16
Jun
08

Talking points June 16

Good-morning it’s Karnie…

Big Congratulations to Mark, who finished his charity bike ride (for Leukaemia research) from London to Brighton in just over 4 hours!

Thank you to rafflesofsingapore and selena for looking after the blank page over the weekend…

First up…you all want to talk about today’s planned topic which focuses on Gaza: A year after Hamas gained control of the Gaza strip WHYS will bring a group of young people together from Gaza, the West Bank and Israel to talk about what’s life been like for them so far? Keep those questions, thoughts and suggestions coming in..

Other topics to think about..

The Africa Progress Panel (whose members include Bob Geldof, Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela’s wife Gracha Machel) will today deliver its verdict on whether the G8 countries are on track to live up to their 2005 promise to double aid to Africa by 2010. Over the past forty years, billions of dollars in aid has been given to African countries. There’s growing concern that countries who in the past pledged more aid to the continent have not kept their promises, causing the project to be 40 billion dollars behind it’s target.

On the same day the award-winning Sierra Leonian film-maker, Sorious Samura, is releasing his latest documentary, called “How To Make A Difference In Africa”. He says, aid has caused problems in Africa. So Does the continent need more aid OR is it time Africa is weaned of aid?

The European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana is in Tehran presenting Iranian leaders with ways of ending the crisis over their nuclear activities. Mr Solana offered economic incentives, and nuclear co-operation – in return for guarantees that Iran would not work on making nuclear bombs. But Iran has warned it will reject any demands to halt uranium enrichment. Is patience running out over Iran?

Next up..An award-winning UK film-maker has gained access to a very sealed off Jewish community in North London. Her BBC documentary (which will air this week) will focus on the lives of the Haredi Jews. A group of people who keep themselves to themselves. In his article in the Observer Rafael Behr asks: Do Stamford Hill Jews need integration? The government here wants communities to work towards social cohesion and integration – to ensure and enhance communal living and tolerance amongst different cultures.

Is the government right OR Is segregation natural and should communities be allowed to live separately from each other?


244 Responses to “Talking points June 16”


  1. 1 Andrew
    June 13, 2008 at 19:41

    Hi Everyone,

    Andrew in Melbourne, Australia here. Good to have your company over the weekend along with Selena and hope we can get into some interesting and thought provoking conversations. Time differences can be cruel, it’s just past 4 am here and with today’s programme having ended I am thinking of grabbing some shut eye, but will pick up as early as I can Saturday morning.

    I’d like to thank Ros for giving me this chance to handle the blog and to Chloe for setting me right on how the moderating actually works, once you get it ticking over it’s not that bad. I have learnt a significant amount about the inner workings of blogs in the past few hours and although not having one set up of my own at the moment, this experience should give me a nudge in that direction. One thing which took me a bit longer to figure out was how to get my name to appear on posts rather than the login name, which explains the raffles/Andrew part on the intro to the page.

    Just before I do disappear for some Z’s I had thought about a few things you might wish to debate. To begin with, considering this is the BBC Worldservice and is a well respected and balanced news source (though some do disagree), how well do you regard the news sources you have access to in your area as reliable and able to present you with not only all the facts, but reliable reporting?. By that I mean a balance in its views and objectivity in its reporting.

  2. June 13, 2008 at 20:03

    Hi Precious Andrew and Selena my love… Precious Andrew in Australia, I do remember that you once mentioned that you’re a psychiatrist, am I true ?! :-)… Anyway Selena my love, thanks a million for your kindness with me honey… I’d love to ask all of you guys a very simple question : What raises you up when you’re feeling down ?! What are your secret tools to fight and defeat feeling down ?! With my love.. Yours forever, Lubna..

  3. June 13, 2008 at 20:10

    Hi Selena and Andrew. Wish you good luck in your moderation task. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

    Here is a topic which is quite common in the Middle East. Many wealthy old men seek to have young brides, especially from poor families in neighbouring Arab countries like Yemen and Egypt.

    The Egyptian authorities have banned a 92-year-old man from marrying a 17-year-old girl. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7452456.stm

    Should there be an age limit between a husband and wife? Can they have a normal marriage despite big difference in age? Do differences between husband and wife in terms of personality, professional and educational status help or hinder harmony between them?

    Why is it always possible for a man to marry a woman (much) younger than him, but it isn’t common to find a man married to a woman (much) older than him?

  4. 4 Shirley
    June 13, 2008 at 20:17

    Beating the Blues:
    Salam, Lubna. Long time no hear. I usually find that good Qur’anic recitation lifts my mood. I enjoy Sad ibn Ghamdi, even though he’s wahhabi. There is another recitor that I enjoy, a Shia Muslim from Lebanon, I think, but I can’t remember his name. Spending time out doors walking or enjoying a garden also helps me. I especially enjoy gardens with fountains. I think that there is something healing about moving water. It is reccommended for jet lag, too.

  5. 6 Andrew
    June 13, 2008 at 20:18

    Hello Lubna, welcome aboard, nice to hear from you this evening. I hope that you are safe and well in Iraq and will remain so. Psychologist, yes, presently!

    What raises me up is knowing that it cannot last forever. There are so many layers of sadness or depression (I like to avoid labels when I can as sometimes it just makes us want to stay there once we have something to hold on to – good or bad) but there will always be up moments when you lose that low feeling.

    How it happens can vary. It could be an unexpected surprise that changes the focus of your attention from the sad things, the bad things, to something more fruitful. Or just that change in mood that naturally occurs and mostly does that lifts you out of a bad state.

    But the most important thing is to recognise when you feel down and to catch yourself in that mood before it becomes to powerful and to convince yourself that you can feel better, that you want to feel better and that you will feel better. Do something then to lift your mood. Physical activity is always the best for any number of reasons. But of course if the environment about you is difficult as in a war zone, this can be harder to achieve, but not impossible you just have to persist and put the extra effort in. But sometimes it can be as easy as simply talking to someone.

  6. 7 Shirley
    June 13, 2008 at 20:22

    Steve, you’ve got electricity back, right? I saw a dingy in the news to the effect that it got fixed.

  7. 8 Andrew
    June 13, 2008 at 20:32

    Men are odd creatures indeed. I always hark back to biology and our need to show we are the top male in the group and what better way than to show off an attractive and desirable mate. Western society also shows us that young and beautiful is the way to be and many men will pursue that notion. It doesn’t seem to translate well for women though does it? Once you are past your prime it is best to keep out of the way of the new crop. One reason why age and experience in women is not valued as much as it is for men.

    You have to think that for a man of such advanced years it must come down to two things. Someone young to look after him in his old age or just that he can do it. I would not think too many women of that age would actively seek out an elderly husband if they had a choice for one closer to their own age, especially such an age gap. But it has been known that money and power can sway opinion.

    But what of two people who really do value each other’s company and find that they care deeply for each other but have the issue of age hanging over them. It is not unheard of to find two people completely devoted to each other but handicapped by the fact they were born decades apart.

  8. 9 Zak
    June 13, 2008 at 20:40

    Hi Andrew, you’re really a night owl! Last weekend I only made it up to 2 but you’re pulling an all-nighter. Let me know if you find your logic slowly start to dull on it’s edges, I found by the next night and into the following morning it took me 2 thoughts to get one down. Selena should be with you now so why don’t you get some sleep! Peace be with you both.

    Lubna I wrote a song called ‘Depression Is Boring’. If you can receive 2.8mb and store it on your phone I’ll send it to you. Otherwise go here:
    DIB

    It will take a little time to load and if you have a head set it will help because mp3’s are not the choice of musicians!

  9. 10 Andrew
    June 13, 2008 at 20:44

    I’m running an sheer adrenalin Zak. I’ll be paying for it tomorrow.. today. Might just take that advice. See you on the other side.

    Not so much my logic, more my typing skills. Thank heavens for the backspace button. Night all.

  10. 11 selenayvonne
    June 13, 2008 at 20:44

    @Guys

    I lost the Internet for a while but all is well now fingers crossed. Good to be with you Andrew.

    Hello to everyone. It might be a quite t weekend after all the energy spent on the sex business yesterday. 😉

    As for the story on age differences between a man and a woman, my husband is younger than I. I am glad no one interfered; what more can I say 😉

  11. 12 selenayvonne
    June 13, 2008 at 20:45

    @Selena

    I will keep the home fires burning until bed time in Canada.

    Night, night!

  12. June 13, 2008 at 20:52

    What do you have for inet there in Canada, and what speed? I suffer the pains of satellite so I can relate to odd behavior and overpricing.

  13. 14 Venessa
    June 13, 2008 at 20:56

    Tino,

    I agree 100% with you; the school needs to be shut down immediately. There should be no place in the US where intolerance is allowed to be taught and atrocities towards other human beings are condoned.

  14. 15 selenayvonne
    June 13, 2008 at 20:57

    @Zak

    We have DSL high speed and I can get it from Cable too, if I want.

    It is usually reliable. After I sorted it out it was probably my computer. At first I thought it was the connection because I don’t usually have any trouble with the Mac.

    My community has only around 700 people but we are blessed with services.

  15. 16 Venessa
    June 13, 2008 at 21:02

    Hi Lubna,

    I find that during the winter months after the rain has droned on for awhile I feel a little down. My favorite thing to do is plan a day that will make me feel good about myself. I like to get outside (weather permitting) or go to the gym for some physical activity. Sometimes its getting a pedicure or new shoes.

  16. June 13, 2008 at 21:09

    Ah such an enlightened choice, I loove my MacBP 2.4. Feel free to ask any questions I’ve learned most of the Mac tricks and do a little programming.

    I thought there may be a topic with Obama; from the backlash with some Arabs in the middle-east after the speech he gave at Apec.

    I’m listening to a great show called Up Front right now from New American Media and they’re reporting that Russians are feeling Obama may be less progressive toward Jews so they’re pulling for McCain.

    Seems we should do our own global poll of perceptions on Obama.

  17. 18 Amy
    June 13, 2008 at 21:12

    Tim Russert, one of the best journalist in the US, has died of an apparent heart attack. The world of news will be a lonelier place with out him.

    Amy in Beaverton, Oregon

  18. 19 Dennis
    June 13, 2008 at 21:14

    Hi Serena & Rafflesinsingapore!

    thanks for being moderators over the weekend..

    Hi Lubna…

    Hi Everyone else…

    Did anyone see that Ireland rejected the E.U. Constitution…According to RTE [Radio Television Ireland] –i will find a link to the story for our debate on this topic…

    I am sorry i was not able to write any messages earlier, i am currently attending college and i went grocery shopping.

    Dennis
    Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  19. 20 Amy
    June 13, 2008 at 21:15

    Lubna,

    One thing that makes me feel better when I am down is a big hug from one of my girls. Knowing that I am loved helps a lot. Having said that, we are sending you a “big, squeezy hug” (as my 4 year old calls them) your way!

    Amy

  20. 21 Dennis
    June 13, 2008 at 21:17

    About internet @ my school (college) we have satellite and dial up and one more (don’t hold me to that information)

    ~http://www.rte.ie/news/2008/0613/eulisbon.html?RTEMAILID
    ABOUT THE IRELAND REJECTION OF THE CONSTITUTION….

    Dennis
    OCC
    Syracuse, New York

  21. June 13, 2008 at 21:31

    It’s also time for American candidates to choose their mates- sounds a little primitive.

    There’s talk that Obama needs a ‘white face with experience’ or a ‘Latino face with experience’. Chuck Hagel and Bill Richardson could fit those bills.

    Russert follows Jennings untimely; NPR story

  22. 23 Shirley
    June 13, 2008 at 21:32

    Tino,
    I agree with you. (grab the faintaing salts) The two citations clearly demonstrate the deviancy of the salafist cult from Islam. The average everyday ordinary Muslim, if he kills an adulterer, apostate, or murderer, is himself nothing more than a murderer who took the law into his own hands. Abdullah ibn Saba is one of the fairy tales that the salafists tell about Shia Muslims to inspire hatred against us. They are, of course, taking advantage of the anti-Semitic trend that infests Arab culture.

    To the best of my knowledge, that school goes against the trend of Islamic educational institutions in the U.S. Check out, for example, Al Hadi in Houston, TX or Al Iman in Jamaica, New York. There is also the Iman Academy of Houston, the Tawheed Center School of Detroit, Miraj Islamic School of Staten Island, New York, and the Islamic School of Irving, Texas. I checked their curricula and saw nothing that would indicate an extremist trend, even in the Tawheed school, which smelled a bit salafist to me. These schools seem to strive towards academic excellence, not churning out militants who desire to kill non-Muslims.

  23. 24 Colleen
    June 13, 2008 at 21:40

    could you imagine if the Iranian governemnt was funding that school?!?! this administration would use it as an excuse to go to war. but since it’s funded by the saudi government they let it slide… i never cease to be amazed….

  24. 25 Dennis
    June 13, 2008 at 21:46

    About the passing of NBC TELEVISION presenter Tim Russert.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25145431/

    **i want to extend my condolences and sympathy to the people in his life….colleagues and everyonhe else in his life.

    Dennis
    OCC
    Syracuse, New York
    USA

  25. 26 Dennis
    June 13, 2008 at 21:49

    Who is rafflesofsingapore?

    Can someone answer my question?

    ~Also in the interest of full disclosure: Tim Russert was born in the State of New York in Buffalo (region).

    Also: the GITMO Base in Cuba…the courts have decided that the “prisoners of war” have rights in the U.S. Courts system:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25137855/

    Dennis
    OCC
    Syracuse, New York (USA)

  26. 27 Katharina in Ghent
    June 13, 2008 at 21:52

    Hi everyone!

    Hi Lubna, when I feel a bit under the weather, I find that special music makes me feel better, at least it gives my blue mood the right swing… Nina Simone is best for this, feel free to sing loudly along with her!

    @ Anthony:

    I totally understand your confusion with the blog, Zak can confirm that in general I’m not a computer wiz and this blog thingy is quite new to me, but I slowly get there.

    @ Abdelilah – age difference:

    One the one hand, this is the age-old dream, that as an old guy you can still get some “fresh meat”, Picasso and Charlie Chaplin were both in their seventies, as was Pierre Trudeau (Canadian prime minister) when they had children. The question that I have in regard to our discussion about virginity: what happens to the young woman when the old man bites the dust two days after the wedding?

  27. 28 Katharina in Ghent
    June 13, 2008 at 21:56

    Hi again,

    I found two (totally unrelated, of course 😉 ) articles about the credit crunch:

    http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2008/06/13/usforeclosures.html

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7450991.stm

    The first article tells us that the foreclosures in the US are on the rise again, the second tells us that US retail had a little bit of a windfall because people went and spent the tax rebates… like I said, the two articles are completely unrelated and the one has nothing whatsoever to do with the other.

  28. 29 Luz María Guzmán from Monterrey, Mexico
    June 13, 2008 at 22:00

    Hello everyone!!! Nice topics today… This is my first time in blank page, so I am quite happy to share my opinions with you.

    About the age issue: my husband is 17 years older than me. I know it is not a BIG difference, like the Egyptian couple; however, I think age does not matter when you really LOVE the person and WANT to be with him/her for the right reasons (not money or power). I think I was really lucky. I married at 21, so I didn’t have to wait a lot to find “the one”. But sometimes it makes me sad to think that probably I will survive my husband a lot of years. Maybe not, since everything can happen, but the odds are that he goes first than me.

    About Lubna´s questions: What raises you up when you’re feeling down? What are your secret tools to fight and defeat feeling down?

    Personally, I suffered post-partum depression after my first child was born. It was terrible and really painful. I was in treatment for over a year, but I am glad to say that I learned a lot about depression (in general) and how to handle the first signs of depression (apparently I am prone to get depressed). My secrets tools are: talking about it when the first signs appear and going out the house (it is quite difficult when you are feeling down, but my husband knows this, so he makes me go outside). Also, I try to avoid food and beverages that make me anxious (anything that has caffeine) and I try to avoid listening to bad news. This last point is very difficult to achieve because we live in a world full of bad stuff. So, instead, I just focus on the good things in my life (my family, my good friends, my personal achievements, etc.). Lubna, I hope my answer helps you in some way.

    Have everyone a nice morning/afternoon/night!
    Luz María

  29. 30 selenayvonne
    June 13, 2008 at 22:43

    @Zak

    I have been wondering why there hasn’t been much talk about Obama’s change of heart regarding Israel.

    It seems that as soon as he got the nomination, he immediately changed his stance.

    There is a lot of talk on other sites but we seemed to have missed it here so far.

  30. 31 selenayvonne
    June 13, 2008 at 22:46

    @Lubna

    I am not prone to depression. But members of my family are and it seems to get a hold of their lives sometimes.

    It may not be helpful but I always tell them to look away from themselves and see others who are worse off. Then count their blessings.

    I know that may sound flippant but it is not meant to be. It is just my way of seeing life and accepting it for what it is, “nasty, brutish and short”.

  31. 32 Venessa
    June 13, 2008 at 22:54

    Hi Katharina,

    I’m quite annoyed by the “foreclosure” crisis because people knowingly put themselves in that situation. I certainly don’t sign any contracts without knowing the terms and it’s a poor excuse for anyone who wants to blame predatory lending. The fault is with the person who signed those documents without first understanding the terms. Also when it comes to borrowing a large sum of money just because someone will give more than you need it doesn’t mean you take it. The last 2 homes I purchased I was pre-approved for loans more than $100k over what I spent. I certainly took the time to crunch the numbers and figure out quickly that using the full value was more than I could handle. Too bad more people don’t see the importance of living within their means. Now those of us who are responsible will be the ones bailing everyone else out.

    “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.” ~ Albert Einstein

  32. 33 steve
    June 13, 2008 at 23:18

    Tim Russert is dead 😦

  33. 34 selenayvonne
    June 13, 2008 at 23:36

    Apparently, according to CNN, Tim Russert came from a poor family and always felt inferior because he didn’t attend an Ivy League school. They added that the schools he did attend were “good”.

    How do you feel about this kind of class structure that keeps people like Tim Russert on the outside, even if it was only in his own mind?

    Do you think Tim Russert’s illness could have had anything to do with the stress of trying to stay on top of things?

  34. 35 steve
    June 13, 2008 at 23:40

    @ Selena

    That’s just insecurity, nothing more. I know plenty of people that went to “not so good” schools that achieved a lot in life. If anything, the best Journalism school is the University of Missouri, which doesn’t rank up there that high overrall.

  35. 36 Shirley
    June 13, 2008 at 23:57

    Luz, bienvenida, so good to have you on blank page
    It is good to hear tips from someone who has actually struggled with depression – I know people with depression; and those who have done some reading on it and implemented techniques tend to have tried and tested ideas for relieving stress and lifting moods.

    Selena,
    In which direction did Obama change regarding Israel?

