Thursday, January 29, 2009

Yes We CAN'T (Clean-Up After Ourselves)

After the Inauguration: the Obama multitudes left their trash for someone else to clean-up.

I am truely saddened by this. It reminds me of the book Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism: Who Gives, Who Doesn't, and Why It Matters. When I read that book, I came to understand why I had so often observed that the people who talked about the poor didn't actually give to charity. They believed it wasn't their job -- it was the government's. I am thinking now that in the same way, these people who came out for Obama's Inauguration don't believe that taking care of the environment is their job either.

Hat Tip IowaHawk

Saudi Arabia: Christian Convert in Danger of Execution

Compass Direct News reports:
Five months after the daughter of a member of Saudi Arabia’s religious police was killed for writing online about her faith in Christ, Saudi authorities have reportedly arrested a 28-year-old Christian man for describing his conversion and criticizing the kingdom’s judiciary on his Web site.

Saudi police arrested Hamoud Bin Saleh on Jan. 13 “because of his opinions and his testimony that he had converted from Islam to Christianity,” according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). Bin Saleh, who had been detained for nine months in 2004 and again for a month last November, was reportedly being held in Riyadh’s Eleisha prison.

On his web site, which Saudi authorities have blocked, Bin Saleh wrote that his journey to Christ began after witnessing the public beheading of three Pakistanis convicted of drug charges.
[Bin Saleh was a blogspot blogger and his website was Although this is blocked now, The Jawa Report had provided this link to an English translation from the Google cache.]
Shaken, he began an extensive study of Islamic history and law, as well as Saudi justice. He became disillusioned with sharia (Islamic law) and dismayed that kingdom authorities only prosecuted poor Saudis and foreigners.
“I was convinced that the wretched Pakistanis were executed in accordance with the Muhammadan laws just because they are poor and have no money or favored positions, which they had no control or power over,” he wrote in Arabic in his Dec. 22 posting, referring to “this terrible prejudice in the application of justice in Saudi Arabia.”

The article goes on to give some details about Bin Saleh's readings into Sharia Law and into the Bible. Then:
After reading how Jesus forgave – rather than stoned – a woman condemned for adultery, Bin Saleh eventually received Christ as savior.

The article explains how the Sharia Law provides for the death penalty for conversion from Islam (apostasy) and for blogging about it (blasphemy):
With the Quran and sayings of Muhammad (Sunna) as its constitution, Saudi Arabia enforces a form of sharia derived from 18th-century Sunni scholar Muhammad ibn Abd Al-Wahhab that calls for the death penalty for “blasphemy,” or insulting Islam or its prophet, Muhammad. Likewise, conversion from Islam to another faith, “apostasy,” is punishable by death, although the U.S. Department of State’s 2008 International Religious Freedom Report notes that there have been no confirmed reports of executions for either blasphemy or apostasy in recent years.

The earlier killing of the daughter of a member of Saudi Arabia’s religious police who was killed for writing online about her faith in Christ is described at the end of the article:
In August 2008, a 26-year-old woman was killed for disclosing her faith on a Web site. Fatima Al-Mutairi reportedly had revealed on Web postings that she had left Islam to become a Christian. reported on Aug. 12, 2008 that her father, a member of the religious police or Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, cut out her tongue and burned her to death “following a heated debate on religion.” Al-Mutairi had written about hostilities from family members after they discovered she was a Christian, including insults from her brother after he saw her Web postings about her faith. Some reports indicated that her brother was the one who killed her.
She had reportedly written an article about her faith on a blog of which she was a member under the nickname “Rania” a few days before her murder.

An earlier report of Bin Saleh's arrest was published by The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

Hat Tip Women Against Shariah

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Italy Facing Rising Number of Girls Undergoing Infibulation

Although Italy passed a law against Female Genital Mutilation in 2006 which banned Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)and also made it a crime for parents to send their daughters out of the country to have the procedure done, there is a rising number of girls at risk of the particular type of FGM called Infibulation. Infibulation is the sewing together of the labia, often after cutting out the clitoris. The conservative MP and president of Italy's Association of Moroccan Women, Souad Sbai, estimates 600 girls are at risk each year.
Rome, 27 Jan. (AKI) - At least 600 children are at risk of infibulation, an extreme form of female genital mutilation in Italy, according to conservative MP and president of Italy's Association of Moroccan Women, Souad Sbai. AKI reports:

"Every year in Italy there are 600 children, daughters of immigrants, that are at risk of infibulation and it all happens in total silence," said Sbai, while presenting a report by her organisation, Acmid-Donna.

"Here at Acmid-Donna have decided to sound the alarm about infibulation because unfortunately we have noticed that the practice has anything but ceased or been relegated to marginal communities of immigrants in Italy."

Sbai also spoke about the number of infibulated children after the approval of the 2006 Consolo law, enacted to prevent and prohibit female genital mutilation.

"We are particularly concerned about the rising number of infibulated children even after the Consolo law," she said.

However, Sbai said that the law was not enough to stop the cruel practice of female genital mutilation.

"Besides laws, we need to take strong action to oppose this tribal and wicked practice which has nothing to do with religions and is tied only to African cultural traditions," she said.

Sbai also accused Egyptian and Somali imams of influencing the immigrant community and the importance of making public opinion aware of the problem by starting a preventative policy.

Infibulation - the most extreme form of female circumcision is common in many parts of North and Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in Somalia, parts of Kenya and Ethiopia.

Italy's 2006 Consolo law banned genital mutilation, also making it a crime for parents who attempt to sidestep the law by sending their daughters abroad.

Hmmm, if it has nothing to do with religion, why are the imams involved?
Well, the answer is that it should have nothing to do with religion, but it does. The religion of Islam is very concerned with female chastity and infibulation is done to ensure the girl remains a virgin until marriage. This is done removing sexual sensation and making the vaginal opening to small for penetration. This protects the girl from losing her virginity before marriage and being subject to honor killing.

Muslims like to tell not Muslims that this has nothing to do with Islam, but there are hadiths that support both FGM and honor killing. There are also hadiths that support lying to further the spread of Islam. And to support the killing of someone who spreads information about Islam that is unflattering, even if it is true. So it is very tricky business for Muslim women to stop FGM.

Hat Tip Women Against Shariah

Court Rules Lutheran School Can Expel Lesbians

A California Appeals Court has ruled that California Lutheran High School was within its rights when it expelled two girls who had posted about their sexual love for each other on their MySpace pages. Although California's Unruh Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination by businesses, the court ruled that the school was not a business. And while state law forbids anti-gay bias in public schools, this is only applicable to public schools. California Lutheran High School posts the Statement of Belief of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod on its website. The Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled using the California Supreme Court decision in Curran v. Mount Diablo Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which upheld the right of private organizations to not allow new members on the basis of sexual orientation.

Here's the story in the San Francisco Chronicle today:
A private religious high school can expel students it believes are lesbians because the school isn't covered by California civil rights laws, a state appeals court has ruled.

Relying on a 1998 state Supreme Court ruling that allowed the Boy Scouts to exclude gays and atheists, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Bernardino said California Lutheran High School is a social organization entitled to follow its own principles, not a business subject to state anti-discrimination laws.

"The whole purpose of sending one's child to a religious school is to ensure that he or she learns even secular subjects within a religious framework," Justice Betty Richli said in the 3-0 ruling, issued Monday.

As with the Boy Scouts, she said, the primary function of the school is to instill its values in young people, who are told of its policies when they enroll.

Kirk Hanson, a lawyer for the two girls, said he was disappointed and would talk to them about a possible appeal to the state Supreme Court.

According to the court, he said, "if you're a religious school, you can discriminate on any basis you want."

He also noted that all children must attend school, either public or private, and said schools serve different purposes from a voluntary organization like the Boy Scouts.

John McKay, a lawyer for California Lutheran, said he was pleased the court recognized that "a religious school is not a business, and the purpose of a religious school is to teach Christian values."

Any state law that required the school to admit gays or lesbians would violate the school's freedom of expression and religion, McKay said.

