Archive for April 19th, 2013

Saudi Arabia Deports Irresistible Men

April 19, 2013

And on a lighter note, I may have to postpone my trip to Saudi Arabia. Evidently they do not want handsome men who Saudi women could fall for in their kingdom. At least that is what this story in the Telegraph says.

The delegates from the United Arab Emirates were in attendance at the Jenadrivah Heritage & Culture Festival in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, when religious police officers stormed the stand and evicted the men because “they are too handsome,” according to the Arabic language newspaper, Elaph.

“A festival official said the three Emiratis were taken out on the grounds they are too handsome and that the Commission [for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices] members feared female visitors could fall for them,” Elaph reported.

The UAE released an official statement indicating that the religious police were anxious over the unexpected presence of an unnamed female artist in the pavilion.

“Her visit to the UAE stand was a coincidence as it was not included in the programme which we had already provided to the festival’s management,” Saeed Al Kaabi, head of the UAE delegation to the festival, said in a statement.

It was not clear if the woman’s presence was related to the decision to evict the “handsome” Emirati men.

Following the incident, Elaph said the festival’s management took swift action to deport the trio back to Abu Dhabi, capital of the Emirates.

With a majority Sunni Muslim population, Saudi Arabia is a deeply religious and ultraconservative society which forbids women from interacting with unrelated males and refuses to accord them with the same rights as men.

With my irresistible good looks, they probably wouldn’t even let me into the country.

Obviously I am kidding, both about traveling to Saudi Arabia and about my looks.

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Warsaw Uprising

April 19, 2013

Seventy years ago today the Jews trapped in the Warsaw ghetto rose up against their Nazi tormenters in a rebellion that they knew could only end in defeat. Since their knew they were bound for the death camps, they made the decision to die fighting rather than passively submit to torture and death. In a world in which evil, all too often has its way, it is good to remember great acts of heroism. I read about the commemoration ceremonies they are holding in Poland from Yahoo News.

Sirens wailed and church bells tolled in Warsaw as largely Roman Catholic Poland paid homage Friday to the Jewish fighters who rose up 70 years ago against German Nazi forces in the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

The mournful sounds marked the start of state ceremonies that were led by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski at the iconic Monument to the Ghetto Heroes. The president was joined by officials from Poland, Israel and elsewhere as well as a survivor of the fighting, Simha Rotem, to honor the first large-scale rebellion against the Germans during World War II.

About 750 Jews with few arms and no military training made their opening attack on April 19, 1943, on a much larger and well-equipped German force. The attack came after most of the nearly half a million inhabitants of the ghetto had already been sent to die at Treblinka.

The insurgency came when it was clear the Nazis were about to send the remaining residents of the ghetto to die too. The revolt was crushed the following month, and the ghetto was razed to the ground, most of its residents killed.

“We knew that the end would be the same for everyone. The thought of waging an uprising was dictated by our determination. We wanted to choose the kind of death we would die,” said Rotem, an 88-year-old who is among a tiny number of surviving fighters and was the key figure at the ceremony. “But to this day I have doubts as to whether we had the right to carry out the uprising and shorten the lives of people by a day, a week, or two weeks. No one gave us that right and I have to live with my doubts.”

Rotem’s uncertainty is in stark contrast to how the world remembers the revolt. Though a clear military defeat, it is hailed as a moral victory for the Jewish fighters, who refused to go without a fight to the gas chambers. It is prominently commemorated in Israel, part of a never-again ethos that stresses the importance of self-defense.

“The Nazi Germans made a hell on earth of the ghetto,” Komorowski said in a speech. “Persecuting the Jews appealed to the lowest of human instincts.”

During the ceremonies, Komorowski bestowed one of the country’s highest honors on Rotem — the Grand Cross of the Order of the Rebirth of Poland. Later the two of them, along with Israeli Education Minister Shai Piron and Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a Polish Auschwitz survivor who helped rescue Jews during the war, walked side-by-side to the monument and bowed before it as soldiers laid a wreath for them.

To a military drum, other dignitaries followed them in paying their respects at the dark memorial to suffering and struggle, including Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, members of Poland’s Jewish community and U.S. Ambassador Stephen Mull along with an American survivor of the Warsaw ghetto, Estelle Laughlin.

Poland’s chief rabbi and a cantor also recited mournful Hebrew prayers as they were joined by three Polish army chaplains, one Catholic, one Eastern Orthodox and one Protestant. Psalm 130, which starts, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! …” was recited in Hebrew and Polish.

Though the Warsaw ghetto uprising is well-known worldwide, it hasn’t received the same level of attention among Poles, for whom a separate city-wide revolt in 1944 plays a much more critical role in national memory.

Authorities, however, have been trying to change this and to convince Poles that the ghetto uprising is a key moment not just in Jewish but also in broader Polish history.

Newspaper articles in recent days have stressed the Polishness of the Jewish revolt, while officials have encouraged Warsaw residents to get involved in a month of commemorations that ends on May 16. That is the day in 1943 when the Nazis blew up the Great Synagogue, a jewel of 19th-century architecture, to symbolize their crushing of the revolt.

I don’t want to be too hard on the Poles since they suffered almost as much as the Jews at the hands of the Nazis, but I get the impression that exterminating the Jews was the one item on the Nazi agenda that many Poles would have agreed with. That makes the heroism of any Poles who helped the Jews all the more remarkable since they would have been dealing with the anti-Semitism of their neighbors as much as the Nazi authorities.