    Vanessa,
    There are varying circumstances in the foreclosure crisis, depending on the people affected. Not everyone signed on to a house that was above their means. Some lost jobs or were demoted. Some bought the mortgage with one company and had it sold to another that changed the terms to such an extent that they could no longer afford it. And then we have the Jones’s neighbours, whom I do not pity.

  36. 37 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 00:12

    @Shirley

    It was all over the TV news that Obama had pledged support for Israel the day after he won.

    This is the only thing I can find online at the moment.

    http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0608/obama_aipac3.php3

  37. 38 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 00:17

    @Steve

    Of course it is insecurity. A lot of things make us insecure…

    I was more interested in the structure that keeps people apart… the structure that makes someone like Tim Russert feel inferior.

  38. 39 Shirley
    June 14, 2008 at 00:36

    Selena,
    I have been aware of his newly staunch support for severa months through Wikipedia’s coverage of his political platform.

  39. 40 steve
    June 14, 2008 at 00:53

    @ Selena

    He still got to the top of his field, that’s probably all that mattered to him. Ambition can drive people to accomplish things regardless of circumstances, but ambition can also drive you to an early death. The point of life should be to live comfortably while not living to work.

  40. 41 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 01:13

    Do you think that if he knew that something like getting to the top of his field was going to end his life early that he would have chosen success?

    Maybe that is not a fair question because we don’t know Tim Russert but applying it to one’s self, is success worth it?

  41. June 14, 2008 at 01:25

    John McCain said, “The United States Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.” Now I am thinking that there have been a few decision that might bump this one down on the list. Outlawing lawn darts of course being one of them. Can anybody think of a decision worse then granting every human the right to her the evidence, see the witnesses and answer the questions of their guilt that they have been incarcerated for?

    The major news sources are covering the salmonella outbreak of 200 people like it is a major epidemic. Something like 750,000, on the low end, are diagnosed with it every year. quick math say the 2055 people a day get this disease. How do we know that it is a tomato and not the Chinese buffet sushi that gave it to them? Does anybody think this is possible to stop. The media are chastising the FDA like they have a way to test every tomato that is ever grown. Then again it seems that you still have a 7.2 million times worse chance of dieing at the hands of a rotten tomato then a Islamic extremist, and look how much time and money we have sunk into stopping that kind of death.

  42. 43 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 14, 2008 at 01:26

    @Vanessa — Blaming the victim is an unlovely tendency, and in the case of the mortgage situation, misguided–demonstrably, factually wrong. So you’re financially sophisticated–congratulations. A lot of people are not, and fell victim to crooked mortgage brokers, real estate brokers, lenders, and middlemen. These swine used all manner of deceptive tactics to lie, cheat, and steal–they misrepresented loan terms and everything else.

    Buying a house generates a blizzard of documents, replete with contorted concepts and arcane details impenetrable to a civilian, especially to a first-time buyer, who depends on professionals for explanation and advice. When those professionals betray their clients, their professional codes, and the law by misrepresenting the facts and figures, the clients are victims of fraud. To call them “irresponsible” is inaccurate as well as unpleasant.

  43. June 14, 2008 at 01:44

    @ Johnathan.

    While I hold all parties of the mortgage crisis responsible. The mortgage companies, realtors, and even to some extent banks were also stocked with people who were not financially savvy. They were a little heartless, but most didn’t put 2 and 2 together any better. However, it doesn’t take much financial knowledge to know that if one is making $50,000 a year and somebody is offering them a house for $150,000 plus interested, That is three times the borrowers yearly salary before taxes. It is going to take you a long time of everything you got just to pay off that house. If that can’t be rationalized, then the chances of repeating the same mistake are very great.

    I was in that exact situation as above when I bought my house. I looked at the guy “pre-Approving” me and sad, “Are you on drugs?” “How in the heck am I going to pay back a loan on my salary for a house in that price range.” He told me that I had to remember that most people salaries increase over time and that life will get easier. 8 months after moving into my house that was much more reasonable, I lost my job.

    In the end I don’t feel any sympathy for the borrowers or the lenders. It is kind of like watching a dispute between a crack dealer and a junkie about bad stuff. both are messed up individuals and luckily I don’t have to deal them.

  44. 45 Venessa
    June 14, 2008 at 01:55

    Yes in the case that terms were changed that is unjust and clearly fraud. However the Jone’s out there I have been in the situation of losing my job and I lived alone in my house; there was no other income. Again I calculated my risk of such an event before purchasing my home and made sure that I could remain financially solid. I don’t expect everyone to do the same but that is a risk some people are willing to take. I still believe people need to do the research before they sign on to such a commitment. There are plenty of resources out there for someone to educate themselves that will break it down in laymen’s terms .

  45. 46 steve
    June 14, 2008 at 01:58

    uh oh religious people. Now it’s your turn to provide evidence there is a God and it created mankind.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080613/sc_afp/spacesciencebiochemistrybiology_080613180404

  46. 47 Venessa
    June 14, 2008 at 02:09

    Dwight,

    Evidently due process is only for a select few….Sounds like discrimination to me.

  47. 48 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 02:12

    Insurgent attack frees hundreds from Kandahar prison

    http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/06/13/afghanistan-prison.html

  48. 49 Venessa
    June 14, 2008 at 02:23

    @ selenayvonne

    I’m sure that will excite the Bush administration to reinforce their stance for the war on terror.

    There was a post that said the article initially sited them as no name militants and within a 1/2 hour it was changed to the Taliban. Does anyone know if that was the case?

  49. 50 Shirley
    June 14, 2008 at 02:35

    Russert:
    He had a flight fro mEurope to the U.S. the day before. Did he have any cardio-pulmonary issues? If a clot developed during the flight, it could have circulated throughout his system until it lodged and blocked a vessel, causing the heart attack. Sometimes, this happens even in healthy people who have been on long flights.

    Dwight, I suppose that granting human beings due process before the law is worse than denying the humanity of blacks, supporting the ownership of one human by another, and racial segregation? McCain really needed to think over what he was going to say before he said it.

  50. 51 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 14, 2008 at 02:37

    @Dwight–Um, actually a $150,000 house on an income of $50,000 is eminently reasonable. It’s downright modest. (It’s also a fantasy around here, but that’s a different story.) At 6%, payments are $899 a month, less than 1/4 of a $4,166 gross income. Of course it takes “a long time” to pay it off; that’s why they give you 30 years. It doesn’t take much financial knowledge to know that those figures are completely prudent, absolutely reasonable, and not a “mistake” at all. That’s a very conservative loan that even the stodgiest lender would and should make. Your banker’s advice was exactly right; income normally rises over 30 years, as do property values. But even if you never got a raise, it shouldn’t have been a stretch to manage those payments.

    If you lose your job and your income goes to zero, then of course you can’t make your payments anymore. But that’s not at all instructive about the merits of your mortgage or the practices of the industry in general. The current problem began during very flush economic times of high employment and fast-rising property values. A lot of loans shouldn’t have been made, but yours wasn’t one of them.

  51. 52 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 14, 2008 at 02:56

    @Selena — If you’re looking for an example of a workaholic who lived only for his job, or a victim of a “class system” (in the US of all places), Tim Russert won’t serve you well on either point.

    He was famously committed to his family and his friends, and by all reports not a hard-driving, stress-laden competitive careerist; quite the opposite.

    As for “class,” he said something like “The son of a garbage collector, the Washington chief of NBC news–only in America.”

  52. 53 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 03:01

    Well, it is bedtime for me.

    I don’t know what time Andrew will be around but I am sure that there is someone here with moderating rights that will carry on. 🙂

    I hope I am right because I simply have to go to bed.

    Good night from Canada!

    Good morning, Andrew, when you read this!

  53. 54 Venessa
    June 14, 2008 at 03:13

    Shirley,

    There are varying circumstances in the foreclosure crisis, depending on the people affected. Not everyone signed on to a house that was above their means. Some lost jobs or were demoted.

    Real estate is an investment just like the stock market. You are responsible for the decisions and risks you take. I guess forethought of the “what could happen” is an advantage. I know it sounds offensive but I took a risk when I bought my first home and I did my homework and saved ahead of time. I knew it was inevitable the company I was currently working for was going to go bankrupt within months but I made a plan. When I purchased my next house with my husband we did so knowing that we would be stuck with two mortgages for a period of time; worst-case scenario 6 months. We also both worked for the same start up company that was volatile enough to know that at anytime we could shut down or be acquired (fortunately we were acquired). We calculated our risk and got lucky. I would have expected no one to bail us out for being in over our heads; it was an investment risk we chose to take just like everyone else that buys a home. You are responsible for your own actions, including investments.

  54. 55 Venessa
    June 14, 2008 at 03:21

    Sorry Shirley, that first paragraph is what I was responding to. I’m sure you know that though. Forgot the quotations! 🙂

  55. June 14, 2008 at 04:51

    @Jonathan.

    The fact that that loan seems reasonable is exactly why I do not feel sorry for people who got suckered in by them. This is a house. Not only does it have its principle cost, but it has insurance, upkeep, and maintenance. On a $40,000 year salary, you are making about $580 a week after taxes. That doesn’t include if you have money taken out for a 401K, insurance, and beer. No with a 6.5% interest rate (which is decent by anybody’s standards) you can get a loan that has a monthly payment of $760. That too is before insurance, property taxes, and PMI. If it is considered too much financial knowledge to look at the payment and look at what you make each week and think to yourself, “Wow, that is more money then I make in a week. I have to work until Tuesday at lunch on the 2nd week before I start earning money to heat the place, buy groceries, and keep the water running. Not to mention I am going to need to pay for the ride and upkeep of my transportation so I can get to work, both jobs. All this and I haven’t even figured out how I am going to buy beer. (and we wonder how Anheuser- Busch stays in business?)” If you happen to have kids over the next 30 years I hope Jr. is really good in sports. Cause there ain’t going to be no money for college.

    The problem started when us gen-“x”ers got a little money and felt we should have “right now” the things our parents had to work so hard to get and pay for with cash money. With the event of the credit card and sub prime loans, we were able to buy things with cash we didn’t have. We moved from back room observers to up front bidders at the auction we all know as “the free markets”. Only we didn’t have the skills to understand how the game was played. That was bolstered and re-enforced by a little marketing policy called “the ownership society”. Another brilliant plan from the monkey/ puppet we all call Curious George.

    So, “no”. Those of you who got hit by the mortgage crisis (and I know I am stepping in it here cause there are so many people put there that many are bound to be readers) are not “victims”. You are suckers. Hopefully most people will learn from their mistakes and at least teach their offspring not to make the same one. The rest, well that is exactly why I feel sorry for nobody in that situation. Like I said, there is plenty of blame to go around. The government for backing these companies so they can give loan, the school system for letting kids graduate with out the simple understanding of a budget, and the loan makers, but the buyers do not escape that blame either.

    The irony, if all of these people wouldn’t have jumped on the “I want mine now” bandwagon, housing prices wouldn’t have gone through the roof and one could have afforded to buy a house at a reasonable price.

  56. 57 Bob in Queensland
    June 14, 2008 at 05:41

    Aha! Another weekend, another Blank Page. Good luck to Andrew and Selena–when Abdelilah and I shared one a few weeks back, by the end of it I was exhausted but exhilerated.. Anyway…

    @Tino and Venessa

    Regarding that Islamic school, I’d say that ANY institution advocating intolerance and violence should be shut down. However, I WOULD like to know how the texts are being used in classes. If the school is actually advocating these policies then I’m in full agreement with you, but if they’re being used in the context of “here’s what some are teaching but here’s why it’s wrong” then (perhaps) fair enough.

    However, regarding the teaching of intolerance and violence, please can we extend this to fundamentalist Christian sects who advocate things like the stoning of homosexuals. Intolerance and violence are not the exclusive province of Muslims!

    (I’d also shut schools where creationist theory is taught with equal weight in science class, but that’s a different debate!)

    @Shirley

    That’s an interesting thought about the flight just before the heart attack.

    I had a minor heart attack about 9 years ago and mine was shortly after a 12 hour flight too. Between the possibility of DVT and clotting and the inevitable stress of travel, I wonder what the statistics are for a correlation between flight and heart problems. I feel some Googling coming on…after my weekly trip to the supermarket!

  57. 58 Tino
    June 14, 2008 at 06:12

    Bob,

    “However, I WOULD like to know how the texts are being used in classes.”

    They are textbooks, used as a basis for the curriculum of class – just like any other text book ever.

    “However, regarding the teaching of intolerance and violence, please can we extend this to fundamentalist Christian sects who advocate things like the stoning of homosexuals. Intolerance and violence are not the exclusive province of Muslims!”

    Sure, assuming you could manage to find a Christian school using equivalent text books – good luck, let me know – they should be shut down also.

    “I’d also shut schools where creationist theory is taught with equal weight in science class, but that’s a different debate!”

    Full agreement.

    “Can anybody think of a decision worse then granting every human the right to her the evidence, see the witnesses and answer the questions of their guilt that they have been incarcerated for?”

    Yes, a few, but it is still a horrible decision. I cannot think of a good reason to have people who have made you and your way of life a target and then grant them rights they do not even have in their own homes. It just does not make sense. Let it apply to any US citizens there – zero as far as i know, so irrelevant – but nothing else.

    Besides look at one of their main complaints: “The Pentagon insists prisoners are treated humanely.

    It has admitted to five incidents in which the Koran was mishandled by staff at the camp.”

    Wow, seriously. I did not realize this counted for anything, considering our general public is allowed to put feces on the virgin mary and put a crucifix in a jar of urine and call it art. Anyone honestly think the same thing is coming for the Qur’an anytime soon? Doubt it, unless the artist wants to end up very dead or very hidden. I do not care if they use it as toilet paper, that is not an issue when you are talking about people who tried to kill US citizens.

  58. June 14, 2008 at 06:20

    Shirley; I fixed up your comments and I can stay on mod duty for another few hours or so, guess Selena must be in the East I don’t recall her home town.

    I also tried to find coverage of Obama’s keynote address to Apec and someone got to it with a white marker. I think it was a bit over zealous and exhausted, his speech. But the general idea was that he regarded the sovereignty of Israel first in the region.

    There is an understanding in the world that if it weren’t for the US, Israel probably would be at the mercy of the statements of Pres. A. in Iran. So personally I don’t think Obama is any more leaning pro Israel then any other Presidential hopeful has been. The majority of US citizens want to see Israel protected and there’s little doubt we always will. It’s the history of Africans and Jews that calls Obama’s allegiance into question. As Up Front reported some Russian Jews think he’s made anti-semitic statements- go figure?

    If Obama loses it will be because he didn’t know how to play the game so I think, if you don’t want to see another war monger in office, that you have to take what he says with a grain of salt.

  59. 60 Bob in Queensland
    June 14, 2008 at 06:28

    @Tino

    They are textbooks, used as a basis for the curriculum of class – just like any other text book ever.

    That’s an overly simple view of how textbooks are used in classrooms. Way back in prehistoric times when I was in school, I had history texts with long quotes from Hitler in them. This doesn’t mean I was being taught to be a nazi; quite the opposite–we were being taught the evils of nazi Germany.

    I’m not saying that is the case with this school–unless somebody has insider knowledge, all we know is what’s in the news story. However what I certainly DO know is that I never trust a simple news story without trying to find out the other side as well. Sensationalism sells. (Cue that other discussion about media bias!)

    Similarly, the LACK of certain biases in a textbook doesn’t mean a church or school isn’t teaching intolerance. Teachers don’t just sit there reading from the textbook; indeed what the teacher or lecturer says is often FAR more important than quotes from a text.

    As for defacing the Koran, not being religious I don’t personally cares what happens to the bible, the koran, the teachings of Buddha or whatever. However, others DO care. If, knowing that it causes grave offence, members of the US military still deface the koran than, to me, that comes under the heading of incitement and intolerance and is just plain wrong. Let’s not forget that most of the prisoners in Gitmo end up being released for lack of evidence. Most were just people with olive skin who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. To say they all tried to kill US citizens is totally incorrect.

  60. June 14, 2008 at 06:30

    For any of you who don’t know it yet People Power Granny is one schick chick.

    She’s one of those wired into the blogs and she pops up with comments from a few topics back quite often but you rarely catch a glimpse of her in the real action unless you check out her real blog. Grannies on the net- what more could you ask for.

  61. June 14, 2008 at 06:37

    I’d like to know what’s worse, the soldiers who used the Koran for target practice; or the ones who threw a puppy off a cliff and video taped it to send to the folks back home. Maybe alls fair in love and war, maybe not. The Koran shooters will be reprimanded transfered possibly suspended, but the puppy throwers could face a wrongful death charge (of a puppy). It’s all a symptom of boredom which makes you ask; why are we there again? Why is OPEC still in existence after the great appearance of the burning Bush?

  62. 63 viola anderson
    June 14, 2008 at 06:52

    @Dennis:

    Raffles is a very famous hotel in Singapore.

  63. 64 Katharina in Ghent
    June 14, 2008 at 07:22

    Good morning, everyone!

    What struck me so much about the two articles that I linked was that when the government announced the tax breaks a few months ago, the financial adviser on CNN kept saying, “don’t spend it on things you don’t need, use this extra money to pay for your mortgage or your credit card bill or your student loan or whereever else you owe money”. And what happened? Exactly the thing that was predicted: people took the 500$ cheque and bought an 800$ flat-screen TV.

    May I ask our American bloggers: did everybody get this cheque or only low-income-people or only home-owners or low-income-home-owners?

    @ puppy throwers: when you’re in a war and you want your enemie to feel low, then you target their holy books, but throwing an animal down a cliff… sorry, I have no excuse whatsoever for that.

  64. 65 Rick
    June 14, 2008 at 07:31

    The only conviction at Gitmo was Hicks who plea bargined to get the hell out of there!
    Who is still there? Are they good guys caught in the wrong place at the wrong time or bad guys? What does Bush have to loose by putting them on trial? Is there no evedence against them? America’s standing in the world has been tarnished by this whole ugly affair. The next president is going to close it down anyway so why does’nt he just get on with it?

  65. 66 Bob in Queensland
    June 14, 2008 at 07:58

    @Katharina in Ghent

    when you’re in a war and you want your enemie to feel low, then you target their holy books, but throwing an animal down a cliff… sorry, I have no excuse whatsoever for that.

    If shooting the Koran was psychological warfare to make the enemy “feel low” then they need a new psychologist! The end result was to provoke anger and to give the insurgents an apparent justification for their actions. I hadn’t heard the puppy story before this Blank Page but agree there’s no justification there. Boredom? Maybe. But I also wonder if it shows a certain lack of discipline in the American military, just like the high number of “friendly fire” or “blue on blue” incidents they get involved in compared to other countries’ armies. I wonder if at least some of this can be linked back to the way standards have tacitly been allowed to slip in order to meet recruiting targets. That’s a topic I’d like to see discussed!

