Friday, November 30, 2007

1,000s In Sudan Call For Death To Brit "Blasphemer"

The verdict is in: Gillian Gibbons was sentenced to 15 days in prison, and expulsion from Sudan for the preposterous claim she insulted Islam by allowing her students to name a Teddy Bear "Muhammad". And, as if 15 days in prison wasn't enough to mollify the usual masses of Muslim overreactors, 1,000s of Sudanese took to the streets (weapons in hand) to protest the sentence and demand that Gibbons be executed... by firing squad. Yes indeed, they emerged from their Mosques this morning, those dens of peace and tolerance, gathered en masse outside the presidential palace shouting

"No tolerance: Execution," and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad."

Others marched to the school (which understandably has been closed since the incident) and then headed towards the British Embassy, before they were stopped several blocks from the facility. Although another Muslim cleric at the main Martyrs Mosque in Khartoum fell short of calling for Gibbon's execution, he did accuse her of intentionally insulting Islam, enough to incite these ordinary Muslims to action. Abdul- Jalil Nazeer al-Karouri told his flock that
"Imprisoning this lady does not satisfy the thirst of Muslims in Sudan. But we welcome imprisonment and expulsion" "This an arrogant woman who came to our country, cashing her salary in dollars, teaching our children hatred of our Prophet Muhammad."
As if any westerner would be moronic enough to intentionally criticize Islam in a predominately Muslim country knowing full well what little it takes to inspire violence and the ensuing fatwas. At least Muslims in Britain have copped to the ludicrous nature of the verdict, doled out by their brethren in Sudan, but that does little to ameliorate the current situation, and the fact that she was even arrested to begin with. I also find the use of the words "satisfy the thirst" to be very telling.

Rather than having to walk on egg shells in Islamic countries that show no tolerance of others, I suggest we pull out all western interests, including ngo aid programmes and see how quickly they might change their tune.

An anonymous commenter on my original post about Gillian recommended a link to cafepress which has some interesting information on the left sidebar. You can find the address to the Embassy of Sudan in D.C., some information regarding the Q'ran and Hadith's takes on graven images..looks like the Sudanese have misinterpreted their teachings... and links to items that you can buy to show your support.

Some interesting stuff on Hot Air and Michelle Malkin. And GrandWeepers asks an interesting question in his latest, "Are those countries most in need driving away those who want to help?"
I say, yes!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Annapolis Peace Summit: Can The Pal./Israelis Give Peace A Chance?

For decades the U.S, in tandem with other world leaders, has tried to broker a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, to no avail. Each new administration has inherited the mantle of "peacemaker", tried its dang best to forge some kind of progress in that arena, and all have failed-- miserably.

A never-ending series of summits, conferences and accords have taken place over the past several decades, with few positive outcomes.

Starring Israel and Palestine as the major players, we've had the following:

Madrid Peace Conference (1991) under the aegis of the Bush Sr. Administration and others

Oslo Accords (1993) Clinton and others

Hebron Agreement (1997) under the guidance of U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher

Wye River Conference (1998) Clinton

Camp David Summit (2000) Clinton

Sharm el-Sheik (2000) Hosted by Egypt's Mubarak , with Clinton in tow

Taba Summit (2001) based on the Clinton plan

Beirut Summit (2002) Arab League

Road Map For Peace (2002) U.S., E.U. U.N. and Russia established a "Road Map" for peace.

Red Sea Summit (2003) Bush Jr's attempt to implement his "Road Map"

Sharm el-Sheikh (2005) Hosted by Egypt's Mubarak and Jordan's Abdullah II

Aside from indirectly leading to peace between Israel and a few of its Arab neighbours - Egypt and Jordan - no significant accomplishments have ever resulted from the main focus of these talks: the Pal/Israeli conflict. There are other independent projects working towards establishing peace in that region, but obviously none have had much impact, either.

So, we jump ahead to November 2007 and add yet another attempt to give peace a chance. This time, at the Annapolis Peace Summit, most of the members of the Arab League were present, save Hamas and Iran (for obvious reasons). Iraq, Kuwait and Libya were invited to attend, but chose not to send any delegates.

The results of the 1 day mini summit? Israel and Palestine have agreed to restart the peace process, and negotiations are set to begin on December 12th.

Sounds like a good start, but you have to wonder what, if anything, will it achieve? For peace among warring nations to truly work, you need much more than the express desire of the leaders of those nations to work things out. You need the support of the people. They need to be equally committed- to be as fervently hungry for peace as their heads of state, if not more. Without their support you have nothing. And as far as I can tell, there's not much hope on that front. Both Palestinians and right wing Israelis have already taken to the streets in protest. Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas denounced the summit, calling Abbas a traitor and stated that the Palestinian people would never recognize any agreements resulting from the Annapolis talks. Benjamin Netanyahu (of Israel's Likud Party) has also denounced the summit as being

"a fantasy, not a vision."
He believes that it will be nothing more than giving in to one-sided concessions, and that Olmert's government is

"making peace with a virtual partner, in a virtual reality." " We have a partner for words, but not for deeds, certainly not for fighting terrorism, and, to my regret, no partner for a real peace."

There are also many others, including Christian evangelicals, who believe this to be a very dangerous move. Michael D. Evans in an article on calls the conference
"..not a peace conference, but an “appeasement conference” to coalition-build Arab nations in preparation for an attack on Iran."

He goes on to say that

"The Islamofascists who deny Israel's right to exist while they send suicide bombers around the world to murder anyone else who disagrees with them don't consider Annapolis as mere theater. They attend conferences such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in October 2003, where Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad made a comment typical throughout the Muslim world:

“If we are to recover our dignity and that of Islam, our religion, it is we who must decide, it is we who must act … We [Muslims] are actually very strong: 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.”
Evans is not alone. There are others who also believe the summit was/is a way of unifying Arab Nations against Iran and its allies in an effort to isolate Ahmadinejad as he continues to grandstand.

