Friday, September 30, 2005

More on the Jihad in Thailand

Drop in on An American Expat in Southeast Asia for further information about the Thai front of the Great Islamic Jihad. As he says, it’s Twilight in Southern Thailand:
     It’s not religious freedom or economic development that Southern Thailand’s Muslims want. It is autonomy and the desire to create an Islamic sultanate, and yet many of the West's so-called experts continue to claim that crime, money and influence are the factors that fuel the violence.
A reminder that “Islam has bloody borders.”

“International Freedom” My Foot!

The link on our site is coming down. Mission accomplished. From the email notice sent out by Take Back The Memorial:
     We and the tens of thousands of supporters who fought for this memorial did so, not because we wish to turn these few acres in Lower Manhattan into a cemetery or convert the site into one of enduring sadness. We did so because of our unshakable belief that this is Sacred Ground, that the truth should be told there, and that the core values of our nation will be amply demonstrated by the lives remembered, the deeds done and the spirit reawakened.
The International “Freedom” Center will have to house its anti-American propaganda somewhere else. They have been evicted from Holy Ground, and that it as it should be. There needs to be at least one place where they cannot sully the American story, or denigrate her heroes.

Here’s the thing: any group which cloaks itself with a label “International Freedom Blah-Blah” is a fake. “International Freedom” is code for socialist, politically correct, anti-American liberty bashers. It used to be a handle for Communist Front organizations but when that inglorious, murderous and evil project imploded there were others waiting to grab the banner. And so they did.

You might consider the title a warning. Remember Nelson Algren’s saying?
     Never eat at a place called Mom's.
Never play cards with a man named Doc.
Never go to bed with a woman whose troubles are greater than your own.
To his wisdom add “never believe anything coming from a place that uses “International Freedom” in its title.

The same goes for any group labeled “Peace and Justice” Whatever, or perhaps “The Whatever for Peace and Justice”. Inevitably it will turn out to be a critical mass of self-righteous cranky folks. And I do mean “critical.” Their mission is concerned with telling the rest of us how bad we are. All of us miserable sinners — the P&J people excluded, of course.

So. Add to your list of gratitude prayers tonight the welcome news of the demise of the Anti-American International Freedom Center. Sore losers that they are, they have refused Governor Pataki’s invitation to consider being housed elsewhere. Of course they have! If they couldn’t bring down the 9/11 Memorial, what’s the point?

Good riddance.

The Council's Votes

Watcher's CouncilThis was a good week at the Watcher’s Council. The breadth of topics covered was entertaining and informative. I was surprised to see Witches’ Brew come out on top. However, it was also heartening because we need to do all we can to spread the information on the UN’s bag of tricks. Now they’re holding meetings in Tunis, still trying to figure out how to wrest control of domain names and internet interests from the US Department of Commerce. It would be funny if there didn't exist such a potential for chaos and evil here — doings at which the UN excels.

By the way, have you ever noticed that the acronym for the United Nations —“un” — is our English prefix for undoing? What could be more suitable for such an unscrupulous body? Please, can we just ignore them to death? Neither they nor the Mourning Mother benefit from our attention and we benefit when we benignly neglect them.

Second place went to a most unusual post by New World Man. Being Normal sounds normal enough, but it’s deeper and wider than mere normalcy. Matt Barr has taken on the “Being Poor” meme and fisked it:
     John Scalzi's post Being Poor has certainly taken on a life of its own, hasn't it? Now Eric Zorn, not sure Scalzi's post (er, essay) inspired enough class envy, or that acknowledging its merits does enough to establish his empathic bona fides, has weighed in with a Being Privileged riff...
Before you read his list, click on Scalzi’s post so you’ll understand the context for New World Man’s response. Whether you agree with either essay is not the point. The point is to think about this dialogue for yourself and perhaps use it as the starting point for your own conversation. There’s a cultural gravitas to this subject that merits consideration.

Villanous Company is a trip. She won the non-Council votes this week for a deserving post which ranges over a wide variety of topics. She ends with this thought. It’s only pessimisstic on the surface, at least to this reader. But I believe in our American experiment and Cassandra is a prime example of what de Tocqueville thought gave us our strength:
     The media seem, increasingly, to be agitating for some kind of revolution and the agenda seems to be getting more and more open and in-your-face. We look at the BBC and cry 'socialism' but there isn't all that much difference, really, between the BBC and the NY Times or even the Washington Post when you look at the underlying message: it is government's job to insure against all evils that can possibly befall mankind and if that doesn't happen, our 'institutions' have 'failed us'.
Do we not have any duty to ourselves? Are we all powerless flotsam on the river of life? How utterly depressing - especially when one considers that the "government" we are urged to depend on is, in the end, "us" in the aggregate. A confederation of helpless dunces.
But as her post and the comments following so aptly showed, we are a strong and capable bunch, especially those of us who do not look to Washington to solve our personal catastrophes.

Second place is a must-see. Come to think of it, Villanous Company, as a military wife, would probably say they deserved place of honor.These guys did a great job with a flash media presentation demonstrating just how much we’ve accomplished in Iraq. Their post is only too aptly named — Recent Operations in Iraq: Decisive, Effective, and Unheralded:
     In an effort to create a brief visual summation of recent operations and successes in the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq and other assorted affiliated terrorist groups who share both ideology and goals, we (see note below) have created a Flash presentation titled Coalition Operations: Anbar & Ninawa Province .
When you see things like this, you realize how cheated we were in Vietnam, what a bill of goods we were sold, and how much rotten karma has accrued to the quitters and quislings who made up the vanguard of the movement to get us out of Vietnam, no matter how much it cost those we left behind. May all those responsible for that ignominious episode in our history — the one that led to the deaths of millions of innocents — may they get what they deserve.

Drop by The Watcher’s Place. There is so much good material waiting to be read and digested.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Increasing the IQ of the Commons

The Glittering Eye has a regular feature called “Catching My Eye: Morning A Through Z.”

I recommend following it for two reasons. First, you stumble across blogs you might not have known about otherwise. Gulp. As if you don’t have enough blog reading already. And now I’ve forgotten the second reason… Oh, yeah: you might consider incorporating this feature into your own blog.

As many of you know, Gates of Vienna has been the happy recipient of several ’lanches in the last week. It was great giddy fun to watch the site meter zipping up into the higher reaches, numbers beyond our ordinary realm of thinking. Along with the numbers come referrals from sites you’d never hear of otherwise -- or at least we hadn't. Some of them are fascinating, and some leave you wondering if you’ve stumbled accidentally into a “Next Blog” blitz.

Forthwith are several delights we’d not previously seen:

Quantum Catfish is quite unlike any other blog I've seen. But then, I lead a more secluded life than most. Take my word for it, though, that you at least want to visit. We’re blogrolling it, just to remind ourselves of the breadth of talent floating out there in the ether. Besides I do love a platter of channel catfish, preferably grilled. One taste is a whiff of heaven. How many fishermen-philosophers do you know? Drop by.

Stephen Bodio’s Querencia is difficult to pigeonhole. Falcons, Indian artifacts, excellent photography, essays on the Chinese, on the odiously ignorant “information” out there about malaria, why recess is good for kids, excerpts from an essay on Kipling re writing… he is curious about everything. And I realize I’d meant to blogroll him months ago, back during the “Book Meme.” Better late than never.

There is definitely a need for Moonbattery. It’s a dirty job, this trying to keep the record straight on the fringe so close to the Cliffs of Reason that they’re about to tumble into eternity. However, Moonbattery seems up to the task. He has stepped into the fray to bring you pictures, proof and lots of links. The photos are fascinating, especially for a country woman who doesn’t get out much. You people who inhabit the coasts, or allow a television into your environment are no doubt inured to such sights. But even you habitues of the demi-monde will enjoy the accompanying observations -- not too wordy, not too spare. Just right.

Want to learn about modern day piracy and read some common sense fisking of hurricane news and discover why “first reports” of anything are usually wrong? Want to get some weather history and perspective? Want great photography and the most informative maps around? Want to see pictures of the US and India on cooperative naval manuveurs? What do you want to bet that this paticular photo is giving the Chinese nightmares? Definitely a different take, definitely worth your time. Go to Eaglespeak. His work deserves your attention.

This is a mere sampling of those who dropped by during our ’lanches. It feels like a gift to be given links to these places. We are rich in new information and perspectives.

You know what this kind of available aggregated information does? It increases the IQ of the commons. Contemplate the unintended consequences of that immense idea for awhile.

Hint: deciding to ignore the aggregators and their progeny is one of the reasons the MSM is losing breadth and depth. Or rather, its lack of both is finally being exposed. It's why you'd be more likely to buy stock in Pajamas Media if it were on offer, and why you don't plan on acquiring any shares of the New York Times.

