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Anti-ISISism on the Left

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PRIMAI’ve been trying to read as much as time allows of the left’s reaction to the President’s recent speech in which he unleashed at least a couple of the dogs of war. Here’s something from this morning’s sampling:

As for the the Hof article linked above, one of the things it shares with most discussion of the issues in leftish sources is a focus on state politics and an almost complete lack of discussion of the religious and other cultural elements of the ISIS phenomenon. This particular article lays the blame on the structural problem of “state failure”. I would reply that we’ve had chronically failed states in, for example, Latin America for 150 years, yet none of them have become the seedbed for global terrorism. The same could be said for Southeast Asia and, until recently, central and west Africa. I think the unwillingness of analysts on the left to see the uniquely Islamic elements of the ISIS phenomenon hobbles their ability to fully come to terms with it. Whoda thunk that I’d be on the same side of things as Bill Maher? What a world we live in, huh?
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魔鬼 WEARS PRADA: Even with Slowed Growth China Mints 40,000 New Millionaires

prada-front

China created 40,000 new millionaires in 2013, bringing the total to 1.09 million, according to a new study

CNBC reports: The growth of 3.8 percent is a bit of an improvement from last year’s 3 percent gain. But it’s still only about half the growth rate of 2010 and 2011, suggesting that China’s economic slowdown and the government’s crackdown on corruption is slowing its millionaire manufacturing machine.

“Beijing and Guangdong have the most millionaires, with 192,000 and 180,000 respectively, followed by Shanghai with 159,000.”caviar

[punditfromanotherplanet celebrates the sublime, guilt-free enjoyment of breathtakingly expensive luxury goods]

According to the Hurun Research Institute, the number of people in China with personal wealth of 10 million yuanor $1.6 millionin mainland China reached 1,090,000, up from 1,050,000 in 2012.

The number of people in China worth 100 million yuan, or $16 million, increased by 2,500 people to 67,000.

justcaviar[We also celebrate the scandalous pleasure of obscenely affordable luxury items]

The slower millionaire growth comes as sales of high-end luxury goods in China—everything from watches and wine to handbags and Lamborghinis—have also cooled. But Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of the Hurun Report, said this year’s millionaire growth was still solid.

“Although we have been seeing a slowdown in spending, the money is still very much there,” he said in the report. Read the rest of this entry »


Women Fightin’ Islamic Gangstas

women-fighters

Photo by Mohammed A. Salih

Guerrillas from Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party are on the front lines in northern Iraq. Half of the organization’s leaders, including 24-year-old Avesta, are women.

MAKHMOUR, Iraq — Mohmmed A. Salih reports: Avesta enters the cramped room in a teachers’ residence turned temporary military base, ready for a meeting with her fellow fighters. The six commandos rise to shake her hand. She greets each individually. “Hello, heval,” she says, calling them by the Kurdish word for comrade. Then she lays down her Russian sniper rifle, and tea and coffee are served.

“Avesta attended an intense boot camp where she was immersed in the party’s revolutionary leftist ideology and view of women’s role in society, and trained to use weapons.”

The Islamic State’s fearsome fighters are just around 10 miles away, but the Kurdish snipers, some still teenagers, are mostly relaxed. They debate the merits of drinking coffee versus tea, discuss the situation in the camp, and joke with each other. “You are very photogenic,” one of the fighters tells Avesta cheerfully as she poses for a photo. She smiles shyly as others burst into laughter.

“The organization’s rules prohibit romantic relationships, and the fighters have little access to their families.”

Avesta is only 24, but she looks much older, with piercing gray eyes. Her long face is wrinkled and roughened; her hands are calloused. Her sniper rifle is at her side at all times; when it isn’t hanging from her back, it’s resting within arm’s reach — a constant companion to her uncertain life as a Kurdish guerrilla. Read the rest of this entry »


The Genocide of Mideastern Christians

christians-wsj-noonan

Americans haven’t suddenly turned interventionist. They’re moved by the Islamic State’s particular evil.