  66. 67 Pangolin
    June 14, 2008 at 08:05

    @Guantanamo- I must say that I am highly disappointed in the Supreme Court for declaring that the US constitution might apply to actions of US government agents or citizens even offshore. Heck, under the system the Gitmo has been operating up till now you could go and collect yourself a harem of slaves and keep them offshore on a boat as long as you accused them of being terrorists.

    No proof needed. Just like in Iraq; we know the people we killed were terrorists because they were in the zone controlled by a known terrorist group. That zone being identified by the aiming mechanism of the missile launcher. Anyone in the crosshairs is a terrist.

    Just for fun I declare that anyone who disagrees with me is a terrorist and should be remanded to Gitmo. Starting with Tino.

    Who needs proof? I don’t have to prove anything because it’s top secret information that we don’t want revealed to the terrorists.

    The US is run by idiots.

  67. 68 Andrew
    June 14, 2008 at 08:12

    Correction.. Raffles is a very expensive hotel in Singapore!

  68. 69 Bob in Queensland
    June 14, 2008 at 08:34

    You could add “very” a couple more times to that sentence, Andrew! However, everyone should drink a Singapore Sling in Raffles at least once in there life–then more on to somewhere not quite so insanely expensive!

  69. 70 Andrew
    June 14, 2008 at 08:41

    Funny thing Bob, but in the past 20 years I have never had one.

  70. 71 Andrew
    June 14, 2008 at 08:45

    Still, when in Singapore you can’t beat a freshly crushed, chilled sugar cane juice. Good for whatever ails ya!

  71. 72 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 14, 2008 at 09:13

    @Dwight
    So let me get this right, Dwight. You think that a monthly mortgage payment is too high if it’s more than you earn in a WEEK? Or, rather, more than you take home after income and SS taxes? Wow. What portion of income do you imagine to be a reasonable maximum to pay for housing? The usual standard is 1/4 to 1/3, but even that had you squealing and strapped for beer money, so I’m curious. If you’re at all typical, people in Cleveland must have a lot of discretionary income. A WHOLE lot.

    The mortgage is not, as you imply, an innovation of impatiient, imprudent Gen-Xers, and has nothing to do with credit cards. It’s investment, not consumption. It’s the only way an ordinary person can buy a house. Imagine having to save up $150,000 to buy a house in cash. Even if you survived the pinch on your beer budget, it would take years, during which (a) house prices would rise, and (b) you’d be paying rent, which would also rise. You could then justifiably complain that only rich people could afford houses.

    If “blame” must be placed, most belongs to dishonest mortgage brokers and lenders. It bears mentioning, though, that it’s not all bad news. Home ownership in the US is at a historic high and will grow as prices slide.

    Gotta love the notion that if only “these people” didn’t piggishly demand “I want mine [cheap house] now,” then “one” could have a cheap house now. I’m guessing that “one” is you, and “these people” is everyone else. And what exactly is the difference between a “victim” and a “sucker?”

  72. 73 Bob in Queensland
    June 14, 2008 at 09:15

    Arrrrggghhh! I’d forgotten about the chilled sugar can juice–now you have me craving it! Beer last night, sugar cane juice tonight–WHYS is making me thirsty!

  73. June 14, 2008 at 10:24

    Funny how one week tends to lead to another it’s the wee couple hours after midnight and I’m still wound up on that Zimbabwe topic; Zimbabwe needs good thoughts people. Talking to Abdi a lot lately makes me realize how much I appreciate having friends from Africa, studying amongst them. When someone singles me out it allows me to see right through anger that can come with less understanding. But I cannot accept what some people call ‘reasonable’ measures in theory, especially when arriving at a positive conclusion is the only way to achieve a goal here: in theory.

  74. 75 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 14, 2008 at 10:46

    @Katharina:

    A hearty howdy to you too–good morning, or as we say in the US about now, good night.

    You asked who received those little “stimulus” checks. They went to nearly every taxpayer. Not based on income, although there may be some cutoff point for zillionaires, and low-income people don’t pay federal income tax. Entirely unrelated to home ownership, just as you said, but without the wink-wink-nudge-nudge sarcasm whose point eludes me.

    Their announced purpose was to get some money back into the hands of the populace, and thereby into the economy, so toward that end, it doesn’t matter what anyone bought. The CNN advice was about the most prudent use of the money in personal budgets, where it does matter.

    The obvious unstated premise is that money is more productive in the hands of the people than in the hands of the government. Cutting taxes was the only thing George W. Boob ever did right.

  75. 76 Katharina in Ghent
    June 14, 2008 at 10:50

    I have to agree with Jonathan on the mortgage issue. Paying 800 or 900$ a month for your own home doesn’t seem too bad, at least if your house doesn’t need a lot of repairs, but inToronto you couldn’t find a decent appartment for rent under at least 1200$, rather 1400$, and you still need insurance and often pay for utilities. The only serious demand that I have is that you should only buy a house if you have saved up a decent down-payment. We haven’t, and that’s why we still rent (paying 1100 EUROS plus utilities).

    @ Bob and desacrating the Koran: I don’t really approve of this method, it’s childish and insufficient to get the information you want, but then so were a lot of actions that happened in the US prisons in Iraq and in Gitmo. But just in general, the insurgents hated the West already before, otherwise we wouldn’t be in this mess that we’re in now. Also, all you need to do is make a couple of silly comics with Muhammad and let the Imams add a few more and you get some “beautiful” riots immediately.

  76. 77 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 14, 2008 at 11:08

    Katharina–You say “I have to agree with Jonathan” like it’s a bad thing! Relax and enjoy.

    If you’re forced to rent because you don’t have a down payment, why do you state a “serious demand” that a “decent down payment” should be required? (And how much is “decent?”) Surely you’d be better off without that stipulation, so you could buy.

  77. 78 Katharina in Ghent
    June 14, 2008 at 11:20

    Nah, it’s not a bad thing to agree with you, Jonathan, it’s just that some of the things that Dwight said were also right.

    My idea of a decent down-payment is at least 10% of the price, 20% would be better. From what I’ve heard here in Europe, a lot of the sub-prime mortgage takers didn’t have any down-payment at all, so why did they think that they could afford their own home? I know, because they were told so, but this is where lack of judgment comes in. BTW, the other reason why we rent is just simply that due to our profession (scientists) we just don’t know how long we will stay at a certain place, until we (that means, hy husband, he’s the brain) find a permanent position.

  78. 79 Zainab
    June 14, 2008 at 11:20

    Salam to all. how are you?
    I finished reading “The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton, actually i have watched the movie (starring by Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder) before, and i like it but believe me you have to read the text.
    (The Age of Innocence is about new values against old traditions, at the end traditions win).
    Now I want to ask a question. does tradition always win? and does your country still under the rule of Traditions?
    Concerning us in Arab countries Yes tradition ir ruling us. In fact, i don’t mind it all, but there are some traditions must be change. Though Islam came to correct some of the bad traditions like the preference of male over female, but still there are people who prefer boy over girl.
    ****
    how are you Dear Lubna? Tomorrow you will begin your final exams, won’t you?Insha Allah you will do well.
    About your simple question: I tell you that my secret tool is just like Dear Shirley,is the Holy Qur’an. Whenever i feel down, i just sit and read some chapters from It.

    yours truly,
    Zainab

  79. 80 Mohammed Ali
    June 14, 2008 at 11:34

    The law passed in Great Britain allowing the detention of a terror suspect for 42 days without charge and the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States given the rights of hebeas corpus to Gitmo detainees seem interesting. Interesting because these two countries are leading nations in the “War on Terror”. Now one is restoring the rights of terror suspects, the USA, while the other is basically eroding civil liberty all in the name of terrorism. Where do we are advocates for civil liberties and human rights stand on this issue?

  80. 81 victork13
    June 14, 2008 at 12:16

    @Zainab: you wrote, “Now I want to ask a question. does tradition always win? and does your country still under the rule of Traditions?”

    I don’t think its a question of tradition always winning, since it’s always possible to abolish some traditions. For me the important difference is between living and dead traditions, between traditions that are still able to address the issues that originally called them into existence, or adapt themselves into becoming solutions to new problems, and traditions that exist as a dead hand on society.

    A tradition that is flexible and capable of changing to meet new circumstances while maintaining continuity is my ideal. A tradition that has become ritualistic observance with little connection to present-day circumstances needs to be reformed or abolished. ‘Female genital mutilation’ (fgm), in a certain time and place, can be a perfectly rational practice (it’s wrong to think that because something is customary or traditional that it can have no justification). The poet Rimbaud, while in East Africa, tried to rape a local girl. He couldn’t get anywhere with her because she had undergone fgm. But in a country where rape is a crime covered by law and where law is properly enforced, fgm becomes an absurd tradition.

    I am very much in favour of living tradition in the form of institutional public and civil practices that work themselves out over generations and slowly evolve to accommodate themselves to new circumstances. That way you get solutions to social problems that draw on the experience of previous generations as well as that of those who just happen to be alive now.

    I think Britain is still a traditional society. Many – in fact,most – of our traditions exist within the sphere of civil society (universities, corporations, clubs, voluntary associations, charities, etc). But we are just as traditional in the public sphere in terms of our political, legal, religious and military institutions. Tony Blair, of course, was a great enemy of tradition and spoke of ‘destroying the forces of conservatism.’ He did his best to vandlaise the upper chamber of Parliament, the House of Lords. He hated it because it was the essence of tradition, even though nobody disputed that as a legislative chamber is was vastly superior to the partisan and slavish House of Commons, and though unelected was more representative of public opinion than the democratically elected Commons (watch the Lords reject the governemnt’s despotic attempt to hold people without charge for 42 days). An example of how tradition doesn’t always win and how good traditions are as liable to be undermined and destroyed as bad ones.

  81. 82 Katharina in Ghent
    June 14, 2008 at 12:46

    Salam Zainab, nice to have you on board.

    VictorK already made a nice statement about tradition vs. innovation, and I want to add that you have to look at things over a longer period of time. It may seem to you now that tradition is winning, but if tradition had always been winning, we would still be monkeys on the trees. I imagine the conversation several hundred thousand years ago went approximately like this:

    Young monkey: Look at all the nice ripe fruit on the ground, let’s go and get it.

    Old monkey: No! Tradition says you must not touch the ground.

    Y: But look, there’s all this nice fruit, up here there’s not much left to eat.

    O: No! The holy Lion God hath said that we shall never eat fruit that touches his ground.

    Y: But look over there, that lonely tree, it’s full with ripe fruit that’s still hanging in the tree!

    O: You must not leave our family tree. This tree has been in our family since the first monkey could roll his tail around the branch.

    Y: It’s just a tree! Anyway, I’ll go and get some ripe, soft, juicy fruit from the ground.

    O: No, you won’t. Only the oldest and wisest monkeys are allowed to eat the ripe, soft, juicy fruit, it helps them to establish contact with the Holy Lion God.

    And so on, and so on.

    Like VictoK said, some traditions are viable, but some become a liability. (What if there were no lions around anymore?)

  82. 83 Andrew
    June 14, 2008 at 13:09

    Traditions, don’t they seem more trouble than they are worth sometimes? A lot of traditions that have their roots in times long past don’t always translate well into a modern age. Yes, it can be argued that had he held onto and cherished these traditions perhaps we wouldn’t have such an erosion of societal values as can be seen in many societies, western or otherwise.

    Of course in the west they seem to have gone quicker than most as we pursue the goals of personal fulfilment and comfort over broader consideration of the well-being of the group and the wider community.

  83. 84 steve
    June 14, 2008 at 13:21

    Former University of Southern Florida student pleads guilty to planning terrorist attacks. Wasn’t this the same school that Sami al Arian taught at?

    http://www.tampabays10.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=82596&catid=8

  84. June 14, 2008 at 13:44

    @ Katharina:
    The first article tells us that the foreclosures in the US are on the rise again, the second tells us that US retail had a little bit of a windfall because people went and spent the tax rebates…

    I had a lovely time with my tax rebate. I saw it in my bank account one day, transfered $570 of it to pay off my student loans and went to dinner with the rest 🙂 I was debt free (aside from my mortgage) and had a wonderful meal to celebrate lol.

  85. June 14, 2008 at 14:07

    A few comments on the teaching in schools of the creationist model side by side with the scientific model:

    Why not? It is as important to understand the history and variety of ideas as it is to understand the ideas themselves. Newtonian physics are taught together with relativity theory and quantum physics, and these are a good basis for understanding the huge leap into the ‘new’ physics.

    The cosmologies of the Vedas, of Aristotle, Plato, Lucretius and so on, are fascinating in themselves. Not to be famiiar with them is to have a gap in your education.

    Besides this obvious point, those who belong to the atheist religion should also consider this sort of thing: In Big Bang theory, the initial lump is envisaged as being so dense that, while it has unimaginably high mass, it has no volume whatsoever; that is, a lump of matter that is so heavy and so compressed that it has absolutely zero size. Is this concept any more ‘rational’ to the relative human mind (except mathematically), as the concept of God is to the mystical mind? Mathematics, in its deepest sense, is really a mystical language describing processes and entities which the rational mind cannot otherwise apprehend in any way. In other words, the abstract statements of mathematics about the origins of our physical universe cannot be rationally verified except by mathematics itself, just as the existence of God cannot be verified except in the language of mysticism.

    The atheist religion is to be feared, not as a religion in itself, but because, were it assume the sort of power that the church assumed in the middle ages, it would probably do the same things to mystics as the church did to heretics.

    Schools have every right to teach creationism if the parents and children are happy to have it taught, and members of the atheist religion really have nothing to say about it.

  86. 87 Dennis
    June 14, 2008 at 14:14

    @ Viola ….thanks for that …..

    So now here is the clarification to the problem: Andrew in Australia and Selena are the Moderators over the weekend?

    If so, Andrew….please accept my apologies…..

    ~Chloe put “rufflesinsingapore” in her opening thesis….

    Dennis
    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  87. 88 Katharina in Ghent
    June 14, 2008 at 14:20

    Hi Dennis,

    It seems that I’m holding the fortress right now. If Andrew or Selena are already up, please let me know, with the different time zones it can get a bit confusing.

    Best,
    Kathi

  88. 89 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 14:26

    @Katharina

    I am here… saw Andrew was here when I got up and thought everything was in order.

    Thanks so much. I didn’t mean for you to be burdened.

    I am checking the posts and will be all day.

  89. 90 Shirley
    June 14, 2008 at 14:34

    Bob, you said but if they’re being used in the context of “here’s what some are teaching but here’s why it’s wrong” then (perhaps) fair enough. I am not so sure myself that those texts were used in that context. That school was Saudi sponsored. I already know what happens with Saudi money when it is used to fund mosques here in the U.S. “Bid`ah” and “haram” and “kufar” are screamed – literally screamed – from the pulpit.* I have read texts that were issued from Saudi presses. Their “translations” of the Qur’an really do advocate combative jihad over and above spiritual jihad. They really do paint a picture of a God who literally sits on a literal throne, has a literal face and literal hands, and literally laughs. They really do pull the rug of contextual understanding out from under passages that deal with non-Muslims and warfare. I have no doubt that these extremist fanatics are teaching the same mucous-ridden nonsense at that school. I am also certain that the school in question is unique from other schools, the examples of which I listed earlier. Shutting it down should not affect the general nature of Islamic education in the U.S.

    * 1) sinful innovation; 2) prohgibited; 3) infidels

  90. 91 Katharina in Ghent
    June 14, 2008 at 14:36

    Thanks Selena,

    I wasn’t burdened at all, just having a good excuse for not pursuing my house-cleaning work… 😉

    Have fun approving!

  91. 92 Shirley
    June 14, 2008 at 14:45

    Hi, Katharina
    Most of my family received the stimulus cheques. If anyone got an expensive TV with theirs, they have kept it secret. It does irk me to hear about people’s bad judgement when it comes to free money like that. Most of us average Joes are in debt and should be pouring money on those debts and then shredding cards.

  92. 93 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 14:49

    @Zainab

    Good to see you!

    I don’t know what to say about tradition. Personally I believe it causes more trouble than it is worth.

    Still, there is the English side of the family that swears by it. I don’t fault them for that.

    In the West tradition has evolved somewhat. Now I am scratching my head, can tradition evolve? 🙂 Is it still tradition?

    When I was a child, women still wore headcoverings in church and some even when they went outside the house. No one does that any more. But I grew op in a rural area and it took longer to change here.

  93. 94 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 14:50

    Thanks again Kathi 🙂

  94. 95 steve
    June 14, 2008 at 14:52

    @ Shirley

    THe stimulus checks are not “free money”, they are tax revenues collected from you and from other people. I didn’t even get one despite paying a lot more in taxes than the unmarried people that did get them, despite me not being “wealthy” by any rational person’s standards.

  95. 96 Bob in Queensland
    June 14, 2008 at 14:55

    @Steve

    Tax revenues? Or just another addition to America’s already-massive budget deficit?

    Many posters above have criticised people for living beyond their means and buying houses they can’t really afford. Isn’t that exactly what the USA is doing by running it’s financial affairs like this?

  96. 97 Andrew
    June 14, 2008 at 15:00

    Hi Katharina, I have been here checking the blog, occasionally rushing out of the room to attend to a few Saturday night things around the house. Noticed someone was also hovering in the background checking the occasional post. Bob was online earlier in the evening also. Hope to be around for few more hours, had a 5 am finish yesterday night phew! To add to the demystification of the raffles tag, when I signed up for the wordpress account that was the name of the blog I created and it took me time to figure out I could actually change the profile and add a name. So that’s where that came from.

  97. 98 Andrew
    June 14, 2008 at 15:09

    But Bob, isn’t that how modern society is geared up to work? To lock people into a materialistic spiral that ensures they maintain the consumer lifestyle at their own peril regardless of whether they can afford to indulge or not. Remember here in Oz when Treasurer Costello introduced the baby bonus and the fuss about reports that many parents who used that cash on plasma TVs and holidays rather than invest it in their child’s future.

    By perpetuating the buy, buy, buy mentality there is a great deal of money to be made by various sectors. Credit companies for one reap an absolute fortune from interest on credit card balances. If you have a clean credit history and do not owe money, plus a healthy bank balance it can be harder to obtain additional credit than for someone who is clearly unable to afford it and should not be given credit.

  98. 99 Bob in Queensland
    June 14, 2008 at 15:18

    @Shirley

    If that turns out to be the case then I’m in full agreement that this particular school has no business being open to teach hatred.

    However, my main point is that I’m not willing to jump on a bandwagon of condemnation based on a brief news story. All too often, such stories are sensationalised and later turn out not to be completely true. In this case, I don’t feel I have full information and until I do I’ll reserve judgement.

  99. 100 Luz María Guzmán-Lozano from México
    June 14, 2008 at 15:26

    @Katharina : Great comment about tradition! It really made me laugh 🙂

    I think some traditions are a good way to remember the past, to keep your history as a person or as a community. But others are only instruments of oppression.

