Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Legend of Terri Schiavo

Wretchard on The Belmont Club has a terrific post in which he explains how because of her long suffering, her estranged and repulsively monomaniacal husband, her increasingly desperate parents, and the coldly logical, legalistic courts, Terri Schiavo is becoming a transcendent figure, a legendary character, a sort of hero. Her importance will transcend her own life.

Read it.

The bits about butterflies and catastrophe theory are a bit much though.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Woman Leads Muslim Prayers in New York

Yesterday morning, in New York, a woman led Muslim Friday Prayer Services for what the organizers claim was the first time ever on record. The Voice of America writes:
Amina Wadud has now taken a step to change Islamic traditions. An Islamic scholar at Virginia Commonwealth University, Professor Wadud describes herself as a lonely scholar who took this most public of steps to symbolize the possibilities for gender equality within Islam. She led the mixed-gender service at a building on the grounds of the episcopal Cathedral of Saint John the Divine after the original venue was changed following threats.

Several religious leaders in the Middle East have criticized the event, saying it violates centuries of tradition. But in her sermon, Professor Wadud said it is a violation of god's integrity to try to reduce half of God's creation. 'Allah is always present whether we acknowledge it or not, whether we agree with it or not, whether it is convenient for us or not, women and men both are necessary and essential to Allah's plan for creation and women and men both have the capacity to reach more moral excellence,' she said.
A quote in the New York Daily News brings up the fear of Muslims who protest against this event, that it might spread ripples of women's emancipation across the Muslim world.
Although billed as a spiritual event, yesterday's service held potentially profound social implications for Muslims around the world, said Khaled Abou El-Fadl, a professor of Islamic law at UCLA.

"What the fundamentalists are worried about is that there's going to be a ripple effect not just in the U.S. but all over the Muslim world," Abou El-Fadl said. "The women who are learned and frustrated that they cannot be the imam are going to see that someone got the guts to break ranks and do it."
Also see New York Times, other related stories.

UPDATE 3/28/05:
Khalid commented:
The Grand Mufti did not speak out in support. You can read his ruling for yourself.

Anyhow, there are already female imams, in China, where they have woman-only mosques; no one has a problem with this. And women have always been scholar/jurists and sufi shaykhas-- both of these positions are considered much more important than imams, whose function really is just to keep everyone ontime and in sequence.
I see that he actually reported that some scholars wrote that it was acceptable for a woman to lead men in prayer, but not in the Friday prayers.

Cretaceous Park

In Jurassic Park dinosaurs were cloned from blood cells inside a mosquito that was frozen in a chunk of amber. In real life, all the scientists had to do in order to isolate Cretaceous period Tyrannosaurus soft tissue and perhaps blood was to break a T. Rex thighbone in half.
Scientists who had to break a dinosaur bone to remove it from its sandstone location say they have recovered 70-million-year-old soft tissue from inside the bone.

The find included what appear to be blood vessels, and possibly even cells, from a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Cretacearrific! Cretaceatastic!!!

H/T ArchaeoBlog

Friday, March 25, 2005

Petroleum Conservation for National Security

Max Boot at the L.A. Times is as incisive as ever about Petroleum prices and national security
In absolute terms, today's [petroleum] prices are still half of the 1970s peaks, and the U.S. economy has become much less dependent on petroleum since then. (Computers run on electricity, not gasoline.) But imagine what would happen if Al Qaeda were to hit the giant Ras Tanura terminal in Saudi Arabia, where a tenth of global oil supplies are processed every day. Prices could soar past $100 a barrel, and the U.S. economy could go into a tailspin. As it is, high oil prices provide money for Saudi Arabia to subsidize hate-spewing madrasas and for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. [...]

How to do better? Biking to work or taking the train isn't the answer. Even if Americans drive less, global oil demand will surge because of breakneck growth in India and China. The Middle East, home of two-thirds of the world's proven oil reserves, will remain of vital strategic importance unless we can develop alternative sources of automotive propulsion and substantially decrease global, not just American, demand for petroleum. An ambitious agenda to achieve those goals has been produced by Set America Free, a group set up by R. James Woolsey, Frank Gaffney and other national security hawks.

They advocate using existing technologies — not pie-in-the-sky ideas like hydrogen fuel cells — to wean the auto industry from its reliance on petroleum. Hybrid electric cars such as the Toyota Prius, which run on both electric motors and gas engines, already get more than 50 miles per gallon. Coming soon are hybrids that can be plugged into a 120-volt outlet to recharge like a cellphone. They'll get even better mileage.

Add in "flexible fuel" options that already allow many cars to run on a combination of petroleum and fuels like ethanol (derived from corn) and methanol (from natural gas or coal), and you could build vehicles that could get — drum roll, please — 500 miles per gallon of gasoline. That's not science fiction; that's achievable right now.

Set America Free estimates that if we convert entirely to flexible-fuel, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, U.S. gasoline imports in 20 years will drop by two-thirds. As important, because Americans are the world's biggest car buyers, U.S. preferences would reshape the global automotive industry. Carmakers would wind up shipping hybrid electrics to Europe and Asia too.



Fragments of the Evolving Quran

An excellent article from Atlantic Monthly about some ancient copies of the Quran that have been discovered in Yemen. The most interesting thing about them, from a historical point of view, is that they differ from current Qurans. This is blasphemy to conventional teaching about the Quran within Islam, which states that the Quran is the perfect word of God and that it has not changed since it was first dictated.

H/T Dean Esmay

Khadr Family Values

Read this story about a Canadian Muslim family who went to Afghanistan to run charities for orphans and lived and socialized in the same circle as Osama Bin Laden.

One critical point to remember is what Maha and Zaynab, the mother and oldest daughter of the family, have to say about extremist and moderate Muslims.
INTERVIEWER: I guess I had the impression that there are a lot of more moderate Muslims around the world who felt that he [Osama Bin Laden] has brought untold misery on to the heads of Muslims. He's brought hatred towards Muslims in the United States, in North America, in Europe.

ZAYNAB: There's no such a thing as moderate Islam. Islam is Islam. It's been there and it's been the same. Fourteen hundred years ago the same book. The same prophet. That's how it's going to be for until the day of judgment.

MAHA: It's not like Christianity, 2,000 years ago Jesus -- bless him, for us we believe he's a prophet, may God has blessing on him -- he said homosexuality is forbidden. Adultery is forbidden. Now it's all allowed. So this is modern Christianity. But for us, no.

ZAYNAB: I mean you can't bring two Bibles that would have the exact same things in it. You can bring as many Qurans as you like and open the exact suras and the exact same verses and you find exactly the same.

INTERVIEWER: So you don't think there's such a thing as a moderate Muslim?

ZAYNAB: No. You either follow the Quran or you don't follow the Quran.

MAHA: Moderate Muslims are not following the complete Quran.
Troubling, not only because they deny the hope of moderation in Islam, but because they are so wrong about Christianity.

H/T Liberals Against Terrorism

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Network Mapping the 9/11 Conspiracy

It's perfect! Valdis Krebs is an extremely smart man. Read it!

Here's a money quote that describes the best strategy to use to disrupt future conspiracies, should they be discovered in time
Although we do not know all of the internal ties of the hijackers' network it appears that many of the ties were concentrated around the pilots. This is a risky move for a covert network. Concentrating both unique skills and connectivity in the same nodes makes the network easier to disrupt - once it is discovered. Peter Klerks (Klerks, 2001) makes an excellent argument for targeting those nodes in the network that have unique skills. By removing those necessary skills from the project, we can inflict maximum damage to the project mission and goals. It is possible that those with unique skills would also have unique ties within the network. Because of their unique human capital and their high social capital the pilots were the richest targets for removal from the network. Unfortunately they were not discovered in time.
Did I mention that you should read it?

UPDATE:
LAT has more. Papers 1 and 2 about disrupting covert networks.

H/T praktike via nadezha at LAT.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

On Conventional Wisdom

I love to read Liberals Against Terrorism. They are smart people who think deeply about things. They are liberal and hopeful as all young people should be. Sometimes they underestimate the vastness of the problem we have before us with extremist Islam. And sometimes they underestimate the strategic wisdom of a president whose domestic policies and elocution they dislike.

So I wrote something that was good enough that I wish I had just blogged it here. Go and read it there instead.

Iranian Dissident Censorship Lifted

Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian law professor and former judge, was the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel prize. George W. Bush said of her:
the demand for democracy is strong and broad as we saw when thousands gathered to welcome home Shirin Ebadi - The regime in Tehran must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people, or lose its last claim to legitimacy.
Despite this, she had been prevented from publishing her book in the US because the US Treasury Department stupidly insisted that it was enemy literature. While she theoretically could have published it in the US, it was a criminal offense for any editors, publishers, printers, or anyone else to help her do it.
Ebadi was told she could not publish her memoirs in the United States because of regulations that prohibit "trading with the enemy." The Trading With The Enemy Act (TWTE), passed in 1917, allows the president to bar transactions during times of war or national emergency.

Though the law has been amended to exempt publishers, the Treasury Department continued to rule it illegal "to enhance the value of anything created in Iran without permission," including books.
Grrrrr... Grrrrrrrr... Stupid bureaucratic bullshit like this just gets me so mad I wanna spit, or even let loose with some horrible sarcasm!
At the same time Treasury was denying Ebadi the right to publish her book, the U.S. State Department -- which is reportedly in charge of "winning the hearts and minds" of people who live under repressive, authoritarian regimes -- was lauding her on its website as one of Iran's "Voices Struggling To Be Heard."

