May 13, 2008
“I remember the time I was kidnapped and they sent a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof.”– Rodney Dangerfield
“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.”– Albert Einstein
“Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry.”– Bill Cosby
“Never stand between a dog and the hydrant.”– John Peers
“The trouble with being punctual is that nobody’s there to appreciate it.”– Franklin P Jones
“When I die, I want to go peacefully like my Grandfather did, in his sleep — not screaming, like the passengers in his car”– Unknown
“I’m desperately trying to figure out why kamikaze pilots wore helmets.”– Dave
“I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.”– Rodney Dangerfield
“Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn’t block traffic.”– Dan Rather
“Hermits have no peer pressure.”– Steven Wright
“Marriage is a three ring circus: engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffering.”– Unknown
“Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant?? I’m halfway through my fish burger and I realize, Oh man… I could be eating a slow learner.”– Lyndon Johnson
Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment Monday accusing a man and woman of training the woman’s child to be a dominatrix, selling her sexual services and photographing some of the acts…
…began training the girl in 2000 when she was 12, and forced her to engage in sex acts with him and with other men. According to the indictment, he also had the girl watch pornography on the Internet as a teaching tool.
A Japanese man who stole cash from a store by brandishing a knife turned himself in only five minutes later, saying he wanted to be punished, police said Monday.
Ginji Aoi, a 23-year-old unemployed man, threatened a convenience store worker with an 18-centimetre (seven-inch) knife on Sunday in Osaka and snatched 79,000 yen (770 dollars) from him, police said.
But as soon as he was out the door, he headed straight to a, an officer at the station said.
“He told police, ‘I want to be caught because I did something bad,’” the officer said…
Aoi is in custody as police consider whether to press charges, he said.
A man who allegedly photographed more than 3,000 women’s bottoms as they toured Venice has been arrested…
A police video shows a man in jeans and hooded top walking behind women.
He is trying to position his black holdall close to their legs.
Police said he was filming through a small hole in the side of the bag.
The officers had become suspicious when they realised he was only following women with short skirts. When they stopped or bent down to pick something up, he was clearly trying to angle the bag behind them.
According to about 30 Saudi girls and women between ages 15 and 25, all interviewed during December, January and February, it is becoming more and more socially acceptable for young engaged women to speak to their fiancés on the phone, though more conservative families still forbid all contact between engaged couples.
It is considered embarrassing to admit to much strong feeling for a fiancé before the wedding and, before their engagements, any kind of contact with a man is out of the question. Even so, young women here sometimes resort to clandestine activities to chat with or to meet men, or simply to catch a rare glimpse into the men’s world…
Though it is as near to hand as the offices they pass each morning on the way to college, or the majlis, a traditional home reception room, where their fathers and brothers entertain friends, the men’s world is so remote from them that some Saudi girls resort to disguise in order to venture into it.
At Prince Sultan University, where Atheer Jassem al-Othman, 18, is a first-year law student, a pair of second-year students recently spent a mid-morning break between classes showing off photographs of themselves dressed as boys.
In the pictures, the girls wore thobes, the ankle-length white garments traditionally worn by Saudi men, and had covered their hair with the male headdresses called shmaghs. One of the girls had used an eyeliner pencil to give herself a grayish, stubble-like mist along her jaw line. Displayed on the screens of the two girls’ cellphones, the photographs evoked little exclamations of congratulation as they were passed around.
“A lot of girls do it,” said an 18-year-old named Sara al-Tukhaifi who explained that a girl and her friends might cross-dress, sneaking thobes out of a brother’s closet, then challenge each other to enter the Saudi male sphere in various ways, by walking nonchalantly up to the men-only counter in a McDonalds, say, or even by driving…
“My sister and I sometimes ask my mom, ‘Why didn’t you breast-feed our boy cousins, too?’ ” Shaden continued.
She was referring to a practice called milk kinship that predates Islam and is still common in the Persian Gulf countries. A woman does not have to veil herself in front of a man she nursed as an infant, and neither do her biological children. The woman’s biological children and the children she has nursed are considered “milk siblings” and are prohibited from marrying.