The ruling is the first to consider a religious school's status under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination by businesses and was amended in 2005 to include discrimination based on sexual orientation. State education law also forbids anti-gay bias, but that law applies only to public schools.

The girls were juniors at the high school in Wildomar (Riverside County) when the principal, Gregory Bork, summoned them to his office in September 2005 and questioned them separately about their sexual orientation and whether they loved each other. The principal acted after another student reported postings on the girls' MySpace pages.

Bork suspended the girls based on their answers, and the school's directors expelled them a month later.

The girls, who later graduated from another high school, have not been identified and have not discussed their sexual orientation, Hanson said. Their suit said the school had no right to dismiss them because of its perception that they were lesbians.

The court acknowledged that past rulings have interpreted the Unruh Act's definition of businesses broadly, to include a Boys' Club, the Rotary Club and a private golf club that let the public use its facilities.

But the school differs from those institutions, the court said, because the main reason for its existence is the religious message it seeks to instill in its students.

Monday, January 26, 2009

NPR Spins to Cover Up Muslim Honor Killing in Atlanta

NPR did a story on Chaudry Rashid, a Man Accused Of Killing Daughter For Family Honor today. The story doesn't mention the name of the murdered woman, Sandeela Kanwal, until the tenth paragraph. (Well, her first name is mentioned in paragraph eight.) And the story avoids mentioning the woman's extramarital affair which would support the honor killing hypothesis. Even worse, the story ended with a long section making the argument that it was not an honor killing and unrelated to Islam or ethnicity:
For Muslims in Atlanta, the attention was the last thing they needed.

Shahid Malik is a local representative of Atlanta's Pakistani population and one of the very few willing to speak about the Rashid case.

"This thing hurt the Muslim community, Pakistani community," he says.

He says that the killing has nothing to do with Islam, but that Rashid has little education and comes from a small village in Pakistan where tribal traditions are strong.

"I think in their mind, use the name honor killing, they give less punishment," he says. "But that is wrong because law is changed. This is American law."

Malik says years ago, Pakistan used to punish honor killings with only seven years' imprisonment. Now, he says, the sentence is greater. But he says Kanwal's murder doesn't fit in that category of crimes.

"Whatever this case is or not, this is not an honor killing," he says. "It is not based on Pakistani law. Chaudry Rashid loved his daughter."

Begner hopes the state doesn't make this about Islam or ethnicity. This death could have happened, he says, in any culture, with any family.

But I remembered some of the details of the case, and noticed one of the key facts supporting the honor killing hypothesis was that the woman killed was having an affair. So I did an archive search and found this from the July 11, 2008 Atlanta Jpournal Constitution:
Sandeela Kanwal, 25, of Jonesboro argued with her father as they drove home from her job at Wal-Mart Sunday night, according to the arrest warrant. He was angry about her extramarital affair and her desire for a divorce from a husband she didn't love. Kanwal married Majid Latif in an arranged marriage in the Punjab province of Pakistan in 2002.

When Kanwal said she would not reconsider ending her six-year marriage —- she filed divorce papers this month —- Rashid became enraged. He took a bungee cord he had carried from the car into the house and strangled his daughter in her bedroom. The warrant says he put the cord in his pocket so his daughter didn't see it.

Remember that in Islam, people who have committed adultery are punished by death according to some Hadith. That's Shariah Law. And Honor Killing is when the men of the family implement the punishment privately so that the family will not be "shamed".

Hat Tip Women Against Shariah

No, You Have Not Been Hallucinating

If you have been coming to this site in the past 24 hours, you may have been a little confused by the changing look. I have been experimenting with different blog templates and trying out a photo of an early Christian mural for the header of the blog. But I tend to be indecisive. (In Myers-Briggs, I test as an INFP.)

Are "Human Rights" Undermining Free Speech and Public Safety?

The values I grew up with and understood to be the law, are being cast aside and replaced with new values that are changing the world in disturbing ways. I post some of the news stories that demonstrate the problem, but often I don't post them because I am unsure, so confused. Today I am puzzled by these recent events:

Austrian far-right legislator convicted of anti-Muslim incitement
Vienna - Austrian far-right parliamentarian Susanne Winter was convicted Thursday of incitement because of her anti-Muslim statements, including the claim that Islam's prophet Mohammed was a paedophile. A court in Winter's home town of Graz also found the 51-year-old politician guilty of humiliating a religion. She was sentenced to a fine of 24,000 euros (31,000 dollars) euros and a suspended prison term of three months, Austrian news agency APA reported. Hat Tip Islam in Action

Gay paedophile lovers abused boys in flat they were allowed to share 'because of human rights legislation'
Two predatory paedophile lovers who abused young boys at their flat were jailed indefinitely today ... The authorities were powerless to prevent them living together on their release because of human rights legislation, Preston Crown Court heard. The pair, who both have a string of paedophile convictions dating back to the early 1980s, met in Strangeways prison in Manchester and then went on to live in Blackpool, Lancashire ... The Probation Service and police were aware the men - both on the Sex Offenders Register - were living together but could only monitor them. Even if the couple are eventually released they will still be able to move back in together under current laws. Richard Howarth, prosecuting, said: 'The Crown would have wanted an order that the defendants do not reside with each other because it is when they are together they are most dangerous, but I believe that may offend human rights legislation.' Hat Tip Stand Firm

And just to finish, here is some video I saw last night showing the police in Sweden shutting down a peaceful pro-Israel demonstration that had a permit instead of arresting the mob (without a permit) who attacked the pro-Israel group:

Hat Tip Ted Ekeroth

This is the third case I know of where the police are silencing legal behavior to appease a mob committing illegal behavior. Instead of protecting innocent citizens and arresting the guilty, the police silence "unpopular opinions" and let the majority violence go unpunished. The other two cases were:

The demonstration in Germany where police broke into an apartment to tear down an Israeli flag but did not arrest the demonstrators throwing objects at the apartment building. Isn't it legal to display an Israeli flag and illegal to vandalize a building? See the story here at Get Religion.

The Christians singing in the Castro where the police insisted the Christians leave the Castro and did not arrest the gay men grabbing at the Christians and physically abusing them. Isn't it legal to sing on a public street and isn't it illegal to pull people's pants down and pour coffee on them? See the story here and here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gay Marriage Advocates Plan Post Prop 8 California Strategy

400 GLBT activists meet in Los Angeles to discuss the next steps in their battle to legalize gay marriage in California. While Prop 8 is in appeal to the California Supreme Court, they were planning strategy if the appeal does not succeed. Two initiatives seeking to undo the voter-approved November measure have already been submitted to the Secretary of State, but according to the AP story, the leadership is recommending against trying to put a new initiative in support of gay marriage on the 2010 ballot:
"There is one thing worse than losing Prop. 8, and that would be losing again," said Chad Griffin, a Los Angeles political consultant who organized Hollywood's opposition to the ban. He was speaking to about 400 activists who gathered for a statewide planning summit here Saturday.

Although several legal challenges are pending before the California Supreme Court, the option of another ballot fight has been discussed as a backup strategy since Proposition 8 passed with 52 percent of the vote. The court could render a decision as early as June.

If the Supreme Court upholds the measure, that would leave same-sex marriage supporters with a viable, but very tight window in which to prepare and pull off a November 2010 rematch, said John Henning, executive director of the gay marriage group Love Honor Cherish.

The AP story goes on to say that pollster Dave Binder cautioned against aiming for 2010:
David Binder, a San Francisco pollster who conducted a postelection analysis of why voters supported Proposition 8, said aiming for November 2010 has several advantages for same-sex marriage supporters.

For one, the disappointing outcome of the Proposition 8 fight has energized a lot of gay marriage supporters and the momentum could be lost by waiting two more years, Binder said. Also, California voters will be going to the polls next year to elect a new governor to replace Arnold Schwarzenegger, so turnout is likely to be high.

