Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Jesus Pizza Unincorporated

(Courtesy of Warren Ellis' blog)

A former marine who was raised by nuns and made a fortune selling pizza has embarked on a £230m plan to build the first town in America to be run according to strict Catholic principles.

Abortions, pornography and contraceptives will be banned in the new Florida town of Ave Maria, which has begun to take shape on former vegetable farms 90 miles northwest of Miami.

Tom Monaghan, the founder of the Domino’s Pizza chain, has stirred protests from civil rights activists by declaring that Ave Maria’s pharmacies will not be allowed to sell condoms or birth control pills. The town’s cable television network will carry no X-rated channels.

The town will be centred around a 100ft tall oratory and the first Catholic university to be built in America for 40 years. The university’s president, Nicholas J Healy, has said future students should “help rebuild the city of God” in a country suffering from “catastrophic cultural collapse”.

Yet civil rights activists and other watchdogs concerned about the separation of church and state are threatening lawsuits if Ave Maria attempts to enforce Catholic dogma. Environmentalists have also complained the town will restrict the habitat of the Florida panther, an endangered species. Asked recently about possible lawsuits in Florida, Monaghan replied: “That’s great. That would be the best publicity we could get.”

Monaghan, 68, sold his takeaway chain in 1998 for an estimated $1 billion...

I remember being told to avoid Domino's pizza during the 90's, when it was derided as "Pro-Life Pizza" due to the founder's donating to certain organizations.

Yet another sign of the country balkanizing. I wonder if the Founding Fathers foresaw this kind of thing when they imagined a limited Federal government?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Some Threats Are Bigger Than Others - Some Threats Have Bigger Mothers

Apparently the FBI and British “intelligence” quizzed Morrissey after speaking out against both governments. It’s not uncommon for the Moz-father to speak out against government, so what is the deal?

According to Contact Music, Morrissey explains, "The FBI and the Special Branch have investigated me and I've been interviewed and taped and so forth. They were trying to determine if I was a threat to the government, and similarly in England. But it didn't take them very long to realize that I'm not. I don't belong to any political groups, I don't really say anything unless I'm asked directly and I don't even demonstrate in public. I always assume that so-called authoritarian figures just assume that pop/rock music is slightly insane and an untouchable platform for the working classes to stand up and say something noticeable. My view is that neither England or America are democratic societies. You can't really speak your mind and if you do you're investigated."

(Courtesy of State of the Day)

"And now I know how Joan of Arc felt... now I know how Joan of Arc feeeeeeeeeee-e-e-lt."


Jadasc adds:

1. Well, he is sort of a dangerous character. Did his girlfriend ever come out of that coma?

2. After news of the interrogation was released, panics were reported in London and Birmingham. At least one discoteque was burned down; reports of hanged DJs are as yet unconfirmed.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Open Letter to David Horowitz - About Anne


You recently struck back at Al Franken for unfairly calling you a "racist." You challenged him to produce proof of the allegation, and - in spite of the "racist" photo of Al being taken down from Frontpage - I'm asuming he didn't.

I'm shocked, then, that you let Ann Coulter's insulting use of the term "ragheads" at the CPAC pass without any comment. You publish her columns, after all.

And I'm even more shocked to see that she's on Frontpage, using the insulting term "camel jockey" in a column you published.

Laying the absurdity of the epithet aside for a moment (Iranians are Persians) don't you think it speaks poorly of your record as an anti-racist to have someone using that kind of language on your page? Were you paying more attention to the furore over "The Professors" than what got published under your banner, that week? Or...?

I could just flip the bloGswitch and call you a hypocrite, but I feel I should ask for some clarification first. What is up with this?


(Sent to David's email on 2/23/2006. You could drop by his blog and ask him a similar question)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Warren Ellis on the Danish Cartoon thing

My perspective on the mess begins with the fact that these are shitty, stupid, evil-minded cartoons produced by obvious hacks for a conservative rag that would appear to embody everything bad about the word “conservative” simply by publishing the things. In a sane and ordered world, everyone involved in their publication would be taken behind a stables and hit in the face with a shit-shovel. Jyllands-Posten has a lousy reputation when it comes to ethnic tolerance, their intent to offend in the most racist and simple-minded way possible was quite clear in the commissioning of the cartoons, and their apology was mealy-mouthed at best. The test of free speech always lays in that which is hardest to defend. It really would be nice if maggots like these didn’t make the rest of us work so hard.

