25
Apr
08

Blank Page No.4

Katharina in Belgium and Agostinho in Jamaica are at the control of this weekend’s Blank Page. We only ask you all to keep two things in mind. 1) WHYS is devoted to talking about the news and related issues. 2) Think about how your discussions might lead to a programme. Which issue would you like to hear on air, and which guests would you like to take part? With that said, I’m going to sit back and watch.


173 Responses to “Blank Page No.4”


  1. April 25, 2008 at 19:30

    *Sits eagerly anticipating this weekends discussion*
    🙂

  2. 2 steve
    April 25, 2008 at 19:41

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7367198.stm

    Anyone heard about this story? A black man was shot 40 times and killed outside of a NYC strip club. The officers were not convicted of murder. However allegations of racism have started being made, and shouts of “no justice, no peace” yet two of the 3 cops involved in the shooting were black!

    I’m off to Montreal!

  3. 3 Ros Atkins
    April 25, 2008 at 19:53

    Agostinho’s gone missing so I hope he appears soon. Katharina will be with you shortly. I’ll moderate if there are any problems. Have fun.

  4. 4 steve
    April 25, 2008 at 19:53

    Hahha, something tells me you’d never allow me to host this.

  5. 5 Ros Atkins
    April 25, 2008 at 19:54

    Next week suit Steve?

  6. 6 Xie_Ming
    April 25, 2008 at 19:55

    WHYS EDITING

    I have been very enthusiastic about WHYS and have spent a lot time trying to stimulate posts. It is great idea and perhaps one whose time has come. So, we should participate and encourage WHYS!

    However, the WHYS management has an extraordinary bias concerning Israel:

    1) One poster produces long essays which almost always contain references to the insanity of Muslims, etc., etc. In short, he is always introducing the Israeli propaganda line in what appears to be a contrived and deliberate fashion.

    2) A second poster makes very frequent emotional and ill-informed comments, including personal attacks. He is pro-Israel and therefore tolerated.

    On the other hand, no facts concerning Israel’s irrationality and ideology are allowed. This was most painfully evident in the recent “Should everybody have nuclear weapons?” discussion.

    Muslim nations were declared “irrational”, but any evidence of Israel’s irrationality was censored by WHYS management.

    This has the effect of keeping people uninformed about the threat of Israel.

    What do you think about this?

  7. 7 steve
    April 25, 2008 at 20:00

    Yeah, that should be fine!

  8. 8 Ros Atkins
    April 25, 2008 at 20:00

    Brett – in case of any problems, I’ve given you moderation rights. Hopefully they’ll be no need.
    cheers,
    ros

  9. April 25, 2008 at 20:34

    My Precious Ros…. I’m also more than willing to help you guys with anything that you may need. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  10. April 25, 2008 at 20:39

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7367198.stm

    Anyone heard about this story? A black man was shot 40 times and killed outside of a NYC strip club. The officers were not convicted of murder. However allegations of racism have started being made, and shouts of “no justice, no peace” yet two of the 3 cops involved in the shooting were black!

    Steve, I’ve heard about this case and aside from the racism bit, I was amazed that the policemen involved did not get charged with reckless endangerment for the amount of rounds they discharged. I’ve heard between 40 and 50 rounds. Outside in public nonetheless.That to me is incredibly excessive!

    I was unaware of the races of any of the officers, but it is interesting if two were black that there is outrage at alleged racism collectively amongst the officers…

    Regards,
    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  11. 11 steve
    April 25, 2008 at 20:46

    @ Brett

    Cops shoot too kill. Back in 1999 I believe, they shot even more rounds at Amadou Diallo. They believed his wallet to be a gun. Fortunately events like these are rare, though most catastrophic and sad when they do happen.

  12. 12 selena
    April 25, 2008 at 20:52

    The story about the black man is not about racism, in my opinion. It is a story about power or fear or both.

    The undercover cops were clearly not well adjusted enough to be carrying weapons. As soon as they thought someone was reaching for a weapon, they reacted by firing more than forty rounds. There is something radically wrong with that reaction.

    The response represents abject fear or absolute power. I vote for fear. People do crazy things when they are afraid. Again it is the Us vs Them situation. The cops versus the supposed thugs.

    Good thing the cop’s fingers weren’t on the nuclear switch!!

  13. April 25, 2008 at 20:59

    Now I’m not too sure how many people have heard about this but:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/health/22well.html?em&ex=1209268800&en=f47fb677bb41f9c4&ei=5070

    The BPA hazard in hard plastic containers and foodware. How concerned is everybody about this, and with what seems a new health scare or health alert almost weekly, how serious do the WHYSers and the public treat these issues? Recently the toy scare from lead and other toxic materials in toys from China had parents and lawmakers up in arms. This, while getting plenty of media attention seems to have sparked little scare in the general public.

    What health scares have you taken seriously and actively sought to avoid? Which ones do you not care too much about? It seems now-days nearly everything is bad for you in some way or another.

    Just a thought.

    Regards,
    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  14. April 25, 2008 at 21:08

    Hi to all of you my Precious friends. I do have a question to all of you guys : Do you guys believe in the power of thoughts ?! Do you guys believe that our thoughts can change our lives for the better or for the worse ?! Do you guys believe that our thoughts can bring happy or sad events into our lives ?! What in your opinion are the limits of the human mind ?! Do we really know how much power is present there inside our minds ?! Lots of love and blessings to all of you guys from Baghdad. Yours forever, Lubna.

  15. 15 steve
    April 25, 2008 at 21:09

    I dunno Brett, I’ve heard that plastic releases toxins for all of my life, and I’m still a model that everyone should aspire to be like (note: i’m being sarcastic)..

    I’ve heard nasty things about fillings too. Most of us have lead fillings, that cannot possibly be good for you.

  16. 16 selena
    April 25, 2008 at 21:14

    Has anyone seen this story?

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080422/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/mexico_canadian_prisoner_1

    As the story goes, Brenda Martin was a cook for the man who was involved in an internet scam.

    When he was arrested, her boss gave her a severance payment of around $20, 000. The Mexicans said that she had profited from the proceeds of illegal activities.

    On the other hand, the Boss gave his mansion in Mexico to his Mexican lawyer, (who happens to be a close friend of Vincente Fox) to cover legal fees. There was no mention that the lawyer profited from ill-gotten gains.

    I have traveled all over the world and have always felt safe. But I would hesitate to go to Mexico, considering the way Canadians have fared in that country recently. Brenda Martin is one of many who have found themselves in trouble in Mexico.

    Are there any Mexicans here?

  17. April 25, 2008 at 21:23

    selena
    from the article:
    Waage was sentenced to 10 years in U.S. federal prison in 2005 after pleading guilty in an international Internet fraud scheme that bilked 15,000 investors of nearly US$60 million (euro38 million.)

    Whoa! Thats a heck of alot of money!
    Thats horrible that both Waage and Martin swore that she knew nothing about it and yet she was still sentenced. I wonder what the judge’s reasoning was. Making an example out of a foreigner? Making an example out of a scammer? At least she has only 3 more years to go, seeing as how the 2 years she already spent counts toward her sentence.
    Was she held for 2 years without trial?!

    There are a handful of countries I would never travel. Before leaving for international study trips (which I missed out on) our college professors used to spend hours and hours lecturing students about the different laws in the countries, what to do and what not to do. But in an instance where you werent even doing anything wrong. I guess you cant prepare for that!

    Regards,
    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  18. 18 Xie_Ming
    April 25, 2008 at 21:31

    Does anyone believe that a “cook” in Mexico would get $20,000?

    Mexican justice does not admit of much nonsense.

    They also have some interesting laws. If you, as a foreigner, insult a Mexican citizen, all your assets in Mexico can be confiscated.

    “Jail insurance” is necessary, since all parties to a dispute are customarily jailed until the matter is sorted out, etc.

    _____________________________________—

    Incidentally, please give some thought to what to do about WHYS bias concerning Israel. I consider this serious dishonesty, although I may be extreme in my view.

  19. April 25, 2008 at 21:46

    Prisons are built to protect society from criminals. How can prisons be safe for prisoners as strong prisoners subject weak prisoners to their authority? Or should this be seen as a deterrent for would-be prisoners that should be warned of the treatment they can get from their inmates?

    How can prisoners be protected from violence in prisons from their inmates or the prison guards?

    From time to time we hear of spectacular prison escapes. One of the latest news about prisons in Morocco is the escape of nine Islamist prisoners convicted of terrorist offences: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7335740.stm . How can this be prevented?

  20. 20 steve
    April 25, 2008 at 21:59

    Well, let’s not forget that everyone in jail is “innocent” as they claim. What was with Brenda’s suicide threat? People get convicted all the time though they deny they did anything. Maybe there was other evidence, such as writings, emails, phone calls, etc?

  21. 21 Janet T
    April 25, 2008 at 22:00

    The subject I’ve been kicking around in my head lately is something on the order of…how does what you do on your personal time affect you work life…

    I can’t get the phrasing right so let me explain…

    In our Eugene Oregon paper recently there was the story of a man who I believe is a computer programmer and who was busted for possession of marijuana and ecstasy, This happened on a weekend and he works for the city of Eugene. They tried to fire him and the firing was overturned. Both sides are still fighting this out. I have 12 employees- I don’t care what they do on their weekends as long as they are clean and sober while they are here.
    Is your free time your free time, or does your employer own all parts of you 24/7?
    I get the illegal drug part- although when I had a 50 year old employee get hurt by doing something stupid, the hospital did not offer to drug test him and when I had a 21 year old get slightly injured in a freak no-one-saw-it-coming accident, the hospital wanted to drug test him. Age discrimination?? I think so- but this may be a different topic.
    So tell me what happens in your part of the country or your part of the world- and Maybe I can get this together for a full on discussion.

  22. 22 Katharina in Ghent
    April 25, 2008 at 22:15

    I’m here, I’m here! I can take over for the next hour or so, I didn’t expect this much traffic on the blog already!

    Best,

    Katharina

  23. 23 selena
    April 25, 2008 at 22:35

    Xie_MIng

    Brenda Martin was a Canadian cook working for an American. I guess she would make $20,000. That doesn’t seen unreasonable, to me.

    Do you have any examples of posts that were censored during the broadcast today?

    We all have views on some things that border on the irrational. I know I do. Ask me and I will tell you a biggie 😉 The thing is being able to get to the point of being able to see our own actions for what they without constantly rationalizing them. We can still keep the views but realize that not everyone will accept our position.

    Brett, apparently Brenda was held for two years without trial. The Canadian media then got a hold of the story and she went to trial. But the opinion of those in the know is: media involvement insured that she would be found guilty.

  24. 24 Janet T
    April 25, 2008 at 22:53

    @ Steve-
    actually the fillings are mercury—
    have a great weekend!

  25. 25 Scott Millar
    April 25, 2008 at 23:15

    THE MIND: that’s all there is. It is nothing and it is everything. It is the world; or at least your world. It has no limits, except in the physical sense, of what the teensy structure is capable of.

  26. 26 viola anderson
    April 25, 2008 at 23:18

    Xie Ming: With all due respect it’s silly for you to be concerned that there is an Israeli bias at WHYS considering all the “blame Israel and blame the U.S. and then blame the U.S. and Israel” sentiment that is expressed on this blog.

    What I have noticed is that historical happenings are disputed on this site by people with a bias or an agenda. If anyone has any ideas on how the facts of the history of modern day Israel and the Palestinian Territories can be agreed upon, I’d be interested to hear. Whenever I discuss that history with some people, it becomes clear that there is a wide divergence of opinion not only about why Israel exists, but about the very events as they are chronicled in such places as encyclopedias and history books.

  27. 27 Will Rhodes
    April 25, 2008 at 23:33

    # 4 steve April 25, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Hahha, something tells me you’d never allow me to host this.

    # 5 Ros Atkins April 25, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Next week suit Steve?

    LOL!!!!!

  28. 28 Xie_Ming
    April 25, 2008 at 23:36

    Selena:

    In Mexico, one would have a Mexican cook. When I was there, they would be paid $1.00 a day. The story in the Canadian press had her as a “secretary/assistant”, handling large sums “about which she knew nothing”.

    Mexican justice is tough, but not irrational. As a foreigner, you are welcome- if you behave yourself.

    She seems to be getting very special treatment in jail. It used to be necessary to buy your own food and medicines.

    In addition to the multi-million dollar casa, the lawyer got 1.5 million in cash, it was reported.

    Now, we have a foreign woman in Mexico working for a foreign fellow running a famously large fraud. The Mexcian judge has all the evidence. Is it rational for us to make any assumptions about innocence?
    _____________________________________–

    As to the bias. If you want today’s examples, I will submit them again. One difficulty with censorship is that response, argument, justification and refutation become impossible because of the desire to supress information.

  29. April 25, 2008 at 23:44

    Singer Amy Winehouse has been arrested on suspicion of assault. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7367208.stm

    Should celebrities be more constrained in their behaviour as this affects their image or are they just persons before they are celebrities and parts of their lives should be kept private, and not news making?

    Why a behaviour considered as current should be amplified, sometimes out of proportion when it comes to celebrities?

  30. 30 Xie_Ming
    April 25, 2008 at 23:45

    Selena:

    Much was made of the alleged “irresponsibility” of Muslim governments. My point was the Israel and the USA have significant irrational elements also. This was not published on the blog:

    _______________________________________________

    QUOTE ”

    The usual personalities have been asserting that the Muslim “world” is insanely irresponsible. Semitic hyperbole is common. Have we any evidence of such use or state activity by any, including Pakistan and Iran?

    Israel has military advocates of the “Sampson Option” (q.v.). In short, this says “We will bring down the whole world if the USA and others fail to help us if needed”.

    There is a strong factor of insane fundamentalism and millenarianism in Israel. Unfortunately, the manager of this site does not want it pointed out in detail.

    In the USA, some may have seen the film clip of Bush storming away from the Rose Garden press, arms over his head, screaming: “Keep those m****ers away from me. If you can’t do it, I’ll get somebody who can”. Shortly thereafter, the White House physician announced that he was to be medicating the leader.

    Not so long ago, the US administration was floating trial balloons about tactical use of nuclear weapons against mid-Eastern targets.

    One can find reports of similar talk among Israeli leaders with respect to attacking Iran.

    Thus, talk of “responsibility” is fatuous.

    Any sovereign state has the legal right to nuclear weapons. Any state will eventually be able to possess them. Current efforts to suppress this will only serve to delay it.

    The choice is big power force and eventual nuclear war or gradual
    surrender of sovereignty to a supranational organization.

  31. 31 viola anderson
    April 25, 2008 at 23:48

    On the theme of police using deadly force, I wonder if other countries are having a national discussion about the use of tasers by the police. Here in British Columbia, at the Vancouver International Airport, a Polish immigrant became unruly because he was unable to rendezvous with his mother, who had come to the airport to meet him. He was tasered several times within 24 seconds of the RCMP’s arrival and died right there.

