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Archive for August, 2007

Nice matters Award

Well, this has been a total surprise. I didn’t even know there was such a prize 😉 My friend Velvet Hammer from Ironic Surrealism has given me this award.

I don’t know if this blog is “of nice matters” but, even if it has been so hard at times writing it because of the stories one has to read ( 😡 ), altogether it has been (and still is) a magnificent experience, mostly because of the readers and the friends I have done writing it. And that certainly has been a “nice matter”.

I have to give it to another 7 lady-bloggers (sorry lords, no award for you, unless you want some pink and laces award… :mrgreen: ). It has been really difficult as there are so many great women bloggers around. NOTE: inactive blogs have been discarded for obvious reasons…

Kate: A Colombo-Americana’s perspective.

Incognito: Confessions of a closet republican.
Always on Watch: Always on Watch.

Stefania: Free Thoughts.

Fausta: Fausta’s blog.

Vicki: Not Ready for My Burqa.

Beth: Blue Star Chronicles.

Happy Award for all!

😳 I was forgetting. Each of you would have to name another 7 women bloggers for the award.

(Yes, I hate memes, but this was soooo cute…. :mrgreen: ).

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Some weeks ago, I blogged about Oliver Stone’s new film project about Ahmadinejad’s life. At first, he was rejected considering him a part of the Great Satan. Well, Ahmadenijad has thought about it and has finally given his approval to make the film:

Fars News just reported that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has given Oliver Stone approval to film his biography:

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed his approval of acclaimed director Oliver Stone’s plans to make a film about him.

“I have no objection, generally speaking, but they have to let me know what are the frameworks. They should talk to my colleagues. Principally speaking, I have no objection,” President Ahmadinejad told reporters during a press conference here in Tehran on Tuesday.

This was probably the kicker that pushed Mahmoud over the top:

“Stone’s publicist referred to the bad image that the U.S. media has given to Islam and Islamic countries and said that the documentary could assist in countering such negative propaganda.

😯

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Some news about peaceful and respectful Muslims:

  1. English speaking Muslims living in America stomp on the American flag, state that they are taking advantage of the “loophole” in American law that gives them free speech, and proclaim that Islam will take over America and the world, and dribble out a multitude of Allah akbars ….
  2. Editor-in-chief Of UK-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi: ‘I’ll Dance in Trafalgar Square When Iran Nukes Israel’.

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The EU, just wasting money in useful things:

Officials of the European Union are investigating the special tax treatment accorded to the Catholic Church in Italy, asking whether the policies give unfair competitive advantages to Catholic institutions that engage in commercial activity.
The ANSA news service reports that the European Commission is considering a full inquiry into a 2006 law that exempts Church property for real-estate taxes, and allows a substantial discount for corporate taxes owed by Church-owned businesses.
Bishop Giuseppe Betori, the vice-president of the Italian bishops’ conference, has argued that the tax exemptions are amply justified, since they apply only to Church organizations that engage in charitable, cultural, or educational work. Bishop Betori observed, in an interview with the daily Avvenire, that similar tax breaks are given to other Italian institutions that “serve the common good.”

Later they will raise the VAT tax and say “Ohh, we don’t have enough”.

I do not want the Church to have special treatment -in fact, I support the Church should be treated the same way as the rest of the religious institutions-. But that means the same way, equally to the rest of similar organizations.

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One of the best islamologues the Catholic Church has is Father Samir Khalil Samir, sj (here in Spanish some interviews; in the latter he says: Europe is stupid if it does not take into account that Islam is using its tolerance to “Islamize” it). He is an Egyptian Jesuit and teacher of History of Arab Culture and of Islamology both in Beirut and Rome. He has written recently two very interesting articles for AsiaNews.it about an extraordinary case which is happening just now:

The case of Mohammad Hegazi, young Egyptian converted to Christianity, who wishes to be legally recognized as such, has opened a new debate in the Islamic world on conversions, which are often seen as acts of apostasy that merit death. What has emerged is a veritable obsession in Islam for personal conversions, this religion having been reduced more to an ethnic and sociological submission. There is even talk of a plan to convert Europe and the world to Islam, to which European governments are giving a hand.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – The case has received a lot of public attention: a young Egyptian, Mohammad Ahmad Hegazi, age 25, converted to Christianity some years ago (some say 9, others 6 years ago; according to the Islamic version, it was just a few months ago!). He then married a woman named Zeinab, who also became Christian, taking the name Cristina. In recent months, he asked that his documents show his new religious affiliation. In Egypt, identity cards must indicate the holder’s religion and, so far, Hegazi’s is officially Islam. This means that he is considered to be Muslim for various legal questions pertaining to inheritance rights, family law etc.

His request was effectively been turned down by administrative authorities, who did not see his request through. So, Hegazi went to the government direct.Why did he ask for this change to be made only now, years after his conversion? Perhaps because the couple is expecting a baby. And if they are registered as Muslims, the child will have to be as well, regardless of the parents’ wishes.

When administrative authorities balked at his request, Hegazi went to the courts to claim his rights, with the help of a lawyer from an NGO.The case is extremely important, more than it may appear, also because it has been reported by media around the world and now the press in Egypt is also discussing it.Initially, reactions came from imams, then from the general public. The vast majority is saying that Mohammad Hegazi must be killed as an apostate. Only a small part dares to quote the Koran – which states that “there is no compulsion in religion” – and states its support for his freedom.

[…] The Islamic world is truly obsessed with conversions. At least 7 Islamic countries apply the death penalty to those who convert from Islam: Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Mauritania. But in other states, like Egypt, converts are condemned to prison, not as apostates but for contempt of Islam, as Hossam Bahgat, a member of the Egyptian Initiative for personal rights, explains.

According to government daily Al-Massa’, all imams are unanimous on the need to kill the apostate Hegazi. They say that sharia (not the Koran) must be enforced and it calls for the death penalty.The more moderate say: if the apostate hides his conversion, does not broadcast his decision, then it is not necessary to kill him; he can live. If he lets it be known, then he causes scandal (fitna) and must die.

I happened to be looking through the web-site of the “Forum of Arab Aviation.” This case – Hegazi’s conversion — is the sole topic of the site’s “Islamic” section. There are 8 reactions registered on the page and they all say that he must be killed. Some are subtle, saying for example: “The government must take the harshest decision to eliminate this problem,” but all the others quote the Koran: “Fitna is worse than killing” (2,191 and 2,217); others say that “Islam is the better religion”; others still “Kill him to avoid fitna” (8,39); others: “He who wants a religion other than Islam, his worship will not be accepted and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers” (3,85). No one quotes the Koranic phrase that affirms freedom of conscience, the one quoted by the Pope at Regensburg last September 12: “there is no compulsion in religion (2, 186); nor the other that says: “Truth comes from your Lord. Let him who will believe and let him who will not believe” (18,29).

[…] In any case, 3 famous imam have pronounced themselves against Hegazi. The first is Imam Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a big expert in his field, who cites dozens of references from the first centuries and concludes that Hegazi has to be killed because the group is in danger and the group takes priority over the individual. The idea is: if this person begins to speak and says that he is happy to be Christian, and smilingly appears in photos with a Gospel in his hands, this is intolerable and is non-Muslim propaganda, which is officially allowed neither in Egypt, nor in other Islamic countries. And since Hegazi is spreading Christian propaganda, he must be killed.

Suad Saleh, Muslim judge and dean of the Faculty of Islamic Science at Al-Azhar University, has stated: yes, in matters of faith there is no compulsion, but Hegazi is spreading propaganda and thus the law must be applied. The judge advises that the apostate be given 3 days to repent and reconvert to Islam (istitâbah), then “apply the law” (i.e. execution).

The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr Ali Gomaa, Egypt’s highest religious authority, stated to the Washington Post last June that apostasy “should not” be punished by death, eliciting numerous reactions from Al-Azhar. After many people expressed their approval for a death sentence, he retracted in a confused matter and his stance is still today unclear. On the surface, he wanted to reassure the West by using ambiguous wording, like the one that goes: “Apostasy is to be punished when it represents fitna or when it threatens the foundations of society.”

[…] Islam protects itself against conversions by putting apostates in prison or by killing them. But its obsession with conversion includes a series of privileges it claims for itself. So much so that in many Muslim countries, even those that are supposedly secular, the right to promote the Islamic faith is taken for granted and is not enshrined in law. Conversely, the right to promote any other religion is considered de facto and de jure unacceptable.

Islamic propaganda is part of the state’s mandate. In Egypt for example public institutions disseminate songs, prayers, movies and written material that praise Islam and denigrate Christianity. Inevitably this favours conversions to Islam. By contrast, Christian propaganda (tabshīr) is banned by law.

Recently in Algeria, a new law was approved that condemns anyone promoting the Christian faith and anyone who converts to Christianity. Of course, some might say that this kind of law is directed only at Protestant proselytising. True! But Muslims proselytise as well? Should the law not be the same for everyone?

Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly the country where double standards in matter of religion are the most glaring. One example: Saudi Arab Airlines’ website explicitly warns its passengers that Bibles, crucifixes, and any other non-Muslim religious symbol are prohibited on board. If any are found they are confiscated. Another example is when two pieces of wood happen to end up across one another. However inadvertently that may have come about, the resulting cross becomes ipso facto a religious symbol and police are known to have ordered people who happened to be nearby to step on them.

Anti-Christian propaganda is also found in how words are used. In Arabic Christians are called Massihi. In Arabia they are also called Salībi, crusaders, and Nasrami, Nazarenes. Interestingly, at the time of the Crusades Christians were by and large referred to as Faranj or Franks. But the most commonly used word today is kuffar, unbelievers who must be killed. For the past 30 or so years, its use has increasingly spread around the Muslim world.

Read both of them. They are truly interesting.

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Also some months ago I blogged about the Government Regulation related to Electronic Communications, by which there was “introduced an administrative procedure to intercept electronic communications without Judicial control“, regulation which was declared illegal by the Supreme Tribunal. Well, afterwards, it came the SGAE (General Society of Authors and Writers) with another foolish proposition:

If a web page is reproducing intellectual works which could go against author’s rights, the SGAE or any other similar association will be able to tell the server where the blog/page is located to inform that the blog’s author is breaking the law. The client will be obliged to defend him before the SGAE of the illegality in the next 6 days if he does not want to see his blog’s content down or closed. Even if the communication is absolutely ridiculous or unmaintainable, it obliges the normal blogger/website’s author to defend himself to regain access to the presumably illicit content”.

Well, it results that the same article that was introduced in the Government Regulation related to electronic Communications, has been introduced in the new project of the Law of the Internet’s Society:

According to the present project, the “competent authority” can shut down webpages without any kind of judicial authorization. The “competent authority” would be those associations who “guard” the rights of intellectual property (SGAE and similars) and, of course, every authority. It is true that after the shutdown, there would be a judicial process. But letting the power to control and possible webs’ shutdown to a “competent authority” is just the same that letting the police not to report to the Tribunals. That is, the kick-to-knock-down-the-door, but this time, digitally way.

The time to present modifications to the law ends on Sept, 4th. It is widely hoped that Popular Party presents some modifications that guarantee the effective right to information.But that is not very clear, because the Popular Party first succeeded in passing a resolution on Senate against the digital canon, but later it voted favorable the Law of Intellectual Property that regulated it (not very coherent, no 😡 ). “There are unanimities which are fearful”, the Web-surfers’ Association’s speaker states. They have already presented a proposal to modify the law.

So, if no one does anything, we could see how the digital kick-to-knock-down-the-door could be consolidated again. A new step in the strategy of reducing (that is, really, of eliminating) the freedom of information.


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China, the environment and birth control:

China says its one-child policy has helped the fight against global warming by avoiding 300 million births, the equivalent of the population of the United States.

But delegates at U.N. climate change talks in Vienna said on Thursday birth control is unlikely to find favor as a major policy theme, partly because of opposition by the Catholic Church and some developing nations trying to increase their population.

Some scientists say that birth control measures far less draconian than China’s are wrongly overlooked in the fight against climate change, when the world population is projected to soar to about 9 billion by 2050 from 6.6 billion now.

So, why don’t we all just commit suicide to prevent any harrassment on the environment? 😯

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A quick note on Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto announced some days ago that Pervez Mussharraf was going to step down as head of his country’s military. But today Mussharraf has already denied that. The situation has complicated even more as his rival, Sharif, has been allowed to return to Pakistan. Musharraf has stated already that he seeks reconciliation. Let’s hope that, but I’m not very optimistic in the matter, after all we have witnessed in Pakistan these last months.

Related news: Pakistan has successfully test-fired a new cruise missile capable of carrying nuclear weapons, its military said.

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Beth has posted about the Florida Masochist going to be operated of melanoma (after 12 years of being clean) and about Kat from Madhouse Cat,who has lost in a single day, one cousin and her daughters as a result of a car crash.

Also a friend of mine has lost his wife rather unexpectedly of cancer. On the first week of August, when they had already begun their vacations, she felt bad and went to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a sudden and fast growing cancer, a week ago she died. He works at my University’s library. I remember him when I began University: he was all smiles, a really helpful guy with all of us who were back then so overwhelmed if we did not find the required book. He was always a patient guy. These days, when I go to find some books there, he is just older but the same. I know the bad times he is going to have now, as they really loved each other. They have an only daughter, aged 19. 😥

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Another move similar to Zapatero’s withdrawal from Spain:

The Taliban agreed Tuesday to release 19 South Korean church volunteers held captive in Afghanistan since mid-July, the South Korean government announced, signaling an end to a wrenching hostage crisis that had gripped the country for almost six weeks.

“Together with the families of the hostages and with all South Korean people, we welcome the agreement to release 19 South Koreans,” said Cheon Ho-seon, a spokesman for President Roh Moo-hyun. Mr. Roh, who steps down in February, has been under intense domestic pressure to win the safe return of the hostages, most of them women in their 20s and 30s.

In Afghanistan, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said all 19 hostages would be released over the next several days. “We will release them in groups,” he said Tuesday.

Mr. Cheon said that in return for their release, South Korea had agreed to keep to its earlier plan to withdraw its 200 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and to stop all evangelical activities by Christian groups from South Korea in Afghanistan.

Just look at the Taliban’s faces of the photo in the link above: a smile on those faces is a blow to all people who sustain and support democracy, freedom and Human Rights for Afghanistan.

Related to the Taliban read this (there is a video also inside) h/t ExtremeCentre.org:

Never mind that they don’t even allow street signs with the little symbolic walk or don’t walk figures with heads on them, here’s a video/photo show of the pretty boys of the Taliban. Black eye-liner and hand-holding and pretty long hair are evident in the photos, although homosexual behavior is strictly banned. The Taliban actually turn young boys into sex slaves. Here’s an excerpt from an article on that from Jamie Glazov from FrontPageMagazine.com:

But there is a curious rule that the Western media has typically ignored. Rule No. 19 instructs that Taliban fighters must not take young boys without facial hair into their private quarters.

[…] Rule No. 19 obviously indicates that the sexual abuse of young boys is a prevalent and institutionalized phenomenon among the Taliban and that, for one reason or another, its widespread practice has become a problem.

The fact that Taliban militants’ spare time involves sodomizing young boys should by no means be any kind of surprise or eyebrow raiser. That a mass pathology such as this occurs in a culture which demonizes the female and her sexuality — and puts her out of mind and sight — is only to be expected. To be sure, it is a simple given that the religious male fanatic who flies into a violent rage even at the thought of an exposed woman’s ankle will also be, in some other dysfunctional and dark secret compartment of his fractured life, the person who leads some poor helpless young boy into his private chambers.It is no surprise that John Racy, a psychiatrist with much experience in Arab societies, has noted that homosexuality is “extremely common” in many parts of the Arab world. [1] Indeed, even though homosexuality is officially despised in this culture and strictly prohibited and punishable by imprisonment, incarceration and/or death, having sex with boys or effeminate men is actually a social norm. Males serve as available substitutes for unavailable women. The key is this: the male who does the penetrating is not considered to be homosexual or emasculated any more than if he were to have sex with his wife, while the male who is penetrated is emasculated. The boy, however, is not considered to be emasculated since he is not yet considered to be a man. A man who has sex with boys is simply doing what many men (especially unmarried ones) do. [2] And this reality is connected to the fact that, as scholar Bruce Dunne has demonstrated, sex in Islamic-Arab societies is not about mutuality between partners, but about the adult male’s achievement of pleasure through violent domination. [3]

😯 Hypocrisy… hmm, a word these men have not known about…, eh???

Related news: Talibans release a video of a 16-year-old boy beheading one of the kidnapped Pakistani soldiers. h/t NMJ. When they are not useful for having sex with them, let’s teach them how to behead, isn’t it? 😡

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Officially, frankly, I don’t know where we stand now, about the supposed “peace process” with ETA. Apparently, the Government just broke it off, but there are reports that confirm that the conversations never ended, only were just called officially off:

According to sources reached by Hispanidad, the Government would agree to offer a referendum of autodetermination in two years, in the next political term after 2008 elections. Before, that should be preceded by a process of negotiation (another one or just the same?). To go where? (important question: before beginning a walk you must know your destination…). To the Ibarreche planning (uff, the same one which was rejected by Spanish Parliament two years ago…). On the other hand, the pro-ETA supporters are clinging to their project of autodetermination which would include 4 provinces, as it was pointed by Otegi last February. That is, an extended autonomy (more autonomy? You’re kidding… Just make a comparison of the competences that NOW has the Basque Country with any other Autonomous Region and then tell me about…), but including Navarra.

But as Navarra has not agreed with it, ETA terrorists are worried. But the Government has continued with the negotiations, although they have not obtained the desired result. So ETA has decided to stop and give a great punch: the terrorist attack against the house-police station of the Civil Guard. Fortunately without any victims, even when its directors underlines that “they wanted to kill us“. A thesis also named by Vice-President De la Vega. Anyway, what really puzzles about this statement, is that the car was situated at a very great distance from the building.

Something absolutely amazing but true here, is that the Minister of Justice considers that the Spanish citizens don’t have any kind of right to know about the contents of negotiations. As the Spanish MSM are as good and accurate as in every other part of the world, there is not a lot of real information except to say how well the Government is doing everything. There are always exceptions, though, as we have seen.

