And here, Tony Blair has grown sterner. After September 11, 2001, he now thinks, he underestimated the power of the bad ''narrative’’ of Islamist extremists. That narrative – that ''The West oppresses Islam” – ''is still there. If anything, it has grown.’’ It seeks ''supremacy not coexistence’’. He fears that ''The West is asleep on this issue’’, and yet it is the biggest challenge. In Africa, all the good things he sees through his Africa Governance Initiative face ''this threat above all others’’. In ''Sudan, Mali, Nigeria, outbursts in Tanzania and Kenya’’, sectarian Islamist extremism is the great and growing problem. By implication, Mr Blair seems to doubt President Obama’s outreach to Islam, because it tends to deal with the wrong people. Since Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009, ''the whole context has changed’’. The Muslim Brotherhood is taking over large parts of the Arab world, and ''the people without the loudest voices are desperate for our leadership’’.
''We must engage, but also challenge,’’ he warns. The Middle East ''won’t achieve democracy unless it understands that democracy is a way of thinking as well as voting. The key question is how the majority treats the minority.’’
First of all, I refer to Canada's sports anchor, Brian Williams, not the American NBC news anchor.
I was watching the Olympics coverage yesterday and tweeting and getting quite irritated with Williams explaining to me numerous things I have known SINCE I WAS A KID.
But then, when the Israeli team came in he said, clearly and emphatically, that the murdered Israeli athletes from the Munich games should have been honoured with a minute of silence during the opening ceremonies.
So, I retract my snipey comments about Williams -- I have new respect for him. Plus, he has to sit with that moron Lisa Laflamme for hours at a time. That can't be easy.
In my Italian class last week, a sort of icky, uncomfortable thing happened. We were each reading aloud a headline from the online version of La Repubblica. Well, this was last Wednesday, the day of the Bulgarian bus bombing where Israeli tourists were the target. The headline read "Netanyahu: E stato l'Iran," meaning that Netanyahu said it was Iran. When the woman who was reading that particular story got to that part, she paused and snorted in derision, saying "yeah right," rolled her eyes and continued. And I mean, she said "yeah right" as though the idea that it could have been Iran was a completely preposterous one rather than the logical conclusion.
The whole class inhaled. I toyed with the idea of saying something but decided not to exacerbate the situation. I know little about this woman other than that she is from Central America, is a flight attendant and wears a pendant with Arabic writing. I know there are large Lebanese and Palestinian populations in some Central American countries, so perhaps that is a piece of the puzzle. She seems nice enough, if a little angry.
So, here is what I am wondering: tonight, in class, should I show her this? We know that Iran sponsors Hezbollah, yes? So in fact, it looks as though it was Iran, though again, even if it weren't, the conclusion was a logical one. What would have deserved a "yeah right" would have been if Netanyahu had accused Luxembourg of the attack.
(Don't worry -- I am not, for one second, considering bringing it up. I want to enjoy my Italian lessons, not have them be war-torn.)
Those few words are going to stir up a lot of emotion in France. Hollande was speaking at a memorial for the over 13,000 Jews rounded up in Paris in July, 1942 (the famous "Vel D'Hiv" round up or "rafle") by French police. There is a real law of omerta on this topic in France, and on the broader topic of French complicity (and even enthusiasm) during the occupation. Hollande is already getting grief for doing the right thing.
What is interesting -- and really, really sad -- is that it took until 1995 for a French politician to be honest about France during the war, and what is really shocking is that the politician in question was Jacques Chirac. Trust me when I tell you that there was nothing for Chirac to gain in doing what he did, so one can only conclude that underneath the sleaze there is some decency. And that is why, in spite of the many reasons for which I despise Chirac, I will always have some respect and regard for him.
The world is full of bad news, so it's time for another Shirtless Friday. Here is Andrea Pirlo on holiday in Ibiza (sorry for the stupid watermark), shirtless, shade-wearing and talking on his cellphone. I love his hairy forearms. Cheered up, everyone?
I've been wanting to comment on that anti-circumcision decision in Cologne. That is happened in Germany really gave me chills. I won't pretend to know what the judge in question was thinking -- I'm not suggesting he is anti-Semitic (and yes, I know the ruling affects Muslims, as well). But it seems to me there is something rather brazen about a German judge making a ruling along those lines.
It’s hard to see where this new mania came from. The medical and scientific arguments against male circumcision seem thin at best, and the process may even have various benefits (it can reduce the rate of HIV transmission).
The roots of this sinister movement probably lie in the split that divided liberalism over multiculturalism and cultural relativism, which was opened by the Satanic Verses saga. On the one side were the ascendant multiculturalists who saw Rushdie as inadvertently helping to demonise Muslims and their cultural rights; on the other, people like Christopher Hitchens who followed the Denis Diderot principle that people are equal, but cultural behaviours aren’t, and that liberals should not enable barbaric behaviour towards women (or homosexuals or atheists) just because the bad guys have brown skin. (You could look at it in Haidtian terms as a conflict over victims – non-whites v women and gays.)
