Women's Rights Advocate Paid Her Nanny Three Dollars An Hour

Women's Rights Advocate Paid Her Nanny Three Dollars An Hour
An Indian diplomat who championed women's rights is being criminally charged in New York for paying her female nanny $3.31 an hour and lying about it on the woman's visa application. Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general for political, economic, commercial and women’s affairs, was arrested and handcuffed this week as she dropped her daughter off at a Manhattan school. ...
Unfortunately for Khobragade, visa fraud isn't covered for diplomatic community under the Vienna Convention.


The Voice of Igbo Israel: What are responsible for Igbo and Jewish higher intelligence?

The Voice of Igbo Israel: What are responsible for Igbo and Jewish higher intelligence? Remy Ilona:
So we can say that Igbos have suffered more than their peers. But can suffering release the juice of intelligence? My mother ’Amaka Ilona, nee Nwosu; used to say that ‘afufu na eme ka mmadu mar’ ife’ (that suffering induces people to become sensible). Suffering can actually lead to innovativeness, to a bursting of the barriers. Certain types of suffering can lead to inventiveness. Here I will still rehash what I mentioned before. There are subtle suggestions that the Igbos were targeted. Why? The answer is that they were unique. Higher intelligence made them unique. The uniqueness aroused the ire of their neighbors, and antagonists. At the end of the day one may be wrong to just dismiss the argument that persecution, marginalization and oppression may release the juices that give rise to high intelligence. However one would in my opinion be on surer ground if one also looks at other variables that could give rise to higher intelligence. In my opinion ‘culture’ is one such variable. ...
Read the whole post at the link.

Colorado school shooter was hardcore leftist, 'Keynesian' | The Daily Caller

Colorado school shooter was hardcore leftist, 'Keynesian' | The Daily Caller 'In one Facebook post, for example, Pierson ridiculed Republicans. He wrote “you republicans are so cute” above an image saying: “The Republican Party: Health Care: Let ‘em Die, Climate Change: Let ‘em Die, Gun Violence: Let ‘em Die, Women’s Rights: Let ‘em Die, More War: Let ‘em Die. Is this really the side you want to be on?” In another Facebook post, the scholarly senior attacked 18th-century classical economist Adam Smith. ...' Apparently our betters would rather we didn't know that he was described as a socialist.

Nobel Laureate: Torah is Key to Jewish Genius

Nobel Laureate: Bible is Key to Jewish Genius - Israel Today | Israel News '“Torah study is an intellectual pursuit, and honoring this ultimate value transfers to other pursuits as well,” Aumann told Israel’s Army Radio. ...' The original title says 'Bible' which isn't really the same thing. Torah is a much broader and more distinctively Jewish concept, referring to the study and exposition of the Bible and the Mishnah.

Are Tolkien's dwarves an allegory for the Jews? | The Times of Israel

Are Tolkien's dwarves an allegory for the Jews? | The Times of Israel


Israel Joins CERN


'The CERN Council in Geneva accepted Israel as a full member state, it was announced Wednesday evening.

CERN, the European Council for Nuclear Research, is the largest center for the study of particles, founded in 1954. The organization operates two particle accelerators, one of which is the world’s longest. ...'


Hate Hoaxes

Dayna Morales, the lesbian former Marine reservist and waitress who claimed to have been stiffed for being gay, is reportedly beginning to pay refunds to sympathetic donors who'd heard her story - a story that turned out to be short on credibility.

An ordinary person reports a shocking, sensational instance of bigotry or violence, gets national attention on the media and on the internet, possibly receives donations from kind-hearted people - and then is exposed as a fraud. How many times have we heard this before? And we'll hear it again.

I was taken in by one such story; when the accuser's story fell apart, though, I came clean. The sad truth is that while hate and prejudice still exist - in many forms - there is easy fame to be had in playing on the sympathies of people who are conditioned to react to certain types of prejudice from certain types of people.

Let's blogroll!

Baldilocks is posting at her new site. Go here to find out what she has in common - and more importantly, DOESN'T have in common - with a certain famous American. It's sort of like Spock, with and without the goatee.

What is the Republican opportunity in 2014? 'Republicans have a very good chance to unseat two Democrats and claim the seats in Congress for the Republican ticket! It is also a time when the Republican party can attract voters, younger voters in particular who see the animus toward Gay people as damaging to the party. They are correct. ...' Thus quoth Duane Buell of the Buell Review, and I agree. Go read the rest, and bookmark the Buell Review.

