1936 Pontiacs and salesmen at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco:
The liberal left has found itself unable to criticise radical Islam - and now the state is having to step in. A powerful piece by Nick Cohen at Standpoint:
Like our supposedly alternative comedians, the middle-class left will satirise Christianity, as any Islamist would. Like the newspapers and television stations, it will not allow any satire of Islam even if the satire is as toothless as a cartoon of Jesus saying "Hey" and Muhammad saying "How ya doin'?" It will ignore the crimes against humanity of Islamic State while condemning every Israeli crime. (Goldsmiths College, London, is now so lost in anti-Semitism that it recently decided that commemorating the Jewish victims of the Nazi death camps was "Eurocentric" and "colonialist".) For all its supposed feminism, it will behave as any Islamist would, and allow religious speakers to segregate audiences with men at the front and the seductive women who might drive them from the path of purity at the back.
As with the schools, it was easy to think that the dominant left-wing culture would take decades to shift. As with the schools, those who thought that their little world would never change failed to see themselves as others saw them. The state, and the rest of society, could see the hypocrisy and the dangers of giving extremism a ride so easy extremists did not even need to argue their case.
Last year, in the first sign of new times coming, Labour and Conservative politicians slapped down Universities UK, the quango that represents all institutions of higher education. It had ruled, without a blush, that it was a breach of an Islamist cleric's human rights to deny him the power to segregate women at public meetings. This year, as young British men flood overseas to commit crimes against humanity, the state has gone much further, and already you see institutions scrambling to fall in behind the new party line. Last month, a London university banned an Islamist speaker, who had blamed "Western culture" for allowing "obscene, filthy, and shameless" homosexual impulses. On the same day, the Law Society withdrew its staggeringly sexist guidance that solicitors must tell their Muslim clients that women should receive only half as much as men in sharia-compliant wills.
I am sure the government has overwhelming public support, but fear that an oppressive culture imposed from above is no substitute for a genuine anti-fascist culture bubbling up from below. But then I must face the fact that there is a vast woozy mass of liberal-leftists who will never change, and would not fight back even if a bomb exploded in their own back yard.
I will oppose the state's attempts to restrict freedom of speech, as I hope you will too. But I will not let supposed liberals forget that, by their own cowardice and lack of conviction, they have brought this dismal moment on themselves.
Sony's decision to cancel the release of The Interview was perhaps inevitable given the threats made, but it's still hugely depressing:
Sony Pictures has cancelled the planned US release on 25 December of the film The Interview, after major cinema chains decided not to screen it.
The film is about a fictional plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Hackers have already carried out a cyber attack on Sony and warned the public to stay away from cinemas screening the film.
The US government said it was considering a "range of options" on how to respond to the attack.
"We know that criminals and foreign countries regularly seek to gain access to government and private sector networks - both in the United States and elsewhere," a National Security Council statement said, adding that the FBI was leading the investigation.
"We take very seriously any attempt to threaten or limit artists' freedom of speech or of expression."
The statement came after US media quoted anonymous officials as saying that the FBI had linked North Korea to the attacks.
The Sony attackers didn’t just siphon data from the studio’s networks, they also used a wiper component to destroy data. To do the wiping, they used a driver from a commercially-available product that had been used by other attackers before. The product, called RawDisk, uses drivers that allow administrators to securely delete data from hard drives or for forensic purposes to access memory.
The same product was used in similarly destructive attacks that hit Saudi Arabia and South Korea. Since some people have claimed those were both nation-state attacks—U.S. officials blamed Iran for the Saudi Arabia attack; South Korea blamed China and North Korea for its attack—people assume the Sony hack is also a nation-state attack. But the evidence pointing to those other attacks as nation-state attacks is also flimsy....
Regardless of whether the Sony, Saudi Aramco and South Korea attacks are related, the evidence indicating they’re nation-state attacks is circumstantial. And all of the same evidence could easily point to hacktivists. Our money is on the latter.
