Monday, June 30, 2008

I have no words

And now the Nobel Prize-winning organization Physicians for Human Rights has released a report, called “Broken Laws, Broken Lives,” that puts an appropriately horrifying face on a practice that is so fundamentally evil that it cannot co-exist with the idea of a just and humane society.

The report profiles 11 detainees who were tortured while in U.S. custody and then released — their lives ruined — without ever having been charged with a crime or told why they were detained. All of the prisoners were men, and all were badly beaten. One was sodomized with a broomstick, the report said, and forced by his interrogators to howl like a dog while a soldier urinated on him.

He fainted, the report said, “after a soldier stepped on his genitals.”

The detainees profiled in the report were abused at facilities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Three said they had been subjected to electric shocks. One said he was stabbed in the cheek with a screwdriver and hit in the head and in the jaw with a rifle.

The sheer number of different ways in which detainees were reported to have been abused was mind-boggling. They were deprived of sleep, forced to endure extremes of heat and cold, chained in crouching positions for 18 to 20 hours at a time, told that their female relatives would be raped, that they themselves would be killed, and on and on.

Nearly all of the detainees profiled in the report have experienced excruciating psychological difficulties since being released. Several said that they had contemplated suicide. As one put it: “No sorrow can be compared to my torture experience in jail. That is the reason for my sadness.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nasa scientist: 'We're toast' without drastic action on global warming

Exactly 20 years after warning America about global warming, a top NASA scientist said the situation has gotten so bad that the world's only hope is drastic action.

James Hansen told Congress on Monday that the world has long passed the "dangerous level" for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and needs to get back to 1988 levels.

He said Earth's atmosphere can stay this loaded with man-made carbon dioxide for only a couple more decades without changes such as mass extinction, ecosystem collapse and dramatic sea level rises.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gustav Klimt, the Tree of Life, 1909

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bolton: Israel Will Attack Iran After U.S. Election But Before Inauguration, Arab States Will Be ‘Delighted’»

This morning on Fox News, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton continued his drumbeat for war against Iran. Adopting Bill Kristol’s argument, Bolton suggested that an attack on Iran depends on who Americans elect as the next President:

I think if they [Israel] are to do anything, the most likely period is after our elections and before the inauguration of the next President. I don’t think they will do anything before our election because they don’t want to affect it. And they’d have to make a judgment whether to go during the remainder of President Bush’s term in office or wait for his successor.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why the U.S. will attack Iran: the dollar

Tell Congress to combat world hunger

Recently, worldwide increases in food prices have triggered a global surge in hunger. But even before the current crisis, hunger had been on the rise. The truth is that long-standing U.S. food aid programs haven't proven effective in reducing chronic hunger. The U.S. needs to respond to the crisis and begin to change the U.S. approach to hunger by addressing its underlying causes.

Congress is currently debating the FY08-09 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill which includes two important provisions that can make inroads in the global hunger crisis. Take a moment to contact your representative and encourage them to take a stand on this important issue.

Tell your representative here.

Salvador Dali, Woman at the window, 1925

Ex-State Dept. official: Hundreds of detainees died in U.S. custody, at least 25 murdered.»

At today’s House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights hearing on torture, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, told Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody, with up to 27 of these declared homicides:


I'm voting republican

It's a joke, people, I would rather cut my head off than vote republican.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gay brains structured like those of the opposite sex

Brain scans have provided the most compelling evidence yet that being gay or straight is a biologically fixed trait.

The scans reveal that in gay people, key structures of the brain governing emotion, mood, anxiety and aggressiveness resemble those in straight people of the opposite sex।

The differences are likely to have been forged in the womb or in early infancy, says Ivanka Savic, who conducted the study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden।

Previous studies have also shown differences in brain architecture and activity between gay and straight people, but most relied on people's responses to sexuality driven cues that could have been learned, such as rating the attractiveness of male or female faces.
Help Ban cluster bombs now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Iraqis Condemn American Demands

"The Americans are making demands that would lead to the colonization of Iraq," said Sami al-Askari, a senior Shiite politician on parliament's foreign relations committee who is close to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "If we can't reach a fair agreement, many people think we should say, 'Goodbye, U.S. troops. We don't need you here anymore.' "

On Angry Arabs, virgins, and shoes, cont.