    For instance, in my country there are still indigenous populations that hold tight their traditions. Some are good, e.g. if a man murders another man, he has to take care -financially- of the widow and her children, in addition to his criminal punishment.

    But other traditions are really bad, e.g. ritualistic rape before marriage: men abduct and rape their girlfriends in order to marry them. They rape them in the men’s houses and the morning after they show their mothers the stained sheets, then they marry their girlfriends. If a girl refuses to marry after the rape, she often gets beat by her father/brothers and is expelled from the community. Many people say ritualistic rape does not happen anymore, but, personally, I have employed some women from indigenous communities who were raped before marriage. One of them refused to marry and she was severely beaten. They hope this tradition disappears soon.

    So, this is an example about my country, that claims being modern and in its way of overcoming underdeveloped, but in many places is still quite the opposite.

    Cheers,
    Luz María

  100. 101 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 15:30

    @Andrew

    Modern society cannot survive without spending. Every time someone cuts down on spending, another person loses a job.

    On another note:

    I have been writing for years about multi national corporations and globalization and have always felt the concept would be the ruination of the globe.

    One little example: The small town in Canada in which I grew up and still maintain a residence used to be self-sufficient in food.Today, if we were cut off from the outside world for a month we would all starve.

    There is only enough food on store shelves to last until the food trucks return the following week.

    People were encouraged to give up farming and, if they did farm, the imported food was too cheap for anyone to buy local food.

    It didn’t require any special smarts to see that the globalization concept would not be good for the consumer in the long run.

  101. 102 Venessa
    June 14, 2008 at 15:38

    I know plenty of people that went out and spent their stimulus check on junk instead of taking care of things that should have been a much higher priority. But that’s my opinion just like my opinion that an individuals bad judgement that have gotten them into financial difficulties.

    @ Katharina ~ good for you for having the sense to recognize if it is a good idea to take a risk with whatever your circumstance is at the time. More people should do the same.

    I’m not sure I agree that you have to have a large down payment if you plan accordingly. I purchased my first home with only a 3% down payment although I had plenty more to contribute to it. It seemed smarter for me keep some money for the “what if” scenarios. Using this logic I spent about $20k less than I initially planned to spend and compromised on neighborhoods that I was looking at. Of course this was about 5 years ago but I purchased the home for $132k (the house I’m in now cost more than double that only 3 years later but I have my husbands income too). My mortgage payments with taxes, insurance & MIP were $1050 per month; 1/3 of my net pay. I also continue to drive the same car that is now 8 years old and was paid off prior to purchasing my last home. I have no desire to keep up with the Jone’s which explains why I have a modest home and an older car. These were all choices I made just as the individuals that are finding themselves in trouble now.

    I have to agree with Bob, the US runs it’s financial affairs much like it’s citizens. Over extending oneself into debt is not a smart choice….

  102. 103 Andrew
    June 14, 2008 at 15:42

    That is very true Selena. But considering the implications of people who spend beyond their means, the ruin it brings to them and the affect on their families a major rethink is needed on how people spend and if they should in fact be spending.

    A great many problems could be avoided if sense prevailed, alas it doesn’t. People are convinced they must spend and to spend on pointless things, things they don’t need but are convinced they must have – hence the problems. But as in your post yesterday was one of the 10 points you listed stupidity or am I thinking about how people are easily led? That is the root cause of this problem.

    Unfortunately many do not take a long term view of their lives. Spend now and worry about the rest later as long as I have my 200″ HiDef plasma to keep me company at night. It reminds me of all my classmates who decided to defer paying their tertiary fees on the reasoning that (at that time) I will never earn that much per year so the automatic deductions from my salary wont ever bother me. They ended up with high bills later on due to the accrued interest charges while those who payed up front avoided this sting later on.

    I just think that OK the capitalist system we have now requires spending. That is probably something we really need to think about as while it provides employment to many, it also depletes resources, creates a great deal of waste but most of all encourages unecessary spending that places individuals and families in financial stress they could have avoided.

    I’m not saying this applies to everyone, but it seems only sensible to live within your means and if that means you have to do without sometimes and just not keep up with the Jones’ then it is a sacrifice we should be prepared to make.

  103. 104 Venessa
    June 14, 2008 at 16:05

    Andrew says:

    “I’m not saying this applies to everyone, but it seems only sensible to live within your means and if that means you have to do without sometimes and just not keep up with the Jones’ then it is a sacrifice we should be prepared to make.”

    SPOT ON!

    “A great many problems could be avoided if sense prevailed, alas it doesn’t. People are convinced they must spend and to spend on pointless things, things they don’t need but are convinced they must have – hence the problems. But as in your post yesterday was one of the 10 points you listed stupidity or am I thinking about how people are easily led? That is the root cause of this problem. ”

    No one can convince me that ignorance is a justifiable excuse for financial woes. We live in a time where information is available at our fingertips. Anyone who makes an investment should surely do the research; it’s not as if you can’t find the answers to your questions or confusions.

  104. 105 Katharina in Ghent
    June 14, 2008 at 16:12

    Hi Venessa,

    Having still some money somewhere hidden for the extra need is of course a good idea, I just moved to this new house and we definitely had some extra expenses. Also, you never know and you might get laid off or have a child or something else comes up, and then you need to rely on this cushion. To me, that’s why it makes sense to “prove” that you can save money, if you’re able to save 15.000 to 20.000$ so that you can afford the down-payment, then you will also be able to continue saving, so that you can afford to repair the roof or the bathroom or new windows or whatever else your house demands for the upkeep. If you barely make it from paycheque to paycheque, then buying a house seems like a bad idea to me.

  105. 106 Amy
    June 14, 2008 at 16:19

    @ “Stimulus Checks”

    Steve and I don’t often agree, but he is correct when he says that the checks are not free money. What most people don’t realize is that it will be treated as income and needs to be reported on a person’s 2008 tax return. We took our check and used it towards debt. We are trying to set a good example for our daughters that it isn’t wise to live beyond your means. We have a very close friend that has been doing that and is now going through a divorce and has to move and sell her car since she can’t afford it anymore. She still hasn’t learned yet and sees no problem with 3 or 4 visits a week to Starbucks and spending $80 on a pair of shoes.

    Amy in Beaverton

  106. 107 Andrew
    June 14, 2008 at 16:21

    @ Vanessa

    You lead me to a point I wanted to make last night and that is accepting responsibility for one’s actions.

    Without preaching, I see it all the time. E.g. recent Worldservice HYS debates have many posters who berate the UK government for endless legislation and the complain about the nanny state. But more often than not rules and laws exist for people and society’s benefit which are ignored either through selfishness or beligerence and of course problems then ensue. What happens next…? Calls for the government to do more or howls of protest as the government is not seen to be doing enough.

    As you noted in this day and age there is so much information out there, people are presumed to be well informed and educated but inevitably through stupidity or ignorance – let’s be blunt about it – people will either do the wrong thing or get themsleves into a jam but it is never their fault. They make the decision but it is always down to someone else.

    With the financial crisis, sure you want to own a home, that is a noble, acceptable desire who can refuse someone a home of their own? Sure the mortgage brokers seduced many people and issue false hope, but you as the end user with the ultimate responsibility and paying the ultimate price, must know what you are doing and cannot say later on, “Well they said it was going to be OK,” or “They made me do it.” But that is what happens time and time again. Along with looking for someone else to bail them out of their predicament.

  107. 108 Luz María Guzmán-Lozano from México
    June 14, 2008 at 16:26

    @Selena

    I agree with you about multinational corporations and globalization. I did some research about this issue when I studied my Masters degree. Specifically the effects of it in my country which, by the way, I think will pay the price (or sadly is already paying it), for letting local industry and business die.

    Here, in the 90s, there was a boom of the Maquiladora industry (sweatshops), most of it in the U.S.-Mexican border. Many people from the center and south of Mexico migrated to the border towns to work in the industry. Nowadays, Maquiladoras are going to other countries looking for even cheaper labor (even tough Mexican labor is very cheap). So, we are left with cities and towns in the border full of unemployed men and women (sadly many women in this industry are single mothers).

    Selena, which part of Canada are you from? I lived in Montreal for 6 years. My youngest daughter was born there. I love your country! 🙂

  108. 109 Amy
    June 14, 2008 at 16:28

    Zainab,

    So glad to see with us this weekend. My 8 year old daughter Natalie was asking about you this past week while talking about Lubna. She was wondering where in Iraq you live and if it is a safe place. I told her that I would ask next time you were on the blog but I knew that you did everything you could to be safe.

    As for traditions, here in the US we have some that have been embraced by many that started as specific to a culture (St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo come to mind). We also have many family traditions – one of ours is opening one gift on Christmas eve (usually a new pair of pajamas).

    Amy in Beaverton, Oregon

  109. 110 Venessa
    June 14, 2008 at 16:38

    Katharina,

    I have to say it was a good idea to have the “what if” money. I did have to have new lines for my oil furnace run; during the holiday’s no less. I also had a few other uh-oh’s pop up. They were minor; only a few hundred dollars here and there but it sure adds up and if your tight budget can’t handle an unexpected hit then it’s time to re-evaluate what can be afforded.

    Amy,

    I’m glad you are setting a good example for your child. I wish I could say my brother was doing the same along with a few of my other friends. I have one friend in particular who has been living beyond her means, refinancanced her house to eliminate over $30k of credit card debt, then took back nearly $100k to live on and is out buying new furniture and computers. Of course on top of it she doesn’t even have an income that covers the monthly mortgage. I’m sure this is an extreme but it still sickens me that people behave like this and then wonder why they have nothing later on down the road.

  110. 111 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 16:49

    @Luz

    I live on the “poor” east coast. My two sons attended McGill University. One is still there; the other is in the US. I love Montreal.

    Where I live we were always regarded as the poorest of the poor, by the people in Canadian cities. So, of course we believed it.

    The truth of the matter is we were, I stress were, far richer than anyone in the cities, even the rich. We were entirely self sufficient.

    That was then and this is now. Now if we decide to go back it will take a long time. The self sufficient tradition has been lost to all but a few of the older people.

    I feel strongly that we must find a way to reverse the trend of being taken in by the latest move to manipulate us. I see it going on big time now with global warming.

    Maybe it is not within us to change but maybe it is. We don’t know because we have never tried to resit the next big push.

  111. 112 Luz María Guzmán-Lozano from México
    June 14, 2008 at 16:51

    @Amy

    Maybe you already know this, but in Mexico we don´t usually celebrate Cinco de Mayo, even that it is a holiday. Here is the story behind this tradition:

    (I took it from Wikipedia, sorry, I didn´t have time to write it myself because I have to run some errands)

    “Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “5th of May”) is a regional holiday in Mexico, primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla. It is not an obligatory federal holiday.The holiday commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The date is observed in the United States and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.

    A common misconception in the United States is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day; Mexico’s Independence Day is actually September 16 (dieciséis de septiembre in Spanish), which is the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico.

    In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico.[The date is perhaps best recognized in the United States as a date to celebrate the culture and experiences of Americans of Mexican ancestry, much as St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest, and the Chinese New Year are used to celebrate those of Irish, German, and Chinese ancestry respectively. “

  112. 113 Luz María Guzmán-Lozano from México
    June 14, 2008 at 16:58

    @Selena

    I will respond properly to you later. I am a little bit busy with my daughters since it is Saturday. I only want to let you know that my husband and I are McGill alumni! Great university! 🙂

  113. June 14, 2008 at 17:58

    Hello again to all of you my Precious friends, and I’m really sooooo sorry for the terribly late reply ! I had my community medicine final exam earlier today… Thanks a million to all of you guys for replying to my question… I do love you all soooo much… You know, when someone you love is gone, and you realise that you’ll never see him/her again, then he/she will leave a scar in your heart that’ll never heal no matter how much time has passed or will pass… But when there’re too many scars for your heart to bear up with, then your feelings will start to become all numb, and nothing at all can shock you or make you shed tears, but at the same time nothing at all can cheer you up or make you truely happy ! Today as me and my close girlfriends arrived to our college early in the morning, we found out that our beloved colleague, the 6th year medical student who was supposed to graduate this year from medical school, Ali Hassan Askar had been murdered three days ago by a random fire shooting near his house !!! I didn’t feel shocked or even surprised, I didn’t shed a tear, I felt absolutely nothing at all !!! With my love.. Yours forever, Lubna..

  114. June 14, 2008 at 18:24

    Wow, I just had this long post in answer to Jonathan. The computer overheated and died. Just when I was talking about saving and contingency plans. How ironic that I had not saved the post.

    @Jonathan

    Here we go again.

    The fact that people think that 3 times their annual income is ”reasonable” for their housing is outlandish and why I feel no sympathy. The actual amount depends on many factors. How much is your commute costs, what standard of living do you long for, how much time do you want to spend in that house, and do you have children, medical or future saving plans? However a good rule of thumb is that the principle payment should be no more then one weeks total net household salary. Your actual monthly obligation will include property taxes and insurance. But once you move in, you have energy and communication expenses that also are part of your “housing cost”. Most people move in and buy stuff to put in the house, not to mention “fix it up”. They usually put this on a credit card, that also becomes part of the “housing costs. You can expect to spend half of your net monthly income on this cost.

    A panel of psychiatrists, neurologist, an auto mechanic, and a proctologist have decided I am anything but a-typical. But in the end the foreclosure rates is still under 20%. That means 80% of the people are out there and holding on. In Cleveland we had an added bonus to our financial woes known as NAFTA.

    Not rich people, but financially responsible people are the only people who should be buying houses. Again, if the demand hadn’t skyrocketed by people who had “credit” to bid up the market artificially, then the supply would have remained more attainable. No, “stupid me” was trying to pay with money I actually made. On the brighter side, those of us that were more reserved can now pick from house that we would only have dreamt about before.

    The lie that buying a house is an “investment” is one we can pin on the idiots who came up with “the ownership society” and the banks. As a general rule Investments should make you money in your lifetime. For example a $1000 1 year bond that yields a 5% apr will leave you with $1050 at the end of a year. (of course that is depending on how much it cost to drive to the bank, buy the bond, go and pick up your money, and pay for the parking ticket you got while there.) A $120,000 house loan for 30 years @ 6.5% is going to cost you $273,053 give or take a nickel. That is without insurance, property tax, and maintenance costs. That is a net loss on your investment of more then double. Now I know people who make this kind of investment. They are generally trying to launder the money they have made. A house is not an investment unless you pay cash upfront. Otherwise it is a way to suit one of you three basic needs.

    Now I agree, and even history scholars will tell you the original draft of the Declaration said “… life, liberty, and the pursuit of ‘land’”. However, your government sold that dream down the river in the 80’s with “trickle down” economics. I hate to scare you more but they are still lying. For ownership to grow, people need jobs. A huge part of our economic base in the past has been new home construction. Guess who isn’t employed if we are just buying up newer already built houses. From here knowledge of economics is needed, but let me tell you. It doesn’t look good.

    Yes the one could have been me. The guy squiring away his cash, living in places that rats were afraid of, and eating things that would make a Billy goat puke. Actually that is a lie, I bet the farm on becoming either a rock star or a pirate, and neither worked out. One thing I never did was spend money I didn’t have. The difference between a victim and a sucker that a victim is the result of an unforeseeable circumstance that by all logic shouldn’t have happened. A “sucker” is one who goes willingly into a situation with out taking a look at the logic of the situation and then ends with a negative outcome. If one can’t see that spending more then they make is a losing proposition, they are destined for “sukertude”.

  115. 116 Zainab
    June 14, 2008 at 18:34

    Good evening all my friends,

    VictorK13

    Of course I agree with you VictorK13 that there are good and bad traditions. Actually i consider myself a traditional person, cuz I respect and apply most of our traditions. I like the traditions of family gathering at weekends, and of warm welcome to the guests, and of generosity and of keeping one’s word…etc. These are from the very long past and rooted into our society generation after generation.
    I don’t like to break the rules of society if they are good. But at the same time I cannot break those rules if they are not good, because at that time i will be out-of-traditions, and Society will look at me differently. So that is what i call “the rule of traditions.”
    For example, in some western as well as eastern countries there is the tradition of “revenge” one cannot leave his father’s killer alive. The son must kill the killer, and if the son chooses to forgive the killer, his clan will announce him as “out-of-the-traditions,” and maybe they will kill him.
    ————
    Dear Katharina in Ghent and Selenayvonne,
    thank you and i’m happy to be with you.
    ————-
    Dear Amy,
    how are you? happy to be with you. A big hug to your lovely Natalie. Tell her that i’m so happy that she asked about me, I live in baghdad and I’m (Thank God) just fine, I wish you and her a happy blessing life.

    Yours truly,
    Zainab from Iraq

  116. 117 Andrew
    June 14, 2008 at 18:47

    My favourite traditions often involve animals and their treatment. Such as cock fighting. Torturing animals for entertainment or brutally killing them in the name of said tradition when there are better ways to dispatch them or food alternatives altogether. Doing something for long enough isn’t much of an excuse when you think about it. And then to criticise when they are scolded for their behaviour or scream out prejudice.

  117. June 14, 2008 at 18:47

    As for who to blame for the “mortgage crisis”. It is funny. The borrowers blame the lenders and the government, the government blames the buyers and the lenders, and the lenders blame the government and the buyers. The reality is they are all right. Our economy is based upon a huge flaw. We must have perpetual growth. We must always have people to buy houses, cars, big screen TV’s, and other durable goods. The problem is that they are well, durable. To ensure that we keep buying these things the government and the market have combined forces to us all greedy and financially ignorant.

    It is working. We don’t even know a good investment when we see it. Taxes? Very good investment. If I had to send monthly checks to different companies for the mile I drove on their roads, keeping criminals off the streets and imprisoned, the land clean, the drugs safe, the doctors licensed, and a bazillion other things that we use without thought in this country, well I would be broke for sure. 80% get more back from every tax dollar taken from us then we give. At the lower income brackets, we see a nearly doubling of our investment. That is with the reckless use of those tax dollars that we currently exist at.

    The mortgage crisis is a western developed world problem. If you live in a third world uncivilized area of the world they have a couple of terms for those who can not control their debt to earnings ratio. Hungry, homeless, and dead are labels applied to these people.

  118. 119 Shirley
    June 14, 2008 at 18:51

    Paging John in Germany:
    John, you stated on the Zimbabwe thread that the UN Security Council is not allowed to act in certain situations that are occurring around the world. Can you point out a few examples for me? I don’t know how to keep up with that kind of info.

  119. 120 Dennis
    June 14, 2008 at 18:54

    Katharine in Ghent:
    thanks for the information….

    Chloe was not able to check her facts….

    Time for a proper welcome: Welcome Andrew and Selena…

    Dennis
    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    U.S.A.

  120. 121 Shirley
    June 14, 2008 at 18:55

    Bob, I her you. Usually when those stories like that are posted on blogs like this one, it is to back up a racist viewpoint against Muslims. It is too easy to focus on the sensational when the general pattern of behaviour is vastly different.