This is likely a group of various actors who coalesce and disperse, as the Anonymous hackers did, based on their common interests. But even with that said, there is another possibility with regard to the Sony hack: that the studio’s networks weren’t invaded by a single group but by many, some with political interests at heart and others bent on extortion. Therefore, we can’t rule out the possibility that nation-state attackers were also in Sony’s network or that a nation like North Korea was supportive of some of these hackers, since they shared similar anger over Sony.
Anyway US officials, according to the NYT, believe they have evidence enough to detect the hand of Pyongyang:
American officials have concluded that North Korea was “centrally involved” in the hacking of Sony Pictures computers, even as the studio canceled the release of a far-fetched comedy about the assassination of the North’s leader that is believed to have led to the cyberattack.
Senior administration officials, who would not speak on the record about the intelligence findings, said the White House was debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea of what amounts to a cyberterrorism attack.....
Officials said it was not clear how the White House would respond. Some within the Obama administration argue that the government of Kim Jong-un must be confronted directly. But that raises questions of what actions the administration could credibly threaten, or how much evidence to make public without revealing details of how it determined North Korea’s culpability, including the possible penetration of the North’s computer networks.
We shall see.
In the meantime, Justin Moyer in the Washington Post produces what may well be the worst piece yet on the whole sorry business - well, at least until someone at the Guardian gets their act together: Why North Korea has every reason to be upset about Sony’s ‘The Interview’.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Man Haron Monis, the Sydney gunman:
Monis’ message to the world—emblazoned in Arabic on a black flag held to the window of the Lindt café—was a classic one: “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger.” This is the shahada, the Muslim profession of faith, and it is the most important of the five pillars of Islam.
An umbrella organization of Muslim groups in Australia was not slow to disavow Monis’ action: “We remind everyone,” they declared, “that the Arabic inscription on the black flag is not representative of a political statement but reaffirms a testimony of faith that has been misappropriated by misguided individuals that represent nobody but themselves.”
To those who recognized the black flag as closely related to the adopted standard of Islamic State, the murderous organization that now controls large tracts of Syria and Iraq—an organization to which Monis claimed to belong—this “reminder” will not quite do....
The shahada may seem a declaration of faith no different from any other to Westerners used to individual freedom of conscience and religion. But as a former Muslim who would dearly love to see Islam reform itself (as Christianity began to do five centuries ago), I disagree. The reality is that the shahadais both a religious and a political symbol.
In the early days of Islam, when Muhammad was going from door to door trying to persuade the polytheists to abandon their idols of worship, he was inviting them to accept that there was no god but Allah and that he was Allah’s messenger, much as Christ had asked the Jews to accept that he was the son of God.
However, after 10 years of trying this kind of persuasion, Muhammad and his small band of believers went to Medina and from that moment, Muhammad’s mission took on a political dimension. Unbelievers were still invited to submit to Allah, but after Medina, they were attacked if they refused. If defeated, they were given the option to either convert or die. (This was the option given to polytheist fellow Arabs. For Christians and Jews—regarded as the people of Holy Scripture, People of the Book—there was a third option: pay a poll tax.)
No symbol represents the soul of Islam more than the shahada. But today there is a contest within Islam for the ownership of that symbol. Who owns the shahada? Is it those Muslims who want to emphasize Muhammad’s years in Mecca or those who are inspired by his conquests after Medina? There are millions upon millions of Muslims who identify themselves with the former. Increasingly, however, they are challenged by fellow believers who want to revive and re-enact the political version of Islam born in Medina. And unfortunately, Western democracies have been all too ready to act as safe havens for the preachers of political Islam....
This latest act of terror will prompt the usual claims that Islam is a religion of peace and the usual denunciations—as “Islamophobes”—of those, like me, who disagree. The reality is that Islam is both a religion and a political ideology, and its latter form is anything but peaceful. In political Islam, the assertion that there is no god but Allah is full of menace for those who worship another god or no god at all. I well remember my last visit to Australia, just last year, when I was greeted by a pack of baying Islamists carrying signs that read: “Message to INFIDEL Ayaan Hirsi Ali. BURN IN HELL FOREVER.” Those same thugs were also carrying a flag inscribed with the shahada.