I suppose that the Ghetto uprising made little or no difference to the German war effort.  It did take the Germans a whole month to crush the revolt and maybe the units used to destroy the ghetto might have made some difference on the Russian front. We will never know. At least these Jews taught the world that the Jews could learn to fight and that oppressed peoples need not passively submit to tyranny.

 

 

Boston Marathon Suspects

April 19, 2013

One of the men responsible for the atrocity at the Boston Marathon has been killed and the other is presently the object of an intense manhunt in Boston. They are Dzokhar A. Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The Tsarnaevs are brothers from Chechnya and contrary to the fantasies of liberal commentators, are not Tea Partiers protesting  Tax Day. Rather, they appear to be followers of the Religion of Peace. Here are parts of the story I read at Yahoo News.

The Associated Press identified the surviving Boston bomb suspect as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, Mass., and said that the suspects were brothers. The second bombing suspect is Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, according to NBC News, who was found with an IED on his body. The brothers’ family is believed to be originally from Chechnya, a volatile southern Russian republic.  Photographer Johannes Hirn took this photo essay of the older brother, a boxer. The captions suggest Tsarnaev came to America as a child with his family as refugees after fleeing Chechnya. Dhokhar Tsarnaev posted links to Islamic and pro-Chechnyan independence sites on what appears to be his social media page.

The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth announced shortly after 10:30 a.m. on Friday that they were evacuating the entire campus after learning Tsarnaev is a student there.

At sunrise, Gov. Deval Patrick ordered a shutdown of all public transit and residents on the edges of Boston to stay indoors as a massive manhunt for the second suspect was underway. The entire city in Boston was under a shelter in place order by late Friday morning.

“This situation is grave and we are trying to protect the public safety,” said Massachusetts State Police Col. Timothy Alben, who ordered a lockdown of Watertown, Waltham, Belmont, Cambridge, Newton, Allston and Brighton. A no fly zone has been declared over Watertown. The city of Boston was eerily quiet during Friday’s rush hour, the city’s busy intersections totally abandoned.

Federal agents swarmed Watertown after local police were involved in a car chase and shootout with the men identified Thursday by the FBI as Suspect 1 and Suspect 2 in the Boston bombings. During the pursuit, officers could be heard on police radio traffic describing the men as having handguns, grenades and other explosives.

The mayhem began at approximately 10:20 p.m. Thursday when police said the bombing suspects robbed a 7-Eleven store in Cambridge. Minutes later, police said, the men shot and killed an MIT campus officer responding to the robbery call. The terror suspects then carjacked a Mercedes-Benz with the driver inside and fled, eventually letting driver go. They were then spotted in Watertown where they exchanged dozens of rounds of gunfire with patrol officers.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot by police and brought to Beth Israel Medical Center. He arrived at the hospital under cardiac arrest with multiple gunshot wounds and blast-like injuries to his chest. The second suspect fled on foot, leading to the tense manhunt that is still underway at this hour.

“We believe this to be a terrorist,” said Boston police Commissioner Ed Davis. “We believe this to be a man who has come here to kill people. We need to get him into custody.”

A transit officer, Richard H. Donohue, was seriously wounded during the exchange of gunfire, officials said.

In a radio alert sent issued to fellow officers, the suspect was described as a “white male with dark complexion … with thick curly hair wearing a charcoal gray hooded sweatshirt … possibly with an assault rifle and explosives.” Police in Watertown, Newton, Brighton and Cambridge were put on high alert. “Units use caution,” an officer said. “He might have an explosive object on his person.”

Worried residents in Watertown, a suburb about 8 miles from downtown Boston, were ordered to stay indoors and turn off their cell phones out of fear that they could trigger improvised explosive devices.

Dozens of police officers, many of them off-duty, searched backyards in pursuit of the second suspect, and a police perimeter of several blocks was established. K9 units and SWAT teams searched homes on Spruce Street as officers with a police robot searched an SUV that the suspects had abandoned. Multiple devices were left in the road and two handguns were recovered, according to police scanners.

The Watertown shootout occurred after a gunfight erupted near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the MIT police officer, 26-year-old Sean Collier, was shot and later died. The campus was placed on lockdown for several hours, and students were told to remain indoors.

Shortly before 2 a.m. Friday, MIT issued a statement on its website saying that the suspect “in this evening’s shooting is no longer on campus. It is now safe to resume normal activities. Please remain vigilant in the coming hours.” MIT, Harvard, Boston University and other local colleges have cancelled classes.

President Barack Obama, who attended an interfaith service for the bombing victims in Boston on Thursday, was briefed on the overnight developments, the White House said early Friday.

At approximately 3:30 a.m., Massachusetts State Police issued a plea on Twitter for residents of Watertown to lock their doors and not open them for anyone as they searched backyards and exteriors of houses there.

“Residents in and around Watertown should stay in their residences,” the alert read. “Do NOT answer door unless it is an identified police officer.”

This man is very dangerous and at this point doesn’t have anything to lose. Indeed, if he is a fanatic Muslim he may well desire to be martyred, taking as many infidels with him as possible, so they he can get his 72 virgins. Let us hope and pray he is apprehended quickly.

 

 

 


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