Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fatwas and the burka ban

I published this article today on burka ban legislation

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Burka ban conversations rage hot because they relate with precision to current world tensions at many levels. 
I have already presented a simple solution in many previous articles on how Western secular governments should handle delicate aspects of legislation that tread into areas of religious rights and sensibilities.
Take care of your citizens. Create opportunity, and sustain a legislative environment that is fair and unbiased.

Sheik Aedh al-Garni, a popular Saudi cleric said Saturday it is permissible for Muslim women to reveal their faces in countries where the Islamic veil is banned to avoid harassment, while deploring the effort to outlaw the garment in France.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

An explanation for Islamist-based militancy and terrorism

Here is a good piece with Maajid Nawaz, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Quilliam.

Nawaz was formerly on the UK national leadership for the global Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT).

(Video must be watched on youtube, as embedding is disabled)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Man hit by six meteorites is being 'targeted by aliens'

"I don't know what I've done to annoy them."

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Radivoje Lajic first came to international attention in 2008, shortly after the fifth meteorite had crashed into the roof of his house in the northern village of Gornji Lajici.

And now, within the past month, another rock has hit the roof of his house, in defiance of all the odds - making it six strikes since the plague of meteorites began in 2007.

Experts at Belgrade University have confirmed that all the falling rocks he has handed over were meteorites. They are now trying to work out what exactly it is about his house that particularly attracts them. The strikes always happen when it is raining heavily, he says, never when there are clear skies.

Lajic has his own explanation, of course. After the fifth rock struck his house, he said: 'I am obviously being targeted by extraterrestrials. I don't know what I have done to annoy them but there is no other explanation that makes sense. The chance of being hit by a meteorite is so small that getting hit six times has to be deliberate.'

Radivoje Lajic and one of the many space rocks of doom to have rained down upon his house
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Audit: US cannot account for $8.7B in Iraqi funds

Have you checked your other pants pocket?

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BAGHDAD – A U.S. audit has found that the Pentagon cannot account for over 95 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraq reconstruction money, spotlighting Iraqi complaints that there is little to show for the massive funds pumped into their cash-strapped, war-ravaged nation.

The $8.7 billion in question was Iraqi money managed by the Pentagon, not part of the $53 billion that Congress has allocated for rebuilding. It's cash that Iraq, which relies on volatile oil revenues to fuel its spending, can ill afford to lose.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Gandhi’s Advice for Israelis and Palestinians

Here is a serious article challenging the facile, and generally taken-for-granted "two-state-solution" approach to "peace" in the Holy Land

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Gandhi’s “gratuitous advice about nonviolent resistance to Jews exposed to Nazi persecution” soon “provoked a sharp reply from, among others, the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, who had just fled to Palestine from Germany.”
Buber was quick to expose the limitations of Gandhianism before a state ideology as brutal as Nazism:

Gandhi, who had much on his plate in 1938, did not reply to Buber, thereby missing a potentially fruitful conversation about a maddeningly complex moral and political dilemma.

it is interesting that what Gandhi and Buber apparently did agree on was their opposition to the essential logic of what is now called the “two-state solution,”

From the perspective of 2010, it is easy to dismiss Gandhi and Buber — and contemporary activists who still advocate a one-state solution — as idealists, but, after six decades of violence following the partition of India that created Pakistan, and the still-to-be-completed partition of Palestine that created Israel, the idea that any amount of force will soon create two peaceful states in either part of the world is also looking less convincing by the day.


NASA's Deep Space Camera Locates Host of 'Earths'

Before you get too excited, don't forget this may portend a LOT more lawyers, bankers, and politicians than we had previously thought

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Scientists celebrated Sunday after finding more than 700 suspected new planets -- including up to 140 similar in size to Earth -- in just six weeks of using a powerful new space observatory.

Astronomers said the discovery meant the chances of eventually finding truly Earth-like planets capable of sustaining life rose sharply.



NYT Headline: View Is Bleaker Than Official Portrayal of War in Afghanistan

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The documents — some 92,000 reports spanning parts of two administrations from January 2004 through December 2009 — illustrate in mosaic detail why, after the United States has spent almost $300 billion on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban are stronger than at any time since 2001.

As the new American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, tries to reverse the lagging war effort, the documents sketch a war hamstrung by an Afghan government, police force and army of questionable loyalty and competence, and by a Pakistani military that appears at best uncooperative and at worst to work from the shadows as an unspoken ally of the very insurgent forces the American-led coalition is trying to defeat.

See more at

'Vuvuzela-maddened' man rams bar with car





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(ANSA) - Vicenza, July 26 - A man allegedly maddened by
vuvuzula-blowing revellers rammed his car into a northern
Italian village bar Sunday night, wrecking the place.

The man, 51, from a small town near Vicenza, reportedly
marched down to the Coco Bamboo bar because the din was
bothering him and then fired several shots into the air with his

But the bar-goers ignored him so he got his car and used it
as a battering ram at least three times, police said Monday.

No one was hurt because they got out of the way in time.

The man drove off but later turned himself in at a local
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Prayer in America

Easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle?

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Here is very interesting research from the Pew Research Center.

It shows both by religion and by traditional demographics the percentages of those who pray at least once a day.
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Hamstrung on race?

Here's a thought

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"By running a racially transcendent campaign, Obama may have implicitly sent a message to non-black people that he wouldn't address racial issues, so when racial issues come up, he's hamstrung."

Andra Gillespie, political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, speaking about the Shirley Sherrod case and why America's first black president stumbles on race.


Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married

A book plug.

But hey, if it helps?

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Since 1970, divorce has soared fivefold. Today's breakup rate all but matches the marriage rate. First-time couples face a 40 percent chance of serving papers instead of each other.

In Things I Wish I'd Known, a seasoned counselor mixes office insights and personal confessions from 35 years as pastor, counselor, and perpetual student-husband. Practical, personal, spot-on . . . new couples already say this is the one book easy to read and essential to apply.

 . . . That being in love isn't adequate to build a successful marriage.

 . . . That toilets aren't self-cleaning.

 . . . That mutual sexual fulfillment isn't automatic.

 . . . That we need a plan for handling our money.

Dr. Chapman's more than 30 books include, The 5 Love Languages, with more than 6 million copies sold worldwide. Things I Wish I'd Known is published by Northfield Publishing Inc. of Chicago.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Netanyahu: Conversion laws and direct talks

I wrote this article saying that conditions are not ripe for successful direct talks, and that Netanyahu's opposition to proposed conversion legislation is correct.

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The recent US visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, and his July 7 statement that he is willing to "put aside all the grievances and all the preconditions" to direct talks has intensified media giddiness, Mitchell diplomacy, and has placed increased pressure on Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.
But now is not the time for talks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York
The horrific Fatah Hamas split plaguing Palestinian representation in itself should be enough of a red flag for George Mitchell to go catch up on his sleep for a while.
Legislation and impulses that bode division should be opposed.  Netanyahu's opposition to this conversion legislation is correct.Read more at