    The event was taped by a bystander with his cell phone and released to the press after the RCMP, which had confiscated it, was forced to release it.. Millions watched it.

    Canadians all across the country were outraged, not only because a man was killed but also because there was no effort to engage with the man in any way other than tasering him and because no translator accompanied the officers so they could talk to him. The discussion of this horrendous event has been going on for months here in Canada.

  32. 32 Xie_Ming
    April 25, 2008 at 23:57

    Selena:

    This was the last attempt, which, of course, did not get published.
    I feel that the actions of WHYS leadership in filtering data about Israel while allowing all sorts of denigration of Muslims is reprehensible.

    Taken in conjunction with Mark Sandell’s postings yesterday, it seems to me to show a deliberate bias concerning Israel. Be sure to tell me if you think this is unjust.

    “This was the final attempt:

    ______________________________________________________________

    As usual, WHYS management has allowed aspersions of Muslim governments, their “irresponsibility”, etc. WITHOUT allowing
    mention or evidence of ISRAEL’s

    1) “Sampson Option” (q/v) [a threat of suicidal attack against the West]

    2) The prevalence of insane fundamentalist extremism and millenarianism in Israel.

    3) Israeli official talk of nuclear attack against Iran.

    4) Filmed wild personal action of George Bush.

    5) Discussion by US officials of using tactical nuclear weapons against Middle Eastern targets.

    We should also know that, about the time the Israeli program required it, a substantial quantity of plutonium disappeared from a US Naval fuel storage depot.

    Such “accidents” indicate that everyone who wants them can eventually acquire nuclear weapons.

    Any sovereign nation has the legal right to such weapons now.
    Efforts to deny them can only rest on threats and coercion.

    It is unfortunate that the management of this site will not permit discussion of Israel while welcoming denigration of Muslim nations”.

  33. April 25, 2008 at 23:59

    Ros, I am here! I am here! Had to run out of the office earlier. Sorry about that! I AM BACK! I SWEAR!

  34. April 26, 2008 at 00:00

    And I did sign up at wordpress, as you asked. I sent you an email with my username and cell number…Hoping to hear from you. Katharina sent me a mail about some things she wanted to talk about and I sent a response, in kind. So, we are basically talking to each other already!

  35. April 26, 2008 at 05:02

    The lack of publicity for the Libertarians and Greens in America. My guests would be Andrew Davis and Jeremiah Arn of the Libertarian Party as well as Cynthia Mc Kinney of the Green Party.

  36. 36 Alan
    April 26, 2008 at 06:39

    The killing of Sean Bell was a message that the new york police want to tell the world. In America, it is perfectly acceptable to kill African-Americans: you don’t even need a reason

  37. April 26, 2008 at 07:41

    I have had a topic I would like to have other comment on in my head for awhile. When do our good intentions do more harm then good? For example, at least 20 years I have seen commercials to send food to feed children in the same regions of the world. Should we send food to people who live in a place where food will never be obtainable. Won’t that just give them strength to have more starving children. I know it sounds a bit cold but is it really colder then enabling people to bring more life into a dire situation?

    We have recently invaded countries with one of the purposes being to “free them”. Now 2 million of them are refugees living in poverty in other countries. Others are prisoners in their own homes. Many are dead. Are they better off because of the “good intentions” of the international community?

    We have a welfare system in the US that encourages poor, young and uneducated women to have children for financial benefit. Shouldn’t we at least have a plan to stop the cycle.

    I personally think that aid should be supplied only when there are clear plan to end it. No giving fish, only teaching how to fish.

  38. 38 kathi25
    April 26, 2008 at 08:50

    Hi,

    Who’s actually in harge this weekend? I got an email from Ros yesterday while I was out for dinner, that he could not activate my login name, and Agosthino is apparently also in disgrace, so we two are out of the race, as it seems. Who’s moderating?

    Kind regards,

    Katharina

  39. April 26, 2008 at 09:02

    HI Kathi and Agostinho, You two are definitely in charge and of course you’re not in disgrace. The thing is I can’t give you access to the blog without your wordpress username and the email you’ve given them. I tried to get hold of you before I left work and went out but had no luck. I’m up now, so if you email my Yahoo address I can get you both up and running right away. In the meantime if you post comments I’ll approve them. Brett also has access to keep us ticking over.
    Cheers,
    Ros

  40. April 26, 2008 at 09:12

    Update. Clearly you ant to talk about issues, not about wordpress but just to let you know Agostinho is all sorted, we’re having problems getting Katharina on for some reason. But I am at home all day and will help moderate. Am sure we’ll get Katharina up and running soon. And with that I leave you, as the whole point of the Blank Page is that I’m not on it. Haver fun.

  41. 41 kathi25
    April 26, 2008 at 09:40

    Hi everyone,

    After a bit of delay we will hopefully get this Blank Page organized. Agosthino and I were talking last night about possible topics for this weekend, and he had a very interesting one:

    I thought of talking about
    sexuality. There is a planned ban of Jamaica’s tourism product being lead by
    Canadian gay rights groups. They are of the view that this might be a good
    way of getting Jamaica to relax its homophobic attitudes. They feel that
    this a useful way of getting the Government to change the laws on buggery as
    well as to change social attitudes in the country. My question is:

    Is it right for international lobby groups from First World countries to
    expect change in a Developing Countries in foreign nations by putting
    pressure on them to change internal laws and customs?

    How much of sexuality is political?

    The last question of course is largely my response to the original
    question, in that the debate seems to be less about sex/uality and more
    about politics, specifically international politics.

    Another thing that I came up with is: How much do we as individuals actually do to protect our environment. Al Gore said in his movie “An inconvenient truth” that if we all biked or used public transportation once a week to get to work, then we already reduced carbon emissions by 20%. But how many people actually do that, or change light bulbs to the energy saving type, buy a hybrid car, etc.

    More or less in line with this is a question that occured to me during washing my dishes: If you live in a country/region where you have lots of rain throughout the year, do you still have the moral obligation to save water? Or, to broaden this question, what could we do to get water into dry region, ie. Barcelona. (Personally, I would love to send them our clouds, but I’ve been told that’s not possible 😉 )

    And a last controversial topic is: Is it fair that only US citizens are allowed to vote for their president, even though his/her actions concern and may bring mayhem to the whole world?

    I also liked Lubna’s suggestion about the influence of our mind on our life, and the discussion about Police going overboard seems to be quite underway, so I’ll be excited to see where this weekend will bring us.

    Love,
    Katharina

  42. April 26, 2008 at 09:42

    Hi Precious Ros…. I’d love sooooooo much to see WHYS having Tony Lagouranis as a guest at sometime soon… With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  43. April 26, 2008 at 09:47

    Katharina’s set up to moderate now as well, so Brett you’re welcome to leave the moderating now. Thanks for helping us out at the start. we got there! and still plenty of time for this Blank Page to take shape. cheers, Ros

  44. 44 Alan
    April 26, 2008 at 10:29

    To Viola Anderson:

    In the US, they have killed about 100 people with tasers. The police in the US love them, for it is another way to kill people.

  45. 45 VictorK
    April 26, 2008 at 12:27

    @Alan: African-Americans are disproportionately the victims of crime, and their persecutors are overwhelmingly other African-Americans.

    The number of African-Americans who have been murdered in the past 35 years (roughly 8000-10000 per annum, and again, overwhelmingly by other African-Americans) is greater in total than the number of casualties the US suffered in the Vietnam war. The number of police killings of African-Americans – the great majority of which are perfectly justified – is miniscule.

    I can understand why a Klansman or neo-Nazi or white supremacist who hated African-Americans would attack the forces of law and order trying to crack down on killings and other crimes in black neighbourhoods; but why on earth would any self-respecting black person? The African-American leadership now habitually side with criminals against the police, and it’s the people they purport to be leading (and who seem to accept the direction in which they are being led) who continue to pay the price.

    Here are some facts about the Sean Bell case:

    http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon2007-01-17hm.html

  46. April 26, 2008 at 12:33

    So, I am finally on. Thanks Kath, Ros and the rest of the team.

    I would like to hear what you all think about the move by the Canadian gay rights group to boycott Jamaica’s tourism product because of what it says is our very homophobic attitude and the need to change the laws in our country. Of course, I am curious about that because I wonder what rights do international lobby groups, especially those from Developed Countries, have in putting pressure on countries in the “Developing World” to change their laws and customs? Is that even a fair question? Cause, I am conflicted about it quite frankly! There is need for change, just that I am not so certain if it will do much to aid the process. It may even set back any gains that gay rights groups in Jamaica are trying to achieve….Just a thought.

  47. 47 kathi25
    April 26, 2008 at 12:38

    @ Dwight:

    I liked your concern about sending food to starving countries. As the saying goes: If you give a starving man bread, he will have food for a day, if you give him grain, he can grow it himself and feed himself for the rest of his life. This is the reason why I try to buy as many products from Oxfam and similar fair trade programs as possible, because these organizations help the farmers to actually make a living from their work and improve their stuations. Very often, you don’t just help one farmer, but the entire community or village. And a family, that can make a living where it’s settled, won’t need to pack up and hope for better luck somewhere else.

  48. 48 selena
    April 26, 2008 at 12:51

    Xie_Ming

    George Bush used the word “crusade” (in 2001?). The world seemed outraged at the time. But was he so wrong?

    We are masters at saying one thing and meaning another. The people on this site want peace, or we wouldn’t be here??? We know there is something not right with the world, in terms of our interactions with each other.

    The question is: are we concerned enough to examine our own biases?

    The posts which you said were not posted during the debate do not seem outrageous to me. Others who think that any culture outside of Judaeo-Christian belongs to another civilization might find them difficult to read.

    It is not so easy to dispel the idea of two civilizations. We have been brought up with this idea since birth. It is a credit to the innate sense of justice that any one of us can think beyond this idea for even a second, in my opinion.

    We organize ourselves and our beliefs in terms of hierarchy. Those from the other camp who agree with us can be let into our space at another level. So, even within the civilization there are layers.

    The way in which we see the world is both simple and complicated. It is simple because we think in terms of black and white; it is complicated because every action is born out of multi layers, designed to disguise our base natures.

    We have begun to peel back the layers. But it may be a long time before we see any real results, such as truly equal time for all beliefs and opinions.

  49. 49 VictorK
    April 26, 2008 at 13:04

    Hello Agostinho and Katharina & good luck with your moderating!

    @ Xie Ming: your claim about a mad, hallucinating George Bush having to be sedated is perhaps a clue to the difficulties you sometimes have in posting. Where’s the evidence? You said there was footage of this extraordinary incident, but failed to link to Youtube or to any one of the many anti-Bush sites (like the Daily Kos) which would have put up the material. Similarly when you make certain claims about Israel but have no hard evidence to back it up (statements or writings by maverick figures, or material drawn from some eccentric website won’t cut it). If you (1) had hard evidence from (2) mainstream sources, and if you (3) made claims that didn’t go beyond your evidence (like recently saying something to the effect that the BBC was under the thumb of the inter-galactic Jewish conspiracy…etc), then maybe you’d have more luck. Just a thought. Would love to see that Bush footage, though: sounds entertaining.

    I’m shocked at your claim that WHYS is posting comments from someone calling Muslims insane. If true that would be very sad.

    @ Agostinho: I don’t see any reason why a civil society organisation in one country shouldn’t campaign for changes in the conduct and/or legislation of another country. It happens with all sorts of issues, from Israel and Palestine to Apartheid to child labour. If you enjoy the freedom to associate and agitate, then you have the freedom to do it about any issue at all (short of forming a criminal conspiracy). That includes organising a consumer boycott of the goods and services of the country that’s the target of your agitation. The problem would be if any government tried to put pressure on a country like Jamaica to fall into line on the subject of gay rights. That would be an unwarranted invasion of national sovereignty, as well as an arrogant assumption that some countries really do know better than others how to handle such a domestic matter. There’s much about the plight of Jamaican gays that I’d sympathise with, but as a matter of civil (not gay) rights that they should be as entitled to as any other Jamaican, such as the right to be protected from violence. But other points, such as gay marriage or recognition of partners’ rights, are not as morally compelling as some Western campaigners like to think they are, and are not things that any country should ever be coerced into instituting.

  50. 50 selena
    April 26, 2008 at 13:13

    To Janet T:

    Up to 5 years ago (as a volunteer) I ran an organization that employed, give or take, a hundred people.

    The people I hired were overwhelmingly disadvantaged in terms of education, opportunities and self-esteem. Some of them were illegal substance abusers.

    My idea at the time was they were no different than the people who were on prescription drugs such as valium and librium and who drank alcohol every day and binged on the weekends. In my mind, the only difference was Rx drugs were legal and the other drugs were not.

    We organized ourselves around what would be best for the employees and let the company evolve from there. The idea was to provide a place of safety and an opportunity to learn, with work taking second place to well being. It turned out to be success story beyond imagination.

    We lost many of our trained people because they left to go one to higher education and better opportunities. But we always had others clamoring at the doors to be let in.

    Not one of them ever let me down.

  51. 51 VictorK
    April 26, 2008 at 13:16

    @ Selena: you wrote – “It is not so easy to dispel the idea of two civilizations. We have been brought up with this idea since birth. It is a credit to the innate sense of justice that any one of us can think beyond this idea for even a second, in my opinion.”

    I disagree. Most people recognise that there have been in the past and are presently several ‘civilisations’ – i.e. distinct, coherent, enduring and self-aware ways of life) across the world, not just two. They’d also – if they are not semtimentalists – agree that there is a hierarchy of civilisations – i.e. considered in the round , some civilisations are better at creating good and worthwhile ways of living than others. And the final point that everyone knows to be true but not everyone will bring themselves to admit is that Western civilisation sits at the top of that hierarchy, and the interval between it and all the other ways of life beneath it is immense and unbridgeable, to the extent that Western civilisation is the model of what a successful civilisation is, and all the others measure their progress according to how far they can assimilate the achievements of the West.

  52. 52 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    April 26, 2008 at 13:42

    Selena:

    I just wondered a little about the comment that you don’t see a difference between illegal substance abusers and those who take over the counter drugs like valium, etc. Is there not a real difference though in terms of a doctor’s prescription and the law, notwithstanding your success story? I just wondered. Because from where I sit, illness is just that.

    However, a more responsible (I am not even sure if that is the word, though) thing is to admit you need help and seek it. I am not so sure if the same could really be said about people who abuse crack-cocaine and other forms of illegal substances, as there is often no prescription and, sometimes, no admission in the context where they are able to get legitimate help. Please help me understand.

    If I sound biased, it is that I think illegal substance abuse is also a crime problem in terms of the connected issues of violence which sometimes go hand in hand with the trade, use and abuse of such substances…Just a thought.

  53. 53 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    April 26, 2008 at 13:53

    PS: Thanks for the good wishes VictorK. Thanks for the insights and your good wishes (Agostinho).