The latter group of liberals took a more honest and principled stand and their view has rightly come to prevail; anyone who defended female circumcision these days as "cultural identity" would be laughed out of town.
That’s because people are not naturally moral relativists, and female circumcision cannot be viewed in any way as an acceptable cultural practice, violating all Western ethical principles, scarring women for life out of sheer spiteful misogyny.
But it’s inevitable that any movement that has been proved right and principled will then push its ideology too far until it too becomes intolerant and ludicrous, and the campaign against male circumcision is just one example. In theory removing a foreskin could be seen as a violation of a child’s rights, but that’s to take a theoretical liberal argument to an absurd and illiberal position. It equates genuinely horrific and immoral alien cultural practices with simply strange ones, which almost becomes an extreme reverse cultural relativism – all cultures that aren’t mine are equally bad.
I'll add one more thought here -- one that West doesn't articulate: uncircumcised penises look weird, ok?
In an emotionally charged press conference Monday, crazed Palestinian gunman Faisal al Hamad expressed frustration over the stereotyping of his people.
"As a crazed Palestinian gunman, I feel hurt by the negative portrayal of my people in the media," said al Hamad, 31, a Hebron-area terrorist maniac. "None of us should have to live with stereotyping and ignorance."
He then began screaming and firing into a busload of Israeli schoolchildren.
A 97-year-old Nazi has been arrested and I think that is good. Yes, it would have been better had he been found decades ago (and quelle surprise, he was living in Canada for a while) but this is about justice and even late, it is better than not going after it at all. I know people who think we should leave these old guys alone; I'm not one of them.
I always liked him -- good to hear that at 91 he is still mentally agile and on the ball about, well, everything. I like his comments about China -- I tend to agree in regards the over-reaction to their economic influence.
Mr. Shultz is not an alarmist about the rising power of China. He believes Chinese leaders understand their interest in having good relations with the United States. He is withering in his critique of those who would blame cheap Chinese labor or a cheap Chinese currency for U.S. economic problems:
"We are consuming more than we produce and we've done that a while and we're complaining about the fact that we have an imbalance of trade with China. But if you consume more than you produce, you have to import. It's just arithmetic. And if you spend more than you earn, you have to borrow. It's just arithmetic."
Mr. Shultz is more concerned about the Middle East, an area where he concedes even the Reagan administration struggled, "just like everybody."
My fellow Norwegian (well, Norwegian-American) Celeste Holm has died. Quelle career! She was in Gentleman's Agreement, All About Eve, High Society...She was often the best friend or sidekick, or the woman who wasn't quite as beautiful as the star but...I think she was lovely. Does it get much better than this duet with Frank from High Society? I doubt it.
Ed West asks a great question -- when is the Left going to get over Tony Blair? And on this side of the pond, I would ask the same thing in regards George Bush, still a crutch and scapegoat for so many, including Barack Obama.
It's really tiresome. West starts his column off with this:
Blair is back, and with him a throng of anti-war protesters, many no doubt brandishing that hilarious legend "Bliar".
Adds Dr. Barnard, “It’s worth noting that milk and other dairy products are our biggest source of saturated fat, and there are very credible links between dairy consumption and both Type 1 diabetes and the most dangerous form of prostate cancer.” Then, of course, there are our 9 million dairy cows, most of whom live tortured, miserable lives while making a significant contribution to greenhouse gases.
But what about the bucolic cow on the family farm? What about bone density and osteoporosis? What about Mom, and apple pie?
Mom: Don’t know about yours, but mine’s doing pretty well. Apple pie (best made with one crust, plenty of apples) will be fine.
But the bucolic cow and family farm barely exist: “Given the Kafkaesque federal milk marketing order system, it’s impossible for anyone to make a living producing and selling milk,” says Anne Mendelson, author of “Milk.” “The exceptions are the very largest dairy farms, factory operations with anything from 10,000 to 30,000 cows, which can exploit the system, and the few small farmers who can opt out of it and sell directly to an assured market, and who can afford the luxury of treating the animals decently.”
I have finally freed myself from needing cow's milk in my morning coffee -- I have found a soy replacement that is pretty good.. And almond milk is great on cereal. The biggest challenge is giving up cheese. Have not fully managed that yet...
I hate hippies and dopeheads. Just hate them. I'm glad we sent the men off to war. They came back with a sense of responsibility and respect.
Love it! Also:
Everything I do has a moral to it. Yes, I've been in films that have had shootings. I made The Wild Bunch (1969), which was the beginning of the splattering of blood and everything else. But there was a moral behind it. The moral was that, by golly, bad guys got it. That was it. Yeah.
One of the reasons I hate Quentin Tarantino movies is that they are full of gratuitous violence. At least with Scorsese, the message is clear (and very Catholic) - bad people will get theirs. (Still, I have to cover my eyes a lot during Scorsese movies.)
