Saturday, January 06, 2007

Spanish bishops fear rebirth of Islamic kingdom

Independent reported Spain's bishops are alarmed by ambitious plans to recreate the city of Cordoba - once the heart of the ancient Islamic kingdom of al-Andalus - as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe.

They would be fools if they were not worried. But what are doing to avoid it.
Plans include the construction of a half-size replica of Cordoba's eighth cenotury great mosique, according to the head of Cordobda's Muslim Association. Funds for the project are being sought from the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and Muslim organisations in Morocco and Egypt.Other big mosques are reportedly planned for Medina Azahara near Cordoba, Seville and Granada. The bishops of those cities are alarmed at the construction of ostentatious mosques, fearing that the church's waning influence may be further eclipsed by resurgent Islam financed from abroad. Up to one million Muslims are estimated to live in Spain. Many are drawn by a romantic nostalgia for the lost paradise of Al-Andalus, the caliphate that ruled Spain for more than five centuries. Last month, Spanish Muslims reasserted their right to pray in Cordoba's great mosque. The mosque houses within its arches a cathedral built to consolidate Catholic rule after Muslims were expelled from Spain in 1492. Muslims are forbidden to pray in the building.

Mansur Escudero, president of Spain's Islamic Council, has challenged the current head of Spain's Episcopal Conference, Bishop Ricardo Blazquez of Bilbao, to explain why Muslims could not pray in Cordoba's mosque. Mr Escudero said he had been encouraged by the Pope's act of prayer in Istanbul's Blue Mosque on his recent visit to Turkey. "It showed that mosques are open to Christian worshippers," he said. "Could not Muslims pray in Cordoba's mosque?"

Bishop Blazquez replied that public collective praying was prohibited, but he supposed private or individual prayer was acceptable. Mr Escudero then announced that Muslims would henceforth return to Cordoba's mosque to pray "in a respectful, private and individual capacity". The bishops hit back, insisting that "Muslims cannot in any way pray in Cordoba cathedral".


Maliki: Attack All Militias

CNN Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Saturday that Iraq's armed forces are set for an assault on Baghdad to take out militias and rogue security forces. Aided by multinational troops, the Iraqi forces "will hunt down all outlaws regardless of their sectarian and political affiliations," al-Maliki said at an Iraqi Army Day parade.

I wonder how long it will take before al Sadr seeks an exception for hia Mahdi army, the one reallu causing much of the problem. If he does exempt them, Bush should pull out immediately.
"We will also severely punish those [security forces] who do not carry out orders or operate in a partisan or sectarian way," he said. Forces will search out insurgents neighborhood-by-neighborhood, The Associated Press reported, and will start the assault this weekend. The announcement came two days after al-Maliki and President Bush spoke by video conference for two hours.

CQ blogged Anyone want to guess the substance of the conversation between Bush and Maliki? It probably was what a former boss of mine used to call "come to Jesus" meetings -- meaning that the purpose of the meeting was to convey an unvarnished and unpleasant reality, usually as a final warning before more drastic steps needed to be taken.

The unvarnished reality is that even if the US "surges" troops in the next few weeks, it will only last for a short period. Bush does not have the political support for an extended escalation, even from his own party. It isn't even clear what an extended escalation would do, especially the low-level one proposed in recent weeks, although a temporary boost with a specific mission might actually accomplish something. Bush needs Maliki to stop protecting Sadr's Mahdi Army and to take the steps necessary to break it and the rest of the militias, because without the participation of the Iraqis, the US cannot hope to clear and hold the necessary territory in Baghdad.


In the Hospital, Again

I am in the hospital again, this time with a blood infection, amd they wont know what is is, or how to treat it.

And my guest blogger who kept my blog alive last time cannot get logged on.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I did what I felt was right

NYT reported It was every subway rider’s nightmare, times two. Who has ridden along New York’s 656 miles of subway lines and not wondered: “What if I fell to the tracks as a train came in? What would I do?” And who has not thought: “What if someone else fell? Would I jump to the rescue?”