And after that I get really angry.

From his post, here

We can knock ourselves out, thank you

Responding to the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, the Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri, has announced a Holocaust cartoon contest. In response to that call an Israeli publisher, Dimona Comix, has challenged Jews to create anti-Semitic cartoons to show that a) A confident people are not threatened by cartoons and b) when it comes to offending Jews, we will not be beaten on our home turf!

From the blogpost here

See, now this is how you do it. When offended, the answer is not 'less speech,' but more - so long as you recognize that words have consequences you can't always predict.

First prize is "a piece of ...delicious matzah made from the blood of Christian children" Send in your entry now!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

UAE has "ties" to terrorism?

Well, this has just been the week for UAE news on the blog...

Come to find out that the deal for control of our ports is being heavily questioned, due to the UAE's "troubling ties to international terrorism, " As Think Progress put it.

Having lived in the Emirates for seven years - and kept an ear to the ground - I find this to be sadly amusing. I would argue that the UAE is not a country with damning "ties" to terrorism, in spite of what's been relisted here. But I agree that we should be leery of this contract.

The first thing you have to understand about the Emirates is that while their primary religion is Islam, Capitalism comes in a close second. They've always been about trade and commerce, and while this is a good thing, it sometimes creates questionable situations.

Cases in point (accusations snatched from Think Progress):

– The UAE was one of three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

That's right, they did. And they did not do this because they agreed with the Taliban's hard line, but because they wanted to maintain good relations with the country. There are a lot of Afghanis in the UAE, working in one capacity or another, and they wanted to keep the money going. They even criticized them when it became apparent that they were going over the deep end (the buddha bombing)

When the Taliban was involved in 9/11, the UAE gave them no political, monetary or military support during America's invasion. And when the new government was put into place, the UAE recognized it.

It's all about the money.

– The UAE has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Lybia.

Has it now? Probably for the same reason as this...

– According to the FBI, money was transferred to the 9/11 hijackers through the UAE banking system.

and this

– After 9/11, the Treasury Department reported that the UAE was not cooperating in efforts to track down Osama Bin Laden’s bank accounts.

Along with other middle-east banks, according to the letter Think Progress used. And that's the real kicker, here.

The UAE is very much in-step with its neighbors in that there is little or no real oversight of the banks or ports - not where it counts, anyway. This is also all about the money, and perhaps security: no one will attack the place where they can move their goods and launder their money, and the UAE is known to be a smuggler's paradise.

Again, it's all about the money.

As for the banks - remember BCCI from the Iran-Contra Scandal? They were headquartered in Dubai. In fact, I was shocked to learn - maybe a year or two after I'd gotten to Dubai - that the bank I was set up with upon arrival, Union National Bank, was made out of BCCI's remnants!

So I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about "terrorist" ties to the UAE (two of the 17? pfft!) Instead, spend more time wondering if this company is really on the ball, or if it's going to be remote-operated by people who will let their friends and business partners "habibi" them out of following protocol, or obeying the law.

That is, I would argue, a much more serious concern.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Yet even more on Dubai Cartoon Firing Fracas

The Good news is that Andrew Hirst has his job back - at least for the semester. He doesn't want to make any further comments at this time, and I can't say that I blame him. It must have been an awful shock to find out that he was fired because of someone's text message, and then another shock to find out that the University's President - and Minister of Education - realized he'd made an error and copped to it... however back-handedly.

I'm not entirely sure of the following chronology, but it looks like what happened next is that the students who were upset went to see Andrew and asked to change teachers. He told them no, they couldn't change classes because that was against school policy, hence his role in "defending" her. After that, they banged out a text message full of innacuracies - including Andrew's small, unwitting part in it - and sent it to their friends, who sent it to their friends, and around and around...