    I must tell you that I share your position in terms of the agitation by lobby groups for change in other countries insofar as the need for civil rights in places like Jamaica, if I hear you correctly. However, my concerns are less about the sovereignty issue though I am sure that that came out in my earlier question.

    I am much more interested in knowing whether when groups like these in Canada and elsewhere in the world take up these issues if they ever stop to wonder what the consequences of their actions are? I am almost always of the view that these lobby groups are somehow in a sort of conspiracy with the PTBs (Powers That Be!) to inflict harm on disadvantaged young men in places like Jamaica.

    If nothing else, this type of response – boycott of Jamaica’s tourism product, etc., largely, serves to make the lives of gay people here all the more problematic. The increased attention and the vitriolic backlash almost always places these people at further disadvantage when such issues are given this type of attention.

    I worry whether there is any effort to understand that, perhaps unlike Canada, sexuality in some parts of the world – Jamaica, especially, is such a thorny debate. So that, I wonder whether foregrounding it in this way is often equivalent to agreeing to persecute the most vulnerable and, therefore, the less able to defend against attacks of the very nature the boycott is aiming to end? What value is there in addressing this subject in this way? That was really what I intended to ask, especially as I was recently invited to comment on the topic by the Canadian gay and lesbian newspaper Xtra (not self promoting, I swear!)

    Of course, I am trying to tease out some of these issues with the original question, in part, because it is also a research interest of mine. So, thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated, though I would love to hear some more of your thoughts on the matter. If you do not mind, that is?

    Indeed, I am convinced that sexuality when looked at in this way is largely a question of international politics. Was it always like this? Who you sleep with is a matter for ‘the nation’ to become concerned to the extent that international politics begins to intervene/ mediate in these discussions/ transactions?

    That is kind of awesome when you think about it – our sex lives are the subject of much political intrigue and drama – a sort of international border crossing, if you please!

  54. 54 selena
    April 26, 2008 at 14:14

    VictorK

    Yes, you are right about more than two civilizations. But in terms of the debate in which we are engaged, there are but two.

    You are also right that Western civilization sits at the top of the hierarchy.

    The questions are: why does Western civilization sit at the top? Do we agree that is should sit at the top and, if so, why are we having a conversation?

  55. 55 Shirley
    April 26, 2008 at 14:21

    Xie Ming,
    A few years back, Israe began to exert pressure on the BBC by trying to claim that the BBC was too pro-Palestinian and tehrefore anti-Semitic. I like the BBC. It seems to be the news source with the broadest coverage globally. There is very little that is ignored in their coverage. Where one needs to read between the lines (if he is liberal), one can. Contrarily, the news media in “democratic” countries such as the U.S. self-censor to the extent that there are no lines left between which one can read. However, I have noticed a change over the past five years that worries me. The extent to which the BBC used to document life in Palestine as part of their news coverage has definitely faded. There is much less interruption of obviously racist tirades made against Muslims, Arabs in general, and Palesintians in particular, especially when they are made by members of the Israeli government; there is hardly any demand to back up such statements with citations of fact; and there is hardly any kind of challenge from the newscaster who is conducting the interview. At the same time, this kind of honest journalism does take place when a BBC reporter is covering Palestine and interviewing a Palestinian spokesperson. And I expect it to, as long, as it does not turn into the kind of prejudicial stream of interruptions that can destroy the value of a potentially useful interview (Zahn v Arafat, CNN).

    In my experience, though, the BBC is responsive to its audience (unlike certain national petroleum reports issued from the U.S.), so I don’t mind occasionally respectfully and concisely pointing out ways in which the BBC can improve its quality of journalism when I have a chance.

  56. 56 Shirley
    April 26, 2008 at 14:29

    Lubna habibti assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah, ahlan wa sahlan. You have not received my email?

    Brett, there is more to institutionalised racism than the colour of the skin of an individual who constitutes part of the institution. Plenty of racism occurred at the hands of people of colour who joined the police shortly after de-segregation.

    God save me from my typos. 😦

  57. 57 selena
    April 26, 2008 at 14:31

    RPJS 🙂 hope you don’t mind my shortening your name,

    What is the difference between RX and illegal drugs? Is it just that one is legal and the other is not?

    (I used to think that there was also a quality control difference until that myth was dispelled recently because of the heparin scandal.)

    My program did not draw a distinction. We just saw people who needed a break. We left drug issues to the law.

    I am not sure I understand your question. But I see illness a little differently.

    Anyone who needs brain candy to survive, whether that brain candy is in the form of legal drugs. illegal drugs and other things like obsessive dieting, eating and sex, is not functioning well.

    If that is illness then it is illness. The name is just a buzzword. What is evident is the person needs a change of attitude, name or no name. The person needs support and a non judgmental place to work.

    I don’t disagree that illegal drugs is the cause of much crime. My answer to that is legalize all drugs.

    We also don’t see the crimes of doctors the same as we see the crimes of the drug pushers… Elvis Presley and Anna Nicole Smith quickly come to mind!

  58. 58 Shirley
    April 26, 2008 at 14:38

    salam, Lubna
    The power of the mind. I believe that the true `ulama are also `urafa (as relates to the study of `irfan). I love the stories that I hear of the connection between our `ulama and Imam Mahdi, and I enjoy the juicy tidbits such as the one `alim who wrote a note to some infestatious insects telling them to leave, and the insects left. Obviously, my line of thinking presumes a connection based on iman mukhlis and a truly high rank of `ilm that is only granted as Allah desires and only to the extent that Allah wills. Have you heard any stories of Imam Khumayni and Imam Mahdi? Any of our maraja` and Imam Mahdi?

  59. 59 John in Germany
    April 26, 2008 at 14:46

    What is going on in Zimbabwe?, has it cooled of now?. The man had lost, and now he is winning, or at least the threat is he wants to run the country in coalition with the opposition. Hey who the hell is the opposition now. Did i hear right, all the re counts are where the opposition won.

    Africa oh Africa. What is happening, to your pride, and lion strength. i feel that there is a lot of grovelling going on like the Elephant with a mouse at its feet.

    John in Germany

  60. 60 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    April 26, 2008 at 14:48

    Selena, I hear you. My only thing about a doctor prescribed “mind candy”, as you call it, and the one you take yourself is that there is always the risk of an overdose, notwithstanding Elvis and Anna Nicole.

    As for making all drugs legal, well, that is a whole other matter by itself.

    I do share your position that that might lessen the impact of crime in this arena, but I keep thinking that any chemicals which are added to the body in unprescribed dosages can be fatal and constitutes a criminal act.

    Surely, the question of providing “safe spaces” for people to work and improve themselves is a very good thing. There is no argument there, just the concern about how much is too much in the case of people who need help – medical, psychological, psychiatric, etc? Is there not need for someone, or someones to gauge how much of a substance could be fatal in the case of “mind candies”. In Jamaica we have a saying: “too much of one thing is good for nothing” (that is the anglicised version, the dialect reads: “too much ah one ting, good fi nutten!”)…Just curious.

  61. April 26, 2008 at 14:54

    Hi good Agostinho and Katharina my love. Wish you both all the luck with this very special mission Inshallah ! There’s one issue in my mind that I’d really love to discuss with all of you guys. I’ve been always soooooooo fascinated by the very special relationship between Israel and the US… I mean, Israel is considered to be America’s ultimate friend right ?! When I commit something which is obviously wrong, then it’s the duty of my good and loyal friends to come to me and say ‘Lubna, what you’re doing is wrong and you gotta stop’. Isn’t that what loyal friends are there for ?! If they kept ignoring my mistakes and turning a blind eye to them, then by doing that they’d be encouraging me to commit more and more serious mistakes that’ll severely harm me as well as everyone around me. As I say it always, EVERYONE has messed up in the Holy Land, and EVERYONE has a moral responsibility of cleaning up his own mess. And we must concentrate on condemning the wrongful acts of ALL sides equally and strongly… Let our goldstandard rule be ‘Murdering innocent civilians anywhere around the world is an unjustifiable crime than can NEVER be left without questioning”. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  62. 62 VictorK
    April 26, 2008 at 15:04

    @Selena: so that I can be clear, which other civilisation are you referring to?

    You wrote, ‘The questions are: why does Western civilization sit at the top? Do we agree that is should sit at the top and, if so, why are we having a conversation?’

    Western civilisation is at the top because it is more accomplished in more ways than any other civilisation. If the leading characteristics of a civilisation are social life, politics, culture, spiritual life, and economic management, and if we judge a civilisation by its human product, the quality of human being that it leads to, and the values that they live by, then the West’s position is inevitable compared to what rival civilisations and sub-civilisations have to offer. There is also the point that the West’s heritage of civilisation is unbroken for at least 1000 years, and draws on cultural resources that are even older (Greece, Rome and Jerusalem).

    China had one of the world’s great civilisations. This was attacked, vandalised and repudiated by the Communists. There is little real continuity at all between the great Confucian-Taoist-Buddhist culture of historic imperial China and the present Communist usurpation. India is one of the great civilisations that still endures (though it’s no rival to the West). Islam is more a sub-civilisation, since Islam has been culturally, spiritually , politically and socially sterile for centuries (something that anyone with a knowledge of Islamic history would not be surprised at). It is an ex-civilisation.

    I don’t understand why you ask ‘Do we agree that it [Western civilisation] should sit at the top?’ It’s a bit like asking do we agree that the sky should be blue. It’s at the top. That’s a fact. Some may not like that and may want it to be otherwise, but the sky remains blue whatever our wishes. And there is currently no other civilisation that is likely to overtake it (China and India’s economic growth are simply expressions of the success with which they have adopted the economic and technological of Western civilisation, not the challenge of a competing civilisation).

    So you’re right: why are we having a conversation?

  63. 63 Xie_Ming
    April 26, 2008 at 15:15

    Shirley:

    One should not generalize from WHYS management to the BBC.
    It is WHYS specifically that lets through the anti-Muslim polemics and blocks the facts and comment about Israel.

    World Update, for example, does some tough questioning and is after facts.

    You will find, also, that on the net embarassing stories published by journalists frequently disappear from their URLS. As with the old Soviet Encyclopedias, the pages frequently go missing.

    There is even, for instance, a difference between the facts mentioned in the Encyclopedia Britannica edition of 1962 and those that see the light today.

    A problem that does not involve bias is that of “news”. Today’s statements, reports and claims must have a context to be well understood. Trow’s article about journalism in the New Yorker had the title “Within the Context of No Context”.

    Today, “rockets” are the pretext for Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. In context, we see that the oppression has been going on for many years. There are always pretexts that will be found or provoked. Uri Avnery has been following these events closely for years (see gush-shalom.org).

    Doing a Google on “Uri Avnery” + Sharon + Lebanon + interview
    may lead you to his reporting of Sharon’s personal explanation of this tactic to him.

    Today’s event is only a symptom. The cause is the Israeli ideology: the religious and tribal determination to eliminate the gentile from an undefined Biblical “Greater Israel”.

    Of course, the history is long and the deceptions infinite. It would require a dedicated blog. Only the worst examples could be handled here, if the WHYS management were willing.

  64. 64 selena
    April 26, 2008 at 15:20

    RPJS,

    I hear you loud and clear. Yes, there is a very real danger of overdosing. But we were never into the drug issue, legal or illegal. We were merely addressing the individual challenges of being poor and disadvantaged and unable to find employment.

    At the level of help (which is a word I don’t like because it divides people into helpers and those who are helped) there is only one way forward, which is to treat all as equal. Legal or illegal was not the problem. The problem was poverty.

    The drug issue has never been adequately addressed because, like all other issues, once a label is put on the issue, people align themselves on one side or the other. Then is becomes another Us against Them conflict. The issue itself tends to get lost in the desire to be right.

    It is a criminal act to kill someone. But that happens with RX drugs, too. People overdose when they want to kill themselves. Is that any different from someone taking more of a drug to make themselves feel better?

    You are making me think about this issue form a different perspective. Because something is legal does not necessarily mean it is right. But does a drug pusher have a bigger responsibility than a physician and thus deserve bigger punishment?

  65. 65 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    April 26, 2008 at 15:28

    Excellent point, Shirley about institutionalised racism and that, “there is more to institutionalised racism than the colour of the skin of an individual who constitutes part of the institution. Plenty of racism occurred at the hands of people of colour who joined the police shortly after de-segregation.” I could not agree more!

    The institutionalisation of fear of the ‘other’ and the significance of that in the modern world cannot be downplayed, especially in the NY case and the police shootings. It is really sad that when we talk about race the first argument is often about the colour of our skin. I could be as black as charcoal and still maintain views and ideas which are not germane to the interests of people of a particular hue, even those who look like me. The reality being that race is really about a set of ideological/ political philosophies which govern privilege and access.

    The deeply embedded/ entrenched elements are often played out, I think, not so much in what is said and done as the pieces that are not said; the parts that come after the elipsis. Our fears about the other are so ingrained that even in the face of overwhelming logic and crucial information we are not always as keen on making fair or even balanced decisions.

    From where I sit, I find it shocking that the subject of race is treated with such little regard for some of these points. But, I accept that the debate has to continue in order for us to become more enlightened about how these ideas work.

    Indeed, I learned back in undergrad of the need for values clarification, as a key part of examination subjects of this nature. The problem, however, sets in when there is no recognition that the ideas which constitute your own values may well be flawed (?) insofar as they proclaim legitimacy from certain institutions of beliefs about the world. It is sad but true.

    So, thanks for the point, Shirley.

  66. 66 Xie_Ming
    April 26, 2008 at 15:36

    The Bush blow-up footage was by a news organization and thus copyrighted (It may have been ABC). His comments must have been picked up by a directional mike, for the video was from some forty feet away. The staffers were open-mouthed!

    In a blog of some 500 people, only one other person claimed to have seen it.

    One with the time and inclination could probably check “White House physician”, etc, and get closer to identifying the date. It would be instructive for everyone to see it.

    ____________________________

    Without wasting time, are there those who really believe that Bush personally should be trusted with a nuclear button?

    [Remember that Kissinger, as National Security Advisor, was said to have told the JCS to ignore any orders for war coming from the boozing Nixon]

  67. 67 Xie_Ming
    April 26, 2008 at 15:43

    RPJS:

    Before “values”, there are beliefs and then there are “core beliefs”.

    Core beliefs are things we assume as fact and that we do not recognize as belief.

    These come from our early cultural surroundings.

    Would you want references?

  68. 68 Will Rhodes
    April 26, 2008 at 15:49

    viola anderson April 25, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    On the theme of police using deadly force, I wonder if other countries are having a national discussion about the use of tasers by the police.

    The event was taped by a bystander with his cell phone and released to the press after the RCMP, which had confiscated it, was forced to release it.. Millions watched it.

    Canadians all across the country were outraged, not only because a man was killed but also because there was no effort to engage with the man in any way other than tasering him and because no translator accompanied the officers so they could talk to him. The discussion of this horrendous event has been going on for months here in Canada.