In fact, Ahmadinejad is already spewing his hate-filled, 'Israel will die' rhetoric by proclaiming Annapolis a failure and that

"It is impossible that the Zionist regime will survive. Collapse is in the nature of this regime because it has been created on aggression, lying, oppression and crime."

Though there is blanket global support for re-establishing peace talks, I'm not sure there are many who feel very positive about the actual prospects of peace, including me. According to polls, although approximately 70% of both Israelis and Palestinians actually support the summit, a large percentage of those polled hold no hope for peace.

And can one even trust the Palestinians and the Arab world, at large, to stick to their side of the deal? Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has a Palestinian Authority TV informational video clip on their website which aired a day after the summit. It shows a map of Israel sans Israel (see photo above). The P.A. TV is run by Abbas' Fatah, by the way.

Even if Olmert and Abbas, by some miracle, were able to cobble together a mutually agreeable peace deal, they would still have to get Hamas and Likud (and others) on board. And that's not very likely. Hamas, like Ahmadinejad, is committed to the destruction of Israel, and I would venture to say that most of the Arab world would probably not shed many tears if this were to occur. But say, by some other miracle, they did all come together, both factions would still have to persuade their people to comply. It would be easier for the Israelis to end the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank (major Palestinian concern), but reigning in the Palestinian militants (one of Israels major concerns) seems an impossibility. They're so enmeshed in a culture of violence and hate, that it would take generations to extricate themselves from that mindset. And the Israelis are unwilling, understandably so, to make too many concessions that could result in the eventual death of Israel as we know it.

George W. Bush said it best in a speech at the conference:

"The battle is underway for the future of the Middle East, and we must not cede victory to extremists. With their violent actions and contempt for human life, the extremists are seeking to impose a dark vision on the people. If this vision prevails, the future of the region will be endless terror, endless war and endless suffering."

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Muhammad" Bear Lands Brit Teacher In Jail

"Hello, my name is Muhammad!"

Imagine being jailed simply for calling a stuffed animal "Jesus" or "Buddha". It would never occur in the west, but change locales and switch the name to "Muhammad" and that's exactly what happened to a British schoolteacher in the mess of a country called Sudan.

Gillian Gibbons, a teacher at the private British International, Unity High School in Khartoum (where both Christians and Muslims are taught an English curriculum) was arrested on Sunday for insulting Islam. Her crime: allowing her pupils to name a fuzzy little teddy bear Muhammad.

For a school project about bears, children were asked to choose a name for a teddy bear that one 7-year-old girl brought in to share with the others. They would each be allowed to take home this adopted stuffed animal on weekends, and were asked to write a diary about what they did with it. The 6 and 7-year-olds chose 8 commonly used names including Hassan, Abdullah and, yes, the infamous Muhammad. 20 of the 23 students fancied the latter, so the bear was duly named Muhammad. A compilation of the diary entries were bound together, and a picture of the bear with "My name is Muhammad" graced the cover of the book.

This was back in September, and according to a British Embassy spokesman the parents had no problems with the bear being named Muhammad at that time. And there is no indication as to why, months later, several parents decided to complain to the authorities, which then led to Gibbon's wholly, unwarranted arrest.

Rabie Atti (a Sudanese government spokesman) has said:
"If she is innocent, she will be set free."
"I hope she didn't mean what the people thought."

In other words, that she willfully, and consciously chose to insult Islam. As though someone would be stupid enough to offend "the Prophet" in a predominately Muslim country. I think not. He does concede that she might not have meant to offend Islam, but that if she did, she will be punished.

For this innocent infraction of an absurd Islamic law, she could receive a 6 month jail term, a fine or 40 lashes!

Don't you just love a civilized, modern justice system!

UPDATE 11/27:

There is now talk that a fellow teacher (from a conservative family in Khartoum) filed the complaint. Was someone jealous of this new teacher? Gibbons just started the 1st of a 2 year stint in Sudan, and was apparently well liked by all.

UPDATE 11/29:

Gillian Gibbons has been charged with inciting hatred towards Islam! Ironically when the Muslim world does these kinds of things, they do exactly that! She faces 4o lashes.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Children's Film "The Golden Compass" not so golden!

Jumping on the global PC bandwagon, and its tireless effort to appease all those who might happen to get offended by nothing and everything, the film and television industry has had no compunctions, whatsoever, about censoring the word "God" from programming. Last year, I wrote about NBC editing out all references to "God" in the animated children's show "Veggie's Tales". According to Rebecca Marks (NBC spokeswoman) the references had been edited out
"... to reach as broad an audience as possible with these positive messages while being careful not to advocate any one religious point of view."
As if Christianity had the exclusive rights to God! In the original format two of the characters, Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato, ended each episode with, "Remember kids, God made you special and he loves you very much." Nothing more, nothing less, but it was obviously deemed potentially offensive to someone, so "God"-- gone.

This year it's Disney's turn. This past October, the Disney Company ordered the word "God" to be removed from some radio ads promoting the animated film "The Ten Commandments". Disney claims the words "chosen by God" were purged
"...because its policies require mention of the studio in its commercials and it decided to replace the "chosen by God" phrase with "from Promenade Pictures" because the original script made it sound as though the actors were chosen by God, not Moses, as was the intended meaning."

If you listen to the ad, it actually could be misconstrued, however, the script could easily have been rewritten in order to make the intention clearer. They obviously chose not to.