Pork Busting in the 5th Congressional District of Virginia

Porkbusters!Here’s my letter to our Congressman, Virgil Goode, who represents the Fifth Congressional District in Virginia.

Like many Americans of his generation, Representative Goode has made the political/philosophical journey from Democrat to Independent to Republican. He is a modest man who serves his constituency — mostly Red-Staters with a few Blue Spots here and there — with integrity and attention.

Virgil’s response follows my email, which I sent late last week. As you can see, one of his other virtues is promptness.

Hi Virgil—

As active bloggers the Baron and I are members of several groups whose interests in governmental advocacy is evolving. One of the issues reverberating through the blogosphere is the astronomical sums needed for aid to Katrina (and soon, Rita) victims.

As believers in a supply-side economy we are against raising taxes to assist these areas. Such a move would simply increase the economic damage already being done by acts of God; we are praying that acts of Congress don’t exacerbate the situation and do further harm to our national productivity...not to mention the foolish acts of man: people who build those monstrous “cottages” within sight of the beach and then want federal money to cover the cost of their loss when seasonal weather comes along lack all integrity. In my humble opinion.

As an aside, I’ve always thought those people don’t need aid, they need an IQ test. Ditto for anyone who wants to live below sea level and depend on the feds to (literally) bail them out.

From where we sit (and admittedly we “sit” on a ridge high enough that water will never be an issue. We actually did that on purpose since looking at Howardsville is a cautionary tale for anybody worried about floods) there doesn’t seem to be any way Congress can begin to meet the needs of these areas without some trimming of the lard-laden spending projects currently up for consideration. Or even those already passed. If that isn’t done *first* then throwing FEMA money around is actually harmful to the rest of us, and while it helps those areas in the short term, in the long run it harms initiative and private projects. There is much we can do as private citizens first, before Uncle Sam steps in. Some wag suggested that Wal-Mart did such a good job in handing out generators, supplies, etc., that we ought to consider WEMA instead of FEMA.

I am requesting that you review what projects are up for consideration and explain your position re cutting pork for the emergency we’ve been handed. My request is simply one of many others in the blogosphere. We are in the process of compiling a Congressional head count to see what can be done to make room for hurricane aid by using funds from existing programs -- just like in real life.

By the way, one thing that struck me in reading about the proposed allocation of monies in Virginia is that much of it goes (in small amounts, admittedly) to technological improvements for local law enforcement. Some of it seems to be techie-driven rather than a fundamental “need.” Another disturbing trend is all the monies being thrown at juvenile crime prevention. Are there any studies to show that this actually helps? I ask because the studies I read a few years ago showed that DARE was a boondoggle, to put it mildly. So is Head Start, for that matter. Having worked with both populations, I don’t place much value in government intervention.

Waay too much is being expected of the feds by local government. Things that could be done by private initiative (and perhaps rewarded with tax breaks, a la the Neighborhood Assistance Act program) are instead getting funded in Washington.

So. This email is to request a list, if any, of projects you intend to assist in having trimmed by Congress. Your response would be posted on our website and on the national compilation being done by one of the aggregators (the term being used for very large bloggers that collect and disseminate information).

By the way, though I haven’t followed this issue out to all the states, a number of bloggers are reporting disappointment/anger at the lack of response from their reps. I don’t mean that they didn’t agree with their reps; I’m talking about a failure to reply one way or another. The resulting anger makes me wonder if this portends any sea change for the 2006 elections? It’s too early to tell, of course, but it will be a trend to watch -- especially in Massachusetts.

Virgil H. Goode, Jr.By the way, I looked up your “report card” on the Pork site, and you scored pretty well! Congratulations...though a small boo for the health care mess. Without that vote, you’d have been an A student, Virgil.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to your response.


September 23, 2005

Dear Dymphna:

Thank you for your observations about dealing with the costs of Hurricane Katrina. I do not want to raise taxes. I believe there are other options that we should address. Your suggestion about the highway pork should be shown every consideration. I hope that my positions on cutting certain spending items such as foreign aid, which would provide half the cost for Katrina, would be adopted. I also want to see a financial czar in charge of all the hurricane relief funding. I have already seen huge instances of waste and poor judgment.

I am particularly disappointed with President Bush and his failure to do anything to stop illegal immigration, which costs between $20 billion and $50 billion per year. By stopping illegal immigration, our country would save billions. One small example involves additional funding that we have had to provide law enforcement around the country, because of increased gang activity. The FBI and local law enforcement entities are finding that illegals from Mexico and Central America are expanding this type of gang activity in the United States. Thank you again for your email and comments. With best wishes to you and the Baron, I am

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

LGF Spots the Gilded Cage

Little Green Footballs has a link and snippet of The New York Times take on Hughes’ speech to a large group of upper class Saudi women.

Mrs. Hughes is in Saudi Arabia to do some public relations work on the ties between Saudi Arabia and the United States. Several others have failed before this latest stab, but one has to give Mrs. Hughes credit for effort — while questioning whether it’s worth our time and resources to engage the inhabitants of LaLa Land at this level.

The Grey Whore Lady rendered the story in its (yawn) usual anti-Bush-administration recipe. You know — two parts venom, three parts condescension and at least a soupçon of “who us?” innocence that accompanies all its stories regarding things Reviled and Republican.

What attracts your notice is not the content of the story. Instead, it is Charles Johnson’s cut-to-the-chase headline which frames the account and renders it intelligible.
    tuesday, september 27, 2005
Battered Woman Syndrome
The New York Times would like us to know that Saudi women are perfectly happy living inside black sacks, unable to drive cars or even leave the house without a man’s permission: Saudi Women Have Message for U.S. Envoy . (Hat tip: LGF readers.)
That says it all. Anyone who has ever worked with battered women, or who has survived the experience of “domestic terrorism,” recognizes immediately the reflecting image in this sad account of the Saudi women defending the terms of their degradation.

Thus, they boast to Mrs. Hughes that not being permitted to drive is a good thing. And in their eyes, it is. After all, these are professional women — doctors, lawyers, etc.. Of course they don’t need to drive! If they drove, what would they do with all the chauffeurs?

Their desperation is so complete that they claim the necessity to appear in public smothered in their abayas — those head-to-toe coverings that call to mind moving phone booths — is a special privilege and protection.

Sorry, ladies. In the course of my checkered career I spent eight years doing crisis counseling with battered women, about three thousand of them all told. The drivel you spout is identical to the party line these abused women followed when they were in the resignation stage — there are other parts in the cycle but the need to resign oneself to the reality in front of you is germane to this particularly pathetic example of being determined to love the cage, even admiring the bars and locks. What else can you do when you find there is absolutely no way out… and besides, you tell yourself, the cushions are soft and comfortable.

Don’t blame these women. They didn’t make their society and their attempts to change it have to be incremental and strategic.

The belief system of Muslims requires of the women they denigrate something more than mere denial. In order to survive these womean, at all levels of Muslim cultures, must erect a very elaborate system of defenses, something closer to a psychological condition called “reaction formation.” Think of the difference this way: denial is a useful defense mechanism for a particular situation one finds unpleasant or scary. Reaction formation, however, is reserved for total war on an untenable but engulfing and unending state of affairs:
     Reaction Formation occurs when a person feels an urge to do or say something and then actually does or says something that is effectively the opposite of what they really want. It also appears as a defense against a feared social punishment. If I fear that I will be criticized for something, I very visibly act in a way that shows I am personally a long way from the feared position.
A common pattern in Reaction Formation is where the person uses ‘excessive behavior’, for example using exaggerated friendliness when the person is actually feeling unfriendly.
As things loosen up for Muslim women around the world, you can expect them to begin to find the courage to say what’s real. But until then, they will sound like these privileged, caged women: shrill and not credible at all.

We do them no favors to argue with them. Would you argue with the Queen of Hearts or the Mad Hatter? Same thing. Don’t waste your breath on this one.

The Voice of the Caliphate

A frequent refrain here at Gates of Vienna has been, “You can’t make this stuff up.” Further proof of this assertion appeared yesterday in this AP story:
     NEW YORK — A purported Al Qaeda newscast that promises weekly updates made its online debut with a report read by a masked man that included video of Hurricane Katrina — subtitled “divine punishment” — and a message from the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.
The first newscast of the Voice of the Caliphate, appeared on Sept. 21 showing a masked man wearing a black shirt reading the bulletin with an automatic rifle on his right side and a copy of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, on his left side.
The man congratulated Palestinians on Israel’s recent withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The video also aired parts of an audio recently made by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq group, in which he declared war on Iraq’s Shiite Muslim majority.
Really, doesn’t this read like a Point Five satire?

One of the ongoing memes floated by Wretchard at Belmont Club is the enemy's savvy and sophisticated media manipulation in this war. It amounts to a separate front in the Great Islamic Jihad, the only one in which the mujahideen can claim any significant victories. To put it bluntly, they have whupped the West’s collective ass so far in this part of the war.