“If my mom had breast-fed my cousins, we could sit with them, and it would all be much easier,” Shaden said. She turned back to the stack of DVDs she had been rifling through, and held up a copy of Pride and Prejudice, the version with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet, a film she says she has seen dozens of times.
“It’s a bit like our society, I think,” Shaden said of late Georgian England. “It’s dignified, and a bit strict. Doesn’t it remind you a little bit of Saudi Arabia? It’s my favorite DVD.”
Shaden sighed, deeply. “When Darcy comes to Elizabeth and says ‘I love you’ — that’s exactly the kind of love I want.”
May 13, 2008
From the Interactive Investor:
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – A federal sting of four companies accused of arranging fraudulent marriages for U.S. citizenships, complete with wedding photos of brides in gowns and elaborate fake cakes, has netted more than 80 arrests, authorities said Friday.
Immigrants, Americans and company officials were among the 83 arrested. The immigrants paid as much as $10,000, while the U.S. citizens were offered up to $2,500, U.S. Attorney Robert O’Neill said.
The couples were coached on how to pass immigration checks with fake answers, even though in some cases they didn’t speak the same language as their purported spouse, officials said. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials who review each citizenship-conferring marriage to ensure legitimacy tipped off federal agents in many cases.
At least one of the businesses kept a standing wedding showroom in its office, complete with a prop cake, an assortment of 10 to 15 wedding dresses and table settings never dirtied with dinner or drink.
“What we’ve seen in the past generally is that a person will meet someone, that person might be desperate for some money, willingly engage in a sham marriage and then they go their own ways,” O’Neill said. “Here, you can see this was much more sophisticated. They incorporated businesses, they obviously sought out people, people came in.”
Officials said some of the immigrants had criminal records, ranging from burglary to battery, drug offenses, domestic violence and even aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. They were primarily from Central and South America, though at least one was from Morocco.
The four companies that allegedly arranged the marriages were incorporated as immigration assistance services. They were All Kind Services, A-3 Services, American Solutions and Services — all based in the Orlando area — and Power of Attorney, based in Daytona Beach. Officials said more arrests were expected.
Two people behind Power of Attorney, Larry Humm and Natalia Humm, pleaded guilty this year to conspiracy and fraud charges. She is appealing a nearly four-year prison sentence for masterminding the scheme, while he received three months’ probation in exchange for cooperating with authorities.
No telephone listings could be found for three of the companies. A message left at American Solutions and Services on Friday was not returned.
Those arrested were from Orlando, Jacksonville, Tampa, Sarasota, Cocoa Beach and Fort Myers.
Robert Weber, the agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Tampa, characterized the fraudulent marriages as a threat to national security.
“(The Americans) did not know their motives, they did not know their intent, they didn’t know where they were coming from — in this case from 11 different nationalities,” Weber said. “They did it for financial gain; they were willing to put our national security and domestic public safety at risk.”
Weber warned that ICE was stepping up enforcement of marriage fraud. The agency investigated more than 5,200 such cases in 2006 and the first half of 2007, up from about 2,300 in 2004.
“The bottom line: If you commit marriage fraud, whether as a United States citizen or one illegally in the country, you will become an ICE investigative target and be held accountable for such criminal activity,” Weber said.
A total of 83 people were arrested, including the suspected business operators and couples. The operators were charged with establishing a commercial enterprise to evade immigration laws, punishable by up to five years in jail. The couples, including the Americans, face charges of knowingly entering into a fraudulent marriage to evade immigration laws, also carrying a maximum five-year penalty.
May 13, 2008
A few days ago, Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui wrote Harper’s Extreme Position No Way To Support Israel, in which he takes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to task for remarks he made in support of Israel.
What did Mr Harper say that Mr Siddiqui found so outrageous?
“Unfortunately, Israel at 60 remains a country under threat – threatened by those groups and regimes who deny to this day its right to exist,” he told a Toronto celebration marking the anniversary.
“And why? Look beyond the thinly veiled rationalizations: Because they hate Israel, just as they hate the Jewish people.”
Siddiqui takes great offense when Harper does no more than state the obvious. He goes on to say that
Many groups and regimes, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, do deny Israel’s right to exist. But not all others do so solely for the reasons cited by Harper. Some hold back recognition as a negotiating tool in the Palestinian dispute.