Even when they themselves do not commit acts of violence, radical preachers are very often the instigators of terrorist acts that their perpetrators glorify as jihad—holy war, as waged by Muhammad after Medina.
To the extent that sincerely peace-loving Muslims wish to combat this trend, they need to do more than utter platitudes. They need to disown the likes of Man Haron Monis before they resort to violence, when they are preaching it. Unless this political dimension of Islam is acknowledged and repudiated, we will see no end to this type of terror, and no city—not even Sydney, more than 8,000 miles removed from Medina—will be safe.
Yes, it's three years since the death of the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il:
At midnight on December 17th, Chosun Central TV reported on “The Arrival of the Day of Blood Tears, December 17th,” covered by Ri Chun Hee, well-known for her emotional news delivery, particularly her two-day narration, in which she donned black mourning attire and continuously reported on events surrounding Kim Jong Il's death in 2011.
Here's a brief snatch of the poor woman, choking back the tears.
Broadcasts for the first and second anniversaries of the former leader’s death began at 8a.m., lending weight to assumptions that this year's early start seeks to underscore the importance of the third anniversary of the leader's death, traditionally the most important in Korean culture.
“We miss our Father General [Kim Jong Il] so much," Ri declares in the footage. "We long for his smile, radiant like the sun,” going on to extol his success in creating a “nuclear power and state that has launched a satellite into space.”
“In the see the all-powerful image of our General, hailing from the powerful grounds of Baekdu Mountain, within the form of our Marshal [Kim Jong Eun],” the narration went on. “It is certain that the future of Baekdu’s power will shine even more brilliantly.”
The broadcast video shows North Korean residents lining up in the severe cold as early as 2:20a.m., wrapped in thick coats and bowing their heads to pay their respects at Mansudae Hill, where statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il stand side by side. “This is the most important day for our people to cherish the memory [of Kim Jong Il], and despite the frigid cold on this December morning, our hearts are ablaze with longing and loyalty," it continued.
According to the broadcast, as of 6:00a.m., the low temperature expected in Pyongyang was 12 degrees (Celcius) below zero--five degrees below average temperatures for this time of year.
As they stand there in the freezing cold, the wretched citizens of Pyongyang will have time to reflect on all the joys brought to them by the glorious Baekdu line:
North Korea's per capita gross national income was less than five percent of South Korea's last year, according to data.
Statistics Korea on Tuesday said that the North's per capital GNI stood at W1.38 million (US$1=W1,088) in 2013, just 4.8 percent of South Korea's W28.7 million. The gap is even bigger than in 2012, when South Korea's per capita GNI was 18.7 times the North's.
The North's trade volume reached a paltry US$7.3 billion, up $500 million on-year but still 146 times smaller than the South's $1.07 trillion.
The South produced 55 times as much steel and seven times as much cement as the North, which are major indicators of the mining and manufacturing industries. The South also has 12 times as much electricity generation capacity.
There are 19.4 million registered cars in the South, more than 71 times the 271,900 in the North.
Statistics Korea for the first time published North Korea's import and export volumes.
The North had $6.5 billion worth of trade with China, accounting for 89 percent of its total trade volume. This shows that the North's reliance on China has deepened over the past decade. Until 2000, the North's trade with China stood at a mere 24.7 percent of its trade volume.
From the Times (£):
Egyptian authorities have closed a café in Cairo that is accused of harbouring devil worshippers, days after a religious body declared that the country was in the grip of a “worrying” rise in atheism.
Officials labelled the coffee shop in the capital’s downtown Abdeen district as a “den of satanic rituals” because so many atheists were believed to have frequented it.
Cairo authorities made the claims even though atheists argue that they do not believe in either God or the Devil.
Gamal Mohie, the chief of the Abdeen municipality, said that the café was well-known as a place for satanic worship, rituals and dancing. There were also satanic drawings at the entrance, he said....