Neo recalls Pearl Harbor.
This idea of a government in cahoots with the enemy, willing to let innocent Americans die, keeps coming up again and again. A certain not insignificant segment of the population appears to favor such conspiracy theories, probably because we don’t like feeling vulnerable to sudden attack. We’d rather think Daddy in the White House could have stopped it but chose not to—that makes him powerful but amoral, rather than powerless to protect us.
Go read the rest.


Boko Haram Attacks Air Base in Borno, NE Nigeria

The outlawed Boko Haram sect on Monday morning attacked the international airport and various parts of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

The attack has forced the military to impose a 24 hour curfew on the Borno capital.

Unconfirmed reports say a plane was burnt down at the airport. Yakubu Datti, the aviation spokesperson, could not be reached to comment on the airport attack.

The attack is the first in recent months to be launched in Maiduguri by the sect ...
Long War Journal:
Boko Haram, a Nigerian terrorist group with ties to al Qaeda, launched a major attack on a Nigerian Air Force base in the insurgency-wracked city of Maiduguri. A number of security personnel were killed and several aircraft were destroyed during the nighttime attack that is said to have been executed by hundreds of Boko Haram fighters.

Hundreds of fighters assaulted the base on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, using trucks and even a stolen armored personnel carrier, beginning at 2:30 a.m. local time, according to The Associated Press. Boko Haram fighters yelled "Allahu akbar" as they attacked.

According to Brigadier General Chris Olukolade, the Ministry of Defense spokesman, at least 20 security personnel and 24 insurgents were killed, while two helicopters and three decommissioned military aircraft were "incapacitated." Boko Haram's use of explosives and RPGs has been confirmed. ...

Today's attack also takes place just one week after the Nigerian military claimed it cleared the terror group from bases in the Sambisa forest. The military said that more than 100 Boko Haram fighters were killed during the assault. ...


Armin Rosen on South Sudan

Via Michael J. Totten, Armin Rosen has an excellent piece on South Sudan from a year and a half ago.
The oldest building in Juba is its Mother Church, which was built by Anglican missionaries in the 1920s and sits at a confluence of shaded dirt roads, behind an expensive hotel that opened less than a year ago. It’s a red brick, open-air building with a roof made out of tin siding; the pews are also brick, and the floor is a lustrous concrete. It is cool and breezy, and on a boiling day—which is most days—the winds whipping through its partly-open ceiling evoke a sense of spiritual expansiveness, of being in a place quite a bit larger than mere physicality would suggest.

When we were here during the war, the pastor told me, all the South Sudanese that lived here were not allowed to go outside more than 15 kilometers. And if you want to go out you need to get a permit. For you just to get to your farm, you must get a permit to travel, and you must get no objection from internal security, public security or military intelligence. When you get no objections on your documents, you can go out. Sometimes you’re given a no objection document, but all of a sudden you find yourself kept in. You were treated as a foreigner in your own home.

And then the war itself—those years when the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, the country’s eventual liberators, laid siege to the last major city it had been unable to capture, a northern garrison where the only cars were military vehicles, and the only permanent structures were government offices and mosques that hardly anyone uses anymore, even though they’re the largest and really most impressive buildings in the city—everything is centered on the war, he continued. Everything is actually portraying the image of war. ...
Go read it all.



English has a new proposition. This following the accession of selfie to the hallowed ranks of "Word of the Year".

Nigeria / Israel ties are getting closer with the new BASA (Bilateral Air Services Agreement) paving the way for direct flights between Israel and Nigeria.

True the Vote gets tax-exempt status, finally.


Rep. Trey Gowdy (R - SC4) on Benghazi

Trey Gowdy to the press:

"Can you tell me why Chris Stevens was in Benghazi the night that he was killed? Do you know? Does it bother you whether or not you know why Chris Stevens was in Benghazi?"


Obama's Bubble

This might be a good time to refresh our memories on this story. Back in
the golden days of 2007, candidate Barack Obama dazzled a techie
audience with his answer to a technology question:

'Asked by Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt what the most efficient
way to sort a million 32-bit integers is, Obama said the wrong way would
be the "bubble sort method," which is a basic but inefficient method for
sorting numbers. "You answered the question correctly," Schmidt said.'

Anybody who's ever taken even a basic programming class knows that the
"bubble sort" algorithm - which sorts a list of numbers by comparing
each successive term to its neighboring terms - is the easiest to
understand and to code, but the least efficient way of sorting a long
list. I'm no computer geek, but even I could have told you that much.

But Obama had the gift for saying the right words at the right time to
the right people. In the minds of the geeks at Google, he was "one of them".

And now? Is Obama still "Google-like" now?

Local Update

So I went out for a walk on Dolores, turned up 17th Street, and found
myself swimming upstream against a stampede of young, mostly
professional-looking men and women, some wearing colored armbands. Some
were carrying maps apparently printed for the occasion.

One cheery, heavyset, tattooed young women stopped me and asked for
directions, and for help in re-tying her armband. She pulled me over
into an alley; apparently she didn't want to be caught cheating. The
situation struck me as comical, and I imagined a police cruiser slowing
down for a look at what must have appeared to be a couple of junkies
getting a fix.

A few minutes later I ran into a couple of young guys, both equipped
with armbands and maps but apparently in less of a hurry than the rest.
(I gathered that it was a race of some sort, and wondered if it was a
scavenger hunt of the sort they have in Portland.) I stopped them and
asked them about it - was it some sort of game? From what I was able to
get from them, it was an annual event that had been started a few years
ago, and had something to do with zombies.

I gleaned the name "Journey to the End of Night" from the maps, and it
turns out the thing is "a free street game of epic proportion run by
volunteer masterminds in cities around the world. It is a race/chase
through city streets at night." [http://ichaseyou.com/]

OK, so there it is. Well, you never know what you're going to run into
when you step outside.



Washington DC Protest: Veterans Remove Barricades

Breitbart reports that veterans are removing barricades from war
memorials to bring them directly to the White House.



The Future

The Federal and state governments will likely go broke, and people who depended on government benefits will feel a lot of hurt. Social Security will be long gone. Big liberal states like California will be hardest hit. Infrastructures will suffer and things like serviceable roads, law enforcement, and emergency services will deteriorate.

Depending on how successful Obama is in his effort to wreck our economy in general and our medical system in particular, doctors and hospitals will likely be few and far between.

Over the past couple of generations, a lot of worthless paper has changed hands because (1) loans were given to people who didn't have the means to repay them; and (2) politicians made promises that they didn't have the means to pay for.

The government and its agencies will grow hungry and mean - like any other predatory animal - and will increasingly focus their dwindling resources on functions that generate revenue. This means finding ever more creative ways to expropriate citizens of their money and belongings. So we can expect to see increases in everything from petty robberies such as parking tickets to major hauls like seizures of cars, homes, and businesses on the pretext that they were used for "drug trafficking".

End result is that survival strategies are going to go back to being what they've always been. Be honest, courteous, hardworking, competent, and educated, and associate with other people who are. Take care of those close to you and be ready to defend them - and yourself.


I'm working full-time and parenting part-time, so my time and energy available for blogging is somewhat reduced these days. Nevertheless, I'm going to try to go back to posting regularly, at least 2 - 3 times a week.

I've been posting at two sites - DiL-1 on Blogger and DiL-2 on TypePad - and this will continue for a little longer, through the end of August. However, I'm making plans to move my blog to a new site, under a new title, at the beginning of September. More details to follow.

There are other changes in the works, too. After six years of living in San Francisco, I'm getting ready to move back to Portland, Oregon at the end of 2013.


Syrian Jihadis Behead Catholic Priest

Jihadists in Syria kidnapped a Catholic priest in the Idlib area and beheaded him as scores of onlookers, including children, cheered and recorded the event on their cell phones. The Vatican reported last week that the priest was captured by fighters "linked" to the Al Nusrah Front for the People in the Levant, al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria.

The Vatican confirmed that Father François Murad was killed on June 23 after jihadists affiliated with the Al Nusrah Front overran his monastery in Gassanieh, a town in the countryside in the northern province of Idlib.

"According to local sources, the monastery where Fr. Murad was staying was attacked by militants linked to the jihadi group Jabhat al Nusrah [the Al Nusrah Front]," said the Fides News Agency, the Vatican's official media outlet. ...


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What I Think

I wasn't there and I didn't see what happened, so I don't know of my own knowledge whether George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense or in cold blood.

What little I do know about the case, I learned from the news media; and at first I believed Zimmerman was a ruthless, racist killer. But I became less sure of that idea as I learned more about the case, and in particular about how the media had covered the case. They chose not to tell me, for example, that Zimmerman was bleeding from an apparent attack, or that when he said of Martin "he looks black" it was in response to a question about Martin's race.

I started out thinking those guys from the Duke Lacrosse team were guilty, too, until the accuser's story started falling apart.

Here's what I think now. I think there are a lot of people - especially liberals in the media - who are in a big hurry to explain everything bad that happens as a result of "white racism". And that's not how I see things.

I think there are people who dislike other people because of their race, sex, religion, nationality, or whatever group they belong to. I think this is wrong and I try to judge people based on their actions and their character.

I think that there are people who choose to do bad things, and these people may be of any race, sex, religion, or nationality.

I think there are places in the world where people don't like outsiders, and if you walk through those places and you don't look like you belong you could get hurt bad. I think this is wrong too, but I can't change it. And I do not believe that these places are found only in America.

Lee Smith to Syrian Oppo: Why Americans Aren't In A Hurry to Help You

Lee Smith at Now:

It’s true that, on the other hand, there is some bipartisan backing for your cause, but the reality is that arming your sons, husbands, and brothers is not popular with the American public, neither with the right, nor the left. Americans are tired of the Middle East, frustrated by it – also, frankly, we’re angry.

Over the last decade, the United States has brought down or helped to bring down four Arab dictators, and with little to show for it. For spending trillions of dollars to topple Saddam, you’d think that instead of conspiracy theories imputing the worst motives to us, we might have earned some gratitude in the region. Gratitude at least for the sacrifices made by our family and friends in uniform, the thousands dead, the tens of thousands wounded, so that Iraqis can vote in free and fair elections and live without fear of being dragged off by Saddam’s security forces to be tortured, raped, and murdered.

We also helped bring down Qaddafi, which didn’t stop Libyan Islamists from killing our ambassador there and three other Americans. ...
Read the rest at the link.


The World Today

Before Google Reader vanishes from cyberspace, here are a few recent items from the feeds:

Massive protests in Egypt against Morsi. 'Huge protests calling for the resignation of Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi and early presidential elections are taking place in the capital, Cairo, and other cities' on the anniversary of Morsi's rise to power. 'The protesters' goal again is to unseat a president, this time their first freely elected leader, the Islamist ....' PowerLine sees a religious/secular struggle. More at Arutz Sheva.

The US Park Police are missing a lot of guns. Maybe the Canadian Mounties can find 'em?

Life in post-tinfoil-hat reality.

Caroline Glick on Obama's foreign policy. Jonathan Spyer on Qatar.

Chicago Tribune calls for special prosecutor in the IRS scandal. And here in San Francisco, BART looks ready to go on strike.



Boston Police Exercise Featuring Right-Wing Terrorists With Backpack Bombs Disrupted By Real Muslim Terrorists With Backpack Bombs:
The scenario had been carefully planned: A terrorist group prepared to hurt vast numbers of people around Boston would leave backpacks filled with explosives at Faneuil Hall, the Seaport District, and in other towns, spreading waves of panic and fear. Detectives would have to catch the culprits.

Months of painstaking planning had gone into the exercise, dubbed “Operation Urban Shield,” meant to train dozens of detectives in the Greater Boston area to work together to thwart a terrorist threat. The hypothetical terrorist group was even given a name: Free America Citizens, a home-grown cadre of militiamen whose logo would be a metal skull wearing an Uncle Sam hat and a furious expression, according to a copy of the plans obtained by the Boston Globe. ...
Flashback: "Police Go Undercover to Thwart Protesters Against Globalization"


I'm sharing this just because it's Friday.
Oh wait, it's Thursday? Then I'm sharing it just because.



Harry's Place on Edward Snowden's Hong Kong hypocrisy:

... [Snowden] said that he chose Hong Kong because the city has “a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”.

Really? Really? When Hong Kong is overseen by China??

Global Voices reported just over seven weeks ago:

Hong Kong netizens are outraged by the abuse of police force in the arrest of a 46-year-old man for writing “Go to Hell, Xi Jinping” (習近平去死) on the stairwell of a residential building in Hong Kong’s Ma On Shan district. Xi Jinping is the President of China. ...


