An unfamiliar view of the Hong Kong skyline:
Jordanian-Palestinian cleric Mashhoor bin Hassan on the fires in Israel:
"May Allah rid the Muslims of the evil of the Jews. By Allah the Jews are behind all the wars and fitna on the face of the Earth."
You can also check out the esteemed cleric last year as he deals with the tricky question, "can a woman have sex with her slave?" Basically, no - only if she marries him, in which case he becomes her master. There follows some learned exegesis on the difference between men and women:
A man gets 70 virgins in Paradise, but what does a woman get? One young man. The Prophet Muhammed said: "The dwellers of Paradise have clothing that never wears out, youth that never wanes, and a penis that never bends." The woman gets a man full of virility with a penis that never bends, so she can have sex with this strong man, but she cannot have multiple men taking turns with her.
We never had sermons like this in the C of E.
Well yes. Andrew Roberts in the Spectator:
Why are left-wing dictators always treated with more reverential respect when they die than right-wing ones, even on the Right? The deaths of dictators like Franco, Pinochet, Somoza are rightly noted with their history of human rights abuses front and centre, but the same treatment is not meted out to left-wing dictators who were just as monstrously cruel to people who opposed their regimes.
The death of Fidel Castro is a perfect case in point. BBC News described him as ‘one of the world’s longest-serving and most iconic leaders’ only mentioning in the fourth paragraph that ‘Critics saw him as a dictator’. Critics?! What other objective noun is there for a man who held no free nor fair elections for half a century, imprisoned his political opponents after trials presided over by crony judges, completely controlled all the national media and installed his brother as his successor?
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation documented more than 8,600 politically motivated detentions of government opponents and activists during the year. Despite that, the Guardian announced that ‘The revolutionary icon, one of the world’s best-known and most controversial leaders, survived countless US assassination attempts and premature obituaries, but in the end proved mortal.’ In its 11th paragraph it mentioned ‘concerns over human rights under the Castro regime,’ but only insofar as they were mentioned by Francois Hollande rather than the paper itself. Any reader would have been forgiven for thinking that Castro was ‘controversial’ not for his vicious dictatorship and use of torture but simply because the CIA didn’t like his Marxism-Leninism.
I imagine that is precisely what most Guardian readers actually believe.
The Guardian obituary - eulogy, rather - is written by Richard Gott.
A charismatic figure from the developing world, his influence was felt far beyond the shores of Cuba. Known as Fidel to friends and enemies alike, his life story is inevitably that of his people and their revolution. Even in old age, he still exercised a magnetic attraction wherever he went, his audience as fascinated by the dinosaur from history as they had once been by the revolutionary firebrand of earlier times....
Castro was a hero in the mould of Garibaldi, a national leader whose ideals and rhetoric were to change the history of countries far from his own. Latin America, ruled for the most part in the 1950s by oligarchies inherited from the colonial era, of landowners, soldiers and Catholic priests, was suddenly brought into the global limelight, its governments challenged by the revolutionary gauntlet thrown down by the island republic. Whether in favour or against, an entire Latin American generation was influenced by Castro.
And so on.
Gott, it should be remembered, resigned from the Guardian in 1994 after it came out that he'd been recruited by the KGB. He then became a devout and tireless cheerleader for Chavez in Venezuela. Clearly, then, someone on the right side of history...and just the man to write the obituary of the Cuban caudillo.
Update: James Bloodworth - The romanticisation of Fidel Castro's Cuba must die with him.
According to Breitbart, Trump has invited Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to visit him in Washington:
The Prime Minister said that Mr. Trump then praised the Hungarian government and called the people of Hungary “brave freedom fighters” during a telephone conversation on Thursday night, Hungarian paper Magyar Hirlap reports.
Mr. Orbán also noted that Trump congratulated Hungary for its economic success in recent years saying that he has called the nation’s achievements over the past six years “outstanding”.
After being invited to Washington D.C., Orbán said: “I told him that I hadn’t been there for a long time as I had been treated as a ‘black sheep’, to which he replied, laughing, ‘Me too’.”
On Mr. Trump’s open attitudes toward Hungary, the prime minister said: “He is much more interested in success, efficiency and results than in political theories,” adding: “This is good for us, as the facts are with us. The economic cooperation has always been good, only the ideologies presented obstacles.”