Another car-bomb exploded in Les Coves de Vinromá (Autonomous Community of Valencia). :

ETA terrorists who exploded the van bomb -with 150 kgs of explosive- in Les Coves de Vinromá could have caused the lack of electricity to Castellón and Valencia, because the high-tension tower that gives electricity to these two provinces from the nuclear power plant in Vandellós is situated just 30 meters away from the place where the two ETA terrorists exploded the charges which they pretended to use in Valencia. More or less, three million people could have been affected by the lack of electricity. Yesterday, the experts from the Civil Guard finished to collect all the proofs, elements which could be used to discover what was the kind of explosive which they were transporting in a new operative phase, which aims at a new long-term and bloody offensive.
Experts in anti-terrorism fight, while pointing out that ETA has a full capacity to kill -it has now a hundred “activists” in its “ranks”-, also advise to be cautious because these “activists” do not receive a lot of training courses. They consider that if they would have been trained, they would have exploded the Mercedes Vito in the high tension tower.

So the question is: if they were so tracked down, how could they possibly cross all Spain without no one stopping them?

And the next question is: in both attacks, the car-bomb was placed very far from the supposedly correct target. Ergo, why are they not targeting people? Is there any profound reason for that? Are they just frightening every citizen to get what they want? And what is the Government’s position in all of this?

I feel like if someone is permanently laughing at us… 😡

The Mercedes Vito had been stoled from a married couple, who were kidnapped with their 4-year-old boy by 5 ETA terrorists. They were released after the explosion after being held for 72 hours. Magnificent, eh???

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Jim Carrey speaks in support of Aung Sang Suu Kyi:

Whatever you think of his acting, I really believe that raising awareness about what is going on in Burma, is a real good movement.

[Yeah, I know, the set is a little New Age or flower power but as the message is good, I really do not care about the set 😈 ].

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Idiot news of the century (I really believe it and consider that every day news give us a lot of possibilities):

French author Corinne Maier has written a book called No Kid: 40 Reasons Not to Have Children

“The child has become so vested with importance, such a huge burden requiring so many changes to one’s way of life that having one has become inhumane, so my advice to people is don’t have any,” says Maier.

I really believe there is little comment needed. After reading this, I just doubt that the human beings can be considered as “rational” anymore.

You also introduce changes to yourself along your life. Just commit suicide and save us of your stupidity. My goodness!

When I was a little girl, I asked why the people died. Of course, no one answered me in a very logical and understandable way, so I begun to think about it. I reached a conclusion: the cause of death was that your brains had got totally tired of hearing and reading stupid things.

Conclusion: I am going to stop reading the news, just in case… 😈

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Russian police is worried – and it is reasonable to be worried-:

There is no suggestion that any of the organizations are directly involved in violent crime, but they do promote ideas that feed violence, Kozhevnikova says.

Some of the groups espouse anti-Semitism; many are overtly racist and xenophobic. There are also hundreds of so-called skinhead gangs. Police investigations have found skinheads to be behind the frequent attacks on people with dark skin on the streets of Russian cities.

They may be at the extreme end of the spectrum, but the mainstream shares some of their views. A recent survey carried out by the Levada Center, which monitors public opinion, found that 55 percent of Russians agreed with the statement “Russia should be for Russians,” while 20 percent of young people did not consider the activities of skinhead or neo-Nazi groups to be dangerous.

Kozhevnikova cites a number of reasons for the growing nationalist mood among Russians. “The peak of this xenophobic mood on a domestic level was fixed by sociologists in 2005; [this] domestic xenophobia was first blamed on poor social conditions and then on conflicts,” she says.

There’s no doubt that the war in Chechnya played a role – the second Chechen war. It was taken as being a war of Russians against Chechens, Orthodox against Muslims. Of course, that played a very big role,” Kozhevnikova adds.

Part of the problem, Kozhevnikova says, is that many nationalist organizations are starting to promote themselves as civil movements, whose aim is to improve social conditions.

Aleksandr Belov, the spokesman for the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, says the group’s goals are “to put a stop to the number of illegal immigrants moving to Russia and to repatriate people with Russian roots living outside the country.”

“We’re a democratic movement made up of people who have their own opinions and who want to live freely in their own country. They want laws to be obeyed. You could call ussocial democrats,” Belov says.

It is worth underlining that Putin has been a supporter of Iranian regime, with which has agreed about nuclear plants as we already know. Then the Orthodox Church’s Patriarch, Alexei II, said (link in Spanish) that Orthodox Christians and Muslims should unite to prevent the existence of a one-polar world, to the Iranian parliament speaker Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel when the latter visited Moscow.

And Putin has also stated: “Russia has always been the most faithful, reliable and consistent defender of the interests of the Islamic world,” he told Chechen lawmakers, to applause. “Russia has always been the best and most reliable partner and ally.”

This is a proof of what I have been saying: if the Governments are silly and do not act within the law to stop a sector’s radicalization, the rest of the society will also create (and follow and obey) their own radicals. We are going to a polarization of the societies which is very dangerous, because that only implies that the law of the strongest is going to be imposed on the weak. If Governments do not respect the law, and the citizens do not compel and oblige them to be compelled by it (that is what democracy is about), the results will be a return to darker times.

I remember when I began blogging nearly two years back, as a result of Paris Nov 2005’s riots. Pastorius was then very worried about the consequences that a lack of action against Islamic terrorism and fundamentalism could have in and for Europe. I was also but for different reasons: Pastorius thought back then that European future was Islamic or Fascist; mine was just that this kind of news did not have any publicity, they were just buried. I have been seeing a progression here in two directions. The first is that most people now know about the danger and understand the nature of it. The second is that, while politicians do not act against it, the public is divided: while some don’t really how to act, others are beginning to get nervous and to demand courses of action which are a little surprising, desperate and possibly, at his moment, totally unnecessary.

But, just let time elapses with the present situation. We can be in the dawn of a new (and not very pleasant) era. Hope I’m not right, though.

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More about Greek fires:

Arson has been widely blamed. Six people have been charged with deliberately setting fires. Arson suspects are rarely convicted. Where cases are proven, the motives are typically profit, revenge against neighbors, or the clearing of pastures by shepherds.

As much as 469,000 acres were laid waste between Friday and Tuesday alone — 10 times the annual average for the past 50 years, according to the European Commission’s European Forest Fire Information System, or EFFIS. A total of679,000 acres — an area almost the size of Rhode Island — has gone up in smoke since the start of the year.

“There are still some fires burning, but definitely the speed of increase of the fire front in the areas burnt is much, much smaller than in the first three days, which was very, very fast mainly due to the strong winds,” EFFIS researcher Paulo Barbosa said.

“The conditions are better and I think in the next few days the situation will be under control,” he told The Associated Press.

Some say it was the worst catastrophe since a Turkish army ravaged the Peloponnese in 1825, during the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Apart from the blow to the Peloponnese’s fragile ecosystems, Greenpeace Greece director Nikos Haralambidis warned that mountain populations could end up as internally displaced “environmental refugees.”

“There will be several thousand people faced with the choice of staying in a burnt land or moving to the cities,” he said. “Their main source of income was olive oil production … and new olive saplings need at least 15 years to produce a decent crop.”

[…] The fires are dominating political debate before the elections. Criticism that the government failed to respond quickly enough — and its suggestions the fires resulted from an organized attack — could hurt Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

Hmmm…

By the way, the Pope has condemned both the Greek and the Italian arsonists. In Italy four people have been killed last week when a wildfire consumed a hotel where they were staying, near Messina. Two shepherds have been detained as the culprits.

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From Venezuela:

Archbishop Baltazar Porras Cardozo warned Venezuelans this week that the constitutional reforms proposed by President Hugo Chavez are leading the country towards a dictatorship similar to the Castro regime in Cuba or the Pinochet regime in Chile.

The archbishop recalled that democracy is based on the balance of powers and that many of the reforms proposed by Chavez are inspired by Communism. What is even more dangerous, he said, is that the proposals would make Chavez another Pinochet or Castro, “who are not the models of democratic virtues.”

If you want to laugh and understand Spanish, you should read this. An excerpt:

My admired Chávez: Bolívar was of an Spanish Imperialistic origin. He had no aboriginal blood. He does not merit to give his name to an emancipated native people. He only created a new criollo regime (NOTE -thanks Kate-: criollo is the Spanish word for the people whose parents were born on the Iberian Peninsula but who were born in South America, while mestizo were the descendants from both Indians and Spanish in South America 😳 ). The country shouldn’t also be called Venezuela, which comes from Little Venice, as Américo Vespuccio named it following Spanish orders.
Venezuela was a prosperous conventional democracy, but it had a lot of corruption. Now there is more corruption, true, but there is also another thing which compensates it: an Anti-system Revolution.
Fortunately, you are the most important thing, you, who, full of revolutionary spirit, gave a coup d’état in 1992. It went wrong, but afterwards you were victorious in the elections. Just the same as another exemplary nationalist and socialist: Adolf Hitler.

Paolo writes: Ahmadinejad is centered in achieving a force, specially in Ortega’s Nicaragua, to counter-measure all the US force, in the case of an air attack against nuclear laboratories and Iranian missiles’ positions. Considering that Sarkozy has menaced Iran with action, this is necessary to prevent any change in the Iranian surroundings (which are mainly, and besides South America, Moscow and Pekin).