We, the People

There was a time in America when "the People" were a force to be reckoned with.

Now, the connotation is rather different:

"People!" Spoken twice, in a peremptory tone. Now the term refers to staffers, underlings, vassals. Those who must literally trip over themselves to do the bidding of The One.


How to tell when a Republican strategy is successful.

1. The Democrat media fret that it "could backfire". (Just trying to help!)
2. The Democrat media scold that it's not nice. (New civility, folks.)
3. The Democrat media dig up "at least one Republican" to condemn the tactic. (And usually at most one. Or one and a half if you count John McCain.)

At least one Republican doesn't like Rick Perry's "job raids".




The enemy's will is strong because his identity is strong. And we must match his strength of purpose with strong identities of our own.
- Natan Sharansky, 'Defending Identity'

The Ikhwan [Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions.
- Mohammed Akram, 'An Explanatory Memorandum'
Who are you?
What is your name?
What's the place you call home? And if you were taken from your home by force, how would you stay true to who you are?

The Israeli television series 'Hatufim' - adapted for American TV as 'Homeland' - tells the story of two Israeli POWs who return home after 17 years in captivity at the hands of a terrorist group. Throughout the series, Nimrod and Uri struggle with questions of loyalty and identity; over and over, both of them tell the women in their lives "I'm not the same man I was before."

The first episodes show Nimrod and Uri being taken to a "facility" for debriefing, where they're questioned intensively by the relentless Major Haim Cohen. Cohen wants to learn all he can about the enemy, of course, but he also wants to know whether the two men have given up information to their captors.

As the show progresses, we begin to wonder how much - and on what levels - they have been altered by their time with the enemy. Early in the second season, a psychologist is shown giving a lecture (for our benefit) on "Stockholm syndrome". Later, another soldier returns home from a deep-cover mission, having ostensibly converted to Islam and taken the name Yusuf to work with the Children of Jihad - but hearing the muezzin's call for the first time since returning to Israel, and standing in his own childhood home, he begins reciting the Muslim prayers. And late at night, he is still haunted by the guard's repeated question, "What is your name?"

One real-life prisoner who stayed loyal to his cause was Natan Sharansky. His valuable book Defending Identity recounts his experiences in prison, and the lessons he drew from those times. Despite being held by the Communists for nine years in a Soviet prison, Sharansky (then known by his Russian name, Anatoly Shcharansky) did not back down from advocating human rights and Jewish solidarity.

But are not these two things - universal rights and ethnic solidarity - in conflict with one another? Sharansky insists that they are not, and in fact believes that this truth is the secret of his strength. From his own experience, and from observing others in the gulag, he concludes that "those with the strongest identities were the least likely to succumb to tyranny" (p. 61). And very often, this identity is found in religion. Sharansky does not claim it can be found only there, but it's clear that he sees faith as a source of strength with few rivals.

Religion - Jewish religion, that is - is notably absent from 'Hatufim'. The Jews of 'Hatufim' are secular Israelis who go to the synagogue only for bar mitzvahs. It's unlikely that they are fastidious about observing the Sabbath or the kosher laws (although it's hard to tell on this latter point, as all the characters are vegetarian). The Bible is quoted only once - in a reference to the Mossad's motto, Proverbs 24:6.

Contrast this with the devotion to purpose the Children of Jihad (the fictional terrorist group), whose members pray regularly, listen to Koranic sermons, and are often found at the mosque. In a battle of wills - if we accept Sharansky's premise - which side is better armed?

Jihad is closer than we like to think.

On July 29, 1983, a guy named Stephen Paul Paster tried to blow up what was then the Hotel Rajneesh on SW 11th Avenue and Main Street in Portland, Oregon. The bomb exploded prematurely, damaging the building and injuring him; he escaped and the law caught up with him two years later. He was sentenced to 20 years, of which he served four, getting released early for good behavior. He immediately took off for Pakistan, where he's believed to be living to this day.

Paster was a member of Jamaat al-Fuqra, a jihadi organization founded by Sheikh Gilani and believed to be a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The incident was soon forgotten, and the Rajneeshees, for their part, staged a bioterror attack of their own the following year and eventually dropped off the radar.

