Alas the booking of flights for me and my friend Steen is difficult, and MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE than in the years past! It seems that one of the good things (the ONLY GOOD THING!) of the Maobadi Troubles is creation of vast Nepali Diaspora. And Nepalis, industrious and hard working and polite and reliable and trustworthy have MADE IT, both in the US, Australia and of course here in Europe!!! So of course they have bread to fly home for Dasain... Look at the composition of travellers to KTM in the airline departure lounges: nowadays 60-80% are Nepalis & Tibetans! so it came as no0 surprise that my - and Nepalis' too! - favorite airline THAI is fully booked out from Bangkok...
Why are we so scared of offending Muslims?
During the greater part of last week, Slate's sister site On Faith (it is jointly produced by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, both owned by the Washington Post Co., which also owns Slate) gave itself over to a discussion about the religion of Islam. As usual in such cases, the search for "moderate" versions of this faith was under way before the true argument had even begun. If I were a Muslim myself, I think that this search would be the most "offensive" part of the business. Why must I prove that my deepest belief is compatible with moderation?
Unless I am wrong, a sincere Muslim need only affirm that there is one god, and only one, and that the Prophet Mohammed was his messenger, bringing thereby the final words of God to humanity. Certain practices are supposed to follow this affirmation, including a commitment to pray five times a day, a promise to pay a visit to Mecca if such a trip should be possible, fasting during Ramadan, and a pious vow to give alms to the needy. The existence of djinns, or devils, is hard to disavow because it was affirmed by the prophet. An obligation of jihad is sometimes mentioned, and some quite intelligent people argue about whether "holy war" is meant to mean a personal struggle or a political one. No real Islamic authority exists to decide this question, and those for whom the personal is highly political have recently become rather notorious.
Thus, Islamic belief, however simply or modestly it may be stated, is an extreme position to begin with. No human being can possibly claim to know that there is a God at all, or that there are, or were, any other gods to be repudiated. And when these ontological claims have collided, as they must, with their logical limits, it is even further beyond the cognitive capacity of any person to claim without embarrassment that the lord of creation spoke his ultimate words to an unlettered merchant in seventh-century Arabia. Those who utter such fantastic braggings, however many times a day they do so, can by definition have no idea what they are talking about. (I hasten to add that those who boast of knowing about Moses parting the Red Sea, or about a virgin with a huge tummy, are in exactly the same position.) Finally, it turns out to be impossible to determine whether jihad means more alms-giving or yet more zealous massacre of, say, Shiite Muslims.
Why, then, should we be commanded to "respect" those who insist that they alone know something that is both unknowable and unfalsifiable? Something, furthermore, that can turn in an instant into a license for murder and rape? As one who has occasionally challenged Islamic propaganda in public and been told that I have thereby "insulted 1.5 billion Muslims," I can say what I suspect—which is that there is an unmistakable note of menace behind that claim. No, I do not think for a moment that Mohammed took a "night journey" to Jerusalem on a winged horse. And I do not care if 10 billion people intone the contrary. Nor should I have to. But the plain fact is that the believable threat of violence undergirds the Muslim demand for "respect."
Before me is a recent report that a student at Pace University in New York City has been arrested for a hate crime in consequence of an alleged dumping of the Quran. Nothing repels me more than the burning or desecration of books, and if, for example, this was a volume from a public or university library, I would hope that its mistreatment would constitute a misdemeanor at the very least. But if I choose to spit on a copy of the writings of Ayn Rand or Karl Marx or James Joyce, that is entirely my business. When I check into a hotel room and send my free and unsolicited copy of the Gideon Bible or the Book of Mormon spinning out of the window, I infringe no law, except perhaps the one concerning litter. Why do we not make this distinction in the case of the Quran? We do so simply out of fear, and because the fanatical believers in that particular holy book have proved time and again that they mean business when it comes to intimidation. Surely that should be to their discredit rather than their credit. Should not the "moderate" imams of On Faith have been asked in direct terms whether they are, or are not, negotiating with a gun on the table?