On the downside, passage of the measure, which marked the first time that voters were asked to take away marriage from gay couples who could legally wed, indicates that large numbers of voters remain firmly opposed to same-sex marriage. There may not be time to move enough of them to change their minds in 21 months, Binder said.

"There is significant groundwork that needs to be done, and I don't know if it can be done that quickly," he said. "You want to strike while the iron is hot, but moving too quickly and then losing would have an extremely damaging effect."

The story on the meeting in the San Francisco Chronicle gave more detail on Binder's presentation:
The survey of 1,066 voters, done by San Francisco pollster David Binder for the Equality California Institute, found that 73 percent of those who voted to ban same-sex marriage said there is no argument that would have changed their mind, while 7 percent said they would have only supported same-sex marriage if it was called something other than "marriage."

(So I guess that makes it 80%, right?)
"People came to this campaign with a lot of closed minds, and that's what made it so difficult," Binder told the crowd Saturday. In most ballot measure campaigns, there's more fluidity in the way voters view an issue, with more willingness to be convinced or swayed.

Do you see a weird inconsistency of thought here? These people are committed to getting gay marriage, but do they see themselves as closed minded? I bet not. But are they willing to be convinced or swayed against gay marriage? I bet not.
Of those who voted for Prop. 8, 84 percent said they either had personal or religious objections to same-sex marriage, reasons that leave little room for compromise. Nearly two-thirds of Protestants and 55 percent of Catholics backed Prop. 8, and 70 percent of those who attend religious services at least once a week favored the same-sex marriage ban.

Fifty-one percent of California voters polled said they believed that Prop. 8 was "unfair, unnecessary and wrong"; 44 percent disagreed. Likewise, 50 percent agreed that the measure would "allow discrimination against some groups and individuals," compared with 45 percent who felt the opposite way.

But Prop. 8 still got 52 percent of the vote.

"The influence of the church was a major factor," Binder said. "The religious aspect tended to win over concerns about discrimination."

If 51% polled said Prop. 8 was "unfair, unnecessary and wrong", but 52% voted for Prop 8, you might think that would cause Binder to question his polling methodology. Bit no, he is blaming Christian churches. I guess he thinks people voted for something they thought was "unfair, unnecessary and wrong" because the church leadership told them to.
While only a little over a third of the people who saw a "Yes on 8" ad found it convincing, the message that was most remembered was that a defeat for Prop. 8 would cause the teaching of same-sex marriage in the schools, something that wasn't in the ballot measure.

"We have to make people understand this is about civil rights and not about teaching in the schools," said Jim Carroll, managing director of the Equality California Institute.

The survey, taken Nov. 6-16, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

They have a tough sell because it is a fact that in Massachusetts, once gay marriage was approved by the Supreme Court, gay marriage really did become an accepted part of the school curriculum and objecting became illegal. Parents could not opt their children out of having King and King read to them in class.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Denmark Court Convicts Mother in Genital Mutilation of Daughters

A Danish citizen who was originally from Eritrea has been convicted for the genital mutilation of two of her daughters. This abuse was discovered after a child care worker overheard her discussing plans to travel to Sudan to have her younger daughter also "done". Denmark passed a law against genital mutilation in 2003 and this is their first case. The husband of the family first came to Denmark as a political refugee in 1991.

Female Genital Mutilation has become a human rights problem in Western countries due to immigration:
As a result of immigration, the practice has also spread to Europe, Australia and the United States. Some tradition-minded families have their daughters undergo FGM whilst on vacation in their home countries. As Western governments become more aware of FGM, legislation has come into effect in many countries to make the practice of FGM a criminal offense. In 2006, Khalid Adem became the first man in the United States to be prosecuted for mutilating his daughter.

The BBC is carrying the story, but the most complete news article is on Politiken.DK
Genital mutilation sentence - 2 years
A mother of four has been sentenced to two years for allowing the genital mutilation of her daughters.

Female genital mutilation is rampant in certain parts of Africa where even very young girls are forced into the medically dangerous procedure.

Denmark's first case involving parents allowing the genital mutilation of their daughters resulted today in a two-year sentence for the mother.

The major part of the sentence - 1 year and six months - was conditional, while six months was unconditional. The Eritrean woman will not however have to serve a sentence in prison as she has already been in detention for four-and-a-half months.

Father freed
While the mother was sentenced, the father of the girls was found not guilty. The mother's defence attorney said it had not yet been decided whether the mother would appeal her sentence as a matter of principle.

"The important thing is that my client does not have to go to prison again. Two years sounds a lot, but we will now have to think about whether to appeal," says Attorney Jane Ranum.

Third daughter
Apart from the two daughters - now 10 and 12 years old - who had been genitally mutilated, the parents were also charged with planning to have a third daughter mutilated. Both were, however, found not guilty as charged with this latter offence.

Both parents said they had not known that their daughters were to be mutilated. The mother explained in court that she had believed that her daughters were to be treated for a worm infection when her sister took them to a clinic.

The parents were arrested in the summer of 2008 when a pre-school teacher claimed to overhear a conversation in which the parents were said to be planning to travel to Sudan to have a now 6 year-old daughter genitally mutliated.

The family father came to Denmark in 1991 as a political refugee. Originally from Eritrea, the parents had lived for several years in Sudan.

Female genital mutliation - sometimes termed circumcision - has been a criminal offence in Denmark since 2003.

Hat Tip Women Against Shariah

Oregon Zoo Training Baby Elephant to Play Soccer?

I guess this is a new money making idea at the Oregon Zoo. In this video, they seem to be training Samudra, a 5 months old baby elephant to play soccer. Maybe when he gets older he can go professional.

Hat Tip Little Green Footballs

Black Children "Prisoners of their Parentage"?

Charles M Blow is the statistical graphics guru/ op ed columnist for the New York Times.

Today Blow has done a fascinating piece of work titled "No More Excuses?" in which he has assembled statistics about the plight of black children in response to Rep. James Clyburn's proclamation on Monday that "Every child has lost every excuse."

I titled this post Black Children "Prisoners of their Parentage"? because Blow wrote:
I’m a big proponent of personal responsibility, but children too often don’t have a choice. They are either prisoners of their parentage or privileged by it. Some of their excuses are hollow. But other excuses are legitimate, and they didn’t magically disappear when Obama put his left hand on the Lincoln Bible.

I can't get Blow's great graphic of the statistics to load in a size large enough to be read and he does not give comparable statistics for other races. So, I've put together some of the statistics Blow used and included the comparable white statistics:

Children in 2005 born to single mothers: black 70%, white 25%
Children in 2006 confirmed "maltreated": black 2%, white 1%

Family Income
Children in 2007 living in low income families: black 60%, white 26%
Children in 2007 living in poor families: black 34%, white 10%

Children in 2003 living in unsafe neighborhoods: black 31%, white 8%
Teen boys in 2005 reporting being raped: black 7%, white 3%
Teen girls in 2005 reporting being raped: black 12%, white 11%

Other Statistics Blow Used
(for which I don't have comparable white statistics)
black eight graders who watch four or more hours of television on an average weekday 57%
black women who agree that it is sometimes necessary to discipline a child with a "good hard spanking" 94%
black children who had used alcohol before age 13 31%

Blow concluded with this text:
So black people have to keep their feet on the ground even as their heads are in the clouds. If we want to give these children a fighting chance, we must change the worlds they inhabit. That change requires both better policies and better parenting — a change in our houses as well as the White House.

President Obama is a potent symbol, but he’s no panacea.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Israel Defense Force Compiling List of Gaza Dead

The latest version of the Jerusalem Post article on the Italian reporter Cremonesi's article for Corriere della sera gives some preliminary numbers for the Israel Defense Force (IDF) count of total Palestinian deaths in the Gaza fighting. IDF has estimated 1,300 Palestians were killed and has so far identified 900 by name. Of those IDF has identified, at least 750 were Hamas operatives. So at least 750 of 1,300 were Hamas operatives, a minimum of 57% of the deaths. The IDF is estimating that the final count will show 66% of the deaths were gunmen with Hamas or other Palestinian terror factions.