Sadly, "God" has become, in many ways, persona non grata, in today's world. From banning prayer in schools to calls for removal of "In God We Trust" from the U.S. currency, we are slowly being forced to eliminate God from our lives by a vocal minority of God-haters. And many are acquiescing to the PC way of dealing with those easily-offended types, by catering to their whims because it's simpler than fighting back. But the more you submit, the more they demand- and the more you lose. It's not a good precedent to set, by any means. And what is so odious and offensive about the word "God", anyway? Even if you do find it so, what harm is there in its use by others who don't? There are many things I find offensive, but I don't demand they be removed or banned. If you can't bear to use the word "God" in our Pledge of Allegiance, then simply omit it, like a fellow actor at a recent SAG meeting!

There seems to be an on-going tug of war between those atheists who want a world devoid of God, and those who believe a God-less world will be the downfall of humanity. And atheists seem to be gaining ground in that battle- including in the realm of Hollywood. On December 7th, 2007 a children's film entitled "The Golden Compass", starring Nicole Kidman and other major players, is being released. It's based on the first novel "Northern Lights" in Philip Pullman's trilogy "His Dark Materials". Seemingly innocuous, it's actually atheism's answer to the Narnia Trilogy. And although all religious (or rather anti-religious references) have been removed, Christian groups are still calling for a boycott. Their main concern is that children will be inspired to read the trilogy after viewing the film (in its watered-down version), and that unsuspecting parents will then purchase the books, which have a decidedly anti-Church, anti-religious theme. In fact, God is portrayed as a drooling, senile old man, and is killed off at the end, by the young protagonists. Pullman, an avowed atheist makes no apologies for his writings, and has openly admitted:
"My books are about killing God."
"I don't profess any religion; I don't think it's possible that there is a God; I have the greatest difficulty in understanding what is meant by the words 'spiritual' or 'spirituality."

Here is a reference from "His Dark Materials", that you won't find in the film:
"The Authority, god, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father the Almighty – those were all names he gave himself. He was never the creator. He was an angel like ourselves – the first angel, true, the most powerful, but he was formed of Dust as we are, and Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself….The first angels condensed out of Dust, and the Authority was the first of all. He told those who came after him that he had created them, but it was a lie."

There are those who believe that the anti-religious references should not have been removed, and I tend to agree. In this way, parents would at least know, upfront, what they are dealing with, rather than being bamboozled into seeing a film which is actually based on books with a rabid anti-God agenda. They should be allowed to make an educated choice, particularly before buying the books for their kids.

I'm not calling for a boycott, however I won't be lining their coffers by viewing the film, nor will I be recommending it to anyone, either. And, just as I would challenge all Atheists to simply ignore any God references that they might find offensive, rather than jumping to sue to have them removed, I am challenging all Christians and others of faith to just not view films like "The Golden Compass", or buy Pullman's books, rather than calling for a boycott. Boycotts rarely achieve their intended goals.

However, I definitely think parents should be made aware and act accordingly. If I had kids, I know I would not allow them to see this film!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thought I would re-post (with a few tweeks) last Thanksgiving's missive, because not much has changed in terms of my gratitude for all we have:

Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks! A day to reflect upon all our blessings. And, as Americans, we are extremely blessed to be living in one of the greatest countries in the world. So we're not perfect. Which country is?! We have our many problems, no-one denies that, but in spite of all our shortcomings, and as often as foreigners vehemently claim to hate and despise us, the U.S. is the country most people dream of coming to. That's why this country is overflowing with legal and illegal immigrants, because this is the "land of opportunity"

where, with a little effort and sometimes no effort at all, anyone can be anything they choose to be,

where education is encouraged for both men and women.

Where a woman can do a man's job and vice versa.

Where a woman can drive a car, a bus, a truck, a plane or even fly into outerspace.

Where women can wear what they want without being beaten and stoned for showing their ankles, arms or a tuft of hair.

Where we can criticise our government and politicians without being thrown into jail and tortured or killed.

Where our politicians are (usually) held accountable and we can vote, in or out, for whomever we choose, and we do and have.

Where we can demonstrate, if we choose to, against or about pretty much anything we choose to.

Where we have access to the internet and news that is not censored.

Where we can worship in a temple, church, synagogue, mosque or wherever we choose to commune with God, or not worship at all.

Where we have access to alternative medicine, and our supplements and herbs are not rigorously and overly regulated.

Where we can travel, without restriction, throughout this country and abroad.

Where life is what you make of it, and you can make anything of your life.

Where we don't live in fear of daily suicide bombings, or being killed because we happen to be a different religion than our neighbour.

This is what freedom and democracy are all about. The freedom to choose what we want for our lives. Not to have those choices dictated by militant religious or political dogma. This is the "land of the free" and "the home of the brave."

God Bless these United States of America and those brave men and women who serve in our armed forces who fight to maintain the freedoms that we have!

We have much to be thankful for!

Cross posted at my other blog Mind, Body, Spirit

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Email Virus alert: Zapchast Trojan Virus in Hallmark E-Cards

With the holiday season fast approaching spammer reprobates are at it again. As I was perusing tonight, I noticed the following alert regarding the latest attempt to infect your computer with the Zapchast Trojan Virus via Hallmark E-Cards. Hallmark recommends the following:

E-Card Fraud Alert

A fraudulent e-mail flooding the Internet claims to have a link to an E-Card from a family member, friend or neighbor and uses major greeting card company names such as Hallmark. Clicking on the link downloads a virus onto your computer that compromises personal data.

What you can do:

1. Report suspicious e-mail to your e-mail service provider so they can take action.

2. File a complaint at

3. Forward the suspicious e-mails to (Due to the large amount of e-mail we receive at that address we will not be able to reply to your e-mail, but we will investigate.)

Then you should delete the e-mail.