The Pace University incident becomes even more ludicrous and sinister when it is recalled that Islamists are the current leaders in the global book-burning competition. After the rumor of a Quran down the toilet in Guantanamo was irresponsibly spread, a mob in Afghanistan burned down an ancient library that (as President Hamid Karzai pointed out dryly) contained several ancient copies of the same book. Not content with igniting copies of The Satanic Verses, Islamist lynch parties demanded the burning of its author as well. Many distinguished authors, Muslim and non-Muslim, are dead or in hiding because of the words they have put on pages concerning the unbelievable claims of Islam. And it is to appease such a spirit of persecution and intolerance that a student in New York City has been arrested for an expression, however vulgar, of an opinion.
This has to stop, and it has to stop right now. There can be no concession to sharia in the United States. When will we see someone detained, or even cautioned, for advocating the burning of books in the name of God? If the police are honestly interested in this sort of "hate crime," I can help them identify those who spent much of last year uttering physical threats against the republication in this country of some Danish cartoons. In default of impartial prosecution, we have to insist that Muslims take their chance of being upset, just as we who do not subscribe to their arrogant certainties are revolted every day by the hideous behavior of the parties of God.
It is often said that resistance to jihadism only increases the recruitment to it. For all I know, this commonplace observation could be true. But, if so, it must cut both ways. How about reminding the Islamists that, by their mad policy in Kashmir and elsewhere, they have made deadly enemies of a billion Indian Hindus? Is there no danger that the massacre of Iraqi and Lebanese Christians, or the threatened murder of all Jews, will cause an equal and opposite response? Most important of all, what will be said and done by those of us who take no side in filthy religious wars? The enemies of intolerance cannot be tolerant, or neutral, without inviting their own suicide. And the advocates and apologists of bigotry and censorship and suicide-assassination cannot be permitted to take shelter any longer under the umbrella of a pluralism that they openly seek to destroy.
Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2171371/
Egon Bondy prý zemřel na popáleniny
Neštěstí známého bohéma, který se do Bratislavy uchýlil v roce 1993 na protest proti rozdělení Československa, postihlo koncem března. Podle týdeníku se mu patrně vymstil zvyk kouřit v posteli. Usnul a od hořící cigarety se mu vzňalo pyžamo. Probudil se zřejmě až poté, co začal hořet, napsal Plus 7 dní. Hospitalizován byl 23. března, svým zraněním však podlehl.
"Ukončil svou pozemskou pouť a je třeba říci, že to udělal poeticky, efektně až mysticky. Myslím, že by byl spokojen s tím, jak to bylo všechno zrežírováno," komentoval Bondyho smrt jeho mnohaletý přítel Laco Teren. V závěti prý však Bondy žádal, aby jeho smrt nebyla medializována a aby z něj nedělali hrdinu. Údajně mu totiž vyhovovala pozice nepohodlného intelektuála a člověka na periférii.
Právě proto by měl být jeho pohřeb v Praze určen jen pro příbuzné. Jeho ostatky však už prý byly zpopelněny. Uložení urny je podle týdeníku naplánováno nejdříve na květen, přičemž by se ho měla zúčastnit i kapela Plastic People Of The Universe, jíž psal texty.
Bondy se stal legendou už za svého života. Známý filozof byl například předlohou pro postavu z knihy Bohumila Hrabala Něžný barbar. S Hrabalem ho spojuje i nezvyklá smrt. Jeden z nejznámějších českých spisovatelů totiž zemřel za záhadných okolností - v roce 1997 při krmení holubů vypadl z okna kliniky. Bondy prý tehdy zvolal: "On to dokázal!".
Sám se už prý kdysi pokusil skoncovat se životem. Podle Plus 7 dní nejenže koketoval s drogami a několikrát pobýval i na psychiatrii, opakovaně se pokusil o sebevraždu. Jednou si prý lehl na koleje a usnul. Netušil ale, že tam tehdy byla dopravní výluka. Když se ráno vzbudil, zjistil, že vlaky jezdí po vedlejší koleji.
Autor desítek knih a vysokoškolský pedagog podle Terena žil v poslední době v ústraní a trpěl depresemi ze samoty a stáří. Celý život bojoval proti konzumní společnosti, neměl telefon, televizi ani rádio. Navštěvovalo ho ale mnoho přátel a studentů.