The text message eventually wormed its way to Sheikh Nahyan, and he made one of those "fire first and ask questions later" decisions that are all-too-emblematic of high-level governmental and economic decisions in the UAE. I'm told the head of the English Program at ZU, Bryan Gilroy, went to bat for Andrew and got him reinstated not long thereafter.

Claudia is still fired, though. And after corresponding with her, I've learned that no one's gotten the story right. I'm going to hold off on saying more on that until she's well clear of the UAE, though - she's been given time to settle her affairs, sell her things and head home, rather than being frog-marched to the airport, and rocking the boat right now might not be in her best interests.

Having said that, I think the way they've handled both the timing of her exit from Dubai, and Andrew's reinstatment, show that even they know a mistake has been made on their part. You would think that, having been accused of blaspheming Islam and defaming the Prophet - or "defending" that act - both her and Andrew would have spent Valentine's Day back in their home countries?

And yet they're not.

Put it another way: early on in ZU's history, we had an IT Guru (who shall remain nameless) who was hired by the university to create the programs it would use. The resulting programs were overpriced, wonky crap that no one liked, and the Guru had the personality of Rodney from Stargate: Atlantis, only without the charm. But the folks upstairs hired him, and only ever heard good things from the people they tended to listen to - including said Guru - so the staff and faculty suffered under the reign of crap.

Then the folks upstairs sent around a fact-finding team to look into how the budget was being spent. They were told pointblank - by someone who knew what she was talking about - that better programs were available as shareware. And maybe a month and a half later, the Guru was abruptly fired, and abruptly sent home. It might not have been a 24-hour turnaround, but it was not a leisurely, "affairs in order" deal, either.

There's some speculation as to the reasons he was fired, ranging from expensive incompetence to falsely-laid charges of theft. But why is it that someone being paid way too much money for their jobs - an everyday occurence in the UAE - gets the swift boot while overly-publicized "idolatry" does not?

I think they had to be seen to be doing something in the light of possible public outrage, and figured it was better to fire two people than have an angry mob outside - or inside - the school.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ye Liveliest Awfulness (#653245)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Danish Cartoons: Were we set up the bomB?

From a somewhat frothy post here

The first publication of the cartoons in Denmark followed in September 2005. This meeting was attended by the certified neocon fascist madmen Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle, and William Luti ­ all desperadoes haunted by the prospect of criminal indictment for their roles in the Iraq aggression, the Plame case, the Niger yellowcake forgeries, and the Lord Conrad Black embezzlement case. All three are fanatic proponents of the wider war against Iran, also in the hope of staying out of jail. Others in attendance included Dutch, Belgian, and Spanish royalty, top Eurocrats and NATO bigwigs (including NATO Secretary General Jaap Hoop de Scheffer himself) from Brussels, Rockefeller and Rothschild international bankers, and such all-purpose villains as Henry Kissinger. Another prominent participant in the Bavarian Bilderberger group was Anders Eldrep of Denmark, a Bilderberger regular over the last five years. This Anders Eldrep (or Eldrup),the chairman of DONG (Danish Oil and Natural Gas), is the husband of Merete Eldrep, the managing director of JP/Politikens Hus (JP for Jyllands-Posten), the Danish publishing firm which owns the newspaper which first published the Mohammed cartoons.

Fleming Rose, the editor who published the cartoons in Denmark, is affiliated with Daniel Pipes, who can only be kindly described as a rabid Zionist. Pipes runs Campus Watch, an organization that monitors and threatens professors in the United States who attempt to actually teach an accurate history of the Middle East.

In fact, Mr. Rose wrote an article for Pipes that is on Pipes website in Danish. The title translates as "The Threat of Islam." Please check it out for yourself: (here)

No direct proof, of course, but this makes things... interesting to say the least.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

More on the Cartoon Saga, Dubai

From this article here

An American professor at Dubai’s Zayed University was fired after she distributed cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed out of “respect” for freedom of expression, the local press reported Wednesday. The United Arab Emirates Minister of Education, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan, also chancellor of the university, sacked Claudi Keepoz, saying her behaviour “has nothing to do with the freedom of expression.” Keepoz had reportedly told her female students on Saturday that “we should respect this freedom,” as she distributed the cartoons, which have caused an uproar among world’s Muslims.