The website notes she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 "for her life-long campaign to protect vulnerable and persecuted groups within Iranian society." It also quotes the citation from the Norwegian Nobel Committee: "As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist, she has spoken out clearly and strongly in her country, Iran and far beyond."
Ebadi and her allies filed suit against Treasury to knock down this ridiculous law. Money quote.
"Writers in Iran, Cuba and Sudan cannot publish freely in their own countries. It is a tragic and dangerous irony that Americans may not freely publish the works of those writers here, either"
At last, Treasury relented from its incredibly boneheaded position.
Last week, the Treasury Department abruptly reversed its interpretation of the TWTE Act and largely exempted writers, publishers, editors, translators and literary agents from rules on the publication of information materials -- including medical and scientific publications as well as books -- from countries subject to U.S. trade embargoes.

Edward Davis, whose law firm represents the publishing organisations as well as PEN, called the Treasury Department's decision "a very encouraging first step toward restoring the freedom of expression," but cautioned, "the government has not yet undone all the restrictions imposed."
Isn't this what the 1st Amendment is all about? Free expression without government oversight, threat, and oppression? Isn't this one of the freedoms we want to export to the entire Middle East?

But geeze, Treasury never struck me as a particularly intelligent organization. After all, the IRS is part of it. And the BATF was part of Treasury when they led the raid against the Branch Davidians in Waco. BATF was cut out and thrown into Justice after 2001, but the mindrot continues in Treasury. Apparently.

Regime Change Plans for Iran

Today's phrase is eminence grise. Sometimes you just need a ten-dollar word, or a fifty-dollar word after cost-of-living increases, to impress the wife's parents or obscure something you're discussing so the kids don't get it. Today's word for the more plebian "advisor" or even "consigliere" is just way beefier than either.

On the other hand, consigliere was all through Godfather, which is pretty freaking beefy.

Enough musing.

According to Inter Press Service News Agency, George Shultz, eminence grise for the Bush administration, is the senior-most leader of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), an unofficial coffee-klatch meeting in and around Washington and hashing out a plan (or hatching a plot if you prefer a poultry metaphor) to motivate Iranians to toss their government out on its collective tuchas. Some assistance would also be provided. BUT one of the main goals seems to be to avoid a full-scale war against Iran.
Specific elements of a new U.S. policy, according to the paper, would include:
  • A major policy address by Bush that would pledge to ''reconnect with the Iranian people, to help the vast majority of Iranians who want democracy to achieve it ... to assure their security in return for not acquiring nuclear weapons and to help develop their economy'';
  • An announcement of U.S. willingness to re-open its embassy in Tehran and the designation of a senior official devoted to the co-ordination and implementation of the policy, including lobbying U.S. allies, speaking with Iranians via various media, and engaging with senior Iranian government officials, as opposed to ''ordinary diplomats in the Foreign Ministry'';
  • Making clear that Washington will not accept Iran's possession of nuclear weapons and will back that up with force, presumably unilateral, if necessary;
  • Supporting Iranian democrats and dissidents ''to make clear that they are our partners in a new dialogue and that even as we meet with representatives of the Khamenei regime, we consider these to be illegitimate''. Support would include sending Iranian activists abroad for short seminars with their counterparts, ''who have been successful in organising civic campaigns in Serbia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Chile and elsewhere'';
  • Developing relations with the military and various other security services in Iran in order to undermine the regime's ''pillars of support,'' and marshalling evidence for a legal case against Khamenei for indictment in an appropriate tribunal;
  • Devising other ''smart'' sanctions to isolate the regime and its supporters, including the revolutionary foundations, or ”bunyads”, by publicly identifying companies and bank accounts controlled by them to highlight alleged corruption and prepare legal cases for economic crimes; and
  • Attempting to launch a ''dialogue with Khamenei and the clerics around him about how to arrange ''a way to exit peacefully from political power, combined with indications of the alternatives (jail or hanging)''.
The only thing that strikes a bad note for me is the mention of nuclear weapons. Obviously we don't want an expansionist, totalitarian theocracy to have nuclear weapons. But neither do we want the government to have a way to weasel out of regime change, by pretending to acquiesce on the nuclear issue and continuing work on a nuclear bomb in underground labs.

But then I could be wrong. My wife, my own eminence grise, tells me I usually am.

Next time out, I really must find a more elegant way to close the loop.

Pip pip and all that tosh.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Saudi Religious Police Forced to Desist

In another first in Saudi Arabia, a writer who was sentenced to four months in prison and 275 lashes by the religious police (Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) has been rescued by the Ministry of Culture and Information.
Dr. Ali [Hamza] Al-Mizeini, an Arabic language professor at King Saud University, was charged by the commission with allegedly questioning the religious institution’s abilities and knowledge in an article written by him in Al-Watan newspaper. The commission was represented in court by another professor at the university, Abdullah Al-Barak from the Islamic Culture Department.
The case was tried in Shariah Court by Judge Suleiman Al-Fantooh.
The judge’s ruling violates the Royal Decree No. 37 of the publication law in Saudi Arabia issued in November, 2000, which states that Shariah courts in the Kingdom should not intervene in trying journalists or writers and that all matters concerning the media and publications should be dealt with through the Ministry of Information.
It seems that the religious police are not as unstoppable as they have been.

H/T Crossroads Arabia.

UPDATED:
Corrected name.

Also, Crown Prince Abdullah has intervened.
Prince Abdullah issued the decree to annul the court ruling. Al-Mizeini had also been told that he would be banned from writing in the Saudi media. The decree was in response to the judge’s violation when he issued a verdict against the writer despite his knowledge of a Royal Decree announced last week which states that all conflicts that concern publication matters must be dealt with through the Ministry of Culture and Information.
Hamza Al-Mizeini will not be flogged 275 times, nor assuming he survives the flogging go to jail for four months, but he will be prevented from writing for Saudi media. Saudi media. Saudi media.

Interesting.

Satanic Verse

Bukhari:V6B60N378 “‘O Mother of the faithful, did Muhammad see his Lord?’ Aisha said, ‘What you have said makes my hair stand on end! Know that if somebody tells you the following things, he is a liar. Whoever tells you that Muhammad saw his Lord, is a liar. [i.e., the Qur’an isn’t from God] Whoever tells you that the Prophet knows what is going to happen tomorrow, is a liar.[i.e., Muhammad wasn’t a prophet] Aisha added. ‘The Prophet saw Gabriel in his true form twice.’” [i.e., the Qur’an is 112 surahs too long]

Monday, March 21, 2005

Jihad! The Musical

At Beautiful Atrocities. It's a smash!

Responsibility Rants

Mahmood, of Mahmood's Den has a terrific rant about Muslims who refuse to accept responsibility for their own stank countries. Of course it's because they will rise up against any non-Muslims who rule oppress their countries but try to reason and work with Muslim oppressors.
I don't know about you, I do know however that I am absolutely sick of hearing the following phrases:
  1. This is not in our Arab tradition
  2. This is not in our Muslim tradition
  3. This is alien to our way of life
  4. This is not Islam
And this...
Of course, those of us who are awake know better.
  • Denying a problem as big as terrorism only makes it get bigger.
  • Denying that Islam condones killing only makes it weaker.
  • Denying that the root of our problems is our pathetic hold on Islam without having the courage to question it in all of its facets and the very people who have assigned themselves as its guardians and interpreters will only lead us to the complete disappearance of not only this religion, but our culture.
  • Denying democracy will only continue to let others treat us as useless sheep.
We deserve what we got so far.

This is what we're harvesting from hundreds of years of accepting mediocrity as excellence. This is what we're reaping from acceptance of our lot and acquiescing to "Allah's will" rather than understanding that our lot can indeed be improved by tolerance, understanding, acceptance of others, hard work and sweat and not depending on Allah to fix things for us.
The comments are just as good as, and perhaps better, than the main article. Go read them.

al-Kampf

Way back in 2002, David Pryce-Jones, of NRO Online, wrote a terrific article tying Hitler together with the Palestinian leadership. Mein Kampf continues to sell well in Arabic, with the German dominated ladder of racial superiority conveniently excised. Read it.

Jilbab Schoolgirl is a Puppet of Hizb-ut-Tahrir

Natasha Tynes Mona Eltahawy revisits Shabina Begum’s suit against her school to be allowed to wear the jilbab.
I argued that Shabina was taking to an extreme the interpretation of modest clothing that Islam orders for both men and women. I also argued that the judge should not have accepted this extreme interpretation.

I was also angry that any discussion about Muslim women begins and ends with how they dress.

Since I wrote my article last week I have learned that the extreme fundamentalist organization Hizb-ut-Tahrir was involved in this case. [...]

As I was writing last week’s article, I kept wondering who was influencing Shabina. With all respect to 16 year olds -- I remember being 16 and how easy it is to be influenced at that age. Shabina’s parents are dead. Her guardian is her 22 year old brother. And if he is a supporter of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, it is easy to see how he convinced her to wear the jilbab.