  121. 122 Zainab
    June 14, 2008 at 18:56

    Salam alycom
    @Lubna,
    I’m so sorry for what happened to your colleague, Ali Hussan. Insha Allah he’ll be in Heaven, just pray for him, that is all we can do.
    Before 3 weeks my colleague Huda, and all her family have been died in Air strikes on their house.
    All these matters are happening, I don’t know but maybe we get used to hear such words as “died, killed, murdered…etc.” as you once said.
    But i want to tell you one thing we will never forget our love ones.
    Yours truly,
    Zainab

  122. 123 Andrew
    June 14, 2008 at 19:01

    Thanks Dennis

  123. June 14, 2008 at 19:08

    @ tax stimulus checks.

    It is a “tax refund” and you do not have to report it in 2008. It was also about as stupid of an idea as you can get. We had to “borrow” money to make it happen. Essentially we reduced the value of our dollar to make more of them. It is kind of like taxing but done republican style. Instead of taking money right out of your check, you get the same amount of money in your check, but what it can buy is less stuff. A loaf of bread, ear of corn, and gallon of gas ends up just costing more. It is a very dishonest way to levy a tax against your citizens really.

    The really stupid thing is that most of us put it towards things we had already spent money on in the form of credit, or we bought stuff from china at Wal-Mart. Since our trade deficit is the biggest drag on our economy, especially the one with China, this actually helped only to speed us down the road of our demise.

    If you really want to “stimulate” the economy, we need to bankrupt the credit industry, wipe out all consumer debt, stop participating in anything that resembles “free trade”, replace minimum wage with a minimum percentage, and move towards a policy that forces other countries to compete on a level field with the US industry.

  124. 125 Dennis
    June 14, 2008 at 19:20

    As were are talking about Zimbabwe:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7452828.stm

    ~It is sad that the people in Zimbabwe are getting punished because they have a leader Robert Mugabe, who is leading the country to a non-profit country…

    Did anyone saw the story about 2 young kids in Spain, having get placed in a mental health centre, because they are having problems etc…addictions to the cell phone!
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7452463.stm

    ~it is sad that this culture, encourages children to used the cell phone to a point of this kind!

    **YOU ARE WELCOME ANDREW*** –SORRY FOR ANY MISUNDERSTANDINGS.

    Dennis
    Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York
    USA

  125. 126 Andrew
    June 14, 2008 at 19:33

    None taken Dennis. Don’t think twice about it.

    About the phone addiction, I have often thought that addiction to technology stems from a basic fear of interracting with others socially. I can’t remember who it was now that said to relate with others is one of the most difficult things humans have to do in life. I think it was a well-known psychologist, though not well enough for me to remember him, or perhaps it was David Attenborough. So it is no surprise that we would choose to use technology as either a crutch or an intereface to avoid social interaction altogether. It is not just about wanting to keep in touch (phones that is).

    But like any addiction it is hard to overcome and takes a great effort to achieve.

  126. June 14, 2008 at 19:56

    Shirley:

    As John isn’t responding, forgive me if I butt in and answer your question about the security council being hamstrung. As you know, each of the members of the security council has a veto right by which any proposal can be stopped. If four of the permanent members, for instance, vote for action in the case of Tibet, China, as the fifth, will always veto that proposal, and that will be the end of any action on Tibet, or whatever happens to be proposed. For this reason, many of the issues which should be put on the security council agenda are simply left off it, in the knowledge that one or another of the members is bound to veto the thing. This means that the security council is not much more than a lame duck, completely undemocratic in both concept and function, and more like a council of ancient emperors than like something acceptable in the modern world.

    And this:

    I have been following your postings on several threads because you regularly speak about Islam, which interests me. It seems to me that the Islam that you are expressing is one which has undergone some ‘westernizing.’ Would you agree with that comment? For instance, you declare yourself to be against anti-Semitism (which must be a difficult position to maintain with your middle-east co-religionists), and you have expressed several views which seem to show a different sort of Islam than the Arabic one? Am I right? Is Islam in the west becoming westernized, and, if so, does ‘western’ Islam have something to teach Arabic Islam?

    It interests me because the religion with which I associate myself (Buddhism) is in a similar phase of westernization, and I definitely feel that the western form has something to give to the eastern.

    Some time ago I asked you how Islam would view marriage to a divorcee, and had no reply. The reason I asked was because I know a certain catholic ‘someone’ who married a divorcee, and was cut off by the church from all the essential life of the church i.e. the sacraments, and the marriage was not recognized. The person was , effectively, denied ‘eternal life’ by the church (although, as you may know, there are times when married life can seem a bit like eternal life), but chose his wife instead, and much later discovered Buddhism. So, what’s the Muslim take on this, I ask again.

    And, how do you handle things like Zainab’s posting on tradition, above?

  127. 128 steve
    June 14, 2008 at 20:19

    Obama is at it again. Says he will lower taxes on the “middle class” but once again, doesn’t define it. So what’s going to happen is taxes will go up for anyone unmarried and making more than $75,000 or married and making more than $150,000 combined. This will hurt the middle class in large cities because you can make $75,000 in a big city and basically have to go to food banks because the cost of living is so high. So the urban middle class will be punished by this rather than being helped.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080614/ap_on_el_pr/obama_economy

  128. 129 VictorK
    June 14, 2008 at 21:23

    @Shirley: you wrote, “Usually when those stories like that are posted on blogs like this one, it is to back up a racist viewpoint against Muslims.” Islam is a creed (or, as I look at it, an ideology). Muslims are not a race. Therefore there can’t be any racism against them as Muslims.

    @Donovan: your point about a westernised Islam was interesting. I think any strictly orthodox Muslim would come to a similar conclusion. There is unlikely to be any future for a liberalised /Westernised Islam since the orthodox will probably repudiate it as a corrupt heresy. I don’t blame them. Islam has survived for 1400 years not by opening itself to new influences or tolerating rival belief systems but by crushing anything that is unislamic or contrary to Islamic tradition. Centuries ago there was a radical, rationalising reform movement in Islam. The orthodox recognised its potential threat and exterminated it. The so-called extreme Muslims, unfortunately, represent orthodoxy; the liberals are the heretics and – you’ll have noticed – usually dare not operate in Muslim countries, but propagandise on behalf of their version of Islam from the safety of places like London, New York, Amsterdam and Paris. I think the orthodox are right. liberal Islam is really just another name for Westernisation. It amounts to reforming Islam by abolishing it and re-working it according to secular Western ideas of tolerance, moderation, and mutual respect, ideas that are not part of the Islamic tradition.

  129. June 14, 2008 at 21:46

    @ Steve

    I have been listening to the tax plan breakdowns for the two candidates all week. The same facts seem to be acknowledged. Both Obama and McCain seem to be just proposing to extend the “Bush tax cuts”. McCain wants to extend the whole tax package that he originally voted against. Obama wants to let the tax breaks for those families that make over $250,000 expire. A decent summary of the things I have heard can be found herehttp://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2008/06/mccain_vs_obama_on_taxes.html

  130. June 14, 2008 at 22:38

    Victor: It seems to me that something like an Islamic ‘reformation’ might take place by the agency of western Muslims. Initially then, as with the Christian Reformation, the ‘protestants’ may be viewed as heretics, until they have survived and multiplied long enough to have become a permanent presence. That’s the idea I’m chasing after here…

  131. 132 viola anderson
    June 14, 2008 at 23:24

    The problem with traditions is that it happens so fast; do it twice and, voila, it’s a tradition.

  132. 133 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 23:29

    Obama, Obama, Obama

    The poor man has to say and do what needs to be said and done, to get elected.

    I hope that he doesn’t fall as quickly as he rose.

  133. 134 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 23:35

    @ Andrew

    Being around people is very stressful and very tiring. Yet, most of us desire to be around people.

    So, we seem to get the interactions we need by writing to each other, as on this blog. 🙂

    But even here our interactions are not always free of stress. When someone says something that goes against our beliefs it is easy to become angry and stressed. Crazy really because we don’t really know the individuals and we are only typing and reading words.

    The human brain is a dichotomy desiring love but pushing it away at that same time.

  134. 135 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 23:35

    @ Viola

    That made me laugh 🙂

  135. 136 viola anderson
    June 14, 2008 at 23:42

    Zimbabwe:

    I once read an article in a magazine about businesses started by entrepreneurs who have come up with a really good idea for a business. Apparently, such businesses at a certain point must replace management by entrepreneurs with management by professionals trained specifically in the skills needed to run a business.

    Maybe a similar mechanism would work with governments of countries that came into being after fighting a war of liberation where the leader of the rebellion becomes the leader of the country because of the respect he won from the people for leading them to victory. After the war is over, it requires different skills to run a country and the war-leader should step aside for the good of the country and its people.

  136. 137 viola anderson
    June 14, 2008 at 23:52

    Selena: Because it’s so true?

    I learned this from a friend of mine who is a pastor in the United Church of Canada. She was talking about preparing for the Christmas celebration. During the planning meeting, she laid out her ideas after which someone stood up and said, clearly outraged, “But aren’t we going to do…(something they’d done the previous Christmas, never before)? But it’s a tradition!”

  137. 138 selenayvonne
    June 14, 2008 at 23:59

    @Viola

    From my experience, many people with ideas are not managers. There are exceptions.

    So, you have a great idea. After the war bring in the managers.

  138. 139 selenayvonne
    June 15, 2008 at 00:00

    @ Viola

    The tradition thing is probably true too. Some people get easily set in their ways.

  139. 140 Dennis
    June 15, 2008 at 00:15

    Hi everyone….

    Did anyone see this report about Key Iraqi Leaders delivers set-back to the U.S.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/13/AR2008061302019.html?wpisrc=newsletter

    ~what is the going to mean for the people in iraq~ including our dear friends lubna & zainab….

    my opinion: it means some major problems with it…

    Dennis
    OCC
    Syracuse, New York
    USA

  140. 141 Dennis :)
    June 15, 2008 at 00:18

    We have talk about this sort of topic in the past!

    I just saw this story: about sex offenders changing there names, to gain a new identity…it may have hit a major set-back….Which is a good thing.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/06/15/2274943.htm

    Dennis
    OCC
    Syracuse, New York
    USA

  141. 142 viola anderson
    June 15, 2008 at 00:39

    Traditions:

    The problem with taking personal revenge for wrongs suffered is that it leads to feuds which can cause endless suffering.

    I seem to recall reading that the tradition of revenge as a control on society is usually a phase that kinship-based societies go through. It is a personal response to what is viewed as a crime against oneself or one’s kin. To change the personal revenge- as-deterrent, feuding, kin-based society (a kind of government, if you will), the members of such a society must recreate itself into a system whereby personal revenge is outlawed and, instead, a system based on objective law designed to create a just society is established.

    In other words, a system of law and of law enforcement would replace revenge killings and, in the best of worlds, provide justice for all. Revenge killings would then become nothing more than murder.

  142. 143 Tino
    June 15, 2008 at 00:51

    @ Donovan

    “Victor: It seems to me that something like an Islamic ‘reformation’ might take place by the agency of western Muslims. Initially then, as with the Christian Reformation, the ‘protestants’ may be viewed as heretics, until they have survived and multiplied long enough to have become a permanent presence. That’s the idea I’m chasing after here…”

    I can only hope you are correct, but I doubt it for one main reason. They went so far as to completely separate themselves due to their genuine disgust with practices of the Church. These westernized Muslims generally, instead, present their view of the religion as the mainstream one and still strongly identify with traditional Muslims. I am obviously not sure how the original protestants were, but to me it seems like they did not do so. They kept belief in God/Jesus but I would expect ‘protestant’ Muslims to do the same. The ahmadiyya is not even ‘protestant’ by many standards, but still many Muslims protest and even kill/discriminate against them – recently in Indonesia. Any protestant Muslims would be viewed as an attack on Islam as far as I can tell and everyone knows how that goes.

  143. 144 Dennis
    June 15, 2008 at 01:14

    Another country that has ratify its constitution:
    Kosovo, is an NEW country–yes, i already knew it has been for a few months now…But the United Nations has did the formality.

    Story came on BBC News Website:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7455171.stm

    Dennis
    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  144. 145 Shirley
    June 15, 2008 at 01:19

    Amy, Steve
    stimulus checks:
    I was referring to the fact that one did not ave to work in order to receive them as direct wages. I didn’t know, though, that we will have topay taxes on them. Ironic, since they were passed off to us as a form of tax rebate.

    Selena, you ar so right: The self sufficient tradition has been lost to all but a few of the older people. I used to think that supplying my own food would be such a breeze. Now, I realise how little I know about raising food-bearing plants, or how to turn things like nuts or rice into milk; and sometimes even how to prepare something without using a box. That experience opened my eyes to the fact that I should probably re-visit my sewing skills and brush upon other domestic skills. Some of my family used to talk about having a small family-type farm to grow or otherwise provide their own food. I used to tease them. I was wrong. The generation around me that knows how to bake, sew, and garden is close to the end of their lives. I try to keep a pencil and paper handy whener I talk to them so that I can record any gems of wisdom that they drop my way.

  145. 146 Shirley
    June 15, 2008 at 01:25

    assalamu `alaykum Lubna wa rahmatullah
    I am so sorry habibti; I wish that there were something that I could do for you.

    Do you participate in majalis on occasions of wafat of shahadat? I know that it might seem like stealing time from the A’imma, but perhaps you could dedicate some of the crying time for a few of your own personal losses. It might be what it takes to get that emotion working properly for you again. Perhaps you can set time aside to be with your family or friends to talk about memories so that you can have time to laugh or cry together? If you have a fountain or some flowing water that you can go to, maybe you could take your Qur’an or tasbih there to do some recitation or tasbihat az-Zahra? Don’t forget ziyarat, ad`iyat, adhkar, and other minor `ibadat.

    I am sorry I used so many Arabic words. I’ll try to get some translations for the rest of you. Brb.

  146. 147 selenayvonne
    June 15, 2008 at 01:32

    It is getting late here now and I have to get up early to drive someone to the airport 150 km away.

    If there is anyone here who can moderate, I will be grateful. If not, you will have to wait for Andrew.

    I will be back later tomorrow.

    Keep the home fires burning!

    Thanks so much!

  147. 148 Shirley
    June 15, 2008 at 01:36

    “Assalamu `alaykum Lubna wa rahmatullah” is the normal greeting with an added touch: “peace and the Mercy of God be with you.”

    “habibti” – something like “my dear”

    “majalis” – mournful sermons and eulogies; “wafat” – death “shahadat” – martyrdoms

    “A’imma” – those whom we Shia Muslims believe to be the divinely appointed leaders of the Muslim communitiy

    “tasbih” – beads that we use for reciting certain recitations, rather like rosary beads; “tasbihat az-Zahra” – one of the more popular recitations done with tasbih beads

    “ziyarat” – a form of worship in which we ask God to bless the saints, or a certain saint or certain saints; “ad`iyat” – personal supplications, sometimes one’s own words, sometimes a memorised traditional piece; “adhkar” – small, repeated phrases, sometimes done with tasbih beads; “`ibadat” – acts of worship

    Again, my apologies.

    I am sorry I used so many Arabic words. I’ll try to get some translations for the rest of you. Brb.

  148. 149 Shirley
    June 15, 2008 at 03:09

    Hi, Donovan
    Westernising Eastern Religions:
    It seems to me that the Islam that you are expressing is one which has undergone some ‘westernizing.’ Would you agree with that comment? For instance, you declare yourself to be against anti-Semitism (which must be a difficult position to maintain with your middle-east co-religionists), and you have expressed several views which seem to show a different sort of Islam than the Arabic one?

    My point of view is that the situation has come to the point where there are clear-cut differences in the way that Islam is practised by various people, and often (as you said) along geographic or cultural lines. The situation is actually very complex. Of course, we have the two major sects: Shia and Sunni Islam. Other sects have broken off from these two; and so we have the Zaydis from Shia Islam and the Salafists from Sunni Islam. We also have sects that are generally agreed by most Muslims to have apostatised: the Alawids and the Ahmadiyyas are examples. Then there are the schools of thought in Sunni Islam and the various high-ranking scholars of Shia Islam.

    Generally, where you have the system of following a school of thought (Sunni) or a certain scholar (Shia), there is less of a tendency towards extremism. Following the rulings of a scholar or of a school of though is called taqlid. Those who declare it optional or invalid to use taqlid are much more likely to lean towards extremism. I forget what the anti-taqlid trend is called in Shia Islam, but we distinguish ourselves from them by calling ourselves “Usulis” in addition to Ithna `Ashari Imami Shi`i (Twelver Imamate Shia). The Salafists are also anti-taqlid. Literalism is used quite often by anti-taqlidis.

  149. 150 Shirley
    June 15, 2008 at 03:18

    The Western converts who convert to Sunni Islam are often led towards Salafism because of the extent to which the Saudi government has showered us in the West with their literature and funded mosques here that will spew Salafist teachings. In fact, the Saudi (mis)educational campaign has been so effective that even many Muslims who were raised with taqlid are abandoning the system. So many of them lack a strong education in the aspects of Islam associated with taqlid and simply assume that what the Saudis spew is what they have been or should have been doing all along. We Muslims don’t have a government sponsoring mosques and pumping out literature on this more traditional form of Islam. Those who are turned off by the fanaticism simply become modernists and adopt more lenient positions on things such as modesty, music, or meat. Those of us who view taqlid as necessary bemoan this trend.

    Shia Islam is rather the other way around. Converts who follow Shia Islam are usually exposed initially to the form of Shia Islam that is based on taqlid. There is generally less of the confusion between fanaticism and modernism. This is likely due to the kind of funding that Shia Islamic publishing houses and Shia Islamic seminaries such as those in Qum, Iran or Najaf, Iraq receive. Seminary graduates are usually able to lead congregations and so are sent off to serve as the residential cleric for a mosque in some part of the world. People who travel to Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, and Iran come back laden with books, clothing, worship implements, etc. to be sold at gift shops in the mosques. We tend to be well-supplied with educated leadership and well-written books that reflect the values that are coincidental with the system of taqlid.

  150. 151 Shirley
    June 15, 2008 at 03:20

    The kinds of variations that we see along geographic or cultural lines often are results of the integration of culture with Islam, or from regional political impacts with Islam. Anti-Semitism is very likely the result of dissatisfaction with Israeli polices. It sickens me to see how anti-Zionism has mutated into an ugly racism. I have heard that Sunni Islam in Iraq has begun to shift away from the traditional ways and lean towards Salafist teachings, though I cannot say with any certainty. I don’t live there and don’t know any Sunni Muslims from there. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, because of the influx of Salafists associated with Al Qaeda. The same thing happened with Sunni Islam in Asia when Al Qaeda and the Taliban spread the Saudi-based Salafist influence from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

    A difference between the practise of Shia Islam between Arabs and Pakistanis would be the use of certain worship implements by Pakistanis that Arab Shia Muslims simply do not have the stomach for. If Lubna happens to be reading this post, one of those would be the display of hands and boxes that is set up during Muharram. Another difference that I hve noticed is that so many Pakistani Shia Muslims are so certain that women are not required to cover their feet. I have yet to find any evidence for this in any text that is authorised by Ayatullah Sistani; and most Arabic Shia Muslims do cover their feet.

