Sunday, September 30, 2007


There is an amazing video that tells the story of Spc. Channing Moss, who was impaled by a rocket-propelled grenade and survived! Go here to watch and here to read about it.

Polish soldiers attending Mass in Afghanistan.

Click here to see some cool photos of Polish soldiers in Afghanistan.


I just read an article written by Spengler in First Things about a study of the Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig (d. 1929) and the Abrahamic religions. Unfortunately, the article is for subscribers only. But here is an excerpt:

Franz Rosenzweig is widely regarded as one of the greatest Jewish theologians of the past century. Best known for The Star of Redemption, published eight years before his death in 1929 at the age of forty-three, he began a new kind of dialogue between Judaism and Christianity when he argued that the two faiths complement each other: Christianity to propagate revelation to the world, and Judaism to “convert the inner pagan” inside each Christian.

Less often mentioned, however, is Rosenzweig’s analysis of Islam, a religion he regarded as a throwback to paganism. Indeed, Rosenzweig predicted a prolonged conflict of civilizations between Islam and the West. “The coming millennium will go down in world history as a struggle between Orient and Occident, between the church and Islam, between the Germanic peoples and the Arabs,” he forecast in 1920—in part because Islam is “a parody of revealed religion,” while Allah is an apotheosized despot, “the colorfully contending gods of the pagan pantheon rolled up into one.”

Rather than three Abrahamic religions, Rosenzweig saw only two religions arising from the self-revelation of divine love, with Islam as a crypto-pagan pretender. He was no Islamophobe, observing that Islam during certain eras evinced greater tolerance and humaneness than Christian Europe. But he was emphatic that truly foundational differences distinguish Judeo-Christian religion from Islam.

No Muslim President?

Senator John McCain: "I admire the Islam. There's a lot of good principles in it," he said. "But I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith."

"I swear by Allah that war is deception".

From Investors Business Daily: "When dealing with Muslim leaders, Washington should borrow a page from Ronald Reagan's Soviet playbook: Trust, but verify. Many aim to deceive us, court evidence shows."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Peter Fechter, RIP.

In 1962 I was 9 years old. I still remember the shock of seeing and reading my parents' Time magazine about a young man being shot and languishing to die in "no man's land". An 18-year old for me -at that time- was a man. Yet, somehow, I remember feeling that Peter Fechter (I didn't know his name until today) was not a "real adult", and he had met a terribly cruel fate. The effect of the news was so chilling, that I never ever forgot. It has been 45 years since Peter Fechter died. But I still remember. I hope there are many others like me around.

Here is the report of that long-ago time, as recorded in Time Magazine.

David's Medienkritik

The Arabs Are Becoming Extinct in Terms of Their Civilization.

Watch Poet Adonis' interview which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on September 7, 2007 at MEMRI.


" If we compare the capabilities of the Arabs with what they actually do – the only conclusion I can draw is that we are a people that is becoming extinct. We are becoming extinct in terms of our civilization, like the Sumerians, the Greeks, the Pharaohs, the Romans, and all those great civilizations that have become extinct. We no longer possess the creative capacity that would allow us to establish a great human society, and at the same time, to take part in the building of the world.
I am not against religion – any religion whatsoever. What I am against is the misinterpretation of religion, and against the political and social exploitation of religion for the sake of other objectives, because this constitutes aggression against others. The prevalent interpretation is that the truth lies in the text, whereas by any intellectual standard, this is not true, and truth lies in research.
I had hoped, for instance, that there would be an Islamic awakening in the humanistic sense, that there would be a reexamination of Islam, and that Islam would take part in the building of today's world. But the entire "Islamic awakening" of today is based on violence, killing, and terrorism."


Earlier this month I posted a horrific video which I had been sent of a stoning in Iran.

As it turns out, the stoning was not done in Iran. It was in Iraq. The moment a teenage girl was stoned to death for loving the wrong boy recounts the story of this atrocity.


The Berlin Wall executions.

Peter Fechter, an 18-year-old apprentice bricklayer, was shot by East German border guards on August 17, 1962 and left to bleed to death in no-man's-land.

"East Germany's ex-leaders always denied they had ordered soldiers to shoot people trying to flee across the Berlin Wall, even though hundreds were killed. Now the discovery of a written order to open fire on men, women and children has reawakened fading memories of the regime's brutality."

Read about it here.

On Burma's repression.

Vaclav Havel: "The international community's failure to act means watching helplessly as victims of repression in Burma are consigned to their fate."

Friday, September 28, 2007


Horrific photos that show the cold-blooded execution of Kenji Nagai, a Japanese journalist.

Times Online has the details, as well as a round-up of what is being done about Burma on the diplomatic front.

And the Wall Street Journal (subscribers only) has a poignant plea for help from a Burmese monk hiding in Mandalay. Excerpt:

He [the monk] emphasizes how much the protesters need support from abroad, bringing up the U.N. again and again -- almost as if by repeating the name of the international body he can will it to action. Yet he remains doubtful. "The international community, including the United Nations, cannot help us. It is very sorrowful. We are all in trouble just now. We don't know what to do. . . . We have a great hope [for] the result of the United Nations, but there is not any result. . . . International communities cannot overcome the Chinese power," he laments. China, the regime's biggest backer, has blocked tough action against the generals in the Security Council.