If you are unsure if you've received a legitimate Hallmark E-Card, don't click on a link in the e-mail. Instead use our E-Card pickup.

If you do click on the link in the bogus e-mail, you will launch a variant of the Zapchast Trojan virus. Zapchast installs an Internet Relay (IRC) chat client and causes the infected computer to connect to an IRC channel. Attackers then use that connection to remotely command your machine.

What Hallmark is doing:

1. Contacting the Internet providers identified as the source of the spam requesting that they shut down the imposters.

2. Working with Microsoft to include the virus code in their phishing filter to protect consumers who use their web browser and e-mail client software.

3. Working with anti-virus software corporations to get the virus code added to virus definition updates.

4. Reviewing Hallmark's E-Card notification and pickup procedures.

5. Educating consumers about how to avoid E-Card abuse.

How to tell if a Hallmark E-Card notification is real:

1. The subject line of legitimate E-Card notifications from Hallmark will say, "A Hallmark E-Card from (name of the sender)" not a generic term like "friend," "neighbor" or "family member.

2. The e-mail notification will come from the sender's e-mail address, not

3. The notification will include a link to the E-Card on as well as a URL that can be pasted into a browser.

4. The URL will begin with followed by characters that identify the individual E-Card. Hover your mouse over the words "click here" in your e-mail. If you do not see the URL above, it is not a legitimate Hallmark E-Card.

5. Hallmark E-Cards are not downloaded and they are not .exe files.

6. In addition, will never require an E-Card recipient to enter a user name or password nor any other personal information to retrieve an E-Card.

E-mail Safety Tips:

1. Do not open e-mails from unknown senders.

2. Don't open an e-mail you know to be spam. A code embedded in spam advertises that you opened the e-mail and confirms your address is valid, which in turn can generate more spam.

3. If you receive an attachment that you are not expecting, don't open it, even if it's from someone you know. First read the e-mail, and make sure the attachment is most likely legitimate. If you're still not sure, call or e-mail the sender to confirm, but do not reply to the original e-mail.

4. Some fraudulent e-mails that appear to be from financial companies (PayPal, banks, credit card companies, etc.) direct the reader to click on a link to verify or confirm account details. Never click these links. Instead, call the company if you are concerned about your account.

Hallmark gives some very good advice, that we all should follow. I've received (recently) a spate of emails from PayPal, Ebay and even the IRS, none of which were legit.

So the miscreants are on the hunt, once more, and during a time we might all be a little less vigilant than we should.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday Meme-ing, Plus Photo of Frasypoo and Incog!

Okay... I was just tagged for 2 different meme's, so I thought I'd kill 2 birds, as they say, and post them at the same time. Still not sure what it means exactly, other than having done one of these before (thank you Angel).

1st Meme:

Jon (a fabulous photographer, poet, writer, musician, and all round great person) over at Chimeric Day Dreams tagged me for a "Photo Meme". As I love photography I wasn't too miffed about being meme'd for that.
The object of the meme is to post four or more photos of things you see within 100 meters of your home. For those of us still using standard units, that would be about 328 feet and 1 inch. The PhotoShow - 100 meters meme was started by Andy Bailey with the assistance of Vegan Momma and Lalla-Mira.
I was excited, at first, until I walked out my front door and realized that, in these here parts, this time of year is pretty dang boring. No autumn colours, just the same greens we see pretty much year round. Most of the flowers are dead, too, so there were slim pickens. But I managed to rustle up a few:

We have your generic, boring red hibiscus flower. A star fruit tree with one dangling fruit. You have to look carefully, in the centre of the pic, as it blends in perfectly. Then we have a photograph of some kind of ferny tree, with the moon and a generic blue sky background. And, finally, your generic fern. Sorry, Jon, but there just wasn't much of interest to photograph this weekend.

2nd Meme:

The witty and clever, illustrious Angel, over at Woman Honor Thyself tagged me for the "8 Random Things Meme". Last one I posted was the "7 Random Things Meme". Guess they added one since I last participated. So, hmmmm. Let's see. What 8 new boring things can I reveal about myself.
1. I love ethnic food, particularly Indian and Japanese.
2. My first car was a VW bug. A major lemon, like it's colour.
3. I love small animals like cats and chihuahuas, though I don't currently have any.
4. I suffered terribly with depression, from childhood through my 30s.
5. I don't sleep well.
6. I used to smoke over 3 packs of cigarettes a day.
7. I wear contact lenses.
8. I love jazz

So that's it folks. Now you know 15 random things about me.

And, as an added bonus, for those of you who have been dying to know what I look like- I'm posting a photo of Frasypoo from This and That and me! Yes, I had the great pleasure of meeting my first blogging buddy (and her hubby), recently, and she's just as charming and funny in person. We spent a lovely afternoon over a cup of tea and coffee. And... ta da... here we are in her hubby's shop:

What? Did you really think I'd post my face? Sorry. Maybe some day.

I'm not going to tag anyone for the memes, because most have probably done the random thingy one, and I'm not sure who has a camera or is even interested... .but, if you are, let me know and I'll be very happy to add you as a tagee to this post. You are welcome to do both or one or post it in the comments.

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Voting Trends of the Hollywood Elite: Or Who is voting for Whom in the 2008 elections

As we all know, in politics at least, the majority of donations generated from Hollywood types is typically funneled into the Democratic Party, and Election 2008 is proving no different.

Democratic candidates are often treated to high-profile, fundraising parties, attended by the glitterati, with thousands of dollars raised for the candidate of choice. Barack has Oprah. La Hillary has Rob Reiner (director). Pretty boy Edwards has Brett Ratner (director/producer). But, unlike their Democratic counterparts, you won't find any Republican actors, directors or producers hosting high-dollar, fundraising bashes for their favoured candidate. Nope. You never hear of those. Not because there aren't any Republicans in the entertainment industry, but because:

a. you couldn't find one willing to openly host an event and

b. even if you did, you couldn't find enough of them to attend that event.