    I have left you a link, Viola – it in turn there is a link to the full story.

    It seems that in the US arming MORE people is the answer to stopping other people who are armed.

    Logical?

    http://willrhodes1961.wordpress.com/2008/04/25/guns-to-stop-guns/

  69. 69 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    April 26, 2008 at 15:52

    Xie-ming:

    I am a little lost. What are you referring to? I am curious? I noted where you asked if I wanted referrences. However, I was not certain in reference to what. Please clarify.

    In the meantime, @ Mark. Perhaps you may consider sending this one entry in two parts? Just a thought. Interesting reading, but surely very long. Mark Sandell said earlier this week there would be no publishing of our essays. I have been mindful myself, as I do not always make short entries. However, it is worth remembering.

  70. 70 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    April 26, 2008 at 16:02

    Xie_Ming:

    Gotcha! Just read the order of the entries…Sure! Bring it on, is always my position in these things.

    From where I sit, I think that values and beliefs and all the rest that goes with it are things that, over time, require some revision, especially when some of our beliefs – core or otherwise, are proven to be problematic. That is not to say we reject our ideas out of hand, as they sustain us after all.

    Rather, it is to say that sometimes we end up believing stuff that might not turn out to be so useful, truthful or even factual let alone relevant or even fair to others, over time. This is especially in light of more recent advances in knowledge and (cultural) understandings, etc.

    Indeed, the question of (core) beliefs sounds more to me like matters of faith, which I am not always certain is a very logical enough basis for making some decision about as critical a set of issues like social justice, the law and public access, etc.

    We have to adopt a more rational, fair, balanced and tolerant approach under such circumstances, I think. And, trust that our actions synch with our very noble intentions in this regard.

  71. 71 Xie_Ming
    April 26, 2008 at 16:11

    Lubna:

    Your questions about mind power are something that a forthcoming physician should take seriously.

    First of all, anything that reduces stress is measurably good for the immune system. Thus, prayer, calming music, happy thoughts, etc., all help.

    There was a best-selling book called “The Power of Positive Thinking”.

    One has to have a goal in mind in order to get somewhere.

    The evidence that we take into consideration guides our action. Noting positive things helps toward a positive goal.

    Evolution has made our system more sensitive to threat, so we pay more attention to negative things.

    There seem also to be brain waves that we know nothing about. Some Japanese scientists have recently made experiments wherein thought could direct a computer pointer.

    Some people, under hypnosis, can have their movements directed at a distance.

    Animals and at least one human I observed, can sometimes react to a threatening situation far behind them.

    So, the mind has capabilities that we do not yet understand fully.

  72. April 26, 2008 at 16:18

    rawpoliticsjamaicastyle and Shirley

    Great points on racism. I was aware of how big of problem racism amongst minorities is, especially blacks based on the darkness of their skin. I have seen this time and time again in the city.
    Thank you for the insightful comments!

    Regards,
    Brett ~ Richmond, Va

  73. 73 selena
    April 26, 2008 at 16:21

    Victor K.

    You did not identify any of the values which you believe Western civilization holds that are superior to other civilizations.

    You say(If the leading characteristics of a civilisation are social life, politics, culture, spiritual life, and economic management, and if we judge a civilisation by its human product, the quality of human being that it leads to, and the values that they live by, then the West’s position is inevitable compared to what rival civilisations and sub-civilisations have to offer.)

    In what way is the social life, politics, culture, spiritual life, economic management and especial the values people live by superior in the West?

    Be specific.

  74. 74 VictorK
    April 26, 2008 at 16:42

    @ Lubna: I think you mistake the nature of the US-Israel connection. It’s one that largely depends on links between policy-making elites in both countries more than it does on any extra special affinity between the two states.

    There are plenty of American critics of the relationship between the two countries. They argue from the perfectly sensible perspective that the US ought, in its relations with other countries, to first and foremost consider American interests, and that this does not appear to be happening with Israel.

    Consider the following article by Pat Buchanan

    http://www.amconmag.com/03_24_03/cover.html

    Hillary Clinton’s amazing statement that she’d launch a nuclear attack on Iran if that country struck at Israel with nuclear weapons is just the kind of thing that raises eyebrows and causes concern. It’s obviously in Israel’s interest for the US to adopt such a line, whether in order to deter or to punish, but it’s far from clear that it is in America’s national interest to take such a position. If the US drops nuclear bombs on Iran it should be because America’s security interests point to that course of action.

    The claim of Buchanan and other paleoconservatives that America’s foreign policy re Israel and Palestine is overly influenced by special interest groups seems to be borne out by the evidence (for example, the neocons’ identifying a set of nations for ‘regime change’ – i.e. invasion and forced democratisation – who just happened to be Israel’s chief enemies. One of these, as you’ll know, was Iraq). This is much more than just a matter of ‘friendship’.

    And you really ought to look at the larger picture and not only the American section of the canvass. What about the Arab and Muslim states of the world? What is the nature of their relationship to the Palestinians and their cause? Are they any more honest-brokers who can take an impartial view and advise the Palestinians according to their best interests or attempt to correct them when they are doing something that’s manifestly wrong (such as the launching of rockets into Israel)? I’ve yet to hear an unqualified condemnation of that from any Muslim state, or from any Muslim for that matter. Their case is even worse than that of the US: uncritical support for the Palestinians based on atavistic racial and religious solidarity. However mistaken American administrations may be in their support of Israel, there are at least other channels of criticism. There has been no such criticism of the Palestinians by the Arab League or the Islamic Conference, and there is no culture of criticism in most of the countries of the Arab/Muslim world to offset that. And it gets worse: there is clearly an unofficial policy of never publicly criticising other Arab/Muslim countries, however blatantly wrong their conduct. Where was the criticism of Saddam and his domestic and international policies, the late Assad of Syria, the chaos the PLO caused in Jordan and Lebanon, the problems that Assad junior is creating in Lebanon today, the madness of the Iranian leadership in threatening nuclear war with Israel, the slaughter and rape in Darfur…etc?

    Both sides need to be more critical here, the US and the Arabs/Muslims (though there is a lot less for the US to be critical about, if we are honest).

  75. 75 selena
    April 26, 2008 at 16:43

    Lubna,

    In my view thoughts have the power to change the world.

    Thoughts influence every single thing we do in our daily existence. Thoughts can be negative and toxic causing blockage and frustration or thoughts can be positive and sweet causing everything to flow unimpeded, like a river.

    But thoughts are more in that they influence the way the body reacts. When the mind is conflicted, thoughts manufacture chemicals which have a profound effect on the operation of the physical body.

    And thoughts are even more that that. Thoughts flow outside of our mind and have an effect positive or negative, on everyone around us.

    All this my opinion, of course!!! 🙂

  76. 76 Xie_Ming
    April 26, 2008 at 16:47

    We have another “cause of the week” about to come to its fruition: the seal hunt.

    Brigitte Bardot has long campaigned for this and the European Parliament is supposed to be ready to ban seal products.

    Cod fish, which used to feed millions of people, are terribly reduced and prices quite high.

    Baby seals make nice photographs, but grow into big seals who eat tons of fish.

    Would you rather eat fish or look at photos of baby seals?

    Please explain your decision.

  77. 77 Xie_Ming
    April 26, 2008 at 17:04

    Leubna:

    I liked your idea about Mind Power and wrote you a commentary.

    If it has been lost, I will try to write it again.

  78. 78 kathi25
    April 26, 2008 at 17:13

    @ Xie-Ming:

    The reason why cod fish is highly reduced is very simple: extrem overfishing. There have always been seals around who fed on cod, and probably there used to be more seals than there are now, but only when whole armadas of fishing ships emptied our seas did fish get scarce. Some stocks are now up to 95% depleted, and that has absolutely nothing to do with the amount a seal or a whale eats. I rather have one baby seal groing into a fish eating hunter than a baby seal-fur coat around my shoulders and something other than cod for dinner.

    Love, Katharina

  79. 79 kathi25
    April 26, 2008 at 17:21

    @ Lubna and Selena:

    I totally agree with what you wrote about the power of thought, you can see it again and again in sport competitions. One excellent example for this is the following: about six years ago, when I still lived in Canada, I watched an ice hockey game where Montreal had already won the first three games (“best out of seven”) and then, in the fourth game, they first were already in the lead but then the other team turned the game around and won in overtime. From that moment on it was “game over” for Montreal, they only needed to win one more game but in their minds they had already lost and thus it became a self fulfilling prophecy.

    In everyday-life, we have to face disappointments and difficult situations time and again, and the only thing to bring us through them is our decision, not to give up.I`m sure that Lubna can give a couple of excellent examples for this.

    We also hear often about people on their death bed who wait until a loved one makes it to them so that they can say goodbye, my husbands mother was one case of that.

    Mind without flesh cannot exist, but flesh without mind is totally useless.

    Love, Katharina

  80. 80 selena
    April 26, 2008 at 17:43

    I am too passionate about the “baby” seal issue to write about it. Suffice to say it is a question of people adopting a cause about which they know nothing.

  81. 81 viola anderson
    April 26, 2008 at 18:01

    Thank you, Will, for your response to my post on the use of tasers by RCMP in Canada. I think the real fear in this country is that, because the taser is viewed as a non-lethal weapon, officers may be too quick to rely on it even in situations that call for a less violent intervention. That leads to fear that officers have begun to use it as a safe way to ensure compliance in situations where neither the officer (or officers) involved nor the public are endangered. Some view the use of tasers in this regard as a shortcut which creates dumber and meaner officers who no longer have to think about the best way to handle any given situation.

    Those are some of the issues I’ve seen discussed in the commentary sections of newspapers across Canada. Mrs. Djikansky (spelling?) lost her son and there is no compensation or consolation adequate for that, but I am heartened by the Canadian people’s concern and response to her son’s unnecessary death. Hopefully, this national discussion will result in that kind of thing never happening again.

  82. April 26, 2008 at 18:02

    Hi good Agostihno and Katharina my love… And hi good VictorK, hope you’re doing Ok. As for your comment, I do believe that ALL sides must be hold responsible for their actions, and the wrongful acts committed by ALL sides must be condemned equally and strongly. But I do also believe that the greatest responsibility in this context lies on the shoulders of Israel. Ask me why ?! Because Israel is obviously the more powerful and support-gainer side in this conflict. And the more powerful you become, the more serious your mistakes would become… With power must come responsibility, rationality, and wisdom. All these things can control power and put it in the right direction. Overreaction, aggression, causing the murdering of tens of innocent civilians just to kill only one or two militants, slaughtering the person who’s slapped you on your cheek. Can we call all this ‘responsible power’?! I strongly condemn the murdering of any innocent Israeli civilian, no matter the excuses or the justifications are. Good VictorK, can you feel the same about innocent Palestinian casualties ?! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  83. 83 kathi25
    April 26, 2008 at 18:14

    Dear Shirley and Lubna.

    “The power of the mind. I believe that the true `ulama are also `urafa (as relates to the study of `irfan). I love the stories that I hear of the connection between our `ulama and Imam Mahdi, and I enjoy the juicy tidbits such as the one `alim who wrote a note to some infestatious insects telling them to leave, and the insects left.`

    Please don`t get me wrong, but all the other bloggers (or at least those of us who don`t speak Arabic) have not clue what you`re talking about. In the interest of all of us I ask you to stick to English.

    Thank you both a lot and great blogging from both of you!

    Love, Katharina

  84. 84 Xie_Ming
    April 26, 2008 at 18:24

    RPJS:

    If you want to go into it more, then I can post more detailed references.

    “The terms “belief”, “attitude” and “value” are ill-defined. An “attitude” may be a predisposition to consistently classify things and respond to them. Attitudes can be held with different intensities, and determine our reactions. Some attitudes may be unconscious or ambivalent. “Central values” might refer to role expectations- what the culture expects of us.

    Beliefs are assumptions absorbed from parents and the surrounding culture. Views of self and of reality are core beliefs that we do not even recognize as beliefs. Imbuing children with the traditional worldview helps the stability of the culture. The individual’s understanding of “reality” is thus in large part inter-subjectively derived.

    Challenging belief threatens the individual’s life. Belief is integral to the identity and psychic life of the individual, as well as to his worldview and consequent actions. Thus, a perceived threat to that belief system will be a threat to the “life” of the individual and he will wish to destroy that threat. From Ideology’s Handbook (Athabascan Academic, 2005) pg. 19.

    The Pew Value Survey (q.v.) attempts to identify and rank values in different areas all over the World. It is a reference that anyone interested should check on the internet.

  85. 85 viola anderson
    April 26, 2008 at 18:33

    I have a question: If someone makes a really good argument for or against something, is it still a good argument if it turns out that the person is part of a group that you believe are the bad guys?

  86. 86 Gerard Voon
    April 26, 2008 at 18:33

    April 4th, 2008

    Gerard Voon

    How The Stock Market Should Essentially Work Economy

    If stock market prices (including real estate – housing) growth are in line with fundamental drivers (especially long term – corrections (profit taker investors) should cover short term blips/volatility). And temporary confidence/sentiment/perception loss/irrational, the government might want to consider intervening by balancing, keeping inflation lower than (USA currency would fall if inflation – prices were to rise), then the government’s strategy should be to ensure the GDP, overall/all country’s stock exchanges/market growth is higher than inflation. The idea of a decoupling (if a USA recession might cause a contagion) effect in simple terms is result of level of dependence on trade and investment (another reason saving Bear Stearns was important) between major trading countries…dependence of exports/imports where USA is a major importer of China’s products, but then there is the other side of the coin, whereby China is only vulnerable where China’s total GDP is not very large (not as many large importers of their goods to spread dependence on that are also not very dependent – decoupled from USA that rely on USA to export their own goods and services). The goal of the major economies of the world should be through global economic growth, perhaps the largest potential for growth for the economy is good ideas that create the most value by increasing efficiency/productivity of companies/employees…products/services that can create whole new markets (eg. the internet and the communications/entertainment market).

  87. 87 Gerard Voon
    April 26, 2008 at 18:35

    MY CERTIFICATION MODEL TO SAVE FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND THEIR MORTGAGEE AND LOAN CLIENTS…

    When a bank enters crisis with illiquidity from over exposure to sub prime, eg. overleveraged and not highly credit worthy clients and overly leveraged risky derivatives, they can enable other financial institutions (and government guarantees) to bail themselves out by opting for the certification process whereby their books are audited for anymore sub prime and/or derivatives exposure that might not have been accounted for to date (eliminating further future write downs). Therefore the financial institutions orchestrating the bail out can not only avoid downside risk almost completely and avoid losing their money, but are able to offer the same certainty over the long run to investors who see the value in the undervalued bank (being bailed out) that when crisis hits usually causes an undue panic/fear selling in bank stock shares (corporate bonds where applicable) and deposit withdrawals that far exceeds the rational investment reactions (irrational sentiment). Once certified any and all investors/depositors can invest in banks that have no sub prime/derivatives time bomb (GV GP) that will hit the investors/depositors in the future. Furthermore the government can guarantee the debts (perhaps 30% which is a common debt to equity ratio in the real estate industry) the aim is to buy time (while keeping the weak parts of the economy stable) until the the economy rises again without actually spending or subsidizing the money away. Those banks that voluntarily opt for certification are basically putting on paper that that they can put behind this fiasco/headache and get back to doing business.