To which nations is Mr Siddiqui referring? Which nations that have refused to recognize Israel have not made anti semitism an integral part of their state run media, educational curriculum and publicly funded religious program? What possible reason could any nation that refuses to recognize Israel, a member nation in good standing of the United Nations, WTO and other organizations, have? Are any of these nations free and democratic societies?
Further, since when is diplomatic recognition of a legitimate state ‘ a negotiating tool’? Why shouldn’t the same apply to Hamas of Hizbollah? Why should any democratic state afford Hamas and Hizbollah any kind of recognition? Both organizations make no secret of their intentions, racism, bigotry and hate on a daily basis. Does Mr Siddiqui believe that hatred too, is a ‘negotiating tool’? Siddiqui might argue that because those organizations were elected, they have a certain legitimacy. Of course, that is absurd. Adolph Hitler, so revered in the Arab world, came to power by manipulating the electoral process. Had the civilized world dealt with Hitler appropriately instead of trying to appease the beast, 50 million lives would have been saved.
Siddiqui goes on to say that
One wonders what Harper would make of those Israelis, as well as Jewish Canadians and others, who do strongly support Israel but also question some Israeli policies.
What would he say about the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians? This newly formed umbrella organization of 23 groups, critical of some Israeli policies, obviously does not “hate Israel,” or “hate the Jewish people.”
There is a big difference between the the Jews and others in the western world who criticize Israeli policies. They do not question her right to exist and her right to live in peace and security.
Criticism of Israel by Hamas, Hizbollah, Iran and most of the Arab world is very different and takes on a whole other dimension. Criticism of Israel by those Arab nations and organizations are always followed by calls to genocide and the slaughter of the Jews. In those nations, the institutionalized hate, racism and bigotry, broadcast in their media, taught in schools and preached from the pulpit, criticism of Israel has a very different meaning. Promises by regimes and organizations to ‘Finish what Hitler started” does not bestow moral equivalency to Jewish or other legitimate critics of Israel, no matter how much Mr Siddiqui wishes that to be a reality.
It is no wonder that for Siddiqui, Israel Apartheid Week is an acceptable expression. He writes;
There’s an ongoing debate in Canada over when freedom of speech crosses the line into hate. The argument gets played out in universities over Israel Apartheid Week. Despite pressure to cancel it, the universities of Toronto, York and Ryerson have opted for academic freedom…
Perhaps Mr Siddiqui might be a less opaque. There is no ‘ongoing debate in Canada over when freedom of speech crosses the line into hate.’ When the likes of Hamas, Hizbollah and the policies of the Arab world are given credibility, the question of hate is not in question. What is in question is just how much hate is acceptable- and the answer to that is quite clear: Canadians have a very high tolerance for hate if it is well camouflaged.
Mr Siddiqui fails to see the bigger picture.
…imagine a school that gave each student a glass of alcohol every day. Each day, beginning at tender nursery school age, the child was encouraged to drink the beverage that would come to poison his mind. Suppose that beverage was from the well aged bottle of anti Semitism.
Suppose also that once that child downed that alcoholic beverage, the teacher refilled that glass with more alcohol. This time, the flavor is religious bigotry directed at non Jews.
Suppose once that glass of alcohol was consumed by young dutiful children, the glass was immediately refilled with the beverage from the bottle of anti western and anti democratic values.
After decades, these children, now adults, go home every day, turn on the television and read the newspapers- and they are fed more alcohol. They get more when their kids come home from school, and share the same familiar poisoned ‘fire water.’ They poison they are fed gets the God’s seal of approval when fed to them from the pulpit- or so they desperately need to believe.
Of course, to keep a drunk or a junkie hooked, it takes an ever increasing amount of poison to induce the same stupor that blinds the drunk or the junkie to his own surroundings and dysfunction. The supply of poison never ends.