Their Operational Headquarters is purportedly something called the “Global Islamic Media Front”:
     The bulletin by the Voice of the Caliphate, which is run by the Global Islamic Media Front, appeared on a Web site usually used by militant groups to post statements or videos. According to ads on the site, the bulletins will be weekly.
Al-Zarqawi’s group claims to have a media section that releases videos and statements almost daily. They are signed by the group’s spokesman, Abu Maysara al-Iraqi. Videos and audiotapes of bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri also surface on Islamic Web sites.
A Google search for “Global Islamic Media Front” does not turn up a website for it, but more information about it can be found in the Lebanese Daily Star.

So the Caliphate has a voice now. Well, who has been named Caliph? And is he the Caliph of Ice Cream?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

It’s All for Show

Terror in the SkiesDoes the accumulation of four years without further terrorist attacks make you feel safer when you fly? It shouldn’t. The Bureaucratic Bunglers are out in full force and with them in charge you don’t have a prayer. Or rather, all you do have is prayer.

According to Annie Jacobsen, we’d better do our homework on this one because there is no one watching out for us. Back in April,Gates of Vienna posted on Ms. Jacobsen’s tenacity and her willingness to follow this story wherever it led. That post, "Silence of the Sheep," proved that the author is a sheepdog indeed. Her interviews with other passengers, with government agencies, with the House Judiciary Committee, with airline personnel, and with individual people who bear the day-to-day hazard of working in this field, have made her case. The tale of her experiences is documented well in Terror in the Skies.

This is a top-down problem. The guys in harm’s way — the pilots and flight attendants — know the problems but they have no more power to address them than you do. Less than two percent of pilots are armed. Want to know why? Because in order to actually carry a firearm on board, the firearms training must be done on the pilot’s own time and it has to be done in a place far from home, squeezed into his holiday time or vacation.

And flight attendants? Again, they have to arrange self-defense training on their own time, at their own expense and without the cooperation of the airlines themselves. Think of it this way: what if Brink’s hired drivers and gave them no training in handling attempted robberies? What if they expected their employees to get training — if any — on their own time and their own dime? How long do you think Brink’s would be in business?

That’s the situation we have in the friendly skies of America. When you add to that the cruel joke of the Federal Air Marshals, the lackadaisical behavior of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the farce we all know as the Department of Homeland Insecurity, it’s enough to make you want to stay home and do your business by long-distance and email.

Let’s take just one: FAMS. This is bureaucratese for the Federal Air Marshal program. You know the old joke that goes “you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny”? Well, for this program, the first part may or may not be the case, but for the second premise — being dressed funny — you can count on FAMS. Due to the boneheaded policies of those in charge, Federal Air Marshals are required to wear sport coats and collared shirts. Yes, that’s right: they must look like Federal Air Marshals at all times because they are a reflection of FAMS and dressing in a slovenly disguise would somehow bring disgrace to the organization. Comments about being a lovely corpse would be appropriate here.

Then there’s what they do after they’re up and dressed. Remember, they’re carrying guns, right? So obviously they can’t go through security. However, there’s a second obvious thing they can do — they can fight the current and walk through the exit lanes for deplaning passengers. How’s that for subterfuge?

Let’s see, what other behaviors might they carry out to make themselves more obvious? Pre-boarding is one trick they have down well. So is always riding in first class.

And there you have the FAMS spotter information: check out the guys in first class in the sports coats who got on the plane before you. But don’t worry. Any terrorists on board sussed to their tricks a long time ago. They know exactly who they have to take out first, provided that any “taking out” is even necessary. If you’re going to detonate in the restroom, what do you care where the Federal Marshals are? They’re coming with you anyway.

Annie Jacobsen makes a good case for the fact that her flight, 327 on Northwest Airlines, was a “probe,” a dry run practice. And she backs up her contention with:

  • eyewitnesses who were on the plane with her,
  • a four hour FBI interrogation in which they admitted her intuition was correct,
  • contact from other passengers on other planes who decry the lack of security and the lack of follow-up in their cases, and
  • communications from frustrated and fearful pilots, flight attendants, and others in the business who know the skies are anything but safe, that they are being probed all the time, and that it is only a matter of time before planes fall from the sky.
Near the end of the book Ms. Jacobsen recounts a conversation with an air marshal. She asked him to explain what he meant when he said “it was all for show.” Here’ what he told her:
    You know how youd go to the airport, before 9/11, and an agent there, somebody who worked for the airlines would say to you, “Did you pack your own bags?” Well, it was all for show. Those agents weren’t trained in detecting whether or not someone was lying. The procedure was there to make the flying public feel good. That’s what happened with 327. They all came running like in the movies, but it was all for show. Who interviewed the men? FAMS. We’re not trained in interviewing terror suspects. We don’t know what to look for. And the FBI at the airport? I won’t go there. Who really should have been there? ICE. Period. ICE. But they weren’t. Why? Because management says probes aren’t happening on airplanes. The guys were there to make the passengers feet good, nothing more, nothing less.
Two years ago, I had a probing incident. It may have been one of the first. After it happened, no one knew what to do, there was no protocol. The guys involved in the incident sailed off into the crowd. What was I going to do? Run up, tap the guy on the shoulder and say, “I almost shot you, now I’d like to interview you?”
Instead, I filed a report about my probing incident. Basically I was told “it didn’t happen “ Well, it did happen. Probes have been happening ever since. I doubt anybody ever even remotely considered you’d attract the kind of press you did. But you did. That’s a good thing.’
Now you know. Annie Jacobsen’s intuitions about Flight 327 were correct. But you know even more: the official response to 9/11 is all for show — boondoggle and brouhaha and folderol and CYA.

Perhaps we should fly the friendly skies of El Al. They know security; they take it in with their mothers’ milk.

DISCLOSURE: Spence Publishing sent me this book for review purposes. This post, which I will also place in Amazon (see link above), serves as my part of the original agreement made with them that were I sent a copy, I would review Ms. Jacobsen's book. I recommend it highly. There is an excellent bibliography, a glossary of federal acronyms, and extensive notes and back-up for her assertions. The only flaw is the lack of an index. This can be annoying if you're looking for specifics -- e.g., her description of El Al's rigorous security for all its flights.

By the way Kevin Jacobsen, her husband, was initially so put off by the behavior of the fifteen Arab "musicians" on board the flight that he seriously contemplated faking a heart attack in order to get out of the plane before takeoff. Lacking the audacity to carry that out (a courage he no doubt has acquired by now)Mr. Jacobsen sat frozen through the flight, pen in hand, ready to fend off the terrorists. It may seem a futile gesture here on the ground, but it is speaks to the level of his fear for himself and his family.

Me, I'm going to do that old Red Foxx imitation. You know, the one where he clutches his chest and looks heavenward and says piteously "I'm comin' Lisabeth, I'm comin'..." Even now I am practicing the necessary histrionics in case I'm ever stupid enough to get on a plane other than El Al.

Monday, September 26, 2005

No Religion, Too

Think lobally -- act loopily!On Saturday I reported on my visit to the Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival (see Visualize Industrial Collapse). Groups like “The Coalition Against Civilization” weren’t the only ones I encountered; there were also some more-or-less normal people there. But all of them had in common a certain level of political activism, plus a center of ideological gravity that definitely listed to the left.

Then I came around a corner and encountered the Falun Gong.

There were two people on a prayer mat meditating silently while Chinese music played on a sound system. Next to them an earnest young Chinese man presided over a table diplaying posters and literature. I spent some time looking through the materials on the table, and then turned to the young man.

“You realize that you’re kind of in the enemy camp?” I asked him, sweeping my arm around to indicate Lee Park with all the other exhibitors and their visitors.

“Yes?” he said tentatively, smiling at me.

“I mean, these people, they’re all leftists — until quite recently they were great admirers of the People’s Republic of China.”

“OK,” he said. “Yes?”

I realized that he had no idea what I was talking about, so I let it go. I continued to look at the table, then took a brochure, thanked him, and moved on.

It’s true that the Left is not as fond of the PRC as it used to be. After all, they don’t like the new capitalism that China has introduced — how could true socialists do such a thing! But you don’t hear too much from them about China any more, not much mention of Tibet or forced abortion or Tiananmen Square or the laogai.

Or Falun Gong.

