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Candide’s Latest: December 22, 2006

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Islamophobia Watch
Muslim Group Wants Congressman’s Apology

Le con

From McClatchy: “A Muslim group is asking Virginia Republican Rep. Virgil Goode Jr. to apologize after he told hundreds of his constituents that more Muslims will follow Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn., to Congress if strict immigration laws aren't passed. "The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran," Goode wrote. The letter was written to constituents who contacted Goode after Ellison said he planned to bring his Quran, the Muslim holy book, with him when he takes the oath of office on Jan. 4. In his letter, Goode said: "When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way." Goode, an attorney and former state senator who was first elected to Congress in 1996, said he wants to "stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country."” See the full story…

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Naval Rattling in the Persian Gulf
U.S. Military Builds-Up Against Iran

Iran-bound

From the Times: “The United States and Britain will begin moving additional warships and strike aircraft into the Persian Gulf region in a display of military resolve toward Iran that will come as the United Nations continues to debate possible sanctions against the country, Pentagon and military officials said Wednesday. The officials said that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates was expected this week to approve a request by commanders for a second aircraft carrier and its supporting ships to be stationed within quick sailing distance of Iran by early next year. Senior American officers said the increase in naval power should not be viewed as preparations for any offensive strike against Iran. But they acknowledged that the ability to hit Iran would be increased and that Iranian leaders might well call the growing presence provocative. One purpose of the deployment, they said, is to make clear that the focus on ground troops in Iraq has not made it impossible for the United States and its allies to maintain a military watch on Iran. That would also reassure Washington’s allies in the region who are concerned about Iran’s intentions.” The full story…

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Bush and Blair’s Syriana
Saudi Arabia, Not Iran, Is the Problem

Anatole Kaletsky in the UK Times: “It has been another awful week for Tony Blair, perhaps even worse than the mid-summer meltdown triggered by his fatally misjudged support for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. First there was the craven surrender to Saudi Arabia’s demand for the suspension of Britain’s anti-corruption laws if they impinge on the personal finances of Saudi princes. Next came the derisive rejection of Mr Blair’s latest effort to “kick-start the Middle East peace process” by every leader in the region. This was followed by the devastating report from Britain’s leading foreign policy institute, explaining how the Prime Minister had subordinated national interests to his unrequited love affair with President Bush. Then to cap it all, Britain’s supposed ally, the Iraqi Vice-President, commented that Mr Blair had been “brainwashed” and “blackmailed” by Mr Bush. Nobody much cares any longer if Mr Blair rushes towards political perdition, but will his few remaining months in office sabotage the prospects of future Labour governments for years to come? […]Most bizarrely of all, Mr Blair’s identification of Iran as the source of the “ideological battle” that would dominate the 21st century came less than a week after his very personal interaction with the country that really is the financial and spiritual homeland of al-Qaeda, the 9/11 terrorists and the majority of foreign insurgents fighting in Iraq. […] That the Saudi Government has made its security co-operation conditional on Mr Blair blocking any further investigations into the sweeteners paid to Saudi princes by British companies shows the shallowness of the country’s supposed commitment to the War on Terror. […]Moreover, the radicalisation of previously quiescent Muslim populations from Indonesia and Turkey to Britain, Spain and France, continues to be directly funded by the Saudi money pouring into Sunni mosques and madrassas inspired by the extremist Wahhabi sect.” The full column…

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War of the Week
Somalia vs. Ethiopia

From the Johannesburg Mail & Guardian: Somalia's Islamists are at war against Ethiopia, not the government, a hard-line Islamist leader said on Thursday, as fighting raged for a third day between his forces and pro-government troops. Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who was speaking to the media by telephone, also accused Ethiopia of attacking the Islamists in southern Somalia. Three days of fighting with rockets, artillery and machine guns have increased fears of a devastating Horn of Africa war that could suck in rivals Ethiopia and Eritrea, who diplomats say are conducting a proxy war there. The most sustained combat so far for control of a nation in anarchy since the 1991 ousting of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre follows two months of increasingly violent skirmishes along a frontline snaking across Somalia. Aweys's declaration came hours after he called the fighting around the government's encircled stronghold, Baidoa, "a small incident" and a top European Union envoy said the two sides had agreed to stop fighting and resume peace talks.” The full story…

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U.S.Is As China Does
Public Humiliation as National Policy

A parade of prostitutes in Shenzhen, to the shame and humiliation of China.