After years of such ‘education,’ it would be reasonable to expect that there would be a lot of alcoholics in the Arab world, poisoned by the hate and ideologies of dysfunctional and corrupt leaders. Like alcoholics and substance abusers, they will tell you they ‘have it under control‘ and that they ‘can quit anytime they want.‘
There is no equivalence, moral or otherwise, that can be made between the legitimate critics of Israel and the Arab world. That somehow Mr Siddiqui would even attempt to make that kind of equivalence is remarkable. To be sure, there are no perfect societies. That said, the collective institutionalized racism, bigotry and hate of one week in the Arab world media, school curriculum and religious outlet exceeds that of the Nazi Germany era- and the Arab world has been engaging in this kind of behavior for decades. It is no wonder that 60 years after the conflagration that was the Second World War, the ugly and Mein Kampf is the second most popular book in the Arab world, after the Quran.
Does Mr Siddiqui really believe that those spewing the most visceral and vile hate are moral equals to the rest of us? He writes
Harper’s position is designed to silence and delegitimize even the mildest criticism of Israeli policies.
It’s an undemocratic formulation that the Israelis themselves would reject. There’s a sturdy debate in Israel on all aspects of its policies in the Occupied Territories.
Mr Harper’s remarks are intended to have precisely the opposite effect. His remarks clearly distinguish between those who are legitimately critical of Israeli policies and those for whom criticism of Israel is merely a pretext and another channel to legitimize anti semitism. What Mr Harper has done is to open the window and let in a bit of sunshine. What he and others will not abide is pollution masquerading as fresh air.
Siddiqui remarks that “Canada is not Israel where Israeli Arabs are second-class citizens.”
Does Siddiqui really want to play that race card? Does he really want to compare Israeli policies and those of the Palestinians and her Arab neighbors, the ones who proudly proclaim that they will ‘Finish what Hitler started’? Does he want to compare the rights enjoyed by Arabs in Israel versus the rights of minorities in Arab countries? Poll after poll indicates that Israeli Arabs would prefer to remain under Israeli administration. Why would that be, Mr Siddiqui?
Siddiqui’s rationale is not original. In the Totalitarian Mindset, Dr Sanity writes about
The alliance between historical remnants of those failed 20th century ideologies–responsible between them for more human misery and death than ever before known in history–and the Islamic fanatics (who represent the 21st century totalitarian mindset) is clearly visible in the precepts of postmodernism political correctness and multiculturalism, which dovetail perfectly into the rhetoric that rationalizes terrorism and the behavior that appeases and enables it…
…radical Islamic ideology is itself an unexpected combination of several toxic memes that came together over the last 30 years. One thread of this meme is Islam itself–a purportedly “peaceful” religion that is actually historically based on military conquest and coercion of belief through jihad– entwined with the remnants of the totalitarian ideologies of the last century.
This is why there is an alliance between the totalitarians of the left– who are the remaining outposts of communism and socialism that thrive in academic and “intellectual” circles in the West; and the Islamic fanatics of the world. Whether this alliance is a conscious or unconscious one (i.e., whether the specific component of the left actively and deliberately supports Islamic terrorism versus enabling and appeasing it) depends on the level of insight and personal depravity achieved by the true believer of today’s left…
This sympathetic and synergistic interaction of the seemingly very different totalitarian mindsets–terrorism in the name of religion combined with the secular neo-marxist fascism of the left–have created a very toxic brew, made even more lethal by the rhetorical and political strategies of postmodernism. The result is a pure and perfect poison…
Haroon Siddiqui cannot and will not reconcile the truth that radical Islamist agendas are at odds with the ideas and agendas of the civilized world. Rejection of Islamic extremism is not a rejection of all Muslims.
When we are subjected to the institutionalized visceral hate that is part and parcel of the Arab world regimes and organizations, do not ask western civilization to accept Arab ideologies as equivalent to their own. If the Arab world really wants to be accepted as equals, they must propagate an Islam that is not only tolerant of others, and intolerant of extremist racist and bigoted ideologies. Unless and until the Arab world embraces the idea that human rights are equally applicable to all, they will remain marginalized.
Finally, the ultimate expression of morality and the expression of faith are in the purview of each individual and not tied to a nation, group or political party. When nations, groups or political parties such as Hamas or Hizbollah dictate what is moral and what is an expression of faith, something is very, very wrong.