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In Africa, there is still the belief that, if a grown-up man who has been infected by AIDS, maintains sexual relationships with a girl under 15, he is going to be cured. If he is not cured, the treatment is repeated. This is how most girls are becoming infected with AIDS. Psycologists also say that these girls normally adopt promiscuous sexual behaviour or end working as prostitutes.

In spite of the brutality of the practice and of the negative consequences, it’s complicated to measure the importance of this practice, as “men do not want to be identified (the cowards…) and the victims fear the shame, they prefer to be silent on the matter. Anyway, African newspapers often report about this practice“. “The consequences of them are normally the stigma and the discrimination“, according to Félix Fuentenebro, director of Medicus Mundi, underlining that the poverty is the culprit of a lot of insane habits.

Poverty also means the survival of several negative cultural practices, as the one that obliges to inherite the dead brother’s wife. 😯 In a lot of places, when a man dies, the older brother inherites his wife. If the dead was infected by AIDS or died as a result, it’s probable that his wife is also infected with the virus, and so, her new husband and his other wife or wifes, could also be infected“.

We get the picture…

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BETHLEHEM Mayor Victor Batarseh yesterday attacked Israel and angered members of Australia’s Jewish community within hours of arriving in Sydney – just as Australian immigration officials in the Middle East warned would occur if he was granted a visa.

Dr Batarseh told The Australian Israel’s construction of a security wall was about grabbing Palestinian land, not stopping suicide bombers. “If you want peace, you build bridges of love and understanding between people, you don’t build walls of hatred,” he said.

Just see the photo in the link above. And then read this, from Chiesa OnLine:

The mayor of Bethlehem is still a Christian, as always. Eight out of the fifteen seats on the city council are still reserved for Christians. But in the latest municipal elections, which took place in May of 2005, a coalition with crucial support from the Muslims of Hamas emerged victorious.

The leader of the Hamas contingent in the municipal council of Bethlehem, Hassam El-Masalmeh, exalts the suicide attacks against the Jews, and asserts that these will continue until all of Palestine, including the territory of Israel, is under Palestinian control.

But mayor Victor Batarseh, a practicing Catholic, condemns the terrorist attacks and wants Hamas to stop carrying them out. He says that he is ready for a territorial compromise with Israel in order to bring about a true Palestinian state. But even before the latest municipal elections, he chose Hamas as his main ally, together with another extremist group called Islamic Jihad.

A magnificent and very coherent Catholic. Uaghhhh!

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Tiberge writes about a marvellous French Christ from the XVIth century which has been mutilated (most possibly, deliberately) to portrait the image making an obscene gesture. 😯

But there is another affair (no pun intended) which has really reached the French headlines:

A French gossip magazine has been ordered to pay €15,000 damages to the lover of France’s Socialist Party leader François Hollande.

A court ruled that the images Closer published of M. Hollande frolicking on a Moroccan beach with journalist Valérie Trierweiler were a breach of her privacy. Mme Trierweiler hit the headlines in June when Hollande’s long-term partner Ségolène Royal booted him out of their family home for his affair with the reporter.

The photos of the alleged “intimacy violated” are here. I really do not see any intimacy as they were in the beach and both of them are public figures… if you don’t want to be pictured, stay inside. And if not, you are risking that they take your pictures…

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From Angel:

Stand-up Sean Meo has been prevented from performing in Du-bai after upsetting Mus-lims.
Protest forces comic from Du-bai gig

Police had been alerted to jokes he cracked about the Kor-an and the Ar-ab language in an attempt to stop him entering the country for a show tomorrow night.

Fearing the local press would whip up a frenzy of protest against Meo, his agent and the organisers of the gig decided it would be safer if he didn’t perform.

Meo’s agent said: ‘It was a mutual decision between us. There was a small but still unacceptable risk to his safety.’

She comments:

We, here in the West..well ya see..We don’t get our panties into a bunch so quickly and um…….we actually believe in laughter.

Especially our ability to laugh at ourselves at times.
Needless to say, this takes self esteem and inner strength. (hint hint)

😆

About laughter in Islam, you can also read this post by Debbie.

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Yesterday, I wrote about illegal immigration in Spain and the misunderstanding between Spanish PM Zapatero and French PM Fillon about the massive regularization. Well, it looks like that Fillon has phoned Zapatero to calm him down and to tell him that he understands truly well why he had to do it.

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As I wrote some months ago:

Opium production in Afghanistan has soared to record levels, with an increase on last year of more than a third, the United Nations has said.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime report says the amount of opium produced there has doubled in the last two years. It says Helmand province is now the biggest single drug-producing area in the world, surpassing whole countries such as Colombia. Afghanistan now accounts for more than 93% of the world’s opiates.

Despite billions of dollars of aid and tens of thousands of international troops, the report says 193,000 hectares of opium poppies are being grown in Afghanistan.

[…] The report says growing opium poppies is now closely linked to the insurgency and the instability in the south. And what is to be done? The report recommends more determined efforts to bring that security. It urges the government to get tough on corruption, which it says is driving the drugs trade and it lists poor governance, a weak judiciary and failing eradication programmes for these new frightening record levels.

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World Organization for Human Rights has sued Yahoo! over its policy in China: Look at Yahoo!’s hypocrisy:

Yahoo is being sued by the World Organization for Human Rights for sharing information about its users with the Chinese government. The information has led to the arrests of writers and dissidents. One journalist cited in the case was tracked down and jailed for 10 years for subversion after Yahoo passed on his e-mail and IP address to officials.

In its 40-page response to the lawsuit, filed with a federal court in San Francisco, Yahoo acknowledged releasing information to the Chinese government. But it argued that there was little connection between the information the firm gave and the ensuing arrests and imprisonment of its users.

[…] But Morton Sklar of the World Organization for Human Rights said the company had failed to meet its ethical responsibilities. “Even if it was lawful in China, that does not take away from Yahoo’s obligation to follow not just Chinese law, but US law and international legal standards as well, when they do business abroad,” he said.

Barely, Yahoo! claims this is a merely political case. 😡

At the same time, Angela Merkel reminds China the West would like to see progress on freedom of the press and Human Rights’ matters (where it has not progressed really):

“The world will be looking at China to a greater extent than it has in past years,” Merkel said. “And people will also be looking at how China presents itself in terms of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”

Chinese critics of Beijing welcomed Merkel’s remarks.

“Unlike her predecessor Gerhard Schröder, Angela Merkel does not run and hide from this topic,” former university professor and dissident Liu Xiaobo told Deutsche Welle. “She tells it like it is. The pressure she’s put on the Chinese government has already had significant effect.”

Well done, Merkel!

It’s logical, by the way, Merkel’s position. Looks like that the Chinese Government has hacked Merckel’s chancellery and three other Berlin ministries h/t Barcepundit.

Germany’s domestic intelligence service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, discovered the hacking operation in May, the magazine reported in its new edition, published Monday.

The Chinese government has vehemently denied the report, with the Chinese Embassy in Berlin describing the accusation of state-controlled hacking as “irresponsible speculation without a shred of evidence.”

But Prime Minister Wen Jiabao assured Merkel that measures would be taken to “rule out hacking attacks.” During a news conference in Beijing on Monday, Merkel didn’t comment on the specific allegation but said it was important that “common rules of the game” were observed in a globalised economy.

Well, there has been reports before about industrial spying on Canada, also vehemently denied by China. And on Australia, where they have targeted exiled dissidents.

So worried about foreign lands and yet China is searching for 8 kgs of “missing” uranium. Take a little more care about things which are really dangerous and stop targeting dissidents and foreign governments… 😡

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In Italy, a mother pregnant of two daughters, went to a clinic to see the state of both fetuses. In the clinic, she was informed that one of them has Down Syndrome so she asks for the abortion of that fetus. In the operation, the fetuses change places and the healthy one is finished. After that, she asked again for the abortion of the unhealthy one, which was done by injecting a solution of digoxine. This method which causes a cardiac stop, is used only in grown-up fetuses, while in this case, they were in the 30th week of pregnancy. The scandal in Italy is great. For a link in English, click here.

Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano has already condemned the abortion of the twins:

L’Osservatore Romano reported: “Two girls have died, assassinated as a consequence of selective abortion. A radical decision has brought about another abortion, that of the little sister that still had life.” No one “has the right to eliminate another life. No person has the right to take the position of God. Not for any motive.”

But that’s not all. In Spain, as I wrote days before, there is a “problem“: doctors working in public health system are not practising abortions as they think it’s a matter of conscience and have objected. Some leftist MSM -specially world-known as very objective El País– began saying that people had a lot of problems to get themselves an abortion, with statements like: “They told me abortion was a crime“, “Leny and Fátima had succeeded in achieving their right (¿? Really didn’t know that was a right) to have an abortion in private clinics paid with public money” or “I had to go to have it to another Autonomous Community“.

There are three causes for legal abortion in Spain: rape, grave illnesses of the fetus or grave danger for the physical or psychological health of the mother. More than 98% of all the abortion held in Spain use this last cause.