The brochure is packed with information.
    Why is Falun Gong being persecuted?
With government estimates of as many as 100 million practicing, the regime banned Falun Gong on July 20, 1999, suddenly casting millions as criminals. Emerging evidence reveals that Jiang himself orchestrated the persecution, jealous of the practice’s popularity and growing numbers, among other reasons. Unable to crush the millions who had benefited from the practice, Jiang intensified the regime’s propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against Falun Gong while quietly imprisoning, torturing, and even murdering those who practice it.
Not all of the Falun Gong practitioners being persecuted are Chinese or in China itself:
     Dr. Charles Lee, a Falun Gong practitioner and U.S. citizen from Menlo Park, California, was sentenced in March 2003 to three years in prison after a brief show trial. He was charged with attempting to broadcast information on state-run television about the persecution of Falun Gong. Dr. Lee has been subjected to the torture of forcefeeding and brainwashing, beatings by guards and inmates, and denied contact with friends and family. His sole legal appeal was rejected in May.
In a letter to the U.S. Consulate, Dr. Lee stated, “They tried
not to connect my case to the Falun Gong issue and treated this completely as a criminal case... Their purpose was to cover up their illegal persecution of Falun Gong.”
“One learns from incidents like this that the law in China is a tool to be used in the persecution against Falun Gong. It has nothing to do with safeguarding justice.”
U.S. Families Affected by the Persecution
Charles Lee is not the only American affected by the persecution in China. There are 40 families in the U.S. known to have relatives suffering in Chinese jails and prison camps. In many cases, the families have no idea where their loved ones are being held or of their condition.
Blacklists and Harassment on U.S. Soil
Many U.S. citizens and residents who practice Falun Gong, along with those of other countries, were shocked to discover their names on blacklists compiled by the Chinese government. Because of these blacklists, practitioners were prohibited from entering Iceland in June 2002 and Hong Kong in July 2002, during former leader Jiang’s visit to those countries. Many were even kept from boarding Iceland-bound planes at major U.S. airports.
Other incidents of harassment and violence abound. Chinese officials have reportedly interfered with Falun Gong parades and activities, had practitioners’ hotel reservations canceled, and denied practitioners’ passports.
In New York, the chairman of an overseas Chinese association was arrested for allegedly directing and participating in an assault on Falun Gong practitioners during a peaceful demonstration in June 2003.
All of this for something that looks to an inexperienced outsider more or less like yoga.
Falun Gong

Imagine it. It’s easy, if you try.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Update: Coalition Against Civilization

The Primitivist PrimerI have scanned the entire pamphlet,
A Primitivist Primer, so that the primary document can be available for anyone interested. The reading list in particular is fascinating: the Unabomber appears twice, along with Che Guevara.

Because of the vagaries of OCR and spell-checking, there may still be scanning errors in the document. Any misspellings that I noticed in the original I marked with a [sic]; if you spot anything else, please list it in the comments below, and I will try to correct it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Visualize Industrial Collapse

Think lobally -- act loopily!This afternoon I made an expedition to the main library, and when I got to Charlottesville I discovered to my chagrin that the downtown area was clogged with traffic. A big banner hanging across Market Street informed me that the Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival was celebrating a healthy lifestyle for the ninth straight year, and as I fought to find a parking place I saw that Lee Park and the surrounding streets were filled with festival-goers.

After coming out of the library with my books, curiosity drove me across Second Street to take a look at the festival. As a Pajamas Media correspondent with the interests of the blogosphere in mind, I went into deep cover (by putting my copy of Mona Charen’s Do-Gooders between two of Alexander McCall Smith’s books to make it less conspicuous) and strolled into the park to look at the booths and scope out the vegetarians. Unfortunately, I had not brought a camera to town, and thus am unable to provide you with any photographic record.

As Dymphna has often said, Charlottesville is “Berkeley East,” so the denim-and-granola crowd was out in force, with healthy-looking vegan women mixing freely with animal-rights activists, organic farmers, peace-‘n’-justice radicals, and assorted feminists, with regular SPCA-types and healthy-living promoters to leaven the mix. I walked among the booths and tables, enjoying the people, the colorful signs, and the mild September air.

Then my eye was caught by the following bumper sticker:
Visualize Industrial Collapse

I did a double-take and backtracked for a closer look: it was the table for the “Coalition Against Civilization.”

The Primitivist PrimerI had to know more, so I started looking through their literature. The woman running the table noticed my interest, and helpfully pointed out the more informative pamphlets, encouraging me by telling me that they were free.

I came away with several interesting tracts (and paid $1.50 for the bumper sticker so I could display it here).

The lengthiest of my acquisitions is a pamphlet entitled “The Primitivist Primer.” It outlines a manifesto for an anti-industrial political philosophy:
    What is anarcho-primitivism?
…At best, then, anarcho-primitivism is a convenient label used to characterize diverse individuals with a common project: the abolition of all power relations — e.g., structures of control, coercive authority, domination and exploitation — and the creation of a form of community that excludes all such relations.
O.K, so far, so good — we’re not going to coerce and dominate and exploit anybody any more. That will be nice. Of course, we also won’t coerce anyone into non-dominating non-exploiting behavior, either. Hmm…
     Anarcho-primitivism incorporates elements from various oppositional currents — ecological consciousness, survivalism, animal liberation, anarchist anti-authoritarianism, feminist critiques, Situationist ideas, zero-work theories, Luddite and technological criticism — but goes beyond opposition to single forms of power to refuse them all and pose a radical alternative.
All forms of power will be abolished! A truly Utopian plan.
    Anarcho-primitivism is an anti-systemic current: it opposes all systems, institutions, abstractions, the artificial, the synthetic, and the machine, because they all embody power relations (as well as domination and destruction of nature). Anarcho-primitivists thus oppose technology and the technological system, but not the use of tools and implements (that would be absurd!) in the sense as indicated here.
Presumably the tools and implements will all be made of stone and wood and bone, because otherwise we would have to do some destructive smelting and smithing.
    They envision a future that is “radically cooperative and communitarian, ecological and feminist, spontaneous and wild.” A primitivist society would be decentralized, egalitarian, and self-sufficient…
I can dig it. I’m ready to hang out at the all-organic non-industrial commune and truly align myself with the earth.

But there is the thorny problem — after we junk all the John Deere harvesters and grain elevators and nasty steel mills — of how to feed the five billion souls under Mother Gaia’s care. But don’t worry; the Coalition Against Civilization has taken this into consideration:
    What about population?
Anarchists have long argued that in a free world, social, economic, and psychological pressures towards excessive reproduction would be removed. There would just be too many other interesting things going on to engage people’s time! Feminist primitivists have argued that women, freed of gender constraints and the family structure, would not be defined by their reproductive capabilities as in patriarchal societies, and this would result in lowered population levels too. So population would be likely to fall, willy-nilly.
So that’s how it will work: feminist primitivists will have control over their reproductive lives. And they will do so, presumably, without birth-control pills, diaphragms, condoms, etc., because industrial technology is required to make those luxuries. One assumes that anarcho-primitivist guys will just have to do without.

I also brought home this flyer:
Species traitor exists as a forum for spreading and developing theories and practical means to bring about the destruction of civilization and defend what wilderness remains. We feel that now more than ever, there is a need for a viable alternative to the mass death culture, and hope to widen the range of information available.
This cannot be clear enough, we embrace the goal of moving beyond civilization and will not settle for reform on any level.
P.O. BOX 835
Greensburg, PA., 15601
Now we’re entering Unabomber territory: direct action, sabotage, radical destruction, etc. As a matter of fact, the Primitivist Primer lists the Unabomber’s Manifesto as recommended reading. In case you were wondering, these people really mean business.

So what do they want? Obviously, the elimination of technological society, the end of all political structures, and a return to a primitive agriculturally-based society. That’s quite an ambitious project.

How many people could the earth support under such a neo-Neolithic model? Ten million? A hundred million? Let’s be generous and say a billion. That means that four-fifths of the world’s population would have to disappear.

I don’t think herbal contraceptives and the rhythm method are going to do the job. And I think the leaders of these movements know it, even if they don’t dare say so in their pamphlets. To achieve their ideal society, to create their heaven on earth, four billion people will have to die. Who do you think those people will be? And who do you think will get to choose who goes, and who gets to stay? Somehow, I don’t think the Anarcho-primitivists and the Greens and the Gaia-worshipping feminists are going to volunteer to lay down their lives for the good of the Collective.

You’re on a bus with nine other people. Look around you: eight people have to die. Who will they be? The guy with the ponytail and the “Think Globally, Act Locally” T-shirt and his girlfriend with the flowered mumu? They don’t think they’ll be the ones to go. No, it will be you and all the other bozos on that bus.

When the time comes, when the Untelevised Revolution finally seizes the levers of power, it will be the Central Committee of the Anarcho-Green People’s Coalition that makes the decisions. The workers and bureaucrats and truck drivers and school children won’t just lie down in the streets to die. No, it will be Pol Pot all over again, only done righteously this time.

We know the drill; we’ve seen it so many times before. The Enemies of the People will be marched out of the cities and herded into camps to work for the common good. Those who can’t handle it, who can’t reconcile themselves to the new order will… Well, they’ll just have to be sacrificed.

They’ll go in single file across the organic soybean fields to the mass graves that have been so thoughtfully prepared for them.