Upekkha thinks it would make little difference even if Ibrahim Gambari, the U.N. special envoy with whom the regime has spoken in the past, is permitted to visit. "He cannot do anything here for us. He comes here again and again." As the monk spoke yesterday, Mr. Gambari was en route to Singapore, where he hoped to obtain a visa for Burma.

"The United Nations knows very well the present situation," Upekkha says. "I think they will come to our country, but maybe after we die."

On the positive side of the war in Iraq:

Sulaimaniyah, the new Las Vegas.

Hard to believe, right? Check it out here.

The Taliban kill more civilians than NATO...

Spiegel Online has an interview with General Dan McNeill, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Excerpt:

SPIEGEL: Is the Taliban's information campaign more effective than that of the NATO and the Americans?

McNeill: The international audience does automatically believe what they say and I find that absurd. These people kill more civilians than any force amongst the Alliance or the Afghan army. They are hard core extremists. They behead people that don't agree with their positions.

What's going on, Canada?

Read how Canadians are discriminating against their smoking citizens and favoring only Muslims:

Vancouver's hookah-parlour owners are celebrating after winning an exemption Thursday from a proposed new bylaw that will ban smoking on most sidewalks in commercial districts, in bus shelters and even in taxis passing through Vancouver.

In giving the bylaw unanimous approval-in-principle, Vancouver city council members bowed to arguments that hookah lounges provide an important cultural space for the city's Muslims and granted them a temporary exemption.
Mark Steyn points out that the nanny state in this case is allowing Muslims in Canada to be "free-born adults".

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Help prevent a child from drowning.

Check out Diploquette. A must see for anyone who has little ones.

Bush and the Mandela quote: no, he is not dead.

For those who still believe that President Bush thinks President Nelson Mandela is dead, here is the background on what President Bush was saying:

Referring to former South African president Nelson Mandela, who led the fight against apartheid to become a symbol of reconciliation and hope, Bush said of Iraq: "I heard somebody say, 'Now where's Mandela?'"

"Well, Mandela is dead. Because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas."

The former Iraqi dictator, who was executed in December after his trial on charges of crimes against humanity, was "a brutal tyrant that divided people up and split families. And people are recovering from this," Bush said.

"So there is the psychological recovery that is taking place and it is hard work for them."

During key testimony earlier this month, US Ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, told Congress that Saddam had created a "pervasive climate of fear" across Iraq.

"No Nelson Mandela existed to emerge on the national political scene, anyone with his leadership talents would not have survived," he said.

"A new Iraq had to be built almost literally from scratch and the builders in most cases were themselves reduced to their most basic identity, ethnic or sectarian."

The Israelis ... blinded the Russkie antiaircraft systems so completely the Syrians didn't even know they were blinded."

Go here for an interesting take on why Iran is panicking and Syria is silent. It all has to do with Israel's deep incursion into Syria on September 6, and the faulty Russian anticraft system that Russia sold to the Syrians...

Ban Islam?

Daniel Pipes' opinion on whether to ban Islam:

I understand the security-based urge to exclude the Koran, Islam, and Muslims, but these efforts are too broad, sweeping up inspirational passages with objectionable ones, reformers with extremists, friends with foes. Also, they ignore the possibility of positive change.

More practical and focused would be to reduce the threats of jihad and Shariah by banning Islamist interpretations of the Koran, as well as Islamism and Islamists. Precedents exist. A Saudi-sponsored Koran was pulled from school libraries. Preachers have gone to jail for their interpretation of the Koran. Extreme versions of Islam are criminally prosecuted. Organizations are outlawed. Politicians have called for Islamists to leave their countries.

Islam is not the enemy, but Islamism is. Tolerate moderate Islam, but eradicate its radical variants.


In this day and age of moral relativism, here is an incredible story of selfless love: "Caroline Aigle would have turned 33 on September 12. The first female fighter pilot of the French military and future astronaut died of cancer on August 21. The country is still mourning her death and continues to be moved by her sacrifice: she was five months pregnant when she learned she had cancer and she chose to postpone her treatment so her baby could be born." Go here to read about her and see her beautiful photo.

Morales and the Gringo.

Here is a video clip of Jon Stuart giving Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, a platform in which to espouse all the wonders that Mr. Morales has been doing in his native land.

What I find disturbing is the way the audience reacts to Mr. Morales "achievements".

Jon Stuart's comment about the fact that the interpreter did not look Bolivian reinforced the stereotype of the stupid gringo who doesn't realize that not all Bolivians are full-blooded Indians.

The interpreter, by the way, did a great job.

Gateway Pundit reports on this adulatory reception of a lackey of Hugo Chavez, who is exploiting the racial and economic divide of his country.

We ought to be paying more attention to this growing resentment among the classes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The rare and radiant maiden...

is no more.

Photo by Michelle Malkin.

In 2002, Shiri Negari, 21, was one of 19 people killed in a suicide bombing in a bus that was traveling from Gilo to the center of Jerusalem.

Robert Stacy McCain, assistant national editor of The Washington Times has a beautiful tibute to her here.