How much choice did Shabina have in this? Listen to what the judge in the case that Shabina lost had to say about the influence of her brother: "One wonders why it should have been her brother who articulated what she was perfectly capable of saying herself."
You know, NatashaMona, I think you're 110% right!

But I've never heard of HuT. So let's see what I can google up.

Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Party of Liberation)

From GlobalSecurity.org
Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Party of Liberation) a radical Islamic political movement that seeks 'implementation of pure Islamic doctrine' and the creation of an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia. The group's aim is to resume the Islamic way of life and to convey the Islamic da’wah to the world. The ultimate goal of this secretive sectarian group is to unite the entire ummah, or Islamic world community, into a single caliphate. The aim is to bring the Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in 'Dar al-Islam' [the land where the rules of Islam are being implemented, as opposed to the non-Islamic world] and in an Islamic society such that all life's affairs in society are administered according to the Shariah rules.
From the Heritage Foundation
Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Party of Liberation) is an emerging threat to American interests in Central and South Asia and the Middle East. It is a clandestine, cadre-operated, radical Islamist political organization that operates in 40 countries around the world, with headquarters apparently in London. Its proclaimed goal is jihad against America and the overthrow of existing political regimes and their replacement with a Caliphate (Khilafah in Arabic), a theocratic dictatorship based on the Shari'a (religious Islamic law). The model for Hizb is the "righteous" Caliphate, a militaristic Islamic state that existed in the 7th and 8th centuries under Mohammad and his first four successors, known as the "righteous Caliphs."
Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani al Falastini, the founder of HuT, was an appeals court judge in Jerusalem in 1952 when he founded HuT. His organization was from its beginnings influenced by the radical, violent, anti-Jewish beliefs of Sheikh Hajj Amin al-Housseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Nazi war collaborator, all-around evil swine. an-Nabhani joined the Muslim Brotherhood but rejected it as too soft. an-Nabhani's other inspiration was the organizational scheme of Marxism-Leninism.

Mix this all together, Nazi collaboration, International Communist revolutionary principles, and radical Islamism of the Qutbist school, and you get a potent mix. HuT is organized into secret cells of 3-8 members. It is extremely secretive, and though it has not been caught participating directly in violence, it is associated with other organizations that are quite violent. Nonetheless it has the most imprisoned members of any Islamist organization in Central Asia. It is especially reviled in Uzbekistan. It's illegal in Germany, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikstan, Kazakhstan, and a number of Middle Eastern states.
Hizb ut-Tahrir's spread around the globe, in Western Europe and often in authoritarian states with strong secret police organizations, is impressive. It could be accomplished only by applying 20th century totalitarian political "technology" melded with Islamic notions of the 7th and 8th centuries, as interpreted by medieval Islamic scholars. The genius of Hizb founder an-Nabhani was marrying Orthodox Islamist ideology to Leninist strategy and tactics.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is a totalitarian organization, akin to a disciplined Marxist-Leninist party, in which internal dissent is neither encouraged nor tolerated. Because its goal is global revolution, a leading Islamic scholar has compared it to the Trotskyite wing of the international communist movement. Its candidate members become well-versed in party literature during a two-year indoctrination course in a study circle, supervised by a party member. Only when a member "matures in Party culture," "adopts the thoughts and opinions of the party," and "melts with the Party" can he or she become a full-fledged member. Women are organized in cells supervised by a female cadre or a male relative. After joining the party, the new recruit may be requested (or ordered) to relocate to start a new cell.

When a critical mass of cells is achieved, according to its doctrine, Hizb may move to take over a country in preparation for the establishment of the Caliphate. Such a takeover would likely be bloody and violent. Moreover, its strategy and tactics show that, while the party is currently circumspect in preaching violence, it will justify its use--just as Lenin and the Bolsheviks did--when a critical mass is achieved.

Hizb's platform and actions fit in with "Islamist globalization"--an alternative mode of globalization based on radical Islam. This ideology poses a direct challenge to the Western model of a secular, market-driven, tolerant, multicultural globalization.
The leadership of HuT is unknown, as might be expected from such a secretive organization. Not only is the identity of the current leader not known, even the country in which the leadership resides is unknown. Rumor and hearsay has it that the leadership is somewhere in Britain (!), and that the middle and upper ranks of HuT are filled with European converts (presumably with Communist leanings).
The current leader of Hizb is also unknown, as are where he resides and the identity of the senior officers of Hizb. Upon his death, an-Nabhani was succeeded by Sheikh Abd-el Qadim Zaloom, another Palestinian cleric and a former professor at Al-Azhar in Cairo. Zaloom was with Hizb for 50 years and died on April 29, 2003. While anecdotal reports place the organization's headquarters in London and indicate that many European converts to Islam are staffing mid- and senior levels of the organization, very little evidence confirms this. These questions need to be answered, and a joint international program of collecting intelligence on Hizb and countering its activities must be developed.
I would take the conclusions a bit further. As the Heritage Foundation notes, HuT has declared war on the US and its allies.
Hizb has called for a jihad against the U.S., its allies, and moderate Muslim states. The purpose of the jihad is "to find and kill the Kufar (non-believers)," in fact rejecting the Islamic notion of Greater Jihad against one's own as a sin.

In documents drafted before 9/11, Hizb leaders accused the United States of imposing hegemony on the world. After 9/11, Hizb claimed that the U.S. had declared war against the global Muslim community (Umma), had established an international alliance under the "pretext" of fighting terrorism, and was reinforcing its grip on the countries of Central Asia. Hizb further claimed that the U.S. accused Osama bin Laden of being responsible for the 9/11 attacks "without any evidence or proof."
These actions echo the fatwas made by Bin Laden in 1996, well before 9/11 energized US response against him. If the USA and allies wait to oppose HuT, we are a soft target for the long-term plans of an international Communist, Islamist, Totalitarian, genocidal conspiracy whose structure is a collection of sleeper cells.

In the words of HuT, published after the 9/11 attacks
Muslims! You are religiously obliged to reject this American question which takes you lightly and despises you. America does not have the sublime values that entitle it to tell you what to support and whom to fight against. You possess a divine mission. You are the ones to bring guidance and light to mankind. God described you with the following words: "You are the best people brought forth for the benefit of mankind. You enjoin good and forbid evil. And you believe in God."

As for Jihad...it is legal, in fact it is an obligation, it is the apex of Islamic ethics, as Almighty God says, "Keep in store for them whatever you are capable of, force and equipment with which you can frighten those who are enemies of God and enemies of yourselves...." God's Messenger (Mohammed) said, "Islam is the head, prayer is the backbone and Jihad is the perfection."

Muslims! The law of religion does not allow you to give to America what it is trying to impose upon you. You are not allowed to follow its orders or to provide it with any assistance whatsoever, no matter whether it be intelligence or facilities of using your territory, your air space or your territorial waters. It is not permissible to cede military bases to the Americans, nor it is allowed to coordinate any military activities with them or to collaborate with them. It is not allowed to enter into an alliance with them or to be loyal to them, because they are enemies of Islam and Muslims. God said, "Believers, Do not befriend my enemy and your enemy.... They have rejected the truth that has come to you."
They will offer us no quarter. They will not allow non-Muslims to survive in their world, should they achieve their stated goal of world domination. They are precisely as violent and dangerous as International Communism ever was, and must be opposed as fiercely. Their funding sources must be dried up. They must be rooted out. They are a deadly sickness in Islam and in the non-Islamic world.

In the 14th century AD, a plague came out of Asia to kill almost half of Europe. It lasted until the 17th century, though it was less virulent over time. The Islamic Totalitarian Crusade is just such a plague, but a plague of ideas, not of bacillus. In the vector of this plague, Hizb-ut-Tahrir is the head of the rat and Al Qaeda is the plague-infected flea on its back. We cannot defeat the plague while sparing the rat that carries it.

Woman Leads Muslim Prayers in New York Redux

Following up on this article... From the Arab News. First, several opinions against the event:
Sheikh Sayed Tantawi of Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque, one of the world’s leading Islamic institutions, said Islam permits women to lead other women in prayer but not a congregation with men in it.

Qatar-based Sheikh Yussef Al-Qaradawi, a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood and an influential conservative Muslim cleric condemned Wadud, saying Islam bans women from doing so unless the congregation is made up solely of women.

All Islamic schools “agree that women do not lead men in (performing) religious duties,” Qaradawi said in a fatwa, or religious edict, published in the local press.

Prayer in Islam “features getting up, sitting down and kneeling...It is not befitting for a woman to make these movements in the presence of men when worshipping requires a peaceful mind and concentration on communicating with God,” said Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born scholar.
But then the most interesting thing happens. The Grand Mufti of Cairo speaks out in support.
Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ali Guma, declared that woman-led prayer of mixed-gender congregations is permissible, so long as the congregation agrees to it.

According to a report by the satellite news channel Al-Arabiyya, Sheikh Guma declared in an interview on Egyptian television that there is no consensus among religious scholars on the issue of female imamat of mixed gender congregations, pointing out that respected scholars like Imam Tabari and Imam Ibn Arabi found the practice permissible.

“The Mufti added that, in such issues where there are disagreements, then the situation rests with the specific people concerned. If (the congregation) accepts a woman as imam, then that’s their business, and there is nothing wrong with that since that is what they are accustomed to,” Al-Arabiyya reported.
This is big!