Peggy Noonan writes: President Obama would have been rocked the past few months by five things. One is the building criticism from left and right about his high need for relaxation—playing golf while the world burns. Another is that he misread the significance and public power of the beheadings of American journalists. Third, he has been way out of sync with American public opinion on Islamic State, which must be all the more galling because he thought he knew where Americans stood on the use of military force. Fourth, with his poll numbers declining (32% approval for his handling of foreign policy, according to The Wall Street Journal and NBC), it has probably occurred to him that he is damaging not only his own but his party’s brand in foreign affairs. (Yes, George W. Bush did the same to his party, but Mr. Obama was supposed to reverse, not follow, that trend.) Fifth, he surely expects he is about to take a pounding from the antiwar left.

“Evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics who would normally back strong military action were relatively silent in 2013. Why? I think because they were becoming broadly aware, for the first time, of what was happening to Christians in the Middle East.”

Most immediately interesting to me is the apparent change of mind by Americans toward military action in the Mideast. The president’s long-reigning assumption is that a war-weary public has grown more isolationist. But, again according to the WSJ/NBC poll, more than 6 in 10 back moving militarily against Islamic State. Politicians and pundits believe that this is due to the gruesome, public and taunting murders of the U.S. journalists—that Americans saw the pictures and freaked out, that their backing of force is merely emotional.

I think they’re missing a big aspect of this story. Read the rest of this entry »


Number of ISIS Fighters Has Swelled to as Many as 31,500, CIA Says

ISIS-swells-numbers

The CIA said Thursday that the number of Islamic State fighters has grown to as many as three times previous estimates; a day after President Obama announced he is drastically expanding the U.S. military campaign against the militants.

“This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate, greater battlefield activity, and additional intelligence.”

A spokesperson for the agency told Fox News that new assessments show that the militant group can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria.

“The new numbers are a big jump from the agency’s previous estimate that there were at least 10,000 Islamic State fighters.”

The spokesperson said the new figures were determined after a review of “all-source intelligence reports” on the group from May to August. Read the rest of this entry »


Democracy in China: ‘The struggle for Hong Kong,’ or ‘The Great Leap Sideways’

Hong-Kong-lawyers

The territory’s citizens must not give up demanding full democracy—for their sake and for China’s

Chinese officials have called it a “leap forward” for democracy in Hong Kong. Yet their announcement on August 31st of plans to allow, for the first time, every Hong Kong citizen to vote for the territory’s leader has met only anger and indifference. Joy was conspicuously Xi-tall-Jinping-HTabsent. This is not because Hong Kong’s citizens care little for the right to vote, but because China has made it abundantly clear that the next election for Hong Kong’s chief executive, due in 2017, will be rigged. The only candidates allowed to stand will be those approved by the Communist Party in Beijing, half a continent away.

“Xi Jinping, the party chief and president, had the opportunity to use Hong Kong as a test-bed for political change in China. Had he taken this opportunity, he might have gone down in history as a true reformer. Instead, he has squandered it.”

At its worst, this risks provoking a disaster which even China cannot want. Democrats are planning protests. It is unclear how many people will join in, but the fear is that the territory’s long history of peaceful campaigning for political reform will give way to skirmishes with police, mass arrests and possibly even intervention by the People’s Liberation Army. That would disrupt one of Asia’s wealthiest and most orderly economies, and set China against the West. But even if, as is likely, such a calamity is avoided, this leap sideways is a huge missed opportunity not just for Hong Kong but also for the mainland. A chance to experiment with the sort of local democracy that might have benefited all of China has been missed. Read the rest of this entry »


Who Celebrated the Sept. 11 Attacks?

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The politically correct version of the September 11 attacks holds that the Muslim world rejected such violence as un-Islamic and condemned the attacks.  This is not true.  The Muslim world celebrated the attacks.