“The situation is worse than ever because this government is trying to prove it is more Islamic and conservative than the Islamists they ousted. They are trying to constrict freedoms at the same time to silence perceived dissenters,” said Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher in freedom of religion and belief at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
The police raid comes after a statement last Wednesday by Dar al-Ifta, the government body responsible for Islamic edicts and the main office of the grand mufti, that Egypt was harbouring 866 atheists.
“The number is not big but it is still the highest in the Arab region,” Ibrahim Negm, the grand mufti’s spokesperson, said in the report.
Morocco and Tunisia were the next biggest hotbeds of atheism, housing 325 and 320 atheists respectively.
The unusually precise number of 866 was determined following an extensive survey, claimed Dr Negm, adding that the real number was much higher, because people were too afraid to admit publicly to not believing in God.
“Statistics show that atheism has increased here in the past four years,” Dr Negm said. Dar al-Ifta is monitoring “tens of active websites calling for atheism”, including Egyptians Atheists, Atheists Without Borders and the Brotherhood of Atheists, the report found.
At least five “atheists” have been sent to jail in the past two years, including two youths who were arrested a few months ago for speaking about the subject on television, Mr Ibrahim added.
We saw one of them, Ahmad Harqan, here.
The pressure on North Korea over that damning UN Human Rights Report continues to build:
A group of 10 NGOs advocating for human rights have submitted a joint letter to the UN Security Council Members in support of a separate letter sent on December 5th by 10 Council members--Australia, Chile, France, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, the United Kingdom, and the United States-- urging formal discussion of the North Korean human rights situation “without prejudice to the item on non-proliferation.”
The Council members called on the human rights violations in North Korea to be recognized as a security threat, citing the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea [COI], which found that the violations in North Korea “threaten to have a destabilizing impact on the region and the maintenance of international peace and security.”
The ten NGOs signing off on the support letter for the Council Members’ submission are among some of the most internationally recognized and active human rights groups...
The response from North Korea? From the official Rodong Simmun news:
The south Korean puppet forces are escalating the anti-DPRK "human rights" racket as their policy of confrontation with the DPRK is going totally bankrupt.
Those with normal way of thinking termed the anti-DPRK "human rights" racket kicked up by the puppet forces an anachronistic act of bedeviling the inter-Korean relations and increasing the tensions on the Korean Peninsula long ago.
The "human rights issue in the north" much touted by the south Korean authorities is nothing but total bull shit let loose by traitors, renegades and human scum for a petty amount of money after fleeing the north as criminals.
They are sadly mistaken if they think they can hurt the dignified DPRK through such propaganda full of malignancy and lies.
South Korean group of traitors' trumpeting about "human rights issue in the north" sounds no more than rabid dogs' barking.
Nope, not hurt at all. Not one tiny bit.
Elsewhere in Rodong Simmun, praise for the Great Marshal:
It is the steadfast will of the respected Marshal Kim Jong Un to pave an avenue for building a thriving socialist nation while creating a new history of construction in Songun Korea.
The monumental edifices which proudly go by the name of "people" in the history of construction of the DPRK are precious fruition of the policy of architecture centered on the popular masses enforced by the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK)....
Apartment houses for educators of Kim Chaek University of Technology and the Yonphung Scientists Rest Home were built in a matter of a few months to meet modern architectural needs with a good combination of Juche character, national identity, originality and convenience. They show a high level of architectural style. This is proud success which could be made by only the soldier-builders boundlessly faithful to the WPK.
The Mirae Scientists Street is now being built along the bank of the River Taedong into a world-class one and many edifices showing rapid development of Juche architecture appear one after another across the country.
A lot of monumental edifices meeting the needs of a highly civilized socialist nation have been erected. This would be unthinkable without the energetic leadership of Kim Jong Un.
It's just a shame when these buildings collapse through over-hasty and shoddy workmanship, killing the odd 400 residents. Still...omelettes and eggs and all that...