So the Spanish Ombudsman, Enrique Múgica, has begun an investigation about the “great difficulties to have a free-willing interruption of pregnancy practised in the public health system“. He also asks to “adopt the pertinent measures to let the users have the guarantee the attention in the Community of residence and in the main hospitals of the National Health System“. So how are they going to do that? Are they going to hire pro-abortion doctors? Or are they going to make pro-life ones make abortions against their conscience and will? I really have a bad feeling about this…

Meanwhile, the Spanish Schools’ Council has passed a resolution by which the State can educate the children on affective-sexual matters without any consentment from parents ( 😯 ). But at the same time, “it rejected to include Cervantes in the minimum required to pass Literature, the Catholic Kings in History and the inversion of €1000 millions in the infants’ education from o-3 years-old (which was in the PSOE’s electoral program) and to liberalise the prices of the books (as stated in the Law passed in the terms requested in this respect from the Culture’s Ministry)”.

Regarding immigration, Zapatero denies it (hmm…) but French Prime Minister maintains that he is totally repented from the immigrants’ regularization.

Zapatero spoke yesterday about the statements of French PM, François Fillon, about the content of the summit between both of them last July in Madrid, to contradict his ally and ask for an immediate rectification which has not happened and most probably, won’t in the future. Fillon has stated that Zapatero admitted then that the regularization of more than 600.000 immigrants in 2005 was an error of which he repented “bitterly” and that he won’t make more in the future (repentance and modification of behaviour: we’re on the right track! Eehh, no, not quite). The President contradicted yesterday French PM, insisting on all the good things that his policy of open borders have brought and said that France was going to “make things clear because it was all probably a bad interpretation”. Sources near Fillon assured EL MUNDO that «there hasn’t been nor there is going to be any rectification in any way». The more similar to tinging his words, was some statements made by the entourage of the French PM, according to which Fillon understands that Zapatero supported the policy of “papers for all” because “he had no options… because of circumstances” (there is always another option, even if it’s very difficult or harder to follow. And in this case, there is). It is not clear if Zapatero has or hasn’t a communication problem or of interpreters when he has to speak about his analysis and compromises over immigration, as Zaplana (PP, center-right) laughed about yesterday, but it is clear that the President puts at risk again the diplomatic relations between France and Spain, because of the massive regularization which affected all Europe because of its awful “calling” effect.

Look here, I do not know who is responsible for this misunterstanding. But if he is not a total idiot -and I don’t think he is, he is just convinced he is going to save Spain from fascism (¡!), yeah I know…-, he knows he was stupid enough to let a lot of immigrants without any kind of control (not even medical, and there are illnesses which did not existed in Spain, which have appeared afterwards). Border control is not a characteristic of being a fascist, it’s just a consequence of common sense. Does Spain need immigrants? I really don’t know, but it’s possible. But what is certain is that we need some kind of immigrants, not every immigrant in the world. Ergo, select them according to the needs here and their qualifications -if we need truck drivers and the people who come are cookers, they are going to be jobless… with all the dangers that implies-. So, please, stop blaming others for your own bad policies’ results, move your ass and begin working on something more profitable than in denying what it’s clear as clean water: it was a HUGE ERROR.

[A friend of mine told me: With all my heart aching, I have to acknowledge that I trust more Fillon than Zapatero… Ejem].

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Christianity’s greatest menace:

Christians around the world suffer daily because of their faith, and it seems the persecution is intensifying.

CBN News looks at the top two offenders– North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Countries that persecute Christians usually fall into two camps: those with communist governments and those where Islam as the dominant religion.

That is: where there is no freedom, no respect for Human Rights…

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Looks like that Chávez has bought both the military and the Majors from… Evo’s paradise:

One of the accomplices of Hugo Chávez, the head of one ghost Ministry of all that Venezuela has nowadays, has stated to Venezuelan press that Hugo Chávez’s regime has given $6 millions to pay Bolivian military. Meanwhile, the sheepy Bolivian President, Evo Morales, has been photograpphed while giving money checks to Bolivian majors who are Venezuelan friends. The shameless says: “Chávez gave me the money to give it away“.

They do not refer to woodcutters. I wonder if this has something to do with it h/t Kate. 😈

But Chávez wants also to infiltrate himself in other weak South-American democracies, like Ecuador or Paraguay. In the latter, the so-called “Yearly operative Planning of the Foreign Relations Ministry of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela” (wow, what a name 😯 ), reveals that he wants to give “Bolivarian indoctrination” to Armed Forces, energetic firms, students and peasants; even it speaks of the recruitment of young doctors from rural areas.

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USA and Europe: Another terrorist attack inevitable. h/t Extreme Centre: Newsweek interviews Redd, Head of the US National counterterrorism center. An excerpt:

Tell us about the threat that emerged earlier this year.
We’ve got this intelligence threat; we’re pretty certain we know what’s going on. We don’t have all the tactical details about it, [but] in some ways it’s not unlike the U.K. aviation threat last year. So we know there is a threat out there. The question is what do we do about it? And the response was, we stood up an interagency task force under NCTC leadership. So you have all the players you would expect: FBI, CIA, DHS, DIA, DoD, the operators—the military side comes into that—participating in an integrated plan, but integrated in a much more granular and tactical way than we’ve ever done before. This is my 40th year in government service, 36 in uniform and almost four as a civilian. This is revolutionary stuff, and it is affecting the way we do business.

Earlier this summer, there was talk that people were picking up chatter that reminded them of the summer before 9/11. The Germans basically said this is like pre-9/11. They said, “We are very worried.” What do you make of this?
We have very strong indicators that Al Qaeda is planning to attack the West and is likely to [try to] attack, and we are pretty sure about that. We know some of the precursors from—

Attack Europe?
Well, they would like to come West, and they would like to come as far West as they can
. What we don’t know is…if it’s going to be Mark Hosenball, and he’s coming in on Flight 727 out of Karachi, he’s stopping in Frankfurt, and he’s coming on through with his European Union passport, and he’s coming into New York, and he’s going to do something. I mean, we don’t have that kind of tactical detail. What we do have, though, is a couple of threads that indicate, you know, some very tactical stuff, and that’s what—you know, that’s what you’re seeing bits and pieces of, and I really can’t go much more into it.

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Yesterday I wrote about Abdulah Gül’s being named new Turkish President. Today I read dissapointing news from French PM Sarkozy:

If this essential inquiry on the future of our Union is undertaken by the 27 member nations, France will not oppose the negotiations between the EU and Turkey that are to take place in the months and years to come,” said the French president addressing the 15th Conference of Ambassadors.
These new discussions must, he stressed, “be compatible with the two visions of future relations between Europe and Turkey, i.e., membership in the EU, or as close an association as possible.”

French blogger Tiberge writes commenting this:

It isn’t clear what Nicolas Sarkozy means by a “close association”, but it is clear that he accepts Turkey as much more than a trading partner or a tourist attraction. A close association implies an alliance, with attendant loyalties and military implications.

With Islamist Gül in the Presidency? Uuuuuuuuuuuyyyyyyyyy, Sarko….

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More about Greek fires: from NYT:

“Up the hill, workers were preparing the grave for Athanasia Karta-Paraskevopoulou, a 35-year-old teacher, and the four children she shielded as the flames closed in on them: Angeliki, 15; Maria, 12; Anastassia, about 10; and Constantinos, 5. They had been on vacation from Athens”.

Requiescat in Pace. She was brave enough and she died to protect these children, while they were waiting for rescue. Unluckily, it ended in a very sad way.

And it is more worrying as:

The danger had by no means passed. In the village of Grillos, just over a ridge from here on the western peninsula, a couple who own a restaurant watched in tears as flames advanced from three directions while fire trucks spewed water in the flames’ path.

“All we need is one of those,” said one owner, Iannis Drakopoulos, 72, as a Russian plane carrying an industrial-sized water bucket passed. “If he dropped it here, it would all have been fine.”

In Artemida and here in Makistos, the flames were already out, and Monday was instead a day for tallying the damage and preparing to bury the dead.

[…] The descriptions from people who saw it were the same: flames moving at an unimaginable rate and no one apart from the police to help.

[…] The fire reportedly came over a ridge first to Makistos, a village of 60 homes. Antonios Kokkaliaris, 80, a farmer, said he had been reading his newspaper, underlining parts he liked, when he heard the bell in St. John’s church ring. “I went out and I saw the flames before me and people running,” he said. He could not leave, he said, because his wife, Koula, 82, is severely disabled. “I told her, ‘Stay put, we’re going to fight this out.’ I grabbed onto the hose and I started dousing left, right and center.”

The town emptied, with only him, a herdsman and Mr. Dimopoulos with his wine staying behind. Mr. Kokkaliaris managed to douse his home, and two next door, well enough that the fires howled past, leaving his house intact.

But when it was over, he did not feel relief.

“I was disappointed, honestly,” he said, “because not only was there no one to help me, there was no one in sight. ‘Am I just standing here alone? What happened to all my townspeople? What is the purpose of life if I am all alone?’ ”

I can only say: 😯 A brave old man.

But we continue:

The region normally produces 10,000 tons of oil, but nearly all the olive trees are now destroyed, along with countless livelihoods. Charred donkeys and chickens litter ruined farms.

This village is literally wiped out,” Ms. Bammi said. “It’s not just those who have been killed. Those who are left have no fields to work in, no olive trees. They have nothing to look forward to.”

It is already a tragedy. And if finally it’s proved they did that with mobile phones, well, the punishment for these bastards must be … great.