Although many people scoff at the idea of blacklisting in Hollywood, it does exist, at least the fear of it does. Particularly for the rank and file actor. All you have to do is look at who gives to whom (forgive the Huffpo link) and you'll notice a major disparity between what the Democratic candidates receive and the paltry amount the Republicans receive. No-one in the entertainment industry (save for a fearless few) wants to openly admit they are Republican. A recent article by Joseph Curl, in the Washington Times, illustrates exactly how reluctant they are; of those he contacted for the article none were willing to comment, even those who have donated in the past to the GOP and those who appear to be conservative, like 'Desperate Housewives', Terri Hatcher. According to the article, although Ms. Hatcher lunched with Bush Sr., this past February, and has repeatedly refused to be interviewed on the ultra liberal 'Real Time With Bill Maher', her lawyer Barry Tyerman emailed the following to Curl:

"Please be advised that Ms. Hatcher is not a Republican, but more importantly does not choose to have her political affiliation or viewpoints on any particular candidate or issue in the current presidential campaign included in your proposed article."

Calling yourself a Republican is akin to admitting you're, say, a serial killer in the minds of those who aren't, so most keep their politics a private matter, to avoid any potential discrimination. And sadly, discrimination against conservatives isn't confined to the entertainment biz. People in other industries are subject to the same type of prejudice, at least in those industries dominated by liberals. One would think that the self-proclaimed heralds of tolerance and inclusiveness would be a little more tolerant and inclusive, but not so. Far from it. As I have mentioned before, I have been privy to some incredibly nasty conservative-bashing sessions, proving that liberals aren't so liberal with their compassion and understanding, either.

So, understandably, donations from conservative Hollywood are lagging far behind those from liberal Hollywood-ites, in a time when donations from all sectors has substantially increased. According to the Center For Responsive Politics (CRP)

"Top industries and interest groups have increased their giving over 2004 by 46 percent, Center finds. As money shifts to Democrats, giving from Republican strongholds is mostly flat."

CRP's executive director, Sheila Krumholz claims that:

"A power shift in Congress and a wide-open race for the White House add up to record-breaking contributions from the nation's biggest givers." "There is an intensity to the fundraising for 2008 that we've
never seen before, which means the candidates and parties will be all the more beholden to their biggest donors."

A CRP article goes on to explain that:

"As interest groups and industries contribute substantially more money, they are also shifting their giving to Democrats, both to members of Congress now that the party is in control and to Democratic presidential candidates. The typical big-giving industry is now giving 57 percent of its contributions to Democrats, a shift of 14 percentage points from both 2006 and 2004, when the party and its candidates collected only 43 percent of the money."

Well, isn't that heartening?!

In light of the above facts, I don't think we can afford to sit on our duffs and expect our candidate to win in 2008 if we don't give him our full support, both in time and/or money. We need to rally around whoever is chosen as the Republican nominee, regardless of our differences or personal preferences. This is not a time to thumb our noses at GOP because a particular candidate does not fully represent our voice.

There is a slight glimmer of hope, though. The recent spate of anti-war films 'bombing', no pun intended, is hopefully an indication that the times they are a changing. As quoted in the Washington Times article, Andrew Breitbart (of said in reference to conservative Hollywood: "A lot of these people really believe that we're at crossroads, whether or not we're going to be aggressively taking on ascendant radical Islam." "At that point, you'll see a lot of people come out of the closet."

I hope he's right!

Some interesting side-notes:

Robert Duvall has publicly endorsed Giuliani. Adam Sandler has donated and is expected to endorse Giuliani. Kelsey Grammar and Ben Stein have both donated to Giuliani. Chuck Norris has donated to Huckabee.

For a list of the top 25 most conservative actors click here. It also lists others, but some of them are questionable as conservatives. Morgan Freeman is listed but he has endorsed Barack Obama, so I wouldn't put much credence into it.

And here's a list of corporate donors, and the political parties they donate to. I know which companies I'm going to support.

Here's a post by an emmy Award winning Hollywood screenwriter who talks about the perils of being openly Republican. He also links to a great FrontPage article he wrote.

H/T Kate via email

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Al and Tipper star in "GREASEY Global Warming" weighs in on Global Warming. Cast of characters is a hoot. Worth the minute or so it takes to watch.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

November 11th Veterans Day- In Honour of our Vets

Today is Veterans Day, albeit the end of the day.

Celebrated officially on November 11th each year, it is a federal and state holiday honouring our veterans, both living and those who have passed on.

A little history:

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

However, we should honour those who have served, and currently serve in our military, every day, not just one day a year. We owe them our eternal debt and gratitude for defending freedom around the globe. They need our encouragement and support, as do their families. And there are many ways to do that. Some cost nothing but time at your computer:

Treats for Troops
Freedom Alliance
America Supports You
Any Soldier
Operation Gratitude
Troops Support

To send e-cards:
Military E-Cards
Let's Say Thanks

Debbie at Rightruth has some other ideas, and a lovely tribute by R.J. Godlewski.

God bless you all!!

H/T AP photo Blackfive

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The King to the Idiot-boy Chavez: "Why Don't You Shut Up!"

Hugo Chavez rarely disappoints! In his latest side-show appearance at the Latin American Summit in Santiago, Chile today, he continues to prove to the world at large (at least those bright enough to see it) that he's:

A. a decade short of a high school diploma
B. he's the walking personification of the DSM (the manual Psychologists and others use to diagnose mental disorders)
C. he's a major buffoon
D. all of the above.

In my opinion, the answer is: D.