I sent As'ad my previous post and he responded (he didn't want me to publish his response). And I responded with this:

Okay, so say in your post that you think there are more important issues to Arab women. But you seem to imply in the post that the Times is making this up. And of course, which issue is the most to Arab women depends on the woman. If it is a woman whose lack of virginity is going to get her killed, that issue is probably the most important to her. And also, this article focuses on European-Arab women, for whom poverty (and war) may not be as important an issue. I didn't know it was on the front page on the Times, I only read it online. If a precondition for a woman to get married and have a family and be supported and be a respected part of her community is to have an operation, then this is a very important issue for women. And it is noteworthy also that European-born Muslim women still have not escaped this control of their sexuality and their body. It may be true that the media ignores issues of poverty and war that are caused by the West in favor of these types of issues, however, it is still wrong to dismiss the issue out of hand as you did, especially for someone calling himself a feminist. I know it is easy to get angry at the constant negative portrayal of Arabs and Muslims, and I do myself. But we cannot say that we must deal with issues of war, poverty, etc. before we deal with issues that are exclusive to women. Also, the article tries not to pin the blame on Muslim men, quoting this member of an Islamic center: “The man is the biggest of all the donkeys,” said Abdelkibir Errami, the center’s vice president. “Even if the woman was no longer a virgin, he had no right to expose her honor. This is not what Islam teaches. It teaches forgiveness.”

On Angry Arabs, virgins, and shoes

I have trouble understanding As'ad's problem with the media mentioning the fact that beating someone with your shoes is considered an insult in Islamic culture. Yes, of course, hitting someone with a shoe would be considered an insult in Western culture, too. But it would not be imbued with the same meaning. And westerners never talk about it. Yet you do hear Arabs and Muslims use it as a threat, insult, and also playfully. My own husband said, jokingly, to me the other day that if one of his friends did not stop talking about a particular subject, he would take off his shoe and beat the friend with it. He has also told me that adults in his family would use shoe beating as a threat to unruly children (perhaps this was in a joking manner as well). And I have an Egyptian friend who will sometimes say "ya gasma" to me (calling me shoes in the Egyptian dialect). So the question is why does As'ad object to the media mentioning this from time to time? Is it because he thinks it makes Islamic culture seem inferior? I do not it does. Is it because it is often remarked on by those who have very little knowledge of Islamic culture except this one aspect? Why would that be so bad? Similar to his dislike of the mentioning of shoes was his posting of the article on hymen reconstruction among European Muslim women? Was there anything factually wrong with the article? Unfortunately, hymen reconstruction is a reality. That is what should bother As'ad (and since he is a feminist, I am sure that it does), not the article. I know the "Orientalism" line of thinking via Edward Said is that all Western writing on Islamic culture is politically driven, but isn't there room for nuanced thought on this issue? Can no western anthropologist or journalist be a disinterested observer? I will add more thoughts on this later.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Good new Masr

EGYPT: Parliament criminalizes female circumcision

Although it was banned years ago, female genital mutilation remains widely practiced in Egypt. About 70% of Egyptian girls are believed to have undergone it. The promulgation of the new penalties came on the heels of the death of a 12-year-old girl in Upper Egypt while undergoing the procedure last summer.

70% of Egypt's 40 million women are genitally mutilated. How appalling.

The Cocktail Napkin Plan for Regime Change in Iran

Enlisting high-level contacts in the White House, Pentagon and Congress, Iran-Contra figure Michael Ledeen relentlessly pushed a freelance intelligence collection and Iran regime change plan on behalf of another veteran of the scandal, according to a report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (PDF) released Thursday.

The proposed plan to change the Iran regime, which requested $5 million in initial "seed" money from the U.S. government, was outlined on a cocktail napkin by Iran contra arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar at a Rome bar during a three-day meeting in December 2001 that brought the Iran contra actors together with two officials from the Pentagon. The Pentagon officials’ attendance at the meeting was authorized by Stephen Hadley, now the top White House national security advisor, the report found. Revelations that Iran Contra figures Ledeen and Ghorbanifar were involved in a new channel to the Bush administration set off alarm bells throughout the US government, and prompted multiple inquiries into whether the channel amounted to an unauthorized covert action and a possible counterintelligence threat. The latter issue was never resolved, after a top Pentagon official shut down the counterintelligence inquiry only a month after it had begun.