H/T Crossroads Arabia.

UPDATE: 28 Mar 2005
In comments, Khalid writes
The Grand Mufti did not speak out in support. You can read his ruling for yourself.

Anyhow, there are already female imams, in China, where they have woman-only mosques; no one has a problem with this. And women have always been scholar/jurists and sufi shaykhas-- both of these positions are considered much more important than imams, whose function really is just to keep everyone ontime and in sequence.
I see that he actually reported that some scholars wrote that it was acceptable for a woman to lead men in prayer, but not in the Friday prayers.

Some prayers including men and women. Not Friday prayers. It's still colossal.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Profile of Islamic Terrorists

Aliheydar Rzayev, Ph.D. profiles Islamic Terrorists for Global Politician. H/T Dak Bangla
The extremists are absolutely assured that the existing world is incorrectly arranged, but there is an authentic world - created by Allah. They are assured that USA is not only the simple state, but also embodiment of world evil. It is the Satan appearing as sparkling skyscrapers, advertisements, large corporations, world communications and networks, spreading itself over the entire world as an octopus. Being unique esoteric, they see the designation of their life in fight with the evil and thus to accelerate the approaching of authentic world.
In other words, they are living in a fantasy world and trying to make their fantasy world become real. Just like a paranoid schizophrenic. That's what makes them so dangerous and so repellent. Because by our standards they are insane, and violently so.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Creeping Talibanism in Bangladesh

A.K.Faezul Huq writes in The New Nation: Bangladesh's Independent News Source (H/T Dak Bangla) about the creeping transformation of Bangladesh from a secular state (immediately after the revolutionary split with Pakistan) in 1972 to the current state of affairs, where the country has a Friday weekend (non-standard in the region, and making business difficult), Islam as an official religion, lots of fundamentalist madrassas, and has experienced erosion or dissolution of the pillars of the original secular state.
Bangladesh was undoubtedly a moderate state at its inception---secular and progressive---till the rulers who took over after the massive political changes in mid '70s, decided to do away with the people's [formulated] constitution of 1972, replacing it with a controversial document of their own beliefs, thoughts and philosophy. [...]

One thing therefore has been proved beyond all doubts as the common perception so long had it. Some forces, inimical to the very existence of Bangladesh since our independence, have finally found it quite convenient to clandestinely fund the Islamic militants from the background in garb of their friends, but actually with the ulterior motive of tarnishing the age old secular identity of the people of Bangladesh amongst the comity of nations. And to a great extent they have succeeded no doubt.
The omitted material fills in the timeline to the present day. But the critical pieces are:
  1. Bangladesh has moved steadily from secularism to Islamic extremism since its founding.
  2. The cause is an unknown source or sources that has been funding lots of fundamentalist madrassas and political groups.
Huq doesn't speculate on the source of the funds. I'm not sure why not. Perhaps he is scared to. But it's pretty obvious. There are two possible sources for this. First, Saudi money has been used to spread Wahhabist activism for many years. Second, Pakistan's security services have been pumping money and support into extremist Deobandist groups for the same amount of time. The article doesn't state whether the madrassas are Deobandist, Wahhabist, or a mixture. But judging from the pattern in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Indian Kashmir, it is a combination of Saudi money and Pakistani guidance, which necessarily creates a Taliban-style result.

Not good news for Bangladesh.

Stability and Instability in Dictatorships

Herbert E. Mayer, in The American Thinker tells why dictatorships are toppling all over the world. He sums up with this parable.
It is late at night in Damascus, or Teheran, or Cairo, or maybe even Moscow, and the general is sitting in his easy chair with his tie loosened, his shoes off and perhaps with a drink in his hand. He is exhausted, but he cannot sleep. All day he has been reading reports of growing unrest, of strikes, of demonstrations against the regime he is sworn to defend. It is getting out of hand, and sooner rather than later he will be given the order to shoot. Scenes of the resulting carnage will be played and re-played on televisions around the world – including the one in his wife’s bedroom. And even if the revolution is stopped, surely it will start again before long and even more blood will flow through the streets. The general finishes his drink, turns out the lamp beside his chair, walks slowly toward his bedroom – and realizes that his two teen-agers aren’t home…..
Read the whole thing.

Al Qaeda Strategic Textbook

The Jamestown Foundation describes a textbook (Arabic) written by Abu Bakr Naji, an Al Qaeda strategist who is responsible in part for managing the Al Qaeda campaign to conquer the world via Jihad. This is not hyperbole. This is what Islamic Extremists really intend to do.
The Management of Barbarism is one of the few works of jihadi literature devoted specifically to strategy. Jihadi literature is rich in works of doctrine and exhortation on the one hand, and specific pamphlets on military technology on the other. Tactical studies tend toward providing doctrinal clearance for particular issues such as the killing of prisoners, the problem of civilian Muslim casualties or dealing with the infidel. Strategy is less well represented. Other than the papers by Yusuf al-Ayyiri on the Jihad method, the closest work to this is the Tuhfat al-Muwahhideen fi Bayan Tariq al-Tamkeen (Gift of the Monotheists on the Way to Empowerment) by the same author as this treatise, which indeed may be considered an extension of it.

The importance of this work lies in the mapping, in the eyes of a mujahid, of the stages of a strategic program towards empowerment. This process is construed with a broad enough perspective as to make of individual reverses — such as Afghanistan — of secondary importance. While Naji illustrates how, for the mujahid, matters of doctrinal propriety carry great weight, he also introduces realism to the subject in his defense of pragmatism over legal literalism in matters relating to dealings with the enemy and its politics. But perhaps the most interesting emphasis is the role of the media. As an admission of the failure of the Islamist groups to build massive support, ample space is given to methods of combating government and western media control of information delivery. The number of attacks and threats of attacks by mujahideen on media offices and individuals in Iraq, demonstrates that the value of this arm of the strategy is well understood, and indeed appears to be following the textbook.
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Just a Turkish Country Girl

From Faith Freedom International via KnowIslam or Else
My name is Yagmur (it means "rain"). I was born in rural Turkey, in a village. Generally Turkish women enjoy many freedoms, which our Arab sisters can’t even think of. Rural Turkey is a different story. Honour killings take place every day, women don’t have much say (if any) in household matters and female employment is out of question. However, much hard work is done by women because men don’t want to strain themselves; women are like cattle or slaves. If husband tells you to do something, you have to obey.

My mother was a fairly-educated woman, she taught me at home and I even went to school. My hobby was reading books; through them I learnt different languages and acquired a lot of knowledge.

I was a disciplined and obedient girl, unlike my sister who was somewhat uppity. When she was 18, she fell in love with a young man. They both loved each other but he was meant for another girl, thus his parents had decided. Dating is utterly forbidden in Islam, marriages are arranged and often young people meet on their wedding day.

My sister was rebellious. She “dated” that young man. Every night she would go to see him. They even kissed and actually their relationship went too far. She got pregnant. At first they planned to run away to a big city where they would be safe. They knew in villages, religion rules and they could be in trouble. In fact, authorities don’t care what’s going on in rural Turkey. Sometimes imams, mullahs and elders who try to practice Sharia and break the secular state law are punished but usually authorities are more interested in big cities full of tourists and turn a blind eye to what happens in villages.

I remember their young faces. I didn’t understand the whole situation; I was a little girl. But when I looked at them I could see they were happy. Their happiness made me happy too and I wanted to smile.

Instead of eloping, they decided to speak to my father. Pregnancy is a very good reason to get permission for marriage, or so they thought.

Alas, she had miscalculated my father’s love for her and his obsession with his “honour”. He became furious. Instead of letting the two young lovers marry and build their nest of love, he took her to the religious elders and they ruled that she had committed adultery. She was sentenced to death by stoning. They showed no mercy even for her unborn child. She had stained the “honour” of the family and the only way to remove that stain was to nip her life in the bud. Her unborn baby was a stain too and that little creature had to be destroyed as well, so my family could live honorably.

In the evening before her execution, she came to my room and told me that she would miss me. She was crying and hugged me to her bosom. Then she smiled and said that soon she would see her unborn baby; she didn’t need to wait until the birth day. I was blissfully unaware of her fate, but I felt that something bad was about to happen. I was so scared!

I still remember her eyes; they were blank; she stared at the sky while she was dug into the ground. She was wrapped in white sheets and her hands were tide to her body. She was buried up to her waist. The rabid mob circled her with stones in their hands and started throwing them at her while the roars of Allah-u-Akbar Allah-u-Akbar added to their frenzy. She twitched with pain as the stones hit her tender body and smashed her head. Blood gushed out from her face, cheeks, mouth, nose and eyes. All she could do was to bend to the left and to the right. Gradually the movements slowed down and finally she stopped moving. Her head fell on her chest. Her bloodied face remained serene. All the pain had gone. The hysteric mob relented and the chant of Allah-u’Akbar stopped. Someone approached and with a big boulder in his hand smashed the scull of my sister to finish her off. There was no need for that; she was already dead. Her bright black eyes that beamed with life were shut. Her jovial laughter that filled the house was silenced. Her heart that beat with such a heavenly love for only a short time had stopped. Her unborn baby was not given a chance to breathe one breath of air. He (or she) accompanied his young mother in her solitary and cold tomb, or who know, may be to a better place where love reigns and pain and ignorance are not known. These two budding lives had to be nipped so my father could keep his honour.