Jamaat al-Fuqra dropped off the radar, too, but they haven't gone away. Back in 1993, after the first World Trade Center bombing, the Anti-Defamation League published (pdf) a report on Al-Fuqra listing known and suspected incidents involving al-Fuqra through that date. The India-based South Asia Terrorism Portal has an article on Jamaat al-Fuqra also:
One of the persons convicted in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 was Clement Rodney Hampton-el, a Fuqra member. JF was linked in a Congressional testimony to the planning of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Gilani is now in Pakistani custody for the abduction of US journalist Daniel Pearl. Official sources in Pakistan have indicated that Daniel Pearl was attempting to meet Gilani in the days before he disappeared in Karachi. Pakistani police arrested Gilani in Rawalpindi on January 30, 2002 and shifted him to Karachi for questioning. Although he denied any link to the abduction, police also detained several of his colleagues. Consequent to his arrest, he reportedly told his interrogators that he had links with the Pakistani intelligence agencies.

A media report has indicated that the JF is also being probed for links with Richard Reid, a Briton, accused of trying to use explosives in his shoes to blow up a Paris-to-Miami jetliner on December 22, 2001. ...

Three suspected US-based JF members have been arrested on weapons charges in the year 2001, including two following the September 11 multiple terrorist attacks. Vicente Rafael Pierre, a 44-year-old native of Brooklyn and his wife Traci Upshur, both JF cadres, were arrested on gun charges and convicted on November 30, 2001. Pierre's Virginia compound, near the Red House Commune, is reported to have served as a JF base.
Islamberg, New York was founded by Gilani in the 1980s. Martin Mawyer's Christian Action Network alleges that Islamberg is part of a network of settlements built for the purpose of training jihadi fighters. Mawyer details these allegations in his book Twilight in America, which has brought him a lawsuit from Gilani; Mawyer says bring it on.

Jamaat al-Fuqra think long-term, like their parent organization the Muslim Brotherhood. That's one of the hallmarks of the MB - they're disciplined, dedicated, and very patient. Their goals are set forth in a document, authored by Mohammed Akram and dated 1991, which became public during the Holy Land Foundation trials. If you haven't read the Explanatory Memorandum (pdf) yet, go take a look (English translation starts on page 16). You can also order a printed edition of the translation.

Akram, a member of the Brotherhood's board of directors and a senior member of Hamas, describes the process of Islamic "settlement" in North America as a "civilization-jihadist process". This process is projected to happen in five phases: settlement, establishment, stability, enablement, and rooting. It's not just a plan to address the needs of Muslims living in North America, or to improve Islamic education. Here's what it's really all about:
The Ikhwan [Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim's destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes ...
You might wonder if the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan il-Muslimun in Arabic) is banned in the US as a terrorist organization. It's hard to say; might be tricky, since Ikwhanul Muslimun in Hancock, New York is a registered tax-exempt charity. Martin Mawyer's book says (p. 137) that
if you type the words 'Ikhwanul Muslimun' into the IRS web site in search of charities, you will learn that Ikhwanul Muslimun, Inc. is a tax-exempt organization filing as a church, and located on a 70-acre terrorist training camp in Hancock, New York— the same camp owned by Muslims of the Americas. It was registered with the IRS in 1974, yet, when contacted, the IRS claims to have no supporting or founding documents for the group. They know nothing more about them other than to confirm that they pay no taxes.

Michael Totten has traveled all over the world and he's spent a lot of time in the Middle East. He's published books about Iraq, Lebanon, and the former Communist world. But his first novel - a story about a kidnapping - is set in the United States, in the Pacific Northwest.

In 'Taken', Michael Totten (the author as character) is abducted from his home in Portland and held hostage by American jihadists. The premise is chilling and entirely plausible.

Ahmed, Michael's interlocutor for much of the story, presents an articulate and reasonable-seeming face. Calmly and confidently, he outlines what he sees as the inevitable victory of Islam. Ahmed claims that he does not want to convert America "at gunpoint" (p. 67), and insists that "there is no compulsion in religion."

"The Jews don't like converts," Ahmed asserts. (That hasn't been my experience.) Ahmed, himself from a secular Muslim family background, sees the advance of Islam as inevitable. For him it's a choice between dynamism and stagnation, between meaning and emptiness, between something and nothing.

One of the most disturbing passages in 'Taken' comes near the end, where Totten, as narrator, describes his feelings of attraction toward Islam after feigning an interest in conversion to please his captors.