Palestinians dance in the street at the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp near the southern port city of Sidon, Sept. 11, 2001. Palestinians in Lebanon's refugee camps celebrated the attacks in the United States by firing into the air. (AP Photo/Mohamed Zatari) Copyright 2001 The Herald-Dispatch

Palestinians dance in the street at the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp near the southern port city of Sidon, Sept. 11, 2001. Palestinians in Lebanon’s refugee camps celebrated the attacks in the United States by firing into the air. (AP Photo/Mohamed Zatari)  Copyright 2001 The Herald-Dispatch

I took a trip to Egypt a few years ago to do the usual tourist lap around the pyramids and up the Nile.  Our guide was a Copticpali2 Christian.  During a quiet moment in Cairo, I asked him what the Egyptian reaction was to Sep 11.  He said they celebrated.  They marvelled at the cleverness of the attackers and considered it quite a victory.  After a month, the government decided that such public celebrations of American deaths were not in its best interests and prohibited them.  That stopped them cold, though they continued behind closed doors.

Here are some anecdotes of those celebrations, anecdotes that never seemed to have been picked up by the liberal media.

“In Germany, Muslims grow apart”; Peter Schneider; New York Times; December 4, 2005 …(read more)

In Germany, Muslims celebrated with rockets… 

But tolerance of Muslim immigrants began to change in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. Parallel to the declarations of “unconditional solidarity” with Americans by the German majority, rallies of another sort were taking place in Neukölln and Kreuzberg. Bottle rockets were set off from building courtyards, a poor man’s fireworks: two rockets here, three rockets there. Altogether, hundreds of rockets were shooting skyward in celebration, just as most Berliners were searching for words to express their horror. For many German residents in Neukölln and Kreuzberg, Vogelsang recalls, that was the first time they stopped to wonder who their neighbors really were…(more)

Whooping It Up: In Beirut, even Christians celebrated the atrocity

Wall Street Journal; Saturday, September 22, 2001 12:01 a.m. EDTBEIRUT–Where were you on Sept. 11, when terrorists changed the world? I was at the National Museum here, enjoying the wonders of the ancient Phoenicians with my husband. This tour of past splendor only magnified the shock I received later when I heard the news and saw the reactions all around me. Read the rest of this entry »


…And the Other 10% Didn’t Hear About the Mass Murders, Kidnappings and Beheadings


Meteorite Leaves Big-Ass Crater in Managua, Nicaragua

Nicaragua

Large blast heard just before midnight followed by burning smell.

“We thought it was a bomb because we felt an expansive wave.”

– Jorge Santamaria

A small meteorite landed near the international airport in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, on Saturday night, government officials say.

“All the evidence that we’ve confirmed at the site corresponds exactly with a meteorite and not with any other type of event.”

– Ineter scientist Jose Millan

Residents reported hearing a loud bang and feeling the impact, which left a crater 12m (40ft) wide and 5m deep. Government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said the meteorite seemed to have broken off an asteroid which was passing close to Earth. She said international experts had been called in to investigate further.

No-one was hurt when it hit the wooded area near the international airport and an air force base.

‘Like a bomb’

An adviser to Nicaragua’s Institute of Earth Studies (Ineter), Wilfried Strauch, said he was “convinced it was a meteorite” which caused the impact. Read the rest of this entry »


Russian Website Hosts Terror Propaganda

ISIS, ISIL, whatever

 reports: Propaganda and media accounts associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS) are now being hosted by a Russian social media platform after the terror group was thrown off U.S. sites such as Twitter, according to a new intelligence report.

“The fastest-growing sectarian minority in Russia is also the one being radicalized. You’re going to get a sizable minority of the radicalized Muslims in Russia that will be at least intrigued by ISIL.”

At least 18 official ISIL accounts responsible for disseminating the group’s violent propaganda, including two videos of Americans being beheaded, are currently being hosted by the VK website, Russia’s largest social network, according to an intelligence brief released by the SITE Intelligence Group.