She wanted to marry a man whom she loved. She dreamt wearing a white wedding dress, that there would be a big ceremony, lots of people would be invited and they all would congratulate her, chant merry songs and throw flowers and confetti at her. Yes there was a ceremony, but it was not her wedding. She was not united with the man whom she loved but was wed to death. She was dressed in white but that was not her wedding gown. Lots of people came to the party but they came to curse her and to throw stones at her. No music was played and no merry songs were sang; only screams of Allah-u-Akbar filled the air. The only hug she got was from the cold earth in which she was half buried. The only kisses that she received were from the rocks thrown at her that tore her flesh and broke her bones. They were the kisses of death.

This was a tragedy for my sister’s young lover. His life lost its meaning. He got lashes but nothing more. He could well forget about the whole affair and get along with his life, but he didn't. I recall seeing him standing in front of our house every day, as if waiting for my sister to come out and meet him. I could see him crying. I can only imagine that when he was not crying in front of our house he was in the cemetery, crying over the grave of his love and his baby. One day he could no more bear his pains and hanged himself.

His death was hushed and no one talked about it. Maybe no one cared. He was reunited with his love and his baby. No one can hurt them anymore. No one can separate them from one another again.

It is a sad story. But unlike the story of Romeo and Juliet it is a story that is never told. No one talks about those young lovers. No one sheds tears for them. Not only they were buried, their memories were also buried as if they never existed - their tender love was a shame to others - a shame that had to be washed with blood.

But the saddest part is that according to Islam my sister deserved that death. The elders were sure she would be burning in Hell for eternity. No, I can't imagine that God can send someone to Hell for loving and for being happy. I can't accept a cruel God.


When I turned 18, I was married off to a Turkish businessman from Germany. When I came to Germany I found out that he had another wife.

He is not a bad man at all. He is very kind, but he is a Muslim. He doesn’t understand why Europeans don’t like polygamy, for instance. He doesn’t allow us to leave the home. He protects our honour in this strange way.

Then we moved to the UK. Here we are even more isolated than in Germany because there are fewer Turks. In Germany we at least could meet our fellow expats.

As for my relationship with my husband's first wife, we are friends. There is some rivalry between us, that’s for sure. But I am alone and can’t meet anyone or leave home. Her life is just as dull and empty as mine. We can’t hate each other; we should be friends to overcome our troubles. My co-wife and I are like two cellmates. We only have each other. There is not much room for antagonism or hard feelings.

I have 5 children, she has 4. She occupies a more privileged position within our family because she has a son. I have given birth only to daughters so far.

We are both educated, but she is so obsessed with kids that she has given herself up. I am still trying to grasp at non-existent straws; probably one day I will be freed… I read books, keep myself informed and like to think. She is not remotely interested in reading books or thinking. I am alone.

Sometimes I think of running away, but I have 5 daughters. I can neither leave them, nor run away with them. Actually, I am stuck.

Even though I left Islam a long time ago, I cannot stop praying or fasting. My husband keeps a rod for the disobedient…

When I try to protest, my mouth is shut up with quotes from the Quran. Islam defines our lives. Isn’t it stupid that people live according to a book written a long time ago?

I am not whining about my life but I do hate Islam. At least I could object to certain traditions but Islam preserved the worst in our culture, reducing women into slavery and keeping them ignorant. What can you expect from an uneducated woman?

When I look at my daughters, I pray that they may live in a free world, free from Islam and this slavery.

Ali, you promised to defeat Islam very soon, so please do it.

I know sometimes you must feel like giving up. It seems to me you’ve devoted yourself fully to the good cause of yours. You may feel at times that you will never succeed. I just want to say that you are fighting for women like me. When you despair, think of me and millions of women with similar tragic experiences. Never give up. You are my knight in shining armour. I just want you to know that I am your keen supporter.


Please sent this story to your friends and publish it in your site.

Yagmur Dursun is a pen name. Some details of this story have been changed to hide the identity of the author.

The Error of Christian Jihadis

From Dak Bangla, a very interesting source for intelligence information from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. I have been subscribing to the RSS feed for the good bits, but have recently noticed how patchy it is getting. This letter stirred up questions for me.
Dear Dak Bangla,

I am writing to you in regards to your article "Global Jihad" that was posted on one of the lists that I belong on. I must say that I enjoyed the article and found it to be well written. Though I would like to point out a few things if I may. The issue's in Palestine has absolutely nothing to do with Islam, as it has everything to do with Zionism, colonialism and imperialism. Since the creation of "Israel" my people have been left as you know as refugees and not to mention the brutal, military and illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

In reality, the pioneers of Arab Nationalism have always been the Christian Arabs, in particular the Christian Palestinians if we're speaking of Palestine, in general. It was also the Christian Palestinians who wrote and created the original Palestinian charter, which is considered our constitution.

I understand that you are from Bangledesh, but I feel that it is not the place of a Muslim or even a Christian non-Arab to take ownership of our cause by making it into an issue of religion. Both, Muslims and Christians in Palestine are suffering under the brutality of Zionism, and the poor conditions that my people live in the refugee camps both inside and outside of Palestine.

I love and respect the Jihad and the message of your article and what it represents in the Qur'on. But, believe me, the Christian Palestinians believe in the Jihad as well. In Palestine, we have a Priest at the highest level in the church who supports the Jihad and continues to preach to kids of the Christian faith to fight back in the name of jihad and for their country and homeland.

George Habash of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is an excellent example, and he was born a Christian. Not to mention Nayef Hawatmeh of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and many others.

I hope you will take this letter in good faith and I look forward to reading your future articles. Thank you.

Warm Regards,

Samia Saleh




Dear Samia - Thanks for your beutifully written letter. Next time around, wqe [sic] will be very oblige [sic] if you can send us the URL link of the article in questioon for benefit of our readers. As you well understand our limitations, all ariclkes go into our archive and are no longer available in the front page after 24hours. Regards - DBISM
Stunning, isn't it? Certainly worth researching.

A few searches confirmed what the letter writer claimed about the founders of the PFLP and DFLP. Further, the christian priest she refers to must be one of the ones named as new Marcionites in this article about Replacement Theology.
The new Marcionites’ course of action has two principal consequences for the rapidly dwindling number of Christians in the Middle East:
  1. Insofar as it justifies Christian support for the Islamic jihad against Israel, it weakens Christianity, which is included by Muslims – with Jews and Israel – in the framework of jihad and dhimmitude;
  2. Its Marcionist element separates Christianity from its Old Testament roots, fostering the Islamization (and consequent disappearance or subjugation) of Palestinian Christian Arabs.
Ironically, the wanton Jew hatred fueling the Palestinian dhimmi clerics’ replacement theology is self-destructive — blinding them (and their fellow travelers in Europe and beyond) to the agenda of their ostensible Islamist "allies" who seek to supersede and replace not only Judaism, but Christianity as well. And this ultimate desire of the Islamists extends far beyond the Holy Land, having in fact no geographical constraints.
The one thing that no Christian with a memory can forget is that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were Jews. As were all the original Apostles, even Paul and Mary Magdalene. Christianity began as a branch of Judaism. And while the Church developed from there, and the differences in its core beliefs became more and more manifest over time, Christians now cannot reject the font from which the Church sprang any more than a moral human can reject his or her own parents. After all, the ten commandments are still valid within Jesus' teachings. "Honor thy father and mother" applies just as much to Judaism, the mother from whose womb Christianity sprang, as it does to Mary, Jesus' own mother.

This is, in fact, one of the great weaknesses of Islam. Islam rejects its parents, Christianity and Judaism, just as converts to Islam must reject their own non-Muslim parents.

Christians must embrace Judaism as the tribal source of their Truth, before Jesus extended the Truth to the entire world. This is impossible while subscribing to a belief in Jihad that is bound up in hatred of Jews. In addition, Jihadis do not hesitate to offend Christians directly. Christian Jihadis have lost their bearings, they cannot tell right from wrong, they are self-haters. We must pity them and help them to rediscover the truth.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

What is Mainstream?

Right now CNN is yakking up a storm about Scott Peterson and Robert Blake. 24 Hours of News has somehow degenerated to 15 Minutes of gossip, repeated 96 times per day.

In the meantime, real news is happening all around the world. H/T Today's Winds of War.
  1. [UPDATE: This item has been proved false.] Today in Syria there is a military coup going on! Bashir Assad is holed up in Aleppo coordinating his loyal special forces, as Damascus has been taken over by a junta against withdrawal from Lebanon.
    Since yesterday , Damascus is under the de facto control of the Syrian Army, under the command of Syrian Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan, and supported by Syrian Intelligence General Rustom Ghazaleh, Syrian military General Ali Safi, and Firas Tlass son of former Minister of Defence, Mustafa Tlass. The group rebelled against the decision of President Bashar el Assad to withdraw from Lebanon and seized the Damascus military yesterday.

  2. Today and yesterday in Iran there were massive popular demonstrations against the theocratic government!

  3. Today the Iraqi National Assembly met for the first time.
All the links to the important stories were on blogs, not on mainstream media sites. If you want plenty of pablum about Robert Blake's acquittal, Scott Peterson's death sentence, or Jacko's courtroom pajamas then head right over to the mainstream media.

