Saturday, 1 August 2015

Progressives allying with theocrats again  | tomowolade

"Let's not forget that their suggestion that Quilliam is presently being funded by the government is untrue, or their lack of research – as academics! – in blithely dismissing the council of ex-Muslims' report on Haddad. What's most striking, once again, is progressive people demonising progressive dissidents of a different cultural background in the service of excusing the religious far right – a group who, with sufficiently lower melanin, would face uniform opprobrium in civil society. The first victims of the religious far right are feminist Muslims, secular Muslims, gay Muslims, and those who reject Islam altogether. To fetishise Muslim victimhood and grievance for political capital, and to define Muslim victimhood as an essential trait, is to conceal the oppressors that victimise the truest dissidents in our society: those who want to be free from traditionalist cultural mores."

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The Return of the Silent Majority > Rebecca Bynum

The Labour party has done something similar in the United Kingdom by deliberately engineering mass Muslim immigration, mainly from Pakistan. Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett, revealed the truth when he wrote, "I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn't its main purpose – to rub the Right's nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date."

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Reform Islam? Recognize Kurdistan! > G. Murphy Donovan

Why can't the U.S. and the west get behind the Kurds?
Support the establishment of a Kurdish state. No matter how it might upset such "allies" as Turkey, Iraq and Saudi.
Here's the detailed argument for such a sane policy:

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One Congressman’s Iran - The New York Times

Reading both sides of the fence on the Iran deal, I come down on the liberal side: imperfect deal, but better than no deal. (The conservative view is better no deal than a bad deal).
In discussing this deal, Roger Cohen has some tart words for our so-called "ally", the execrable Saudi Arabia.
Be done with them.
"Now the Saudis are American allies. Iran is, and will for the foreseeable future remain, a hostile power. But what have our "allies" done for us of late? Promoted, through madrasas and other means, the conservative Wahhabi Islam whose fierce anti-Western teachings provided the context for the emergence of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and, most recently, the Islamic State. Manipulated oil prices, most recently down, in order to undermine America's liberating energy revolution through an attempt to make shale oil uncompetitive. Shunned Obama's attempts to reassure Sunni monarchies that the Iran deal would not mean diminished support — and all this, of course, from the country that furnished the manpower for 9/11."

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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

"Free speech must not incite violence"

Yes, but...
Free speech must not incite violence by literally inciting violence: that is, calling for rioting or killing of people.
Any other free speech, be it satire, cartoon, even objectionable or confronting articles, must be allowed.  In these cases, if violence ensues, it is only when it is incited by those taking offence.  It is not incited by the free speech itself.  Any other take on this is to blame the victims of violence, as many have done, implicitly or explicitly in the Charlie Hebdo case.
This sadly misguided SMH editorial quotes Dr Anne Aly of Curtin University, who claims that "right wing extremism is emerging as an equal or even greater threat that Muslim radicalisation in Australia".
But this is nonsense.
Crazies from the Ku Klux Klan or other right-wing racist nutters aside (and they're a vanishingly small number in Australia), the so-called "right-wing extremists" we're talking about here are those that are against the spread of Sharia law in Australia (as we should all be), against the Islamisation of society (halal slaughter, sexual segregation in schools, limitations on free speech, etc), against Islamic extremism and terrorism (again, as we should all be, surely).
These are liberal principles, and the "right wing" label is just a slur.
In effect, Dr Aly is conflating those Australian who are against the Sharia, extremist Muslims and jihadis, with those very extremists and jihadis that are calling for Sharia, whether violently or otherwise.
Piers Ackerman has more on this at "Getting it wrong on right-wing extremists and jihadists".

"A New Syndrome: Anything But Islam"

On the ridiculous notion that the Islamic State, or ISIS, or ISIL, or Daesh, or whatever you want to call it, "has nothing to do with Islam", as we're told by Obama, Cameron, Kerry, et. al.
Our own Aussie Foreign Minister has taken to calling it "Daesh", in the belief that this somehow divorces it from Islam.  But Daesh simply means "Islamic State" in Arabic.  As one wag commented somewhere: it's rather like believing that it's not a cake, because you call it a "gateau".
Graeme Wood covers this in rather more detail in the Atlantic: "What ISIS Really Wants".
And Rod Liddle tackled the ludicrous notion, here and here.

Why has scientific progress stalled in many Islamic countries?

An article in the Times Higher Education supplement examines this question.
But there's nowhere in the article any recognition of Islam itself.
"The Closing of the Muslim Mind", by Robert Rielly, covers this aspect rather better.
The point that sticks most clearly in my mind from that book, is this: that Islam (from around the 11th century, if I recall correctly) has basically banned the concept of "cause and effect".  The reason: because to say that "x" causes "y", is to limit the power of Allah.  Thus, one cannot even say that the three angles of a triangle always add up to 180 degrees.  For to do so would be to limit the agency of God.
One can imagine the violence this does to the scientific method.  Cause and effect is replaced by "Inshallah".
The full article is below the fold.

New Conservative Star Does it AGAIN! Slams Obama on Islam and Terrorism

Tomi Lahren has some firm views.  

Fist pump? Cheer? Slow clap? All appropriate responses to this epic rant.

Yes, Islam is inherently misogynistic, and here's why

A typical piece of Islamic apologia under the headline "No, Islam is not inherently misogynistic, and here's why". Unsurprisingly, in the leftie Huffington Post...

On the other hand:

Note that in neither link above do we cherry-pick.  We both quote the negative and positive references to women.  It's just that the negative far outweigh the positive, by a large margin, and are considered normative in many parts of the Islamic world.  Vide: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, in particular.