ISIS explained, in an interview with self-proclaimed University of California professor Jamal Al-Din Ibrahim, which aired on Egypt TV on November 19:
Interviewer: Thank you for bringing the film we just saw to our attention. The film [about ISIS] should serve as a message to all Egyptians, and the best part is that it was made by America itself. It is clear that he Americans decided to recognize that ISIS is Jewish-made, or Zionist-made, and that it got out of American control.
Jamal Al-Din Ibrahim: This has become common knowledge for American intellectuals, but not for the average American.
Interviewer: You are a University of California professor…
Jamal Al-Din Ibrahim: Actually, I've already left the university…
Interviewer: But still, you have a vast knowledge of culture, and it was your love for this country that drove you to discuss this. It is a kind of a warning bell. […]
Jamal Al-Din Ibrahim: ISIS has two meaning – an overt meaning and the true meaning. On the face of it, ISIS means "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria."
Interviewer: This is how they called it at the beginning.
Jamal Al-Din Ibrahim: Yet the same acronym can stand for "Israeli Secret Intelligence Service."
Of course! It's so obvious once it's been pointed out!
According to Ibrahim, it was all set up by John McCain. There's an incriminating picture - not at all photoshopped or anything - which shows McCain with ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi....who is, in reality, a Jew called Simon Elliot, trained by Mossad. Oh yes, it all makes sense. It's part of a cunning plan to drag the Arab world into a quagmire.
But how can the Jews have such power in America? Egyptian TV - where you can gain a whole education - comes to the rescue again, in the person of urologist and Egyptologist Wassim Al-Sissy, in an interview aired on November 28:
Psychological warfare should be countered by facts. How many people really know what Ben-Gurion said? Every news bulletin should start with the following: "Ben-Gurion, the first Israeli prime minister, said: We will not draw our strength from our nuclear power, but from partitioning the three large countries around us – Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, in that order – into mini-states engaged in religious and sectarian fighting. Our success in achieving this does not depend on our wisdom as much as it depends on the ignorance and stupidity of the others." He was referring to us. He wrote all this.
We should educate the new generations, who know nothing about history or anything. We should tell them how a country like America has become putty in the hands of global Zionism. We should teach them night and day, in their books and their schools, the truth told by Christian Congressman Herbert Spencer [sic]: "People, the Jews in our country have gained control of our stomachs, our minds, and our urges. All that is left for us is to change the name New York into Jew York."
Indeed, five million out of New York's population of eight million are Jews. Of the nine judges in the American High [sic] Court, seven are Jews. 70 or 80 years ago [sic], Benjamin Franklin said, when he saw that the Jews were getting their children into the lawyers' association and so on: "The undoing of America will be at the hands of the Jews."
We should teach them how America, despite being a superpower and all that, is nothing but putty in the hands of global Zionism, which strives to expand Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates, and to turn us into its lowly slaves. You are about to become an "Egyptian community" in Egypt itself. It is time you get that, you idiots!
The English-language Jakarta Post ran a cartoon, back in July, lampooning the murderers of ISIS:
Now, the predictable response:
Indonesian police have declared the editor-in-chief of a prominent English-language daily newspaper a suspect in a blasphemy case over the publication of a cartoon mocking the jihadist group Islamic State.
Jakarta Police Spokesman Rikwanto told reporters on Thursday that The Jakarta Post Chief Editor Meidyatama Suryodiningrat, 47, was named a suspect, citing witness testimonies and evidence, for his responsibility over all products of the Post.
The chief editor issued a statement late on Thursday, saying the newspaper did not commit a criminal act as accused, while a journalists’ group said the case threatens the country’s press freedom.
The cartoon published on July 3 depicted a flag emblazoned with the Arabic phrases “La ilaha Illallah,” meaning “there is none worthy of worship except Allah,” and “Allah, Mohamed and Apostle” on a pirate skull.
The police spokesman said they will summon and question Suryodiningrat next week as a suspect. The journalist faces five years in prison for blasphemy against a religion under the criminal code.
The police were alerted to the case by a Muslim group, called Jakarta Preachers’ Corps, after The Jakarta Post issued an apology about the internationally syndicated cartoon and a retraction from its website and print edition.