UPDATE:
RUMOR CONTROL AT
Little Green Footballs, Wizbang, Publius

Lethal Pranksterism in Toronto

The Toronto Sun tells of a mother who discovered that the coat she bought for her 2-year-old boy at a used clothes sale at her church had more than 40 razor blades sewn into the lining. This is terrible.

But there is something more terrible further on. This isn't the only incident of lethal pranksterism in the Toronto area.
Similar incidents, described as acts of "community terrorism" by psychiatrist Dr. Mark Berber in the Sun last October, have occurred over the past year.

In one instance, a 10-year-old girl was cut when she picked up a bouquet of fake flowers that was left outside a Hamilton school booby-trapped with a rusty razor blade. In another, shards of glass were glued to monkey bars and a slide in Burlington.

In Toronto, more than a dozen blocks of wood with razors protruding were buried in the sand at Woodbine Beach last September.
H/T Angry in the Great White North

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Lovecraft in the Walls

John J. Miller, in WSJ's Opinion Journal writes about H. P. Lovecraft, the man who inspired a million creepy short stories:
Stephen King and just about everybody else in the know recognizes him as the 20th century's most influential practitioner of the horror story--a claim he arguably clinched last month with the publication of his best works in a definitive edition.

If our country's literary canon has a dress code, then surely it involves those shiny black jackets covering the volumes produced by the Library of America. Lovecraft's new one runs for more than 800 pages and includes 22 novellas and short stories with titles such as 'The Horror at Red Hook,' 'At the Mountains of Madness' and 'The Thing on the Doorstep.' There are now 25,000 copies in print, which is an above-average number for the nonprofit publisher. (A book of Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women' and other writings, released at the same time, has an initial printing of 19,000.)"
Sure, he used words like gibbous, shibboleth, shambling, degenerate, and phrases like towering monoliths and non-Euclidean geometry too much, and contributed plenty of glossolalia like "Ia! Ia! C'thul'hu F'thag'n" and "Mwl'fgah pywfg fhtagn Gh'tyaf nglyf lghya" to the canon of nonsense. But he also knew what to write about and what to leave out of a scary story. He knew how to focus on the things that scare people, the conspiracies of people who for some reason take the side of evil against their fellows, and the seemingly uncaring, nihilistic, tragic universe that is at least 99.999% emptiness.

Lovecraft's greatest contribution was to the understanding of the horror story. All the best horror writers now writing, and many of the lesser ones, owe him a great debt. Stephen King, Clive Barker, Robert Bloch, Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell, Joe R. Lansdale, even Harlan Ellison mined the vein that Lovecraft opened. In the 19th century, horror stories were about ghosts, monsters, or men who dared to challenge God. After Lovecraft and his fellows, especially Robert W. Chambers with his series of stories about the King in Yellow, a play which drives its readers and viewers mad, the horror story became more personal. More focused inward. The unreliable narrator, the narrator in conflict with his own internal monster, which was such a feature of Lovecraft's best writing has become a central character in horror fiction, and in all the narrative arts.

For example, let's go to the end of The Rats in the Walls, one of his freakiest stories.
Something bumped into me -- something soft and plump. It must have been the rats; the viscous, gelatinous, ravenous army that feast on the dead and the living ... Why shouldn't rats eat a de la Poer as a de la Poer eats forbidden things? ... The war ate my boy, damn them all ... and the Yanks ate Carfax with flames and burnt Grandsire Delapore and the secret ... No, no, I tell you, I am not that daemon swineherd in the twilit grotto! It was not Edward Norrys' fat face on that flabby fungous thing! Who says I am a de la Poer? He lived, but my boy died! ... Shall a Norrys hold the land of a de la Poer? ... It's voodoo, I tell you ... that spotted snake ... Curse you, Thornton, I'll teach you to faint at what my family do! ... 'Sblood, thou stinkard, I'll learn ye how to gust ... wolde ye swynke me thilke wys?... Magna Mater! Magna Mater!... Atys... Dia ad aghaidh's ad aodaun... agus bas dunarch ort! Dhonas 's dholas ort, agus leat-sa!... Ungl unl... rrlh ... chchch...

This is what they say I said when they found me in the blackness after three hours; found me crouching in the blackness over the plump, half-eaten body of Capt. Norrys, with my own cat leaping and tearing at my throat.
Could there be any more complete collapse of the humanity of a character than that descent into vengeful, ranting, incoherent cannibalism?

Think of some of the most frightening movies of the last half century, Rosemary's Baby, Memento, Videodrome, The Ring, The Thing, The Shining, Nightmare on Elm Street. Even the Evil Dead featured the Necronomicon, one of Lovecraft's standard maguffins. These movies all play on the viewer's identification with the characters by calling the characters' perceptions into question. That was Lovecraft's gift. Rashomon introduced the idea of making a movie about differing perceptions, but American movies have taken the concept of differing perceptions and applied it to the subject matter of hallucination, paranoia, phobia, and self-doubt, as did Lovecraft. And if there is a desire for more purely Lovecraftian movies, then try the Re-Animator movies. They are terrific and very gory.

Sure, his work cries out for parody. And gets it. And that is the greatest gift that he gave us. Lovecraft's prose is so overwrought, so purple, so gibbous, shambling, and stilted, that it is almost as if he dares his readers to write their own stuff using his themes. From this dare sprang a million short stories. And from them maybe a hundred writers who are worth reading.
"Wait, you plush fools!" cried Professor Blue Smush DinoBaby. "'In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.' Do not disturb Him, or you will doom us all!"
And that is my way of saying that I will definitely be putting that Library of America edition of Lovecraft on my wishlist.

Monday, March 14, 2005

The French in Arab Eyes

A dissertation concerning Arab attitudes towards the Franks, before and during the reconquest and Crusades. H/T World History Blog.

Robespierre's Justification of Terror, 1794

Robespierre was the greatest demagogue of his day, and he ended up beheaded by the same guillotine he cause do be used so freely against others.
Now, what is the fundamental principle of the democratic or popular government-that is, the essential spring which makes it move? It is virtue; I am speaking of the public virtue which effected so many prodigies in Greece and Rome and which ought to produce much more surprising ones in republican France; of that virtue which is nothing other than the love of country and of its laws.

But as the essence of the republic or of democracy is equality, it follows that the love of country necessarily includes the love of equality.

It is also true that this sublime sentiment assumes a preference for the public interest over every particular interest; hence the love of country presupposes or produces all the virtues: for what are they other than that spiritual strength which renders one capable of those sacrifices? And how could the slave of avarice or ambition, for example, sacrifice his idol to his country?
Note how the thrust of Robespierre's argument is that the public interest trumps individual interest in all circumstances. This is the tyrrany of the majority. The triumph of mediocrity. And it is exactly the problem with Islamofascist theories. By implementing this system of subjugation of all to the ideals of the public interest, people become slaves of the government. By implementing the sharia, the system of legal subjugation of all to the ideals of Islam, all people become slaves of the government. Except those who are not. In Robespierre's case, he was one of the free men. Then he was killed. In Iran's case, the mullahs are now free. Perhaps they will be called to account for their actions sooner rather than later.

Let Robespierre's fate be a lesson.

Cedarland: A History of Lebanon

At first this was primarily a historical site about Lebanon. But then the Cedar Revolution happened, and now it's the spot to be at. H/T World History Blog

Chronology of Islam

I haven't checked it for accuracy, but it promises to be useful. H/T World History Blog.

Nanobacteria? To See 'em, get Closer, even Closer

They may be particles. They may be a new form of life. For now, they are called Nanobacteria, and they are very curious indeed and more than a little frightening.
Olavi Kajander didn't mean to discover the mysterious particles that have been called the most primitive organisms on Earth and that could be responsible for a series of painful and sometimes fatal illnesses.

He was simply trying to find out why certain cultures of mammalian cells in his lab would die no matter how carefully he prepared them.

So the Finnish biochemist and his colleagues slipped some of their old cultures under an electron microscope one day in 1988 and took a closer look. That's when they saw the particles. Like bacteria but an astonishing 100 times smaller, they seemed to be thriving inside the dying cells.

Believing them to be a possible new form of life, Kajander named the particles "nanobacteria," published a paper outlining his findings and spurred one of the biggest controversies in modern microbiology.
The controversy is a tempest in a teapot, but it has essentially stifled reasearch. This is too bad. Not only because of the known dangers from nanobacteria, "kidney stones, aneurysms and ovarian cancer." But also because of another not-quite-alive contaminant in the human food supply... the prion that causes Mad Cow Disease.

Wilders Speaks

Geert Wilders, the Independent Dutch politician who has had to move into prison blocks in order to protect his life from all the Islamicist death threats he has received, introduces the platform for the new political party he plans to create in the Netherlands. God bless him, and keep him safe. The Netherlands, and indeed all of Europe need someone with some backbone to stand up to the intolerant, oppressive, misogynistic tide of Muslim immigrants to Europe.
Declaration of Independence
By Geert Wilders

So far the Dutch voter got to know me as a politician with clear views on the multicultural society, immigration, terrorism and security. Sadly enough this has lead to the mistaken view that my new political movement would be anti Islam. But nothing is less true.