“Regional experts said that while the Russian officials may not be formally behind the movement of these ISIL accounts, it is likely some are turning a blind eye due to the terror group’s rabid anti-Americanism.”

VK, which resembles Facebook, has upwards of 250 million subscribers and is known for hosting the social media site of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who, along with his brother Tamerlan, executed the April 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon.

The relocation of ISIL’s official accounts to Russia highlights the challenge governments face in combatting the media-savvy terror group’s online presence. It also raises questions about the Russian government’s ability to stem the growing radicalization among its Muslim population, which has risen exponentially, experts say. Read the rest of this entry »


Why Paris is forgetting Ernest Hemingway

hemingway-d-day-paris

American writer Ernest Hemingway had close links with Paris. He first lived there in 1920 and played a marginal, much-mythologised, role in the 1944 liberation of the city. But now, 70 years on, memories of the author are starting to fade.

Hugh Schofield BBC News, Paris: Twenty years ago when I first started reporting from Paris, a story on Hemingway would have been so corny that you would have got short shrift from any editor hemingway-book-feasthad you ever had the gall to suggest it.

[Order "A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition" and other books by Ernest Hemingway at Amazon.com]

Paris was full of Hemingway wannabes – young people just out of university sitting dreamily in cafes and struggling to get their prose more muscular.

There were guided tours round the sites – his homes on the Left Bank and the Shakespeare and Company bookshop.

No self-respecting acolyte would be seen on the street without a copy of Hemingway’s magisterial memoir of Paris in the 1920s, published posthumously under the title “A Moveable Feast”.

Crowds gathered to cheer French General Charles de Gaulle, 26 August 1944

Crowds gathered to cheer French General Charles de Gaulle, 26 August 1944

The commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Paris from the Germans brought it all back, because August 1944 was in fact one of the most celebrated episodes in the Hemingway legend.

“I’ve seen you beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for… you belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.”

Already famous for his books, he was working as a correspondent attached to the American 5th Infantry Division, which was south-west of Paris in the town of Rambouillet.

“This is the kind of stuff that used to set young writerly hearts racing.”

Here, in flagrant breach of the Geneva Conventions governing war reporting, Hemingway set up as a kind of mini warlord. His hotel room was full of grenades and uniforms, and he had command of a band of Free French fighters who reconnoitred the approach to Paris and provided information to the Allied armies. Read the rest of this entry »


Kissinger: Foreign Nations Worried Not about U.S. Presence But U.S. Absence

“The fundamental public statements of the administration have emphasized more what we should not do than what we can achieve. They have implied that a withdrawal of America from certain regions is actually beneficial to these regions.”

Kissinger noted the obvious consequence:

“I think that the fear in the countries that I know — and that’s very many of them — is that the United States is withdrawing.”

via National Review Online


Iran’s Foreign Minister Wins Captain Obvious Award: U.S. ‘Not Serious’ in Fight Against ISIS

Mohammad-Javad-Zarif

Tehran (AFP) – Iran accused the United States Sunday of not taking the threat from Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria seriously, and charged that US aid had previously helped the jihadists.

“We were aware of this danger from the beginning...But we will not be coordinating our action together.”

–Iran’s Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif levelled the accusations despite an expanding US air campaign in Iraq since August 8 that provided key support in relieving a jihadist siege of a Shiite Turkmen town north of Baghdad late last month.

Iran and the United States have a shared opposition to IS, which controls a swathe of both Iraq and neighbouring Syria, but both governments deny cooperating militarily against the jihadists.

“There is still no serious understanding about the threat and they (the United States) have as yet taken no serious action,” Zarif was quoted as saying by Iran’s Mehr news agency.

“There is still no serious understanding about the threat.”

“They have helped (IS) in Syria in different ways,” he added, alluding to support that the United States has provided to some rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad‘s forces. Read the rest of this entry »


Elsa Keslassy: Films Français Make Their Way Abroad in Des Moyens Non Conventionnels!