Despite a report by Lorenzo Cremonesi, a correspondent for Italy's Corriere della sera, that the number of Palestinians killed in Operation Cast Lead did not exceed five or six hundred, Israeli defense officials on Thursday said there were around 1,300 Palestinians killed during the fighting in Gaza and that a majority of them were Hamas operatives.

The IDF's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration has already compiled a list with 900 names of Palestinians killed during the operation, out of which 750 are believed to be Hamas operatives.

The IDF estimated that two-thirds of those killed were gunmen affiliated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terror factions. At least 500 are believed to have been members of Hamas's military wing.

Hamas, defense officials said, purposely covered up the number of dead and on Sunday claimed that only 48 members of its military wing had been killed. Many bodies belonging to Hamas operatives were being stored - officials said - in the morgue in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

The vast majority of the Hamas operatives killed were not wearing uniforms to disguise their affiliation, another reason for the exaggerated estimate of civilian casualties by the United Nations.

The IDF's Military Intelligence has set up a team to come up with a comprehensive list including the names and affiliation of all of the Palestinians killed during Operation Cast Lead. The list, officials said, would be completed in the coming two weeks.

In addition to reporting that no more than 500 or 600 Palestinians were killed in Gaza during the IDF operation, Cremonesi, who based his report on tours of hospitals in the Gaza Strip and on interviews with families of casualties, assessed the number of wounded to be far lower than 5,000, the number quoted by Hamas and repeated by the UN and the Red Cross in Gaza.

"It is sufficient to visit several hospitals [in the Gaza Strip] to understand that the numbers don't add up," he wrote.

In the European hospital in Rafah, one of the facilities which would presumably be filled with wounded from the "war of the tunnels," many beds were empty, according to Cremonesi. A similar situation was noted in the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, and in the privately-run Amal Hospital Cremonesi reported that only five out 150 beds were occupied.

Cremonesi interviewed Gazans who echoed Israel's insistence of how Hamas gunmen used civilians as human shields. One Gazan recalled civilians in Gaza shouting at Hamas and Islamic Jihad men, "Go away, go away from here! Do you want the Israelis to kill us all? Do you want our children to die under their bombs? Take your guns and missiles with you."

"Traitors, collaborators with Israel, spies of Fatah, cowards! The soldiers of the holy war will punish you. And in any case you will all die, like us. Fighting the Zionist Jews we are all destined for paradise. Do you not wish to die with us?" the religious fanatics of Hamas reportedly responded.

Other Palestinians told Cremonesi of Hamas operatives donning paramedic uniforms and commandeering ambulances. A woman identified as Um Abdullah, 48, spoke of Hamas using UN buildings as launch pads for rockets.

Cremonesi reported that he had difficultly gathering evidence as the local population was terrified of Hamas.

Gazan doctor says death toll inflated

Lorenzo Cremonesi, a correspondent for Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera has written an article questioning the death toll reported in Gaza. I don't have a complete translation, but the article is discussed in two Israeli sources, Ynetnews and the Jerusalem Post. According to Ynetnews:
a doctor working in Gaza's Shifa Hospital claimed that Hamas has intentionally inflated the number of casualties resulting from Israel's Operation Cast Lead.

"The number of deceased stands at no more than 500 to 600. Most of them are youths between the ages of 17 to 23 who were recruited to the ranks of Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter," according to the newspaper article.

The doctor wished to remain unidentified, out of fear for his life.
Remember, Hamas executes "spies" under the new Sharia Law.

The Jerusalem Post provided this summary of Cremonisi's article:
"It is sufficient to visit several hospitals [in the Gaza Strip] to understand that the numbers don't add up," he wrote.

In the European hospital in Rafah, one of the facilities which would presumably be filled with wounded from the "war of the tunnels," many beds were empty, according to Cremonesi. A similar situation was noted in the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, and in the privately-run Amal Hospital Cremonesi reported that only five out 150 beds were occupied.

Cremonesi interviewed Gazans who echoed Israel's insistence of how Hamas gunmen used civilians as human shields. One Gazan recalled civilians in Gaza shouting at Hamas and Islamic Jihad men, "Go away, go away from here! Do you want the Israelis to kill us all? Do you want our children to die under their bombs? Take your guns and missiles with you."

"Traitors, collaborators with Israel, spies of Fatah, cowards! The soldiers of the holy war will punish you. And in any case you will all die, like us. Fighting the Zionist Jews we are all destined for paradise. Do you not wish to die with us?" the religious fanatics of Hamas reportedly responded.

More from the Ynet article:
A senior Palestinian Health Ministry official later denied the claims, and the Israel Defense Forces' estimate on the number of casualties in Gaza has also remained unchanged.

Despite the claims, the IDF stood behind its estimate that between 1,100 to 1,200 people were killed in the Strip during the fighting, more than two-thirds of them Hamas members.

The army initially believed that the number of civilian casualties was higher, as many Hamas men walked outside their houses dressed in civilian clothes, leaving their weapons at home.

Dr. Moaiya Hassanain, who is in change of the emergency department at the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, denied the figures presented by the Italian paper.

Hassanain told Ynet that the Palestinian figures were issued cautiously, without any political considerations, and that several casualties may not have been reported as their bodies are still under the rubble or have not been handed over to the rescue forces and authorized medical officials.

A Tal al-Hawa resident told the newspaper's reporter, "Armed Hamas men sought out a good position for provoking the Israelis. There were mostly teenagers, aged 16 or 17, and armed. They couldn't do a thing against a tank or a jet. They knew they are much weaker, but they fired at our houses so that they could blame Israel for war crimes."

The reporter for the Italian newspaper also quoted reporters in the Strip who told of Hamas' exaggerated figures, "We have already said to Hamas commanders – why do you insist on inflating the number of victims?"

These same reporters mentioned that the truth that will come out is likely to be similar to what occurred in Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin. "Then, there was first talk of 1,500 deaths. But then it turned out that there were only 54, 45 of which were armed men," the Palestinian reporters told the Italian newspaper.

These new figures must be treated with caution especially in light of the fact that various official sources in the Gaza Strip, including United Nations and Red Cross officials, have reported that more than 1,300 people were killed and some 5,000 wounded during the three weeks of fighting in the coastal strip. Palestinian sources claim that three-quarters of the dead were unarmed civilians.

Hamas, while boasting on having Israeli soldiers by the dozens, a number that has proven to be exaggerated, claimed that no more than 48 of its members were killed during the Israeli offensive. According to IDF figures, Hamas lost hundreds of fighters from its ranks.

The UN's humanitarian chief began a tour of the Gaza Strip on Thursday to examine the extent of the devastation left behind by the Israeli offensive.

John Holmes said the number of casualties is "extremely shocking." He also urged Israel to conduct a thorough investigation into shelling attacks that damaged UN buildings in Gaza.

Holmes said he was thinking about immediate humanitarian needs and longer-term reconstruction. He said the biggest concerns are providing clean water, sanitation, electricity and shelter.

Holmes added that Gaza's border crossings would have to be opened to allow reconstruction materials into the area.

Hat Tip Little Green Footballs

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dad Must Marry Child's Mom or Pay Birth Bills

I didn't know states were doing this:
FLINT -- Rebecca Witt and Gary Johnson of Flint have been together for six years, share a house and are raising three kids together.

But they're not married. And Johnson now faces an awkward choice: Pay $3,800 in medical bills from the birth of his daughter with Witt or get married and owe nothing under Michigan's paternity act.

Witt, 24, said it's not about the $3,800. There's a principle involved. "I don't think anybody has a right to tell anyone who they have to marry or when they have to get married," Witt said.

State lawmakers amended Michigan's paternity act five years ago to waive birthing costs for a father if he married the child's mother. A year later, Witt gave birth to her and Johnson's daughter, JaeLyn. Witt was on Medicaid so the state paid her medical bills but Johnson was responsible for 49 percent, unless the couple got hitched.

