Sunday 31 May 2015

Glenn Greenwald, I’m sorry: Why I changed my mind on Edward Snowden -

I'm not sure if I posted this before, but what the heck, doubling up doesn't matter as this is important... Why it is that Islam is not an ideology that one should have anything to do with....

[That said, I’m not sure quite why I posted this. It’s an apology from a Salon writer — dubious enough right there — for having doubted that what Snowden did was wonderful and brave.
I’d grant ‘brave’, but doubt the ‘wonderful’. 9 March 2020]

With Islam Rising, Even Media Are Questioning Right to Free Speech

A clever video.  First part is various journalists saying "of course the right to free speech is sacrosanct" and similar...
Then the second part is the second half of those journalists' comments: "... but of course, we must be sensitive/tolerant/not critical...." and so on.
In other words, all the media types collected in the video of members of what Salman Rushdie has called the "but brigade".

Schrodinger's Jihad

"Our entire counterterrorism policy is based around the perverse ostrich belief that Islamic terrorism is a problem that we create by recognizing its existence. If we ignore it, it will go away...".
This is a good article.

Britain's Jihadi Brides reveal truth of terrorism in the name of Islam

The BBC has been running at three-part series on ISIS these recent weekends.
In the first episode, "Britain's Jihadi Brides", a couple are featured, one now known as Umm Layth ("mother of the lions"), born and brought up in England as Aqsa Mahmood.
She shows the falsehood of the common narrative the it's poverty promoting extremism.  "Most sisters have been to University", she says.  And most have been brought up in fine middle class families.  Her blog is here.
And she reveals another false narrative: that extremism is simply a result of "grievances": the occupation of Muslim lands; the Palestine-Israel situation, and so on.
No doubt these are contributory, and a powerful call to Jihad.
But even if these "grievances" are satisfied, are all resolved, there's still the requirement to spread Islam to the rest of the world.
That's Islam. That's the clear message of the Trinity of Islam: the Koran, the Hadith and the Life of Muhammad (the "Sirah").

The Dean Obeidallah Show: No, Islam doesn’t say kill gays

Actually, it does. At least if you believe "The Reliance of the Traveller", which is the authorised manual of Islamic Jurisprudence:
"Kill the one who sodomizes" (p.17).
Still, one wishes Obeidallah good luck in promoting his version of Islam...
The Reliance is linked at left.

Sunday 24 May 2015

Legitimizing Censorship: ‘Islamophobia Studies’ at Berkeley

"Islamophobia studies" is the latest addition to the academic pantheon of politicized, esoteric, and divisive "studies" whose purpose is to censor criticism of differing views by stigmatizing critics as racist or clinically insane.
Read more here.

Sent from my iPad

Thursday 21 May 2015

Islamic Enlightenment is the only way forward |

Useful article.
A bit depressing to read the comments (in the Comments) of moral equivalence ("what about the Jews and Christians" and so on), though that's only to be expected from the readers of The Age, I guess.
More here.
Sent from my iPhone

Apostates: Should They Be Killed? - Islamic Basic Rulings - counsels - is an online authority of Islamic jurisprudence. Here it states clearly the conditions under which apostates from Islam should be killed. Simply put: when its done "publicly". That can surely be freely interpreted, as we see often In places like Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.
What a horrid thought. What a horrid "religion".
Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday 20 May 2015

IMF Report On $5.3 Trillion In Energy Subsidies; Careful, It's Not Quite What You Think