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editor-commen-deskI’m a huge fan of writer/director Luc Besson, and confess to having a soft spot for even slightly bad French movies. A wave of development and marketing innovations emerging from the film industry in France are a welcome, if unlikely sight. Who knew? It seemed that the once-epic, influential era of European cinema had seen its best days, with an uncertain future. Moral of story: Never underestimatekeslassy-elsa-web the French.

PARIS —For Variety reports: With a record 41 French pics playing at Toronto, Gallic movies will have the largest presence among foreign-language films at the fest. Meanwhile, Luc Besson’s blockbuster “Lucy” is sure to boost this year’s French films’ export figures, having grossed $218 million worldwide so far. But in reality, French-lingo movies are struggling to access theater screens, pushing local sales agents to seize different and non-traditional opportunities.

This certainly has been the case at recent movie markets, where sales agents are closing more and more deals with select digital platforms that are opening up to European arthouse fare.

Luc Besson

Luc Besson

“There seems to be an increased appetite for day-and-date content with more and more actors using this method as a way of getting foreign films to market at minimal risk.”

– Marie-Laure Montironi

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And while all-rights deals are proving harder to clinch, French movies are becoming hot material for foreign-language remakes in markets with strong local film industries. C’est la vie.

[Also see -  WonderCon 2014: Luc Besson’s “Lucy” Panel]

lucy2

“Pitched as a Gallic twist on “Project X,” “Babysitting,” sold by Other Angle, is yet another high-concept French comedy that was a hit in France and has garnered remake interests.”

“Foreign-language remakes are getting more popular in markets like South Korea, India, Argentina and Brazil, which are dominated by local films and Hollywood movies, and where as a result, non-English-language films have trouble reaching audiences,” says Yohann Comte, deputy head of sales at Gaumont, which has five movies playing at Toronto, including The Connection” with Jean Dujardin and Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s “Samba.” Read the rest of this entry »


Al-Shabaab Names New Leader, Vows Revenge for U.S. Strike That Killed Its Commander

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Armed al-Shabaab fighters are seen on pickup trucks.  Associated Press

 MOGADISHU—Abdalle Ahmed Mumin reports: Somalia‘s al-Shabaab said Saturday the militant group had named a new leader, after its commander was killed in a U.S. drone strike.

“This is definitely a game changer for al-Shabaab and probably a turning point for the organization.”

The group said it had named Ahmed Omar Abu Ubeyd to succeed Ahmed Abdi Godane, who died of wounds sustained in the drone strike Monday in Somalia’s remote Lower Shabelle region, said the group’s spokesman, Abdiasis abu Mus’ab.

“This leader, Ahmed Godane, built the organization around himself for the past three years.”

– Abdi Aynte, head of The Heritage Institute, a Mogadishu-based think tank

“We will not sit alone,” he said, vowing revenge for a strike that appears to have killed not only Mr. Godane but several of his top aides.

[Also see - BOOTS + GROUND: U.S. Forces Carry Out Operation Against Al-Shabaab in Somalia - punditfromanotherplanet.com]

[More - REPORT: Al-Shabaab Claims Three Americans Among Gunmen in Kenya Mall - punditfromanotherplanet.com]

Analysts said it was too soon to tell if al-Shabaab was indeed still unified or attempting to forestall its fragmentation after the death of a charismatic leader, who had sidelined or eliminated other powerful figures in the group since taking over in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »


Hindu Activists in India Warn Women to Beware of ‘Love Jihad’

Conservative Hindu activist Chetna Sharma warns Hindu women that Muslim men will try to trick them into marriage and force them to convert to Islam. Junho Kim for The Wall Street Journal

Conservative Hindu activist Chetna Sharma warns Hindu women that Muslim men will try to trick them into marriage and force them to convert to Islam. Junho Kim for The Wall Street Journal

AURANGABAD, India—NIHARIKA MANDHANA writes: Conservative Hindu activist Chetna Sharma looked sternly at her audience of more than 40 young Hindu women gathered in the living room of a rural home and issued a warning: Muslim men would try to trick them into marriage and force them to convert to Islam.