A text message spread the news of her act. “She accused Muslims of being narrow-minded and intolerant of others’ opinions,” it said. “Could you believe this to be happening in the United Arab Emirates?” “How long are we going to continue to glorify expatriates?” the message asked, referring to the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers who have provided the backbone for economic development in the Gulf state. One student’s mother expressed satisfaction over the sacking. “I was about to go to the university myself to punish her... It is halal (permitted in Islam) to kill her,” she told AFP, requesting anonymity.

And from this one here

DUBAI: A university in the United Arab Emirates has fired an administrator for supporting a professor sacked for distributing copies of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad to her students a colleague said today.

The colleague, who declined to be named, said Briton Andrew Hearst was fired at the same time as US professor Claudia Kiburz, who had tried to start a debate on the inflammatory cartoons with her students.

''The students went to Andrew to complain about the cartoons but he dismissed them and told them that their professor was right,'' the colleague said.

Neither article has the names totally right: it's Claudia Kiburz and Andrew Hirst. Claudia worked at Zayed University almost as long as my wife did, and Andrew was there right from the beginning. They are colleagues and friends, and saying I don't believe a word of what's being said about them is something of an understatement.

I can believe Claudia would take these cartoons into class, which is something I don't agree with, given the situation. But I don't believe she would openly say that Muslims are "narrow-minded and intolerant of others" - not to her Muslim students, at any rate. That's too mean-spirited for her to utter.

I also have a hard time believing Andrew would have simply "dismissed" the students, and told them she was right. I can see him listening to them and trying to explain what she was doing, and maybe offering to talk to her and see what to do next. But this article makes it sound like he blew them off, though - and that's just not Andrew.

My suspicion is that some of the statements we're hearing about what they said and did were cobbled together by rightly-angry students in an attempt to fan official sentiment and get them fired. It seems to have worked.

I have yet to hear back from either Claudia or Andrew. When I do, I'll let you know what I hear.

I'm speechless, but not surprised. I love Dubai, but my love is tempered with the understanding that all expatriates are essentially there to go. One wrong word, one wrong move, or one wrong thing and you can find yourself going from honored employment to a plane back home - sometimes with a 48-hour turnaround.

I hope they're okay.

Christ on a Bike!

From this article, here

DUBAI: A university in the United Arab Emirates has fired an administrator for supporting a professor sacked for distributing copies of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad to her students, a colleague said today.

The colleague, who declined to be named, said Briton Andrew Hearst was fired at the same time as US professor Claudia Kiburz, who had tried to start a debate on the inflammatory cartoons with her students.

That's Zayed University, where my wife was teaching, and I was employed in the Library for a time. Both of those people are known to me - very well, in fact.

I'm speechless. I have a hard time believing Andrew just "dismissed" the students' complaints, but that's what you get when it's however many students speaking against one administrator in a case like this.

Yes, I think we left Dubai at the right time.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Short Skirts in the Danish Disco

Here in Copenhagen, Rose, a tall and soft-spoken man, said he hasn't slept much in the past week. Interviewed in a quiet coffee shop just before midnight, he said his newspaper has received two bomb threats, and he got an anonymous e-mail telling him there was a contract on his life. He is guarded by police whenever he appears in public.

Rose bristled when asked if he had any regrets about publishing the cartoons. "Asking me that is like asking a rape victim if she regrets wearing a short skirt at the discotheque on Friday night," he said.

From the story here.

As someone who believes in freedom of speech, I have to support his right to publish these cartoons.

As someone who understands that speech has consequences, I want to cry him a river.

If you walk around with your wallet hanging out of the back of your pants, expect it to get stolen. If you walk around shouting "nigger" in the city streets, expect to get your ass handed to you.

And if you post pictures that are considered blasphemous to a religion that's known for easily offended followers and really extremist - read "terrorist" - branches...?