But, whether he's officially diagnosable as nuts or not, he certainly exhibits many symptoms of several major personality disorders, some of which I have alluded to before, but I'm adding a new one to that list, after this latest episode: Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) . The definition of HPD is:

the affected individual displays an enduring pattern of attention-seeking and excessively dramatic behaviors beginning in early adulthood and present across a broad range of situations. Individuals with HPD are highly emotional, charming, energetic, manipulative, seductive, impulsive, erratic, and demanding.

Well, we can ditch the seductive part, but other than that, tell me he doesn't have HPD!

So, the leaders of Spain, Portugal and Latin America were all at the summit in Santiago, and Chavez at the closing session (in his typical boorish fashion), repeatedly called Jose Maria Aznar (the conservative, former Prime Minister of Spain) a "fascist", saying "Fascists are not human. A snake is more human." So, I guess that makes Chavez a snake, right? But I digress.

In response to the name-calling, the current socialist prime-minister of Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero launched into a dignified lesson on diplomacy, asking Chavez to respect other democratic leaders regardless of ideological differences, and emphasizing that Aznar "...was chosen by the Spanish people and I demand that respect." It obviously failed to resonate, because Chavez kept interrupting throughout, and although we don't hear what he says (his mic was turned off), we do hear King Juan Carlos of Spain heatedly interject "Por que no te callas!" (Why don't you shut up). Boy-child Hugo did eventually shut up, for a while, but in the end responded to Zapatero's speech by saying :

"I do not offend by telling the truth." "The Venezuelan government reserves the right to respond to any aggression, anywhere, in any space and in any manner."

As entertainment, Chavez rocks. As a leader he, well... you can fill in the blank.

For a good laugh (and to see Chavez's idiocy in action), watch the shortened version of Zapatero's admonishment along with the King's scolding . Or to view a longer version click here. Both are in Spanish.

Others blogging about the King and the idiot-boy Chavez:

Daniel-Venezuela + H/T for video
Kate at Colombo Americana gives a rundown of the whole meeting

H/T Instapundit

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Guru Ron Paul For Prez? Uh, No Way!!

Okay, there's something terribly odd going on in the Ron Paul camp. It's actually downright creepy. This wacky, little nerd of a man (masquerading as a Republican) has been raising gobs of money, and accumulating young (and old) supporters like some cult leader a group of devotees. I've recently noticed far more "Ron Paul 2008" bumper stickers than I have any other candidate, and you have to wonder whyyyyy? Who are these people? And what on earth is the attraction? I certainly have no idea.

According to Rick Moran in his article on American Thinker: "Is Ron Paul Pandering to the Paranoid", this group of Ron Paul devotees is definitely a potpourri of kooks, and not just your patchwork quilt of easily swayed youngsters. Though not all of them are crackpots, he assures us, there are plenty who are. Like the white supremacist loonies who are jumping on the Ron Paul bandwagon:

"..he has attracted the support of white supremacists largely because they believe that his attacks on neocons validate their view (warning: link goes to hate site) that the neoconservatives are agents of Israel and part of the worldwide Jewish conspiracy to destroy America and the white race."

and the 9/11 Truthers:

".. a ruthless, mob of internet ruffians who seek to intimidate those who would dare criticize them, the Paul candidacy, or most especially, one of their pet conspiracy theories about 9/11, the "New World Order" (an amorphous term that generally means the imposition of a one world government), or something as mundane and silly as planting a computer chip in every new born in America."
Though Moran doesn't believe that all Paul's supporters are what he terms "haters" he (and others who have negatively posted about Dr. Paul) have received a barrage of negative emails and comments from Ron Paulites:

"...But reading my emails over the last 72 hours following my AT postings about some of the supporters of Ron Paul's candidacy, as well as my experiences on my own personal blog and the experiences I've read about from numerous bloggers, writers, pundits, and media outlets, I have no doubt that the haters, the paranoid conspiracists, and even some anti-globalist anarchists are among the most committed and most visible of his campaign volunteers."

Sounds a little like stalking to me. But ya gotta love "google alerts". You get enough volunteers to man their computers and register for "google alerts" you can hit all the anti-Ron Paul blog posts within seconds. Moran calls them "Paulbots" as they're similar to Spambots. He goes on to say that because of this spamming tactic, of sorts,

"They have driven online polls sponsored by bloggers out of existence thanks to their gaming the system. Apparently, some kind of sophisticated email campaign is at work, [it's called "google alerts" Rick] because no sooner would a poll on a blog go up than the Paulbots would swarm to the site and vote for their man."

Moran's article is worth a read, because if Ron Paul is gaining in popularity, we have much to fear. Though, in all honesty, he has as much a chance of winning the Republican nomination as Mike Gravel or Dennis Kucinich do the Democratic nom. Paul supporters are deluded enough to think he does, though. RonPaulGrassroots claims Paul is "King of the Internet" with the largest group of grassroots supporters of all the 2008 candidates, and "the leader in winning straw polls". He seems to be accomplishing that. This same website likens Ron Paul's run for Prez to Pat Buchanan's 1996 Presidential Race, in the hopes of garnering the far right's vote. Buchanan placed second in the Iowa Caucus, and actually won the New Hampshire primary!

And we're not the only ones who question Paul's cult status. Google "Cult of Ron Paul "and see how many entries there are..... 121,000!

Though Ron Paul winning the nomination is not a problem, in itself, what is problematic is his potential to steal votes from the Republican nominee. His supporters are already claiming that they will either not vote or add him as a "write in". Then factor in Dobson's call to the evangelical far right to vote for a third party candidate, and we've handed the 2008 Presidency over to the Democratic Party.

Be scared. Be very scared!