The Scandinavians are idiots

Let me rephrase that.  The Scandinavians I've met, in their home countries and around the world, are wonderful folk: open-minded, tolerant, humorous, charitable, caring.... I could go on, but you get the picture.
So why do I say they're idiots?
Well take this case: the Pakistani secular blogger who was slaughtered in Pakistan recently.  It turns out that he'd sought asylum in Sweden, but been denied. That's right: a non-religious blogger, who simply wanted to visit Sweden for a conference, was denied on the grounds that he might have sought asylum.  There's no indication that he would have; after all, he was brave enough to be a secular blogger in Pakistan, when two of his colleagues, also secular bloggers, had been brutally murdered in recent months.
But if he'd sought asylum, would it not have been rational?  After all, two of his colleagues had indeed been brutally murdered in recent months.  And would not Sweden then have been doing something right and proper?
But, no, they denied him, preemptively.  And he was butchered, for his beliefs -- more precisely for his failure to believe in Muhammad.
Now, on the other side, we have Scandinavian countries allowing into their societies, vast number of Muslims, many on bogus refugee status.
And how does these folk treat their host societies?
Well, here's one, in Norway, for example, Mullah Krekar.  Note he still talks in Arabic, though he's Norwegian.
And he's calling for the murder of any Norwegian that has the temerity to publish cartoons about Mohammad.
Note the bewilderment of the interviewer.  He can hardly believe what he's hearing.
Is there not enough in what the Imam says to bundle him up and deport him?
That's why I say these open-minded, tolerant, humorous... etc, folk are also idiots.  Too many more of the likes of the creepy Mullah Krekar and Scandinavians will lose their open-mindedness, tolerance, humour....

Faith vs Fact -- an interview with Jerry Coyne

When you next have a spare hour, lounging around, play this great interview, Sam Harris with Jerry Coyne.
There's ten minutes or so about Islam at the 34 minute mark.  Which, as Coyne notes, is now off-limits to criticism by the Left (these two gents, and a couple of others -- the late Christopher Hitchens (e.g., the "fire, fire, fire" speech), Bill Maher -- aside).

Monday 18 May 2015

The Honor of Being Mugged by Climate Censors - WSJ

This is interesting.
Lomborg does believe that we must take steps to mitigate global warming: for example, by cutting fossil-fuel subsidies, by dramatically increasing spending on green-energy R&D, and by establishing a "well crafted carbon tax".
So that's all good then.
But because he says we must look at the cost of options in dealing with what's already inevitable as a result of a warming world, he gets excoriated by the more fanatical of the warmists, and shut out of a university research centre.
We need rather more Lomborgs: knowledgeable and hard-headed environmentalists.

Sent from my iPad

Friday 15 May 2015

When it comes to Islam, New Atheists sound a lot like Christian fundamentalists - Opinion - Israel News | Haaretz

Before reading the Haaretz article linked below, having a crack at we atheists -- in the shape of an attack on Sam Harris -- have a listen to Sam's podcast on his email discussion with Noam Chomsky.
It's here :
Then see how the author of the article below, writing in the left-of-centre Israeli paper Haaretz, is prey, willfully or otherwise, to exactly the misreading of Sam's motives that Sam describes in his podcast.
None so blind as those who will not see.
For info, I have indeed read the full email exchange between Harris and Chomsky that Sam published, and agree with Sam's analysis of it. Whatever Chomsky and his fellow travelers may think in their relativist world, intentions *do* matter.
The Haaretz article:
Sent from my iPhone

Why Islam Is More Dangerous Than Other Religions: Shariah, Jihad, and Muhammad

The article linked below may appear in a Christian blog (and I'm an atheist), but it's solid nonetheless.
It's a very good summary and explication of the key ways Islam differs from all the other religions in the world.
Well worth a read.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday 14 May 2015

"In Defense Of Pamela Geller"

Dear Bret,

FANTASTIC article yesterday!
You are spot on. Shame on the "yes, but..." crowd (Salman Rushdie called them the "but brigade").
Cogently, and forcefully argued.
Good on you!

Peter F.
Hong Kong.