It's DEMOGRAPHY, STUPID!
GrasstopsUSA.com | April 19, 2007
An article in The Wall Street Journal (April 12) breathlessly informs us of the latest fad on the Incredible Shrinking Continent -- “As Religious Strife Grows, Europe’s Atheists Seize Pulpit: Islam’s Rise Gives Boost To Militant Unbelievers; The Celebrity Hedonist,” the headline teases.
The “Celebrity Hedonist,” isn’t geriatric frat-boy Hugh Hefner, but Michel Onfray, a 48-year-old author dubbed “France’s high-priest of atheism” in the Journal piece.
Reporter Andrew Higgins describes the doyen of disbelief -- commander of the faith-less -- strutting onto the stage of Caen’s 500-seat Alexis de Tocqueville auditorium, dressed in black from head to toe, to deliver the latest two-hour installment in his on-going lecture series, “Hedonist Philosophy,” to a packed house.
Hedonism popular in France? You heard it here first.
Apparently, the Hedonist Philosophy does not consist of “pass the bonbons and heated body-oil,” (that's Hefner's Playboy Philosophy -- as he pretentiously calls it) but includes such priceless gems as, “To enjoy and make others enjoy without doing ill to yourself or to others, this is the foundation of all morality.” Catchy.
Did Mother Teresa enjoy picking the dying off the streets of Calcutta? But is not enjoyment the foundation of all morality?
According to the Journal, the rise of secularism on steroids is spurred by “alarm over Islam …. Europe’s Muslim population, estimated at between 15 and 20 million, is growing more numerous, more vocal and, in some cases, more religious,” as well as the nagging fear that “religion is making a comeback.”
Among other signs of an increasingly assertive impiety, the article cites a debate in London last month, where atheists and believers squared off over the proposition: “We’d be better off without God” (according to a vote of the audience, the atheists won by an almost 2-to-1 margin), a spate of belief-bashing books (including Christopher Hitchens forthcoming “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything’), a German furniture manufacturer who’s funding an “Enlightenment think-tank,” Britain’s National Secular Society (whose membership doubled in 4 years, to a staggering 7,000 – there are individual churches in the U.S with more members) and the declaration of that great thinker, Elton John, that religion turns people into “hateful lemmings” and should be banned – some have said the same of his music.
Militant atheism in the land of Jacobinism? What is it the French say, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”
French atheism of today is a shadow of its former self. Anti-clericalism reached its high-water mark during the Reign of Terror. On September 2, 1792, three Catholic bishops and more than 200 priests were massacred by a Parisian street mob. Priests and nuns were among the mass executions in Lyon and hundreds were imprisoned in what were described as “abominable conditions” in the port city of Rochefort.
The anti-religious tradition of Revolutionary France was bequeathed to the two 20th century ideologies it spawned – Nazism and communism. In the Soviet Union, from 1922-1941, The League of the Militant Godless organized and directed atheistic agit-prop.
By 1941, the League had more than 3.5 million members and 96,000 offices across the country. Still, God always has the last laugh. When Mikhail Gorbachev met John Paul II, the former confided that his grandmother had him baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church as a child.
As for a religious renaissance in Europe, Onfray and his allies needn’t worry.
True, there was a fuss when the new European Constitution engaged in historical revisionism on a grand scale, by refusing to acknowledge the continent’s Christian roots stretching back a millennium.
Aleksander Kwasnieski, then president of Poland, observed: “I am an atheist and everybody knows it, but there are no excuses for making references to ancient Greece and Rome, without making references to the Christian values which are so important to the development of Europe.
Protests over the EU bureaucracy’s re-writing of history aside, for many Europeans, faith is increasingly irrelevant. Europe has the lowest church-attendance in the world.
Not coincidentally, the continent is in a demographic tail-spin. Of the 10 nations with the lowest birthrates, nine are in Europe (the 10th is Japan). Currently, 1.5 children are born for every woman in the EU. In some countries, the rate is as low as 1.1.
It takes 2.1 births per woman merely to replace current population. If present trends continue, Europe’s population could decline by 88 million in the next 15 years – a loss of 23% of its 2000 population.