The problems with the (radical) Islam are serious and deserve a much firmer answer than the current government offers, but the Dutch problems we are struggling with have much deeper roots. We have to deal with many interconnected crisis’s that are the result from the incompetence of the political elite in Brussel [EU] and Den Haag [The Netherlands] , who seem to be unable to identify problems objectively and to solve them effectively. Our country is unsafe, the public space is degenerated, the economy is ailing and the public sector is a mess.

My theme is freedom.

The new political movement will put regaining our freedom central because our political, cultural and economical freedoms and independence are in bad shape.

That is why I put freedom central. The freedom that your mother can walk on the street in the evening, the freedom that you keep enough of your salary to support your family, the freedom you have because your retirement fund is safe, the freedom that is there because our companies are thriving, the freedom you have because the government protects your family against terrorists, the freedom of a job and a good life, the freedom as a country to independently make decisions.

That’s the message I want to deliver to a nation that is until now is being hijacked and subjugated by a political elite who does not rise sufficient in defense for the preservation of our democratic constitutional state, our safety, our prosperity and our independence. The big political parties – PvdA [Socialists], CDA [Christian Democrats] and VVD [Liberals] – just agree on the most important issues, recently that was demonstrated by their unanimous support for the European constitution and the Turkeys admission to European union.

Under their leadership the Dutch middleclass has been ignored. The so-called progressive spirit of the time holds The Netherlands now for 30 years in its grip of political correctness, a megalomaniac government, multiculturalism and subjugation to Brussels [European] Bureaucrats. My former political party, the liberal (VVD) party, never wanted to free it self from that spirits of the time, instead it follows it until the present day.

I love The Netherlands very much – but less and less The Netherlands as it now is. I am proud on the fact how we succeeded in building a free, prosperous and safe society. But that is more and more loosing its appeal.

Every fiber in my body resists in the idea that we should adept our society to the norms and values of the Islamic culture who is alien is to ours. Colegue politicians accuse me of doing proposals that are ‘not possible’: laws and treaty would stand in the way of execution of my proposals. That kind of attitude makes me angry. First they let it all happen and then they put their hands in the air and call: “Sorry, but we can’t do anything about anymore”.
Needed is a firm political will, which will end the administrative culture of hiding behind self-invoked powerlessness to change things. And there has to change a lot.

First we have to realize that we are not powerless. We can shape the history our selves, and control our destiny as a people our selves, make independent decisions about our form of government, cultural and economic system in our country. We have to liberate our self of a culture of low expectations.

I am not a politician who throws his hands in the air as a way to apologize to the voters. I loathe insincere political correct behavior. A representative of the people should take his responsibility and now waiver and above all represent the interest of the people. That is why I think creatively about measures to parry all our problems. If international treaties hinder us in serving our self-interest, we have to adjust them and when needed redraw from them. We have to dare to dream and make possible what in Den Haag [center of Dutch politics] is hold for impossible.

I plead for a totally new kind of politics, with a totally different style and content. Not just talk, but action. Not just Haags nagging but objectively search for solutions that is my device.

The way that The Netherlands has been ruled in the last decennia is the most important cause of our current problems. I don’t want that an elite made of cowardly and scared people (of what political party what so ever) keep this country hijacked any longer. The political correct “sorry culture” when dealing with the multicultural drama is just one example of that seizure of The Netherlands by that political elite. That is why I also want to combat them on other fronts as well. I want to give this country back to its citizens.

In this declaration of independence I plea for a number of serious measures, who restore our country, as it should be: free, prosperous and independent. Our history forces us to a struggle that is not without engagement, but most necessary. That struggle is about the continuation of The Netherlands as a recognizable nation, a country that is on the point to say it’s old roots goodbye and wants to trade them for multiculturalism, culture relativism and an European super state and that all under the leadership of a political elite that long a go lost its way.

Of that elite I declare myself independent.

Al Qaeda Plans to Spread Anthrax

Even the FBI no longer believes that lone wolf American scientists were behind the anthrax attacks of 2001. These days, almost everybody realizes that the anthrax attacks were indeed created by Al Qaeda or other Islamofascist elements. Dak Bangla Intelligence Scan assembles a great amount of evidence and data about Zawahiri's, Egyptian Islamic Jihad's, and Al Qaeda's quest to weaponize anthrax and use it in terror operations.

The evidence is overwhelming. Anthrax was planned to be the second wave of attacks against the USA. The arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed brought the plot to a halt. Al Qaeda will try again.

Eden Found?

Way back in 1999, the Jerusalem Report broke this story.
Ten miles from the sprawling Iranian industrial city of Tabriz, to the northwest of Teheran, says British archaeologist David Rohl, he has found the site of the Biblical garden . . . "As you descend a narrow mountain path, you see a beautiful alpine valley, just like the Bible describes it, with terraced orchards on its slopes, crowded with every kind of fruit-laden tree," says Rohl, a scholar of University College, London, who has just returned from his third trip to the area, where mud brick villages flourish today.

“The Biblical word gan (as in Gan Eden) means `walled garden,’ ” Rohl continues, "and the valley is indeed walled in by towering mountains." The highest of these is Mt. Sahand, a snow-capped extinct volcano that Rohl identifies as the Prophet Ezekiel’s Mountain of God, where the Lord resides among `red-hot coals’ (Ezekiel 28:11-19). Cascading down the once-fiery mountain, precisely echoing Ezekiel, is a small river, the Adji Chay (the name of which also translates in local dialect as ‘walled garden’). The locals still hold the mountain sacred, Rohl says, and attribute magical powers to the river’s water.
To believe or not? This is the kind of story that arouses my inner skeptic. It is also the kind of story that arouses the inner poet in hope that it is true.

A brief poke around the web shows that Rohl is regarded by academics as a borderline crackpot. See here for a fairly ruthless example. Also see strange bedfollows here, here, and here.

I'm disappointed. Don't you wish that borderline crackpot theories like this were carried around by better messengers, perhaps someone with a modicum of wit and a light touch. Maybe a Dan Brown would be just the ticket, or maybe the only current writers with the proper touch for conspiracy would be Salman Rushdie or Umberto Eco.

So it goes.

Zawahiri Speech of 2/11/2005

Ayman al Zawahiri's full, unabridged speech of February 11, 2005, unintentionally lists the reasons why the onrush of democracy and representative government in the Middle East scares the hell out of al Qaeda.
Here is the complete uncut and uncensored translation of the audio tape issued by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri on February 11, 2005. In this address titled “The Freeing of Humanity and Homelands under the Banner of the Qur’an”, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri rejects American “freedom” and lays out three principles for restoring strength to the Ummah. This document has been translated to English by JUS, and all rights are reserved. You may circulate it broadly with our copyright and accreditation. We remind our viewers that the statements, opinions and points of view expressed in this article are those of the author and shall not be deemed to mean that they are necessarily those of Jihad Unspun, the publisher, editor, writers, contributors or staff.
These three principles of reform, and they are: The ruling of the Quran, and the freedom of homelands and humanity, cannot be achieved except with Jihad, and struggle and martyrdom, it will not be achieved except if we remove our enemies from our homeland, except if we secure our rights with the power of Jihad, our enemies will not leave our land with begging and asking, the rotten rulers will not be removed from their thrones of power which they are preparing for their children except through the power of Jihad, and how can they be removed by means other than the power of Jihad, when it is they who have blocked all means of peaceful change, and they rather punished those who attempted it with prison, death, torture and exile. They are the ones who silence every noble voice which confronts their oppression, they forge every election, they have put together an army of people linked to knowledge, who bless their wrongdoings, and who make a crime out of every call to change and reform, and they label every caller to command what is good and forbid what is evil that he is a Khariji, inciting turmoil, but what is turmoil except that which they defend, and who are its heads except those who pay their salaries, and they spread amongst the Ummah the school of thought of the Murji’a.
Isn't it strange that Z-dog was unknowingly right? A war brought down a dictator in Iraq and instituted a representative government that al Qaeda and other would-be tyrants wish to destroy, and now other dictators are swaying in the breeze that sprang up.

Death of an Assyrian Christian

Discarded Lies points to an article by Joseph Grant Swank, Jr. in the Conservative Voice. Allow it to evoke the aftereffects of terrorism for you as it has for me.
Four days after Raymond was beheaded, his father, 66 year-old Farouk walked through the doors of one of Mosul's hospitals. He knew to head to the hospital yard where unidentified bodies are usually dumped.

He searches through the corpses and finds a body without a head. He opens the sheet in which the body is been wrapped and recognizes, by the clothes, that is his only son. He embraces the headless corpse screams in despair. Something rolls out from under the sheet. It is the head. He picks it up, kisses the forehead and closes the eyelids.

Tearing off a piece of the sheet he carefully binds the head to the breast of the corpse and carries it to a waiting car. Many look on. No one helps. It is known that those who help someone murdered by the Islamists may themselves be considered as collaborators.

Assyrians are amongst the earliest converts to Christianity and Aramaic, the native language of Jesus Christ, can still be heard in Assyrian villages and cities. Descendents of the great Mesopotamian civilization, they still celebrate through art and memory their roots in what is commonly referred to as the cradle of civilization. Today there are little under 1 million Assyrians left in Iraq. Fifteen years ago there were over one and half million. Hundreds of thousands have fled to neighboring countries like Syria and Jordan to escape the persecution and seek a better life, any life, elsewhere.