"If the world keeps telling you to go away, that your power is despised and your culture is wicked, what are you to do?"

From downunder: To Bush haters and anti-Americans wishing for the US to "just butt out of careful what you wish for. You might just get it. And you may not like it when it happens."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Via Free Republic.

Iran's German enablers?

From Opinion Journal:

Why...the German obstructionism on efforts to contain a nuclear Iran? Business interests, of course, offer one explanation. Last year, German exports to Iran totaled about $5 billion. Though German trade with Iran has reportedly dropped this year by 20%, some 5,000 German companies--including major corporations like BASF, Siemens, Mercedes and Volkswagen--continue to do business in Tehran. As Michael Tockuss, former president of the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce in Tehran, boasted last year, "Some two-thirds of Iranian industry relies on German engineering products."
Still, however substantial, business interests alone can't explain Germany's refusal to seriously confront the Iranian threat. The men and women I met in Berlin are obviously concerned about the stability of the Middle East and the safety of the Jewish state, and recognize that a nuclear-armed and expansionist Shiite regime is a danger, ultimately, to Europe as well.

Perhaps another reason for German blindness on Iran is a misplaced sense of contrition. In insisting on engagement rather than confrontation with Tehran, Germans seem to believe they are keeping faith with the lessons of their history. All problems should be peacefully resolved; no aggressor is irredeemable. That was the message offered last week by German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger, who, even as he insisted that Germany was ready "if necessary" to confront Iran, quickly added that Berlin was prepared to give the Ahmadinejad regime "a chance to recover the international community's lost confidence in its nuclear program. If Iran is ready to do this . then I think we can spare ourselves future sanctions debates."

Meet Grimpoteuthis!

The deep sea is the largest ecosystem on earth, plunging to more than 37,000 feet below sea level at the Marianas Trench in the Pacific. It accounts for 85 percent of the space where life can exist and holds an estimated ten million or more species. "But we're still trying to figure out what's out there," says marine scientist Nancy Knowlton of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

A new book, The Deep (The University of Chicago Press), by French documentary film producer Claire Nouvian, may be the most comprehensive look at this mysterious world that we surface dwellers will get for a long time. The more than 200 photographs—most taken by scientists from submersibles and ROVs, some shot for the book—show just how head-shakingly bizarre life can be. The scientists who discovered the creatures were apparently as amused as we are, giving them names such as gulper eel, droopy sea pen, squarenose helmetfish, ping-pong tree sponge, Gorgon's head and googly-eyed glass squid.

Find out more at The Smithsonian Magazine.

US visas issued to immigrants from terror-sponsoring states.

Investors Business Daily has this editorial:

Immigration: Talk about confused. The State Department lists terror-sponsoring states, then lets immigrants from those states into the U.S. in the name of cultural diversity.
The GAO report quoted a U.S. security officer in Turkey as saying it would be possible for Iranian intelligence officers to pose as applicants and not be detected if their identities were not already known to U.S. intelligence.

In pooh-poohing the report, State noted that GAO investigators could find no documented evidence of immigrants from terror states committing any terrorist acts.

Maybe not from terror states. But plenty have obtained diversity visas from terror-friendly states.

Look no further than the post-9/11 case of the Egyptian terrorist who shot up the El Al Israel Airlines ticket counter at LAX, killing two and wounding three others.

Mohamed Hadayet was in the country because he had won permanent residency through his wife, who had obtained a visa through the Diversity Visa Program.

Both the Czech Republic and Poland are quite miffed because they cannot participate in the Visa Waiver Program, a program that allows nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.

To read the specific report go here.
To find out what the Diveristy Visa Program is all about, go here.

Monster germ.

"The germ: Salmonella, best known as a culprit of food poisoning. The trip: Space Shuttle STS-115, September 2006. The reason: Scientists wanted to see how space travel affects germs, so they took some along — carefully wrapped — for the ride. The result: Mice fed the space germs were three times more likely to get sick and died quicker than others fed identical germs that had remained behind on Earth." Read more here.

A call for the UN to lock out Ahmadinejad.

A poignant plea from Israel's Foreign Minister:

Hat tip: Gateway Pundit.

Iran doesn't have homosexuals?

Here's a 3-part video program done by Canada's CBC on Iranian homosexuals and their persecution:

Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad's agenda.

Anne Applebaum's take on the Columbia University fiasco: would have been wrong, once he'd been invited, to ban Ahmadinejad from speaking: To do so would have granted him far more significance than he deserves and played right into his I'm-the-real-democrat-here rhetoric. Instead, the university should have demanded genuine reciprocity. If the president and dean of Columbia truly believed in an open exchange of ideas, they should have presented a debate between Ahmadinejad and an Iranian dissident or human rights activist -- someone from his own culture who could argue with him in his own language -- instead of allowing him to be filmed on a podium with important-looking Americans. Perhaps Columbia could even have insisted on an appropriate exchange: Ahmadinejad speaks in New York; Columbia sends a leading Western atheist -- Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens or, better still, Ayaan Hirsi Ali -- to Qom, the Shiite holy city, to debate the mullahs on their own ground.

I realize that isn't likely. But neither is it likely that this past week's free-speech-vs.-nasty-dictator debate, complete with sputtering New York politicians and puffed-up university professors, achieved much either. On the contrary, it focused attention in the wrong place.