The law is an incentive to maintain the sanctity of marriage, Genesee County Friend of the Court Jack Battles said. Taxpayers are entitled to get that money back from Johnson if he and Witt choose to remain unmarried, Battles said.

"It's totally up to them," said Battles, whose office enforces paternity rulings. Until Johnson can produce a marriage license, "they have to pay."

National advocacy groups are sharply divided over Genesee County's actions.

"It is despicable that the state would waive medical bills like a shotgun in the face of a low-income (family)," said Nicky Grist, executive director of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Alternatives to Marriage.

A spokesman for the American Family Association in Mississippi said government has the authority to encourage marriage and should use it for the good of society.

"The nuclear family is the preferred building block of civilization," said Michael DePrimo.

Witt said she and Johnson don't have a problem with the $3,800 bill. Their issue is the amount the state wants Johnson, who makes $8 an hour at his job at a nursery, to pay each month -- $500.

"We're not trying to get out of the bill," Witt said. "We said we'd pay it. We just can't afford $500. That's our rent money."

From the Detroit News

My New Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Totally off topic today -- I am learning how to use my new iRobt Roomba vacuum cleaner. The robot function is amazing. I can't say the cats don't mind ... but they do learn to get up in the stairs or a chair while is working. Here is a video I found at Youtube:

I am not sure why this video is titled "Evil Roomba". It sounds like the opinion of a cat.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hamas Killing, Torturing Palestinians for "Spying"

In the last few days, Hamas has killed at least 16 Fatah activists, and cruelly tortured at least 80 others, according to a news article in the Jerusalem Post. At least three men's eyes have been gouged out and many others have had their legs shot or their hands broken. Perhaps hundreds are being held in makeshift torture chambers.

Hamas militiamen have rounded up hundreds of Fatah activists on suspicion of "collaboration" with Israel during Operation Cast Lead, Fatah members in the Gaza Strip told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

They said the Hamas crackdown on Fatah intensified after the cease-fire went into effect early Sunday morning.

The Fatah members and eyewitnesses said the detainees were being held in school buildings and hospitals that Hamas had turned into make-shift interrogation centers.

Hamas has also renewed house arrest orders that were issued against thousands of Fatah officials and activists in the Gaza Strip shortly after the military operation started.

A Fatah official in Ramallah told the Post that at least 100 of his men had been killed or wounded as a result of the massive Hamas crackdown. Some had been brutally tortured, he added.

The official said that the perpetrators belonged to Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin Kassam, and to the movement's Internal Security Force.

According to the official, at least three of the detainees had their eyes put out by their interrogators, who accused them of providing Israel with wartime information about the location of Hamas militiamen and officials.

A number of Hamas leaders and spokesmen have claimed in the past few days that Fatah members in the Gaza Strip had been spying on their movement and passing the information to Israel.

Two Hamas officials, Salah Bardaweel and Fawzi Barhoum, accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his "spies" in the Gaza Strip of tipping off the Israelis about the movements of slain Hamas interior minister Said Siam, who was killed in an IAF strike on his brother's home in Gaza City last week.

The Fatah official in Ramallah said that, apart from being baseless, the allegations were aimed at paving the way for a ruthless Hamas attack on Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip.

"They were afraid to confront the Israeli army and many Hamas militiamen even ran away during the fighting," he said. "Hamas is now venting its anger and frustration against our Fatah members there."

Eyewitnesses said that Hamas militiamen had turned a number of hospitals and schools into temporary detention centers where dozens of Fatah members and supporters were being held on suspicion of helping Israel during the war.

The eyewitnesses said that a children's hospital and a mental health center in Gaza City, as well as a number of school buildings in Khan Yunis and Rafah, were among the places that Hamas had turned into "torture centers."

A Fatah activist in Gaza City claimed that as many as 80 members of his faction were either shot in the legs or had their hands broken for allegedly defying Hamas's house-arrest orders.

"What's happening in the Gaza Strip is a new massacre that is being carried out by Hamas against Fatah," he said. "Where were these [Hamas] cowards when the Israeli army was here?"

The activist said that Hamas's security forces had also confiscated cellular phones and computers belonging to thousands of local Fatah members and supporters.

Relatives of Abed al-Gharabli, a former Fatah security officer who spent 12 years in Israeli prisons, said he was kidnapped by a group of Hamas militiamen who shot him in both legs after severely torturing him.

Ziad Abu Hayeh, one of the commanders of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, is reported to have lost his sight after Hamas gunmen put out his eyes. According to Fatah activists, Abu Hayeh was kidnapped from his home in Khan Yunis by Hamas militiamen.

The Fatah men said that in a number of incidents, Hamas militiamen had kidnapped Fatah activists while they were attending the funerals of people killed during the war. In other cases, activists were detained and shot in the legs after they were spotted smiling in public - an act interpreted by Hamas as an expression of joy over Israel's military offensive.

On Saturday night, three brothers from the Subuh family were abducted by Hamas militiamen and taken to the Abdel Aziz Rantisi Mosque in Khan Yunis, where they were shot in the legs, a local journalist told the Post.

In a more recent incident, Hamas gunmen shot and killed 80-year-old Hisham Tawfik Najjar after storming his home and beating his four sons - all Fatah activists.

Fahmi Za'areer, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, revealed that at least 16 Fatah activists had been executed by Hamas in the past few days. He strongly condemned the Hamas clampdown on Fatah and warned against a bloodbath in the Gaza Strip.

A leaflet distributed by the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in various parts of the Gaza Strip called on Hamas to "respect the blood of the Palestinian martyrs" and stop pursuing Fatah members. The leaflet said that Hamas had placed hundreds of Fatah men under house arrest in the past 48 hours and was warning that anyone who failed to comply with these orders would be shot.

Hat Tip Women Against Shariah

Source of Rev. Lowery's Obama Benediction Racist Rhyme

I was pretty shocked by Rev. Lowery's racist rhyme at the close of his Inaugural Benediction :
We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right.

So, I searched the web and found that it is a poem that is often recited at African-American churches and that is is based on this song by Big Bill Broonzy:

Amsterdam Live Concerts 1953

This little song that I'm singin' about,
People, you all know that it's true,
If you're black and gotta work for livin',
Now, this is what they will say to you,
They says: "If you was white,
You's alright,
If you was brown,
Stick around,
But if you's black, oh, brother,
Get back, get back, get back."

I was in a place one night,
They was all havin' fun,
They was all buyin' beer and wine,
But they would not sell me none.
They said: "If you was white,
You's alright,
If you was brown,
You could stick around,
But as you's black, hmm, hmm, brother,
Get back, get back, get back."

I went to an employment office,
I got a number and I got in line,
They called everybody's number,
But they never did call mine.
They said: "If you was white,
You's alright,
If you was brown,
You could stick around,
But as you's black, hmm, hmm, brother,
Get back, get back, get back."

Me and a man was workin' side by side,
Now, this is what it meant:
They was payin' him a dollar an hour,
And they was payin' me fifty cent.
They said: "If you was white,
You'd be alright,
If you was brown,
You could stick around,
But as you's black, oh, brother,
Get back, get back, get back."

I helped win sweet victories,
With my plow and hoe,
Now, I want you to tell me, brother,
What you gonna do 'bout the old Jim Crow?
Now, if you is white,
You's alright,
If you's brown,
Stick around,
But if you's black, oh, brother,
Get back, get back, get back.

I guess when you were the subject of racism during your formative years, it is hard to give it up and embrace a new era, even when it is staring you in the face.

Obama Inaugural Prayer by Rick Warren

Monday, January 19, 2009

After Losing Virginity at 14, Commited to Abstinence

Here's the first person account of an English girl who is now a youth leader.

‘I was just 14 when my boyfriend and I decided to have sex. It wasn’t as if it had been an impulsive decision. After all, we’d wanted to wait, but after nine months we gave in, thinking it was the right thing to do. My boyfriend was a year older than me and both of us felt at the time that waiting nine months was commendable. It didn’t occur to us that we were too young to deal with the emotional consequences.