Does the narrator begin to succumb to Stockholm syndrome? Despite explicitly denying it, despite giving a knowledgeable discussion of the subject, is Totten's narrator in fact slipping into Stockholm syndrome himself towards the end of the story? I'll let you read the book and decide for yourself.

In Hatufim (Season 2, episode 4), the professor explains the process of Stockholm syndrome, citing the importance of creating a total dependency within the prisoner. She enumerates three essential conditions for this dependency: the prisoner's certainty that his life or death rests within the captor's hands; absolute isolation and deprivation of knowledge about the outside world, except for what the captor tells him; and finally, arbitrary kindness, which renders the prisoner defenseless and makes his identification with the captor "complete and absolute".

Totten brings out another aspect of the process, though, which I think is especially interesting. "I realized I was changing," the narrator admits (p. 109). "I was building invisible chains for myself." He realizes that even without being physically chained, "my own mind would create invisible walls for myself."

If the jihadis succeed in creating an atmosphere of intimidation, they will prevail. The Muslim Brotherhood will not need to resort to spectacular, mass-casualty attacks like al-Qaeda's destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001; instead, by incrementally circumscribing the actions of free people into an ever-tighter sphere, they will achieve their goals with scarcely any resistance at all. We will have built our own invisible walls, and tied ourselves in our own invisible chains.

If you walk up to Jaffa from Tel Aviv, you'll pass an old, gutted brick building - once a soap factory - with its arches covered, jail-like, by iron bars. If you stand still in the afternoon heat and listen, you can hear the rustling and squeaking. It's full of bats.

I'm thinking about that building this afternoon.

On a day like today I can look out at San Francisco and think it'll last forever. The sky is clear, and it's warm outside - 80 degrees, and it's not even September yet! From the air-conditioned office where I work, the buildings of the Financial District appear immaculate, geometric, impregnable. In a century or two, will there be bats in these buildings? Will they be fit to live in, or even still be standing?

I have lived a pretty sheltered life. I haven't seen death up close, except once or twice. One night in a desert far away from my home, four of my buddies lost their lives to one of our own missiles outside of Khafji. The blast had obliterated their vehicle and there wasn't anything left to bury; we just held a short memorial service in the cool, damp January air and moved on. I could easily have been one of them. That was the night before my 28th birthday.

A year and a half later, my sister - who had just turned twenty-eight - was lying on a stainless steel table in the coroner's office. She looked so much smaller than she had in life, and healthier - like a child. Her face looked peaceful; her body, wrapped in the sheet, made me think of a cocoon or a chrysalis. Perhaps her soul had broken free like a butterfly; if so it flew in a hidden dimension of space where I could not see it.

She was a poet, and what she left us was her memories and her words. Every one of us will have to leave some day, and we will all leave something behind. What we build, and what we leave for others, exists in that invisible space, in that untouchable dimension. And that's what we're fighting for.

I think of my teenage son and my little girl. What kind of world will they live in? What words will they have? Will they write poetry? Will they know Hebrew? Will they light Sabbath candles with their children?

"A man with no children has no home," says Yusuf's Muslim mother-in-law when she's begun to suspect that his loyalties still lie with the other side.

Our true homes have their foundations deep in the invisible inner space of our minds and souls, but they become part of the larger world in the children we leave behind.

More than the physical space of our cities, it's our mental and spiritual space that we're fighting for. Will we be as defenseless as the villagers in Totten's dream image? When we are asked 'What is your name?' will we know how to answer?


Roundup: Canada, Boston, Lebanon

Canada: Via train terror plot suspects to appear in court. 'Two men accused of trying to carry out an al-Qaeda supported plot to derail a Via passenger train in the Toronto area are set to appear in court this morning for bail hearings, as details begin to emerge about their background.

Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, from Toronto have been charged with conspiracy to carry out a terrorist attack and "conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group." ...' (CBC)

Boston: Latest developments. 'A radical brand of Islam appears to have motivated the two brothers suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon, but investigators say they have found no indication the brothers were associated with any terrorist groups.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was charged Monday in his hospital room, where he was in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the throat and other injuries suffered during his attempted getaway. His older brother, Tamerlan, 26, died Friday after a fierce gunbattle with police. ...' (Fox)

Michael J. Totten: Hezbollah's undoing. '... No, the medium and long term for Hezbollah looks bleaker than ever. That crowd still refuses to speak to me, but I did sit down and talk to three dissident members of Lebanon’s Shia community from which Hezbollah draws its support. They all think the so-called Party of God has begun its long journey downward.