What does it mean to be Islamic now?

Few Australian Catholics would recognise the popular beliefs and practices of their Latin American co-religionists.

So if I were to make an ambit criticism of Christianity based on the extreme poverty and draconian politics of Latin America, Catholics would be justified in poking their fingers at me and ridiculing my simplistic reasoning. But among those pointing at me in ridicule would be the polemicists and cultural warriors with three fingers pointing back at themselves. Google jihad. Featuring prominently is JihadWatch, a blog moderated by far-right Catholic polemicist Robert Spencer.

It takes a certain degree of intellectual laziness (often combined with irrational prejudice) to attribute negative characteristics to an entire group of people, especially when members of this group rarely, if ever, regard themselves as sharing some uniform identity.

Do entities such as the Muslim community or the Muslim world really exist? Do all Muslims regard themselves as belonging to the same community of believers? Indeed, do all Muslims regard each other as Muslims? If so, how do we explain the rhetoric of Iraqi Sunni groups who attack Shia Muslim shrines with a view to destroying the infidel? And how do we explain that an elderly Lakemba-based imam who once claimed the title of mufti of Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific wasn't recognised by many Australian Muslims as playing any religious role whatsoever?

Yet we still see, hear and read of the Muslim community and the Muslim world having a uniform manifestation of faith in a monolithic (usually violent and hostile) manner. We so easily lump together 1.2 billion people in the same category. Riaz Hassan, a sociology professor at Flinders University, argues that the tendency to generalise about Muslims is caused largely by the lack of empirical research.

From the Angry Arab:

I like it that Zionist fanatics have become--particularly since Sep. 11--quite open about their bigotry and racism. Here is Benny Morris: "Reading Avi Shlaim's review of my book 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War ("No sentiments in war", May 31), I was less than happy with his accusation or hint of (my) anti-Arab "racism". I have nothing against, nor find anything wrong with, the Arab "race". But I do find much that is appalling about Muslim Arab culture, society and politics - the intolerance towards women, homosexuals, Jews, Christians, Hindus, indeed towards anything and anyone who is different." This is exactly like Nazi anti-Semites who used to say that they did not hate Jews but that they hated "Jewish culture." And what is the "Muslim Arab culture"? And don't you like those people who are uniquely and selectively sensitive about individual rights but only as a justification for their bigotry. These are people who vote for racist, sexist, and homophoebic parties in their home countries but feign concern for individual rights to justify their hatred of Muslims. (thanks Hugh)

Between a rock and jihad place?

I don't normally have much time for interfaith dialogue, two words guaranteed to send me to sleep, but at this level they can help shape policy and attitude. It's not about learning what day the Jewish sabbath is on or why Christians celebrate Easter. It has to be about how people of different religions can live together without antagonising each other, either because their government or spiritual leadership says it's ok. The grand mufti is the highest religious official in Saudi and his support of Abdullah's outreach programme is a good sign. But there are some serious obstacles in the way, namely Saudi Arabia.

The king hasn't publicly declared which clerics back his interfaith initiative and having Rafsanjani on the same stage won't have helped his cause either. There's a bunch of Saudi clerics that hate Shias, especially the Iranian variety, and Rafsanjani's rant made it clear that cooperation with the west, and handing over your natural resources to them, is totally untenable.

Who could he be referring to? The person on his right - the King. It's not just a Saudi thing either. It's a Turkish thing too. In Istanbul you have the leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians, Patriarch Bartholomew I. By law, he can't appear on the streets in his robes and his bishops have to keep renewing their tourist visas so they can stay in Turkey. They don't have work permits or residency.

There's not much interfaith or dialogue going on in either of these places and attitudes like these – dogmatic, intolerant and inflexible – are the very opposite of what is needed in places where Islam is the majority religion. It's all very well saying that you accept difference, but what matters is whether you embrace it instead of stifling it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Leonora Carrington, El mundo magico de las Mayas

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Gustave Moreau, Salome dancing before Herod, 1876

French Judge Agrees to Annul Muslim Marriage Because Woman Not a Virgin

A French judge agreed to a man's request to have his marriage annulled because his wife was not a virgin. According to BBC News, the court ruled that her previous claim of virginity was essential to his decision to marry her, and once he discovered that she was not a virgin, he was justified in asking the court for an annulment. According to the Associated Press the decision was made in April, but only became public this week.