H/T Chatterbox Chronicles

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Al Gore's "Recount" 2000 Sob Story to Shoot in Jacksonville

So, not only does big 'ol Al (Gore that is) win an Oscar for his sham of a film "An Inconvenient Truth", he also receives (undeservedly so) the Nobel Peace prize for his Global Warming scare-mongering tactics. The Peace prize, mind you, for a subject that has the scientific community and the rest of the world at odds. And now, he can add one more thing to his list of accolades -- something else to further stroke his ever-expanding ego. Yes indeedy, HBO is actually set to shoot a film in Florida about big 'ol Al Gore's "stolen presidency."

Directed by Kevin Pollack and starring Kevin Spacey and Laura Dern (as Katherine Harris), "Recount" will explore the aftermath of election 2000 and the highly criticized recount. Colin Callendar, HBO Films Prez said "
It's a very compelling piece that takes a well-known event and deconstructs it from the point of view of the people involved."

Claiming it doesn't take sides Callendar said :
"It's a fascinating look at democracy where the rubber meets the road -- a look at the election process like we have never seen it before."

Doesn't take sides, eh? Hmmm. An event that polarized the American people, half of whom still firmly believe the election was outright stolen? Produced by a bunch of liberal, Hollywood-types who have donated generously to various elected officials who happen to be members of the Democratic Party? I sincerely doubt that. I'd like to say I'll wait to make judgement until it's released in the Spring of 2008, but I have no intention of watching it. Not because of its potentially liberal, biased political agenda, but because it sounds like a bore of a film, like Gore himself. What makes HBO think anyone will be interested in watching several hours worth of hanging chads and butterfly ballots? Snooze. Well, maybe the Dems and Gore and co. will enjoy watching it. You know, a collective fetch-the-Kleenex-box sob-fest. No thank you! I have better things to do with my time.

But I do find it terribly interesting that they decided, 7 years after the fact, to shoot and air this film during an election year. Trying to show American voters how evil the Republicans are?

Good timing HBO.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Risking Life for Art

The performing arts should be valued for more than its ability to entertain. In a far more profound and complex way it can be a catalyst for change- when it educates, enlightens, transforms, inspires. When audience members leave a theatre or other performing arts venue having been touched, somehow, by their experience, then we (as artists) know we have done our job. When it prompts people to action, even better.

Art, in its various categories- from language and visual arts to the performing arts- is all about communication, and can take on many different forms. In countries that embrace democracy, artists are usually allowed to create freely, without fear of governmental retribution. We are extremely fortunate, in the U.S., to be able to mount projects, if we so choose, that are critical of our government, without fear of retaliation. However, in nations where freedom is at a premium, artists are not so fortunate. They are censored, fired from jobs and thrown in jail for nothing more than being critical of those in power. In those lands, the various art forms either tout the official 'party line', so to speak, or become a political forum, of sorts. From political satire to outright criticism, artists risk their lives and careers to bring to light the injustices that prevail living under those kinds of autocratic regimes.

It's happening right now in places like Burma, Belarus, Venezuela.

In 1990 Par Par Lay, a 60-year-old Burmese comic who performs a traditionall Burmese vaudeville routine laced with political satire called nyeint pwe, spent 6 months in jail for offending the junta with his political jokes. In 1996, he was again sentenced to 7 years in a labour camp, though released after 5 1/2, after he and his troupe the Mustache Brothers dared to poke fun at the Junta in front of Aung San Suu Kyi and an audience of 2,000 including foreign ambassadors. One of the offending routines:
a "government dance," a comic rendition of a wily public servant stealing money from the poor.

His troupe was then barred, by the Junta, from performing for Burmese people, so they had to resort to performing for foreign visitors in Par Par Lay's house. On September 25 2007, Par Par Lay was arrested, once again, during the latest crackdown in Burma. So was another popular comic, Zargana. For weeks, no-one knew what happened to Par Par Lay. His wife, a dancer, said the following:
"I tried to find him, but I don't know where he is" [snip] "If the past is an indication, he must have been beaten a lot. I am worried about whether he is alive or not."

Thankfully, according to Amnesty International, both Par Par Lay and Zargana were released in late October, however Zargana developed a lung infection from the unsanitary conditions in jail. He was briefly detained, again, after he spoke to international media about his incarceration. And sadly, it probably won't be the last time either of them sees the inside of a jail cell.

In Belarus, the Free Theatre project was created (March 2005) in response to the oppressive, dictatorial leadership of Alexander Lukashenko. It is in part sponsored by former Czech President and playwright Vaclav Havel , and English playwright Tom Stoppard. Those involved have sworn to keep the project alive until Belarus embraces democracy. In the meantime, this group of unpaid actors, directors and technicians continues performing in spite of crackdowns by police, and being outright banned by the Belarusian government. You see, in Belarus only state-sanctioned theatres and actors are allowed to perform. Many of these 'underground' theatres exist through the sheer tenacity and courage of those collaborating, and performances are held in flats, houses and nightclubs. And even though the audiences are pre-screened and the location of the production is revealed shortly prior to the performance, the precautions aren't always helpful. A recent Free Theatre production of "Eleven Vests" (a play about violence by British playwright Edward Bond) was raided by police, and 50 people were detained for hours, including children and theatre artists from France and the Netherlands. In spite of these occurrences and the potential risk of losing jobs or even their freedom, Belarusian actors continue to find ways to bring their voices of dissent to the people.

And in Venezuela, actress Fabiola Colmenares was recently fired from Venevision for publicly registering her disapproval of the police violence against the on-going anti-Chavista student demonstrators. 2 people have been killed in those demonstrations, so far, in case you hadn't heard. (For more information on the situation in Venezuela, check out Kate at Colombo-Americana's Perspective, and Julia's The End of Venezuela As I Know It.)