Instead of debating freedom of speech in Iran, here we are once again talking about freedom of speech in America, a subject we know a lot more about. Which is exactly what Ahmadinejad wanted.
Read it all here.

Anyone remember the movie Mars Attacks!? Blogger An American Expat has wise words relating to Ahmadinejad's arrival:

In an environment that eschews moral absolutism and embraces cultural relativism and the "diversity of opinions", Ahmadinejad will find fertile grounds to supplant factual reality and historical truth with propaganda that purports our history and the holocaust to be nothing more than a myth.

Read the whole thing here.

The nun and the hijabbed security guard.

Illustrating absurdity:

Read about it here.

"I’m a Muslim. I cannot tell a lie.”

If you are interested in watching the 60 Minutes interview with Ahmadinejad, click here.

Saudi financial jihad.

Rachel Elhenred, author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed - and How to Stop It, writes

Since March 2002, Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz has sued or threatened to sue in England at least 36 writers and publishers - including many Americans - who have documented his financial contributions to al Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups, through his Muwafaq (Blessed Relief) foundation, and the Saudi National Commercial Bank he owned. Everyone settled with bin Mahfouz, - except me.

England’s libel laws favor the individual’s rights over the public. They allow bin Mahfouz and other terror financiers, known as “libel tourists,” to veil in secrecy their funding of al Qaeda, other Islamic terror organizations and global propagation of radical Islam. British laws earned the U.K. the label—“libel capital of the Western world”—and rained wealth on Britain’s libel bar.

Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bip's final curtain.

The space age began on the chill evening of October 4, 1957.

Sputnik, a 184-pound (83 kilograms) aluminum sphere tucked into the nose of a Soviet R-7 ballistic missile, streaked skyward from its launchpad near the edge of the Kyzyl Kum desert about a hundred miles (170 kilometers) east of the Aral Sea to become the first man-made object to orbit the Earth. An epoch of exploration and discovery as momentous as any in history had begun. Humans would go on to orbit the Earth, float in space, and—most spectacularly—set foot on the moon.

Go to The National Geographic Magazine to read a great article.

Putinism: a Russian nationalistic authoritarian form of government that pretends to be a free market democracy.

Here in Eastern Europe, it has been noticed some politicians who take a Kremlin-friendly line suddenly seem to have more campaign funds. Infrastructure projects, particularly in the energy sector, that are perceived to be most beneficial to Russia's long-term interest more easily find sources of funding. Media sources and companies that follow a more pro-Russian line seem to suddenly prosper. The Putinists are not so crude as to leave direct fingerprints of the true sources of these funds.

A Russian or even an American businessman may be led to understand that his profitable Russian related business will only continue if he invests in certain specified projects, advertises in specified media, or contributes to specified social or policy organizations. And much of it is perfectly legal. Occasionally, this Russian influence peddling is more transparent, as in Gazprom, the Russian state's gas monopoly, hiring former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

In many ways, it is much easier for the Russian authoritarians to gain power and influence now that they have been freed from having to defend the indefensible communist political and economist model. For the most part, the Putinists accept the price system as the best way to allocate resources and motivate production.
Read the whole article here.

Che Guevara's "issues" visit Iran.

I had no idea these two were Che Guevara's children, Aleida and Camilo.

They are visiting Iran. John Hinderaker says: "Somehow I don't think we'll be seeing their faces on left-wingers tee-shirts." I agree!

Mulazam Manion.

He died for us.

"The American people must know we too lost a close friend and brother this day," said Iraqi Army Col. Ali Jafar, Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Iraqi Brigade, who previously spoke at Manion's memorial service. "May his family know we too lost family, and we share their loss, our loss."

Read Bill Ardolino's account of a real hero.

Sarkozy: France needs a new kind of immigrant — one who is "selected, not endured."

How France is dealing with the problem of illegal aliens:

A Russian boy suffers head injuries after falling from a window while trying to elude police. A North African man slips from a window ledge and fractures his leg while fleeing officers. A Chinese woman lies in a coma after plunging from a window during a police check.

As France races to deport 25,000 illegal aliens by the end of the year — a quota set by President Nicolas Sarkozy — tensions are mounting and the crackdown is taking a toll.

Read it here.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The banality of evil.

"Newly released photos of SS officers sitting in canvas chairs, participating in sing-alongs and enjoying their free time at a recreation home near Auschwitz have shocked many in Germany this week."

Read more at Spiegel Online, then move on to here and here. If you want to look at all the photos, go to The Holocaust Museum, here. And more about Auschwitz here.

Alex the parrot died at age of 31.

THE last time Irene Pepperberg saw Alex she said goodnight as usual. “You be good,” said Alex. “I love you.” “I love you, too.” “You'll be in tomorrow?” “Yes, I'll be in tomorrow.” But Alex (his name supposedly an acronym of Avian Learning Experiment) died in his cage that night, bringing to an end a life spent learning complex tasks that, it had been originally thought, only primates could master.
A shame, then, that he is now, in the words of Monty Python, an ex-parrot.

Magical Poland.

Discover the Seven Wonders of Poland.