More from the Astute Bloggers:

DAY 4 of deadly fires: Fires rage in Greece as SEVEN PEOPLE CHARGED WITH ARSON.
They remain nameless. Why? Those depraved savages set a country on fire, the public deserves to know no matter who it is. I have searched all news sources. Any Atlas readers have a clue?

Well, can it be because they can be charged with terrorism? I really don’t know. Seems strange to me too.

(+) If you want to read a magnificent post about the political consequences of the Greek fires, just go over to Cassandra’s blog.

The other usual suspects in the EU are exploiting the crisis to call for more integrated emergency cooperation, in other words: continued deepening of federal structures. Strangely, among the first countries to send fire-fighters and airplanes were Israel and Switzerland; both countries aren’t EU members.

The press from hell continues: “‘The village of Artimeta in the Peloponnese has become known as the ‘crematorium’, says the BBC’s Malcolm Brabant who is in the village near the town of Olympia.” I have serious doubts about this piece of atheist cynicism! Considering the fact that Greece is 96% Orthodox, a Christian denomination prescribing interment, I ‘d be surpised if most Greeks even know what a crematorium is, as the first is still to be build; it’s highly unlikely that local Greeks would describe a much loved village in such terms!

😯

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Chaim writes that “More than 5000 Kassam rockets have been fired at Israeli targets from the Gaza Strip which Israel abandoned to the PLO two years ago, the Sharon government brutally throwing thousands of Jews out of their homes“. Very critical of Olmert as ever:

Israel’s government, as any other government, has an obligation to defend its people. As long as Ehud Allmerde and his cohorts are running at the top they are going to do little more than a few symbolic gestures to make it look like they are defending Israelis. Rather, they seem obsessed with appeasement. Obsessed with a policy that invariably has failed miserably time and again. They seem intent on giving everything up to the terrorists, little realizing that the more they give, the less they get and the more is demanded!

Olmert spoke on Tuesday 28th with Mahmoud Abbas to “agree on measures against terrorism“. As I linked yesterday, this policy is not going to bring them any good.

Meanwhile, Israeli leaders are building themselves shelters to protect them in case of attack. Everyday’s tale…

Also, on related news, the Israeli government’s tourism ministry has reached an agreement to cooperate with the Vatican’s new charter-flight service for pilgrimages to the Holy Land, the Ynetnews agency has reported.

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And now for the thinking post of the day. Pastorius has written it -the scene of Patton is priceless-:

[…] you have to ask yourselves, do you want a world which is ruled by men, or by women?
Hmm???
Obviously, rationality is not arbitrated by force.

Read it all. It’s worth it. (Chauvinist males: this post is not very recommended for you 😈 ).

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There has been 600 people killed or dissapeared in North Korea as a result of the floods. There are also thousands of hurt people.

Iraq’s PM Maliki vs. H. Clinton:

Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin are democrats but they don’t respect democracy. They speak about Iraq as if it were their property”, Malike said in a press conference. He added that both senators “have never lived controversies like the ones we are knowing in Iraq. When they speak, they don’t know what reconciliation means”.

Maliki reacted like that to some statements made by Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton -favourite of his party to the 2008’s presidential career in USA- who asked the Iraqi MPs to choose another person to leader a national unity government, after the extinction of the Iraqi coalition government.

He also critisized Bernard Kouchner, French FM, who visited Iraq some days ago, and whose visit was considered a success at first.

Bernard Kouchner had also advised him to resign. But he has said France is ready to make an apology about this:

Last week Mr Kouchner said the Iraqi government was “not functioning” and was quoted saying he had told the US that there was strong support in Iraq for Mr Maliki to resign and he “has got to be replaced“. 😯

In an interview with RTL radio on Monday, Mr Kouchner said: “I think that he [Mr Maliki] misunderstood, or that I was not clear enough that I was referring to comments I heard from Iraqis I talked to.” [Do you really think he was misunderstood???].

“If the prime minister wants me to apologise for having interfered so directly in Iraqi affairs, I’ll do it willingly,” he said.

Mr Kouchner visited Baghdad last week to promote France’s role in efforts to solve the Iraq crisis and mend relations with Washington damaged by France’s opposition to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

So what do Iraqis think about the intervention? h/t Desde el Exilio.

America should finish what it started.

Spanish National Library’s President, old Rosa Regás, is now a fan of Chávez -well, err, not now, this is something which we have known in Spain for so long-:

Her article is compulsory. Her analysis is a panegyric to Chávez, with numbers very far from reality, which nowadays does not belong to the Venezuelan people as it never happened in the last 50 years, sunk in the most cruel misery, where a citizen dies each half an hour killed by gangs, with a record of being one of the most corrupt places in the world, no.170 these days, according to the Corruption Perception’s index. An expert regime in manouvring to sell lies, while at the same time it’s proclaiming himself the poors’ saviour.

[…] When Rosa Regás tells us “Why against Chávez?” with the conviction that she does it, with a bad tempered arrogance, it looks like, with Zapatero, the Spain of democracy and progress is menaced. I’m convinced that she does not wish this country to be reflected in Venezuela’s mirror.

I should say that depends on who was going to exert power… I really believe some of them, at least, think, that just as Franco was 40 years in power, they have a right (non-written one) to be another 40 years, whatever the means for that. I’m not saying even that all Socialists think that, not even that the majority of them think it, but some of them do -of course, they never say that publicly…-.

At the same moment, two world maps of 1482 have been stolen from the institution she is in charge. 😡 And she has presented her dimission because she “does not feel the new Minister of Culture, César Antonio Molina, trusts her“. 😈 These are good news, indeed…

In Egypt the dictatorship creeps each day to a more frightening stand h/t Desde El Exilio:

On Aug. 8, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights reported that it had confirmed more than 500 cases of police abuse since 1993, including 167 deaths — three of which took place this year — that the group “strongly suspects were the result of torture and mistreatment.” The organization previously found that while Egypt‘s population nearly doubled during the first 25 years of Hosni Mubarak‘s regime, the number of prisons grew more than fourfold and that the number of detainees held for more than one year without charge or indictment grew to more than 20,000.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have corroborated chilling accounts of torture in Egyptian prisons. The independent daily Eldestour recently published two important facts: that the annual budget for internal security was $1.5 billion in 2006, more than the entire national budget for health care, and that the security police forces comprise 1.4 million officers, nearly four times the size of the Egyptian army. “Egypt has become a police state par excellence,” the paper’s editor noted.

For the people who uses bloglines, there is a new beta version for you to try.

More about Iranian Government’s savages, go and see the photos that Stephania has posted.

Al Fatah uses now the Lion King to attack Hamas. And Disney still says nothing about this.

The new cause of anger in Aghanistan: a ball with the Saudi flag. You know, the one with the Islamic declaration of faith?

A demonstration has been held in south- east Afghanistan accusing US troops of insulting Islam after they distributed footballs bearing the name of Allah.

The balls showed the Saudi Arabian flag which features the Koranic declaration of faith.

The US military said the idea had been to give something for Afghan children to enjoy and they did not realise it would cause offence.

Last news from Venezuela: now Chávez wants to move the country’s time zone to “offer a more equitable distribution of sunlight“. The socialism of XXIth century also distributes the sunlight in a more equitable way… This sounds like the Galizian Nationalist Party asking to change the time zone of Galizia as if Spain was the USA and had huge need of several time zones… 😈

A very interesting post: On “racial” profiling:

Islamism, Islamist militancy, and Islamist militant terrorism are very adept at converting people to Islam and to Islamist terrorism. And so not only do we need to worry about the usual suspects, so to speak, but also those who have been converted. Our obliviousness to this is exploited by Islamist terrorists, as can be seen by a number of the people involved in the plot by Britons to attack American and British trans-Atlantic flights from London. One was even a white (that is, British) pregnant woman, someone who would not register on anyone’s counter-terrorism radar.

[…] My suggestion is that while focusing on the usual suspected ethnicities or people of suspected ethnic origins (Arab, especially Saudi, and South Asian, especially Pakistani), we need to watch for suspicious behavior by any and all people. Besides, Islamist terrorism is not the only threat: some people are simply deranged and up to no good. We should, thus, be able to stop not only Islamist terrorist attacks but also attempts by anyone, for any reason, to conduct lethal attacks of any sort. And, who knows, maybe by cracking down on people who show an inordinate interest in information and data regarding our infrastructure, we might be able to help counterintelligence efforts as well. Preventing Iran, Russia, China, or any of the host of our enemies from getting intelligence will help The Republic.

Well, in my case, I do not think this is a problem of ethnicity nor do I consider this an ethnic problem. It’s an IDEOLOGICAL one: it’s based on an ideology that wants to rule the world, using a religion. I’m not going to discuss now if this is the religion in itself or it’s being used, but clearly not all Muslims are terrorists or want to rule the world. The problem, as I have said before, is that if the extremers are supported -as it’s happening in most of the West-, the people who are not, do not feel supported at all, in the end, that’s going to cause a surge in support for extremism in both sides.

And when I say Westerners are supporting several madnesses/extremisms, it’s because it’s true:

Academia’s fixation on cultural sensitivity is changing the debate around female genital mutilation, with a growing number of professors and women’s rights activists becoming hesitant to condemn the practice.

Where feminists rallied against the operation from the pages of Ms. magazine in the 1970s, today’s critics are infinitely more cautious, with most suggesting that the Western world butt out until Muslim African communities are ready to reconsider what they are doing to their daughters.