    Re: Sub Prime/Derivatives/Corporate Bonds

    I have several solutions that could probably if used together could solve this economic crisis.

    To the SEC and major Accounting Companies (also to create an impartial body of experts that can be a think tank) on how to regulate future bubbles and new financial instruments especially the highly leveraged with the tip off that are making huge returns on investments (ROI) suggesting and big risk downside if the stock market behaves in the extreme of the way the trader’s strategy was counting on…and continued the market continued to behave in that direction, and the trader tries to cover their losses by betting further that the market will bounce back… The Body said above will do an audit that will evaluate/estimate the size of not yet announced sub prime exposure of finance companies. Certifying size of total sub prime relative to increase in sales making the finance company that may be under valued because of lack of certainty. The idea is that those that get certified and turn out with less exposure will succeed most. Investors have peace of mind. The exposure could be ranked by risk (sub prime or derivative might) factors such as risk profile/credit worthiness of mortgagees eg. credit rating, net worth (overall debt to credit balance sheet – and the liquidity versus locked in) income earnings potential (possibly scrutinized by an impartial head hunter), co-signor(s) (credit worthiness), and collateral.

    Investors have the assurance that the finance companies mortgages of sub prime and/or exposure to bonds and/or exposure to very leveraged risky investments are audited, and there is very unlikely any more bad news from these 3 primary hindrance(s) to what should be a renaissance of world economic growth.

    Certification could further be used to value companies with good advantages, eg. leader in technology and low costs who’s stock price are undervalued but are strategically important (eg. Nortel…).

    Furthermore since certified companies (eg. finance companies that have proven little sub prime exposure), can stand on their own in the face of a uncertain market, and won’t fall to the domino effect, then the government only need focus on the uncertified companies for bailouts (with the red flag 10% to 150% at a cap of 80% per year, system in the paragraph directly above). And can even work with the certified companies to help with uncertified companies (when their sub prime exposure is made known).

  88. 88 Gerard Voon
    April 26, 2008 at 18:36

    MORE ON TEH CERTIFICATION MODEL

    Dealing with the Financial/Real Estate – Sub Prime/Corporate Bonds issued by over leveraged Private Equity firms Crisis: We create a separate auditing body with Finance Experts in particular field that are under crisis to deal unravel the workings of new important problems (eg. when the High Tech sector were in a bubble; if the real estate were in a bubble; derivatives; bonds for private equity investors; bonds for mortgages; rogue traders; loopholes in traders given too much authority to singly make risky decisions – especially if the trader is a star only in the recent past by making risky investments such as derivatives trading or betting on market timing which may presents the risk/return dilema, just because the trader is a star because he makes big money a few times, there is a large probability he can lose a lot on money too). The Auditors could come from SEC, companies accounting, our best University Business/Economic professors – to thoroughly audit and trace (of discrepancies especially) trades to cover wrong (market rise/fall) to try to earn lost money back. By offering the Financial Institutions CERTIFICATIONS that basically audit the amount and risky mortgages (eg. credit past history, net worth, incomes expectations, co-signor, collateral and debt/equity leverage) of sub prime mortgage exposure as soon as possible, we are able to ell which Financial Institutions are healthy and which (might need further right downs in the future and therefore potential candidates for bail out). More importantly investors are able to tell which finance companies are safe – therefore taking away the uncertainty of future sub prime write downs which leads to the UNCERTAINITY (of future) of the ensuing spill over effect of lack of USA (Buying) market and cooling off Stock Markets worldwide

  89. 89 Gerard Voon
    April 26, 2008 at 18:37

    SAVING BEAR STEARNS

    There are three main problems all caused by uncertainty…investors unsure about investing in USA bonds, housing, currency (probably because of the heavy debt the USA is carrying – since debt is often used as an indicator ability to pay back…, finance companies (which are the handle fuel – the reason I believe Bear Stearns bail out was a good idea because if go to any where in the world businesses/economies are driven by and even desired for most Finance Institutions with such a big name – put into perspective, Bear Stearns was an aberration caused by irrational fear)…if these sectors/industries fall, it may spread into the entire bourse and then other bourses worldwide. This spreading is believed to be caused by markets depending on each other for exports, especially USA of which manufacturing – China; Services – India and Bread Basket (bio crops) – Africa…needs USA market, although as their buying power to population grows (although this argument is controversial) apparently USA is less and less the buying engine to the world.

  90. 90 Gerard Voon
    April 26, 2008 at 18:38

    MORE ON BEAR STEARNS

    Bailing out of Bear Stearns because Bear Stearns placed too much investment proportion of funds on sectors that have not been dealt with/experienced with before is a good idea. Bear Stearns except for this recent mistake in investing in instruments whose implications they did not understand but saw their competitors making a lot of money on these types of financial instruments is an understandable mistake (as long as they don’t repeat the same mistake and what fool would in the same sector and the same risk factors – where there is less term investors’ (client’s) to invest in the financial instruments (the Structural Financing Dept.) demand out in the world (caused by fear and uncertainty that are the result recent spate of Major Banks Citigroup… sub prime writedowns, illiquidity) relative to oversupply because for Private Equity recipients of corporate bonds to finance their deals. However, since Bear Stearns and Citigroup have handled all other areas of financing (competently) for so long and are more than brand name but are a prestigious platform, and are head quartered in USA and have their large financings in USA, it is in the interest of USA to keep the afloat and as discussed below financial hubs are what leads to successful businesses, and jobs which increase better quality of life for the most people. Probably more importantly bailing out Bear Stearns is an indicator for potential investors that the government will fight to key financial institutions from failing and even prevent irrational panic domino effect. And to satisfy investors there is a floor and eventual long term chance to recoup. One other thing that could be done is create something like 3 strikes red flag a 150% (max) at a cap per year of 80% of fair appraisal of the value of the company rule, where companies are given 150% (max) at a cap per year of 80% chance of its appraised value (eg. discounted income stream and or imputed asset values) whereby the first time bail out is possibly 10% to 150% at a cap of 80% per year the balance can be used for bail out later years…and like automobile insurance policy the red flag (premium) is slowly cleared away as the company goes year after year without bail outs.

  91. 91 Gerard Voon
    April 26, 2008 at 18:39

    Furthermore On Bear STearns

    Selective bail outs could be done for companies (finance companies) down stream to the mortagagees, though I personally believe that finance companies that should be healthy such as Bear Stearns should be bailed out as all companies /economies in the world depend on financing. The companies that receive this financing turn their budget into profits (added value) which as well as flowing into job creation, also grow the world economy (import/exports). I suppose to be fair, bail outs could be first come first serve.

  92. 92 Gerard Voon
    April 26, 2008 at 18:40

    Dealing WIth Rogue Traders
    To track rogue trader(s) you can start with the symptoms – the losses. Starting with the people in charge authorized to trade large amounts (who authorized a lower level trader, and/or let the trade(s) slip by without meticulous duty of care when dealing with large amounts of money). Back to the tracking of those responsible, submit all losses accrued (noting the larger ones because it is harder to get away with fraud if you have to do it many times versus a few large transactions). Furthermore each authorized personnel that are allowed to trade large trades are audited for frequent trades that over a time in the same direction can lead to large losses of large trades in what can be considered mistakes (in timing (GP)) in judgement (of never seen such hot demand for derivatives instruments and housing and risky sub prime investments both of which are leveraged eg. corporate bonds) driven by (initially) by greed and brokers feeling the need to compete (in sectors where the biggest money was being made) then by desperation buy even more to cover losses in the hopes that the new strategies that made them lots of money will recover.

    Traders that are not authorized or traders that are authorized – the amount risk they take caused by period of high risk taking investments, (highly leveraged) and bubble (don’t know when to stop) while being driven to continue to increase performance by taking on high risk investments that made money for a while in the recent past. Perpetuate the same strategy…Because of recent past decrease in market leaves the financiers overexposed to committed high performing sectors (eg. Sub Prime; Bonds) where in the past the financiers were highly rewarded leading to over relying on high returns (leading to over leaning on) the belief in these bubble (booming sectors (sub prime, bonds…) heavily weighted exposure for expected high returns.

  93. 93 Gerard Voon
    April 26, 2008 at 18:41

    Theory of Real Estate?

    Central Business Distract Land and high density as well as Urban Sprawl for commuters are non-renewable, you can’t produce more land near the CBD, therefore land prices should rise again, the question is 1.) when will it rise above the prices paid for by buyers pre-sub prime crisis 2.) how long will it take for investors to get over their fear of being burnt given this sub prime crisis 3.) the growth of other sectors of the economy (of which finance companies can participate via investment) that cause incomes to rise, driving up cost of housing in desirable locations – noting that market prices are a product of competing buyers versus sellers and who are more motivated.

  94. 94 kathi25
    April 26, 2008 at 18:49

    Dear all,

    I just approved 7 posts from Gerard because I promised him that if he breaks up his monster post into pieces, it would get out. The problem is still that his post has actually very little to do with what we were discussing all day. If you others out there want to discuss what he wrote, than that is absolutely fine by me, but otherwise I would appreciate it if you could more or less stick to the topics that are out there already. I fear that otherwise this Blank Page becomes too spread out.

    Agosthino, do you agree?

  95. April 26, 2008 at 18:54

    Hi Shirley my love, good Xie-Ming, Kathi my love, and Selena my love. Thanks a million to all of you my precious friends for responding to my topic ‘The power of thoughts’. I do really appreciate it. And I do totally agree with all of you guys. In fact, a very nice story has happened to me a while ago. At dawn, I dreamed of a very cute male infant who was laughing heartily, and when I woke up I was really really happy and said to myself ‘Yeah, this is gonna be a perfect day !’, and I had really a perfect day that day, not only according to Iraqi standards but also according to International standards :-). With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  96. 96 Xie_Ming
    April 26, 2008 at 19:14

    Leubna:

    I want to be “precious” Xie_Ming, rather than
    “good” Xie_Ming”!!
    _________________________________—

    Viola:

    Considerations of “ad hominem”, “poisoning the wells”, and “argument from authority” all bear on your “good guys and bad guys” question.

    There is always the human tendency to stereotype the “other”- and this comes from evolutionary necessity.

    Belief and attitude also enter. This is a case where you should offer an essay for assessment.

  97. 97 selena
    April 26, 2008 at 19:22

    Gerard, for someone like myself who is not an economist, can you give a brief outline of your model in three or four sentences?

    Thank you.

  98. 98 selena
    April 26, 2008 at 19:25

    Hope you don’t mind my asking Gerard the question, Kathi. I sent it before I saw your post.

  99. 99 kathi25
    April 26, 2008 at 19:31

    No problem Selena, it`s good that it came from you because there are 5 (!) more posts from him waiting for approval, but I`m not sure that I want to fill so much space with it. I also would appreciate if Gerard could give us a brief version of his very exhaustive view of the economy.

  100. 100 viola anderson
    April 26, 2008 at 19:38

    Lubna: I am intrigued by your post on the issue of a disproportionate Israeli response to what you perceive to be a small threat from a small power (Palestinian) and I believe that your argument is based on the assumption that Israel is, indeed, a huge power in the world.

    Using another image to illustrate where I think your reasoning is faulty: The implication is that it is acceptable for a small person (who doesn’t have as much as a large person) is justified and has a right to attack the larger person as long as the smaller person’s attack inflicts less damage than the larger person’s capacity to inflict damage.

    Is that a fair restating of what you said? If you don’t answer my question, I will accept that you don’t want to debate the issue.

  101. 101 Lars
    April 26, 2008 at 19:45

    Lubna

    Yes, as far as a butterfly effect with regards to Iraq and how it spillsover and colours relations and perceptions now.

    Have you ever noticed how young children react to violence on TV news, for example? Mine tend to get fidgety and I envitably change the channel to something more soothing. So yes.

  102. 102 Xie_Ming
    April 26, 2008 at 19:58

    Between Syria and Egypt there is a very great power, supported by American arms and money and a treaty of assistance (not widely publicized) from the USA is all contingencies.

    To understand the US activity, check the Mersheimer and Walt report on the internet- which outlines the virtual control of the US Congress by the Israeli Lobby.

    Against this are a very poor and victimized people who are being gradually driven from their homes by a relentless ideology-driven ethnic cleansing.

    After all the smoke clears, the Israeli claim reduces to “ours by right of conquest”.

    Only help and pressure from the international community can, at this point, save the Palestinians from the relentless Israeli aggression.

    A major aspect of Islam is respect for justice. I believe that this characterizes Western liberals also. But, those of good will must have access to facts and intense efforts are made to prevent this.

    gush-shalom.org is a fine Israeli website and has a free newsletter for those interested in the situation.

  103. 103 selena
    April 26, 2008 at 20:12

    Viola, from your post to Lubna, I get the impression that you do not perceive Israel to be a big power in the world.

    If that is the case, how do you see Israel in relation to the world?

  104. 104 Will Rhodes
    April 26, 2008 at 20:19

    Viola

    Those are some of the issues I’ve seen discussed in the commentary sections of newspapers across Canada. Mrs. Djikansky (spelling?) lost her son and there is no compensation or consolation adequate for that, but I am heartened by the Canadian people’s concern and response to her son’s unnecessary death. Hopefully, this national discussion will result in that kind of thing never happening again.

    In Halifax similar things happened and there was an inquiry which led to the RCMP not using these ‘non-lethal’ weapons sparingly and when they were actually needed and not just to bring the suspect down – and so far it has worked.

  105. April 26, 2008 at 21:24

    Hi Viola my love. Thanks soooooo much for your comment. And yeah, I do really wanna debate this matter. I said that Israel is the more powerful and support-gainer side IN THIS CONFLICT, not in the whole world as you assumed. Israel is surely a very huge power in the Middle East right ?! And obviously you didn’t read my post well. I said that the wrongful acts committed by ALL sides in the Holy Lands must be condemned equally and strongly. But you and all other good WHYSayers must realise that perfect formula to create an extremist is hunger+isolation+despairation+hopelessness. The horrific ordeal of the Palestinian people can NEVER be denied, it’s just sooooooo huge to be denied. But I’m also able to say that the senseless murdering of many Israeli civilians is NEVER justifiable, NEVER. I’m able to see the human suffering on both sides of the conflict. Many of my people are unable to see the Israeli suffering, as many of your people Viola are unable to see the Palestinian suffering. Why ?! Why ?! Human life is sacred Viola, whether in the Gaza strip or in Haifa… And to Precious Xie-Ming I say : THANK YOU :-). With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  106. 106 Gerard Voon
    April 26, 2008 at 21:30

    Dear Katharina,

    I kind of thought the meaning of Blank Page was to bring up potential issues that are pressing and relevant to us all.