I'm referring to this.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Americans should rethink how they look at Islam and blasphemy

I can hardly be described as a softy when it comes to the global war against terrorism. I participated in an administration (headed by President George W. Bush) that pursued this war aggressively.
So says Michael Gerson before promptly moving on to be soft on terror. For those that are murdering cartoonists are surely terrorists and giving in to their demands for "silence or we murder you", is surely encouragement to them.
We should listen to the judgement of a member of an Administration that made monster mistakes during its reign?
Sent from my iPhone

Asia tops biggest global school rankings - BBC News

Wow, we're second in the world here in Hong Kong. Based on Maths and Science scores.
Australia is in 14the place well ahead of the best in Europe -- the UK at 20th. The U.S. is at 28th place.
Separately, Australia has more under-50 year-old Universities in the world top 100 than any other country. That is to say, if one is forward looking one should look to Australia for college.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday 11 May 2015

Dear Bill O'Reilly & Juan Williams: How Much Of Islam's Butt Should We Kiss?

This is pretty funny.
Doug Giles makes the same point that Robert Spencer did the other day: that we don't need to draw cartoons to upset the nutters of Islamic State and its fellow travellers.
I think the reason O'Reilly breaks bad against the Texas cartoonist folks (Geller, Spencer, et al), is that Fox is now part-owned by a Saudi prince, Al-Waleed bin Talal.  At the time the sale happened a few years ago, I wondered how long before Fox would start genuflecting to Islamist interests.
While here, it's worth linking to Harry's Place, with links to two opposing views on Geller and her recent Cartoon Contest in Texas.

The left has Islam all wrong: Bill Maher, Pamela Geller and the reality progressives must face

Wow, Jeffrey Tayler certainly nails it in this piece.  Significantly he's a writer for left-of centre Atlantic Monthly, and this article appears in left-of-centre Salon blog.
Tayler lines himself up with other liberal commentators like Bill Maher and Sam Harris, in querying the fact that too many liberal-progressives exculpate the likes of ISIS and murderers of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists.
The only path to victory in this war in defense of free speech lies through courage.  We cannot wimp out and blame the victims for drawing cartoons, writing novels, or making movies.  We need to heed GĂ©rard Biard, Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief, who declared, as he received the PEN award, that “They don’t want us to write and draw.  We must write and draw.  They don’t want us to think and laugh.  We must think and laugh.  They don’t want us to debate. We must debate.”

Chinese turn Paris suburb into Europe's biggest fashion market

This is what Chinese do when they immigrate: they set about making money and contributing to the economy.
Certain other people, from certain other countries, with certain other religious beliefs, don't do this. They get themselves on welfare and their second generations are likely to go all jihadi and try to bring down the West.
It hardly needs asking, does it? Which immigrants would we rather have?

Saturday 9 May 2015

The Dangerous Myths About Charlie Hebdo

This is a few days late, I'm sorry, but is a must read. (From The Atlantic Monthly)
Two recent events—the spectacle of Garry Trudeau, the Doonesbury creator, attacking a group of murdered cartoonists for offending his sensibilities, and the protest organized by a group of bien-pensant writers against the PEN American Center for planning to honor those cartoonists tonight in New York—have brought the Charlie Hebdo controversy back to public consciousness. So has the failed attack Sunday in Texas on a group of anti-Islam militants staging a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest, though, unlike Charlie Hebdo, the organization that sponsored the Texas event is run by an actual anti-Muslim extremist who, I'm proud to say, is a personal nemesis of mine.
Much has already been written about both the Trudeau and PEN controversies. I particularly recommend David Frum on Trudeau, and Katha Pollitt and Matt Welch on PEN, as well as this fine op-ed by Andrew Solomon and Suzanne Nossel, the president and executive director, respectively, of the PEN American Center. These represent only a handful of the many dozens of writers who have risen in defense of free speech, and of Charlie Hebdo’s right to lampoon religion.
Read on...