Reuters reports that both the man and woman in this case are Muslim and that there has been a public outcry against this decision as well as fear that religious beliefs are seeping into French courts. The French Urban Affairs Minister, Fadela Amara, told the Associated Press that this "is a real fatwa against the emancipation and liberty of women." President Sarkozy's governing party (UMP) has officially denounced the ruling, according to Reuters.

According to the Associated Press, critics condemned the case because it treats women as commodities that may be discarded for so-called "hidden defects."

I consider myself a feminist, however, if a marriage was entered under false pretenses, why shouldn't it be annulled? A lie is a lie, however insignificant we may consider it. -molly

Friday, June 6, 2008

Lascaux, 16,000 BCE (before common era)

The sperm remote

The remote control, implanted device will allow users to 'press pause' on their sperm. (although it doesn't mention whether a 'rewind' function is in the works). The device has been developed by Australian scientists, and could herald a new dawn of even more convenient contraception for men, which has the potential to keep population growth under control more effectively.

seems almost like a hoax...

From the Angry Arab

"During the five years the United States has occupied Iraq, the Bush administration has created a new state with a number of notable features: A venal, dysfunctional government. A terrorist haven and training ground. A nation so violent and dangerous that 10 percent of the population has fled. Add to that a new hallmark: Nearly the most corrupt nation on Earth."

From the Angry Arab

A what unto the nations??? "Israel lags behind Sudan, Pakistan in number of women in legislature" (By the way, notice the racism embedded in the headline. I am sure that the racist headliners of Haaretz would be shocked to know that an African country is the number one country in the number of women in legsilatures).

KSM and codefendants to respresent themselves

"Kohlmann also had a surreal conversation with the five defendants toward the end of the hearing, discussing with them the parameters for them to review and handle classified evidence if they do represent themselves. Military prosecutors said with no apparent irony that they are prepared to hand over classified materials to the nation's arch enemies, although it is unclear whether the detainees would have access to witnesses or how a detainee would handle top-secret CIA materials.

"There will not be evidence they will not see," said Army Col. Lawrence J. Morris, the chief prosecutor for military commissions. Human rights advocates were skeptical, however.

From the Angry Arab

Jon Stewart goes to AIPAC.

From the Angry Arab

How do you know that the Bush Doctrine is dying? Look no further: "The White House on Thursday declined to criticize Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's appeal for reconciliation talks between his party and Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip last June." (thanks Electronic Ali)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Islamic Cleric: We never get anything done due to prayer

According to an official study, Egypt's six million government employees are estimated to spend an average of only 27 minutes per day actually working, reflecting a real problem with productivity...

Qaradawi, Al Jazeera's talking head cleric, has a few ideas to help shorten the prayer time: Muslims can do the mandatory pre-prayer wash at home before reaching the office, instead of in the office toilets during working hours.

"To save some time, they can also just put some water over their socks, instead of taking (socks) off to wash the feet," Qaradawi says in his fatwa...
From the Angry Arab: "“The Bush doctrine, on the surface of it, was about the spread of democracy … but I think in reality, the Bush doctrine has been translated into the eruption of civil wars in places as far away as Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan, [and] Iraq,” AbuKhalil said. “[McCain and Obama] are not going to end the empire but they’re going to make, in some ways more dangerous, the empire be more intelligently run and managed than it is now.”"
All right, I will link to each of As'ad's items from now on.
Does anyone have any comments on the upcoming Khalid Sheik Mohammed trial? How is it that it is the main item on the BBC news website and I actually had to use the search function to find it on the Times website. Although it is CNN's top item., with a focus on KSM's desired "martyrdom". Is this because his desire for martyrdom makes it look like we are giving him what he wants and thus only creating another Al Qaeda martyr/hero? I hear Mr Mohammed no longer looks like he's been training for a samosa-eating contest.

El Encuentro, Remedios Varo,1959
Okay, I guess I will restart since As'ad linked...Btw, I changed the title to Angry Arabs' comments section, so people would not think I was using an apostrophe to pluralize, as about 40% of Americans seem to do.