  151. 152 Shirley
    June 15, 2008 at 03:28

    Am I right? Is Islam in the west becoming westernized, and, if so, does ‘western’ Islam have something to teach Arabic Islam?

    It rather goes both ways, I think. But instead of assuming that we Western Muslims have something to teach to our Eastern brothers and sisters, I would rather call for more funding of projects and institutes such as the Sunni Path Foundation, Zaytuna Institute, and Dar ul Ifta, which do such a fine job of disseminating traditional Sunni Islamic teachings. One thing that I have noticed with these institutions is the co-operation between born Muslim scholars and convert Muslims who have attained high levels of Islamic scholarship. The only thing that I could offer to shia Muslims is to please translate more of the books by the maraja` (those whom we follow in the taqlid system) as well as classical texts of jurisprudence and creed such as Risalat al I`tiqadat or the treatise on fiqh by `Allama al Hilli into English, Urdu, and Farsi. We have such fine junior-level books available to us, but we converts don’t stand a chance of being more than babies without access to higher-level texts. I would also advocate more Arabic-language instruction for both Sunni and Shia converts. There is a sort of classism against us because we can’t navigate well in Arabic and have to rely on translations of basic Islamic texts in order to survive. I’ve had people tell me that I shouldn’t buy Arabic books because I am not a native Arabic speaker. It only infuriates me, because I feel that I deserve the same access to higher-level texts that any other Muslim does.

    It interests me because the religion with which I associate myself (Buddhism) is in a similar phase of westernization, and I definitely feel that the western form has something to give to the eastern.

    I’ve got the sense that there is some Westernisation of Buddhism going on, but I have no idea what is happening. Now that I have been so long-winded, I hope that you can likewise let me know what you have been observing.

  152. 153 Shirley
    June 15, 2008 at 03:33

    Some time ago I asked you how Islam would view marriage to a divorcee, and had no reply. The reason I asked was because I know a certain catholic ’someone’ who married a divorcee, and was cut off by the church from all the essential life of the church i.e. the sacraments, and the marriage was not recognized. The person was , effectively, denied ‘eternal life’ by the church (although, as you may know, there are times when married life can seem a bit like eternal life), but chose his wife instead, and much later discovered Buddhism. So, what’s the Muslim take on this, I ask again.

    Gosh, that’s too bad. I was hoping that Pope John Paul II would have done something on this issue. Perhaps if he had lived longer? Any ideas from long-winded Catholics on the board?

    I think that I missed your question when you originally posted it. Thank you for reminding me. We don’t have anything against marrying divorcees in terms of religion. It is a terrible taboo in some cultures, though, and more emphasis is laid on narrations encouraging marriage to virgins than is appropriate. There are also some cultures that view a woman’s marriage to a man as so important that widows never marry again. I feel like dashing for Pepto Bismol every time I think about this repressive attitude. Lubna might have more experience with this trend.

    Just so that you don’t think that we Westerners don’t bring our own baggage into Islam, it is worth noting that some of us have a “build your own religion” attitude and take what they please and reject what they don’t like. Others go wild about the four wives thing or, in the case of Shia Islam, the temporary marriage thing.

  153. 154 Shirley
    June 15, 2008 at 03:34

    And, how do you handle things like Zainab’s posting on tradition, above?

    As a Shia Muslim, I must admit that there is so much appeal in some of the traditions associated with our worships and gatherings. The fact that we include things like salams & salawat, ziyarat, Qur’an recitation, etc. with our normal congregational prayers is so enticing to me. I get all that much more pleasure in attending worship services on any night of the week. At the same time, trying to add Western flares to things like standard modest clothing is an exciting challenge. It is also good to know that I don’t have to hang those weird googly eyes in my house (my apologies to my Iraqi sisters if they like them). I don’t much appreciate naming every child, even daughters, after their fathers. I also find the banishment of girls from riding bikes to be distasteful (that is to say, riding bicycles isn’t haram, so we shouldn’t treat it like haram).

  154. 155 Zainab
    June 15, 2008 at 03:59

    Salam
    ——-
    @Shirley
    Good morning how are you dearest?
    It is very few of the Sunni Muslims in Iraq that begun to lean towards Salafist teachings,because of the flow of Salafies to Iraq, and because of the wrong fatwas from extremists. But the majority are moderate, they even believe in 12 Imams, and do the Ziarat as we do. Many of my friends are Sunnis, but they and their families do the Ziarat (visit) to Imam Al Kadhum (A.S.) and to the other Imams (A.S.)

    @ Donovan Roebert
    In Islam it is approved that one marrries a divorcee.
    And about traditions, well as i said before, Islam came to correct many bad traditions, like Female infanticide.
    Yours truly,
    Zainab

    Yours truly
    Zainab from Iraq

  155. 156 Shirley
    June 15, 2008 at 05:00

    wa `alaykum assalam, Zaynab
    sabah an-nur (reply to good morning)
    I have heard a little about how Iraqi Sunni Muslims have adopted some Shia Islamic practises. Are you saying that Iraqi Sunni Muslims are still resisting the teachings of the Salafists? I thought that someone said that some Sunni mosques in Iraq have been acting a little more Sunni since Al Qaeda began coming over.

    Also, how much do you see Iraqi traditions preached as if they were Islamic beliefs and practises? I heard someone sneeze once and refuse to continue doing something because he had just sneezed. Are things like this treated as if they were Islamic, or do people usually know that they are only tradition?

  156. 157 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 15, 2008 at 05:08

    @Shirley, Wow, that’s a lot of detail about Islam. Thank you. I think you said you had converted; may I ask what your previous faith was, and what led you to convert, if that’s not too private a matter?

  157. 158 Amy
    June 15, 2008 at 06:13

    Shirley,

    Thank you so much for all the information. I now have a resource (a few actually if I count Lubna and Zainab) to answer my daughters questions. We are Catholic but I was encouraged by my parents to explore other religions and we are urging our girls to do the same. The more we know, the better we are able to embrace differences. Natalie is 8 and Abigail is only 4 but they already know that people come in all different shapes, sizes and colors and think different things but that is fine. As they both say, “Well, we’re all human beings.”

    Amy

  158. 159 Pangolin
    June 15, 2008 at 06:55

    @Mortgage Crisis- The whole thing was a Ponzi scheme designed to benefit those who collected transaction fees at the expense of the homeowner and the investor in mortgage securities. I worked in th real estate business from 2003-2006 and the fraud was so rampant it was mind-boggling.

    Eliminate mortgages over 20 years. Eliminate the sale of mortgage liens to third parties. Eliminate out-of-town landlording. Eliminate complex mortgages. Mortgages at fixed interest rates, for 20 years or less, originating lender must hold the loan and property owner must live within 30 miles of the property or hold corporate headquarters there with a full-time employee and a door. (no mail drops)

    Do that and the whole mess will settle down quick. Also working people will be able to afford housing as they won’t be forced to compete with somebody living 7,000 miles away.

  159. June 15, 2008 at 08:04

    Certainly without being an expert on Islam: a characterization that most would be anti-semitic is not the truth through the eyes of history. Yes there was tribal conflict in Africa but there are quite a few more examples in the majority where Jews and Muslims got along fine.

    For instance the period where Jews lived on the Iberian Peninsula, later Spain, became known as Sephardic. They then lived alongside Arabs in the region before the land was taken by the Spanish and first the Arabs, later the Jews were exiled. There was even a mixing of cultures there that resulted in Persian Jews and the cultures shared many of the same traditions.

    Then there were the Persians of the latter era in the times of the Khans. Throughout all the time of that rule the Tatars refused to battle with the Jews even when the radius of their rule in the case of Timur was 1600 miles extending from Samarkand to India and the Georgian Sea. Most of their reasoning to remain in peace was not only the blood kinship but also because they revered the parts of the Koran that had come from the Torah. At any point in History though those Kingdoms stood to threaten Israel and chose to leave the people alone. This speaks of a very knowledgeable society in the Tatars who were devout Muslims as well. It can be said that beyond Gengis who was a Mongol in origin and ruthless in conquest the rest of the tribes were mixed together within and though they sometimes fought it wasn’t over religion, Persians became Mongols who practiced Buddhism and some like the Tatars who were Turks followed the rule of the Prophet. Timur was one to point out however that he was not above taking tradition from other religions as his education was of the monastery.

    This kind of tolerance makes for better practice in my opinion, let culture be king and religion be the disciple in The Way.

  160. 161 Katharina in Ghent
    June 15, 2008 at 08:11

    Good morning/afternoon/evening/night everyone!

    My dearest Lubna,

    I was very saddened to read about your loss, and how your heart has gone numb. My heart still has plenty of space for numb spots, please let me take this one for you.

    Also for dearest Zainab, I wish there was anything we could do to finally end this horrible fight in Iraq. What you said about the tradition of going after your fathers murder, I think that this is a very bad idea, this is how you start feuds that last over generations, as one could see in Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine and so forth. In afuntioning society with proper police it shouldn’t be necessary, because the killer will get caught and receive his fair punishment.

  161. 162 Katharina in Ghent
    June 15, 2008 at 08:18

    Hi Andrew,

    I find it funny how easily one can get addicted to something. I’m very careful about this, I drink alcohol only occasionally, stopped smoking when I noticed that it was becoming a habit (now I smoke max 5 a month, when I’m going out or something like that) and never did drugs. But this blog has certainly captured me, to be able to communicate with people from all over the world about so many different topics, I find that I still need to find the right balance, I found that I tend to neglect those around me, which is definitely not a good idea. So for all of you, if I’m not posting, I’m trying to find my sanity, which I’ve lost somewhen around Blank Page #1… 😉

  162. June 15, 2008 at 08:18

    Shirley: Thank you for all that. Now we know more, don’t we?

  163. 164 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 15, 2008 at 08:59

    @Viola, that’s a great parallel, Zimbabwe as a startup company, with Mugabe as the founder, to be replaced as CEO by a better manager as the company matures. Problem is, there’s nobody in Zimbabwe analogous to the venture capitalists, to force out the founder. He’s ignored the vote of the “shareholders,” and he’s got the “board of directors” entirely in his pocket.

    (Ejecting the founder isn’t always smart: Steve Jobs rescued Apple, George Washington did pretty well as the first US president.)

    Zimbabwe was so recently Rhodesia, a prosperous, productive country, by far the richest, or second richest, on the continent. It’s pretty dramatic to see a developed, first world country rapidly and thoroughly destroyed.

    Poor Africa. Nearly every country there is a brutal, oppressive kleptocracy. Those folks really deserve a much better break. I would love to hear from our African participants on this. It would be a good on-air topic of the day: “Why does Africa have such horrible governments?”

  164. 165 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 15, 2008 at 09:28

    @Pangolin

    Those are sure some wacky, I mean, innovative, ideas you have for restrictions on the real estate market. Of course they’d be immensely destructive, and they’d never be imposed, or even proposed, but how do you imagine they would help anyone? It has to be obvious, for instance, that imposing a maximum term of 20 years on mortgages could only make houses LESS affordable. Et cetera.

  165. 166 VictorK
    June 15, 2008 at 11:42

    Shirley wrote, “Anti-Semitism is very likely the result of dissatisfaction with Israeli polices.”

    Or it could be derived from Muhammed, the Koran and the Islamic tradition

    http://www.andrewbostom.org/content/view/75/1/

    I’d recommend Andrew Bostom’s ‘Legacy of Islamic Anti-semitism’ for anyone who really wants to get a handle on this subject, especially in light of the habit of some Muslims to shamelessly re-write history in order to present their religion favourably, even if it means presenting it disingenuously.

    @Donovan: I too would like to see an Islamic reformation. But I wouldn’t put money on it.

    Our reformation was a combination of several factors, including genuine abuses within the Catholic Church (corruptions that the Church itself was, ironically, beginning to address), the development of coherent nation-states in Western Europe whose national interests weren’t always compatible with papal politics, a cultural schism between the Germanic north and the Latin south of Europe, and the fact that for several generations in a number of states the Catholic church had in fact been subordinated to the secular power as a set of de facto national churches (this was pre-eminently the case in England, but was also the case in unreformed countries like Spain and France), a state of affairs that the reformation put on a de jure footing.

    I just don’t see such a set of circumstances coming together to spark off an Islamic reformation. Catholics in Europe felt and knew that the practice of their religion had fallen beneath His teachings and was often at odds with the spirit of the Gospels. What do Muslims have to be dissatisfied with about Islam that could lead to reform, besides the absence of a Caliphate to unite them in conquering the world? And as to Western Muslims leading any such reformation: some of the most miltant and ‘extreme’ (i.e. ‘orthodox’) Muslims are to be found in my country, Britain! Recall the crazies who marched in London a few years ago with placards calling for a continent-wide 9-11 to destroy Europe, expressing their contempt for ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ (please note, President Bush), declaring that Europe would one day be Muslim and ruled by Islamic law, calling for the enemies of Islam to be beheaded? Every single week sees one set of British Muslims or other on trial for plotting mass murder in the name of their religion. One of our many Koranic fanatics was once asked why, since he had repeatedly stated that he hated British society and wanted it to be forcibly converted to Islam and governed by Sharia law, why he didn’t simply go and live in a Muslim country where he would obviously be in his element and could preach his message to his heart’s content. His reply was revealing, something to the effect that: ‘Oh, the authorities in those places would certainly imprison me for what I have to say, maybe even kill me.’ Many Muslim countries are a lot tougher on ‘extremists’ than places like Britain and Holland (several have complained about the British government’s harbouring people accused of terrorist outrages in their countries). Whenever the British government makes a half-hearted attempt to deport a foreign-born Muslim for incitement to hatred (of Jews and/or non-Muslims) or incitement to murder (martyrdom by suicide bomb), the intended target of deportation fights tooth and nail not to be made to go and live in a Muslim country. London is as great a nerve-centre for Islamic terror as any Muslim capital. On this evidence western Muslims are unlikely to be part of the solution.

  166. June 15, 2008 at 13:24

    Happy fathers day to all of the father, grandfathers, and mothers that play both roles. May your children be healthy, happy, and people you can be proud of.

    This morning I was reflecting on what it meant to be a “successful” parent and what it meant to have a “successful” child. I bet people have different perspectives.

  167. 168 Andrew
    June 15, 2008 at 13:33

    An interesting point Dwight. Maybe it’s not such an easy thing to find, what it is to be successful. Horses for courses as they say. From what we can see around us and is often reported in the media, it’s probably more apt to think what isn’t so successful?

  168. June 15, 2008 at 13:39

    Victor: Despite my inbred disinclination to agree with anything anyone says, I must once again agree with you on the Muslim question. My experience of Islam in Europe is one largely gained in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, where, as you know, there is widespread abuse of European hospitality by a variety of Muslim immigrants and their mullahs.

    I am trying, in the interests of open-mindedness (and my own humanist sanity and goodwill, often tattered) to discover a means by which Islam might become reformed by western adherents, because reform is unlikely to come from any other quarter. I want to give Shirley the benefit of the doubt, and see where that leads.

    My own authentic attitude is this: if my own religion were to make itself guilty, even by the acts of extreme-fundamentalist practitioners, of a deed as ghastly as the beheading of Daniel Pearl (God, how it revolts one!), I would abandon it forthwith, and then proceed to condemn it in its entirety to all would listen.

    Still, one tries, and tries, to understand, and to hope.

    And, in thinking comparatively of the European Reformation, I am not thinking primarily of the protestant result (often appalling in its own right) but of the role of the Erasmian humanists, which I consider to be the most important and abiding result – and the one which might take hold of Islam in a western reformation equivalent.

  169. June 15, 2008 at 13:40

    A good place to start Andrew! We can all agree if you see your kid on TV shooting up his school mates, something went wrong. How about if your child ended up as a successful drug dealer or a superstar in the porn industry? Is that “successful?”

  170. 171 Andrew
    June 15, 2008 at 14:20

    Well, you know, some people consider such vocations noble and achieving greatness in them might be their aim in life. But seriously, when I look around me and, saddeningly, there are many examples I can see that people either really don’t have a handle on parenting or it is just too difficult, too much effort and they let their children run riot.

    There seems to be an aversion these days to setting boundaries for kids and a definite reluctance to judiciously apply discipline to keep the kids in line and let them know right from wrong. If some thought and effort goes into this in the formative years then for the most part you can avoid trouble later on in life. Is it so bad to instill a sense of moral obligation or respect for others?

    All too often this is left to others. The teachers at school or the police when they end up drunk and brawling in the streets. Too late then the rot has set in. Investing some time and energy early on will pay dividends in the long run. A simple sentiment yes, there are many other factors to discuss but as a basic rule when you see it applied it does work and the simple things are often the best. On the other hand I can watch my neighbors assault their kids any other day for simply not getting out of the car when screamed at to do so (one wonders why they would be so reluctant to alight?). That is one way to groom the next generation of neurotic adults.

    As I said before, I may not have all the answers, some, but I spent quite a few years as a counsellor at a child abuse agency and that has given me a solid grounding in what not to do. To date that has served me well in advising others. I do wonder often how this crop of new parents are raising their kids and I can only think from the perspective of English speaking western society, but kids today are being set up for a fall down the line and the traits they pick up from the present generation of parents is going to handicap them when they in turn have their own kids in 10-20 years.

  171. 172 steve
    June 15, 2008 at 15:19

    So if antisemitism is the result of Israeli policies, why do the nutjobs then just attack Jews all over the world, rather than Israelis? Are you suggesting antisemites are morons?heheh..

    But seriously, in the US, despite the claims that there have no no terrorist attacks since 9/11, there have been three. There was the cab driver that shot up the El Al terminal at LAX (though that was an Israeli target), then there was the shooting at a Jewish center in Seattle, where the brave terrorist went after pregnant women. And then there was a shooting at a Jewish summer camp at a JCC I believe in Los Angeles.

  172. 173 steve
    June 15, 2008 at 15:37

    Interesting story: Should the government be able to take custody of children being raised by racists?

    http://winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/v-printerfriendly/story/4184937p-4774914c.html

  173. 175 Shirley
    June 15, 2008 at 16:26

    Hi, Steve
    You were asking why anti-Semitic terrorists have been attacking specifically Jewish targets instead of Israeli ones: Are you suggesting antisemites are morons?