“I’m optimistic,” said Nadim Koteich, whose political talk show on Future TV is one of the top-rated in the country. ...' (World Affairs Journal)


Holidays I'd Like to See

Free Market Day.
Build Something Useful Day.
Personal Responsibility Day.
Family Day. (Arizona and Nevada, you're way ahead of the rest of us here.)
Human Life Day.
Human Achievement Day.

Roundup: Boston, Syria, Russia, China

Hospitalized Boston suspect awaits charges. 'The ethnic Chechen college student suspected with his deceased older brother in the Boston Marathon bombing faced federal charges as early as Monday as he lay hospitalized under armed guard, severely wounded and unable to speak.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was captured with throat injuries that, coupled with sedatives administered at the Boston hospital where he is being treated, had left him incapable of speech and initially prevented authorities from questioning him. ...' (Reuters)

Syrian rebels accuse government of massacre in Damascus suburb. 'Syrian activists and rebel fighters said Monday that at least 100 people, many of them civilians, have been killed in a five-day Syrian government offensive on a predominantly Sunni area of the Damascus countryside. The death toll could be the largest from a single military campaign in nearly a year.

Activists described a bloody war zone inside Jdeidet al-Fadel, an area west of the Syrian capital that remained critically isolated on Monday ...' (Washington Post)

Did US-Russia deal in 2011 lead to Boston bombings? 'Among the more unusual aspects of what has been learned thus far about the Brothers Tsarnaev is that in January 2011 Russian officials encouraged their U.S. counterparts to take notice of Tamerlan, the older of the two, for possible Chechen terrorist links. The only known result of the interviews that followed was to delay processing of Tamerlan's U.S. citizenship application. (His younger brother, Dzhokhar, became a citizen on Sept. 11, 2012.) But the Russian tip was part of the process that led to a subsequent agreement between that country and the U.S. concerning Chechen terrorists. The May 26, 2011, agreement -- the Joint Statement of the Presidents of the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Counter-terrorism Cooperation -- can be found on the White House website. ...' (Examiner)

US, Chinese officials to meet in Beijing. ' Senior generals of China and the United States met in Beijing on Monday to discuss bilateral military relations and issues of common concern.

"Your visit is an important event in the bilateral military exchange program. We place great importance in it," Fang Fenghui, chief of the general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, told Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the start of the talks. ...' (Xinhua)


The Passing of Google Reader

is duly lamented here:



I support your right not to believe in G-d. I support every person's right to make their own decisions about religion: to believe in one God, or many, or none at all. To practice religion as a traditionalist, or as a liberal, or a reformer or a heretic or an apostate or an unbeliever. To embrace revelation or to reject it. To pray facing Jerusalem, or Calvary, or Mecca, or not to pray at all. To follow a single, absolute, fixed line of belief, or to change your mind a hundred times a day about what you believe and why you believe it (the latter is closer to my own faith). And I expect that you respect every other person's rights. A faith coerced is no faith at all; and a faith that justifies evil is an evil faith.

As a believer, I stand with the unbelievers.


Nick Cohen: Case Against Saddam Still Stands

Nick Cohen:
It's 10 years since the overthrow of Saddam and 25 since he ordered the Kurdish genocide. I can guarantee that you will not hear much about Saddam's atrocities in the coming weeks. As Bayan Rahman, the Kurdish ambassador to London, said to me: "Everyone wants to remember Fallujah and no one wants to remember Halabja." Nor, I think, will you hear about the least explored legacy of the war, which continues to exert a malign influence on "liberal" foreign policy.

Iraq shocked liberals into the notion that they should stay out of the affairs of others. Of itself, this need not have been such a momentous step. A little England or isolationist policy can be justified on many occasions. There are strong arguments against spilling blood and spending treasure in other people's conflicts. The best is that you may not understand the country you send troops to – as the Nato governments who sent troops to Iraq did not. But unless you are careful you are going to have difficulties supporting the victims of oppressive regimes if you devote your energies to find reasons to keep their oppressors in power. Go too far in a defence of the status quo and the idea soon occurs to you that an oppressive regime may not be so oppressive after all. ...