Click on the photo below and click on any of the photos that appear. Then, take cursor to either top left or top right of photo and click to move forward or backward. It's a feast for the eyes.

The US and Iran are at war...

Should Columbia University invite Ahmadinejad to speak?

Columbia is one university that refuses to allow ROTC on campus or any U.S. military representatives. They refused a platform to John McCain and drove Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist out of the building before he even had a chance to deliver his message. Yet they are eager to hear the words of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the leader of a country that we will likely be at war with within the next 12 months.
But then, Columbia University did invite Hitler in 1933.

Hugh Hewitt asks
But what is it about academia that robs its elites of basic decency towards their fellow citizens that he would invite one of their murderers to grace the stage at one of the nation's greatest universities?

Click below and listen to the Death to Israel ramblings.

Read more here and here.

Creeping anti-Semitism and academia.

The way to anti-Semitism. This is the way it always begins:

Every generation has seen accusations that Jews have dual loyalties, promote war and secretly control political structures.
Read the article here.

The Pope on religion, society, and terrorism.

I have already read a few articles describing Pope Benedict XVI's speech to an audience with members of the Centrist Democrat International (center-right parties association from around the world), and he has been mis-quoted, or senstationalized to pit him against Islam.

The Pope never referred to any specific country or peoples, and only talked about the Catholic Church's values.

I also think he has sent us a very serious message: "For those of you who share a faith in Christ, the Church asks you to bear witness to that faith today with even greater courage and generosity."

So...judge for yourselves. Here's the whole text of his speech.

(21 Sept. 2007 -RV) Below is the full text of Pope Benedict XVI's remarks to the Executive Committee of Centrist Democratic International.

Mister President,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you during the conference of the Executive Committee of Centrist Democratic International, and I extend cordial greetings to the Delegates present from many nations throughout the world. I thank your President, the Honourable Pier Ferdinando Casini, for the kind words of greeting he has offered to me on your behalf. Your visit gives me an opportunity to bring to your attention some of the values and ideals that have been moulded and deepened in a decisive way by the Christian tradition in Europe and throughout the world.

Notwithstanding your different backgrounds, I know that you share several basic principles of this tradition, such as the centrality of the human person, a respect for human rights, a commitment to peace and the promotion of justice for all. You appeal to fundamental principles, which, as history has shown, are closely interconnected. In effect, when human rights are violated, the dignity of the human person suffers; when justice is compromised, peace itself is jeopardized. On the other hand, justice is truly human only when the ethical and moral vision grounding it is centred on the human person and his inalienable dignity.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your activity, inspired by these principles, is subject to increasing challenges today due to the profound changes taking place in your respective communities. For this reason, I wish to encourage you to persevere in your efforts to serve the common good, taking it upon yourselves to prevent the dissemination and entrenchment of ideologies which obscure and confuse consciences by promoting an illusory vision of truth and goodness. In the economic sphere, for example, there is a tendency to view financial gain as the only good, thus eroding the internal ethos of commerce to the point that even profit margins suffer. There are those who maintain that human reason is incapable of grasping the truth, and therefore of pursuing the good that corresponds to personal dignity. There are some who believe that it is legitimate to destroy human life in its earliest or final stages. Equally troubling is the growing crisis of the family, which is the fundamental nucleus of society based on the indissoluble bond of marriage between a man and a woman. Experience has shown that when the truth about man is subverted or the foundation of the family undermined, peace itself is threatened and the rule of law is compromised, leading inevitably to forms of injustice and violence.

Another cause highly esteemed by all of you is the defence of religious liberty, which is a fundamental, irrepressible, inalienable and inviolable right rooted in the dignity of every human being and acknowledged by various international documents, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The exercise of this freedom also includes the right to change religion, which should be guaranteed not only legally, but also in daily practice. In fact, religious liberty corresponds to the human person’s innate openness to God, who is the fullness of truth and the supreme good. An appreciation for religious freedom is a fundamental expression of respect for human reason and its capacity to know the truth. Openness to transcendence is an indispensable guarantee of human dignity since within every human heart there are needs and desires which find their fulfilment in God alone. For this reason, God can never be excluded from the horizon of man and world history! That is why all authentically religious traditions must be allowed to manifest their own identity publicly, free from any pressure to hide or disguise it.

Moreover, due respect for religion helps to counter the charge that society has forgotten God: an accusation shamelessly exploited by some terrorist networks in an attempt to justify their threats against global security. Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God’s name and harbour an inexcusable contempt for human life. Society naturally has a right to defend itself, but this right must be exercised with complete respect for moral and legal norms, including the choice of ends and means. In democratic systems, the use of force in a manner contrary to the principles of a constitutional State can never be justified. Indeed, how can we claim to protect democracy if we threaten its very foundations? Consequently, it is necessary both to keep careful watch over the security of civil society and its citizens while at the same time safeguarding the inalienable rights of all. Terrorism needs to be fought with determination and effectiveness, mindful that if the mystery of evil is widespread today, the solidarity of mankind in goodness is an even more pervasive mystery.

In this regard, the social teaching of the Catholic Church offers some points for reflection on how to promote security and justice both at the national and international levels. This teaching is based on reason, natural law and the Gospel: that is, principles that both accord with and transcend the nature of every human being. The Church knows that it is not her specific task to see to the political implementation of this teaching: her objective is to help form consciences in political life, to raise awareness of the authentic requirements of justice, and to foster a greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 28). In this her mission, the Church is moved only by love for humanity and the desire to work together with all people of goodwill to build a world in which the dignity and inalienable rights of all persons will be safeguarded. For those of you who share a faith in Christ, the Church asks you to bear witness to that faith today with even greater courage and generosity. The integrity of Christians in political life is indeed more necessary than ever so that the “salt” of apostolic zeal does not lose its “flavour”, and so that the “lamp” of Gospel values enlightening the daily work of Christians is not obscured by pragmatism or utilitarianism, suspicion or hate.

Your Excellencies, I thank you once again for this welcome opportunity to meet with you. Wishing you success in your respective missions, I assure all of you of a remembrance in my prayers, that Almighty God may bless you and your families, and that you may receive the wisdom, integrity and moral strength to serve the great and noble cause of human dignity.

Friday, September 21, 2007

"In black bags, chunks of flesh of Jews".

Here's a music video in Hebrew entitled "Hamas – The Apple of My Eye," which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on September 19, 2007, and was dedicated to the Arab and Palestinian community in Sweden.


This video helps visualize what IEDs are all about.

Via Powerline.

The Hezbollah crocodile.

As Winston Churchill observed, "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last." The Hezbollah crocodile has eaten half of Leb­anon and has laid dangerous eggs around the world. The EU must take proactive action, not wait for these eggs to hatch.
Read James Phillips' exhaustive report on Hezbollah and its threat to the EU.

American humor

by David Horsey

Katyn: a Russian perspective.

From Novosti, commentary addressing the Katyn massacre:

The facts of the [Katyn] matter seemed to have been finally established in 1990, when TASS issued its first statement on the Katyn tragedy. It admitted that the officers imprisoned by the Red Army during partition of Poland had been killed by the NKVD. Two years later, Boris Yeltsin handed Polish President Lech Walesa materials from a secret folder, which successive Communist Party general secretaries had kept under lock and key. This file included an excerpt from protocol #13 of the Central Committee Politburo session of March 5, 1940, which passed a death sentence on Polish officers, policemen, government officials, landlords, factory owners and other "counterrevolutionary elements" who were kept in forced labor camps (14,700) and prisons in western Ukraine and Byelorussia (11,000).

The same protocol ordered a review of cases, in absentia and without filing charges. As a result POWs from the Kozel camp were shot in the Katyn forest near Smolensk, while those detained in Starobelsk and Ostashkov were taken to local execution sites. In a secret memo to Nikita Khrushchev in 1959, KGB chief Alexander Shelepin reported that about 22,000 Poles had been killed. More than 200,000 relatives of POWs, and almost as many Poles from the "Soviet-liberated" territories were deported to exile in Kazakhstan, Siberia and the North.

These are hard facts. After 50 years of secrecy and cover-up, the Soviet and Russian presidents admitted the Stalinist regime's responsibility for this heinous crime.

Read the whole commentary here.

"When a lion is sick, there will always be a monkey who pulls its tail."

The Russian lion, the Polish monkey, and "new Europe's" problem:

Russian lion is not just flexing its muscles.
It has opened an attache case of cash.

Russians have bought up the Czech spa resort of Karlovy Vary and the Hungarian airline Malev.

They are fingering parts of the Czech energy giant CEZ and Hungary's biggest oil and gas firm, MOL.

They want Magyar Telecom and its subsidiaries in Macedonia and Montenegro. And that would give them access to the mobile phone calls and e-mails of a Nato member country.

This is not all new.

Six years ago, the Poles were shocked to find four fat fibre-optic cables running down a Russian gas pipeline, an information highway powerful enough to transmit the contents of 78,000 encyclopaedias a second - or simultaneously handle 38 million phone calls, according to newspapers at the time.

Read it all here.

New Polish Women's Political Party launches campaign with nude posters.

" Their electoral slogan: 'Everything for the future... and nothing to hide.'

'This poster is intended to shatter stereotypes in the anachronistic world of politics, which is more often dominated by uncommunicative men with their black tie outfits,' [founder and president, writer Manuela] Gretkowska told AFP."

Read about it here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Surveillance at work.

Employees, beware! Your employer may be spying on you...

Americans are trapped in a technological and demographic change that has increasingly pulled our personal communications into our offices. According to a 2006 survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, 54.6 percent of all married couples now have both husband and wife in the workforce, so those calls to the school principal, transactions with online banking and lovers' spats will inevitably take place using company computers and telephones—especially with the corporate e-mail market expected to expand more than tenfold to 130 million accounts worldwide by the end of 2010. And while a large majority of Americans actually favor more forms of surveillance for law enforcement, many of the personal expectations they still hold dear don’t apply when punching in 9-to-5. “I always tell people, ‘There is no true privacy in this country any more,’” says lawyer Sharon D. Nelson, president of Sensei Enterprises, a consulting firm specializing in legal technology and computer forensics. “And that’s more true at the workplace than anywhere else.”

You may think the data is yours, but the equipment is theirs, and employers reserve the right to micromanage all the bits and packets on their networks, computers and mobile devices.

Via Instapundit.

Refuting the "America as Rome" analogy.

From the Times Online:

It is helpful to think about Iraq this way. Imagine if the US had never been there; and that this sectarian strife had broken out in any case – as, one day it surely would, given the hatreds engendered by a thousand years of Muslim history and the efforts of Saddam Hussein.

What would we in the West think about it? What would we think of as our responsibilities? There would be some who would want to wash their hands of it. There would be others who would think that UN resolutions and diplomatic initiatives would be enough to salve our consciences if not to stop the slaughter.

But many of us surely would think we should do something about it – as we did in the Balkans more than a decade ago – and as, infamously, we failed to do in Africa at the same time. And we would know that, for all our high ideals and our soaring rhetoric, there would be only one country with the historical commitment to make massive sacrifices in the defence of the lives and liberty of others, the leadership to mobilise efforts to relieve the suffering and, above all, the economic and military wherewithal to make it happen.

That’s the only really workable analogy between the US and Rome. When Rome fell, the world went dark for the best part of a millennium. America may not be an empire. But whatever it is, for the sake of humanity, pray it lasts at least as long as Rome.

Battle of the sexes.

Thirty-four years ago Bobby Riggs chauvinistically challenged pioneer Billie Jean King to a tennis match, which riveted the US.

Read about it here and here.

Germany's tango with Iran.

Not surprising: "... a conference titled "Iran — Business Opportunities for German Exporters" opened several days ago in Darmstadt, Germany. The conference is reportedly a joint initiative involving the Hessian state government and Germany's Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. And, within the European Union, Germany has been attempting to block efforts by the United States and France to tighten sanctions on Iran, arguing that Tehran be given "a chance to recover the international community's lost confidence."

Read more here.

Isalm in Europe: the new Marxism.

Theodore Darlymple's take on what's happening in Europe: "...Islam is fast becoming the Marxism of our times. Had Fritz G. and Daniel S. grown up a generation earlier, they would have become members of the Baader-Meinhof Gang rather than Islamic extremists. The dictatorship of the proletariat, it seems, has given way before the establishment of the Caliphate as the transcendent answer to some German youths’ personal angst."

Terror camps and the law.

From Der Spiegel: "German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries has proposed making a stay in a terrorist training camp a crime -- but only if there is a concrete plan to carry out an attack. German commentators says the draft law is next to useless."

Intransigent Poland.

More on Poland's "moral decay": "The clash with Poland could undermine the EU's diplomatic efforts at the United Nations to introduce a global moratorium on the death penalty. Many nations, including the United States and China, continue to impose death sentences."

Read more here.

Hezbollah, Muslim missionaries and South America.

These are disturbing developments that Jose Brechner writes about in From Illych Ramirez to Osama bin Laden (English and Spanish versions):

In a nearer and more dangerous scenario which also has Venezuela as a starting point, Hezbollah in Latin America, also called Hezbollah Venezuela, converts to Islam any indigenous Chavista it can, because they are the ones that least understand what is going on. Evangelical missionaries have disappeared from the jungle because according to Chavez they are genocidal spies. Evo Morales in Bolivia repeats Chavez's same words.

Chavez has invited Iranian Shiite "missionaries" to convert the Guajiros and other indigenous peoples in Amazonia. The entire Wayuu tribe is now Muslim, women wear veils while men go to Kalashnikov shooting practice. Some have themselves photographed wearing suicide vests loaded with bombs, and the Venezuelan government distributes the photos, publicizing its friendship with Ahmadinejad and Middle East terrorist groups.

Hezbollah Venezuela refers to Jose Miguel Rojas Espinosa - the mastermind of the terrorist attack against the American Embassy in Caracas - as "the first mujeheddin, an example of strength and dignity in Allah's cause, the first prisoner of war of the Revolutionary Islamic Movement in Venezuela." The group is linked to Argentinian socialist-terrorist Norberto Rafael Ceresole, who is allegedly linked to the AMIA (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) attack in 1994, and who is the acting ideologue for Chavez and Morales's regimes of Socialism for the 21st Century.

Syria elected co-chair of the IAEA.

From The Jerusalem Post: "Two weeks after Israel's alleged bombing raid in Syria, which some foreign reports said targeted North Korean nuclear material, the UN's nuclear watchdog elected Syria as deputy chairman of its General Conference on Monday."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Reaching out on Ramadan.

This is part of the State Department's Public Diplomacy efforts. What I wonder, though, is whether this message gets through to the right people...

Albania and weapons of mass destruction.

This is a bit dated, but then, I had no idea... Did you realize that Albania is the first country to destroy its entire chemical weapons stockpile (18 tons!)?

Five years ago, Albanian defense officials discovered a cache of lethal chemical weapons left over from the Cold War era. Turning to the United States for technical and financial assistance, the Albanian government succeeded in completing the destruction of the 16-ton chemical weapons stockpile in July.

On September 1, in Tirana, Albanian officials and a U.S. delegation from Washington will commemorate Albania becoming the first country to complete destruction of its chemical weapons.
Check more about this here, here and here.

Poland's "moral decay"!

Something's not right with this picture...