At school the teachers were already showing us how to put condoms on bananas, and we all thought everyone else was having sex. Personally, I thought the idea of someone reaching the age of 18 and still being a virgin was a myth.

Our sex education teacher didn’t make things any better, saying: “It’s illegal for you to have sex before you’re 16, but we all know you’re going to do it anyway.”

Those words echoed around my head on leaving that class. I wanted it to stop – the pressure, the overwhelming sense of what I had always considered to be right and wrong was becoming blurred.

Meanwhile, at my close friend Christine’s school, a supply personal and social education teacher had just told her and her friends that it’s a myth to think that nobody’s doing it. “Most people who say they’re having sex are having sex,” she stated quite categorically.

Now we are all being told about the physical consequences of sex, but not the emotional consequences. The physical can often be cured but the emotional consequences stick around a lot longer. If only someone had told me then what I know now.

Read it all here.

Hat Tip Anglican Mainstream

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pakistan: Taliban's Sharia Judges Order Beatings, Executions

The Sunday edition of the Times Online has an article on sharia justice coming to Pakistan:
More than 70 Taliban courts are now ruling on hundreds of cases of “immoral activity” every week in the Swat valley, whose mountains, lakes and meadows were once a draw for tourists.

The article notes how the implementation is done in stages:
One Taliban judge in the Kooza Bandai region boasted that he had ruled on 55 cases in the past week. Almost all the decisions are verbal and there are no formal procedures.

The emergence of a parallel Taliban legal system has a sinister objective. “This is our first step towards the implementation of sharia in Swat,” said Muslim Khan, a Taliban spokesman. In the next phase, Khan said, the courts would begin to carry out harsher punishments, such as execution or chopping off hands.

Villagers said the Taliban were already killing people who defied their orders. “They didn’t even spare barbers and women coming out of markets without wearing their veils,” said a Mingora resident.

There have been 51 Taliban executions since the start of the year, he added. The victims include politicians, security men, dancers, prostitutes and shopkeepers selling alcohol.

We should be very careful of allowing any encroachment of sharia because it will not be viewed as enough, but rather a foot in the door.
Read it all here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Putting a Price on Virginity: $3.7 mil?

The highest reported offer for the virginity of "Natalie Dylan" is now $3.7 million. "Natalie Dylan" is the 22 year old graduate of Sacramento State University who decided to sell her virginity when she "ended up in a financial bind, because her stepfather allegedly used her college status to fraudulently apply for student loans, and then ran off with the money." Here is a video from September when the offers were just starting to come in:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Iran: 2 Men Stoned to Death for Adultery, 3rd Escapes

Sharia law is supposed to be about using the Koran as the basis for the legal system. In the Koran, the only mention of a punishment for adultery is:
“The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication—flog each of them with hundred stripes: Let no compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by God, if ye believe in God and the last day.”Koran 24:2

Yet, as the New York Times explains the current law in Iran:
Iran’s penal code calls for death by stoning as the punishment for adultery. Males who are found guilty are buried up to the waist and females up to their necks. They are then pelted with stones until they die. If they manage to dig themselves out, they are pardoned.

And this past December in Iran:
Tehran - Two men have been stoned to death for adultery at a cemetery in the northeastern city of Mashhad while a third escaped with his life, the Iranian newspaper Etemad Melli reported on Sunday.

The reformist daily, quoting a statement from a group of lawyers and women's rights activists, said the stoning was carried out at Behesht Reza cemetery in the first week of the Iranian month of Day, which runs from December 21 to 26.

"One of them named Mahmoud, an Afghan national, was able to save himself from the stoning hole with serious injuries, but two others died," it said, identifying one of the men killed as Houshang Kh.

Although a moritorium on the punishment was advised by the head of the judiciary in 2002, the Washington Post reports that:
Ten people, including eight women, are now awaiting stoning, according to human rights activists
And a spokesman for Iran's judiciary, Ali Reza Jamshidi, said Tuesday:
"Judges can't act based simply on advisories by the head of the judiciary, since judges are independent,"

The discrepancy between the Koran and Sharia practice is explained by the website Answering Islam that there was an oral tradition which was recorded (hadith) that the verses in the Koran on stoning for adultery were lost (possibly eaten by a goat).

Consider this hadith:
Abdullah bin Umar says that a group of Jews came to the Prophet and said, "A man and a woman of our nation have comitted adultery." The Prophet asked them, "What does the Torah says about pelting stones?" They replied, "We humiliate them and give publicly to their evil act and punish them by flogging." Abdullah bin Salam said, "You are telling a lie. Bring the Torah which also ordains pelting stones." So they brought the Torah and one of them having covered his hand the verse relating to the pelting of stones read out the verse preceding it and the verse after it.
Abdullah bin Salam said, "Take off your hand." And the verse about pelting stones was seen clearly. The Jew said, "Abdullah bin Salam is right. The verse about pelting stones is there." Then the Prophet directed that both the committers of adultery be stoned to death and they met their fate. (traditions collected by Muslim and Bukhari) (In Yusuf Ali's commentary no. 2954 on verse an-Nur 24:2

And contrast it with John 8:1-11
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Hat Tip Women Against Shariah

Monday, January 12, 2009

Israel Bombs School During Humanitarian Cease Fire

That sounds pretty bad, doesn't it?
How does "Hamas fires rockets from school during humanitarian cease fire" sound?
Here's the video:

Hat Tip Little Green Footballs

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Denmark: Muslims force Jews from schools

From Tuesday's Copenhagen Post we learn that school administrators cannot accept Jewish children in their schools due to their inability to control the potential for violent behavior of their Muslim students. Well, you read this and see if that is what you think it means:

Barbed-wire fences and security guards are a regular part of many Jewish childrens' school day

A number of school administrators have come forth in recent days to confirm that they recommend Jewish children should not enrol at their schools.

According to school administrators, law enforcement officials and social workers, the on-going conflict in Gaza has led to heightened tensions between Jews and Arabs - particularly Palestinians - here in Denmark.

And although few headmasters of schools have faced the situation, most of those at schools with a high percentage of children of Arab descent say they try to prevent Jewish parents from enrolling their children there.

On Monday, headmaster Olav Nielsen of Humlehave School in Odense publicly admitted he would refuse Jewish parents' wish to place their child at his school.

The comments were made following an incident last week in which two Israeli citizen's were shot and wounded at a city shopping centre. Police believe the incident was a reaction to the Gaza conflict.

Other headmasters have now come forth to support Nielsen's position, adding that they are putting the child's safety first.
This sounds like the fear is for the Jewish child, not the Arab children. So although they used the words "heightened tensions between Jews and Arabs", it doesn't sound like this is a case of each side threatening the other.
At Caroline Skole in Copenhagen's Østerbro district, video cameras watch over the playground and entrances of the school, which is surrounded by a 2.5 metre-high barbed-wire fence.

One parent whose child goes to the Jewish school said thinking about the extra security can be disturbing at times, but she felt it was necessary.
It sounds like the Jewish children all go to a Jewish school surrounded by a barbed-wire fence, while Muslim children are free to enroll where they please?

Rabbi Bent Lexner called the headmasters' concern 'theoretical. In reality, Jewish parents would never try to enrol their child in those schools.'
Yes, the Muslims have made it so dangerous for Jewish children in the public schools, no Jewsih parent would dream of enrolling them there.

Hat Tip Women Against Shariah, Varlden Idag

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Co-Creator of "The Pill" Laments Demographic "Horror Scenario"

Lifesite News is reporting today that Carl Djerassi, the co-inventor of the first oral contraceptive looks back on his contribution to the culture of sex without consequences with regret and dismay:

Carl Djerassi wrote of his concern in a commentary appearing in the December issue of Austria's Der Standard, where he described couples who regularly contracept as "wanting to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest of the world to get on with it."