And you can bet that the bulldozer and the pistol will be the last technological artifacts to be given up after the Green Millenium arrives.

Update: Welcome, readers from LGF and Belmont Club! Glad to have some lizardoids here.

Just a reminder, in case you didn’t see it elsewhere: I have scanned the entire pamphlet, A Primitivist Primer, so that the primary document can be available for anyone interested. The reading list is really fascinating: the Unabomber appears twice, along with Che Guevara and lots of violent anarchists.

Cultural Amnesia

The Armenian genocideGenocide has been one of Islam’s preferred methods of negotiation since the time of the Prophet. One of the first things Mohammed, a man with a tendency to hold a grudge longer than most, did was to lead his followers in a systematic extermination of the Jewish tribes in his homeland as soon as it was politically feasible. In the centuries since then Muslims have slaughtered untold numbers of infidels, exterminating whole communities of Christians, Jews, Hindus, and other non-believers wherever Islam has taken hold. In particular the vibrant and varied Christian communities in the Middle East were annihilated very early, leaving a black hole that impoverished and changed forever the composition of Christendom itself.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was one of Hitler’s great admirers, and helped organize an Arab alliance with the Nazis during World War II. His reasoning? The Germans were undertaking the most worthy cause, one that the Arabs could wholeheartedly support. He was more than simply a casual collaborator; he rivaled the most dedicated Nazis in his zeal for the Holocaust:
     In 1941, Haj Amin al-Husseini fled to Germany and met with Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Joachim Von Ribbentrop and other Nazi leaders. He wanted to persuade them to extend the Nazis’ anti-Jewish program to the Arab world.
The Mufti sent Hitler 15 drafts of declarations he wanted Germany and Italy to make concerning the Middle East. One called on the two countries to declare the illegality of the Jewish home in Palestine. Furthermore, “they accord to Palestine and to other Arab countries the right to solve the problem of the Jewish elements in Palestine and other Arab countries, in accordance with the interest of the Arabs and, by the same method, that the question is now being settled in the Axis countries.”
Observing their actions rather than attending their to their words, it is plain that genocide of non-Muslims is a never-ending project central to Mohammed's followers at all times and in all places; the numbers of dead infidels rise and fall strictly according to political expediency of the moment. After seeing lists of the numbers killed — 100,000 here, 300,000 there — the mind grows numb. Of what consequence is a million or more in Armenia? Or North Africa? Or in Indonesia -- one of the more recent locations where the Religion of Peace applied its standard, time-honored methods of death-dealing?

But modern Turkey is supposed to be different from its Ottoman predecessor, isn't it? Turkey is enlightened and progressive; it is “Western”. Besides, that Armenian genocide is old news. Anyone in Ankara can tell you it is all fabrication anyway. Such events, if they ever happened, have nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the Turkish Republic. Or do they?

Take a look at this story from the Assyrian International News Agency:
     Ankara (VOA) — An Istanbul court on Thursday ordered the cancellation of a conference at which Turkish academics were widely expected to challenge the official version of events surrounding the mass slaughter of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire. The ruling was condemned by the country’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Speaking to reporters shortly after the decision was announced, Mr. Erdogan said the decision did not conform to what he called freedom and modernity in Turkey. He said the right to free speech was an essential part of democracy.
Some Western diplomats said forces within the state that are opposed to Turkey’s membership in the European Union had probably influenced the ruling. Turkey is scheduled to start negotiations over the accession treaty with the European bloc on October 3.
Last month, another Istanbul court opened a case against Orhan Pamuk the internationally acclaimed Turkish author. He is due to appear in court on December 16 on charges of insulting Turkey’s national dignity by telling a Swiss newspaper that one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds had been killed in Turkey and that nobody dared to say so. EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn warned Turkey earlier this month that if Mr. Pamuk were convicted, this could constitute grounds for suspending negotiations with Turkey.
Turkey has always denied that more than one million members of the Ottoman Empire’s once thriving Armenian community were the victims of genocide during and after World War I.
Fjordman and others have long been making a strong case for denying Turkey's entry into the EU. Political correctness aside, Turkey's membership in the European Union would officially and legally open the floodgates for the torrent of Islamists to pour into the heart of Europe. The consequences -- further tipping the demographic slide into a de facto Eurabia -- would mean permanent dhimmitude for all of Europe. If anyone wanted a wake-up call in order to be there to observe the cultural divide between Turkey and the West, here it is.

Interestingly enough, it is Turkey’s legal community leading the charge against this gathering:
     The case to halt the conference was brought by the Turkish Lawyers Union and other lawyers. The details of their complaint were not made immediately clear.
As usual, whenever trouble is afoot, there be lawyers.

The Armenian genocideTurkey wants to erase from history and memory what it did in Armenia in 1915. When “national dignity” is at stake, what harm is there in a little amnesia? The rest of the world seems willing enough to go along; after all, in the US we have Kate Moss and the Mourning Mother -- along with a little manipulation by the MSM -- to distract our attention.

Those mounds of skulls in Armenia, those mass graves in East Timor, the torched villages in central Africa — what are they to us? They happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

But the Turks may as well face their reality: the Armenians will never forget. Never.

Hat tip: Fjordman.

Friday, September 23, 2005

It’s a French Thing

The next time someone wants to bloviate in front of you about the horrific ignorance of Americans regarding history, tell them this story, originally reported in Le Canard Enchaine and followed up by Haaretz:

Once upon in time, in September of 2005, the French Foreign Minister made an official state visit to the new Holocaust museum in Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem. This worthy showed great interest in the displays and asked many questions, especially concerning the maps of Europe from the period of World War II, the ones showing the destruction of Jewish communities.

At one point, Monsieur le minister asked if British Jews were also murdered:
     Needless to say, Douste-Blazy’s question was met by his hosts with amazement. “But Monsieur le minister,” Le Canard quoted the ensuing conversation, “England was never conquered by the Nazis during World War II.”
Unfortunately, he was not content with placing merely one foot in his mouth. Raising the other to his lips, and with that inimitable Parisian elan, shoving it into his cakehole, the French foreign minister inquired further:
    “Yes, but were there no Jews who were deported from England?”
Since the story was reported originally by Le Canard, a satire magazine, its veracity was uncertain. In other words, no one could quite believe a man of his standing could be such an ignorant twit. But he was. He is.
     One of the escorts confirmed on Sunday, on condition of anonymity, that the quotes in Le Canard were accurate, and that they caused great embarrassment. “It’s a bit difficult to understand,” the source said, “how an educated French person, who was serving in the French government during the huge celebrations of the Normandy landings, does not remember basic facts about the history of World War II, and especially Britain’s role, especially in light of the fact, that France’s great leader, General de Gaulle, led the operations of the Resistance from exile in London.”
Of course, the French foreign minister did not return to his embassy in Israel and tell them he was a horse’s ass. They didn’t find out about his stupidity until they read it in a satire rag. And George Bush is stupid?? Uhn huh. Sure.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Holocaust Museum expressed the hope that this visit was “enriching.” It certainly was — as in “that’s a rich one.”

Here’s what Haaretz has to say about Monsieur le ministre:
     Philippe Douste-Blazy is considered a successful and prominent politician in France. A cardiologist by training, he served until a year ago as health minister. His visit to Israel was noted as an additional positive step in the warming of relations between Israel and France.
Perhaps they mean the temperature has gone from glacial to zero.

The Gallic EntityMeanwhile let’s hear no more remarks about our high school graduates who can’t find Fwance on the map. Instead, let’s take a page from the Arabs, who teach their children that the Zionist entity doesn’t exist. We can do the same for our Gallic “friends”: we can eliminate “the Gallic Entity.”

Let’s get some black magic markers and rub out France.

Hat tip: ¡No Pasaran!

Let Us Declare a Moratorium on Cindy Sheehan

Please. We are reaching saturation point on reading, viewing, and discussing the doings of Cindy Sheehan. This is a pitiful woman hitched to the wagon of a dreadful cause. Can we not, in the name of decency, turn our eyes from her crazed visage and close our eyes to her maundering, irrational spews?

How long are we going to continue to tolerate having her take up room on the national stage? What is wrong with us that we not only permit her to be there but even encourage her behavior by paying attention to it? Thomas Merton was right: sometimes there are no innocent bystanders. In this case, his words resound with justified accusation.

Cindy Sheehan is America’s creation. The Left uses her, and that is to be expected. But we on the Right have been equally responsible in our reactive, defensive, and endless "how-dare-she" chatter about her behavior. In some ways this is understandable: she lost a child in a war and that experience calls everyone to attention because it is only too easy to imagine ourselves in that position and to wonder what we might do in her situation.

But enough is enough. Are we so completely in thrall to the MSM and the machinations of the Left? When are we going to take back our free will and do something meaningful with our time?