    My short answer would be yes. Anyone who cannot distinguish between the fact that there exist Israeli and non-Israeli Jews is uneducated, uninformed, or willfully ignorant. My understanding of the misinformation that is spread in Arab culture (literature? media? not sure) equates the two and, additionally, does not allow for any distinction between leftist Israelis who oppose Israeli policies and other Israelis who do support Israeli policies. But honestly, does it take a rocket scientist to realise that not all people from the same ethnicity, religion, or nationality share the same worldviews? There is probably also an element of arrogance in the sense that many impose their own ideas of what Judaism stands for, or what a Jew is or what an Israeli is; and anyone who bends from their view of the standard is a unique case to be praised and asked to lead others to his way of thinking. Racism is self-centred like that.

  174. 176 Shirley
    June 15, 2008 at 16:50

    Racist Parents
    I do think that racism damages children’s psyches. I think that most children aren’t overly concerned about racil/ethnic/national/etc. differences, and that they suffer emotional pain when such a concept is introduced to them. I would consider it abuse, therefore, to subject children to racist or neo-nazi environments.

  175. 177 selenayvonne
    June 15, 2008 at 16:59

    @Andrew

    I just got back from the airport.

    Thanks for holding the fort. I will around for the reminder of the day, if you want a break.

    But perhaps is ti bedtime there now…

  176. 178 Roberto
    June 15, 2008 at 17:00

    Another country that has ratify its constitution:
    Kosovo, is an NEW country–yes, i already knew it has been for a few months now…But the United Nations has did the formality.
    ————————————————————————————————–

    ——- Should the Soviets and Serbs warn the Kosovo Serbs to flee for their lives to permanant refugee camps set up in Rumania, Bulgaria, and Serbia, and launch an all out war on Kosovo?

    Kosovo encompasses the Serb Holy Lands. Should all Muslims be driven from Rumania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Russia? Should a network of terrorists be created for suicide bombing missions against Kosovo Muslim civilians?

    I would think just using some of the logic I’ve seen expressed on this board, the short answer would be yes, yes, and yes.

    Not everyone would be in agreement obviously, but I fancy seeing how many can justify the actions of one group of people, and similarly justify the above. If their hearts are indeed pure, and their politics indeed rational and honest, there should be many yes, yes, and yes responses.

    What sayeth you, dear friends?

  177. 179 Andrew
    June 15, 2008 at 17:17

    Hi Selena, I’m fine for the moment. Been doing 6 am finishes over the past few days, I have only myself to blame. It has been a pleasure doing this. I often don’t read each and every comment when viewing the blog on my own. Will be holding on for about another hour or two. Waiting for World Briefing on the beeb before I can sleep.

    I didn’t think I heard wrong when I caught the news report that George Bush complimented Sarkozy on his choice of wife.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7455156.stm

    What an odd thing to raise during a press conference.

  178. 180 steve
    June 15, 2008 at 17:56

    This is just too funny. It’s about “discrimination” in Alberta. Apparently complaints of discrimination have gone down so the government wants people to complain about anything thing might possibly constitute discrimination:

    Click to access HR_in_AB_view-only.pdf

    The funnier aspects, at least to me are for part of the religious discrimination, they say something like “i’m a jew and want to take off for important jewish holidays” then they show a channukia, not a menorah, and hannukah is a very minor holiday.

    There was another example, saying that discrimination by source of income is not permissible. So if your source of income is from an illegal source, you cannot be discriminated against for that reason? too funny..

    Look for a tidal wave of complaints, for people filing discrimination ncomplaints because they had a rude waiter! brilliant PC leftists..

  179. 181 selena
    June 15, 2008 at 17:59

    @Andrew

    Yes it would be funny if it weren’t so serious. How can any woman be taken seriously, when one leader shops for a wife and another leader admires the wife like he would a new car?

    We have people like that running countries!! Go figure!!

    But we also have people running businesses who just want the latest trophy. Right now the trophy is a young person in her twenties who has already maimed her body with silicone and cadaver flesh.

    And we wonder why nothing changes???

  180. 182 steve
    June 15, 2008 at 18:06

    @ Selena

    Bruni isn’t in her 20s. However, for a “wife” I would think she is not a wise decision, given she’s an outspoken critic of monogamy. So if one wants to be married, picking someone liek that would show poor judgment. If youw ant to have sex with many people, then don’t get married. Again, shows poor judgment. Anyways, once Sarkozy loses power she will divorce him, again, showing poor judgment. Bush is wrong, yet again.

  181. 183 Andrew
    June 15, 2008 at 18:06

    @ Selena

    One could argue that well, we vote them in. BUT I have to say that we don’t really have much of a choice when it comes to two party states in the quality of the leadership. So that argument falls flat a lot of the time. What a shame we do not have the option of candidate A B C… Z OR none of the above. Now that would shake democracy up a bit wouldn’t it? Talk about a no confidence vote.

    I wonder though, you have the trophy hunters, but you have the trophies themselves who give in to the lure of the big bucks or power. Who is to blame, those who create the demand or those who provide it?

  182. 184 selena
    June 15, 2008 at 18:22

    @Andrew

    You were wise to point out the that there would be no trophy hunters without the trophies.

    In my view, the blame lies in the top down structure of society.

  183. 185 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 15, 2008 at 18:36

    Um, never mind my idea for the topic of “Why does Africa have such horrible governments?” I see there’s already a thread going with the rather more cheerful title of “Will sub-Saharan Africa Prosper?” Oops.

    Andrew, I really can’t think of anything George W. Boob could do that would surprise me anymore.

  184. 186 Andrew
    June 15, 2008 at 18:49

    @ Jonathon

    Good ole boy GW is taking to heart that old adage, leave ’em laughing!

    He doesn’t really have the timing right though. Often when speaking you can see him pause for the applause or some kind of affirmation from somewhere in the crowd only to be left looking as if rebooting the little grey cells. Now that would make a good topic, rather than who is the most corrupt leader or incompetent leader. Judging by how the new Australian leader carries himself off on the world stage, I would like to know who considers themselves to have the most cringeworthy leader?

  185. 187 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 15, 2008 at 18:50

    Monogomy? Hel-LO, we’re talking about FRANCE here! Maybe we can relax a little bit? The French certainly have.

  186. 188 selena
    June 15, 2008 at 18:57

    @Steve

    The trouble with taking children away from parents is where would it end? Should a child be raise in a fundamentalist Christian home, for example?

    In my humble view, children should go to public schools where the curriculum is standardized.

    Then we would hope that they would pick up enough information to make wise decisions.

    Other than that I am not sure how the challenge of raising well balanced citizens could unfold. It is not an easy task.

  187. 189 Andrew
    June 15, 2008 at 19:01

    Raising children will always be a lottery. The best anyone can do is to provide them with a balanced education, expose them to as much diversity as possible and ultimately hope for the best. Hoping also that they have not been exposed to too much bias and prejudice and are able to make informed and sensible decisions throughout life. That is the theory, but we often see that is not always the outcome.

  188. 190 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 15, 2008 at 19:03

    Andrew, “Leave ’em laughing” is fine. Just as long as he LEAVES.

    I haven’t heard of the Australian. What’s his name so I can look on utube?

    Somebody said that watching Bush struggle through a sentence is like watching a drunk stagger across a street–he totters and weaves and loses his footing, and you think, he’s not going to make it, then you’re so relieved when he does. I think I heard he was dyslexic. I know for certain that he’s stupid.

  189. 191 Andrew
    June 15, 2008 at 19:11

    @ Jonathan

    The Honourable Kevin Rudd, though I prefer Dud. But thats just me. He has a propensity to talk Chinese as he associations with them, studied Mandarin, was a diplomat or some such. But it is when he insists on speaking Chinese with Chinese officials or when he was there that makes Australians uncomfortable as if he is somehow ingratiating himself. Possibly he considers himself to be the Pope as he wil attempt a few words in other languages. Many criticised former PM Howard, but Rudd is raising the bar of cringeworthiness and many criticisms are being raised as to how he conducts himself.

    Now that is fine, I am multilingual, I don’t have a problem per se with that. But he represents Australia and you won’t often see leaders on foreign trips speaking other than their own tongue apart form English if they are able. Though that is not a steadfast rule, but more often the case. Look at Putin, he speaks perfect German and English to name two, but he will speak only Russian in public when addressing others.

  190. 192 VictorK
    June 15, 2008 at 19:26

    @Roberto, re the Serbia-Kosovo, Israel-Palestine analogy.

    I don’t see it. Serbia is an historic nation and nation-state with roots stretching back over 1,000 years (including some 500 years as a victim of Islamic imperialism and colonialism). There has never been a Palestinian state or nation. The Kosovo Albanians aleady have a country of their own: Albania. The Serbs only have Serbia., of which Kosovo is an integral part. Kosovo has had Albanian inhabitants but it has never been an Albanian state, till now. The Jews had been formally stateless for almost 2000 years (after losing a fight with the Roman Empire) until the restoration of Israel. Their state is new, but at the same time it’s very old. Israel makes a contribution to civilisation; Kosovo is unlikely ever to (Jews were contributing to civilisation before the restoration of Israel; I can’t think of even one distinguished Albanian, Kosovan or otherwise, who has done likewise. Mother Theresa’s efforts don’t really fall within scope, do they?). Israel was established by due process of the international community (as were Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria: if Israel is illegitimate then so are all those states); Kosovo has been created through the illegal seizure of the sovereign territory of an established state: resistance was never more justified than in the illegal partition of a state’s territory by stronger powers acting outside all recognised standards of international law (and the US and UK have the impudence to lecture Robert Mugabe about illegality and tyranny!).

    Re racist parents: in the link Steve provided it was clear that the parents in question had other, more troubling faults than racism that could have justified taking away the child/children. Racism – i.e. opinion – alone can never be a good reason for the state to interfere with any family. It isn’t the business of the state to regulate our opinions or to make us or our children better people: any government that tried do either either would be an enemy of freedom and ought to be overthrown.

  191. 193 Andrew
    June 15, 2008 at 19:32

    Is the only pre-condition for statehood in the modern era a former recognised title to lands and statehood?

  192. 194 Andrew
    June 15, 2008 at 19:43

    Goodnight all, it is here. It has been a pleasure.

  193. June 15, 2008 at 20:40

    @ Jonathan:
    I think I heard he was dyslexic. I know for certain that he’s stupid.

    Haha, funniest thing I’ve heard today!

    @ Amy:
    We are trying to set a good example for our daughters that it isn’t wise to live beyond your means.
    I applaud you! That is one of the most important overlooked values which parents today either avoid or lack in instilling them into their children. Great job!

  194. 196 Virginia Davis
    June 15, 2008 at 20:45

    Lubna: I am sad that your colleague, Ali Hassan Askar, was murdered. Bless him, bless you.

    Virginia in Oregon

  195. June 15, 2008 at 21:29

    Hi Virginia – great to see you!

    One must be careful labeling terrorist attacks in America, minus the thwarted attempt to blow up Synagogues in LA. We just don’t see terrorism often enough to have targeted killings fall into that category. It excludes the kind of crimes we’ve been talking about, in LA for instance, the killing of Jamiel Shaw based on an apparent shot call by an LA gang leader inside the same prison as the murderer.

    That kind of pure race hate targeting is really the problem in this country and it’s reticent to the furthest degree of the law. My belief is that it’s better to focus on solving that violence as opposed to labeling it terrorism. Purely racist or bigotry is no doubt terrorism in other countries but in America we need to focus on having better schools and education instead of preventing terrorist camps. The philosophy behind fighting violent crime is just different when it’s a singular nature.

  196. 198 Dennis
    June 15, 2008 at 21:35

    Lubna: I am sad that your colleague, Ali Hassan Askar, was murdered. Bless him, bless you.

    PLEASE ACCEPT MY SYMPATHY AND CONDOLENCES FOR THE DEATH OF YOUR COLLEAGUE….

    How r u Lubna–2 weeks on Sunday, 15 June 2008, i have been at college.

    Dennis
    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    USA

  197. 199 Dennis
    June 15, 2008 at 21:35

    Andrew:

    thanks for your part of moderating BLANK PAGE NO.11….

    Dennis
    OCC
    Syracuse, New York
    USA

  198. June 15, 2008 at 22:06

    Hey Denis, what are your goals to learn in school? Perhaps we can help you expand them to an international exchange. You might even be able to get credit in social science for interpreting the myriad psychology represented right here!

    Seriously though you could probably garner an exchange program based on having taken part as a regular member here if you wanted someday.

    BTW: are you taking courses on the weekends, if so what do they offer?

  199. June 15, 2008 at 22:27

    OK those of you down under may want to skip this one, I heard it making breakfast yesterday and it was a bit much but it’s really amazing.

    People often claim that Humans are not to blame for global warming. We hear all the time now about how the Methane from livestock is one of the primary elements in greenhouse gases. But up until recently I had no idea where the highest source was amongst animals, since the manure is the obvious one, however that is a source of NOx (nitrous-oxide) which contributes to particulate matter. Interestingly enough the NOx output from biodiesel is higher than regular diesel but I digress.

    Many animals like cows have a first stomach with digestion enzymes in it, they ‘chew their cud’ this way to aid food breakdown as people have pointed out this is why they can eat grass and soybeans raw and the rest of us mammals can’t digest it. So in the fore stomach enzymes are breaking down food and fermenting it which forms Hydrogen, there is also CO2 as a remnant of Oxygen. Then there’s an bacteria organism present called a Methanogen which reduces the CO2 to Carbon and combines it with Hydrogen to form Methane or CH4. This then is belched out of the animal in periodic intervals.

    This definitely puts a twist on capturing that methane for range fed cattle. In New Zealand where this story came from, they’ve apparently found a way to reduce the NOx from manure by changing the food, but they’re now looking to develop a Methane reduction method.

  200. 203 Luz María Guzmán from Mexico
    June 15, 2008 at 23:26

    @Dwight

    About your question: what it meant to be a “successful” parent and what it meant to have a “successful” child.

    I think “successful” parents are those who recognize the abilities, interests, traits, qualities, differences; limitations etc. of their children and guide them to become autonomous and happy adults (by happy I mean that they like themselves just they way they are and do what they love to do). Successful parents are those who don’t force on their children something that they are not able to do naturally.

    And I hope that when I get old, my children come visit me because they “want to” not because “they have to”. If I achieve this, then I could call myself a successful parent.

  201. 204 Dennis
    June 15, 2008 at 23:54

    Zak and everyone else:

    my goals in school is to transfer to a 4-year suny [state university of new york] programme–for my bachelor and master degree in international affairs….

    about exchanged problem that is worth looking into on behalf..i will start to enquire..

    no courses in the summers on weekend….

    Dennis
    OCC Syracuse, New York

  202. 205 Roberto
    June 16, 2008 at 00:43

    I don’t see it. Serbia is an historic nation and nation-state with roots stretching back over 1,000 years (including some 500 years as a victim of Islamic imperialism and colonialism). There has never been a Palestinian state or nation. The Kosovo Albanians aleady have a country of their own: Albania.
    —————————————————————————————

    —— Vic, am I to deduce you are a no, no, no vote as answer to my question?

    No comparison is perfect, but my comparison was as Kosovo to Israel, not, Palestine. Specifically the overlap being that Muslims are the minority in this region of the world, just as Jews are a minority because of the larger muslim states surrounding Israel.

    I previously offered up global nation states formed in 1946-49 in another post and asked for a poll about which should have been attacked, sacked, and disposed of at the time of their inception which has been attempted on Israel several times. No answers to my poll as of yet, so I thank you for answering this mini poll.

    I guess since nobody answered the first, either they didn’t read it or would be too embarressed to reaffirm their stated stance that attacks on Israel are the only attacks justified. Of course, with no answers, that becomes merely my own conclusion in the absence of voter participation.

    Another point of interest in this issue I have not yet addressed is the ineptness of the UN. By keeping the original borders of Kosovo which bear no relevance to the current ethno/political situation, the UN have guaranteed a long term conflict, and I guess job security for themselves when they get to ride in on their high horses after prevailing warriors put down the unrest yet again.

    5% of the population is Serbs who have voluntarily segregated themselves on one side of a river to be close to Serbia. Why couldn’t the UN partition this off from Kosovo along with pertinent Serbian Holy lands to be annexed by Serbia?

    The Serbs could live with this and feel like they had gotten close to a fair deal although things will always be smouldering for generations.

    Instead, for the foreseeable future, the pot to be at a steady simmer with periodic boilovers. An excellent waste of valuble resources and human potential as the world heads into global warming, which could bring unprecedented disasters, migrations and wars for who knows how many years?

  203. 207 Luz María Guzmán from Mexico
    June 16, 2008 at 00:50

    Lubna,
    I am sorry for your loss. I pray for you and all the people in the world that are living in war.
    Best regards,
    Luz María

  204. June 16, 2008 at 00:54

    Obama tells black men to stop abandoning their children.
    Well, if your going on statistics and numbers and ignoring prancing around the PC bush… I think as a black role model it is important for him to push for issues affecting the black community such as this. Granted this problem affects all races.
    Kudos to Obama for having the guts to say it.

  205. 209 steve
    June 16, 2008 at 01:03

    @ brett

    It didn’t require Obama to have to have guts to say it, he’s black and was abandoned by his father. Had a white person said it, they would be called a racist, so Obama had to say it for it to have been said.

  206. 210 steve
    June 16, 2008 at 01:24

    @ Brett

    Doesn’t Obama also support gay marriage? Wouldn’t that mean in cases of lesbian couples there would be lots more fatherless children?

  207. 211 viola anderson
    June 16, 2008 at 01:25

    Anybody got a clue about what makes a land or a building “holy”? Should such things be so classified? What constitutes “holiness” anyway”? Seems like a lot of fights start when somebody claims something is “holy” and gets incensed when someone else isn’t impressed.

  208. June 16, 2008 at 01:35

    Had a white person said it, they would be called a racist, so Obama had to say it for it to have been said.

    Of course, because it’s a double standard and those crying the race card feel the need to escape reality and transfer the attention on the issue addressed to the person addressing it. *Sigh* oh well, one day people will learn to deal with the worlds problems without having to tip-toe around in fear of being labeled anything negative for speaking the truth.

    That said, all men need to take a greater role in their children’s life. Just cause you pay child support, doesn’t mean your playing an active roll. Likewise, just because your married and all live together, doesn’t mean your playing the active roll you should be..

  209. 213 Tom
    June 16, 2008 at 01:55

    Kevin Rudd, the Aussie PM, chooses to speak Chinese to his Chinese audience only during non-“official” outings – eg. university lectures, TV appearances, business gatherings. His condolence speech following the Chinese earthquake was made in mandarin. During official state meetings, however, he spoke to his Chinese counterparts in English through an interpreter. Though fluent his Chinese is not yet perfect. I think Rudd is aware of that and doesn’t want any slip ups in his mandarin to offend his counterparts or put his country in a disadvantage.

    It’s interesting that many Australians see Rudd suspiciously as a kind of Manchurian Candidate serving the needs of Chinese businesses just because of his ability to speak Chinese. Most non-immigrant Australians are still mono-linguistic and just when the world is globalising their interest in learning a second language is declining.