Although a faculty member in the Chemistry Department, Djerassi taught reproductive politics at Stanford for decades and argued that "The Pill" was a force for the liberation of women. However, now he is seeing the long term effects on his native country when women do not reproduce at a replacement rate:
Lamenting that there is now "no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction," Djerassi said, "This divide in Catholic Austria, a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now complete. Most Austrians enjoy sexual intercourse without thereby wanting or begetting a child."

Djerassi explained that Austria, which is now home to more seniors over 65 than children under 15, would soon enter "an impossible situation" as the lopsided population would result in a working class too small to support the needs of elderly pensioners.

Hat Tip The Deacon’s Bench

Girl Children of Iraqi Kurds: Female Genital Mutilation in the Name of Islam

The Washington Post had an article before New Year's that began with the story of a 7 year old Kurdish girl undergoing a procedure of Female Genital Mutilation (also called female circumcision) "in the name of Allah". Her mother said "Islam and our elders require it."

The government official in charge of human rights views it as a "small problem" not requiring intervention:
The Kurdish region's minister of human rights, Yousif Mohammad Aziz, said he didn't think the issue required action by parliament. "Not every small problem in the community has to have a law dealing with it," he said.

The Washington Post article notes that there is dispute over whether this is required by Islam:
Supporters of female circumcision said the practice, which has been a ritual in their culture for countless generations, is rooted in sayings they attribute to the prophet Muhammad, though the accuracy of those sayings is disputed by other Muslim scholars.

The Wikipedia article has interesting material on this dispute. I've deleted the footnotes, but you can go to the Wikipedia article and find the citations if you are interested.

Female genital cutting predates Islam.In Saudi Arabia, in the area known as the Hijaz, where Islam originated, FGC was already being practiced during the lifetime of Muhammad. Female genital cutting is not commanded by the Qur'an and is not practiced by the majority of Muslims. In Egypt, mufti Sheikh Ali Gomaa stated: "The traditional form of excision is a practice totally banned by Islam because of the compelling evidence of the extensive damage it causes to women's bodies and minds."

[edit] Sunni View

There are differences of opinion among Sunni scholars in regards to female genital cutting. These differences of opinion range from forbidden to obligatory. The debate focuses around a hadith from the Sunni collections. One narration states that "a woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. Muhammad said to her, 'Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.'"Abu Dawood, who relates the narration in his collection, states the hadith is poor in authenticity. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani describes this hadith as poor in authenticity, and quotes Imam Ahmad Bayhaqi’s point of view that it is "poor, with a broken chain of transmission" Zein al-Din al-Iraqi points out in his commentary on Al-Ghazali’s Ihya ulum al-din (I:148) that the mentioned hadith has a weak chain of transmission." Yusuf ibn Abd-al-Barr comments: "Those who consider (female) circumcision a sunna, use as evidence this hadith of Abu al-Malih, which is based solely on the evidence of Hajjaj ibn Artaa, who cannot be admitted as an authority when he is the sole transmitter. The consensus of Muslim scholars shows that circumcision is for men".

Imam Shams-ul-haq Azeemabadi asserts that, "[t]he Hadith of female circumcision has been reported through so many ways all of which are weak, blemished and defective, and thus it is unacceptable to prove a legal ruling through such ways." While some scholars reject ahadith that refer to FGC on grounds of inauthenticity, other scholars argue that authenticity alone does not confer legitimacy. One of the sayings used to support FGC practices is the hadith (349) in Sahih Muslim: Aishah narrated an authentic Hadith that the Prophet said: "When a man sits between the four parts (arms and legs of his wife) and the two circumcised parts meet, then ghusl is obligatory." Dr. Muhammad Salim al-Awwa, Secretary General of the World Union of the Muslim Ulemas states that while the hadith is authentic, it is not evidence of legitimacy. He states that the Arabic for "the two circumcision organs" is a single word used to connote two forms; however the plural term for one of the forms is used to denote not two of the same form, but two different forms characterized as a singular of the more prominent form. For example, in Arabic, the word with the female gender can be chosen to make the dual form, such as in the expression "the two Marwas", referring to the two hills of As-Safa and Al-Marwa (not "two of the same hills, each called Al-Marwa") in Mecca.[53] He goes on to state that, while the female form is used to denote both male and female genitalia, it is identified with the prominent aspect of the two forms, which, in this case, is only the male circumcised organ. He further states that the connotation of circumcision is not transitive. Dr. al-Awwa concludes that the hadith is specious because "such an argument can be refuted by the fact that in Arabic language, two things or persons may be given one quality or name that belongs only to one of them for an effective cause." [e.g. the usage in "Qur'an in Surah Al-Furqan(25):53", "bahrayn" is the dual form of "bahr" (sea) meaning "sea (salty and bitter) and river (sweet and thirst-allaying)", and not "two seas".]

In March 2005, Dr Ahmed Talib, Dean of the Faculty of Sharia at Al-Azhar University, stated: "All practices of female circumcision and mutilation are crimes and have no relationship with Islam. Whether it involves the removal of the skin or the cutting of the flesh of the female genital organs... it is not an obligation in Islam."[54] Both Christian and Muslim leaders have publicly denounced the practice of FGC since 1998. A recent conference at Al-Azhar University in Cairo (December, 2006) brought prominent Muslim clergy to denounce the practice as not being necessary under the umbrella of Islam. Although there was some reluctance amongst some of the clergy, who preferred to hand the issue to doctors, making the FGC a medical decision, rather than a religious one, the Grand Mufti Ali Jumaa of Egypt, signed a resolution denouncing the practice.

One of the four Sunni schools of religious law, the Shafi'i school, rules that trimming of the clitoral hood is mandatory. Sheikh Faraz Rabbani states, "That which is wajib [obligatory] in the Shafi`i texts is merely slight 'trimming' of the tip of the clitoral hood - prepuce." Contrary to the WHO definition, he states that this practice is not "FGM, nor harmful to the woman or her ability to derive sexual pleasure." He states that "excision, FGM, or other harmful practices" are not permitted. In 1994, Egyptian Mufti Sheikh Jad Al-Hâqq argued that the procedure may not be banned simply on grounds of improper use. Al-Azhar University in Cairo had issued several fatwas endorsing FGC, in 1949, 1951 and 1981, but then over ruled these with a more recent fatwa totally banning the practice, as it goes against the principles and teachings of Islam.

The discussion of the difference between trimming the hood and slicing off the clitoris reminded me of what Paul said in Galatians 5:12.

Hat Tip Michelle Malkin

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Children of Hamas

Christian Dreamers of the Year 2008

I have two candidates for news stories of Christian dreamers of the year 2008: Stojan Adasevic and Crystal Dixon. Stojan Adasevic is the man who used to be an abortion doctor in what was then Yugoslavia and became an leading anti-abortionist based on his dreams of Thomas Aquinas. Crystal Dixon is the African American woman in Ohio who was fired from her job as a college administrator for writing an Op Ed piece in the Toledo Free Press criticizing the idea that people leading a homosexual lifestyle are civil rights victims comparable to African-Americans.

It seems obvious why Dr. Adasevic qualifies for this award, but you may be wondering about Ms. Dixon.

From her website we learn that Crystal Dixon's inspiration for writing the op ed was a divine mandate with which she awoke one morning:
In early April, 2008, I read an opinion piece by Mr. Michael Miller in the Toledo Free Press entitled “Gay Rights and Wrongs. I absolutely respected Mr. Miller’s right to express his opinion while at the same time, I disagreed with several of the points that he made. One of the freedoms that makes this country great and makes newspapers great, is the privilege of exchanging different points of view via public print communications. Early on Sunday, April 6, 2008, I arose with a divine mandate (you may understand the term as divine inspiration) to write my opinion, based on my Christian faith in response to Mr. Miller’s article. I wrote my personal opinion, based upon my Christian faith, rooted in the foundation of Holy Scripture which is my Constitutional right.

Ms. Dixon is being represented by the Thomas More Law Center and the announcement that she had filed suit was published in early December. I tried to find the op-ed she wrote in the Toledo Free Press, but they do not have an archive function. So here is the copy of the letter that Ms. Dixon has posted at her website.