Patricia Crone, 70; scholar of Islamic history

I've come across Patricia Crone's work from time to time; and now she's dead.
She died just when we had news that a fragment of a Koran had been discovered at a UK university, apparently written at the time Muhammad was alive.  That was interesting as most scholars, Muslim and non-Muslim, and including professor Crone, believe that the earliest Koran's were assembled only some centuries after his death.  Indeed, elsewhere, Crone has stated that there is no archaeological evidence of any of the events of the Koran or in the Islamic Trinity.
But Saudi scholars are not convinced that the newly-discovered fragments are indeed from the time of Muhammad.  They say that it was common to wipe off previous text from ancient documents, and to write later texts thereon. 

The Evidence Supports Artificial Sweeteners Over Sugar -

What I've always believed, based on the science:
"The available evidence points to the fact that there appears to be a correlation between sugar consumption and health problems; none can be detected with artificial sweeteners...."
If you've gotta have a Coke, make it a Diet...

Monday, 27 July 2015

"Gloves come off in bitter fight over climate change". But the SCMP doesn't cover the full brouhaha

The South China Morning Post's Science Focus is an often interesting page.
Its editor is Alex Ho has decidedly "climate science denial" (or "sceptic" if you wish) tendencies, so I suspected there may have been more to the story that simply the case of a brave "climate sceptic" facing off the brute forces of  the "global warming orthodoxy".
I was suspicious. A letter to the editor followed:

I was intrigued to read the article by Wilie Soon (“Gloves come off in bitter fight over climate change”, Science Focus, 19 July).  Why give such prominence to an article complaining about “personal attacks”? [1]

So, I hied me to the internet and find that Soon’s statement had first appeared on 2 March, in response to a New York Times article claiming that Soon had not fully disclosed the source of grants for his studies on climate change. These totalled $US 1.5 million over ten years, almost all from the fossil fuel industry.  

One may choose to believe Soon’s claim that “I have never been motivated by financial gain…”.  And one may also choose to believe in the tooth fairy.  In any case, whether or not he was influenced by the source of his grants is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that he did not always disclose those sources.  The Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics (HSCA), at which Soon works part-time, has said: “Soon had failed to meet disclosure requirements of some of the journals that published his research”.  Google “Willie Soon” for many more references to this brouhaha.  Virtually all are dismissive of Soon’s claims, and indeed of his science.

Wikipedia has this to say about the controversy:  "He also requested that journalists who had reported on his actions similarly examined disclosure by other scientists.  An investigation by InsideClimate News could find no cases where mainstream climatologists had failed to disclose the funding of their research. Unlike Soon, who had approached private funders directly, their funding was almost entirely obtained through open competitive peer-reviewed applications to public bodies."

Soon describes himself as “research physicist sat the Harvard-Smithonian Centre for Astrophysics”.  Yet he released his claim of victimisation via the Heartland Institute, a climate sceptic organisation, rather than the HSCA.  Why?   Perhaps because on 26 February a Smithsonian statement said: "The Smithsonian does not support Dr. Soon’s conclusions on climate change. The Smithsonian’s official statement on climate change, based upon many decades of scientific research, points to human activities as a cause of global warming."

As to the substance of Soon’s research, the nub of it is this: he believes that sun-spots are the sole cause of global climate changes, and that CO2 can be discounted.  Many climate scientists agree that solar activity plays a part, but not the sole part, and that all the evidence points to rise in CO2 emissions as the chief cause of global warming. 

Given that fully five months have elapsed since this controversy first erupted, surely your editors could have found time to research and report this background.  Your readers would have been better served by understanding the context as balance to Soon’s farrago of victimhood.

Yours, etc....
[1]: Soon's original statement via the Heartland Institute is here.  The SCMP version is very slightly different, but behind a paywall.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Salman Rushdie on Islam: 'We have learned the wrong lessons' | Books | The Guardian

Quote re Rushdie:
The novelist [Salman Rushdie] told the French magazine that he believes "we are living in the darkest time I have ever known", with the rise of Islamic State of "colossal importance for the future of the world". He argued that the taboo surrounding "supposed 'Islamophobia'" must be brought to an end.
"Why can't we debate Islam?" he said. "It is possible to respect individuals, to protect them from intolerance, while being sceptical about their ideas, even criticising them ferociously."
The cravenness and self delusion of western literati.

What it means to be poor by global standards | Pew Research Center

Interesting, from the non-partisan, and widely regarded PEW Research Institute. Main conclusion to note -- confirmed by United Nations and other studies -- is that global poverty has plunged in recent decades as countries, notably China and India, have adopted capitalism as their guiding philosophy.
For Africa the story is the same, save for the added importance of improved governance there (otherwise known as not letting the kleptocracy get away with it all).
Whatever the angsts of the SJWs, the clear fact is that it's capitalism (NOT socialism) that has the best record of improving the lot of the poor and the working class of the world.
Full article here.

I’m off to join Islamic State. See ya, kafirs! » The Spectator

From the redoubtable Rod Liddle.
Sad truths of the west's self delusion on Islam wrapped in his trademark barbed humour.

The enemy's enemy: how Arab states have turned to al-Qa’eda » The Spectator

By Ahmed Rashid, a writer I've just recently come to know. A highly interesting article about the world of realpolitik and the least bad choices. Who da thunk? 14 years after 9/11 and Al-Qaeda is now being courted as the "moderates"....

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Political Islam – Questions and Answers | Blazing Cat Fur

Bill Warner is good. Well worth the twenty minutes.

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David Cameron has given his best speech yet on tackling Islamic extremism - Spectator Blogs

Douglas Murray, always sound. There's good discussion in the comments at Harry's Place

Tuesday, 21 July 2015