The shift in attitudes about the practice– which in the worst of cases involves the carving out of a woman’s clitoris and inner labia and can cause lifelong urinary tract infections, sterility and even death — comes at a time when high-profile victims of the operation such as writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali and model Waris Dirie, both Somalis, have launched very public campaigns against the practice.

To know more about this practice, click here. It’s a shame someone cannot or doesn’t comdemn that practice.

A reward is offered in Greece to capture the culprits of the fires which were provoked and which had already killed at least 60 people.

Fire in the countryside and smoke surrounding Athens.

Statue of Victory at Olympia surrounded by smoke.

Map of the fires.

More about the Greek fires by Paolo. Impressive the NASA’s satellite image of the fire he has posted. Last news are that there are two possibilities: the first being it was caused by organised criminality, the second being it was international terrorism to influence in Greek elections, in which the center-right’s margin has been slightly reduced these last weeks. So a prosecutor on Monday ordered an investigation into whether arson attacks could come under Greece’s anti-terrorism and organized crime laws. (CNN).

An update about the fires: From Infidels are Cool, I reach this post from a Greek blogger:

There were at least a couple of instances where the ones trapped called the TV and radio stations, got on the air, said their final goodbyes to their families, and then were burned alive. While the stations were doing their best to send aid, the fact that the emergency reponses are streched so thin made rescue efforts near impossible.

My grandmother’s village was completely burned down. It was one of the worse hit and there is nothing that remains. The local authorities say that it’s completely erased off the map.

[…] There is a video of two men setting one of the fires. That is now fishy since we now know that the fires were started remotely via cell phone bombs.

More here by Pastorius.

How affects Jewish self-criticism to the actual view of International affairs:

I have dealt with the problem of hyper-Jewish self-criticism repeatedly in the past, including issues concerning the Alvin Rosenfeld Controversy. Among other things, I emphasized the role of a kind of “prophetic” criticism that uses high rhetorical excess to “whip” the Jews/Israelis into the right path. When combined with a desire to “please” fellow, non-Jewish progressives by showing how “non-tribal” one is, this produces a lethal combination, documented by Rosenfeld, that makes some Jews willing to confess to anything (racism, apartheid, Nazism, the illegitimacy of the State). They do this not only to urge their fellow Jews to mend their ways, but also to pursue a kind of “therapeutic” dialogue where, if they are sufficiently magnanimous in accepting blame, then maybe their enemies, say, the Palestinians, might also respond by being a bit more self-critical.

Hmm, yes, I understand this very well. And I mean it. Well, the result is just the opposite: whatever the Israelis do in this direction, is not going to grant them anything but even more problems.

Read it all: another great post from Richard Landes.

Private clinics are profiting from abortions in Spain:

In response to the refusal by gynecologists of the public health care system of Andalusia to perform abortions, a considerable number of women are being sent to private clinics that have agreed to collaborate with the Council for Health Care.

I wrote some months ago about a platform whose objective is to send Aznar to the International Criminal Court because of “his support to the illegal Iraqi war”. Another platform, called “Aznar for ICC” is preparing a “hot autumn“, as United Left’s MP from Andalucia’s Autonomous Community Antonio Romero has said. He added:

Neither Aznar, nor Bush nor Tony Blair can go away without punishment after causing an illegal and immoral war, which has produced the death to 700.000 Iraqis, the majority of which were civil, more than 2 million of people in exile, the complete destruction of the country’s infraestructures, of its historical and cultural heritage and the absolute looting of its natural resources, specially, of oil”.

For you to consider the personality of this man: he was condemned some years ago, because in a strike, he beat, insulted and menaced an old man, owner of a little cafeteria, and one of the clients because he did not want to go on strike. He shouted at both: “fascist, son of a bitch, asshole”, after yelling at them “you’re going to shut whether you like it or not, or you’re going to shut por cojones“. You know, a peaceful, respectful and calm guy… But the best is what he said: “I only wanted to defend their rights -whether they liked it or not-, telling him how marvellous it was to close all the shops for Andalucia’s rights“.

Gül has been elected Turkish President. Oh, my!!! 😦 He was elected in the third round as was predicted some weeks ago. The Turkish military has spoken: Secularism is under attack:

“Nefarious plans to ruin Turkey’s secular and democratic nature emerge in different forms everyday,” Buyukanit said in his statement. “The military will, just as it has so far, keep its determination to guard social, democratic and secular Turkey.”

Russian man detained in Afghanistan carrying 500 kilos of explosives and, in a rapture of manliness, wearing a burqa. His two other companions were also wearing a women’s clothes. If they like so much being a woman, why they do not change their sex? Yes, I think that, for these chavinist male … individuals, that would be a good punishment. Imagine Bin Laden … 😈 There was a joke here some years ago: the worst fate for Bin Laden would be to catch him -US SEALs could be employed for that-, transport him to a clinic, change his sex and then set him loose in Saudi Arabia. Je. With an inside camera to see his reaction: “Hey, I’m Bin Laden”.

Gordon Brown will not allow a referendum about the EU Constitution, after he promised to do so. He faces 120 Labour MPs who have rebeled against him, although David considers that Brown will not allow it, “as he knows he can lose it“.

Read also this post by Angel: A planned Ar-abic-themed public school in Brooklyn has prompted polarized reactions. Critics warned Monday that students could be “indoctrinated” with radical Is-lamic beliefs and supporters called such statements “racist.

Some weeks ago I discovered a very good blog called Modestly Yours, entirely written by women (where I discovered a book I would like to read…, when I have finished reading all I have to read now, but the title is promising: “Girls gone Mild. Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find that it’s not Bad to be Good“). Well, just read about the “Sexy Crazy Cancer” movie:

The film itself actually looks quite interesting. As described on her website, the idea for the documentary came about in 2003 after the “31-year-old actress/photographer…was diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer. Weeks later she began filming her story. Taking a seemingly tragic situation and turning it into a creative expression, Kris shares her inspirational story of survival with courage, strength, and lots of humor.”

As the author says, I don’t know how the sexy thing fits in there.

There is another very good blog post called: “The War on Vulgarity“. Thank God, someone is saying this loudly. Looks like it’s better to be vulgar and really there is no need. There are people who consider that to be manly (I must be tough), to speak out better the truth (that is, to be more sincere) or just because it sounds much more direct. For me, that is only foul language… 😈

Lastly, after the scandal surrounding Sarkozy about his lack of fitness, look at this cartoon. 😆

Looks like Sarkozy is menacing Iran: Either Iran suspends the uranium enrichment or will be bombed! Well, this is unexpected… Will be continued!

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Hmm, these are the kind of news that make me vomit. How on earth people can be sooooo brute???? I’m going to name this kind of news “World’s going nuts” 😡

A security video from an apartment hallway shows at least 10 witnesses ignored a woman’s cries for help for more than an hour as a man beat and sexually assaulted her, prosecutors in Minnesota said.

The surveillance video clearly showed men and women looking out their apartment doors or starting to walk down the hallway before retreating as the woman was assaulted for nearly 90 minutes, police spokesman Tom Walsh said.

Police said they responded to a call of drunken behavior and found Somali immigrant Rage Ibrahim, 25, and a woman lying unconscious in the hallway early Tuesday. The woman’s clothing had been pulled up and she had fresh scratches on her face and blood on her thigh, according to the criminal complaint.

Click here to visit FOXNews.com’s Crime Center.

Ibrahim says he is innocent and that the incident was a misunderstanding, according to Omar Jamal, the executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, who spoke on Ibrahim’s behalf.

FOXNews.com – Cops: Tape Shows at Least 10 Witnesses Ignoring Minnesota Woman’s Cries for Help During Sexual Assault – Local News | News Articles | National News | US News

Ibrahim says he is innocent and that the incident was a misunderstanding“. Yeah, right. And I believe that.

More about this here: It should be noted that this Jamal slug was convicted of lying to immigration officials and should have already been deported. Law was not fulfilled and a woman was attacked. The every-day’s tale… 😡

And father of 7-Year-Old Boy accused of biting Son’s Toes. He bited his son “hard enough to cause deep bruising and crack his toenails“. My goodness, the world is going nuts… 😡

From Life Site.Net:

A peaceful pro-life witness was violently assaulted outside an abortion site on Tuesday. Police responded late to his 911 after he was beaten by an unknown visitor to the clinic.
Early on Tuesday morning August 21, three Rockford pro-lifers-Ken Plez, Pat Brady and Kevin Rilott-were praying quietly in front of the Northern Illinois Women’s Center (abortuary) for an end to abortion. A large white truck pulled into the clinic parking lot, and without setting foot on the clinic property, Rilott approached and tried to talk to the people inside.
In a detailed account of the event Rilott described how the pro-choice man got out of his truck and approached him, saying, “You shouldn’t be here, you’re upsetting my wife.” He then began to hit Rilott in the chest, ribs, and stomach. Rilott did not strike back at the man, but managed to call 911. As he was being beaten, he begged for immediate police assistance.
He told his pro-abortion attacker that the police were on the way, but the man said he didn’t care. The assaulter also said that “after he bonded out” he would come back and get him. After breaking Rilott’s sign, the man then went into the abortion clinic.

In India, sex-selective abortions are rocketing. The reason?