  210. June 16, 2008 at 02:09

    The meaning of “success” for me and what I would expect from my children is something my father used to always stress to me as a kid. “You got to try to leave this world in a better shape then you found it.”

  211. June 16, 2008 at 02:14

    One more thing about home loans. When I left school on my quest to be a rock star, I realized one day that If I could buy a house, we would always have a practice space, and I could get the bloats I live with to pay for the rent. So I went to ask what it would take to get a home loan. They said, “You have to be in a job for at least 3 years, you have to have 20% to put down, and you must have a good credit rating.” As you might guess my lack of gainful employment and cash flow do to my investment in equipment and really tight jeans didn’t leave me with any of those qualifications. I don’t believe we would have a “mortgage crisis” if those stipulations were observed?

  212. 216 Bob in Queensland
    June 16, 2008 at 03:03

    @Zak

    Regarding methane and cattle, we had a strange story on our news the other day.

    It seems that, although they have a similar diet and digestive system to cows, kangaroos produce a small fraction of the greenhouse gases. According to the story I saw, scientists are looking for the genetic differences that cause this to see if they could engineer cattle with a bit of kangaroo DNA to reduce the emissions.

    …I’m not sure I believe this but if, in a few years, you see a jumping jersey cow, you’ll know why!

  213. 217 steve
    June 16, 2008 at 04:28

    This is when you know washington, DC needs to be closed down. 4 stabbings at a “Peace in the Streets” Festival.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/14/AR2008061402246.html

  214. June 16, 2008 at 05:20

    Heyall down under-I do love that accent! BOB-LOL! That’d make a real show on the barby!

    Tom said:
    “It’s interesting that many Australians see Rudd suspiciously as a kind of Manchurian Candidate serving the needs of Chinese businesses just because of his ability to speak Chinese.”

    I thought this was bit quizzical too when we heard about the PM vote in the states. First Kevin Rudd was made out to be a real good guy with a positive record of foreign relations to make up for past ineptitudes in that department; but then all of a sudden the mood changed right before and after the election to where they thought he might encourage the wrong crowd amongst his multi-linguistic party guests. It really left me wondering how he would do with such a paradigm shift seemingly in the populous opinion. So has support really waned that much?

  215. June 16, 2008 at 05:26

    “There was no indication of what prompted the stabbings and no report of arrests.”

    There’s your reason Steve, every time I’ve been to DC there’s not a street musician to be found on the Capital mall, if there is a cop is chasing him out. But don’t look for a cop in the projects or on the platform in Anacostia.

    DC has serious problems dealing with authority and a lot of that starts on Pennsylvania Ave.

  216. 220 Bob in Queensland
    June 16, 2008 at 06:58

    @Zak

    Heyall down under-I do love that accent! BOB-LOL! That’d make a real show on the barby!

    Before you admire the accent TOO much, I’d better come clean….

    I’m orginally from Canada (the west coast), lived in the UK for 30ish years from my mid twenties, then retired to Australia only about 10 months ago.

    So, my accent is about as mixed up as you can get!

    (Still do a pretty darn good barby though!)

    Bob

  217. June 16, 2008 at 07:41

    The Serbian injustice has enjoyed some minor attention this weekend, but only as an incidental illustration to compare with Israel. I guess Serbia is just a less emotive, or a more remote, subject.

    It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that the illegal annexation of Kosovo by Albania (which is what this thing boils down to), and the enthusiastic acceptance of this situation by the West, remains an international injustice; a pandering to Muslim intransigence in that area that is bound to lead to ongoing conflict.

    The US, UN and EU should realize that they cannot buy Muslim goodwill in the middle-east by stealing from eastern Europe. This is a landgrab that is going to become an excuse for some major conflict in the future.

    It’s theft with the blessing of the UN.

  218. 222 Katharina in Ghent
    June 16, 2008 at 08:05

    Hi everyone,

    I found parts of my sanity yesterday (LOL), thanks to Selena and Andrew for moderating the Blank Page!

  219. 223 Andrew
    June 16, 2008 at 08:09

    Hi Katharina,

    It was a pleasure and an education. Hope I can do it again some time when I get some sleep to recover.

  220. 224 Tom
    June 16, 2008 at 08:25

    @Zak

    So has support [for Rudd] really waned that much?
    ————-

    Kevin Rudd is still enjoying significant support from the public. This has been largely helped by the ongoing disarray within the Liberal Party following their election loss. After a decade of John Howard rule the Australian people were really crying out for a change, maybe a stabilizer, to swing the country back closer to the middle.

    Before the election Rudd has portrayed himself as an “ultra-safe”, a “basically” economic conservative with full respect for the UN and multi-lateral engagements. After the election he immediately worked on fulfilling his election promises by scrapping the unpopular Workchoice law, thereby fulfilling a promise which won him the election, signing the Kyoto protocol, and pulling troops out of Iraq. He has also promised to reign in on the influence of the powerful industrial unions within the ALP. This he too has been successful up to now. So based on all these I don’t think there has been any signficant paradigm shift in his policies.

    I still think Rudd is a nice guy who have some grand visions for Australia and its positive role in the world. Among them were his proposal to make Australia a “middle-power” in world politics, include Australia as a member of the UN Security Council, and ambitiously establishing a EU-style community linking China, the US, India and Japan. No doubt his policies are vastly different and more refreshing than those of John Howard, who I regard as an out-dated, populist and divisive leader.

    As a confessed sinophile and former diplomat in Beijing, he has strong ties within the local Chinese business circle. He has tried to use his position to exert gentle influence on China, but without much success so far. I think that one of his main goals (and challenges) would be to bring Australia closer to China, while at the same time not upsetting its traditional allies like the US and Japan.

  221. 225 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 16, 2008 at 08:43

    @ Andrew:

    You gotta be kidding me… Australians are uncomfortable because their prime minister speaks a SECOND language too well and too much? President Boob can’t even manage his one mother tongue. Q.E.D., sir. I see no threat to continued American cringing rights for the next seven months. We’ll relinquish, or at least negotiate, the “cringe crown” in January, assuming the Harvard graduate/University of Chicago professor prevails, and the current crowd doesn’t stage a coup d’etat. I take nothing for granted anymore.

    You said, “….you won’t often see leaders on foreign trips speaking other than their own tongue apart form English if they are able.” I reply with four words: “Ich bin ein Berliner!” Apparently JFK didn’t get that quite right and somehow said he was a Berliner jelly doughnut instead of a resident of the city of Berlin, but the Germans he was speaking to didn’t mind. They appreciated his stirring speech and considered it a gracious gesture for him to speak a few words of their language, and he was instantly a hero to them. (This despite his never doing anything concrete to help them as the Soviets screwed the lid on tighter.)

    I should imagine most people would think it’s a nice gesture for a foreign leader to speak to them in their language. Especially if the leader is an Anglophone; we’re notoriously monolingual. And especially Chinese, not exactly an easy language to learn. I can’t think what Australians are afraid of. Do they think he’s making some sort of secret deals behind their back, conspiring in Chinese so they won’t hear? The US has a strain of anti-intellectualism of course; one keeps hearing Obama accused of being “elite,” like that’s a bad thing.

    Australia sounds like a fun place, but this is not the first time I’ve detected what seems to be a disturbing (and ironic) thread of xenophobia from down under. I recall something about a boatload of desperate refugees that Australia refused to rescue a few years ago. I wouldn’t presume to judge, just saying what it looks like from outside.

  222. 226 Andrew
    June 16, 2008 at 08:49

    @ Jonathan

    It’s more a preception that he is ingratiating himself with China than anything xenophobic. The feedback I have getting from those political people I know is that to them he seems more interested in wanting to be seen to be important, than to actually get down to usiness and do what he was elected for. As for trying to impress, it doesn’t really impress and Rudd really does comes off looking comic. I would hate to think what GW would say… ich bin ein….

    My opinion is that people don’t vote for a government, they always vote against the other party to remove them or keep them out. What you then get is a party in power that you may not necessarily like or agree with, the lesser of two evils.

  223. 227 Andrew
    June 16, 2008 at 08:54

    The thing is that the mass media focus on these things which then gets picked up on by the consumer and those images stick in the collective minds. Howard was often ridiculed for his power walking overseas and his glee when presented with a trinket or standing next to ‘world’ leader. If these images are still raw in people’s minds then Rudd is doing his image a disservice by following on in that vein. After all it is percpetion and image that matter the most and are the most power decision formers, especially in an electorate.

  224. 228 Bob in Queensland
    June 16, 2008 at 09:07

    As an Australian “noob” I haven’t, so far, detected much decline in Rudd’s popularity since the election. Indeed, the speed with which he’s carried through on some of his main election pledges makes a refreshing change for me, having become very jaded by UK politicians.

    The one place I’ve seen comment on Rudd’s language skills is on some of the many satirical TV shows–but that’s what satirical shows are for!

  225. 229 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 16, 2008 at 09:21

    @donovan:

    Oh, the Balkans are very “emotive.” But emotions tend to run against the Serbians, as a consequence of their brutally thuggish behavior and mass murder and destruction of Sarajevo, and vicious, cynical, bloodthirsty conduct in Kosovo and everywhere else just a few years ago.

    The world bore witness to the horrors perpetrated by the Serbs, and the world passed judgment. It’s got nothing to do with trying to “buy Muslim goodwill in the middle east.” That accusation speaks volumes–about cynicism that can’t even imagine humanitarian motives, and about religious bigotry that can’t see people as people, only as enemies. What a sad, shabby, small perspective that is. It’s amusing to see the US and the UK accused of bias in FAVOR of Moslems. Most Americans didn’t know at first that the Bosnians were Moslems, and quite properly didn’t care. They were human beings, and as such deserved better than to be slaughtered. Serbs would do well to embrace that humanistic perspective.

    (The claim that independence is the same as annexation is a tortured bit of oxymoronic blather so manifestly absurd that it requires no refutation.)

    Emotive enough for you?

  226. 230 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 16, 2008 at 09:27

    Andrew–If your point is that democracy is a tragicomic disaster, you don’t have to convince me.

  227. June 16, 2008 at 10:07

    Right my question Bob answered if the popular opinion had shifted. In general all that the PM has done so far does seem to be a benefit.

    All that Tom has spoken of are definitely improvements, too bad our brand of conservatism in the States is slightly less, a, demonstrative, shall we say, or perhaps just less refined to the spoken word eh’ Jonathan. Don’t know how you city boys can deal with these hours! I am out, on the water, on 10 tracks laid down, and a song in my heart! Peace all!

  228. June 16, 2008 at 10:20

    Jonathan: Yes, emotive to an absurd degree, and every bit as emotively selective as the Israeli subject continues to be.

    My point has nothing to do with condoning the atrocities perpetrated by the Milosevich regime and the cronyist military under his command. That was dealt with by the world, as you well know.

    The point here is that the Serbian people have been made to pay for the crimes committed by that regime, and in your blustering response you show yourself to be on the side of those who punish the people for the crimes of their leaders.

    How can the illegal declaration of independence by Kosovar Albanians and the expedient acceptance of this territorial theft have anything to do with humanitarianism? Serbia is no longer governed by the thugs you mention, and, if anyone is suffering in Kosovo today, it is the Serb remnant living there ( about whom, you, in your self-righteous prattle, obviously don’t care a hoot.)

    To contend that the West’s acceptance of this piece of landgrabbing is to some degree an act of Muslim appeasement is not far-fetched at all. The same sort of illegal and undemocratic rights were extended to Albanian Muslims in Macedonia, by giving them a direct and democratically unjustifiable say in the Macedonian parliament.

    It is well known that the world ‘bore witness and passed judgement’ on the Serbian situation, by bombing the hell out of that country, and leaving its civilian population economically crippled, dead, traumatized and economically broken. That may have been fair enough.

    The further step of alienating Kosovo from the country of which it has for centuries been an integral part is international theft, if you can get off you high-horse for long enough to think about it.

    I am not asking for a restoration of the Milosevich regime. They got what they deserved. But Kosovo is a separate issue.

    And, Jonathan, when will the world ‘bear witness and pass judgement’ on the atrocities being perpetrated by Israel, Burma, Zimbabwe etc. etc.?

    Is that reasonable enough for you?

  229. 233 Katharina in Ghent
    June 16, 2008 at 10:30

    Good morning, Karnie,

    In regard to the Stamford Jews I would like to say the following: What kept the Jewish people alive as a group was to NOT integrate during the 2000 years of diaspora, otherwise they would have become just another lost civilization in a history textbook. That’s why I can understand that this specific group prefers to keep to themselves, but at the same time, since we demand that the Muslim communities integrate more into Western society, the same has to apply for them.

    One possibility might be to send their children to public school, but from what I know about British society, private schools are popular and often offer better education, and if this group opens its own religious private school, certified by the state and all, then what’s to stop them to put their children there? The question that comes up to me is also, which professions their children can/will take? They can’t all open kosher restaurants, so at least some of them have to work in “ordinary” jobs, mingling with outsiders.

    In the end of the day, since they have been living in Britain for centuries, this is their home, and if they don’t want to integrate, there’s probably very little that the government can do.

  230. June 16, 2008 at 10:50

    And, Jonathan, just to further clarify for you: The so-called Kosovar Liberation Army were not much more than a group of Albanian mafiosi thugs themselves, who are currently involved in kidnapping Serbs for the removal of internal organs for sale on the medical black market.

    The Serb-Kosovar war was one waged between one group of thugs and another. What has happened now is that the one thug has been punished and the other rewarded by the gift of a huge tract of land.

    Albanian and Serb civilians will continue to pay the price in ongoing hatred and conflict.

    Finally, the declaration of Kosovar independence was an act against international law and should not have been upheld. You can’t have contempt for international law on the one hand and respect for human rights on the other. You either respect both, or neither; and the future of Kosovo will bear me out on this.

  231. June 16, 2008 at 11:22

    And, finally, Jonathan, the ‘manifestly absurd oxymoron’ detected by your fine logic is just my way of saying that Kosovar ‘independence’ amounts to nothing less than the illegal addition of Serbian territory to that of Albania.

  232. 236 planckbrandt
    June 16, 2008 at 14:27

    We should probably look at where exactly all the money has gone in aid to Africa and Sub-Sahara. Has it enriched the lives of a few despots and mostly been shifted to Swiss accounts? Or a few institutions and their massive real estate projects to bring Africa into the modern Western world paradigm? We need a more ‘open space’ or ‘client system’ view of what is going on there. Trouble is we have been suckers to so many despots all these years funding them and their corrupt regimes.

    The growing move in all things development is toward micro-financing and the wisdom of crowds to solve thorny social problems.

    Also, experts are starting to say loudly that the ‘corporatisation’ of agriculture and food production, brought on by these multi-national aid organizations who pander to Western donor governments and their corporate interests is a root cause to the food insecurity crisis now happening in the world.

    We need to re-think dramatically the power way we in the West go about doing this, and empower the little people on the ground who are more than capable of handling themselves. We also need to stop playing the dumb sucker and falling for the seduction of despots and sycophants, and enabling them to suck their people dry.

  233. 237 Shirley
    June 16, 2008 at 14:40

    Zak,
    I heard that cows put out so much methane gas because we humans feed them stuff that they do not ordinarily eat in order to get more out of them in terms of beef and milk. If that is the case, then it does indeed trace back to us humans and our greed.

  234. June 16, 2008 at 15:01

    Leadership Race Overshadows Solana Visit

    TEHRAN – EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana’s visit to Tehran on Saturday was largely overshadowed by local and regional events.
    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maleki was in and out before Solana arrived. The knock on effects of the Interfaith Dialogue in Mecca is being felt in Tehran. What was to be a harmless get together of Arab sheiks and sultans, has precipitated the leadership race in Iran. Akbar Hashemi, the hefty Iranian power broker, was at the conference. Received with due pomp and flourish by King Abdullah, Hashemi, alias Rafsanjani, head of the Assembly of Experts and Expediency Council, is due to address the clerical hierarchy in Qom shortly.
    The clergy is up in arms. Hassan Rouhani, member of the Assembly of Experts and Expediency Council, one-time Iranian Security Chief, complained at a religious gathering in Semnan earlier this month that a plot was being hatched to oust the clergy. “The Revolution paved the way for the Islamic Republic,” he said, and added: “The custodians of the regime are the representatives of the people, but not their owners.” Nothing must be decided without the approval of Parliament, he concluded.
    Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei built a strong power base inside the country over the last nineteen years that he has been ensconced in his position, but lacks Rafsanjani’s velvet gloves diplomacy touch. He is facing the strongest challenge yet to his power.
    Inflation continues to gnaw at people’s salaries. No butter or sugar at local markets last week. Power shortages mean that the electricity can go off at any time during the day or night. Petrol rationing has been in force for a year. Hojatollah Ghanimifard, head of International Affairs at the National Oil Company, asked for $ 9 billion to be set aside for gasoline and oil derivative imports for next year. The government may scrap gasoline subsidies altogether, because it can’t afford it, according to latest reports.
    There is no telling where Iran is heading. Solana came to deliver a message, it is true, but the tell-tale situation on the ground may have muted the statesman.

  235. 239 selena
    June 16, 2008 at 16:00

    What happened to Blank Page # 11?

    I just heard Tim Russert’s son talking about his father. He said his father was committed to informing people who found it difficult to understand or who were not well informed.

    His examples: old people and single mothers???

    My jaw is still dropped!!

  236. 240 Shirley
    June 16, 2008 at 16:45

    Selena,
    Blank Page 11 morphed into TP 16 June

  237. 241 ADISA
    June 16, 2008 at 17:32

    hey! his i Adisa from Ghana. Have you heard the saying that a dressed monkey is still a monkey? well, that’s frica’s situation. I am not expecting the eminent panel to say no more aid to Africa will help. Like Oliver twist, Africa will keep on asking and never end untill there is a total psychological transformation of all African leaders that they must help themselves

  238. 242 steve
    June 16, 2008 at 17:58

    I was looking at some pictures of the protests in London about Bush’s visit, and one of the protestors held up a sign refering to the USA saying “Stop desecrating mosques in Somalia”. Yet as I looked at that, a newsflash at the top of my monitor says there was a mosque bombing in Pakistan today. I remember reading about many mosque bombings in Iraq (remember the golden mosque?) and I just wonder, why the selective outrage? People protest a US soldier looking at a mosque, but if other muslims blow up a mosque, there’s no outrage. why?

  239. 243 Shirley
    June 16, 2008 at 19:00

    Just curious:
    Was Palestine covered on air today at all? My impression was that Africa would be covered first, based on the wording of the On Air heading, and so I reserved the library computer slot corresponding to the second half of the show. I only heard discussion on Africa and am very disappointed to have missed what I wanted to hear.

  240. 244 steve
    June 16, 2008 at 19:22

    @ Shirley, it was the first half of the program.


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