Poland is continuing to veto the creation of a European day against the death penalty, further escalating its row with the rest of the EU club and earning itself an accusation of "moral decay".

On Tuesday (18 September), EU justice ministers failed to give the anti-death penalty day the formal go-ahead, saying Warsaw alone had objected to the idea.
The EU had planned to mark a European Day against the Death Penalty each year on 10 October – in efforts to add to the weight of the World Day against the Death Penalty celebrated since 2003 as well as to gain a new symbolic tool when talking to pro-death penalty countries such as the US, China or African states.

But Warsaw has insisted that the EU "should approach the subject in a broader way and debate the protection of life" – something that would also include issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

It argues it is not necessary to establish a special day against capital punishment because it is outlawed throughout the 27-nation union. Instead it suggests celebrating a "right to life" day.

The Polish justice minister is said to have read out loud the number of abortions in Denmark, Sweden and Finland during the meeting.

Danish justice minister Lene Espersen said after the meeting that the rest of the EU club was "annoyed" by the situation.

Minister Espersen is quoted as saying that "[p]olitically, we sometimes do make some horse trading to get things sorted out, but I quite frankly think it is an expression of moral decay concerning the rejection of death penalty..."

Read the whole story here.

"You don't have to be a "neocon" to fight for freedom."

A friend brought this commentary to my attention. The former Der Spiegel's Berlin bureau chief, Mr. Gabor Steingart, wrote an interesting article in the online Wall Street Journal comparing the current Baghdad with his city of Berlin. Excerpts:

When I was born the war was already over. The mission was accomplished, as we would say today. But the aggression was still alive. The interior of my hometown was divided into four sectors, and there were occasionally clashes at the borders between the sectors, resulting in injuries and even loss of life. Sometimes as a child I heard the rattling of machine-gun fire. My bedroom was less then 2,000 feet from one of the checkpoints.

Whenever my father and I came within earshot of a border post, he would always remind me of the iron rule of the early days after this war: Keep your mouth shut! A wrong word or even a silly grin was enough to cause big trouble for an entire family.

The situation worsened year after year of what was called "peace." There was no "progress on the ground," as we would say today. The rival groups in my city were absolutely irreconcilable, which is why the men with the Kalashnikovs ended up building a massive wall down the middle of our street. They tore down the houses behind the wall to make room for watchtowers and automatic shooting devices.

The city where I was born is called Berlin, not Baghdad. Thanks to the perseverance and patience of American soldiers and their commander in chief, Berlin is one city today, a free city truly at peace. But if pollsters, focus groups and other "strategic advisers" who don't answer to the electorate had existed at the time, freedom probably wouldn't have stood a chance in my city. The operative terms in those days were not "withdrawal" and "timetable," but "solidarity" and "strength." The most important word was "freedom" -- not "benchmark" or "exit-strategy."

If the supreme commander of the U.S. Army in Berlin had been subject to the same requirements Gen. David Petraeus is subject to today, the Americans would have had to turn the city over to the Soviets. Baghdad today and Berlin in those days are more similar than some would like to believe. The general contention is that the Iraqis, unlike the Germans, never had a democratic culture. Once you break the palace, by ousting the dictator, the elevator goes straight to the mosque, these people argue. There is nothing in between -- no civil society, no real labor unions, no real parliament or press.

That's the situation in Iraq, but that was also the situation in postwar Germany. There was no flourishing democratic tradition in my country before the Allies marched in. Adolf Hitler came to power, not by overthrowing a government, but through elections, because the Germans were poorly equipped to handle their young, fickle democracy. A majority considered discipline and order to be more valuable than parliamentary representation. Germany was a republic without republicans.

Iraq, so the argument goes, is a wild, mixed bag of ethnic groups and religious communities. Speaking strictly off the record, critics say that fanaticism is practically part of the human genetic code in this part of the world. What a contradiction! If there were ever a hotbed of fanaticism, it would be somewhere between Berlin and Munich. The Baath Party and its leaders couldn't hold a candle to the Führer in Berlin and his followers. Millions marched through the streets chanting: "Führer command, we will follow!"

Something to think about: In trying to win World War II we aimed to demoralize the German people, so they would accept total defeat. In this war, we have tried to help the Iraqi people.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wajda's Katyn.

Last night I was lucky enough to attend the Warsaw premiere of Andrzej Wajda's "Katyn".

Even though my Polish is minimal, there was no need to be fluent in order to understand the film's terribly powerful and poignant depictions of fear, frustration, love, anger, despair, revulsion, and propaganda lies .

The story is very personal. Mr. Wajda's father was one of the victims of Katyn, and Mr. Wajda based the story on the women who waited in vain for their men to return, just like his own mother had done.

Although many VIPs and the "gliteratti" were present at the showing of the film in the Polish National Opera, the mood was somber, and at the end of the film, the silence was truly pregnant with emotion. I could not see him, but I believe Cardinal Jozef Glemp said a prayer at the very end.

Also at the end of the movie a German lady said to me how lucky I was to be an American. Indeed. The burden of history is huge. These are atrocities that we can never, ever forget.

Go here to read about President Kaczynski's visit to Katyn yesterday, as well as to see some beautiful photos of the victims of the massacre.

And go here to see photos of the premiere.