A large portion of the Indian population believes that male children enable families to survive and ensure that their parents will be taken care of. Female children are considered a burden for whom parents will have to shell out expensive dowries, which leads many to elect to abort them.

On the other hand, a 2001 census revealed that there were 927 girls for every 1000 boys among children younger than age 7, as opposed to 945 in 1991. Last month, police discovered thirty bags full of aborted and newborn babies in a well near a clinic in eastern India.

Meanwhile, a huge explosion in India has killed at least 44 people. According to CNN, “militants” were responsible for it:

“These are things that will not be openly discussed … we can comment when the investigation is complete,” Home Secretary Shivraj Patil said at a news conference in Hyderabad.

In earlier news conferences, local officials placed the blame squarely on Islamic militants.

Available information points to Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups being behind the blasts,” Y.S.R. Reddy, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh state told reporters. The minister earlier said “this is definitely terrorist activity,” and urged everyone to stay calm.

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Moroccan Islamists support pragmatism (well they are going to present themselves to the elections, so it’s better for them to seem moderate. Link in Spanish):

The Party of Justice and Development (PJD), the main Islamist party in the oposition, is going to present a program in which the daily worries of the voters will be the first objective instead of religion in the campaign for the parliamentary elections of September 7th, according to its leader.

Experts consider it’s possible the party will obtain more MPs and could be the main group in an election where more than 30 parties will concur to.

Observers see the result as a measure of the level of disillusion with the liberal and laic elites who have been in charge in Morocco for the last 50 years.

The Parliament only has limited powers in the North African country, where the King Mohammed VIth, controlls all the main sectors from the Army to the religious affairs, and can name the Prime Minister and “veto” laws.

Some analysts say that in any case the elections will help to revitalise some aspects of the body of the governing elite.

“Our agenda is inspired without doubt in our Islamic surrounding, but in an Islamic surrounding linked to the voters’ needs”, told Reuters the PJD’s leader, Abdelilah Benkiran.

[…] “Frankly, the citizens won’t vote for us if we go to the elections to impose the veil on women, the bears on men and to all the people to make them go to the mosque”, he added.

Just let them take power. After four or five years, we speak about this.

About children abuse: Kids forced into domestic servitude in Haiti:

Evans Antoine wakes at 7 a.m. and dusts himself off from his night on the floor. While other children in his middle-class neighborhood overlooking the Haitian capital head to school, the 15-year-old puts on toeless sneakers and gets to work washing dishes, scrubbing floors and running errands at the market. He also works in the yard and sometimes wields a scythe in the family’s fields.

There is little reward for his toil, except for food and a roof over his head. And often, the quality of his work isn’t good enough; his caretakers sometimes hit him with a switch or slap him on the back of the scalp. Once they tied his hands and put a bag over his head before beating him with a stick.

This has been his life for the past three years.

Read it all. Specially interesting is this paragraph: “Haiti revolted against French colonial rule and became the first “black republic” in 1804. With newly emancipated slaves in power, it also became the first nation to outlaw slavery. Dependent on coffee and sugar, however, Haiti kept the plantation system after the revolution, requiring “mandatory labor” of many citizens. The masters were no longer white, but working conditions improved only marginally“.

The proof that changes sometimes don’t change anything really. Just another people step on charge.

More news from Iran: as ever not very promising:

Iran vowed Sunday to use a new 2,000-pound “smart” bomb against its enemies and unveiled mass production of the new weapon, state television reported.

The government first announced development of the long-range guided bomb Thursday, saying it could be deployed by the country’s aging U.S.-made F-4 and F-5 fighter jets.

“We will use these (bombs) against our enemies when the time comes,” Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said on state television Sunday.

Iran often announces new weapons for its arsenal, but the United States maintains that while the Islamic Republic has made some strides, many of these statements are exaggerations.

In China they continue with their magnificent view of Human Rights:

A prominent bishop of the underground Catholic Church in China was arrested on August 23, apparently to prevent him from distributing the Pope’s message to the Church in China.

Bishop Jia Zhiguo of the Zheng Ding diocese was taken into custody on Thursday morning, the US-based Cardinal Kung Foundation reports.

The bishop’s arrest came after several days of tight surveillance in his residence. The Cardinal Kung Foundation reports that visitors to the bishop’s home were held and interrogated by police before being released.

But religious persecution does not only exist in China. In Uzbekistan:

When seven police officers with a video camera raided his home on Sunday morning, 29 July, Nikolai Zulfikarov was away. But this did not stop prosecutors launching a criminal case to punish him for “illegally” organizing a religious community, with a possible sentence of five years’ imprisonment. The small Baptist congregation that meets in his home in the eastern Namangan Region refuses on principle to apply for state registration. One local Baptist told Forum 18 News Service that prosecutors wanted to sentence Zulfikarov immediately, but now there is “total silence”. He added that “it is not clear if this means they will abandon the attempt or if they are moving stealthily behind the scenes”.

More worrying news for Musharraf:

Another defeat for President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan’s Supreme Court has narrowed the options for the U.S.-allied military leader as he seeks to extend his rule.

Thursday’s ruling that his arch rival, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom Musharraf ousted in a 1999 coup, can return from exile leaves the general vulnerable at home and abroad ahead of crucial elections.

Talks with another ex-prime minister on a pact that would keep Musharraf in office are proving tough. And U.S. impatience with his failure to eliminate Taliban and al-Qaida strongholds near the Afghan border is growing.

Driven by a clamor for the restoration of democracy, the military-led government has responded with calls for national reconciliation.

But Musharraf “is hardly talking from a position of strength,” the Dawn newspaper said in a weekend editorial. Talks with his opponents “must have a one-point agenda: a truly free and fair general election.”

In Brussels they are forbidding Sept 11th’s demonstration against Islamic terrorism, and yet they are letting a Pro-Hizbullah group’s demonstration:

The Arab-European League (AEL), a pro-Hezbollah organization of Arab immigrants in Belgium and the Netherlands, is rallying its members to march in Brussels on 11 September “against Islamophobia and racism in Europe.” The AEL demonstration is a response to the request by the Danish-British-German organization Stop the Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) for permission to demonstrate on 9/11 in front of the European Union’s buildings in Brussels against the introduction of Sharia laws in Europe.

Two weeks ago the SIOE demonstration was banned by Freddy Thielemans, the mayor of Brussels. According to Mr Thielemans the SIOE demonstration is a criminal offence because it “incite[s] to discrimination and hatred, which we usually call racism and xenophobia. [This] is forbidden by a considerable number of international treaties and is punished by our penal laws and by the European legislation.”

Of course, Hizbullah’s members are peaceful, respectful of other people’s lifes and caring. As I said, the world’s going nuts…

Hillary Clinton’s remarks about terrorism are just very similar to the ones made by James Clayburn about Iraq:

“There are circumstances beyond our control, and I think I am better able to handle things I have no control over,” she said. “It’s a horrible prospect to ask yourself ‘What if? What if?’ But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world,” she said. “So I think I’m the best of the Democrats to deal with that as well.”

Nigeria: From Gateway Pundit: Angry Muslim Mob Storms Prison to Lynch Homosexuals. A prison guard has been injured. Will all the Gay Pride’s organisers say something about this? Eehh, no, that’s only said if they are Christian and preferably Catholics the ones who critisize the right to marry. That is an offense grade A. But if fundamentalist Muslims do it, ehh, welll, then it’s only an offense grade Z, at the most…

More about HuT and the Global Caliphate: Hyscience. And it’s not the only group claiming for it: specially in Internet, this kind of ideas are proliferating.

Ten people arrested in Russia over Politovskaya’s death.

70% of Iraqi suicide terrorists are Saudis. And Iraqis protest about this:

More photos on the link.

And now for some Catholic news:

Pope Benedict XVI explains last Sunday’s Gospel:

The way to eternal life is narrow because it is demanding, requires commitment and denial of one’s own selfishness, Pope Benedict XVI said today in his Sunday angelus address. He was referring to today’s Gospel in which Jesus calls on his followers to strive to enter the “‘narrow gate’ to eternal life, because many shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able”.

“What does the ‘narrow gate’ mean?”, the Pope asked pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. “Why do many not succeed in entering through it? Is the way reserved for just a few elect?”

The Pope said it is often a trap and a temptation to interpret this passage as a reference to religious practice as a source of privilege or security. But in reality, “the message of Christ is actually quite the opposite”, the Pope explained. “All can enter eternal life, but for everyone, the door is narrow. They are not privileged. The path to the eternal life is open to all, but it is narrow because it’s demanding, asks for commitment, abnegation, and the mortification of selfishness”.

As a result of the stress and lack of tranquility of modern life:

More and more Italians, tired from the routine and noise of the city, are opting to spend their vacations in monasteries and convents that offer them a time of reflection and contact with nature.

Many religious communities—even cloistered convents–have opened their doors to young people and families to join in their daily life of prayer and activities, as well as to listen to their concerns and provide them spiritual guidance.

I think I’m going to book a holiday like that… when I have time for it! 😆

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Two photos

This first one is specially dedicated to David Drake, as he told me he liked sunsets. It is not of the beach though, but I think it’s, nevertheless, a very beautiful photo. In the left side, it’s the Northern  façade of Madrid’s Royal Palace.

This second one is sympathetic: it’s a new toy I found some days ago. They call it the flying pig 😆 :

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