Charlie Hebdo and a Rubicon Moment for Free Speech

Amanda Foreman, in this Wall Street Journal article, makes some powerful points, being, as she is, a staunch Charlie, as am I -- fundamentalist free-speechers.
In her article, she refers back to a similarly ugly episode in PEN's history, this one Dubrovnik 1933.  PEN's then president, H.G. Wells, had tried to steer a neutral line with respect to the Nazis.  But they were talked down, and onto taking sides -- robustly anti-Nazi.
Foreman says that this latest boycotting by PEN members in response to PEN's deception to honour the bravery of Charlie Hebdo was a similarly historical moment.
And PEN, via its current president Andrew Solomon, passed the test with flying colours.
Other points of interest:
The boycotters had variously said that Charlie was racist and obsessed with Islam.
Both claims are false (and one wonders at the research capacity of otherwise famous -- now infamous -- writers):
When they were murdered, the Charlie staff were planning a conference on antiracism.
Only seven of 523 covers were about Islam.
[My earlier posts on PEN, Charlie, etc, here, here here and here]

Islam’s ‘Reformation’ Is Already Here—and It’s Called ‘ISIS’

An article from the always-interesting Raymond Ibrahim, with the startling thesis that there has already been a reformation in Islam, and it's ISIS.
Don't be shocked, read on.  Ibrahim is a seriously serious fellow, well literate in all aspects of Islam and Islamic history.
The idea that Islam needs to reform is again in the spotlight following the recent publication of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new book, Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now.  While Ali makes the argument that Islam can reform—and is in desperate need of taking the extreme measures she suggests to do so—many of her critics offer a plethora of opposing claims, including that Islam need not reform at all.The one argument not being made, however, is the one I make below—namely, that Islam has already “reformed.”  And violence, intolerance, and extremism—typified by the Islamic State (“ISIS”)—are the net result of this “reformation.”
The rest.... 

Friday 8 May 2015

Tories win. Yay!

I'm sitting here listening to Ed Milliband give his concession speech and also his valedictory, on BBC radio.
I bid you goodbye Ed.  You won't be missed. Not by me.
We were sitting round a dinner table the other night discussing this election.
I said that I would vote for the party that was most robust in its attitude to Islam(ism). For that, said I, was the greatest threat to the west: not inflation, or Scotland leaving, or unemployment.  But those who would do us ill; those who would destroy our very society.
That may not be the Conservatives. At least not fully.
But it certainly is not the Labour Party.
For in a craven attempt to buy the Muslim vote, Milliband said the he would "Criminalise Islamophobia".
Get that!  Make it a crime to criticise Islam!  Make it a crime to criticise an idea!
Here's some earlier thoughts on that idea, Eddy's one, from Harry's Place.
A touch later: "Lorna", a listener, called in, clearly an Eddie-ite, laments that Eddie had been "bullied" , that it was the fault of the media, of course, that we should instead have looked past his eating of a bacon sanger and see what his policies were.
You mean the policies that would have increased tax to 50% even when the Labour Party knew that it would give no revenue (a simple envy policy), policies that would have established a "mansion tax" (that would have impoverished long-term holders of property) and established rent controls (which would have led to shortage of rental properties).  Policies that attacked business, threatening to break it up and thus reduce employment.  And, at the last minute, a law banning "Islamophobia" on pain of criminal sanction, thus rendering us mute in the face of militant Islam.  Those policies, you mean, Lorna?

We're the biggest! Wow!

Or should that be "gee, shucks ...".
In any case we here in Hong Kong are part of the largest official "urban area" in the world, so says the World Bank:
  • The Pearl River Delta in China – which includes the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan and Dongguan [and Hong Kong, says me, don't forget Hong Kong!!] – has overtaken Tokyo as the world’s largest urban area in both size and population, with more inhabitants than countries such as Argentina, Australia or Canada. [47 million].
There's something about cities: they make people wealthy.  They give huge opportunities for both work and play.  They exude less CO2 per capita than equivalent folk in less dense living areas.  
Of course they also make people poor and fit them in slums.  They exude more overall CO2.  
But on the whole, they're good things. That's why people move to them.
Not sure what I should think about the fact that we're here now part of the largest "urban area" in the world.
Save that it gives me pause for reflection.
That when I first came here in 1976, Shenzhen was nothing but paddy fields (really!).  But now it's a megalopolis of 30 million folk.
That's something.  Not sure it's all good.  But it's certainly something.  And something unprecedented in world history. And, for a goodly part, it's good. And I've seen it all happen these last 30-some years.
And, get this: our "urban area" has twice the population than my country, Australia!
Gee, shucks...