Questions everyone may wonder, but few are actually called up to act.
Wesley Autrey, a 50-year-old construction worker and Navy veteran, faced both those questions in a flashing instant yesterday, and got his answers almost as quickly. Mr. Autrey was waiting for the downtown local at 137th Street and Broadway in Manhattan around 12:45 p.m. He was taking his two daughters, Syshe, 4, and Shuqui, 6, home before work. Nearby, a man collapsed, his body convulsing. Mr. Autrey and two women rushed to help, he said. The man, Cameron Hollopeter, 20, managed to get up, but then stumbled to the platform edge and fell to the tracks, between the two rails. The headlights of the No. 1 train appeared. “I had to make a split decision,” Mr. Autrey said. So he made one, and leapt.
God bless you.
Mr. Autrey lay on Mr. Hollopeter, his heart pounding, pressing him down in a space roughly a foot deep. The train’s brakes screeched, but it could not stop in time. Five cars rolled overhead before the train stopped, the cars passing inches from his head, smudging his blue knit cap with grease. Mr. Autrey heard onlookers’ screams. “We’re O.K. down here,” he yelled, “but I’ve got two daughters up there. Let them know their father’s O.K.” He heard cries of wonder, and applause.

Power was cut, and workers got them out. Mr. Hollopeter, a student at the New York Film Academy, was taken to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. He had only bumps and bruises, said his grandfather, Jeff Friedman. The police said it appeared that Mr. Hollopeter had suffered a seizure. Mr. Autrey refused medical help, because, he said, nothing was wrong. He did visit Mr. Hollopeter in the hospital before heading to his night shift. “I don’t feel like I did something spectacular; I just saw someone who needed help,” Mr. Autrey said. “I did what I felt was right.”
You did, and it was right, and thanks to you, Mr Hollopeter is alive.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

CNN apologizes for Obama gaffe in Bin Laden graphic

The Raw Story reported A Monday night broadcast of CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer confused America's "number one enemy" with one of America's most popular senators, RAW STORY has learned. CNN apologized for the error, which came after a series of incidents in recent months in which Illinois Democrat Senator Barack Obama was subtly or directly linked with militant Islamic personalities who have been hostile to the United States.

His middle name is Hussain and his father was a Muslim.
During the Jan. 1 broadcast of Wolf Blitzer's nightly news program, a pre-commercial preview of the show's next segment included a story on the hunt for Al Qaeda's leadership. Over a photo of Osama Bin Laden and his second-in-command Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Blitzer stated, according to the transcript, "Plus, a new year, but the same mission. Will 2007 bring any new changes in the hunt for Osama bin Laden?" But instead of asking "Where's Osama?" the graphic over the two Islamists read "Where's Obama?" referencing the surname of popular Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama.
I wonder how much Hillary had to pay them to make that mistake.
A later segment of the show, which took up the topic of the 2008 presidential election, did discuss Senator Obama's political prospects if he chooses to run for president. Blitzer apologized during this morning's coverage of the Gerald Ford funeral. "I just want to make a correction, an apology, Soledad, for what we did yesterday. In 'The Situation Room,' we had a bad graphic,"
Sounds like John Kerry and his "bad joke". Kerry is a bad joke, and so is CNN.


Power-Sipping Bulbs Get Backing From Wal-Mart

NYT As a way to cut energy use, it could not be simpler. Unscrew a light bulb that uses a lot of electricity and replace it with one that uses much less. While it sounds like a promising idea, it turns out that the long-lasting, swirl-shaped light bulbs known as compact fluorescent lamps are to the nation’s energy problem what vegetables are to its obesity epidemic: a near perfect answer, if only Americans could be persuaded to swallow them. But now Wal-Mart Stores, the giant discount retailer, is determined to push them into at least 100 million homes. And its ambitions extend even further, spurred by a sweeping commitment from its chief executive, H. Lee Scott Jr., to reduce energy use across the country, a move that could also improve Wal-Mart’s appeal to the more affluent consumers the chain must win over to keep growing in the United States.