Artists need to be heard, especially when something needs to be said. And you can rest assured that our voices will not be silenced. As long as we have an audience, and as long as we have a voice.

In solidarity with those who risk all for their art.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Iran Clamping Down on Labour Activists

Although I've made my case for the need for unions (at least my various Unions) on this blog before, I realize that, traditionally, conservatives abhor them for some unknown reason. However, in some countries, like Iran, trade unions have a far greater importance. Remember Poland's Lech Walesa and his Solidarity movement in the 1980s? He (and his trade union activities) was the catalyst which ultimately led to democracy and freedom from Soviet-style communism not only for Poland but all other Eastern Bloc countries in Europe. As Bob from Brockley states:
"The labour movement in Iran is important in its own right: as the expression of the working class of Iran. And it is important as a central plank of Iran's repressed civil society and future democracy. The union
that Osanloo represents has 17,000 members: that represents a formidable force for change in Iran."

The "Osanloo" Bob is referring to is Mansour Osanloo, an Iranian labour activist who has been in and out of jail since 2005, after he and his 17,000-strong fellow members of the Syndicate of Workers of Teheran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) went on strike to protest an edict relegating female passengers to the back of the bus. You see, unlike the U.S., where unions might be be scorned by a certain sector of the government but not threatened, union members in countries like Iran are often jailed, harassed, beaten or killed. Osanloo has been beaten on several occasions and his tongue sliced as a warning to keep mum. This past July, 2007, he was sent back to prison, no specific charges, after he was beaten and abducted from a bus in Teheran. It is thought that what prompted this latest, unwarranted arrest was a recent trip to Europe to meet with officials from the International Transport Workers' Federation:

In Brussels, Mr Osanloo described the intimidation which union members had faced, with some members having been arrested 10 or more times, and family members, including children, being beaten, detained and subjected to inhumane treatment. Asked how he coped with arrests and harassment, he replied: "We decided it is better to die than to live like this."

While in jail this past month, Osanloo almost lost the sight in one of his eyes (as a result of his beating) because the government refused to give him medical treatment. Thanks to a major campaign by Amnesty International, some labour organizations and union members worldwide, Osanloo finally received the surgery he desperately needed. However, against doctor's orders, he was just sent back to prison and sentenced to 5 years, merely for exercising his right to be in a trade union. He has said that unlike other 'political prisoners' he has no political agenda, and has suffered all this harassment simply because he wants better working conditions for transport workers.

He's not the only labour activist in jail: Mahmoud Salehi and Ebrahim Madadi have also been incarcerated. And grocery worker and activist, Majid Hamidi, was recently attacked and shot seven times by several masked assailants. The attack is believed to have been government sanctioned. He is in critical condition.

Although Iran is a member of the International Labour Organization, they have no love or tolerance for labour organizations. Iranian hardliners obviously feel threatened, so are escalating their attacks and persecution of any group/s that might pose a threat to the Islamist status quo, from union activism to the recent student protests.

Regardless of how you feel about Unions, what is happening in Iran is shameful, though not surprising. We are so very fortunate, in the western world, to be able to exercise our right to belong to a Union or not, and to rest easy knowing we won't risk our lives by making that choice.

If you are a member of a any union you can click here to send an urgent message to the International Labour Organization (ILO) calling on Ahmadinejad and others to stop the persecution, harassment and attacks on workers. As I have.

Also blogging about: A second Hand Conjecture

H/T: Bob from Brockley

Thursday, November 01, 2007

To Die in Jerusalem- HBO Documentary

2 beautiful teenage girls killed in one fell swoop. Rachel Levy and Ayat al-Akhras. A victim and a perpetrator. An Israeli girl innocently shopping at a supermarket, and the Palestinian suicide bomber who in an instant, in the name of her almighty Allah, blew them both to bits.

I just watched the HBO Documentary "To Die In Jerusalem" and, although I'm not sure this was the filmmakers' intention, it confirmed my belief that the Palestinian/Israeli situation is hopelessly and tragically unsolvable. Not that I ever thought it was anything but.

Suffering greatly from her daughter's death, the film documents (over a period of 4 years or more) Avigail Levy's oft frustrating quest for answers from Ayat's mother Um Samir al Akhras. Both families are interviewed throughout the film, but it isn't until the end that the mothers finally meet (though not face to face) and Avigail is able to ask Um Samir "why?" Ultimately, all Avigail wants is for Um Samir to declare (on film) that violence and suicide bombings are not the way to achieve peace, but Um Samir is unable to do that, and the meeting is ended.

It's a riveting, albeit frustrating film, in as much as it demonstrates the futility of trying to reach out to someone who refuses to do their part and refuses to reach back. At least that's how I viewed it. I felt no empathy, whatsoever, for or from the al-Akhras. I saw no contrition, no guilt, no condemnation for what Ayat had done, some grief for having lost a daughter, but that's it, other than a truck-load of self-pity.

Um-Samir, like most Palestinians, is entrenched in the whole victim-hood, suicide-culture, hatred-of-Israel mentality. Through her comments (and those of her husband) you come to realize that she believes that because of the plight of the Palestinian people, violent actions are warranted. She refuses to acknowledge the fundamental truth that violence begets violence, and that until the Palestinians lay down their bombs and replace enmity with amity, until they stop insisting that "terrorism" is actually "resistance", until they stop equating "suicide bombings" with "God's Will", until they stop glorifying "martyrdom" and celebrate life over death, until they stop engaging in "Jihad for the sake of Allah", until they purge from their belief system that they are "pre-ordained to be martyrs", until they stop teaching their children to hate, there will never be peace in that region.

At one point Ayat's father says "Islam is peace". In another future lifetime, perhaps, but not this one!