Why not coincidentally? From religion comes hope for the future and a sense of societal obligation (i.e., a non-hedonistic worldview). No faith, no hope. No hope for the future, no sense of obligation – hence, no children.
The United States has both the highest birthrate (2.11) and the highest church attendance in the industrialized world. Domestically, demographic differences parallel religious observance. Salt Lake City and Tupelo, Mississippi have higher fertility rates than Manhattan and San Francisco.
It makes perfect sense (in a cosmic sense). Consider: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live,” Deuteronomy, 30:1.You choose life (God), you get life (descendants). You choose death, you don’t.
I don’t know who represented faith in the London debate, but it couldn’t have been the A-Team. By every index, active believers are happier, healthier, more successful and more charitable than secularists. Karl Zinsmeister documented this in his recent article “Good Faith,” in American Enterprise Magazine.
· A Harvard study showed inner-city youth with a “strong religious orientation” 54% less likely to use drugs than their peers.
· According to the U.S. government’s National Survey of Family Growth, only 7% of couples who attend services once a month will divorce within the first 5 years of marriage. The rate for those who go to church once a year or less is 2 ½ times higher.
· Statistics from the charitable clearing house Independent Sector show that, on average, weekly churchgoers donate 3.8% of their income to charity, compared to 0.8% for those who never go.
· According to a University of Chicago nationwide survey of 2,000 physicians (not cited by Zinsmeister), 2 in 5 doctors think belief in God reduces the incidence of a host of diseases and other health problems – including heart attacks.
What do atheists have to offer in place of God to give meaning to life – democracy, human rights, reason, la dolce vita?
The dignity of the individual was first proclaimed at Sinai. The Torah sets forth individual rights and responsibilities. Democracy got a huge impetus from the Protestant Reformation.
From the French Revolution to the blood-drenched isms of the 20th century, more people were killed in the name of reason – liberty, equality and fraternity, or “scientific” socialism, or “scientific” theories of race – than in all of the religious wars spanning the course of history combined.
The idea that atheists can stop the Islamic advance could only make sense to a modern European.
You can’t beat something with nothing. Atheism isn’t a values system, but the negation of a values system.
Whatever you think of it, Islam is a fighting creed. (Though some would say it more resembles an ideology than a religion.) Adherents are oriented in the universe. They’re given a mission (purpose) in life, and a vision of reward and punishment in the afterlife.
It’s not immigration alone that’s driving the Islamacization of Europe. Europeans also are converting to Islam. Strangely, they seem not to find fulfillment in 4-day work weeks, soccer-mania, hedonist philosophies or the anemic version of Christianity prevalent in many parts of the continent.
Even some devout unbelievers are driven by self-interest to take religion seriously.
In October, 2005, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, archbishop of Genoa, returned from a trip to Cuba with startling news – “Fidel Castro is asking us (the Catholic Church) for help to combat the plague of abortion in Cuba,” Bertone disclosed.
"The spread of abortion, as Fidel Castro emphasized, is among the causes of the country’s demographic crisis,” the archbishop added. Cuba has the lowest birthrate in Latin America and the Caribbean, well below replacement level. And, no one is immigrating to the workers’ tropical paradise.
So, where does Fidel turn to combat abortion and stop Cuba’s demographic suicide? To an institution he proclaimed his mortal enemy after the 1959 revolution.
Here’s another irony: As noted above, Michel Onfray, the archbishop of atheism, spoke at the 500-seat Alexis de Tocqueville auditorium.
De Tocqueville was a French aristocrat whose family was guillotined during the Reign of Terror. The non-hedonistic philosopher is best known for his seminal work “Democracy In America,” based on his travels here in the early 19th century.
Though an agnostic, de Tocqueville was discerning. In describing America’s uniqueness (which even then had set it on a course that would make the 20th century the American century) de Tocqueville wrote:
“I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in harbors…; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce, in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and matchless Constitution.
Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.”
That’s what Europe has lost. That’s why Europe, as we know it, could disappear in this century. Hedonistic philosophies don’t fill empty cradles.
They’re not making Frenchmen like de Tocqueville anymore.