Hate Speech vs Free Speech

Letter to the New York Times:
How disturbing and depressing to read the "paper of record" giving a free pass to jihadi murderers.
That is the effect of your editorial "Free Speech vs Hate Speech" (Leader, May 7).
You lump them all together, the would-be murderers in Garland Texas, the Charlie Hebdo slaughterers in Paris, the "barbaric killers" of ISIS or Al-Qaeda... and ... Pamela Geller --  because she held a conference!  A conference at which -- pace your last sentence that she was motivated only by hate --  participants spoke of freedom of speech and conscience, and the equal rights of women and minorities.  Not one speech I saw could have been labelled racist, xenophobic, or even Islamophobic.
But you lumped them all together, the murderers and Geller, because Geller has "inflicted deliberate anguish on millions of devout Muslims" (including mass murderers, it seems).
Well, isn't that the price of living in America? Sometimes to be "anguished" by what others say of you?
Aren't millions of devout Christians "anguished" at the daily scoffing at their god and their beliefs ("Piss Christ" anyone?), aren't millions of devout Mormons "anguished" at the satire in the Book of Mormon?  But, oh no, these devout folk are told just to suck it up. (which they do).
Uniquely, it's Islam -- and the Jihadis and Islamists -- that are given the free pass. Of whose "anguish" we are supposed to be exquisitely sensitive.
This is a twist on the "soft bigotry of low expectations" They can't help it, you see.  We (or at least your leader writers) expect Muslims to be violent, not to turn the other cheek, not to be able to put up with the rough and tumble of a boisterous, free-speech-loving society.
And, therefore, the likes of Geller need to just... well, shut up.
Three cheers to reader David R. Lurie, for reminding you of a much more glorious and principled editorial of 1978, when you stood up for hated speech, in that case hate speech of the Nazi party, rather more of a concern, one might have thought, than a conference by Pamela Geller, whatever you might think of her.
Unless you get back to that clear and principled stand we shall, slowly but surely, be rendered mute in the face of militant Islam.
Yours, etc,

Reflections on the Revolution in Europe

In my post immediately before this, I said:
This is insanity by Europe. The are building up for themselves an ever greater problem for their children to handle.
Am I xenophobic?  Islamophobic even (given the majority of boat people migrants are Muslim)?
Well, no.
My own country of Australia has had waves of immigrants in the 20th Century: from Italy, Greece, Eastern Europe, Vietnam, Cambodia and China.  In all cases they have settled, scrabbled and given opportunities for their children to succeed in their new home. [I was an immigrant of sorts myself, to Australia.  Born of Australian parents in Japan, I was brought up in Italy in the 50s and arrived in Australia, not speaking English, in 1959.  I was sent to what they called then a "migrant school", to learn English.  This I did quickly, for I was being called a "wop" and a "dago"].
And so, also, in Europe and the UK: waves of migration absorbed and contributing to their host countries, with their children hewing to their new nation.
All, that is, until the immigrations from Islamic countries.
A weird thing happened with these migrants.  The children of the original migrants -- instead of working on the base set for them by their parents -- began to bend to more fundamentalist Islam than their parents.
And we know where that leads. "Lone wolf" attacks; calls for Sharia.  Despising of their own nation.
The best documentation of this phenomenon is in Christopher Caldwell's "Reflections on the Revolution in Europe".
He shows -- in careful argument with scrupulous references -- how the descendants on Pakistanis in the UK or Turks in Germany, have turned against their parents and their countries, in favour of the Islamic Ummah, the great would-be caliphate of Islam.
Caldwell quotes Hilaire Belloc, the great writer, orator, poet, sailor, satirist, man of letters, soldier and political activist, and leftist Catholic academic.
Writing in 1936, in "The Great Heresies", Belloc is quoted in Caldwell (p 112):
"... It has always seemed to me possible, and even probable, that there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons or our grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggled between the Christian culture and what has been for more than thousand years its greatest opponent."
How wise and far-sighted he was!
Trouble is that Europe no longer sees itself as "Christian" in any meaningful sense, even though it is. At least its culture is founded on Judeo-Christianity.  And I'm happy that it is --even though I'm an atheist -- for that culture has given us the Reformation, scientific enquiry, gender and minority equality, human rights and the whole panoply of tolerance that leftist/progressive people have traditionally fought for, but which they seem to let go, when faced by jihadis and Islamists.
By contrast, Islam has not done any of this.  And does not look to do so now.  
Their business model is that of ISIS.
[What's that you say?  Not all Muslims are violent and support ISIS?  Sure they aren't and don't.  But all polls show that the majority do support Sharia law for the western countries they live in.  That's not terribly tolerant in my mind; and is certainly not a way forward for a reformation of Islam or to tolerance for other beliefs, or non beliefs.]