    Maybe you could explain what topics – Blank Page 4 involves.

    To me the most important issues of our time right now is saving the economy.

    The economy is a matter of geo-political strength to safeguard democracy through the benefits of capitalism (such as buying power)…

  107. 107 Gerard Voon
    April 26, 2008 at 21:31

    PS. Thanks for letting me post…good heart

  108. 108 kathi25
    April 26, 2008 at 21:54

    Dear Gerard,

    You are right, in principal the Blank Page is open to all topics, *but*: it it not meant to make speeches (see good governance) or post blogs that take really, really long to read (view it as lack of patience on my side, if you will).

    Also, since there are quite a few different topics being discussed already, where I personally have the feeling that we are spreading out too much, I would appreciate if we all could pull together and focus a little more.

    The main topics at the moment are: Israel, teaser guns, eonomy, strength of mind, drugs, interference from other countries in inner-state problems, and maybe something else that I`ve missed now.

    There are two suggestions that I have, for Gerard especially but also in general: First, could you put the topic in the top line and then your comments, and the second: No less then three lines, not more than about the length of the screen.

    If this sounds like a good idea, you don`t need to tell me, just follow 😉

    Love, Katharina

  109. 109 selena
    April 26, 2008 at 22:00

    Gerard, I read you posts and you are right the state of the economy is the most important thing facing us today.

    We have more or less decided not to post essays here. So, in order to begin a layperson’s discussion we need to have an layperson’s understanding of what you are saying.

    Could you say in a few words for the uninitiated, like myself, what saving the economy entails. 🙂

    It seems to me that the reason we are in this economic mess is because no one really understood what the few persons at the top were doing. Would your model prevent that happening again? How?

  110. 110 viola anderson
    April 26, 2008 at 22:05

    Selena, you have asked a good question and I will answer it to the best of my ability. I perceive Israel to be a nation formed in response to world-wide (not just European) maltreatment of Jewish peoples. A significant segment of Jewish peoples feared they would never be accepted by any country on an equal basis and would eventually be discriminated against. That thesis was confirmed for them with the rise of Naziism in enlightened Germany prior to World War II I perceive Jewish peoples’ overriding concern to be survival and that the formation of Israel is another attempt to ensure that survival.

    I perceive Israel as a small nation with many enemies. As a small nation intent on the survival of world Jewry, it quite naturally seeks the protection of friendly powerful nations.

    I perceive that they got a toehold on survival when Israel came into existence as a national homeland and refuge and “they ain’t lettin’ go.” Until the world changes, they can’t afford to let go. That seems like reality to me, and I’m not even Jewish, though I must admit I like Jewish humor.

    I don’t consider myself to be “Jew struck” as I perceive some to be “Palestinian struck” when they ignore or deny historical events. That is why I think it is crucial for the different parties interested in this issue to come to some agreement with respect to historical events. Denial of historical events shuts the door to meaningful, fruitful dialogue. Sometimes I despair that it is even possible when there is so much ill will in the world.

  111. 111 Xie_Ming
    April 26, 2008 at 22:14

    Voon:

    Summarize your argument in five short sentences.

    (Abstracts are almost always less than 200 words).

    Your papers are too long and too disorganized to even skim.

    If the abstract is clear and interesting, one might read all that exposition- otherwise, NOT A GLANCE, and please, without the abstract, NO MORE!.

  112. 112 Gerard Voon
    April 26, 2008 at 22:31

    Saving the Economy:

    1. Sub Prime Crisis

    Investors institutional/individual (inclduing bank to bank) and depositors are suffering from same thing – UNCERTAINITY about more sub prime exposure appearing in the future.

    To remove the uncertainity we Create a Certification program an in which the SEC, and major accounting firms join (an authoritative impartial organization/body) that audit the banks (voluntary audits) financial exposure (extent and risk levels explained in earlier blogs)to sub prime. Then there is no future sub prime mess to make apperances in the future for the CERTIFIED banks. WIth no threat of future sub prime banks, these certified banks can drive the markets into healthy growth by getting back to business and making profits for themselves and furthermore lending/financing to businesses that will make profits themselves and escalate economic growth.

    No more sub prime write downs that rock confidence of investors/depositors leading to panic runs on deposits and potential (insolvency GP). The investors need to know that the biggest threat for financial institutions right now is the sub prime crisis and can rest easy (safely) that certified financial institutions are exempt of this threat showing its face in the future.

    This certification program can be used for any and (all bubbles GP)…(explained in my previous blogs). Including corporate bonds.

  113. 114 viola anderson
    April 26, 2008 at 22:48

    Dear Lubna: I did actually read all of your post and I do understand that you are a humanitarian who does not hate others or wish them harm. Plus you understand that a “tit for tat” response between opposing forces is not a solution to anything.

    In response, I have to say that you certainly misunderstood me if you think I don’t value Palestinian lives as highly as I value Israeli lives. I value life, period, for everyone and I believe everyone should value life.

    As to whether I believe Israel to be a huge power in the middle east, I ask why should it not be? When you ask me that question, and tie it to the concept of the greater power’s, Israel’s, greater responsibility with regard to its responses in defending its people against rocket and other types of attacks, I can’t help thinking you condemn Israel’s response more than you condemn the attacks that the response is trying to stop.

    I agree that the Palestinians have gotten the short end of the stick, but I can’t agree that Israel bears all the responsibility for that. Again that is where the issue of an agreement on historical events is crucial in order for dialogue to go forward and be fruitful.

    Peace to you and yours.

  114. 115 viola anderson
    April 26, 2008 at 22:51

    Xie__Min: Let me see if I understand what you mean by “poisoning the well.” Isn’t that what you have tried to do by accusing WHYS of an anti-Islam, pro-Israel bias?

  115. 116 Will Rhodes
    April 26, 2008 at 23:21

    hunger+isolation+despairation+hopelessness

    That was Iraq before the invasion wasn’t it?

    Are we going to fall into an Israel Vs the Middle-East debate again?

  116. 117 selena
    April 26, 2008 at 23:42

    Viola,

    Thank you for your response.

    The Jews were dealt a harsh blow and that blow was from countries which ignored their plight during the Second World War.

    Do you think those countries might be trying to assuage their consciences now, much the same as we throw money at the Aboriginals for the wrongs done to them?

    There is no excuse for hatred, no matter whence it arises. There is no reason for one single person to be excluded from the conversation. A single death is an affront to humanity!

    There can never be peace until we realize we are in the same boat.

    Justice is not about protecting ourselves. Justice is about making sure that what happened to me does not happen to another person.

    Perhaps you would like to visit this website.

    http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/

  117. 118 selena
    April 27, 2008 at 00:24

    Will says: That was Iraq before the invasion wasn’t it?

    Selena: I have never gotten that impression. Do tell more.

    Will says: Are we going to fall into an Israel Vs the Middle-East debate again?

    Selena: I sincerely hope so. Nothing will be solved by pushing it under the rug. Don’t dismiss the others views, Will. There has been far too much of that already.

    🙂

  118. April 27, 2008 at 00:24

    @ Xie_Ming:

    Several hours overdue, I am sure the discussion has now changed to Israel and Palestine, but thanks all the same. My internet went down here. I am now writing to you from the university library. LOL!

    Useful discussion on the question of values formation and the difference between that the issues of attitudes and beliefs. For my part, I am just a believer in being as fair and as tolerant as possible. I am not so sure, though, how I feel about the question of objectivity, as I am often of the view that that is an impossible target to achieve….Just a thought!

    Many thanks.

  119. 120 steve
    April 27, 2008 at 00:28

    @ Selena

    Socialist/hipster organizations like that seem to think that ISrael is to blame for every problem in the middle east. I remember seeing an interview of some arab media person who blamed every problem on ISrael, from bad roads in Morocco to absolutely everything… It’s not all Israel’s fault.

  120. 121 Xie_Ming
    April 27, 2008 at 00:48

    “Posioning the wells” is a technique of discrediting a source from whom one does not like the facts that are presented.

    Thus, if WHYS management were presenting pro-Israel arguments itself, then one could claim such. When it acts as a filter, allowing only pro-Israel material through and conciously suppressing counter- facts one may say that it is “unbalanced” , or biased.

    Since it is not itself posting material, I would not claim that it was a poisoned source.

    Taking the Ed Murrow example previously introduced, should a journalist decide that he was possessed of the true revelation and had a duty to educate the public thereon himself, then one could accuse him of being a poisoned well.

    Perhaps CNN and Fox are examples of such sources, poisoned wells, on particular subjects.

    Filtering and blocking, can be claimed to reflect “editorial discretion” and many examples over time would be required to establish a consistent pattern.

  121. 122 Xie_Ming
    April 27, 2008 at 01:02

    Selena and RPJS:

    Certainly, objectivity is an impossible thing to achieve, but it is an an important goal to strive for!

    Selena’s jewishvoiceforpeace.org (URL above) is an important contribution. There are many such organizations, including Rabbis for Human Rights, the Other Israel, etc.

    Their website claims that 2/3rds of Israelis favor talks with HAMAS.
    I have always heard that the majority wanted a fair shake and and a two-state solution, but pinning down the numbers has been elusive.

    One must understand that the structure of Israeli politics gives a very strong influence to Orthodox and extremist fundmentalists.
    The “knitted skullcaps” are graduates of special education system that turns out an extremist elite.

    Check Selena’s URL for a different view of Israel.

  122. April 27, 2008 at 01:29

    Gerard
    To me the most important issues of our time right now is saving the economy.

    The economy is a matter of geo-political strength to safeguard democracy through the benefits of capitalism (such as buying power)…

    In my opinion, the most important thing is saving the environment. The economy, democracy, and all other things depend on the environment.

    This is not just a climate change issue, but a pollution problem in general and the pillaging of natural resources in an unsustainable manner.

    Ignore environmental issues all you want, in the end it will come back and bite you, and when it does, it will bite hard.

    Regards,
    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  123. 125 Xie_Ming
    April 27, 2008 at 05:09

    Selena:

    Here is a similar group in Britain, listed on the links in the BBC Mid-East news site:

    http://jewishvoices.squarespace.com/

  124. 126 kathi25
    April 27, 2008 at 08:14

    @ Brett:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I brought up the environment in my initial post about possible topics to discuss, but nobody answered to it. The closest was Xie-Ming with the cod vs. baby-seal argument.

    I believe that environmental protection has been dealt an unfair blow because of the current food crisis. All of a sudden you almost feel guilty because simple minded people (I don’t mean anyone on this forum!) are turning the debate into “I rather feed myself today and worry about the problems tomorrow”. These are probably the same people who two years ago told us that the economy can’t afford to be good to the environment and follow the Kyoto protocol.

    It’s BECAUSE we are screwing up the climate and polluting our rivers and soils that certain areas that used to be great for farming now cannot produce the crops needed anymore, be it draught, flooding or bad soil. Eco-fuel is probably not the solution for it, I believe that we need to just simply use less energy in general – which is extremely unlikely. Do you want an example?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/6188940.stm

    Sometimes it feels like a bleak world out there…

  125. 127 kathi25
    April 27, 2008 at 11:43

    Hi all,

    It’s Sunday early afternoon and my family duties are calling. I’ll be back in about three hours and until then I leave you trustingly in the hands of Agostinho.

    Love, Katharina

  126. 128 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    April 27, 2008 at 12:01

    Hi guys, I am back. However, I have to run out for about an hour and a half or so. It is Sunday morning (I am going to Mass), where I am, so I have to attend some to some duties here as well. I will be back to edit, as many comments as I can.

    Thanks, Kathi for keeping the ball a-rolling. I will comment on the environment issue later, as well!

    Cheers (a la Ros!)

    Agostinho

  127. 129 Xie_Ming
    April 27, 2008 at 13:44

    A response concerning the “cause” of banning the seal hunt correctly noted that cod stocks were reduced by 95%, largely due to over-fishing.

    Under these circumstances, the predation by seals is even more dangerous.

    The response further illustrates the emotional and irrational component of what I call the “cause of the week” phenomenon so common among those with the resources to indulge in it.

    A more general thought is that of economic modeling- attempting to set up large-scale quantitative models of the environment and economy.

    This is technically feasible, but would be anathema to politicians.

  128. 130 selena
    April 27, 2008 at 13:48

    Hey Steve, you’re back, 🙂

    The last thing I would ever do is blame everything on Israel. By the same token, I don’t blame everything on so called terrorists. Terrorists are everywhere. They reside amongst us.

    Blame is not my game. Nothing will ever change, until we stop the blame game. Blame keeps us blind! Blame corrupts the soul! Blame even destroys our health!

    The Jews deserved a homeland. There is no doubt about that!

    However even if, for arguments sake, the Jews could lay absolute claim to the land, the people who lived on it, when the state of Israel was formed, had the right not to be displaced. Squatter’s rights would give them a claim to the land, if you don’t want them to lay claim to it in any other way.

    That being said, the deed is done. If the people want peace the first thing that has to be done is acknowledge that not one singe person should have been turfed out of his/her home.

    Then serious talks about reconciliation should begin. Serious talks… not saying one thing out of one corner of the mouth while doing another to keep the situation destabilized.

    Right now the Jewish/Palestinian issue is not about peace or justice; it is about keeping status quo. There will be too much for the war mongers to lose if the situation stabilizes. And they know exactly what to do to keep people terrorized. The more riled up we become, the more they laugh.

  129. 131 selena
    April 27, 2008 at 13:58

    Hey Brett, 🙂

    The environment is not going to be saved. When we bought into the market economy, we sealed the fate of the planet. There is no going back, unless we do an about turn. And are we likely to do that?

    Gerard has a plan. But his plan, if I understood it correctly, is to keep status quo, with a kind of policing.

    We need to get back to basics and do you think we will do that until everything is destroyed?

    Even when people try to live off the land and sea, there are always some lobby groups that pop up to put a spanner in the works. Lobby groups rarely understand the interconnectedness of everything on the planet.

    We need to believe that nature can take care of herself, with our respect but without our help.

  130. 132 Xie_Ming
    April 27, 2008 at 14:47

    Selena:

    Your view was also that of the first President of Israel:

    Ben-Gurion, in 1924, said “we have no right to deprive a single Arab child, despite our aims”. With further Jewish immigration, this attitude changed.