How do our soldiers fighting in the dust of Iraq feel when they watch the endless attention we pay to someone who disrespects their task and who drags the spirit of their fellow soldier through the mud at home? They can all too easily put themselves in Casey's place and shudder at the idea that their names and reputations might be as forever sullied as his has been.

Would that we could get back half the energy we have expended on this malevolent enterprise and turn it over instead to public discussions about what our men are doing right now. We owe them; we do not owe her -- though we act as if we do when we give her demands our time and attention. Our behavior speaks volumes here about our moral sense.

Please. Out of respect for the dead soldier, Casey, and out of love for the living soldiers in Iraq let us declare a voluntary moratorium on any more discussion of The Mourning Mother. I , for one, vow not to read about her, not to join in discussions about her, and to the best of my ability to replace any internal judgments or analyses I make of her with thoughts about the guys in harm’s way at this very moment. We go about our daily routines and we don't even think about the men over there. Or at least we don't give them the careful consideration we give this woman.

The Mourning Mother is merely a habit by now. Habits are made by paying attention to them. They can be unmade by giving our attention to something more worthy of our time.

When you think of the limited time we have on Earth doesn't is seem like a waste to have given this much of it to evil?

Greg, at Toe in the Water, was ahead of the curve on this one. Last week he posted his own resignation from further comments on the subject:
Not gonna mention her name, but you know the woman whose son was killed in Iraq, who 'camped' outside of Bush's ranch this summer...
I originally felt great saddness for her loss, and sadness that she had been co-opted by the forces of darkness in advancing their evil agenda.
No more.
If you hear of other resignations, let's post them.

Get Your Red-Hot Council Winners Right Here

Watcher's CouncilRick Moran won in a walk on this week’s voting for his post on Cindy Sheehan. As he says in his summation,
     Sophocles rightly said “Only the dead are free from pain.” For Cindy Sheehan, there will come a time when she prays for the playwright’s wisdom to overtake her folly.
To which I would add, the best thing we could do for our moral well-being is to call a moratorium on discussions of this addled and desperate woman. To continue to pay attention to her is to play into the hands of her keepers and the MSM, both of whom use her to evil ends. It never behooves us to give evil attention unless we’re going to confront and end it. She has become malice personified and we take note of her at our own risk.

Or are we addicted to watching her? Have we fallen under the spell of her handlers now and must discuss her behavior whether we want to or not? In the years to come, cultural analysts will not be looking at the lady, they will be peering through the microscope at us, wondering what drove our intense focus on her. I wonder what conclusion they will come to?

The Lunatic Fringe, second place winner, is Doctor Sanity’s view of a condition called “acquired narcissism”:
     People with any type of narcissism believe their feelings and beliefs should be adopted by the world in general--if not voluntarily, then they are prepared to use violence. They believe that their needs are the center of everyone's universe. When confronted by reality, they become enraged and frustrated that it won't conform to their will. It makes them want to destroy reality. Like petulant children, they want what they want when they want it or they'll threaten to do something horrible to you.
Sounds like the abusive men I used to work with during my years counseling battered women. We called them “emotional terrorists” back then. Seems like they passed their lessons on to the political realm.

In the non-council posts, Junkyard Blog exposes former President Clinton’s execrable behavior in attacking President Bush — not to mention William Jefferson's attack on reality — by claiming Bush went into Iraq alone.

JB assesses this turn on Bush as evidence that Clinton has his finger in the wind and is taking the opportunity while he has it:
    ... Clinton is nothing if not an opportunist. He is driving a knife into Bush's back to finish him off and benefit himself. He senses some personal and political profit in renouncing everything he has said over the past ten years regarding Iraq to adopt a line that is 180 degrees out of sync. Recall that Clinton is perhaps the most cautious President we have ever had. He never made a move without consulting polls, and after the failure of HillaryCare he never introduced initiatives more daring than the V-Chip and school uniforms. Clinton is not by nature a bold man; the damage done to Bush after Katrina signals that he sees an opportunity and is willing to seize it.
Clinton’s mendacity is breath-taking. If politicians didn’t already have the lowest of low reputations, Clinton would have driven them to the bottom of the pond with this latest maneuvering. What a shameless human being he is.

Second place was split between Ace of Spades HQ and BlameBush!
The former says most succinctly what we have asserted here at Gates:
     You can either be advocates and agents of change or you can be disinterested reporters of news. You're entitled to do either, but you cannot claim to be doing both simultaneously.
The unexamined lie at the heart of journalism is that these two contradictory missions can be reconciled through the "professionalism" learned at j-school.

The latter points out the sudden turnabout on the part of the Left wing, some of them becoming newly converted chicken hawks when it comes to sending troops into the aftermath of Katrina. Here’s his money quote:
     Don't get me wrong. I love these progressive icons as much as abortion itself. Perhaps this sudden spurt of fascism is just a temporary case of insanity, like when the entire political left became flag-waving jingoists for about 10 minutes after 9/11. Michael Moore helped us get through our patriotic dementia, and were back to sneering at the Stars & Stripes before Bush could finish milking his Pet Goat.
What a wonderful summation! “I love these progressive icons as much as abortion itself.” That, fellow readers, is genius.

Meanwhile, back at the fort, The Watcher is keeping an eye on things. Go see all the offerings. While you’re there, give him a big gratias for all this work.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sugar and Spice

Indian girlsIndia has a male-female ratio problem. Every Indian family prefers boys. For one thing, boys have the economic power in adulthood to take care of parents in their old age. For another, girls and their dowries and trying to marry them off are expensive propositions.

This seems contradictory to us, in our market-driven economy. For us, the value of a thing increases as it becomes rarer. However, in culturally-driven situations this rationale doesn’t necessarily hold sway. Women in India simply do not have the same status as men to begin with, and they certainly don’t have the earning power or the economic freedom after they marry to be able to take care of their parents. Once a woman marries she is under the thumb of her husband and her husband’s family. In some cases, she can be maneuvered into having to beg her family of origin for more “dowry money” even though she is already married and in theory has been accepted into her husband’s family at the asking price when the marriage took place.

Thus, as a result of cultural prejudice and India’s population control programs, there simply aren’t enough women to go around. As FuturePundit noted a few years ago:
     The adverse sex ratio has not increase the value of women by decreasing the supply. India’s population sex ratio worsened from 972 females per 1000 males in 1901 to 929 per 1000 in 1991. At the same time, women's status steadily eroded despite gains in some sectors by some groups. A ‘shortage’ of women does not lead to their increased value, but to greater restrictions and control placed over them. In China, practices such as kidnapping and sale of women, organized import of wives from other countries, etc., have been noted as a result of the shortage of women there. The same might be predicted for India.
Now the Indian government has come up with a scheme it hopes will ameliorate the situation. Here’s the carrot:
     In a bid to correct the male-female sex ratio while promoting population control, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has decided to waive fees and hand scholarships to all girls from single-child families until the post-graduation level.
It will be effective from the next academic session in all non-professional courses. Any single girl child of parents who have consciously adopted family planning measures after the birth of their single child would be eligible under the scheme.
In order to get around what it sees as the need to prevent a rise in population, the government will only offer this free education to single-girl households. In families where there are two girls, only one will receive a free education.

In some ways this is a clever scheme because it hits a vital nerve for all Indians. They revere education and make sacrifices to insure that their children — especially the boys — receive good schooling. By offering this to the parents of girls, they level the playing field somewhat.

But only somewhat. There is still the cultural preference for boys and there is still the drive to sharply curtail the population. Thus girl fetuses are aborted at an alarming rate, as they are all over Asia. Criminalization of sex-preference abortions has had no effect on this trend, nor will it, at least not until the underlying economic fears are addressed.

Japan offers proof of this. There, girls are well-educated and are economically free to support their parents. So guess what happens?
     In a surprising repudiation of the traditional Asian values that for centuries have put a premium on producing male heirs, surveys show that up to 75 percent of young Japanese parents now prefer baby girls. Daughters are seen as cuter, easier to handle, more emotionally accessible and, ever more important in this fast-aging society, more likely to look after their elderly parents.
And there lies the key for any real change in valuing one gender over another. In a culture where girl children are economically free in adulthood, the parents are cared for. In places like India and China the boy-child choice is driven by economic circumstances, too. Until “family values” about who rules whom in marriage changes, offering freebies for having girls is not going to make any long-term difference.

One final observation about the consequences, historically, for boy and girl children in rural agricultural societies in the West, societies similar to the rural agrarian features of India. This one is from Germany:
     The analysis of records from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries turned up a couple of hundred cases where one spouse died, leaving a number of living children. In this monogamous, Christian, agricultural society, if a young wife lost her husband she almost invariably became very poor. Any sons that she had were unlikely to compete adequately with boys from richer families, but her daughters…always had some chance of marrying up the social ladder. An investment in daughters in this particular social situation had an adaptive biological significance and, as evolutionary biology would predict, the sons of widows were 36 per cent more likely to die in infancy and childhood than the daughters. When men lost their wives, however, their economic status did not change and they often had the opportunity to remarry; the sons of widowers were no more likely to die young than their daughters.
Just goes to show that Cinderella stories have some biological basis, hmm?