- The Toledo Free Press
Gay rights and wrongs: another perspective

By Crystal Dixon

I read with great interest Michael Miller's April 6 column, "Gay Rights and Wrongs."
I respectfully submit a different perspective for Miller and Toledo Free Press readers to consider.

First, human beings, regardless of their choices in life, are of ultimate value to God and should be viewed the same by others. At the same time, one's personal choices lead to outcomes either positive or negative.

As a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo's Graduate School, an employee and business owner, I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are "civil rights victims." Here's why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. I am genetically and biologically a Black woman and very pleased to be so as my Creator intended. Daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle evidenced by the growing population of PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex Gays) and Exodus International just to name a few. Frequently, the individuals report that the impetus to their change of heart and lifestyle was a transformative experience with God; a realization that their choice of same-sex practices wreaked havoc in their psychological and physical lives. Charlene E. Cothran, publisher of Venus Magazine, was an aggressive, strategic supporter of gay rights and a practicing lesbian for 29 years, before she renounced her sexuality and gave Jesus Christ stewardship of her life. The gay community vilified her angrily and withdrew financial support from her magazine, upon her announcement that she was leaving the lesbian lifestyle. Rev. Carla Thomas Royster, a highly respected New Jersey educator and founder and pastor of Blessed Redeemer Church in Burlington, NJ, married to husband Mark with two sons, bravely exposed her previous life as a lesbian in a tell-all book. When asked why she wrote the book, she responded "to set people free... I finally obeyed God."

Economic data is irrefutable: The normative statistics for a homosexual in the USA include a Bachelor's degree: For gay men, the median household income is $83,000/yr. (Gay singles $62,000; gay couples living together $130,000), almost 80% above the median U.S. household income of $46,326, per census data. For lesbians, the median household income is $80,000/yr. (Lesbian singles $52,000; Lesbian couples living together $96,000); 36% of lesbians reported household incomes in excess of $100,000/yr. Compare that to the median income of the non-college educated Black male of $30,539. The data speaks for itself.

The reference to the alleged benefits disparity at the University of Toledo was rather misleading. When the University of Toledo and former Medical University of Ohio merged, both entities had multiple contracts for different benefit plans at substantially different employee cost sharing levels. To suggest that homosexual employees on one campus are being denied benefits avoids the fact that ALL employees across the two campuses regardless of their sexual orientation, have different benefit plans. The university is working diligently to address this issue in a reasonable and cost-efficient manner, for all employees, not just one segment.

My final and most important point. There is a divine order. God created human kind male and female (Genesis 1:27). God created humans with an inalienable right to choose. There are consequences for each of our choices, including those who violate God's divine order. It is base human nature to revolt and become indignant when the world or even God Himself, disagrees with our choice that violates His divine order. Jesus Christ loves the sinner but hates the sin (John 8:1-11.) Daily, Jesus Christ is radically transforming the lives of both straight and gay folks and bringing them into a life of wholeness: spiritually, psychologically, physically and even economically. That is the ultimate right.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Residents Say Hamas Was Firing Near UN School

This AP story gives us some context for the Israeli shelling of the the UN school. Notice that Hamas fighters were firing from near the school and notice that the residents spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. (We know the residents of Gaza are afraid of complaining, for fear of being accused of being spies. And we know what Hamas does to those accused of spying.)
Israel's military said its shelling at the school _ the deadliest single episode since Israeli ground forces invaded Gaza on Saturday after a week of air bombardment _ was a response to mortar fire from within the school and said Hamas militants were using civilians as cover.
Two residents of the area who spoke with The Associated Press by telephone said they saw a small group of militants firing mortar rounds from a street near the school, where 350 people had gathered to get away from the shelling. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
Majed Hamdan, an AP photographer, rushed to the scene shortly after the attacks. At the hospital, he said, many children were among the dead.
"I saw women and men _ parents _ slapping their faces in grief, screaming, some of them collapsed to the floor. They knew their children were dead," he said. "In the morgue, most of the killed appeared to be children. In the hospital, there wasn't enough space for the wounded."
He said there appeared to be marks on the pavement of five separate explosions in area of the school.

and further down in the article:
An Israeli military statement said it received intelligence that the dead at the girls school included Hamas operatives, among them members of a rocket launching cell. It identified two of them as Imad Abu Askar and Hassan Abu Askar.

Two residents who spoke to an AP reporter by phone said the two brothers were known to be low-level Hamas militants. They said a group of militants _ one of them said four _ were firing mortar shells from near the school.

An Israeli shell targeted the men, but missed and they fled, the witnesses said, refusing to allow their names to be published because they feared for their safety. Then another three shells landed nearby, exploding among civilians, they said.

Palestinian militants have frequently fired from residential areas in the past.

Ging said the U.N. agency's staff work to prevent militants from entering the schools it has opened to shelter those at risk.

"Unfortunately tonight's incident is just another example of how Hamas operates," said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. "This is not the first time they have exploited a U.N. facility. This is not the first time that they have deliberately used innocent civilians as human shields."

Hamas has a strategy of deliberately endangering the people of Gaza, because every dead Palestinian is a win for Hamas in the public relations war. And the people of Gaza dare not complain for fear of reprisal from Hamas.

In this case the two of the Hamas fighters firing mortar shells are among the dead. The residents speaking on condition of anonymity say that these Hamas fighters fired the mortar near the school and then fled. So I guess they fled into the school and tried to blend in with the civilians at the school? Were they trying to attract the Israeli response and direct at the school?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Neighbors Didn't Stop Hamas for Fear of Being Labeled Spies

This jumped out at me in a New York Times article posted tonight:
Shireen Shihab, 30, a resident of Gaza City, said Monday that she had seen Hamas fighters firing rockets toward Israel from a site two blocks away from her home. She said she and others could not express any opposition for fear of being labeled spies.
We read something similar in a New York Times story from Jan 3 from Salah Abu Rafia, a man accompanying wounded relatives to Shifa hospital:
He said that Hamas fighters had been in the area, but that he had been afraid to tell them to go away.

But Shireen Shihab is more specific. She helps us understand that to complain could lead to being labeled a spy. And we know that would be a death sentence, as we learned here. So the choice is to complain to Hamas fighters who are shooting rockets from your neighborhood and face certain death, or let them continue and face the possibility of injury or death.

I also want to look at one sentence in the middle of this latest article and juxtapose it with one at the end of the article. First we read:
Ten days into Israel’s offensive against Hamas, the militant Islamic group that governs Gaza, the civilian toll was rising alongside that of the militants.

But the article ends:
Among the survivors of the Samouni family, opinions were divided. Some blessed the resistance. But Hamada Al-Samouni, 28, who was lightly wounded by the Israeli rocket and was clearly still in shock, said this was all happening “because of the rockets” fired by Hamas.

He said he had seen the bodies of eight Hamas fighters dressed in civilian clothing lying in the streets around Zeitoun. They had been lying there for two days and nobody had come to collect them, he said.

Hmmm, I seem to remember that yesterday the same reporter was remarking that it was puzzling that there were no wounded or dead Hamas fighters arriving at the hospital:
A week ago, when Israel began its air assault, hundreds of Hamas militants were taken to the hospital. Yet on Sunday, the day Israeli troops flooded Gaza and ground battles with Hamas began, there appeared not to be a single one.

The number of deaths is being counted based on who is brought in to the hospital. So, leaving the bodies of Hamas fighters in the streets drives down the Hamas fighter body count and drives up the civilian to Hamas fighter ratio. And if the Hamas fighters are wearing civilian clothes, wouldn't that also cause miscounting of Hamas fighter deaths as civilian deaths?

Hamas is cowardly, hiding among the civilian population and firing rockets from their neighborhoods. Hamas does not protect its citizens, but endangers them, while seeking to protect itself. And Hamas is deceitful, manipulating the body count to over-count civilian deaths and under-count Hamas fighter deaths. Hamas has not only brought death to the people of Gaza, Hamas has brought shame on the Palestinian people.