Good for WalMart, the store many Democrats hate.
“The environment,” Mr. Scott said, “is begging for the Wal-Mart business model.” It is the environmental movement’s dream: America’s biggest company, legendary for its salesmanship and influence with suppliers, encouraging 200 million shoppers to save energy.
I use them, and not just to save energy. The fact that they last many years is the reason I use them. With my handicap I have to depend on others to change a bulb for me, and whenever an incandescent bulb goes out, I have them replace it with one of these bulbs. The only place I use incandescents is in a lamp that I may want to use a dimmer to dim the bulb while watching TV.
For all its power in retailing, though, Wal-Mart is meeting plenty of resistance — from light-bulb makers, competitors and consumers. To help turn the tide, it is even reaching out to unlikely partners like Google, Home Depot and Hollywood. A compact fluorescent has clear advantages over the widely used incandescent light — it uses 75 percent less electricity, lasts 10 times longer, produces 450 pounds fewer greenhouse gases from power plants and saves consumers $30 over the life of each bulb.
And saves them from having to change bulbs as often.
But it is eight times as expensive as a traditional bulb, gives off a harsher light and has a peculiar appearance.
Eight times as expensive and lasts 10 times longer. Makes sense.
As a result, the bulbs have languished on store shelves for a quarter century; only 6 percent of households use the bulbs today. Which is what makes Wal-Mart’s goal so wildly ambitious. If it succeeds in selling 100 million compact fluorescent bulbs a year by 2008, total sales of the bulbs in the United States would increase by 50 percent, saving Americans $3 billion in electricity costs and avoiding the need to build additional power plants for the equivalent of 450,000 new homes. That would send shockwaves — some intended, others not — across the lighting industry. Because compact fluorescent bulbs last up to eight years, giant manufacturers, like General Electric and Osram Sylvania, would sell far fewer lights. Because the bulbs are made in Asia, some American manufacturing jobs could be lost.
Make them in the USA
And because the bulbs contain mercury, there is a risk of pollution when millions of consumers throw them away. Michael B. Petras, vice president of lighting at G.E., concedes that “the economics are better with incandescent bulbs.”
If it is a concession, don't you mean they are better with bulbs that last longer and burn less electricity.


Democrats To Start Without GOP Input

WaPo As they prepare to take control of Congress this week and face up to campaign pledges to restore bipartisanship and openness, Democrats are planning to largely sideline Republicans from the first burst of lawmaking. House Democrats intend to pass a raft of popular measures as part of their well-publicized plan for the first 100 hours. They include tightening ethics rules for lawmakers, raising the minimum wage, allowing more research on stem cells and cutting interest rates on student loans. But instead of allowing Republicans to fully participate in deliberations, as promised after the Democratic victory in the Nov. 7 midterm elections, Democrats now say they will use House rules to prevent the opposition from offering alternative measures, assuring speedy passage of the bills and allowing their party to trumpet early victories.

Passing something in the House is just the first step. You must then clear the senate, and you don't have 60 votes to override a filibuster, and you have a Republican in the White House, and he may learn how to veto bills.
Nancy Pelosi, the Californian who will become House speaker, and Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, who will become majority leader, finalized the strategy over the holiday recess in a flurry of conference calls and meetings with other party leaders. A few Democrats, worried that the party would be criticized for reneging on an important pledge, argued unsuccessfully that they should grant the Republicans greater latitude when the Congress convenes on Thursday.
But Pelosi said that a pledge is just something you say, to get in power.
The episode illustrates the dilemma facing the new party in power. The Democrats must demonstrate that they can break legislative gridlock and govern after 12 years in the minority, while honoring their pledge to make the 110th Congress a civil era in which Democrats and Republicans work together to solve the nation's problems. Yet in attempting to pass laws key to their prospects for winning reelection and expanding their majority, the Democrats may have to resort to some of the same tough tactics Republicans used the past several years.
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Democratic leaders say they are torn between giving Republicans a say in legislation and shutting them out to prevent them from derailing Democratic bills.
They should realize that bipartisianship is the only way to get through the very closely held Senate, and avoid a Presidential Veto.
"There is a going to be a tension there," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the new chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "My sense is there's going to be a testing period to gauge to what extent the Republicans want to join us in a constructive effort or whether they intend to be disruptive. It's going to be a work in progress."
Include them, and they will join you; exclude the, and they will be disruptive. And the choice is yours.
House Republicans have begun to complain that Democrats are backing away from their promise to work cooperatively. They are working on their own strategy for the first 100 hours, and part of it is built on the idea that they might be able to break the Democrats' slender majority by wooing away some conservative Democrats.