It's "mild policies", not "mild winds" that's driving the so-called "migrants" to Europe

Over last weekend there were thousands of boat people -- "migrants" the BBC calls them -- arriving each day in Europe.  Thousands -- six or seven thousand as I recall, and just over one weekend.
Media comment was that these people were making the journey because of "mild weather" and calm seas.  Well, yes, that helps.  But we know that they were coming even when the winds were lively and the seas rough.
And the reason for that is that European policies positively encourage these "migrants" to set off in these rickety barges.  For the reality is that when they arrive in Europe they are there to stay once they touch Italian (or Greek, or Spanish) soil.
And the reason for that, in turn, is that they're pretty much considered refugees, no matter what their back story. And so, they get to stay.
Many of these may be genuine refugees: from political persecution.  But we know that many more are not: they are simply leaving places they don't like and heading to places they think will be more congenial.  Many tell the same story, indicating they've been trained what to say to their willingly credulous interviewers.  And some (many? who knows?) are would-be Jihadis.  One would need to be willingly naive to believe that that is not the case.
Traditionally the intake of potential refugees has been done in a legal way: through refugee application.  And that allows for a close investigation of each case.
Coming by boats is illegal and swamps the official system.
At least it used to be seen as illegal.  The BBC even, used to call them "illegal immigrants".  Then it decided that was to negative, so they went for "undocumented migrants" for a while.  Before their latest incarnation, which is simply "migrants".
Just that they come by boat, don't you know. And don't get checked; or are checked so cursorily that every one to date arriving by boat has been allowed to stay.
This is insanity by Europe. The are building up for themselves an ever greater problem for their children to handle.
My old colleague, Alexander Downer (we of DFAT class of '76), former Aussie Foreign Minister and now Australia's High Commissioner to the UK, was on BBC the other night, talking on this issue.
He said there are three options for Europe:
(1) Do nothing.  In which case things will continue pretty much as they are now, with regular, multiple-daily, sailings from north Africa for the shores of Europe and with the collateral damage of many drownings.
(2) Decide that the drownings should be ended; and decide that you're going to let them in anyway; therefore send boats over to pick them up. In that case, watch for the millions lining up to take them.
(3) Decide that they should not be queue-jumping other valid refugees and so stop them at source.
If you decide on (3), how do you stop them at source?
Enter Australia.  We've already done that, by robust measures to turn the boats back and send them to reception centres and get out the clear message that anyone trying to get into Australia by the boat-back door, will never be allowed to settle in Australia.
This policy has reduced the number of boat people from thousands to none; and the number of drowned from the hundreds to none.
Of course the human rights crowd don't like this.  But the majority of Australians certainly do.  Is this mean and unhumanitarian of us? Well, no.  Just that we prefer to take refugees through the established channels, and we've committed to doing that (and have done) for tens of thousands.
Maybe Europe will wake up and take on the "Australian solution". They ought to, it's wise and humanitarian, taking account of concerns of both the would-be refugees and those very real very deep concerns of the host country residents.


Click here to see more hi-jinks
Building paths on the side of cliffs, with no safety equipment.
For those who don't mind tickling their "high anxiety" funny bones, google "Shiniuzhai" to see more. It's in Pingjiang county in Hunan province (the birthplace of Mao Tse-tung..), and already a tourist hot-spot.  Must go back and check it out...