Yasir Arafat is still dead. True, he was once alive. I sat across from him in his Gaza office, for example. And he even had a copy of my history of the PLO on his bookshelf so he must have been of sound mind at the time. It’s not my fault. I told him to start jogging and cut down on sweets. But he didn’t listen. On November 4, 2004, he died, a fate he previously delivered to thousands of far more innocent people.
The effort now by various Palestinian factions to imply Israel killed him is the funniest thing in the Middle East since the U.S. director of national intelligence’s congressional briefing when he said the Muslim Brotherhood was a secular democratic organization. What’s dismaying is how much play Western media are giving this charge as if it should be taken seriously. When the West behaves in this way it signals at the least a dangerously naive credulousness and at worst a profound anti-Jewish and anti-Israel complex. The New York Times and Washington Post take this nonsense seriously.
Mind you, I would thank the Israelis if they had killed him, and ask them what in the heck took them so long.
In upholding Barack Obama’s healthcare law, John Roberts has done something which creates dramatic repercussions for Canadians. He has taken away our very identity. For decades, Canadians have been pathetically clinging to the issue of healthcare to prove not only that we are not Americans, but that we are better than Americans. So, how are good Canadians expected to foster a sense of superiority over the United States now that Americans are going to be forced to buy health insurance?
She was at the Calgary Stampede yesterday! Why would the Green Party leader be complicit in animal cruelty? She tweeted that she did not attend any rodeo events, but that strikes me as hair-splitting. The entire thing should be boycotted until the animal abuse is a thing of the past.
All the herons have fledged, even Fiver. It was so funny -- Four left on Wednesday and apparently kept calling to Fiver from the pond, as if to say "come on!" Fiver joined him yesterday morning. So lovely (they were particularly bonded in the nest).
Someone put together this great video of highlights -- these heron parents are extraordinary. Apparently for herons to successfully rear 2 or 3 chicks is the norm. This family managed 5. At the 2 minute 40 second mark in this clip, you see the first fledge and the wonderful, startled reactions of the others. At the 3 minute 07 second mark you see Fiver fledge.
It has really been great watching this family and now when I wake up early I have nothing to log onto online! Honestly, if I had all the time and money I needed, I would go back to school and study ethology. Between the street cats and these birdies, there is so much to take away about how not special people are (or, about how special animals are, if you prefer a positive spin).
I always enjoyed Mayberry re-runs and of course, Matlock, which I watched in many different languages when I lived overseas (I recall French, Japanese and Turkish versions). This is a great scene where Sheriff Andy uses one of Griffith's old stand-up routines to explain Romeo and Juliet to Opie. And please tell me where and when, in the history of the universe, there has been a cuter child actor than Ron Howard? (Speaking of, here is a tribute to Andy from Howard.)
Telecommunication giant Bell Canada is not sponsoring any rodeo events at the Calgary Stampede this year and an animal welfare group says it believes its campaigning had something to do with the move.
The Vancouver Humane Society launched an e-campaign in June 2011, urging the public to demand Bell stop sponsoring the rodeo. The campaign included a pre-written letter that could be sent to Bell chief executive George Cope.
The society says more than 1,200 people had participated before the page was taken down last Friday when the group learned of Bell's change.
"To us, it's a significant change," said Humane Society spokesman Peter Fricker.
"What we hope it means is that it's showing an increase in corporate distaste for the rodeo and obviously we're pleased that Bell Canada is no longer a major sponsor, or a sponsor, of the Stampede rodeo."
Of the five heron babies I have been watching, three have now fledged. The youngest two -- creatively called "Four" and Fiver" -- should fly the nest any day now. So I am checking in frequently, in order to see it happen. 'Twill be a sad day when our little Fiver is gone.
One of the great things about watching the nest is that there are two cameras on it from different angles, and one of them can be moved to survey the surrounding pond. One day in June the following sheer adorable-osity of a mama deer and her fawn was captured. Enjoy.
Along with other members of the Italian team, Balotelli had visited Auschwitz earlier this month before the start of the tournament, which is being co-hosted by Poland, and he was reportedly the player most affected by the visit.
I watched a news report of that visit, and was impressed and pleased that the team went there during their training time for the Euro. The English and Dutch teams did the same. But guess which team couldn't be bothered to go? That's right, the German team! Their justification was that their training ground was in Gdansk (the other teams were in Krakow, closer to Auschwitz) and it would have taken too much time out of their scheduled training to pay their respects.
Hmm...yeah, and that training time really paid off, didn't it? Especially when Italy kicked your asses. If I believed in God, I would call that divine justice.
Here is the Sky news report (in Italian) of gli Azzurri at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
I'm thrilled to see Pirlo getting so much praise and glory these days. He deserves it. But it's funny as he has been around for years and has won MANY trophies. In fact, I first declared my undying love and stalkerishness to him back in 2006, when Italy won the World Cup. If I hadn't deleted my old blog I would be able to link to a post that proves my loyalty. Here he is, looking -- as I have often said -- every inch the Bond villain. I heard an English sports commentator say that Pirlo looks like "a contract killer" and then adding that if he had been sent after Jason Bourne, the latter would have been killed. Just ask Joe Hart!