Democrats intend to introduce their first bills within hours of taking the oath of office on Thursday. The first legislation will focus on the behavior of lawmakers, banning travel on corporate jets and gifts from lobbyists and requiring lawmakers to attach their names to special spending directives and to certify that such earmarks would not financially benefit the lawmaker or the lawmaker's spouse.
That is not nearly enough earmark reform. They should permanently ban earmarks.
That bill is aimed at bringing legislative transparency that Democrats said was lacking under Republican rule.
Baloney. Most earmarks are not to financially benefit the lawmaker or the lawmaker's spouse, they are bring home the pork to get them reelected.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Amid Political Upheaval, Israeli Economy Stays Healthy


For Israel, it has been a typically tumultuous year: Ariel Sharon, then the prime minister, collapsed into a coma on Jan. 4, the radical Islamic group Hamas won Palestinian elections later that month, and Israel fought a monthlong war in Lebanon this summer. Palestinians waited recently to receive part of their salaries in Hebron. The Palestinian economy has been ravaged over the past several years.
They spend all of their money buying rockets, rather than trying to build a peaceful economy.
But despite the political turmoil and spasms of violence, Israel, it seems, has figured out how to keep its economy charging forward
They make things, and export them, rather than making war and exporting terrorists.
.... While the Israeli economy has been thriving, the Palestinian economy has moved in the opposite direction, contracting by an estimated 10 to 15 percent this year, according to the Palestine Monetary Authority.
They just want to live on handouts from Europe and the US, and we won't send them money until they get Hamas to say they are willing to live in peace with Israel as its neighbor. Pigs will learn to fly first, which should be interesting, since neither Jews or Muslims can eat pork.


Single Payer Health Care

NYT reported What is the most pressing problem facing the economy?

Health care does not affect the economy; taxes vs tax cuts, and increased vs reduced regulation affects the economy. And the most pressing problem facing the country is dealing with the threat of Islamofascism. If the Islamofasists turn the world into an 8th century society, we are not going to have 21st century health care available.
A good case can be made for the developing health care crisis. Soaring costs, growing ranks of uninsured and a steady erosion of corporate health benefits add up to a giant drag on the nation’s future prosperity.
Not as much as Sharia Law.
While the outlook seems scary, it doesn’t have to be. There is a solution, proven effective for hundreds of millions of people: single-payer health insurance.
Yes, single-payer — that much-maligned idea that calls for everyone to pay into one insurer, typically the government or a public agency. The insurer then pays doctors, pharmacists and hospitals at preset rates. Patients who want unapproved procedures and doctors not willing to accept the standard payment remain free to deal with one another directly, outside the system.
Not in Canada. If you want to pay for a test or for surgery, you must come to the US; they will not treat you even if you are willing to pay. They would rather see you die.
Such a system makes it much easier to deal with the growing costs of medical care, like administrative expenses and prescription drugs. It could also reduce the mountains of paperwork plaguing the current system and provide insurance coverage for the 46 million Americans now doing without it. What’s more, as demonstrated in France, Britain, Canada, Australia and other countries with functioning single-payer systems, significant savings can come without hurting the overall health of the population.
I dont know about Europe or Australia, but many patients come into the US from Canada for healthcare they can't get in Canada. Canada may have good drug prices (we have people going over there to get their prescriptions filled), but you may have to wait months just to get a diagnostic Cat Scan or MRI done, and you may have to wait months, or even years, to get in line for surgery.
There’s only one catch. Most Americans just don’t believe it can be done.
They have seen too many Canadians coming here for health care they cannot get in Canada.
The health care crisis may turn out to be more of a problem of ideology than economics.


New Year's Prayer

May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastro-entomologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your plumber and the I.R.S.

May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs and your stocks not fall; and may your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count and your mortgage interest not rise.

May New Year's Eve find you seated around the table, together with your beloved family and cherished friends. May you find the food better, the environment quieter, the cost much cheaper, and the pleasure much more fulfilling than anything else you might ordinarily do that night.

May what you see in the mirror delight you, and what others see in you delight them. May someone love you enough to forgive your faults, be blind to your blemishes, and tell the world about your virtues.

May the telemarketers wait to make their sales calls until you finish dinner, may the commercials on TV not be louder than the program you have been watching, and may your check book and your budget balance - and include generous amounts for charity.