“When one Hindu girl leaves to be with a Muslim, four or five new members will be added to that community.”

Given a chance, Muslim men would force a woman “to have two or three children and then leave her, or rape her, or throw acid on her if she resists, or murder her,” she said. “You can’t even imagine what can happen if you don’t protect yourself from love jihad.”Junho Kim-WSJ

“A majoritarian Hinduism got elected and that is having rather subtle but threatening consequences.”

Right-wing Hindu organizations and politicians have mounted a high-profile drive against “love jihad,” which they paint as a dark, international conspiracy aimed at eroding Hindus’ demographic dominance in India by brainwashing Hindu women.

[The cover of the latest edition of Panchjanya, a right-wing magazine, asks: Is love blind or a business? Junho Kim for The Wall Street Journal]

Authorities say they haven’t found any proof of an Islamist conspiracy to convert or abuse Hindu women. Critics of the Hindu right dismiss the whole thing as nonsense. And Muslim leaders decry it as a campaign of hate. Read the rest of this entry »


The Quixotic Decline of Al Gore

gore-fail


New ISIS Threat: GRID JIHAD

PALO ALTO, CA -JULY 12: Power line towers are shown July 12, 2002 in Palo Alto, California. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission boosted the maximum price of electricity from $55.26 per megawatt hour to $91.87 in the wake of record-breaking temperatures for the week, including 112 degrees in Redding, California today. One megawatt is enough to power about 750 homes. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Congress is looking at legislation to protect the grid via the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act

Paul Bedard reports: Former top government officials who have been warning Washington about the vulnerability of the nation’s largely unprotected electric grid are raising new fears that troops from the jihadist Islamic State are poised to attack the system, leading to a power crisis that could kill millions.

ISIS, ISIL, whatever

“By one estimate, should the power go out and stay out for over a year, nine out of 10 Americans would likely perish.”

– Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington

“Inadequate grid security, a porous U.S.-Mexico border, and fragile transmission systems make the electric grid a target for ISIS,” said Peter Pry, one of the nation’s leading experts on the grid.

“At the afternoon press conference, Gaffney dubbed the potential crisis the ‘grid jihad.'”

Others joining Pry at a press conference later Wednesday to draw attention to the potential threat said that if just a handful of the nation’s high voltage transformers were knocked out, blackouts would occur across the country. Read the rest of this entry »


Sacré Bleu! François Hollande a Lying Socialist who ‘Doesn’t Like the Poor,’ says Ex-Girlfriend

Francois Hollande and his companion Valerie Trierweiler  (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau, File)

Francois Hollande and his companion Valerie Trierweiler (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

“He presents himself as the man who doesn’t like the rich. In reality, the president doesn’t like the poor.”

Depicted as icy, obsessively ambitious and out of his depth, Mr. Hollande is picked apart in Thank You For This Moment, published Thursday, a “kiss-and-tell” account of their nine-year relationship and her 18 months at the Elysée Palace.

“This man, a left-winger, calls them in private ‘the toothless ones’ and is very pleased with his little joke.”

– Valérie Trierweiler

The president’s aides said he was kept totally in the dark about its release and was “appalled” at extracts leaked Wednesday, including one recounting a desperate fight to stop Ms. Trierweiler taking sleeping pills in the presidential bedroom after his affair with Julie Gayet, the actress, hit the headlines.

French actress Julie Gayet poses at the 2012 Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala, in Palm Springs, Calif

French actress Julie Gayet poses at the 2012 Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala, in Palm Springs

But perhaps the most damaging passage of the book, cited by Le Monde, is one in which Mr. Hollande appears to mock the poor. Read the rest of this entry »


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