Two Days After: 9/13/2001

Workers at Ground Zero, 9/13/2001, post World Trade Center collapse. Citizen Zombie has a wonderful collection of photos here. H/T Discarded Lies.

Rats!

Sean Wilsey reviews Rats: A Year with New York’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan. Here is a brief extract to give the flavor of this wonderful review, very possibly better than the book that it is reviewing.
Manuel painted in silence, until I asked if he ever encountered rats in the tunnels. ‘I see them all the time! They’re big, and they’re brave. They scare me. The other night I was spreading concrete when I looked up and there was one about a foot long, staring at me. When I waved my shovel at him he stood up on his hind legs and snarled.’

‘What did you do?’

‘I decided to go on a break.’ [...]

Manuel has regularly called me looking for odd jobs. I haven’t been much help, but I’ve learned a little bit of his life story. He came to America not for money – ‘There is plenty in Ecuador,’ he says – but because he’d been in command of a detachment of paratroopers guarding the Ecuadorian president. He was ordered to fire on an unruly crowd, and refused. Then he had to flee to escape prison. He’s not afraid of much – except rats.

‘Sean, how is your son?’ he asked the other day.

‘Getting bigger. Holding up his head.’ Pause. ‘And the rats, Manuel, how are the rats?’

‘Numerous! Getting bigger, too! Ten inches! Thirteen inches! All over Brooklyn. None of us want to work in Brooklyn.’

Four Lies About Terrorism

On 23 Feb 2005, Donald R. Hamilton spoke to the 2nd International Conference on Terrorism in Bogota, Columbia. This is part of what he said. Read the whole thing. Note that I made a few minor format changes to clarify the structure of the speech.
Terrorists lie.

To justify their actions they lie to their enemies; they lie to their friends; they lie to themselves.
  1. "We must eradicate the 'root causes' of terrorism."
    Neither God nor man creates a terrorist. Terrorists create terrorism. They create terrorism by choosing terror as the means to advance their political goals.

    The terrorist has decided that the shortest path to his political goal is terrorism. He has passed over democratic elections, passive resistance, and armed struggle against others in arms. He has chosen to target the defenseless and the innocent.

    And then he encourages us to believe that his terrorism has a "root cause." ...

    Academics who rigorously study terrorism and political violence know this lie has no basis in fact. They have examined the backgrounds of terrorists and they have discovered that most terrorists, at least those who are in charge, come from solid, middle-class backgrounds ...

    Those who spread the "root cause" lie hardly recognize the class snobbery inherent in their analysis. They cannot imagine, from the vantage point of their privilege, that poor people living under despotic governments cannot recognize that it is wrong to murder innocent people. They deny the poor the dignity of moral understanding. Their logic would lead us to believe that poverty causes theft. By this logic rich people would not steal.

  2. Terrorists are soldiers in a revolution
    Terrorists are different from revolutionaries and freedom fighters because terrorists target the innocent. Terrorists select women, children, airline passengers, office workers, worshipers and others uninvolved in combat and, generally speaking, incapable of defending themselves.

    There are many definitions of terrorism, some of which are extremely convoluted, but there is a single question, the answer to which can separate terrorists from guerrilla fighters:
    Would the act, if undertaken by a uniformed soldier in time of war, constitute a war crime?
    Some cases are hard to judge, but nine times out of 10, answering this question clears away intellectual fog. It makes you realize that terrorism is a war crime committed by someone not a soldier.

  3. "Terrorism is a word made up by oppressive regimes"
    To deny the legitimacy of armed rebellion is to deny the heritage of all the Americas.

    But rebellion can take many forms without becoming terrorism. Some successful rebellions have been non-violent-note recent events in the Ukraine.

    When Gandhi took up non-violent protest against the British in India others practiced violent revolution in the same cause. We know who triumphed.

    Martin Luther King, who studied Gandhi, did more than any other individual to end a pernicious, centuries-old system of racial oppression in the United States.

  4. "Nothing is more important than this!"
    The greatest lie, which all terrorists tell the world and themselves, is that some political outcome is more important than recognizing and honoring the humanity of each and every person.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Evolution of Bin Laden's Phobialatry

Crossroads Arabia, in an article about Stephen Schwartz, provides a useful summary of the threads of Islamist thought that culminated in Bin Laden's religion of terror.
Al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Jammia Al-Islamiya and other terror groups did not suddenly erupt from Saudi Arabia. They arose out of a noxious combination of extremist interpretations of Islam that originated in different parts of the world that metatasized in Afghanistan.

Take it as a given that Wahhabism brings with it a pernicious intolerance for difference and a narrow understanding of the world. Then combine it with the political aspirations of the Muslim Brotherhood, which originated in Egypt. From its founder Hassan Al-Banna through its more contemporary Said Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood has brought its own strain of intolerance, coupled with action, to the mix.

Now add in the extreme intolerance of the Deobandi sect of Sunni Islam. [Note particularly footnote #xii in the linked document.]

This was a religious sect that developed largely in reaction to British colonial rule in India, the Raj. It shared many of the same fundamentalist values as the Wahhabis and Muslim Brotherhood, but was even more intolerant toward non-conforming Muslims. It is the Deobandis who are blowing up Shi’a mosques in Pakistan. It was Deobandi Islam that was the official sect of the Taleban in Afghanistan.

The holy war in Afghanistan succeeded in driving the Soviet Union out of that country. It also resulted in a witch’s brew of various strains of fundamentalist Islam.

That brew has come to be called “Wahhabi", but it is, in fact, a combination of three strains of Islamic fundamentalism, each intolerant, each with a xenophobic view of the world. Calling it “Wahhabi” may make for simpler sentences, but it oversimplifies the reality.

In Afghanistan, Saudi fighters met Egyptian fighters. Both were allied with Deobandis operating with Pakistani government support. All joined the native Afghan mujahidin.

The United States provided arms. Saudi Arabia provided young men and money. Pakistan provided logistical support. Other Muslim countries provided foot soldiers. All combined in Afghanistan.

While both the US and Saudi Arabia saw the war in Afghanistan as vital to their national interest, neither predicted the eventual outcome: a militant and viciously intolerant Islamist movement.

The United States dropped the ball in Afghanistan after the Soviets pulled out. The country and its problems essentially disappeared from our scopes. It didn’t disappear for the Saudis, however, on several counts.

First, there was a desire–joined with the perceived religious duty to prosyletize–to spread its version of Islam. That is something all religions do: promote their version of “the truth". Afghanistan had been identified as a country with many heterodox views of Islam, so it was natural that the Saudis wanted to work toward bringing them to orthodoxy.

Second, once the war was won, there were thousands of young Saudi warriors coming home. They returned to a country vastly different from the one they had grown up in. From the late 1960s into the very early 1980s, Saudi Arabia was one of the richest countries in the world. Its per-capita income was essentially equivalent to that of the US. Saudis were proud to be Saudi. The government assured an easy life for the majority of its population–notable not including the Shi’a communities.

If a young man of that time wanted to get married, he could apply to the government for money to pay a dowry. He could apply for an interest-free (of course) loan to build a house or to start a business. And business opportunties were abundant. It was a good time to be a Saudi.

By the late 1980s, however, the situation had changed. The price of oil had dropped, the Saudi government was running a deficit, money became very tight, and perquisites of being a Saudi were starting to drop. Population was expanding more rapidly than the government could accommodate and the future was not looking good.

The Saudi government had no place for these returned warriors. The Saudi population was not acclaiming them as heroes. These young men were disjointed from their history and heritage.

The collapse of Communism, however, offered other opportunities.

Countries in which Muslim had been oppressed–or had been perceived to be oppressed–were now open for assistance from their co-religionists. The young veterans, from Saudi Arabia, but also other Arab and Muslim countries, found a new lease on their political and religious life. They started descending on the Balkans–where even the US was fighting to support the Kosovar Muslims–and Central Asia. Their assistance, this time, was not as welcomed as it had been in Afghanistan. The world had changed, the situations were different, and the Islamic warriors were seen as a hinderance rather than help.

Desert Storm–the First Gulf War for Americans; the Third Gulf War for Arabs of the region–signaled a complete repudiation of Usama bin Laden and his chaotic concept of jihad. He had offered his services, and those of other Afghan War veterans, to protect Saudi Arabia from Iraq. The Saudi government rejected his offer and instead accepted that of the US and the coalition it established.

I believe it was then that bin Laden made the conceptual leap that combined the different threads of Islamic fundamentalism into a new, Islamist movement.

Rejected by Saudi Arabia and eventually stripped of his nationality, bin Laden moved to Sudan. That country, in addition to being strongly influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood, had its own history of the Mahdi, a 19th C. visionary who sought an apocalyptic Islamic war. If anything, bin Laden became even more radicalized and started funding operations against the West, the US in particular. It was also where he started accusing the Saudi government of apostacy.

Eventually driven out of Sudan, bin Laden found himself again in Afghanistan. This time, he was paired with Mullah Omar, theoretician and religious leader of the Deobandi Taleban. Again, a different and noxiously intolerant strain of Islam cross-fertilized the mix he had brought with him.
Phobialatry, by the way, is a neuvelle coinage (original as far as I know) based on the Greek roots Phobia (fear) and Latry (worship).
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