  131. 133 Shirley
    April 27, 2008 at 15:02

    Hello, Katharina,
    I am sorry for the trouble. Even though I am an English speaker (birth & ancestry), I simply could not think of an effective way to express what I was thinking, because I was pondering Islamic concepts. Anything that has salam and ahlan in it is a greeting. “Salam” *could* be translated to English (peace), but it would not have the same impact as an Islamic greeting. As for ahlan, sahlan, and other such words and phrases, “welcome” suffices. My apologies. The “ulama” are Islamic religious scholars who have dedicated decades upon decades of their lives to the intensive study of Islam. A “marj`a” or the “maraja`” are those from among the Islamic religious scholars whose rulings a person can follow. As for `irfan and `urafa, these are even more difficult for me to express in English. I have seen `irfan translated as “gnosis.” `Urafa are those religious scholars who study `irfan. It’s so strange for me as a student of language in general, because this is one of those cases that does happen to me in which I know what I am talking about in another language, and I have the picture of it in my head, but trying to explain it in English is next to impossible. In any case, this should be the only time that I would want to discuss Islamic religious scholarship in a public space (inshallah, God willing). The word “iman” refers to belief, faith, or piety. Mukhlis is a variation of a word that refers to sincerity. Allah is God in Arabic. Imam Khumayni and Imam Mahdi are names of people. Other than the names, the opportunty to discuss thsoe concepts should not arise again in public, at least not for a long, long time, and probably not with another Muslim (which would probably entail a lengthy post, anyway, just to explain the concepts). Again, my apologies. I just didn’t have the cranial pebbles enough to try to phrase everything in English at that time.

    I did some more thinking about this during my dozing hours. Has anyone noticed how our minds flow so much more easily at night as we are drifting off to sleep. It is as if a vice had been loosened on our brains, and our thoughts are able to process so much more easily. Of course, everything that I believe onthis topic rests in my belief that only God has the divine keys to unlock the veil between the unseen and the seen. It is one of the gifts of divine guidance that he grants, in portion, to the Prophets, according to our religious belief. However, it is also our belief that the same kind of divine guidance is also sprinkled on oher highly deserving indivudals in minute portions from time to time. For example, the mother of Prophet Moses was divinely inspired (wahy, Lubna) to place baby Prophet Moses in the basket and let him float down the river. I think that all mothers have a smaller share of that same kind of thing. How else could we know that our child has chased his ball into the street and that there is a truck barreling down upon him and that we must dash out NOW and save his little baby life without even looking? (Not that any of us would not be looking, but we all get the point.) It has happened to me. I have a young friend who has heart disease. We don’t live in the same city any more, but I am sometimes able to tell when my friend is having trouble with that condition; and I’ll phone the family and ask what is going on. One of my relatives suffers various ailments related to aging, though I never realised the extent of it until I followed up on a gut feeling and phoned my family to demand some details. I truly think that women, especially mothers, are endowed with a certain power of the mind to discern certain facts of the unseen world; and I think that it is one of the gifts that God gave mothers so that they could best care for their families.

  132. 134 kathi25
    April 27, 2008 at 15:36

    Hi,

    I’m back, we had a very nice walk in the spring forest.

    Dear Selena,

    I understand that many concepts are best expressed in the original language and that it sometimes takes longer to explain all the specific terms than the general idea. (I work in science, in English as the working language, and I have a very hard time to tell my Austrian parents what it is that I’m actually doing.) It just seemed to me rather exclusive if you and Lubna start off on a discussion about certain islamic concepts, full with special terms, and we others are standing on the side and have no clue what’s going on. Perhaps Ros can set up a specific blog for the muslim bloggers among us where you can shoot away.

    What you said about mothers or relatives/friends feeling what’s going on with someone else, I certainly agree with you. Whether this is a gift from God or plain intuition, I leave to the individual to decide, I’m definitely much less religious than you are. But in any case, I experienced this with my son, and my mother with my brothers and me. It’s just natural, as a mother you invest so much energy into raising your offspring, that you get very fine-tuned to their needs and conditions.

    Love, Katharina

  133. 135 kathi25
    April 27, 2008 at 15:55

    Hi,

    of course my last comment was directed at Shirley and not Selena, I’m slowly getting confused… Sorry for the mix-up.

  134. 136 Xie_Ming
    April 27, 2008 at 16:31

    Shirley’s point is important to an earlier discussion about language defining a national culture:

    “..does happen to me in which I know what I am talking about in another language, and I have the picture of it in my head, but trying to explain it in English is next to impossible.”

    Save that and think about it!

    A French phrase that always jars me:

    “we find ourselves in the impossibility of…”

    Spanish speakers do not drop something, rather, “it fell”.

    Words are the symbols by which we describe and explain our World (at least on the left side of the brain- the right side is another
    perceptive story).

  135. 137 selena
    April 27, 2008 at 16:34

    Xie_Ming wrote “Ben-Gurion, in 1924, said “we have no right to deprive a single Arab child, despite our aims”. With further Jewish immigration, this attitude changed.”

    I was unaware of that statement. But it is obviously common sense, to me.

    Could we stop the blame game long enough to come up with a plan for peace that isn’t just same old, same old.

    There are a lot of brilliant minds posting here. Let’s propose a plan, even if they don’t take us seriously.

    If we did propose a plan, just the simple act of thinking about it and proposing it would get something different out there. Once it is out there it cannot be ignored entirely .

    Kathi,

    No problem. The two names begin with an S 😉

  136. April 27, 2008 at 16:40

    Kathi honey. I’m really soooooooo sure that lovely Shirley didn’t mean at all to disturb you or anyone with her comments. And the WHYS blog is OURS all, whether Muslims, Christians, Jews, athesits, Buddhists, ect., ect.,. We are all ONE BIG GLOBAL FAMILY. I do totally agree that the language that we should all use on this blog is English and nothing else, but I’m afraid that I do not agree at all about setting up a blog only for Muslim WHYSayers to write on. Now lovely Shirley knows that she must write only in English on this blog, so no problem right ? :-). With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  137. 139 kathi25
    April 27, 2008 at 16:51

    Hi, my dearest Lubna 😉

    I know perfectly well that you didn’t want to disturb us or anything like that, and of course we’re one big global family, that’s why I love this blog so much. My suggestion about a seperate blog was just meant as one of the many blogs that are going on at the moment, as in “Obama’s skin colour” or “Be good to your husband”. This one could be called: “What’s really written in the Koran and what does it mean?”

    I’m sure we others could learn a lot from it.

    Best, Katharina

  138. 140 Xie_Ming
    April 27, 2008 at 17:33

    In today’s English, we would call that separate thing a “thread”.

    Selena:

    Your desire to put together an action plan and group is great-
    however:

    Tim Sebastien’s BBC HARDTALK series did that a while back- and both Sharon’s advisor and the Palestinians agreed on what the peace plan should be. The decision to implement it was missing.

    The point here is that the people there, on the ground, know the situation and the solution far better than we can ever hope to.

    Contacting all the Israeli peace groups and the similarly oriented groups in the USA, Britain and elsewhere and attempting some coordination would be a big step forward.

    Of course, there are Palestinian groups and joint Palestinian-Israeli groups with the same objective.

    Why not have somebody in Kenya try to co-ordinate it all? Go for it!.

    (Be sure to contact Uri Avnery at gush-shalom.org [that means “Voice of Peace])

    What action do you coordinate for?
    letter writing to politicians
    speaking in public fora
    marches
    protests
    letters to editors
    ….

  139. 141 jade
    April 27, 2008 at 18:18

    Cops shooting 40 or 50 times at one person in a chaotic situation reminds me of a movie where 2 cops pulled out their guns after a car crashed into a tree on a highway. The gun, rather than critical thinking, is the default tool. Not sure which they would shoot though, the tree or the car?

  140. 142 Xie_Ming
    April 27, 2008 at 18:43

    RE: ISRAEL/PALESTINE PEACE GROUP

    Selena:

    There is one priority action for any group interested in peace in Palestine:

    In my assessment, the Israeli regime will realize that the pusillanimous politicians in America will be paralyzed during the election campaign.

    Thus, between now and November, they will see a window of opportunity to use force to totally crush any Palestine resistance and enforce their will.

    The priority response:

    Alert all peace groups and all media to report any speeches or signs of mobilization and to report it publicly.

  141. 143 selena
    April 27, 2008 at 18:55

    Xie_Ming

    When we follow what has been done before, we miss something crucial to moving forward. How do I know this? I know because we never move forward 😉

    As you say, people have gotten together and developed plans and nothing has come of them. Perhaps something was missing… the way to move forward in a non traditional manner.

    When you get experts together, they propose expert solutions. Those solutions are born out of the accepted ways of doing things.

    Tradition has not worked! It has not worked for the Palestinian/israeli challenge and, more than that, it has never worked for global peace.

    What we need is a new vision, a vision born out of the heads of people like the people here who are not experts. We know the challenges and we are not restricted by politics.

    Like it or not, politics will never solve the troubles facing us across the globe. We are the people; only we can change.

    You suggested the normal things to do. I ask you and everyone here to think the unthinkable.

    Could we make a PLAN page?

    … just a suggestion…

  142. 144 viola anderson
    April 27, 2008 at 19:35

    Regarding the issue of whether WHYS filters out pro-Palestine points of view but allows to pass the pro-Israeli points of view: I guess it all depends on whether one believes WHYS is doing that based on what we all see on this blank page and on other WHYS–generated commentary. My opinion is that it does not.

    What do the rest of you think here? Does WHYS filter out opinions in a biased way?

  143. 145 viola anderson
    April 27, 2008 at 19:39

    P.S. Whether it is an instance of “poisoning the well” or not, it is a serious accusation which, if true, should be addressed and corrected. If it is not true, then that accusation of bias by WHYS made by Xie__Ming should be retracted.

  144. 146 selena
    April 27, 2008 at 20:32

    Is it true that CNN is pushing Barack Obama? I guess it depends on one’s point of view. I believe they are. I am not sure that there could be any conclusive proof of my statement.

    In this case, Xie_Ming seems to believe that he is being censored, when it comes to some posts about Israel. We can’t really know that because, as individual posters, we don’t know what gets posted and what gets rejected. Or, at least, I don’t!

    Yesterday Xie_Ming posted some things that he said had been rejected during the online discussion. They were later posted here. So, I don’t know how that stacks up, in your view, Viola.

    In my view, the best thing to do is accept everyone at their word and try to generate a more clear discussion about how we see things.There is always a tendency to show more leniency to our own side.

    To propose a retraction when the matter could comes down to perception might not be productive.

    Perception is peculiar to each individual. My friend came in one day and told me that he had scratched his car and there was huge mark defacing the left front door. He agonized about it and speculated about the resale value and so on and so forth.

    A week later he offered to drive me to a meeting. When I opened the car door, I said, ” Oh, you got your car door fixed then?”

    He was surprised, “No! How can you say that? The scratch is still there. ”

    I really couldn’t see the scratch. When he pointed it out, it was a small mark barely visible, to me. To him it was huge.

  145. 147 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    April 27, 2008 at 20:37

    Regarding the issue of bias and WHYS, let me just add that I am not altogether sure that I can agree in terms of the “poisoning the well” remark. I have seen a number of different views represented in this forum in the time I have been part of it, and those I would go as far as saying have ranged very widely.

    As I have posted elsewhere on this blog, I am not always comfortable with some of the remarks which are made here, but I accept that the world has diverse opinions and as this is “World Have Your Say”, I figure that that is par for the course. Specifically, I have not done an audit of the Palestine-Israel dicussions in this forum over the weekend, though I have been aware of some of the issues which have been discussed. I cannot legitimately comment, as a result.

    However, as one of two Editors for this weekend’s Blank Page, I feel especially responsible for some of the views which are broadcast/ published here. By which I mean, I have approved quite a number of the remarks and have even sought advice from Katharina on at least one other which was later also published. I feel that there is a real need for us to show a range of opinions on a number of subjects on the WHYS Blank Page. That we have nearly one hundred and fifty comments so far is testimony to that fact.

    Indeed, I started out asking about sexuality and how much of that is political in the context of a Canadian gay rights group’s plans to boycott Jamaica’s tourism industry, to which I received only one comment from VictorK. Very instructive remarks, though I do not always see eye to eye with him on other issues. Nonetheless, the point is that that represents part of the diversity that is promoted here.

    Conversely, Katharina brought up the issue of environmental protection which only just received some attention between late yesterday (Saturday) and today. I make that point therefore, to say that I am not so sure about the comment of bias in this forum, as the community is way too diverse for us to support just one opinion/ position or to only discuss a narrow range of topics.

    Perhaps, we may want to suggest to Ros, Chloe, Iian, Mark, et al that, that should be one of the topics for discussion in the coming week? I would very much love to participate in that one.

    For what it is worth, though, I am concerned about the remarks about “poisoning the well” to the extent that I was one of three people at the controls this weekend. If we have failed to observe the need for a more balanced representation of opinions/ positions, especially those concerning Israel-Palestine relations I am sure every effort will be made to address that in subsequent posts.

    Indeed, an apology would also be appropriate if this has been the case. However, as we are not totally sure about the accuracy of these remarks the subject is largely moot. If these remarks are simply about being sensationalism and are only aimed at drawing attention to specific bloggers, then, there seems some element of disingenuity in that insofar as it is misrepresents the spirit of WHYS (just stating it like it is!).

    I think all of us can become more mindful where there are instances of a developing blind spot and say as much, in advance. I would, therefore, like to invite the commentator (Xie_Ming, I think it was?) who made this remark to explain what s/he meant and point to some of the instances where this has happened. As well as, to give feedback on what might be done to widen the pool of ideas of the specific issue discsused here as part of corrective action.

    Katharina and others, rightly, discussed the need for the comments to be written in English. I could not agree more, as I am never sure what is being said when the language used is not English. So as not to cause offence or publish inaccurate or misleading remarks it would certainly help if that is adhered to by all.

    Ros has, in fact, said (on here) that he is not always sure if he asks all the right questions or even in the best way possible but that the team makes an effort. From where I sit, that is a good enough point to begin to the process of self-reflexivity which is ever so necessary to achieving the noble, if not lofty, goals of objectivity, balanace and fairness. I take that to mean that WHYS is almost always interested in our opinions on subjects of this nature. (I, hope, Katharina and I have also lived up to expectations in that regard.)

    Additionally, I find that the issue of race and racial politics require some more meaningful address in this forum; that is, terms of real information rather than just the occassional gripe about who should leave whose country, etc. Where possible, I give what information I can with as much effort at balance and fairness, even objectivity, on the subject. I think there is something to be said for self regulating in terms of guarding against biases, though I am not sure of the official WHYS policy on that.

    I hope that that is a useful intervention. I would be interested in hearing your opinions on the matter.

    Best,

    RPJS (love that shortened version of my name Xie-Ming/ Selena! Muchos gracias!)

  146. 148 VictorK
    April 27, 2008 at 20:41

    @ Viola: no, I don’t think WHYS filters out opinions. I think that they do put to one side opinions that are obsessive, deranged (Protocols of the Elders of Zion etc), that consist of extravagant accusations based on non-existent or ropey grounds, or that appear on a thread with no regard at all to the topic under discussion.

    Anyone who makes a concise, cogent and pertinent case for the Palestinians will be published. Anybody who starts to rave on about Jewish conspiracies, Zoroaster, Talmudic anti-gentilism, and the Jewish state as the incarnation of Nazi Germany raised to the nthpower should expect short shrift. You can be as unpopular and controversial as you like, just show some tact, measure and commonsense..