A story we missed but shouldn’t have; the story sounds foreign, but how really dissimilar is it from the American and official public shaming of sexual offenders—as opposed to predators—who have served their sentence and are back in society, yet must remain forever branded as such, are forced to register with authorities every year, and always alert police as to their change of address? Here’s The Times’ Howard French reporting from Shanghai on Dec. 12: “For people who saw the event on television earlier this month, the scene was like a chilling blast from a past that is 30 years distant: social outcasts and supposed criminals — in this case 100 or so prostitutes and a few pimps — paraded in front of a jeering crowd, their names revealed, and then driven away to jail without trial. The act of public shaming was intended as the first step in a two-month campaign by the authorities in the southern city of Shenzhen to crack down on prostitution. But the event has prompted an angry nationwide backlash, with many people making common cause with the prostitutes over the violation of their human rights and expressing outrage in one online forum after another. So-called rectification campaigns, or struggle sessions, like these were everyday occurrences during the Cultural Revolution, which officially ended in 1976. In that benighted era, popular justice was meted out and so-called class enemies were publicly beaten, forced to make confessions and sent to work camps for reeducation. That this event took place in Shenzhen, the birthplace of China’s economic reforms and one of its richest and most open cities, seems to have added to its shock value. “Even people who commit crimes deserve dignity,” one person wrote on the popular Internet forum 163.com. “Must we go back to the era of the Cultural Revolution?” Another asked, “Isn’t this a brutal violation of human rights?” Likening the parading to an act out of the Middle Ages, he added, “Shenzhen’s image has been deeply shamed.” The full story…

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Your Billy Bob Thornton Christmas Moment
At Lunch With Bad Santa
 

 

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Global Orgasm Day

From Judith Ireland in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Get your best Meg Ryan impersonation ready and come celebrate Global Orgasm Day. All you need to do is have sex sometime over the next 24 hours and think of world peace in the process. Organised by US peace activists, the aim is "to add so much concentrated and high-energy positive input into the energy field of the Earth that it will reduce the current dangerous levels of aggression and violence throughout the world", according to the website www.globalorgasm.org. Talk about grassroots action. Regardless of whether this experiment works or simply generates a spike in cigarette sales, the SOS love-in couldn't have come at a better time. It's been an annus horribilis for everlasting love and commitment. Not only has it had to weather the PR dud of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes as its wannabe poster couple, but everyone from Clive James to Scarlett Johansson has lined up to tell us that monogamy ain't what When Harry Met Sally cracked it up to be.” The full piece…

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One Billion Laughs
Soccer, the Great Chinese Invention

From an allegedly Chinese blogger in allegedly named Chengdu, China: “As everyone knows, the modern game of soccer was invented in China sometime during the Spring and Autumn period ( 770 BC - 476 BC), except the Chinese version of the game was called cuju, and did not resemble modern soccer at all. It was created at around the same time the Chinese were busy inventing other things, such as: computers, trees, food, and the Irish. Since soccer was invented in China, it follows that the Chinese have the most advanced soccer programs in the world, which is why their national team has won so many World Cups. I often like to go out and play with the Chinese at my university's field, so I can get a taste of this 2500 year old game in the very place of its origin. Now, after nearly two years of soccer playing experience in China, it still remains a unique experience, and something I willingly put myself through on a weekly or even daily basis. So, Bob, you may be wondering, what's it like playing soccer in China? Do you ever eat rubber or hurt your face? Well, let me give a short introduction to the experience, followed by some short essay questions. As we all know, China has too much of everything, so the field is always packed with people, pick-up games, and rubber pellets (which I'll get back to later). Sometimes the games even spill over onto the track, where they get in the way of old ladies who walk around the field and hit themselves on the back (they do this because old ladies in China hate their backs). At my university there are two types of games--the ones in which the university students play, and the ones in which non-students play. Keep in mind this is a technical school so, as you may imagine, there is quite a bit of difference in the skill levels between the two groups.” Read the rest at Long Legged Fly…

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