Wednesday 6 May 2015


I live in China's Hong Kong and often travel there. And I've been witness to China's phenomenal development since I first went to study in Beijing in 1976.
But still, I can be wow-ed out.
How about this, just now on BBC's Supersized Earth #1 I'm watching now on BBC Knowledge:
In Shanghai they build a 30-storey building in fifteen days. That's DAYS, not weeks or months.
A new 30-floor building, fully fitted, in a fortnight.

Je suis toujours Charlie Hebdo

                    Etienne Laurent/European Pressphoto Agency
Charlie Hebdo is still in the news. (I wrote about it here and here)
I never much believed that the "solidarity" shown in the wake of the murder of the 12 cartoonists (for the crime of being satirists) and of four Jews (for the crime of being Jews) would last long.
And indeed that was the case.  In unseemly haste, the "Je suis Charlie" trope was countered, egregiously, with "Je ne suis pas Charlie".
In short, there's the split between the Charlies who believe in free speech even if it offends, and the non-Charlies who believe that if it offends Islamists, we shouldn't do it, to show "tolerance" -- not just a heckler's veto, in other words, but the murderer's veto.
Moi? Je suis a Charlie.
Then the PEN gala boycott, which is covered Jennifer Schuessler's piece in today's International New York Times. 
Schuessler tries to tread a neutral line, but fails to mention Salman Rushdie's put-down of the boycotters as "pussies" and "six writers in search of character".
Schuessler quotes the extraordinary claim from a French "centre-left historian and demographer", Emmanuel Todd, that
The real threat to France, he said, isn’t Muslims but “this crazy new religion I call ‘radical secularism.’ ”
Eh?  Secularists are people who believe in two basic propositions:
The first is the strict separation of the state from religious institutions. The second is that people of different religions and beliefs are equal before the law.
Todd may add the ad hominem "radical" to "secularism", but what does this really mean, other than that so-called "radicals" are simply those who press these two admirable propositions rather more robustly than your average non-"radical" secularist?
On the other side, we have five million French Muslims, the majority of whom believe that France should be under Sharia law, with its supremacy of Islam over all other religions, and including the stoning of adulterers, the killing of apostates, the murder of blasphemers and all that nasty stuff.  Whose more enthusiastic co-religionists set about doing just that, killing infidels, jews and blasphemers.  And nearly a third of whom (nearly 2 million), back Islamic State (beheaders of aid workers, cruficiers of Christians, burners of apostates.... and on and on....)
And to Todd it's the secularists who are more of a threat?  Heaven help us!
As to the PEN gala boycotters and the signers of a letter to PEN bemoaning the PEN courage award to Charlie Hebdo, their main point seems to be that Hebdo, in lampooning Islam, was "hitting down", on the marginalised and non-enpowered, Nick Cohen (a middle-class leftie), has this to say:
Most glaringly they have failed to understand power. It is not fixed but fluid. It depends on where you stand. The unemployed terrorist with the gun is more powerful than the Parisian cartoonist cowering underneath his desk. The marginal cleric may well face racism and hatred – as my most liberal British Muslim friends do – but when he sits in a Sharia court imposing misogynist rules on Muslim women in the West, he is no longer a victim or potential victim but a man to be feared.
That link I got from Harry's Place, "PEN, Charlie Hebdo and those who like farts".
I just heard on BBC World Service Radio that the PEN award to Charlie Hebdo has gone ahead and been presented.  Good.  A victory for the good guys.

Situations (soon to be) Vacant: Chief of Suicide Bombers (CSB)

Did you know that there's a position of "Chief of Suicide Bombers", in ISIS?
I didn't, till this morning's BBC radio report.
The current occupant is one Tariq Bin-al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-'Awni al-Harzi.
One presumes the CSB, despite being a "Chief", doesn't lead by example.
Still, there's a $US 3 million bounty on his head, so he may not be long for this world anyway...