Ideologies? Ah yes - that would be the incipient fascism. Not a problem for Trump, of course.
The delights of modernist architecture, as captured by Warsaw-based photographer Nicolas Grospierre:
In addition to his blog, Grospierre now has a book, Modern Forms: A Subjective Atlas of 20th Century Architecture.
As is obvious from his obsession with these buildings - most but by no means all from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and most but by no means all brutalist in style - Grospierre has an abiding bittersweet love for what most people would probably dismiss as monstrosities. He's interviewed at De Zeen:
I feel, first and foremost, that Modernism in architecture was the physical embodiment of one of the most beautiful ideals of mankind: progress.
In architecture, it meant to create buildings that would make a better life for the common man. We know, of course, that this ideal failed.
And not only did it fail in its political or ideological dimension, but it even failed practically, as many of these buildings proved to be utopian and sometimes alienating, in their everyday use. This is perhaps especially true in the architecture of the former socialist camp.
But to my eyes, this does not disqualify progress, on a philosophical level. It is perhaps because progress was an erroneous ideal from the very start, that makes it even more beautiful.
There is great generosity in this ideal, the belief that man can perfect himself, that has been lost and I must say I long for the time when we could still believe in it. Paradoxically, all that remains of this, in architecture, are the Modern forms. For me, their boldness, and expressive shapes, are the reflection of the boldness of this optimism.
Aron White at the Algemeiner - Why Are Palestinian Refugees Different From All Others?
When Israel came to govern the West Bank and Gaza after the Six-Day War in 1967, it found Palestinian refugees still in the camps that they had been in since 1948. Israel developed a plan to begin moving the Palestinians out of the squalid and cramped refugee camps, and into permanent residences. The Israeli government gave participants in the program a plot of land to build on, and services such as water, electricity and sanitation. Approximately 10,000 families left the refugee camps to move to these newer, better accommodations.
But on November 23, 1976, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling on Israel to return the refugees to the refugee camps from which they had come. In fact, on the same day three years later, the General Assembly passed another similar resolution, in which it “call[ed] upon Israel to desist from the removal and resettlement of Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip.”
What could possibly explain this position? How could the United Nations possibly condemn a country for the crime of resettling refugees who had been abandoned in squalid camps for two decades?
The answer lies in the 1979 Resolution itself. The Resolution states that “measures to resettle Palestinian refugees away from their homes and property from which they were displaced constitute a violation of their inalienable right of return.”
The “right of return” is the Palestinians’ claim that they have the right to return to their pre-1948 abodes. It is a highly debatable “right” — not least because it is based on a UN resolution that the Arabs rejected. And why did everyone criticize Israel 40 years ago? Because if the Palestinian refugees would settle in comfortable living quarters, then they may not want to return to their original villages. In the eyes of the “supporters” of the Palestinians at the UN, the Palestinians have the right of return to their original homes, but are forbidden to move anywhere else.
This absurd resolution cuts to the heart of how Palestinian refugees are different from all other refugees in the world. In the case of the latter, the focus of international organizations is humanitarian and social; the statute of the UNHCR, the UN body that deals with all refugees, explicitly states that its goals are not political. But with the Palestinians, the social and humanitarian needs of refugees and their children are of secondary importance, with the political goals being more important. If helping improve Palestinians’ lives harms the claim of a “right of return” and weakens the Palestinians’ claims against Israel — then the political goals win, and Palestinians must stay in camps for decades.
The inescapaable conclusion:
Arab leaders have always treated Palestinian refugees as a political, rather than a humanitarian issue, and have placed political attacks against Israel above the welfare of the Palestinian people.
And not just Arab leaders. Much of the western left have been equally guilty.
Well, any excuse for more Patsy Cline. The brackets in the title are just the icing on the cake. Here, from April 1962, with Bobby Lord:
This is less than a year before her death, in March 1963, so she was already a huge star.
Bobby Lord, to be honest, is new to me, but he merits his own Wikipedia entry, where we learn that he was a native Floridadian, started out in rockabilly, and at one time hosted an hour-long radio program under the title The Bobby Lord Homefolks Show. And, it has to be said, he has a decent voice.
But of course it's Patsy who steals the show.
Not forgetting the obscure but compelling Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray.