just gave up and designated areas where gays have sex.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How Islamist gangs use internet to track, torture and kill Iraqi gays

This article from the Guardian tells about how Iraqis are infiltrating gay internet sites to identify homosexuals and then torturing and killing them. I feel a little confused. I am a conservative Christian and I do think that homosexual behavior is against the Bible, against God's Word. However, I am appalled to read of people who would take the idea that homosexual behavior is against God's law to commit evil acts against homosexuals.
EPT 13 – Sitting on the floor, wearing traditional Islamic clothes and holding an old notebook, Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims.

“It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up,” he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed.

Hamizi, a computer science graduate, is at the cutting edge of a new wave of violence against gay men in Iraq. Made up of hardline extremists, Hamizi’s group and others like it are believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 130 gay Iraqi men since the beginning of the year alone.

The deputy leader of the group, which is based in Baghdad, explained its campaign using a stream of homophobic invective. “Animals deserve more pity than the dirty people who practise such sexual depraved acts,” he told the Observer. “We make sure they know why they are being held and give them the chance to ask God’s forgiveness before they are killed.”

The violence against Iraqi gays is a key test of the government’s ability to protect vulnerable minority groups after the Americans have gone.

Dr Toby Dodge, of London University’s Queen Mary College, believes that the violence may be a consequence of the success of the government of Nouri al-Maliki. “Militia groups whose raison d’être was security in their communities are seeing that function now fulfilled by the police. So their focus has shifted to the moral and cultural sphere, reverting to classic Islamist tactics of policing moral boundaries,” Dodge said.

Homosexuality was not criminalised under Saddam Hussein – indeed Iraq in the 1960s and 1970s was known for its relatively liberated gay scene. Violence against gays started in the aftermath of the invasion in 2003. Since 2004, according to Ali Hali, chairman of the Iraqi LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) group, a London-based human-rights group, a total of 680 have died in Iraq, with at least 70 of those in the past five months. The group believes the figures may be higher, as most cases involving married men are not reported. Seven victims were women. According to Hali, Iraq has become “the worst place for homosexuals on Earth”.

The killings are brutal, with victims ritually tortured. Azhar al-Saeed’s son was one. “He didn’t follow what Islamic doctrine tells but he was a good son,” she said. “Three days after his kidnapping, I found a note on my door with blood spread over it and a message saying it was my son’s purified blood and telling me where to find his body.”

She went with police to find her son’s remains. “We found his body with signs of torture, his anus filled with glue and without his genitals,” she said. “I will carry this image with me until my dying day.”

Police officers interviewed by the Observer said the killings were not aimed at gays but were isolated remnants of the sectarian violence that racked the country between 2005 and 2006. Hamizi’s group, however, boasts that two people a day are chosen to be “investigated” in Baghdad. The group claims that local tribes are involved in homophobic attacks, choosing members to hunt down the victims. In some areas, a list of names is posted at restaurants and food shops.

The roommate of Haydar, 26, was kidnapped and killed three months ago in Baghdad. After Haydar contacted the last person his friend had been chatting with on the net, he found a letter on his front door alerting him “about the dangers of behaving against Islamic rules”. Haydar plans to flee to Amman, the Jordanian capital. “I have… to run away before I suffer the same fate,” he said.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Shia militia known as the Mahdi army may be among the militants implicated in the violence, particularly in the northern part of Baghdad known as Sadr City. There are reports that Mahdi army militias are harassing young men simply for wearing “western fashions”.

A Ministry of Interior spokesperson, Abdul-Karim Khalaf, denied allegations of police collaboration. “The Iraqi police exists to protect all Iraqis, whatever their sexual persuasion,” he said.

Hashim, another victim of violence by extremists, was attacked on Abu Nawas Street. Famous for its restaurants and bars, the street has become a symbol of the relative progress made in Baghdad. But it was where Hashim was set on by four men, had a finger cut off and was badly beaten. His assailants left a note warning that he had one month to marry and have “a traditional life” or die.

“Since that day I have not left my home. I’m too scared and don’t have money to run away,” Hashim said. – Guardian


Hat Tip: Women Against Shariah