May you remember to say "I love you" at least once a day to your spouse, your child, your parent, your siblings; but not to your secretary, your nurse, your masseuse, your hairdresser or your tennis instructor.

And may we live in a world at peace and with the awareness of God's love in every sunset, every flower's unfolding petals, every baby's smile, every lover's kiss, and every wonderful, astonishing, miraculous beat of our heart.

Happy New Year


Sunday, December 31, 2006

Islamists, Cornered in Somalia, Lose Local Support

NYT reported As fighting began to flare up today around Kismayo, the final redoubt for Somalia’s diminished Islamic movement, elders within the city demanded that the Islamists leave.

I bet they were tired of living under Sharia Law.
Mohammed Arab, a leader of the Ogaden sub-clan, said 36 elders of various clans and sub-clans met over the weekend with Islamist leaders and tried to persuade them that resisting the huge Ethiopian-backed force heading toward them would be futile. “We told them that they were going to lose,” Mr. Arab said, “and that our city would get destroyed.”
They must not have read 3:121 or they did not believe it would work for them.


Hundreds of Turks injured in Muslim animal sacrifice

IOL reported Hundreds of Turks spent the first day of the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha holiday in emergency wards today after stabbing themselves or suffering other injuries while sacrificing startled and agitated animals.

Unfortunately for the meat to be halal they apparently must cut its throat while it is conscious, and I suspect the animals don't care for that.
Muslims sacrifice cows, sheep, goats and bulls during the four-day religious holiday, a ritual commemorating the biblical account of God's provision of a ram for Abraham to sacrifice as he was about to kill his son. They share the meat with friends, family and neighbours and give part of it to the poor.
Part of it. I understood they were to give at least 2/3 of it to the poor.
In Turkey, at least 1,179 people - dubbed "amateur butchers" by the Turkish media - were treated at hospitals across the country, most suffering cuts to their hands and legs.
The holiday occurs every year. Haven't they got the hang of it yet?
Four people were severely injured when they were crushed under the weight of large animals that fell on top of them, it was reported. Another person was hurt when a crane, used to lift an animal, tumbled onto him.


Area Somalis want peace for homeland

StarTribune reported More than a thousand Somalis gathered in Minneapolis on Saturday to call for Ethiopian troops to withdraw immediately from Somalia.

I hope the Minneapolis police took note of who they were, and wil keep an eye on them.
Their protest capped a week in which transitional government troops retook Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, with the backing of Ethiopian infantrymen. The U.S. government "gave the green light" to Ethiopia to work in concert with the transitional federal government in Somalia, and that action was "totally wrong," said Hassan Mohamud.
Why is it wrong for the government of a country to work with a neighboring country, whose own citizens were threatened with attack by the Islamists, to put down the takeover of Somalia that the Islamists had done.
He is the president of the Somali Institute for Peace and Justice in Minneapolis, which organized Saturday's rally. "We ask the president of the United States, Mr. Bush, and his administration to stop supporting the terrorists. Ethiopian troops are terrorists,"
I suspect you are using the word terrorists to try to justify opposing them. They met on the field of battle, in conjunction with government troops, to push out a group of Islamists that had taken over. They did not set of f bombs to kill innocent civilians, or fly planes into buildings, or any of the other things that terrorists normally do.
Mohamud said to a cheering crowd. Lt. Rick Thomas of the Minneapolis Police Department estimated the crowd at about 1,500 people for a rally that ran for more than two hours.
I hope they keep an eye on these people.
Mohamud said he and other Somalis want the United States to support talks that can yield "peace and reconciliation."
That is what the Somalia ane Ethiopian government wants. Peace, but not with an imposed Sharia Law, and without threats to wage Jihad against Ethiopia.
Robert Spencer blogged If anyone in the American government had any courage, they would tackle this head-on, explaining that they opposed the Somali jihadists not only because they had ties to Al-Qaeda, but because Sharia government institutionalizes discrimination against women and religious minorities and denies freedom of conscience, and is in general an outrage to the dignity of the human person. In other words, they would engage the ideological challenge posed by the global jihad by asserting the superiority of the values of the modern West, and of the civilization built on Judeo-Christian values. But they don't dare.