Trying something new - using Google Docs to PERMANENTLY put stuff on the net. Well, as long GOOGLE is there...
The skinny of this excellent article is: "if lawyers were in charge of the (scientific) truth, we'd still be living in the stone-age."
I have, since my late, sage-like, grandmother opened my eyes at the stupid age of 14, been of the unshakable belief that socialism, in all it´s flavours:
- soft social-democracy,
So it warms my stone-cold heart and slakes my thirsty stuborn sense of justice to see the Head Thief gets his comeuppance:
from Telegraph Nepal: The Telegraph Weekly: VOL 24, NO:8, April:11-17, 2007: "
Misfortune is chasing the Communist Party Nepal-Maoist chief Prachanda perhaps. In a surprising event today Prachanda’s vehicle which he had been using for himself for quite a long time, has been forcibly captured by the one who claims himself to be the real owner of the vehicle. The owner of the vehicle claims that his vehicle was looted by the Maoists some months back along with some diamond jewelries and money as well. The owner of the said vehicle consoled himself when responsible organs of the state and those of the UN assured him that his vehicle will be handed over to him after the Maoist join the government. However, that was not forthcoming.
Fortunately, the same vehicle was spotted by the supposed owner today in Bagbazar area in Kathmandu. The owner of the vehicle recognized his property but found the government registration number changed. A minor scuffle occurred between the real and the fake claimants of the vehicle. The real owner somehow or the other took hold of his property as reported by Kantipur Television this evening.
1, School row over Al Gore filmBy Liz Lightfoot, Education Editor
Parents who claim that an award-winning film on climate change is inaccurate and politically motivated are threatening a legal challenge over the Government's decision to send it to every secondary school.
The film by Al Gore, the former US vice-president, won an Oscar for the best documentary this year and Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, says he wants teachers to use it to stimulate children into discussing climate change and global warming.
But a group of parents in the New Forest say the circulation of the film by the Government amounts to political indoctrination and is in breach of the Education Act 2002. Derek Tipp, their spokesman, has urged Mr Johnson to stop the film being sent out.
He said: "The film goes well beyond the consensus view and is not therefore suitable material to present to children who need to be given clear and balanced, factually accurate information."
2, Dutch government says Palestinian PM not welcome
Palestinian PM Ismail Haniyeh will not get visa to Netherlands; European Union considers Hamas party terrorist group Reuters
Published: 04.16.07, 23:14 / Israel News
The Dutch government on Monday ruled out a visit by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, saying he will not get a visa because the European Union considers his Hamas party a terrorist group.
Haniyeh's office contacted the Dutch government to enquire about documents needed to request a visa as the Palestinian premier wanted to attend a conference on the Palestinians and Europe in Rotterdam on May 5, a spokesman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry said.
"He will not be granted a visa, should he request one officially," the spokesman said. "Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union."
"It is consistent not only to avoid contact with Hamas ministers but also not to let them come to the Netherlands or anywhere else in Europe and spread the message of Hamas," he added.
The European Union has a policy of avoiding contacts with Hamas ministers.
Dutch media reported that Haniyeh had been invited to be the main speaker at a Palestinian-European conference organised by the Dutch-based Palestine Platform for Human Rights and Solidarity.
The greatest part of the young men are of non-danish ethnic origin, they have major behavioral problems and a great addiction to hashish.
They get kick out of criminality, which they are not ready yet to give up. They never tried to work and have not wish to try – it doesn't pay enough. Their reaction when they meet challenges or problems in daily life is violence or threats of violence.
... groups of negative, strong inmates force others, often ethnic danes, to do dishes and clean for them.
See the translation of the whole thing!
It ain't gonna be easy to be, become old here...
Big Brother barks? Govt unveils shouting CCTV cameras
The SS and it´s boss Himmler loved gadgets: he leased IBM (early-) sorting machines. He got them for "elections"... but of course it was used to compile registers of Jews, and other "undesirables".
His followers, ups, sorry!, victors, in DDR installed "Selbstschutss-anlagen" along the Iron curtain: remotely or locally (by hapless refugee) triggered SHOTGUNS. This will be the next, logical step in UK. Of course, more human, morphine tipped pellets will be deployed!