    If WHYS does have a blindspot it consists in very occasionally assuming (or so it seems) a consensus of right-thinking people about a subject and not allowing as much time to additional or alternative views as a result (the multiculturalism ‘debate’ was a good example of this). The debate on fighting Islamic extremism might turn out to be another. I don’t think it right to assume that Rashad and his foundation, being the good guys, necessarily have the best arguments on their side. A competent spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir would, I think, have little difficulty in refuting most of their positions and demostrating that they (Hizb ut) are as mainstream and within the traditions of orthodox Islam as anybody, and branding the Quilliam Foundation as the ‘deviants’ from Islam. Will such a person be in the studio throughout? We’ll see.

  147. April 27, 2008 at 20:46

    Hi Precious Xie-Ming… The whole WHYS team are my good friends, and I can say that I do know them all pretty well. So I’m completely confident that WHYS doesn’t filter out opinions in a biased way at all, NEVER ! I said it before. And I say it again : It’s really so sad that pro-Israel WHYSayers are unable at all to condemn Israel’s many wrongful acts against innocent Palestinian civilians, and the reverse is true for anti-Israeli WHYSayers. I’ve been and I’ll always be a very strong criticiser of the many and many wrongful acts committed by the Israeli government and the IDF against innocent Palestinian civilians, and I’ll stop only when all those wrongful acts stop, but I’m also able to condemn strongly the senseless murdering of any Israeli civilian. BTW Precious Xie-Ming, a Q. to you and to all other good WHYSayers : Do you guys think that we can cure or control diseases by the power of mind ?! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna. PS, Kathi honey, THANK YOU 🙂

  148. 150 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    April 27, 2008 at 20:57

    …I know, after my BIG Speech about foreign language I used Spanish to close my previous post! Go figure, right?

    Well said Selena. Perception is everything.

    I also take your point about an apology. If we do not know for sure, then, there is a need to hold that until a more thorough investigation can be done, right?

    I also noted where Xie_Ming was the one who made the comment about the “poisoning of the well”. Thanks for clearing that up. I was not sure, as indicated in my post.

    As for CNN and Barack Obama, I can never tell what their position is. Lou Dobbs, especially, seems very anti-Obama. I would even say – pro-Clinton. Certainly, pro-McCain. Then, there is Glen Beck, who does not pretend to like Obama or his politics.

    I find that the (so-called) Liberal American media has its own agenda in many instances and that, they are liberal only to the extent that the views expressed by various persons do not (directly or otherwise) offend their sensibilities.

    I am never certain of their position re race and as I have an especially developed research interest in the subject I am always keen to hear what they are saying about, in terms of distilling a clear institutional/ ised position on the matter.

    I would say, though, that for the most part CNN seems to be at least open towards Obama, in some respects. There is no denying Clinton is a very worthy, even formidable, candidate. But I will have to go with the position that I do think her campaign tactics have not always been very positive. I am not very comfortable with that. But, then, again such is the nature of the world we live in. We roll with the punches.

    …Keep posting!

    RPJS

  149. 151 kathi25
    April 27, 2008 at 20:59

    @ Viola:

    I generally don’t think that WHYS filters opinions, and I can guarantee that RPJS and I didn’t filter Xie-Ming over the weekend at all, even though I don’t agree with her opinion about Israel and the rest one little bit. But then again, I’m not informed enough to post a solid reply to her PLUS she states all the time that her posts get filtered out, so this weekend she could “let it all out”. Whether this has done her any service or not is up to her and others to decide, I just try to stand in the middle and give everyone the chance to express his/her opinion.

    Love,

    Katharina

  150. 152 VictorK
    April 27, 2008 at 21:07

    Xie Ming is a ‘she’?

    For some reason I assumed ‘she’ was a ‘he’.

  151. 153 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    April 27, 2008 at 21:11

    Thanks for the comments Katharina.

    I would also like to add that, it would be very hard for us to filter out positions when there is so much to learn and know from these discussions. We would all be doing ourselves a disservice if we did that.

    Xie_Ming, keep posting. Perhaps you can draw our attention to the issue of the blindspot and we will endeavour to do the same when and where possible.

    Thanks also Lubna! You have been very kind! And, certainly, VictorK is always a useful watchdog in these matters.

    I say all of that, then, as a way of emphasising that there are enough of us on here who will ensure that commonsense and facts get published. So, not to worry – post away!

    …Hope I don’t sound too preachy, but I actually believe that!

    Later, running out to come back in a while!

  152. 154 Xie_Ming
    April 27, 2008 at 22:01

    A careful review of this weekend’s postings will show that there has been no filtering or blocking, nor has any been alleged to have occurred this weekend.

    Such a careful review will also show the efforts of one indivdual to create thrice create a conflict involving posters situation where none existed.

    If one is to engage in such games, it would be better to find specific references to complain of and to then cite the reference in context.

    Since my name has been mentioned in several posts subsequent to Ms. Anderson’s, do let me see specifically which statement you complain of.

    On the other hand, if you cannot do so, please be aware that you have been had by a trouble maker.

  153. 155 kathi25
    April 27, 2008 at 22:04

    @ Victor:

    Actually, I have no idea, maybe it’s a gender thing (meaning us two being the opposite sex, therefore assuming Xie-Ming to be whichever we are?). Maybe Xie-Ming could do us the favor and reveal her/himself?

    Anyway, thanks to everyone for a great weekend, it’s been an honour and a pleasure to moderate, even though we had a bit of a shaky start. I’m proud that we hit the 150 mark tonight, next weekend we should aim for 200! (With Steven as moderator I have no doubts, actually 8)

    It’s time for me to say goodnight to you all now, tomorrow will be another early morning again 😦

    I’m looking forward to moderate again in the future.

    Love to all and keep up the good work,

    Katharina

  154. 156 selena
    April 27, 2008 at 22:28

    Katarina,

    Thank you for your time. This has been a great weekend, even though I think I spent too much time here.

    Selena

  155. 157 Xie_Ming
    April 27, 2008 at 22:33

    As to the gender issue (?),

    may I say that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet?

    [those who understand Mandarin may see some irony in my handle]

    Feel free to call me XM!!

  156. 158 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    April 27, 2008 at 22:37

    All the best Kath, I am still here (Agostinho) till the wee hours of the morning (EST) time. It is now 4:34 p.m. Jamaica time. I will give my rap later!

    Great working with you Kath.

    Be good!

    Later will be greater!

  157. 159 Gerard Voon
    April 27, 2008 at 23:24

    Is Xie_Ming

    translated writing name???

  158. 160 Xie_Ming
    April 27, 2008 at 23:28

    RPJS:

    Yes, this has been the best weekend, despite the initial hitches.

    I will send you one or two more posts, but they will be innocently didactic.

    Have you checked the MIT Open courseware site?

    What is your major?

  159. 161 selena
    April 27, 2008 at 23:38

    XM is a man/woman who has left us dangling… :-/

    Now that’s not fair!

    Come clean XM… what is the irony? Some of us don’t know Mandarin. 🙂

  160. 162 Xie_Ming
    April 28, 2008 at 00:06

    It is neither feasible nor wise to attempt to deal with all the misinformation that may be posted by those who type faster than they research.

    One point that affects Judaism, Christianity and Islam is that Persian religion referred to as “Zoroastrianism”.

    Nobody is sure whether a fellow named Zoroaster existed, but that was the prevalent religion at the time the Jews were captives in Babylon. Certain characteristics became adopted in the following religions.

    There were big changes in the Jewish religion when they came back from Babylon and these got passed on to Christianity and Islam. Among the important ones for our world:

    (1) The idea of good vs. evil and the Devil in the World.
    (2) The idea of only one jealous and capricious God who had to be placated.
    (3) The consequent intolerance.
    (4) The idea of authoritative scripture.

    [There are individual rabbis who do not agree about the influence of Zoroastrianism, but the foregoing is the mainstream view].
    _____________________________

    What would be a different outlook?

    (1) The idea of degrees of good and evil.
    (2) The natural capacity of the individual to do well or ill.
    (3) The idea that God is everywhere and dwells within each individual and is the universe.
    (4) The consequent nonsense of intolerance.
    (5) That there is no authoritative scripture, but that man and society have an infinite possibility to do and become what they wish.

    In short, the Zoroastrian-derived religions are ideologies of intolerance.

    In postings, we frequently see assertions based Zoroastrian-derived indoctrination.

  161. 163 jade
    April 28, 2008 at 00:59

    XM is a lady (rose) with a unisex (Mandarin) name. am I correct? what irony? please enlightern me…

  162. 164 Xie_Ming
    April 28, 2008 at 01:37

    STRAW MEN AND ACCURATE QUOTES

    These threads have shown some individuals who are very careful and measured in what they say and others who reflexively spout almost faster than they can think.

    We see the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” mentioned and denounced.

    Now, Steve was the first to mention the Protocols.

    Finally, today (above) Victor K. is talking again about the Protocols and other matters.

    Now, did anyone, other than those listed above, ever mention the Protocols?

    Did anyone ever cite any phrase that was taken from the Protocols?

    Did anyone ever cite a phrase that was similar to a phrase in the Protocols?

    The WHYS manager, Mark Sandell, cited the following (Apr 24)

    “…Tiresome drum-beating, accusations that we are part of some global Zionist conspiracy, references to concentration camps, suggestions that we’re intimidated…”

    a) There never was any accusation that WHYS or its management were part of some global Zionist conspiracy. Why would one say this?.

    b) The reference to Nazi concentration camps was a talking point introduced by the WHYS employee who was citing that analogy drawn at a meeting of Arab representatives. It seems obvious that a reference to Nazis and a concentration camp would be involved in a response, but, perhaps, the view was not welcome?

    c) The suggestion was “intimidated or biased”.

    ___________________________________________-

    The lesson to learn from the above is that, if one objects to a particular phrase, QUOTE the entire phrase.

    Then, the matter can be examined (if that is really one’s intention).

    Otherwise, one is creating and attacking an imaginary “straw man”.

    ____________________________

    That’s all. And to all a good night!!

  163. 165 Amy
    April 28, 2008 at 02:24

    @ Lubna,

    I totally believe that the mind can do magical things. I feel my 8 year old daughter is any evidence of it. She was born 12 weeks early and weighed only 1 lb. 12 oz (806 grams). She was a fighter from the beginning but I truly think that the positive thoughts we sent out to her along with all of the love and thoughts from our families and friends made the difference, especially when she had some difficulties. She is now a thriving 8 year old who has a black belt in taekwondo, is on her school swim team and is involved in lots of other activities (including driving me nuts sometimes!) Maybe by sending out positive thoughts and good wishes to each other on this blog could start something.

    @ RPJS and Katharina – excellent job!

    Amy in Beaverton, Oregon

  164. 166 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    April 28, 2008 at 03:00

    Thanks guys for all your good wishes! We did start off a little shakily, but I think we managed to pull through. Certainly, it has been one of the best blank pages I have seen since we started, even if I say so myself.

    Earlier I had to go out and somehow took a little longer in getting back than I had hoped! However, thanks for your patience!

    Thanks also to Ros and the WHYS crew as well as to you guys and, of course, Katharina!

    I have certainly enjoyed working with you all! It has been my profound pleasure!!!!

    Here’s to another wonderful weekend of “blank paging”!!!!

    Much love, I will be here in the course of the next hour or so! So, if ther is anything you feel like adding, please go right ahead! I will look in and edit – that is my job, after all! Right?

    Peace and best wishes for the coming week!

  165. 167 VictorK
    April 28, 2008 at 12:29

    My thanks to Katharina and Agostinho for an enjoyable Blank PAge!

  166. 168 Xie_Ming
    April 28, 2008 at 13:29

    Lubna asks whether we can cure or control diseases through the power of the mind.

    Yes, to an extent.

    Print out and save the post I sent to you on this.

    Anything involving the immune response (almost all disease) can be affected by thought, because that which reduces stress increases the immune response.

    However, there are also auto-immune diseases, so be careful.

    Perception of pain can also be reduced by thought.

    Mental diseases can often be aided by thought. An interesting sidelight in the differing effect of praise and insult- it seems the brain processes those two inputs quite differently.

    There is a widespread and relatively wealthy religion in the USA called Christian Science that relies on prayer and other mental healing efforts exclusively.

    [My sceptical view is that the effect is genetic- i.e., very quickly, only healthy Christian Scientists are left to breed].

  167. 169 Ros Atkins
    April 28, 2008 at 13:48

    Well done you two. A great job and I hope you’ll do it again soon.

  168. 170 viola anderson
    April 28, 2008 at 16:06

    Terrific weekend, everyone. Xie__Ming, thanks for calling me a troublemaker for calling you on your accusation about WHYS being biased. I do believe in calling a spade a spade, myself, and pointing it out if someone seeks to make points by calling others obnoxious names or attaching insulting adjectives about those with whom they disagree, as you did in your post in which you used the term “pusillanimous politicians” in referring to American politicians. I feel no need to defend American politicians, as they can do a much better job of that than I ever could even if I were interested in trying, but I must admit I don’t like to see those tactics used in a civilized debate on any subject. If that means I am a troublemaker, I graciously accept the title. Am I, too, “marked by a mean-spirited and contemptible timidity”(Webster’s Third New International Dictionary’s definition of pusillanimous)?

    Personally, I suspect Xie__Ming may be several people posting under one name.

    Peace to all.

  169. 171 Xie_Ming
    April 28, 2008 at 16:48

    For those who may have missed it:

    “In my assessment, the Israeli regime will realize that the pusillanimous politicians in America will be paralyzed during the election campaign.

    Thus, between now and November, they will see a window of opportunity to use force to totally crush any Palestine resistance and enforce their will.

    The priority response:

    Alert all peace groups and all media..”

  170. 172 Robert, Canada
    April 28, 2008 at 17:24

    Can the evolution of our minds be stopped? Unfortunately, our minds are corrupted with culture traditions, religious and political beliefs before aquiring the capability to learn on our own. With this ability, I am wondering that people do not use it to re-examine the corrupted minds with new knowledge based on scientific methods and develop a more desired minds. It also makes me wonder if we prove that we are at an evolution dead end with our minds. Indeed, we cannot but have bias. however, isn’t it a more desirable and more constructive to any issues if we set our minds on the basics. Race, nation and all other man made designations are just that, men ( usually people who have not eveolved with a more desirable minds) made . I may be naive, but it is the only solution to the collective survival, isn’t it?

  171. 173 Xie_Ming
    May 1, 2008 at 20:36

    LUBNA:

    Are you able to use MEDLINE where you are?

    Goudbout, J.P. “Stress-induced immune dysregulation..” (2006) will get you started on cancer and mental attitudes.

    “Faith healing” and “psychosomatic medicine” may offer a few leads.

    Has everybody become aware of the free MIT Open Courseware offerings?

    They may have an elementary introduction to immunology. I know that they do have some excellent courses, but you may find them too advanced.


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