Hat tip: Fjordman

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

ICANN Isn't Going Anywhere

This was going to be an update to the previous post on the UN and ICANN, but the subject matter is too important simply to be tacked-on as an after thought.

The Pedestrian Infidel, a blog devoted to the Axis of Islam, came over to leave a comment on the danger the UN represents to ICANN and to internet freedom. Following his comment back to the original post, here is his concern:
     For over a year now, the UN has been trying to take control of ICANN, the standards organization that oversees the Internet. Most important is the 'root' index of the Internet controlled by ICANN. That is where all those name addresses get resolved to an IP address. When you enter a URL, the root resolves the '.com', '.org', or any URL address ending in a country identifier.
You can look at the Google search for 'UN ICANN control' and just see how angry the UN and the Axis of Islam is that the US won't relinquish control. It's not that the US and the independent ICANN is doing a bad job. It's about who controls ICANN during War! And money, as the UN wants to tax URL registrations, among other tax schemes that shithole is dreaming up for the West.
Do what he suggests: hit that link above. You’ll get over 300,000 hits, some of them dating back a bit. Here’s what Ars Technica had to say (in July of this year):
     the US has declared it will retain "its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file." The "root zone file," or Domain Name System (DNS), is composed of 13 computers containing the master lists of net suffixes, and is currently managed by private companies under the supervision of the US government. At the same time, the new policy also makes it clear that US will not interfere with country suffixes (ccTLD), as "governments have legitimate public policy and sovereignty concerns with respect to the management of their ccTLD." Finally, the principles state that while the US will maintain ultimate DNS control, the technical, or day to day, operations can continue to be run by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Of course until yesterday, it had been assumed that ICANN would eventually take over ultimate control of the DNS.
Timing? The UN Report came out in June and Ars Technica is commenting on the Commerce Department's response just a few days later. Commerce has a make-no-bones-about-it reply to the UN, the only kind they really understand. Ars Technica sums things up:
     While many will see this decision as another example of appalling US hegemony, the "principles" pretty much spell out what the real deal is.
Given the Internet's importance to the world's economy, it is essential that the underlying DNS of the Internet remain stable and secure.
As far as the US government is concerned, the Internet has become too important to the US economy to give up control. While this may be an unprincipled decision, does anyone really think that the Chinese, or the French, were the positions reversed, would act differently? As to whether countries like China or France will decide to create their own DNS, and thus fracture the Internet in to multiple competing networks, the costs and effort make it seem unlikely.
In short, all your DNS are belong to US.
"Unprincipled decision"? Exactly how is it unprincipled? Because we did it first and now must yield a strategically important node in order to be "fair"? Is that what would be principled, giving into the whiners because they don't like the playing field?

So just who should run things instead? Bureaucratically moribund Europe? Mendacious and paranoid China who wouldn't recognize Liberty if she came up and starting talking to them? Corrupt and reeling Russia? Let’s face it: if we put it to a secret world-wide vote America would win anyway. Yeah, they hate us, but they distrust one another far more. As for ICANN, the rest of the world’s hatred does not well up from some belief that we are incompetent; they hate us because we are so mind-blowingly successful. It's not fair.

As I said previously, when crucial push comes to essential shove, Bush shoves. At least he has so far. Witness Kyoto and the International Court. Not to mention the assignment of John Bolton to The Quagmire. As one commenter noted after looking at the list of worthies who signed onto that UN report, the pigs are lining up at the trough.

The United Nations is a landscape that can be understood only if you have fallen thru the trap door and arrived in Wonderland with Alice. One would prefer to think that these people are on large daily doses of heroin rather than consider that their baseline normal mode of operations is actually what they let us see.

As the Infidel Pedestrian warns, we’d better stay vigilant.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Witches’ Brew at the UN

The Christian Science Monitor has some UN news for us. Or maybe just un-news. When you read it, you’ll mutter to yourself, “where is Al Gore these days?” though he seems -- so far -- to be innocent of this. The UN thought it up entirely on its own.

Here’s the deal: the UN wants to control the Internet. Or is it that the UN wants to make it so that the US doesn’t control the Internet?

To whichever end it has in mind, the UNnecessary and UNable (but definitely for-profit) Corporation on First Avenue in New York City has brought into being yet one more advisory group, this one named The (heh) Working Group on Internet Governance —- known to friends and neighbors as WGIG. And WGIG has spawned what all UN groups eventually bring forth: a report. This one was duly christened “Junior” as in [Report of] the Working Group on Internet Governance. The authors, weary from the rigors of urban life in New York City, repaired to a place called Château de Bossey during the gestation period and eventually birthed The Report in June of 2005. Cuban cigars all around, please.

And what a bouncing baby of a Report this one is. After all, we’re dealing with a Working Group here — as opposed to, say, a Boffing Group, or a Corrupting Group, or even a Scandal-for-Scandal’s Sake Group. Thus, instead of corruption, or naughty behavior, or throwing people into the pool, we have instead an immaculate twenty-four page Report. Or at least that’s all we have so far. The night is young yet…

And who are we to complain if it took almost fifty people to produce this make-work mindlessness brilliant proof of the necessity for the continued existence of the UN? That’s two plus people per page, so you can bet this is one darn fine piece of work. Just in case you need a job for your brother-in-law to contact one of these worthies, there follows a list of their names — that is if you can find their names in the midst of all the titles. They might take a tip from God, who, after all, usually limits his title to words of one or two syllables. Mention this if you call them, won’t you?

While you’re at it, remind them that the world-wide shortage on commas is over and they can start using them again to separate names from titles. For a moment there it looked like these people had last names like “Member” or “Director” or “Chief.” If they ask, suggest storing any extra commas in their clue bag since they don’t seem to be using that for its intended purpose.

Here you go (and no skipping. There will most certainly be a quiz on this material):

Membership and Secretariat of the Working Group on Internet Governance

Nitin Desai Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for the World Summit on the Information Society (Delhi/Mumbai)

Abdullah Al-Darrab Deputy Governor of Technical Affairs, Communications and Information Technology Commission of Saudi Arabia (Riyadh)
Carlos A. Afonso Director of Planning, Information Network for the Third Sector; Member, Brazil’s Internet Steering Committee; Member, Non-Commercial Users Constituency (Rio de Janeiro)
Peng Hwa Ang Dean, School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)
Karen Banks Networking and Advocacy Coordinator, Association for Progressive Communications; Director, GreenNet (London)
Faryel Beji President and CEO, Tunisian Internet Agency (Tunis)
Vittorio Bertola Chairman, ICANN At Large Advisory Committee; President and CTO, Dynamic Fun (Turin)
José Alexandre Bicalho Member, Brazilian Internet Steering Committee; Adviser to the Board of Directors of the National Telecommunications Agency (Brasilia)
Kangsik Cheon Chief Operating Officer, International Business Development, Netpia (Seoul)
Trevor Clarke Permanent Representative of Barbados to the United Nations Office at Geneva (Geneva) Avri Doria Research Consultant (Providence, Rhode Island)
William Drake President, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility; Senior Associate, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (Geneva)
Raúl Echeberría Executive Director/CEO, Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (Montevideo)
Dev Erriah Chairman, ICT Authority of Mauritius (Port Louis)
Baher Esmat Telecom Planning Manager, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Egypt (Cairo)
Juan Fernandez Coordinator of the Commission of Electronic Commerce of Cuba (Havana)
Ayesha Hassan Senior Policy Manager for Electronic Business, IT and Telecommunications, International Chamber of Commerce (Paris)
David Hendon Director of Business Relations, United Kingdom Department of Trade and Industry (London)
Qiheng Hu Adviser to the Science and Technology Commission of the Ministry of Information Industry of China; Former Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing)
Willy Jensen Director General, Norwegian Post and Telecom Authority (Oslo)
Wolfgang Kleinwächter Professor, International Communication Policy and Regulation, University of Aarhus (Aarhus)
Jovan Kurbalija Director, DiploFoundation, Geneva/La Valletta (Geneva)
Iosif Charles Legrand Senior Scientist, California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, California)
Donald MacLean Director, MacLean Consulting (Ottawa)
Allen Miller Executive Director, World Information Technology and Services Alliance (Arlington, Virginia)
Jacqueline A. Morris Consultant (Port of Spain)
Olivier Nana Nzépa Coordinator, Africa Civil Society (Yaoundé)
Alejandro Pisanty Director of Computing Academic Services, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico; Vice-Chairman of the Board of ICANN (Mexico City)
Khalilullah Qazi Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva (Geneva) Rajashekar Ramaraj Managing Director, Sify Limited (Chennai (formerly Madras))
Masaaki Sakamaki Director, Computer Communications Division, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (Tokyo)
Joseph Sarr President, NTIC Commission, Dakar Regional Council (Dakar)
Peiman Seadat Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva (Geneva)
Charles Sha’ban Executive Director, Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property (Amman)
Lyndall Shope-Mafole Chairperson, Presidential National Commission on Information Society and Development of South Africa (Pretoria)
Waudo Siganga Chairman, Computer Society of Kenya (Nairobi)
Juan Carlos Solines Moreno Executive Director, Gobierno Digital (Quito)
Mikhail Yakushev Director of legal support department, Ministry of Information Technology and Communications of the Russian Federation (Moscow)
Peter Zangl Deputy Director-General, Directorate General Information Society and Media, European Commission (Brussels)
Jean-Paul Zens First Counsellor, Director of the Media and Telecom Department, Ministry of State of Luxembourg (Luxembourg City)

Markus Kummer, Executive Coordinator Frank March, Senior Programme Adviser
Tarek Cheniti, Consultant Hind Eltayeb, Administrative Assistant Robert Shaw, part-time, seconded by ITU
Howard Williams, part-time, seconded by the University of Strathclyde
David Satola, World Bank (part-time in his personal capacity)
Chengetai Masango, Intern (April-July 2005)
Chango Mawaki, Fellow, in association with DiploFoundation (June 2005)
Seiiti Arata, Fellow, in association with DiploFoundation (June 2005)
Dhrupad Mathur, Fellow, in association with DiploFoundation (June 2005)

Quite a slog, huh? Who’s your favorite on the list? I’m mighty fond of ol’ Karen Banks myself. She runs some company with “Progressive Communications” in the title. With that name, you know her place is just chock-a-block with affirmative hires. Or maybe the fellow who runs the company called "Dynamic Fun." REMEMBER: it took the UN this many people to sacrifice their time to trek to a chateau and write a crucial, important 24 page report. A report with very wide margins on each page. A report whose glossary and lists of names took up a third of its length.

Now I aleady know what you want to do with this report, but what do its authors intend? Well, it’s like this: they are desirous of replacing old fuddy-duddy ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the non-profit group currently under the aegis of the US Department of Commerce which governs technical aspects of the Internet; it’s the go-to guy for domain names, etc. In the interests of commerce and fostering the growth of the internet, ICANN doesn’t interfere much in the highways and byways of cyberspace. At the moment, they’re mulling over whether or not to designate .xxx for porn sites, but generally speaking they keep a low profile.

I’ll get you, and your little dog, too!You can bet your bippy that will change if WGIG has any say in it because WGIG, in true UN form, wants to replace ICANN with… are you ready for this? …WICANN. No, that’s not a coven of witches. It’s the acronym for the proposed World Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. That’s right: global, transnational, inter-governmental agencies — pardon me, “stakeholders” — would be responsible for assigning domain names and for oversight of the internet. Instead of the US Department of Commerce, there would be a creature dubbed the “Global Internet Policy Council.”

There would be advisors and observers, aides and assistants, consultants and coordinators, the private sector and civil society operating “on an equal footing” —all to do what is already being done. In other words, there would be snafus, corruption, pedophilia and goldbrick operations served up with a global reach. Shudder.

All of this would happen so things would be “fair.” Well, of course. We can’t have the developed countries running IT when we could get Cuba or Luxembourg, those centers of cutting edge IT, doing things fairly and equitably and openly.

I wish I were making this up. Read it and weep. Then dry your tears and remember: we didn’t sign the Kyoto Protocol, we’re not part of the International Court. Repeat after me: there will be no stinkin’ WICANN, either. But buy your broom just in case we have to go up there and clean ’em out.

Your Identity is Whatever We Say it is

A woman in Malaysia who renounced Islam and changed her name to Lina Joy (from Azlina Jailani) has been told it’s a no go by the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya. Muslim she was and Muslim she will stay, at least as far as her identity card is concerned.

The court based its decision on the fact that Ms. Joy’s renunciation of Islam for Christianity had no bearing on the matter of identity. Furthermore, according to the same justices, she had no permission from the Shari’a court to make such a decision about who she is. This particular part of their fine print is most pointedly a farce, considering that any appeal to a Shari'a court to remove herself from the rolls of Islam is sufficient cause to have her killed as an apostate. These folks were dreamed up by Kafka and bequeathed to us when he died.

Specifically, one Justice, Datuk Faiza Thambi Chik, held that as Lina was a Malay, she could not renounce Islam. How religious affiliation follows from nationality was not elucidated, though to the Justices it all seemed perfectly clear. Justice Chik declares,
     The Director-General of the National Registration Department (NRD) was right in not allowing the application brought by Lina Joy.
For those of us who feel free to change our religious identity from one persuasion to another -- as the Spirit moves us, so to speak -- and for those of us at liberty to dispense with any religious affiliation whatsover, this ruling descends from the bench like a pronouncement from Mars.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Anglican bishops are busy apologizing for the bad West and its corrupt, violent and lethal depredations against Iraq. They would, no doubt, feel they'd found a spiritual home in the courthouse in Putrajaya.

Hat tip: Nubarrones Islamicos

Now with Zamzam Water!

No flimflam with Zamzam!

Hat tip: linearthinker

Monday, September 19, 2005

Mitred and Malicious

A highly irrelevant group of dhimmified bishops from the Church of England has decided that nothing will do but that they should apologize to Muslim leaders for the war in Iraq.
    In the absence of a Government apology, a “truth and reconciliation commission” involving religious leaders could be formed to apologise for the West’s “errors”, the bishops say in a new report.
And precisely what “errors” are those, Your Graces? Freedom from Saddam Hussein, perhaps? Did “the West” harm Iraq by removing the festering wound of the Hussein family from power?

Or perhaps it was the mass graves? It that what Your Excellencies regret stopping?

Maybe it was the Oil for Food Program? Were any of you in on this mercy mission and wish to see it resume?

Perhaps it’s the Iraqi voting that annoys you? You prefer the old ways, where everyone voted for Saddam or else? Here’s what one Iraqi has to say about it:
     The Iraqi elections were truly a source of pride for Iraqis and a scene of bravery that deserves a lot of respect from the world and the time has come for the people to be rewarded for their bravery by their elected future leaders who need to address their responsibilities towards their people.
At the time the media and the interested observers are busy emphasizing on the violence in Iraq counting bodies (like war reporters do) they’re missing a great revolutionary change being made in Iraq towards democracy.
The talks for democracy are much louder a sound than the noise of guns; words and logic are the victors beyond any doubt and the effects of the change in Iraq are spreading across the region.
… Waleed Junbulat, the prominent Lebanese opposition leader who was against the war on Saddam at the beginning said “I was wrong. The sun that rose on Iraq on the 9th of April is now shedding her bright light on the rest of the region”.
With some exceptions, the Western mainline Christian churches are a disgrace. When they are not pandering to the Muslims with this kind of mindless claptrap, they are either voting for victimhood or prattling on about their anti-Semitic views regarding the Middle East. If they were not so irrelevant they’d be dangerous.

Thoughtful Christians of a less socialist bent than these fellows seem to have two choices when it comes to the expresssion of their religion: they can either become Evangelicals or they can contemplate joining the Roman Catholic Church. The ranks of both these groups are growing, while the withered flanks of the Anglican Communion run to catch up with the latest unappetizing but politically correct piece of ecclesiology served by one of their innumerable committees.

The Church of England is as good an argument for the separation of church and state as any I’ve seen put forth.

Hat tip: David Gillies at Daily Pundit.

UPDATE: Norm Geras has an excerpt of Nick Cohen’s essay in The Evening Standard. Here is a small snip and a suggestion to follow the link and rtwt (read the whole thing) —
     Iraq has been the greatest generator of hypocrisy of our times. It has sent the left lurching to the far-Right, pushed secularists into the arms of religious fundamentalists and spun round Liberal Democrats so violently that the real victims of the most illiberal and undemocratic regime on the planet - the Iraqi people - are faced with a wall of turned backs.
The power of the conflict to make everyone the opposite of what they pretend to be was confirmed this week by the splendid spectacle of bishops preaching in favour of sin.
Forget for the moment that it is cheap and pointless for bishops to apologize for a war they didn't support, and consider their claims to be champions of truth…
Mr. Cohen goes on to point out that many of those in the mass graves of Saddam Hussein were Assyrian Christians, fellow pilgrims that the C.of E. (were its upper ranks not made up of blithering idjits-ed) should be supporting:
     I'm an atheist. But if I'm wrong about the afterlife, the bishops may one day have to explain the moral basis of their toleration of mass murder to a higher authority than newspaper scribblers.
Amen, Brother Cohen, Amen.